In my opinion, Field Day is the most wonderful time of the year in amateur radio. Why? It is the perfect combination of camping, radiosport and camaraderie with fellow radio amateurs. It is a real test of skill, but also a fun social activity. If you have not tried Field Day yet, now is a great time to get started.
Field Day is always the fourth full weekend in June. This year Field Day occurs June 26-27, and RASON will be holding an in-person event at Zagray Farm in Colchester, CT. Zagray Farm is an antique farm equipment museum. The grounds are perfect for Field Day, with plenty of room for tents and some amenities for comfortable camping. RASON will be sponsoring picnics beginning with lunch on Saturday, June 26 through lunch on Sunday, June 27. Chuck, NA1CN will be the chef for the event, and I can personally attest to the quality of his work based on past experience. We will be serving a steak dinner Saturday evening, so be sure to arrive hungry! Importantly, if you are coming to Field Day we need you to sign up so we are sure to have enough food and supplies for you. Everyone is welcome, and there is no charge. If you want to bring a dish to pass on Saturday evening, that is welcome of course!
Now for some comments on the event itself. Field Day is technically a contest and an emergency preparedness event. However, we run it as a low key (i.e. not intensely competitive) event. Field Day is sponsored by ARRL, and many bonus points are given for activities that encourage people to experience something new about the hobby. For example, if kids under age 18 operate, we get bonus points for each contact they make (up to 10 per person). If public officials visit we get bonus points. If we have an information table that is actively staffed we get bonus points. While points are fun to accumulate, the important thing is to get people interested in the hobby, and a public venue like Zagray farm is perfect for that.
How do we operate under these conditions? All equipment will be powered by a generator or two. We will also be collecting bonus points for making contacts with solar power (5 QRP contacts is all it takes to get 100 points). We will have a VHF station running, so you can experience the magic of 6 meter SSB or CW. We will also have several HF stations running – with capabilities for SSB, CW, FT8 and RTTY. If you have not tried one or more of these modes, come to Field Day and try it out. I had a blast working DX on 2 meter SSB my first Field Day about 20 years ago. I used a 13 element beam mounted atop a 30 foot tower in Pachaug Forest. It was great working a station in Georgia using thermal ducting on VHF! That year, the 6 meter SSB station worked over 100 contacts across the country! We have worked stations through satellites as well. I learned the magic of RTTY at one Field Day and was hooked. I now routinely get on RTTY contests to work DX. There are coaches (we call them band captains) available for all of these modes, so beginners are welcome. We also have Extra class licensed amateurs available to serve as control operators, so you can try any band and mode at our site.
Field Day is also about camping. All are welcome to bring a tent and camp out with us. It is important to let us know if you will be camping so we can ensure the site is configured properly. You will need to bring your own supplies, as the club does not own camping gear. While you do not need to camp out to enjoy Field Day, doing so will allow you to experience the full camaraderie of the event.
This will be the first in-person Field Day since the pandemic began. I will therefore take a few moments to comment on safety. All of our Field Day stations will be housed in separate tents for the event. All are welcome to wear masks if desired. Per the CDC recommendations, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing. People who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. Likewise, we recommend that individuals in high risk categories practice appropriate pandemic safety measures even if fully vaccinated, but the final choice is yours to make, and we will respect your choice.
I hope you have a chance to participate in Field Day this year and that you decide to join RASON or another local club’s event – even if only for an hour or two. I promise you that you will get a lot out of it and that your interest in the hobby will be piqued.
73 for now,