Field Day is basically an open house for Ham Radio. Although the idea of Field Day is to test your equipment by making contacts and testing your ability to communicate if there were an emergency. Many clubs will participate in the 24 hour contesting (although they claim it is NOT a contest…) to accrue as many points for the club as possible. In addition, some clubs may offer to have other activities for members and those interested in learning more about ham radio.
In a club setting where guests are invited, you may have classes, testing sessions if you are ready to take your exam and get licensed, Workshops and lectures about various ham radio related topics, and an opportunity to try out ham radio first hands with a program called GOTA or “Get On The Air” where you can operate a ham radio under the club call sign or the call sign of an operator in the GOTA event. They will show you what to do and what to say and let you have at it! This gives you a crash course in one aspect of ham radio to see if it is something that would interest you.
I am glad you asked. Above is a button that will direct you to the Field Day Activities Locator. Any club in the USA that plans on having a field day function will be listed there. Just go to the map, find your location and if you see a flag, click on it and the information on where to go and who to contact will be there.
There are ham radio clubs all over the United States and at least 98% of them will have some sort of activities planned for Field Day each year.
If they do not have a public participant thing planned, keep searching in your area until you find a club that does. They should have a lot of other activities available to help out new hams as well as those who are just getting interested in the hobby.
Remember when you show up, ask questions…talk to everyone you can. You will learn a lot about radio that day and I think you will benefit form it!
Oh yes!!! There are rules for participating if you plan on contesting during field day. At the top of the page I have two buttons, one of them is a link to the ARRL’s rules for Field Day. I encourage you to click on that link and read up on the rules if you wish to participate and get a better understanding of Field Day contesting.
Some of the basic rules are:
You should know your section based on the map below:
There are various classifications based on how you are setup and what you are using as well as how many operators. For simplicity, we will find the classification if you are by yourself with one radio and on battery power. For further info please see the ARRL rules of field day. (https://www.arrl.org/field-day-rules)
If you are by yourself with one transmitter on battery power only, you would be classified as 1B
CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day this is KI5NPL, 1 Bravo, South Texas (STX) Sierra Tango X-ray
If operating with a club, you will most likely be operating under the club call sign for the duration of the field day festivities.
There are a ton of ways to accrue “points” that are all listed in the field day guide.
CQs on Field Day follows this sequence:
1. Calling CQ (See Above)
2. Receive the station’s acknowledgment
3. Receive the station’s RST Report
4. Transmit your RST Report
5. Receive the station’s acknowledgment
6. End the contact
7. Say QRZ to indicate that you are ready for the next station.
At the time of this page bring created, I am not a contester (aside from POTA…). I like to take that time and opportunity on Field Day to educate others that are interested in ham radio and show them what ham radio has to offer. I like to do classes where people can build a nice antenna that they can take home with them afterwards, or demonstrate POTA, or Using CW (Morse Code) and get them interested without overwhelming them. It is my personal opinion, but I think that my time is better served educating others about ham radio than contesting for points. But that is me…
I like the idea of having some of my radios and equipment setup and showing the various options you have in ham radio from HT’s to Base station radios. Maybe even show some of the antennas, both purchased or built and demonstrate them in operation. Most of us walked into ham radio a bit blind as to what all you can do and what equipment needed to “play radio”. I think it would be a great service to a future ham to show them what is in store and what is possible and let those seeds take root.
Whether you are a ham radio operator or not, if you are interested in learning more about radio or getting involved in field day, get out there!!!
Grab your family or friends, bring some snacks, drinks and maybe a few chairs and go have fun! Now, you may or may not be given an opportunity to operate a radio, but it never hurts to ask. There will be other hams there that will not be contesting…pick their brains for information. Make new friends and learn about ham radio as much as you can!