Tuesday, June 21, 2011

4 days 'til Field Day!

Some technical errors corrected in-line.

Amateur Radio Field Day is held the last full weekend in June every year.  while it technically starts Saturday morning and runs through Sunday morning, many (if not most) hams will only run Saturday.

The ARRL runs it as a contest, and a lot of hams are big on contests.  There are all kinds of contests held, for just about every mode of operation there is, and with an incredible variety of themes, especially geographic ones, such as Washington state's "Salmon Run", in which you endeavor to make a contact, or "QSL", in each country.  (Technically, the ARRL says it's not a contest contest, because it's "non-adjudicated" and there are no prizes other than braggin' rights.)

In a contest, you get points for... well, it depends on the contest.

Field Day is very popular, partly because the rules of the "contest" aren't as rigorous as in others, but also because, being held when it is, the weather is pretty nice most of the time, most places, and the rules encourage group participation outdoors.  You get extra points for multiple radios, and for operating off of "non-traditional" power sources--one of the reasons for Field Day is to practice operating under emergency conditions.  (The Field Day Summary Sheet lists the "points multipliers" used; it may seem complicated, but compared to some contests, it's simple!)

Another reason is "public outreach"--a club gets extra points for operating a "Get On The Air" station and allowing non-hams (or new hams, licensed less than a year) to make a contact.  Get your club's Field Day in the paper invite elected officials and/or reps from "served agencies"--who might be from the local Emergency Management department, or a non-profit agency with an emergency response function, i.e., the Red Cross, etc.--and you get points for that, too.

Obviously, drumming up interest in the hobby is a goal.

I sometimes find myself wondering what an asocial curmudgeon like me is doing in a hobby that is pretty much inherently a social activity.  Well, the overall "geek factor" helps  a lot.  The fact is, just because the hobby revolves around making contact with and talking to strangers  doesn't preclude participation by members of the social awkward squad.

Or, you can think of it as challenging your phobias.  That works, too...
Previous Field Day posts:

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