BROOKSVILLE - Amateur radio enthusiasts - better known among each other as "hams" - met Saturday as part of the 58th annual National Association for Amateur Radio's field day.
In Hernando County, members of the Spring Hill Amateur Radio Club met at a Oak Hill Hospital's Partners Club, not far from the site of their two-meter repeater, bringing their laptops, headsets and other equipment needed to transmit running off of a generator.
The field day started just past 2 p.m., with local operators speaking with people in Mississippi and other locations across the U.S.
Patrick Caropepe said he got involved in shortwave radio shortly after a friend got his license and talks with ham operators regularly in Alaska and Tokyo.
"Amateur radio is the original wireless communication," said amateur radio operator David Millendorf, club member who operates as KB3GYN.
Shortwave radio is especially important when all else fails, said Millendorf. Millendorf said when cellphone towers fell in New York City and Washington D.C. on 9/11, amateur radio was essential in getting emergency messages out, and for families who had the capabilities to communicate with each other.
And while the national field day is about testing amateur skills on air, it's also about preparing for emergencies in remote locations.
Amateur radio aids the National Weather Service's SKYWARN program, a network of amateur severe weather spotters.
Weather permitting, local enthusiasts will continue broadcasting through 2 p.m. today.
More information about the Spring Hill Amateur Radio Club is available at http://www.springhillarc.com/. Meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month at Oak Hill Hospital's Partner Club. SHARC owns and operates an open 2-meter repeater on 146.805 MHz.