What is Field Day?
Field Day is a picnic, a camp-out, practice for emergencies, an informal contest and, most of all, FUN! ARRL Field Day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June of each year, more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations. This year Field Day is on June 24th and 25th. This year we will have the privilege of operating from the Raleigh Police Club in Knightdale, NC. It is a time where many aspects of Amateur Radio come together to highlight our many roles. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Amateur Radio to the organizations that Amateur Radio might serve in an emergency, as well as the general public.
Why do we do all this? We use these same skills when we help with events such as marathons and bike-a-thons; fund-raisers such as walk-a-thons; celebrations such as parades; and exhibits at fairs, malls and museums - these are all large, preplanned, non-emergency activities. But despite the development of very complex, modern communications systems - or maybe because they ARE so complex - ham radio has been called into action again and again to provide communications in crises when it really matters. Besides, it's just plain fun!
On Friday June 23rd, beginning at 8:00 am, volunteers, leaders, and operators begin setting up. Duties will include antenna and feed line set up, and station set up for each of the bands and modes. Preliminary equipment testing will also be on the agenda. We will have a Friday evening dinner on site again this year around 6:00 pm as a reward for everyone's hard work.
On Saturday, June 24th at 6:00 am set up will resume for those that need a little more time to get everything ready. We will reassemble on Saturday around noon for final equipment checks and instructions. At that time we will determine our operating class based on the number of transmitters on site. Final instructions will be given then everyone settles in for the start of the actual on-air event at 2:00 pm. The on-air part is simply to contact as many other stations as possible and to learn to operate our radio gear in abnormal situations and less than optimal conditions. For the next 24 hours the air will be filled with the non-stop hum of generators, the crackle of radios, the lilting tones of CW, and a cacophony of voices calling "CQ Field Day". We typically operate on 10M, 15M, 20M, 40M, and 80M - both phone and CW. We also have stations running Digital modes (PSK). We may have a satellite station as well. Finally, there is the GOTA station. GOTA is short for "Get-On-The-Air". It's a great chance for unlicensed kids of all ages, as well as inactive hams to get on the radio.
One of the highlights of the RARS Field Day is the traditional Saturday evening catered meal. That is a meal not to be missed! There is also a very nice lunch on Sunday (hams do love to eat!). The event ends at 2:00 pm on Sunday. The radios go quiet, as do the generators. Electronic logs are submitted. The antennas are taken down, and everyone cleans up, packs up, and heads home for a well deserved rest.
If you have never participated in Field Day, please come out and join your fellow club members. Stay for an hour, or for the whole event - it's up to you. And remember, you are not limited to your class operating privileges during Field Day - you will be operating under the privileges authorized for license held by the control operator, and for Field Day, that usually means you can operate using Extra Class privileges. It's a great opportunity to get your feet wet in HF. See you there!
For more information about Field Day, or to volunteer to help, contact Field Day Chair Marty Young, W4MY at firstname.lastname@example.org