Seneca Radio Club competes in Amateur Radio Operator’s ‘Field Day’

One of a handful of Seneca Radio Club’s pop-up stations posted around Hedges-Boyer Park over the weekend as the Club competed in the annual Field Day.

“Whiskey Eight India Delta. Whiskey Eight India Delta.”

This phrase, the Seneca Radio Club’s call sign, could be heard being called out amid the squealing of radio signals as the Club competed at Hedges-Boyer Park from 2 p.m. Saturday until 2 p.m. Sunday in the annual “Field Day.”

The Field Day is a continuous 24-hour competition held each year between amateur radio operator groups across the United States and Canada. Groups work all 24 of those hours trying to make contact with various code, digital, and satellite signals found over the radio waves.

“The Seneca Radio Club came in third place in the state of Ohio last year, and we were fifth place in the Great Lakes region,” said Mike Mastro, a Field Day Committee member of the club.

As of Sunday at noon, the club had made contact with every state in the country except for Alaska and Nevada, and every province in Canada but two.

Mastro said that it appeared the club would score “about one and a half times the points we had last year, so we might have a good shot at first place this time.”

Jeff Potteiger, President of the Seneca Radio Club, described the breakdown of points scorable. “We get two points for making contact with a Morse code signal, two points for digital signals, and one point for making voice contact,” he said.

The club can also score 100 points each if a county commissioner comes out to the Field Day and if they are able to make contact with a satellite signal.

When asked how such a small club could place in the top three in the state of Ohio, Mastro said that the club has “really experienced operators.”

“We have Gregg Flechtner, who is the best Morse code operator I’ve ever met. And Jim Yoder set up our own mesh network, which allows all of our operators and their computers to be connected in real-time without the use of an outside network. And we’ve got a lot of other really helpful equipment out here, too,” Mastro said.

The club had a multitude of antennae strung up between trees and tents and even goal posts in Hedges-Boyer park last weekend. There were also a number of generators, heavy-duty batteries, and even a solar panel set up to provide power for all of the equipment.

“It’s important that we power everything ourselves, and we’re able to do this work out in the field,” Potteiger said.

“We started setting everything up Friday morning, and it took all day. Then the radios came in on Saturday, and we’ve been going ever since,” he said Sunday afternoon.

The Seneca Radio Club will get their results from the competition in November, Mastro said.

In the meantime, the club is involved in other Tiffin and Seneca County events and services.

“We work with the National Weather Service in Cleveland for weather reports. Their radar can only see so much, and we can provide them the eyewitness reports from the ground even in extreme weather conditions,” Potteiger said.

“We also do a lot of public events, like the Cross Country Carnival,” he said.