Every year the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) sponsors a contest called “Field Day.”
According to the ARRL flier,
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 th an 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.
In other words, Hams all over the nation drag their radio junk outside and set up temporary stations in attempt to contact as many other stations as possible. You could say it’s the intersection between a contest and emergency preparedness.
I’m not certain when Field Day began (and I’m too lazy to look it up) but this is the second Field Day since I’ve been a licensed Ham. Last year I didn’t participate since I had a few-week old new born. This year I originally wanted to head out with my friend, WK4U, and operate from the field. Preferably while camping. Due to differences in our schedules, we only had Saturday to work with so we decided to drive around and visit various Field Day sites.
All told, we visited four different Field Day locations:
- The N4N group in Marietta. If I were going to participate in a Field Day, I probably would have hung out with this crew. Most of these guys are good friends with WK4U and I know most of them by name, if not by name and call. They seem like a serious bunch who take Field Day seriously and do it right: complete with smoked butts on the grill and beer. The butts weren’t even close to ready, so I enjoyed a home-brewed beer at 10:30am while we watched them prepare. 🙂 If I recall correctly, they were operating in the 6A class. [6 radio stations, club group, can’t use commercial power]
- The W4BTI, Kennehoochee ARC. They were set up just off at the Dallas Landing Park on Lake Allatoona over in Acworth. The had an entire pavilion to themselves and when we arrived you could smell the burgers and dogs already on the grill. They were in the middle of hoisting a 6 meter beam on a 40’+ mast. I believe I heard someone say that they made the majority of their contacts on 6 meters last year. I’m not sure how open the band was this year, but given the antenna they were using they probably would have scored big again. We snagged lunch here and WK4U chatted up with some old friends. They were operating in the 3A class.
- The Jasper Radio Club and Cherokee Amateur Radio Society. These guys were up in Jasper and were the first group to go out of their way to shake my hand and otherwise treat me like I was there to work with them (and not as a visitor). 🙂 In fact, we weren’t there long and I was helping a non-Ham learn the ropes. (FFWD to about 13:45)
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They had an impressive 40 meter delta loop beam set up (you can somewhat see it in the video) and I imagine it got plenty of use since it was squashing the 15 meter station that I was helping man. We hung out here a couple hours before returning to the Atlanta area. I’m not sure what class they were operating, 3A?
- My home club, NFARL. I spent the rest of the evening here. Mostly talking to fellow club members and reuniting with old acquaintances from my GeoCaching past. The club setup was pretty impressive and the food was outstanding but I regret forgetting to check out either of the ARES vans. I also forgot to sign the club log, but don’t tell them I said that. 😉 We were operating 3A. It’s also worth mentioning that K4SQC made contact with an Astronaut on the International Space Station. We missed it, but the excitement was still there when we arrived. I don’t know what the Holy Grail in Ham Radio is, but I imagine that speaking with an Astronaut has to be pretty close.
I had an excellent time cruising around seeing what the other clubs were doing and didn’t regret the decision not to operate. However, I mistakenly thought that I’d be able to claim the three remaining states I needed for a Worked All States (WAS) award. The bands were just WAY too crowded and there really wasn’t much room for any QRP activity. I also didn’t ever find any stations from those three states so I made a few contacts and just hung it up for the night.
I didn’t mean for this to be a comprehensive report of my Field Day activities but more-or-less a brain dump to jot things down a week later for the sake of simply blogging about it. I don’t know if or how I’ll participate next year, but I’m thinking the beer and smoked butts at N4N will be hard to beat. 😀