Although the origin of the name of HAM operators is uncertain, their passion for broadcasting over the airwaves is not. The operators’ official name, the Amateur Radio Service or ARS, serves to explain their purpose. HAMs are radio operators who broadcast with self-sustaining equipment and frequencies. They can broadcast all over the world, and frequently do so.

The main purpose of ARS is to provide emergency communication services after a disaster. Operators are able to bring in their equipment, including towers, repeaters and antennas, to affected areas and provide instant communication, which is sometimes the only form of communication for days.

“During the fire in Cross Plains in 2005, amateur radio was the only way to get a message in or out of town,” said Larry D. Barr, public information officer for the Tarleton Area Amateur Radio Club or TAARC, the local branch of HAMs. “There was only one phone (landline) working in the whole town and the cell phone towers had burned, so we were the only ones who could get a message to the shelter.”

In order to educate the public - and have a little fun - the TAARC will host a field day in the Optimist-Jaycee Park on Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. Saturday until 4 p.m. Sunday, although visiting at midnight is strongly discouraged.

“We just want people to come by and talk to us and learn about amateur radio,” said Barr. “We will be broadcasting all over the world and will have a chance for people to get on the radio on an on-air station, with a licensed operator supervising, of course.”

The TAARC will also run the basic net control for the Firecracker 100 on Saturday, meaning they will provide communications for the bikers when cell phone towers fail. They will have operators staged at various rest stops to keep everyone informed and safe.

Those interested in learning about amateur radio should come by the east end of Jaycee Park this weekend and talk to the operators to find out more about amateur radio, the uses of it and how to get started.