RENCI at ECU Participates in Amateur Radio Field Days
June 30, 2008
By Miriam Wildeman
RENCI at ECU's outreach van, the ROVER, took part in Amateur Radio Field Day, June 28 and 29, with Greenville's Brightleaf Amateur Radio Club. A small forest of antennas marked the open field near the junction of Arlington Boulevard and Firetower Road where the Brightleaf group, the local chapter of the nationwide Amateur Radio Relay League, demonstrated its readiness to broadcast under emergency conditions, using only non-commercial power sources. Paul Fletcher, ECU Associate Professor of cell biology, RENCI researcher, and amateur radio operator, represented ECU and RENCI at the event during which operators across the nation competed over 24 hours to make as many radio contacts as possible across the globe. Fletcher noted that the occasion brings together many amateur radio operators who also serve important functions during emergency situations, when other communication technologies fail.
Other emergency vehicles present at the Field Day included the Pitt County Sheriff's Department Mobile Command Center, accompanied by Noel Lee, Director of Emergency Management for Pitt County. Greenville Mayor Pat Dunn also stopped by the Field Day site, spoke with club members, and made contact with an operator in Pennsylvania. By the end of the day, it was clear that residents of eastern North Carolina, and Pitt County in particular, are assured of the most up-to-date emergency response and communication technology.
The ROVER has recently been outfitted with interior furnishings, air conditioning, and two radio antennas capable of receiving all available frequencies simultaneously. According to Donna Kain, director of outreach for RENCI at ECU, "With its radio capable of running on electric or battery power, the ROVER can serve as a mobile source of on-site communication in the event of a hurricane or other coastal disaster. Equipped with its own generator, wireless server, and radio system, it will be able to coordinate with other county and state emergency response teams."