Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


K4FAU prepares for the worst.

For 24 hours, the ropes course at FAU Boca campus was a communications nexus in the wake of a disaster. The disaster wasn’t real, but the communication was.

From four o’clock p.m. on June 21 to four o’clock p.m. June 22, K4FAU, FAU’s amateur radio club was conducting a radio field day to hone their radio skills and to have a little ham radio fun. The activity was an exercise in setting up an impromptu radio communications station in the event that other communication is disabled.

“We’re practicing to see what we might have to do should we say, have a bad hurricane” said K4FAU member John Melcher.

Amongst the wooden towers and steel cables of the ropes course were antennas for Morse code, voice, satellite, and digital radio communications. To show according to Melcher that, “yes, anyone can set up a ham radio station.”

There was a 50-foot antenna consisting of little more than some twine and bare copper wire. With this simple antenna, the club had made contact with stations as far away as Guatemala.

Using a truck borrowed from Boca Raton Fire and Rescue, the club’s radio station had its voice, talking with stations in Colorado. Under a pavilion was a blind man from Miami tapping out Morse code at 25 words per minute. There was a digital radio station using former military technology to send digital text messages over the radio.

In the bleachers of the FAU baseball field there was a station using a specialized tracking antenna to communicate with orbiting satellites and even the space station. Such high technology is not always needed to talk with satellites and space stations.

“I’ve actually heard of guys just pointing their antenna to where they thought the satellite was in the sky and getting satellites,” K4FAU president John Sheats said.

While this field day is training for emergency situations, it is also some fun for those who enjoy the hobby of amateur radio. K4FAU was also participating in a national contest sponsored by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL). The contest challenged its participants to see how many radio contacts it could make in a given period of time, the participants gathering points for each contact made. The results of the top participants will be published nationwide in ARRL’s magazine.

K4FAU involves itself with more than just emergencies, though. The club also participates as communications volunteers at such events as the March of Dimes, according Sheats, F4FAU.

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