Sunday, June 27, 2010

Field Day changes?

I received a very interesting and thought provoking e-mail from my friend Bob W3BBO with regards to Field Day. His observations and thoughts about Field Day in the Erie, PA region are a good share:

Hi Larry,
I wonder if they will eventually make FD a one day event? This morning after Mass, I talked on 160 with Tom KA3FZN, then decided to take a drive and see how the guys were making out. Nice morning here, a little warm but very humid, a good time to spend in a car with A/C.
Anyway, I drive down to Union City and....nobody there! Not a sign of antennas or anything. Guess they packed it in at sunset yesterday. I continued on to the Wattsburg Wireless site and found Frank KB3NAT there packing everything away. Frank is a young enthusiastic ham who spent all day Saturday and Saturday night at FD. He said he had had enough and was heading home to bed! It was 11 AM.

I remember you used to enjoy the night shift at FD, but I wonder how many clubs stay with it for the full time period? This might make a good poll for the ARRL.

Maybe a one day event with setup starting at 8 AM local, under emergency conditions would be more interesting? You could run a 100 watt rig if you like, off of batteries, but no generators. Solar panels, use them if you got them. Once your batteries run down though, you're out of the game. I imagine the rules could be such that operating under emergency conditions could be fun, interesting, and very informative. Never happen though, FD is just a social event no matter how we Hams preach the emergency side of it.

Guess these kind of thoughts always come up after FD! Hi.

Stay cool,
73 de Bob W3BBO

What has YOUR experience been? Did your club or group have enough operators? Did you have a hard time filling time slots, especially the overnight?

When I was active with the Piscataway Amateur Radio Club, I did the best I could to stay the whole 24 hours. When I was a club officer, I felt it was my duty. But there were times when I was the only one banging away at the key for the 2:00 to 4:00 AM shift - doing my own logging to boot. I guess it's always the same. People are more than eager to grab the mic or key when things start happening at 2:00 PM on Saturday afternoon and then on Sunday morning after a good night's sleep. Filling in those hours from about 10:00 PM or so until about 7:00 AM Sunday morning can be a chore.

Would Field Day be better as a one day event? Would participation go down or perhaps even up? I think for the big stations, it would probably go down. I can understand the thought process of, "I'm not doing all this work for just one day". Conversely, maybe the participation by small one or two manned, stick-a wire-in-a-tree-and-let's-get-going efforts would increase.

Things to think about, for sure.

72 de Larry W2LJ


  1. We ran a 1E with 2 operators, and manned it for almost the entire 24 hours (we both DID stop for dinner)1129 QSOs, up in NNJ

    Part of the reason for the overnight/24 hour gig is so that everyone gets a taste of all the conditions you'll get for the day

    As for batteries - we used to run a 24 hour 3A, totally on solar recharged batteries, so that's not much of a limit - we've found that 2 or 3 90Ah deep cycle batteries per operating station gets us 24 hours - of course, we're recharging for a week after, but (heck, we were on Batterypower from Midnight till 8:00am with the 1E, and it's sitting on a solar power charger right now)

  2. I have no problem with generators... they are definitely "emergency power" and a lot safer to deal with than a stack of batteries.

    I'd like to see it moved to a 1000 UTC saturday to 1000 UTC sunday sort of event with setup on Friday night. I see no reason to wreck all the non-WRC bands with a contest (ANY contest) for the entire weekend.

    Where we were, we could her some US stations starting their contest QSOs 10 minutes early... That was unfortunate, but I guess when there's points there will also be cheaters.

    73 de VE3OIJ

  3. The 80 meter CW "iron ear" hams are slowing becoming extinct. They're the only thing that really buoyed scores in the midnight hours. I operated 1D 20 meters while the sun was up and turned off the rig at 9pm.

  4. I wouldn't object to it being a one day event as long as the other rules remain the same. I wouldn't want to disallow generators or even home stations or EOC stations running on commercial power. Home stations, and especially EOC's with emergency power capabilities should at least test it even if they choose to not run on it during the entire event.

    Our club runs a 2A operation with GOTA station that makes extensive use of generator power. (Or would the inclusion of a GOTA station make it 3A? I can't remember.) We secure donated fuel and drag a couple of communications trailers out into a field for the event. The public is invited as well as elected officials. During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the Red Cross had a staging area in an abandoned K-Mart building here in Montgomery, AL and members of our club were heavily involved in that effort. Our experiences with field day were invaluable preparation for that.

    This year I operated 1E from my home. I had planned on running my generator but when then generator wouldn't start I dropped back to plan B and ran on battery power. I still view it as a success because I found out that my generator needs work and that even without it I can still maintain effective communications on battery power.

    Considering all of that, I really don't see the point in changing anything. If you've got the stamina, or man power, to go the whole 27 hours (assuming you didn't start setting up early in which case you're limited to 24 hours) then do it. Otherwise operate as much as you want or are able.

  5. RE starting early - we did the classic "calling cq,making non logged/non contest qsos" for about 15 minutes before the start time - basically holding a run frequency, testing our setup. At the tick, we went from CQ 20, thank you, see you in the contest and good luck, to CQ Field Day