Field Day Introduction - part 1

Discussion of ARRL Field Day event.

Field Day Introduction - part 1

Postby Jamie_WB4YDL » Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:30 am

Anybody have a soft spot in their heart for this weather ? Didn’t think so ! But this is exactly the weather we will face in 3 weeks, unless the weather gods smile on us. Don’t bet on it. Last year we had 4 months of this ! It is my goal to provide an introduction to Field Day, its rules, what it provides for in terms of bonus points, and safety concerns. It’s hard to believe, but I shall have been involved in Field Day preparations in a major way with this club for 9 years – beginning in 2003. Yikes ! I’ve been in several other clubs and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the experiences I have gotten from RARC. I guess the best way to start is at the beginning – before things were organized the way they are now. Many smaller clubs organize poorly and don’t have a plan for operating. Many larger clubs have this affliction too. For example, many will just put out several stations with odd-type antennas, count the number of stations, and call that their exchange. The problem with this is they have no idea of what bands and modes are to be operated on at any given time and there is no way to track duplicate contacts (dupes) on that same band/mode. Actually, you can today track many varied stations by networking computers. However, the clubs that are not terribly organized typically don’t even want to hear the word ‘computer’ !! :P So what you’re left with is a mess – different stations which may actually be transmitting on the same band, antennas pointing at each other, and widely scattered pieces of paper that make no sense. It is to these points that I decided to address when I became involved in Field Day operations.

Date and Time Period: Always the 4th full weekend of June. Operations begin at 18Z Saturday which is 1 PM local, and ends (for us) on 18Z Sunday (again 1 PM).

  • The month of June can sometimes start on a Sunday – that piece of a weekend is not counted as one of the 4 weekends in June.
  • If you are class A or B (explained below), and you start setup at 18Z Saturday, you may operate for 3 additional hours on Sunday (to 21Z).
  • No class A or B station can begin setup prior to 18Z on the Friday preceding Field Day.
Nearly all stations begin to break down their stations at 18Z Sunday – why ? They are all nearly exhausted and the number of stations to contact reduces exponentially ! There are no Class C to F stations on past 18Z.

Entry Categories: These are classified according to the maximum number of simultaneously transmitted signals, followed by a letter designator indicating the nature of individual or group participation.

  • There is a maximum of 20 transmitters for the purpose of calculating bonus points (2000 points max.). I’ll describe bonus points in a later post. There used to be clubs that would field over 30 stations (and still do) for the purpose of getting those bonus points until the ARRL capped it a few years ago.
  • All equipment (including antennas) must lie within a circle with a diameter of 300 meters (1000 feet). That’s nearly 0.2 miles, folks ! Take an image of the Google map of our FD location and use a protractor scaled for a radius of 500 feet and you’ll be surprised how large an area that is. Now this applies to field operations specific to Class A.
  • Bonus stations do not count towards determining the number of transmitters for the class and as such, do not count towards the transmitter bonus points. Bonus stations are –
    • Get on the Air station (GOTA)
    • Satellite station
    • VHF/UHF station
For our purposes, we have 3 simultaneously transmitting signals not counting the GOTA and VHF stations. So let’s look at the next part, the letter designator.

Classes:
  • Class A: Club or non-club portable operation
    • You have to have three (3) or more persons – not one or two.
    • Must be in-the field portable operation not utilizing fixed installations.
    • All contacts must be made independent of commercial power mains.
    • Can operate a Get on the Air (GOTA) station if your transmitter class is two or more. We’ll discuss GOTA stations in a later post.
    • Can operate one free VHF/UHF station regardless of transmitter class (new for this year). This station uses the club’s primary call sign (K4RFT).
  • Class B: One or two person portable
    • If you have less than 3 persons, you are in this class. An example would be two guys taking turns at one station set up in a park – they would be 1B. Two guys in two separate tents operating their own stations, would be class 2B. Three guys taking turns using one transmitter in a park would be classified 1A (see above).
    • Can not operate a free GOTA or VHF station.
  • Class C: Mobile
    • Stations in vehicles capable of operating while in motion. Yes, the vehicle can (and should) be parked !
    • Includes maritime and aeronautical mobile stations.
  • Class D: Home stations
    • Permanent or licensed station locations using commercial power.
    • Can only count non-class D stations.
  • Class E: Home stations – Emergency power
    • Same as class D but using emergency power for transmitters.
    • Can count contacts with all Field Day stations.
  • Class F: Emergency Operations Centers (EOC)
    • Must take place at an established EOC.
    • Can be club or non-club group.
    • May utilize temporary or permanent equipment and antennas installed at the EOC.
    • Can operate GOTA and free VHF stations if utilizing two simultaneous transmitters or more – Class 2F or higher.
    • Can test emergency power and claim the emergency power bonus, but not required to run the operation under emergency power.

OK, this post is getting a little long and if you have made it to this point, you’re good ! :mrgreen: Post your questions about any of this or any of the rules – I’m quite familiar with them. Also post your experiences with past Field Day operations. Have any of you operated Field Day in a class other than Class A in the past ? I have and I’ll post my experience later.

73, Jamie
WB4YDL
Jamie_WB4YDL
 
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Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:45 am
Location: Union City, TN

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