Over the weekend I did my very first ARRL Field Day. It was rather interesting. For those that don’t know what Field Day is, it’s when the Amateur Radio Service (yes there is a public service aspect to the HAM Hobby and License) gets together to make contacts under adverse conditions. The club I am in, Ford Amateur Radio League, teamed up again this year with the Livonia Radio Club. We had a tent with a generator out in the middle of a field.
I was there from about 1am to 7am.
The ARRL works things as a contest, during field day. My tent worked the 80 meter band over night, and finished off the morning on the 20 meter band.
My favorite part of the my time there was during the break I took Sunday Morning to take a bio break. A guy called out to me from across the parking lot while I was on my way to the port-a-john, and asked if I was with the Radio Group.
He was a former Army Radio Operator, and wanted to get in to the HAM Side. He was curious when we would be starting up for the day. I said 2pm Saturday. When do we end, 2pm Sunday. He was confused. I explained we’ve been on the air all night, the basics of Field Day, sent him to my tent to get more info from the guys I was working with.
We passed each other on my way back. He said they were busy, so I sent him to anther tent, and someone there was able to talk to him more.
My least favorite part, was actually getting on the air. There are 2 ways to operate during field day. One can camp on a frequency and call CQ (letting everyone know you’re looking for a contact). Or one can hunt for those calling CQ by running the band from one to the other.
When I got there B was working the logging, and M was calling CQ. I got up to sped, and swapped out for logging. Then after a bit, swapped and I took over the radio. While they heard M and he got a lot of hits in the logs. No one could hear me. B left, and about 30 minutes later A came in and joined me.
Most people could hear me, a little but not make out most of what I’m saying. A and swapped so I could go to the bathroom, when I got back I found out the problem was the equipment. The tuner had to be unplugged and plugged back in.
I chose to not go back on the air. While I had fun with the equipment, I didn’t care for the contest aspect.
While I enjoyed Field Day, contesting really isn’t my thing, and I think next time I’ll still do it, but between now and then, I think I’ll stick to the Radiogram traffic nets.