How to work an event

Hams are needed and very useful for many events –– ranging from very short and simple events (such as the Special Olympics) to long and complex ones (such as the IronMan events) — some of which go almost 24 hours) So what do the ham operators do? And how can you get involved.

Welllllll — let’s begin by discussing a short, simple, and fun event that is happening very soon. —-


This is a great ‘starter’ event for hams — it is a good event to get your feet wet with being a ham event operator.

So what do you do at the Special Olympics? you ask.

Well, first of all — everyone is in one place — instead of spread out over miles and miles as is the case with events such as IronMan, Bicycle races, Marathons, etc.

The Special Olympics are usually held on a football field and about 10 – 20 or more hams are positioned at various locations on the field — at the sites of the soft ball toss, the various races on the track around the football field, at the awards location, etc. etc. etc.

This year (2018) the ‘football field’ will be at Red Bank High School.

It will begin in the morning — I am not sure of the exact start time right now but it is usually somewhere around 8:30 to 9 AM and lasts till about noonish.

What will you do? well — you will use your handi talkie and will be assigned to some location on the football field.

When you get to your assignment on the field, do 2 things first:

1. look for and introduce yourself to the person in charge of that station (the soft ball toss or whatever). Tell them you are the Ham radio person (or persons if you have a ham buddy) and that you are there to assist them as needed.

2. Then call Net Control on the simplex frequency that is being used at the event (when there is a pause and no one is talking) and let Net Control know that you are at your assigned location. You do this by saying something like:

  • “Net Control, this is (insert your call sign) and I am at (insert where you are such as ‘at the men’s softball toss” or whatever). ” Net control will answer you acknowledging your location. Then that is all you have to do until you need to call Net Control again for some reason or they call you. Just keep your radio on and handy.

Then just sit in your chair and enjoy the ‘goings ons’ — and from time to time you will be asked to call in a request, using your handi talkie, to the football stadium booth which is where Net Control is located.

You will usually be asked to tell the people in the net control booth to call for some participant by name who hasn’t yet arrived to your location and it is his / her turn to participate.

so you will wait until no one is talking to Net Control and then you say something like

Net Control — this is (give your call sign) — we need John Smith (or whatever name they have given you) to come to the Softball throw (or wherever you are).

Then Net control will acknowledge your input and you will almost immediately hear the loudspeaker say: “John Smith report to the Softball throw”

Then you continue sitting in your chair or standing or whatever until you are needed again for a similar request.

SIMPLE, easy, and fun!

In the meantime, while awaiting your next request, you are happily watching the happenings at whatever location to which you are assigned (I mentioned soft ball throw because that is where I have been a couple of times).

How long do you stay ? —- Until the event to which you have been assigned is over. When it is over and the folks at your location have packed up and are leaving, you again wait for a pause in Net Control conversations and then contact net control in the booth and say something like

Net Control — this is (your call sign), our event is over. Do you need me /us anywhere else or can I /we close my / our station?

Then do whatever they tell you. Usually you are not needed elsewhere so you can pack up and leave. If you are told you can close your station — say something like

“Thank you Net Control — this is (your call sign) closing my station and leaving.”

If you have a ham buddy working the same location — he or she should also officially close just like you did.


EAT? Yes ! At the Special Olympics they usually have something like Hamburgers and soft drinks that are for all the participants AND also for the ham folks! So you can either take the food and leave or hang around and fellowship with other hams or folks while you eat and then leave.

Sooooo What do you need to ‘work’ the event ? You need:

1. a Handi Talkie — fully charged. Usually a full charge will do you but take a spare battery if you have one.

At the Special Olympics only SIMPLEX is used so you don’t need a powerful antenna or a powerful radio. Even the Rubber duck usually works well on your little handi talkie. You will be given the simplex frequency to program into your handi talkie in the email that you get days or weeks before the event telling you what specific assignment you will have and what the simplex frequency will be. At other events such as IronMan, etc. repeaters are often used — but only SIMPLEX at the Special Olympics because everything is inside the stadium.

2. a chair to sit in

3. a little backpack or whatever with Sunglasses, sunscreen, a bottle or 2 of water, a poncho in case it rains, a candy bar or snack, medicines, and anything else you think you might need during the 3 or 4 hours you will be doing this event.

4. It is best if you have one of those bright YELLOW vests that you see people such as police, security workers, etc. wearing. These vests make you stand out and easy to be found. You can get a vest like this at Harbor Freight or Home Depot or Lowes, etc. for about $ 7 or 8 dollars. Put your Call Sign Name tag on it and you are ready to go. However, some of us have had information printed on our vests — something like “Radio Communications” — perhaps the Cupcake Lady can do this for us — for a small fee. You don’t have to have that printed on it (your name tag will be sufficient) but it sure looks ‘cool’ and identifies you readily as a Ham Radio Operator. These vests are usually required at all of the Ham events we do — so go on and get one and you will look very professional every time.

5. A clipboard and ball point pen or pencil so you can write down the name of the person you will be calling in to Net Control or to write down any other information that folks want you to relay to or from Net Control.

6 . A wide brimed Hat or a sun visor is nice to have.

7. A Ham buddy — Personally I think that when doing these events — even at simple ones like this — it is good to have another ham with you. That way if you want to go to the bathroom or wander around to see other things that are going on you still have someone there manning the station so no calls will be missed.

And having a ham buddy at the big events such as IronMan etc. is really important for those same reasons PLUS it is always a good idea at the big events to have a ham partner so you will be safer walking to and from your car etc. We YLs especially need to have a ham buddy (either a YL or an OM) to stay safe these days.

Soooo as you sign up for various events — try to find another ham operator to go with you as a buddy — it will be much safer and a whole lot more fun.

You might be wondering what license do you need. — GOOD NEWS — you only have to be a TECH to work any event anywhere and all of you are Techs or more so you are all already ‘good to go’.

Now assuming you want to be a Ham Volunteer worker at the 2018 Special Olympics — you are wondering —- when and how do I sign up.

Welllllll….. as for when and where !!!

When: Saturday, Apr 21, 2018

Where: Red Bank High School, 640 Morrison Springs Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37415, USA

We sign up with Gail Booth KC4ZAG — who is in charge of the Ham Operators. You can contact her either by phone or email and just tell her you want to sign up. Give her your call sign and your email address so she can send the location where you will serve and the simplex frequency you will use.

Contact Gail Boots at

Phone: work 423-756-7117 or cell 423-902-1993 (before 9:00 AM please)

Here’s the link to the Map to Red Bank High School: Google Maps

Personally I think all of us YLs should sign up to help at this event !! It is EASY, FUN, SIMPLE, and a good ‘starter’ event to learn how to be a ham operator at any event — all the other events use the same basic principles of what to take, what to do, etc.

As we approach other events — we can talk about them on our Monday Night net with specifics for each event.

For example… the Black Bear Event ( I think it is sometime in September but don’t hold me to that — I tried to find the exact date tonight as I was preparing this but couldn’t find it) — Anyway it is another easy and fun event but is definitely one where you would want to have a ham buddy with you.

Ditto re the Marathons and other races, bicycle races, etc. As they get closer in time we will announce them and give you a heads up about who to contact –but the basic principles are the same


allllll that to say — Ladies — let’s do the Special Olympics — it is a lot of fun and verrrrrry easy.