Monday, June 28, 2010

Field Day 2010

According to the ARRL website over 35,000 US and Canadian radio amateurs gather with their clubs, friends or simply by themselves to operate.  ARRL Field Day is held the last weekend of June each year.  Like the amateur radio hobby there is many aspects to Field Day.  Hams bring their radio gear out to the countryside and operate under varied and adverse conditions.  This gives us a chance to demonstrate for the public and our elected officials the adaptability and usefulness of amateur radio.  Setting up and running our stations in the field is great practice should we be called upon to provide emergency communication in the event of a natural disaster or other calamity that disrupts normal communication channels.  Think hurricane Katrina a few years back.

The operating side of Field Day is like any other contest- make as many contacts with other participating stations as possible in the set time frame.  Food, fun and camaraderie are the other no less important ingredients of this annual event.  This was my first Field Day and I enjoyed observing how other hams operate and even contributed to our club's score with ten CW contacts.  I helped perform computer logging for one of the side band stations which was great fun and quite a learning experience.  Thanks to Mike K8ROX for letting me set in on some side band fun.  It really was like shooting fish in a barrel. 

Here is the 6 meter (50MHz) station operated by Keith N8LIS.  Keith is also a living history re-enactor.  Pictured is his 1750's French and Indian war era tent and shelter.  History and ham radio- two of my favorite things!

The compact yet effective 20 meter (14 MHz) station of our illustrious club president Rick KK8O.

Water droplets on the vinyl window of my tent from the inevitable rain showers that passed through Saturday afternoon.

I set up my 40 meter (7 MHz) CW station in the vestibule of my Cabella's Extreme Weather Tent.  When the rains came I just zipped down the front door and happily kept at it.  To get the full effect of Field Day my son and I brought cots and sleeping bags and camped out the whole weekend.

All five of our operating positions drew power from this generator owned by Roger WM8I who with his son worked 40 meter side band.  This piece of surplus US Air Force AGE (Aerospace Ground Equipment) is actually a mobile lighting platform that has two huge lights that attach to the top of the cart and was used to illuminate aircraft on the flight line for maintenance operations.  The diesel powered generator purred like a kitten all weekend long.  Two RVs and our five stations barely put a load on it.  I did four years in the USAF out of high school and I never thought I would see one of these again let alone use one.

Field Day 2010 was a blast and I am already looking forward to next year's event.  I was the only CW station at our club's site this year.  My goal is to increase my code skill and next year I will set up my full station and maybe even try computer logging.

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