The picturesque Ensor home and grounds in south Olathe will be the scene of Field Day activities in Johnson County again this year. There, over a 24-hour period June 22-23, members of the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club will demonstrate their knowledge of the science behind amateur radio as they put their skills to work in preparing to serve the public later on should disaster strike and disrupt the standard communications systems most of us depend on heavily to stay in touch with the world around us. Photo courtesy of Ensor Park and Museum


Rick Nichols
Special to The Gardner News
Field Day in the United States will begin this Saturday, Marshall Ensor’s birthday, affording amateur radio operators across America the chance to “rise and shine” in showing the rest of the country that they are more than ready, willing and able to step in and “get the job done” in a pinch.
“Field Day? Marshall Ensor? What’s that and who’s he?” you ask. Well, to answer your questions, Field Day is an annual 24-hour event organized by the American Radio Relay League designed to showcase the ability of amateur radio operators, or “hams” as they are called, to set up temporary radio stations that could be used as a means of communication during an actual emergency, and Marshall Ensor (1899-1970), a longtime Industrial Arts instructor in Olathe, was a pioneer in the field of amateur radio, teaching radio by radio from the family farm during the years leading up to World War II, thus equipping thousands of his fellow citizens with many of the skills and much of the know-how that would enable them to help with the war effort and experience success in either the private sector or the public sector afterward.
From 1 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday, June 22-23 members of the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club will be ‘camped out’ at Ensor Park and Museum in south Olathe for Field Day 2019. The event is open to all, and better yet, it’s free.
“Field Day is a great way for the curious public to see amateur radio stations in operation,” club member Jim Andera of Gardner, call sign K0NK, said earlier this week. “Most Field Day events take place in public places such as parks to allow the public easy access to observe the activity. At many Field Day sites, visitors can often participate in the communications.”
Andera is one of three men who are coordinating this year’s Field Day activities on behalf of the club. The other two are George McCarville of Overland Park, WB0CNK, and the club’s vice president, Larry Hall of Overland Park, KD0RIU. A veteran “ham” like Andera and McCarville, Hall can be credited with having lined up the guest speakers for the Tech Night programs club members have enjoyed and benefited from in recent years.
The ARRL, the national association for amateur radio, has sponsored Field Day for federally-licensed amateur radio operators since 1933. “This outdoor event provides the radio operators with practice in setting up and operating equipment in a fashion similar to what would be done in the aftermath of a disaster,” Andera observed. “Amateur radio operators are known for being able to provide radio communications support when other communications systems go down or are overloaded after disasters such as a hurricane, a tornado, a flood or similar events. They can communicate over hundreds and thousands of miles without the need for the man-made infrastructure that other systems rely on.”
More than 35,000 people positioned in numerous locations took part in Field Day 2018 activities, creating a stand-alone communications network that stretched from one end of North America to the other and beyond. “It’s easy for anyone to pick up a computer or smartphone, connect to the Internet and communicate, with no knowledge of how the devices function or connect to each other,” David Isgur, ARRL communications manager, said recently. “But if there’s an interruption of service or you’re out of range of a cell tower, you have no way to communicate. Amateur radio functions completely independent of the Internet or cell phone infrastructure, can interface with tablets or smartphones, and can be set up almost anywhere in minutes. That’s the beauty of the Amateur Radio Service during a communications outage.”
McCarville, a retired electrical engineer, pointed out that amateur radio is an excellent way for young people to learn more about electronics, physics, meteorology and related subjects, all of which tie into one or more of the STEM components, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
For more information about amateur radio, visit www.arrl.org/what-is-ham-radio, for more information about the Santa Fe Trail Amateur Radio Club, visit www.sftarc.org, and for more information about Ensor Park and Museum, which is located between US-169 and Ridgeview Road at 18995 183rd Street, visit www.ensorparkandmuseum.org.
The historic Ensor home where Ensor, W9BSP, and his younger sister Loretta, W9UA, were raised in the early 1900s will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. There is no charge for admission, but donations are always welcome