Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Field Day

Once a year comes a very special day in Amateur Radio. While I have never actually experienced it as an active operator, I am quite excited to see how it goes for my first time. The closest I came before was realizing when it was happening so that I could make sure not to use that weekend to get on a satellite connection (Satellites are a bit crazy on field day...) In this post, I hope to give some idea of what Field Day is, and what my plans are for it. From now until Field Day I plan on posting a set of articles designed to help people get ready for Field Day, so hopefully I can be of some help.

Fundamentally, Field Day is about preparing for a communications emergency. In order to get the most points, one has to have a set up using low RF power, a station set up in 24 hours, and running purely from off the grid technologies. Generators are common, bonus points are given for using non-carbon sources, such as solar power. Officially, Field Day is not a contest, but it does give out points, and gives awards to the winning team. As my club has said, "It's not a contest, but we're going to win".

Basically, there are two ways to make points on Field Day. The first is by making as many QSOs as is possible, using as little RF power and non-commercial power! The second is through a series of bonus points, which include anything from talking to a satellite, bringing in media, government officials, youth, teaching new and potential hams how to operate, using non-fuel based energy sources, and quite a few other things. Last year, the top teams scored around 20K points.

A few other things of note. First of all, they break teams in to the number of transmitters on the radio at once, as well as the type of power. Bonus stations are allowed for UHF/VHF contacts, as well as GOTA stations (Get On The Air), designed for new hams.

For a variety of reasons, I decided to join the Loudoun Amateur Radio Group (LARG), call sign K4LRG, mostly because they are the closest group to my home, and I also know several of the operators. Of course, they have succored me in to Field Day, even more so due to the fact that I am a recently re-activated ham, allowing me to use the GOTA station.

All in all, I am quite excited about Field Day this year, and hope to make a lot of contacts. It should be an exciting weekend, and I quite look forward to it!

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