Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Field Day coming this weekend

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


  1. Hopefully you can get some time on the air. I really enjoy field day and looking forward to a good weekend.

    I'll be operating as K2BAR with our club (BARA) in Northern NJ so listen for us. Don, W2JEK, will be there making QRP contacts on solar power for us. I'll probably stay on 20/15/10 the entire weekend as other folks work the others stations. Good luck and give us a call if you hear us.

  2. Given your choice of the two types of operators, yeah, I'll take the QRPer

    That said, who I REALLY want:
    A guy who can come in, setup a subnet in my DMZ, install and configure Winlink (yes, I know it's annoying on HF, and is often misconfigured to not channel monitor), and set it up to use the following routing - in order of preference

    VHF/UHF Packet (flexnet prefered) with full channel busy monitoring
    HF - again, with Channel Busy

    and who can setup the right antennas, emergency power, and knows the local packet network so knows who is likely to be up, and alternate paths

    This gives the served agencies (Red Cross, Salvation Army etc) EMAIL capability, complete with some attachment capability

    BTW, part of the reason the Salvation Army had it's act together post Katrina, (at least more than the RC did) was that 2-3 guys from Texas showed up with exactly that capability, and was able to clear all the traffic in a couple of days, and allowed the SA to have real logistics ability - emails with exact orders written out - plus emails have time stamps and from/to info

  3. Anonymous1:20 AM

    Larry, My dad and husband duties are leaving town for the night so i just need to do some son duties. That being said i am just going to the campground for a solo qrp outing overnight. To hot/humid/TStorms here in the days without a camper with AC. Screened porch is my speed :-) and simple FT817, batteries, and CW. Then from the shack during the days as i have time. Field days around here but they are about 30+ miles away. Besides i think i will enjoy the solitude. Should have the campground nearly to myself.
    72 Chuck AF4O