In HAM radio, a special event station is a special operation that will be either in observation or commemoration of a historical event. These have a special 1×1 call sign or a vanity call sign, and they will usually operate for a short time with collectible QSL cards to commemorate the event.
An example of this was the National World War One Museum, which hosted a special event station in memory of the great war, with the call sign WW1USA.
Why Get Involved?
For those unfamiliar with the world of amateur radio, this might all make little sense. So let’s take a moment to break it down, seeing as this is a particularly fun and alluring aspect of amateur radio culture.
Amateur radio operators are those who use devices like two-way radio sets and digital police scanners, in order to listen to and broadcast specific frequencies. This can be used as a form of communication – a way to get in touch with strangers the other side of the world. It can be used as a form of creation and expression, to share content with the world in a way that doesn’t rely on the internet. It can also be a way to further your scientific knowledge and to enjoy some fascinating experiments: from trying to bounce signals off of the moon, to trying to send signals as far as possible using low powered tech.
In this case, the objective is to try and listen to and send messages to a particular station.
Managing to send messages a long a distance is one of the common pastimes of shortwave radio operators. Sending shortwave radio signals is a challenging activity seeing as these waves will not bounce off the atmosphere in order to circle the globe and will instead head directly into space once they reach the Earth’s natural curvature.
Therefore, being able to send messages can involve a bit of work – whether that involves physically traveling to the area with a mobile ham radio device, or whether it means using smart tech to try and boost the signal and send it further.
Once the message has been received by the special event station, then it will usually send back a QSL card – this is confirmation that you have managed to communicate with them and that your message was received. The QSL card will often be commemorative and collectible – making this a fun reward for all that hard work and a great challenge for collectors.
Of course, stations will often be set up for a host of other events too, and you can likewise communicate with, or listen to, an endless number of other broadcasters, hams, and more. This is why so many people become addicted to ham radio – it provides a way to get a window on the world that so many people never get a chance to look through. The only thing standing in your way is a little bit of engineering and ingenuity.