Caltech Amateur Radio Club

Meetings and Events


Field Day 2020, June 27-28
Field Day is always the 4th full weekend in June.

Field Day 2016 Station Ops Intro PDF
The goal of Field Day is to practice operating in less-than-optimal conditions. It's the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the U.S. and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June each year, more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups, or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.
Field day is a picnic, a campout, practice for emergencies, and an informal contest, and, most of all, FUN.
Field Day 2020: Saturday and Sunday, June 27-28.
Setting up: Setting up begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday. Please come and help if you can.
Operations: 11 a.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. Sunday, with the objective of contacting as many stations as possible. Members are invited to sign up using SignUp Genius for operating slots at the 10-15-20 meter station, and at the 40 meter station.
Visitors: All visitors are welcome to take a turn operating. New ham? Here's your opportunity to get on the air! Not yet licensed? You can operate a radio under the supervision of a licensed ham. Want to learn about amateur radio? Here's an opportunity to see it in action! A national event: For further detail about Field Day as a national event, see the ARRL Field Day web page

For Immediate Release

Centennial Amateur Radio Re-enactment Takes Place

Supported by Caltech Campus

During the wee hours of the morning on January 27, 2017 the Caltech Amateur Radio Club (CITARC, callsign W6UE) helped to re-enact a historical event that occurred 100 years ago.  That event was the first relay of formal radio message traffic, or “radiograms,” across the United States.  On January 27, 1917, three such messages were sent from Los Angeles to Denver, then relayed immediately from Denver to operators standing by in Jefferson City MO, then on to Albany NY, and finally to Hartford CT.

In modern times, amateur radio operators (often called “hams”) make contacts all over the world on the high frequency, or short wave, bands by bouncing signals off naturally ionized layers in the upper atmosphere.   In 1917, however, all radio used spark gap transmission (think of the movie Titanic) in the medium frequency range, which could only be heard hundreds of miles away.  The trick of getting a message from here to there was to relay it between hams until it reached its destination.

Amateur radio’s national organization in the United States, the ARRL, in fact derived its name from this prominent activity.  ARRL stands for American Radio Relay League.

It would be illegal to re-enact the event with original equipment, since the noisy and imprecise spark gap technology was outlawed on the amateur bands in 1924.  In the spirit of the event, however, the Caltech hams used the lowest frequency available, 1.82 megahertz (160 meters wavelength).  CITARC is one of the few ham clubs in the crowded Los Angeles area that has an antenna for that frequency: a 270–foot long wire on the campus, stretching from the roof of the Firestone Laboratory to roof of Thomas Laboratory, to the roof of the Spalding Laboratory.  True to history, Morse code transmission was used. 

Knowledge of Morse code is no longer required to obtain an amateur radio license, but many dedicated hams worldwide still use and enjoy it.  Message relay, using voice and digital modes in addition to Morse code, is now used mostly to help amateur operators prepare and train for disaster communications.

The commemorative radiogram was:

1 R W6UE 25 PASADENA CA 0801Z JAN 27
860 594 0200

Photo:  David Hodge N6AN at the key, sending the message. 
(photo credit: Kate Hutton K6HTN)

David Hodge, N6AN, staff member Electrical Engineering

Kate Hutton, K6HTN, retired staff member Seismological Laboratory

Centennial-Radio-Event-2017 Press Release PDF


“Who ya’ gonna call?

Despite the Internet, cell phones, email and modern communications, every year whole regions find themselves in the dark. Tornadoes, fires, storms, ice and even the occasional cutting of fiber optic cables leave people without the means to communicate. In these cases, the one consistent service that has never failed has been Amateur Radio. These radio operators, often called “hams” provide backup communications for everything from the American Red Cross to FEMA and even for the International Space Station. Your Town’s “hams” will join with thousands of other Amateur Radio operators showing their emergency capabilities this weekend. Over the past year, the news has been full of reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications during unexpected emergencies in towns across America including the California wildfires, winter storms, tornadoes and other events world-wide. When trouble is brewing, Amateur Radio’s people are often the first top provide rescuers with critical information and communications. On the weekend of June 28-29, the public will have a chance to meet and talk with ham radio operators from Caltech, JPL, and the greater Pasadena area communities and see for themselves what the Amateur Radio Service is about as hams across the USA will be holding public demonstrations of emergency communications abilities. This annual event, called "Field Day" is the climax of the week long "Amateur Radio Week" sponsored by the ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio. Using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and backyards around the country. Their slogan, "When All Else Fails, Ham Radio Works” is more than just words to the hams as they prove they can send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis. More than 35,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event.
"The fastest way to turn a crisis into a total disaster is to lose communications,” said Allen Pitts of the ARRL. “From the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to tornadoes in Missouri, ham radio provided the most reliable communication networks in the first critical hours of the events. Because ham radios are not dependent on the Internet, cell towers or other infrastructure, they work when nothing else is available. We need nothing between us but air.” In the Pasadena area, the Caltech Amateur Radio Club (CITARC), the JPL Amateur Radio Club (JPLARC) and the Pasadena Radio Club (PRC) will be demonstrating Amateur Radio at Art Center College of Design on June 28 and 29, 2014. They invite the public to come and see ham radio’s new capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license before the next disaster strikes. Amateur Radio is growing in the US. There are now over 700,000 Amateur Radio licensees in the US, and more than 2.5 million around the world. Through the ARRL’s Amateur Radio Emergency Services program, ham volunteers provide both emergency communications for thousands of state and local emergency response agencies and non-emergency community services too, all for free. To learn more about Amateur Radio, go to The public is most cordially invited to come, meet and talk with the hams. See what modern Amateur Radio can do. They can even help you get on the air!

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