The Carson Valley Radio Club will erect antennas and start their generators on Saturday on Indian Hill to get ready for an amateur radio marathon.
Seated at their mobile stations, they'll begin broadcasting at 11 a.m. and continue nonstop for 24 hours.
"The weekend starts as a drill," club spokesman Scott Mercer said. "We practice setting up our antennas and emergency power. But then it becomes a contest."
Club members will use gas generators to power radio contact with other operators all over the United States and Canada -- logging each contact.
Operators compete to see who can make the most contacts using voice, Morse code and digital communications. Extra points are awarded for contacts made with the help of satellites.
The annual preparedness exercise brings together operators who assist their communities in the event of disaster, Mercer said.
The club helped with communications during the 1997 floods and last year's Gondola Fire.
"Amateur radio is a lot of fun, but the serious side can't be stressed enough," Mercer said. "We play a vital communications role during emergencies, and events such as Field Day ensure that we're ready to handle any type of disaster."
He cited a federal Homeland Security grant for communications training as evidence of the government's commitment to amateur radio.
Field Day, first held in 1933, is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League.
The Carson Valley club has made contacts with operators in Aruba, Alaska and Mexico, Mercer said.
The public is invited to visit the radio operators during the Field Day.
"We hope that the public will come out and see firsthand what this event -- and amateur radio -- is all about," Mercer said.
Visitors can watch operators make contact with people thousands of miles away and even broadcast themselves.
The event is at Hilltop Community Church across Highway 395 from Target and Home Depot. Club members will arrive Friday night to set up camp then broadcast Saturday and Sunday.
Because it's a 24-hour competition, operators will still be talking to operators around the world after midnight.
Being well prepared to help with communications is an ongoing effort, he said
"It's a thing we try to improve on every year," he said. "We critique it afterward."
He said the Carson Valley Radio Club is always ready to help.
"Any time (emergency crews) call and ask, we'll get on the air," he said.
IF YOU GO
What: Carson Valley (HAM) Radio Club's Field Day stations
Where: Hilltop Community Church, 3616 N. Sunridge Dr., Jacks Valley
When: From 11 a.m. Saturday until 11 a.m. Sunday
On The Net
Carson Valley Radio Club