Sure enough, it's that time of year again. June has literally blown by at the speed of light and Field Day (the last full weekend in June) is here.
It promises to be a busy weekend, personally, with a lot of demands on my time. I don't think that I will be making it to any of the local Field Day sites. And believe me, here in New Jersey, you have quite the choice! All within a relatively short distance from me, I can go to the W2QW/K2ETS venture, which is only about 6 miles away. Also within the immediate area is the RBRA, the Raritan Bay Radio Amateurs who will be putting K2GE on the air in Sayreville, NJ. With just a bit longer drive, I can hook up with the Field Day at the RCA Sarnoff Labs site in Princeton, NJ. This is the one that most members of the NJQRP attend, I believe. And then near Trenton, in Mercer County will be the DVRA (Delaware Valley Radio Association) effort.
The weather outlook for the weekend is looking good so far. I hope to set up the portable QRP station in the backyard and put some time in between Dad and Husband and Son duties that I need to take care of this weekend.
Gone are the days when I would disappear from my parent's house for the entire weekend between set up on Friday, Field Day proper on Saturday, and then clean up into Sunday evening. There were many a night spent sleeping at the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club's site in either W2PQ's pop up camper or W2WK's trailer. Sunburn, mosquito bites and exhaustion were the norm for late that post Field Day Sunday evening.
So enjoy Field Day with your club or organization if you possibly can. If you can't, you might want to consider using Field Day as an opportunity to go solo and experiment with your portable QRP set up, refining antennas, operating procedures, etc. This way, when you hit the trail (or park or campsite) you will have a good idea of what works for you and what doesn't. You will know what's necessary to bring along; and what's just so much unnecessary fluff. And it never hurts to get a little practice in, getting those antennas launched and ready to go. The bands will be busy (to say the least) so it will be an excellent chance to get a feel for how well your portable set up is working (or not).
When all is said and done, afterward you can use the experience to make whatever changes you feel are prudent. It is definitely no fun to go on vacation and take your portable station with you, only to find out that something is not working; or that you have left something out of your "Go Bag" that is totally necessary. Field Day makes for a good "trial run". And after all, the bottom line is that Field Day is all about setting up under less than optimal conditions in order to get emergency communications out.
In the case of an actual emergency or disaster, if I was told that I had to set up a Field Emcomm Station and I could choose either a QRPer who was used to operating in the field using batteries and portable antennas; or a guy whose ONLY exposure to Amateur Radio involved using a kilowatt and a 100 foot tower, I think you know who I would choose to go to battle with!
Most of all, have fun and be safe!
72 de Larry W2LJ