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      Amateur radio enthusiasts have a field day

      For amateur radio operators, Saturday is Field Day- an event that amateur radio operators across the country have been looking forward to every year since the 1930's.

      "It's an opportunity for folks like myself and the crowd that's gathered here today to communicate with others all around the world," Tim Thompson, a member of the Grand Strand Radio Club.

      For 24 hours, amateur radio operators, commonly called "hams," run radios only on batteries, generators and solar power to test emergency capabilities and contact as many other radio operators nationwide as possible.

      Similar to a contest, groups earn points for every contact they make.. and bonus points are given for things such as speaking in morse code or having local officials on-air.

      "It's never been easier to be a ham. You can get on the internet, you can study the question pool you come pay 15 dollars, you take an exam, you pass the exam, and you're a ham radio operator," Thompson said.

      But for Thompson, amateur radio is more about saving lives than scoring points.

      "During Hurricane Katrina, we were the first signal to get out of new orleans. We were used quite a bit during Hurricane Sandy," Thompson said.

      One amateur radio enthusiast even calls it the original social network.

      "Before Twitter, Facebook, and all this was involved, this was a good way to meet friends. You can meet them across the nation. Not just locally, but good friends nationally, and even around the globe," Thomas Lowhon of Darlington said.

      And the friends "hams" meet are friends for life.

      "The most rewarding part has been the community service and the camaraderie. Hams are a very close knit group," Thompson said.