Field Day – My Opinion

“If winning were not important, why keep score?”

Antenna At NFARL Field Day 2000
An Antenna At NFARL Field Day 2000

Field Day is an opportunity for individuals and clubs to test their ability to operate in emergency conditions. That’s why we locate in parks and fields, powering our stations using emergency generators. We practice for the emergency we hope will never come.

There are always people who want a big picnic. Some of us like to operate radios, and welcome the contest portion of Field Day. The idea that Field Day is meant to be a contest is absolutely correct. If all we wanted was a picnic, we wouldn’t need any radios. That’s not were I want to be.

We are HAM RADIO OPERATORS, and our public duty and vocation is to OPERATE RADIOS. If I am going to spend hours operating a radio on a hot June afternoon, sacrifice a night’s sleep, and stagger around drunkenly on a hot June Sunday dismantling the site, I want it to be worth something. Field Day is based on operating, hence it’s a contest.

Making radio  contacts is a big thing. One problem is that we need people to make those contacts.

Every year there is a crunch to find operators to work both SSB and CW. We have members who do not operate their radios very much. Maybe that’s because a high percentage of our members do not have General Class HF band privileges. That means that we have to work extra hard during the regular year getting members to upgrade, and become honest-to-goodness hams by getting on the HF bands. Repeaters are OK, but they are a nice-to-have thing for club members.

The best radio operating skills are forged on the HF bands in contests. Contests may seem to be a bit cheesy with operators trading only signal reports and some other piece of information. They are much more. Contests teach you how to operate in crowded and noisy conditions, and causes both phone and CW ops to improve their operating skills to compete.

We can’t solve these problems in time for the 2017 Field Day. We will have to go with those operators we have.

I will spend Field Day with my home club, the North Fulton Amateur Radio League. My loyalty lies there.  The last two Field Days, we competed in the 3A Category, and finished #1 in the nation for those two years. This is a source of great pride for the entire club.

Anything less than our past efforts would be a disappointment.


It’s Field Day!

picture of tri-band antenna for NFARL field day
Tri-Bander Preparation

Our local club, the North Fulton Amateur Radio League has been preparing for months for this Field Day. Last year, we scored #1 in the nation in Category 3A and have tasted victory. We want more. It is an intoxicating thing, winning.

We have gone to great lengths to train new hams to participate in the operating side of Field Day. Like most large clubs, we have band captains and station bosses to make sure that all operating positions are on the air all the time. This is always a problem in that some people want to operate for an hour, and then settle back and enjoy the barbecue.

You cannot have a Field Day without barbecue, but the real reason for the ARRL to sponsor the event is for local clubs to practice their emergency capabilities and show that ability to the public. Our barbecue was catered by one of our fantastic local ‘cue emporiums, and  hamburgers and hotdogs were grilled on site.There were lots of side dishes and deserts to make the most devoted sweet tooth happy.

It did not rain this weekend. Propagation was fine for a summer weekend radio contest. The contacts started out fast and continued at a good pace for most of the evening. In my CW operating position from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM, there was the inevitable slowing down as the ionosphere lost it’s mojo on the dark side of the earth, but it picked up smartly at dawn.

The logging program we used this year was the N1MM log for Field Day. Besides being free, it was a powerful program and facilitated running contacts. It was great. However, not being familiar with N1MM, I had some minor problems not the least of which was how to edit a falsely typed call sign without re-transmitting the entered information. Oh, well. That’s part of growing up.

By the way, I did work N1MM during the wee hours of the morning.

Now that I have had some rest, it is time to count the Q’s, and start making plans for next year’s Field Day.

Seventy-Three, everybody!

AZ-EL Satellite Antenna on NFARL trailer
AZ-EL Satellite Antenna on NFARL trailer