Field Day Bonus Points

Discussion of ARRL Field Day event.

Field Day Bonus Points

Postby Jamie_WB4YDL » Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:23 pm

Bonus points - those two words come up often in different arenas as relates to contests and sporting events. Usually it relates to a penalty or forfeiture to an opposing team or enemy. For example, the free throw in basketball represents the only time you can get "free" points as a result of a foul by the opposing team. The same principle exists in games such as hockey and soccer. But on Field Day, Bonus Points are nearly as free as free beer ! :mrgreen: For a truly successful Field Day, the maximization of available bonus points ranks at the very top.

There are a whole slew of bonus points available to all classes of operation during Field Day. To gain these points, a little planning is necessary. Let's go through what they are.

  • 100% Emergency Power: 100 points for power obtained independent of commercial power mains. This bonus is multiplied by the number of simultaneous transmitters up to 20. For example, for a 3A operation, this bonus would account for 300 bonus points.
  • Media Publicity: 100 bonus points for attempting to obtain local media publicity. In our case, we always have an announcement in the paper.
  • Public Location: 100 bonus points for physically locating the Field Day operation in a public place. The intent here is for amateur radio to be on public display. In our case, this bonus does not apply. In previous years we have located our operation at the city park and fairgrounds.
  • Public Information Table : 100 points for this. The purpose is to make appropriate handouts and information available to the visiting public at the site. To claim this bonus, you must submit your evidence - copy of visitor's log, copies of club handouts, etc.
  • Message Origination to Section Manager : 100 points for origination of an NTS message to either the Section Manager or Section Emergency Coordinator. This is a standard National Traffic System (NTS) radiogram that includes the club name, number of participants (particularly ARES members), and Field Day location. You must include the serviced copy of this message with your entry submission. In previous Field Days, we would check into the TN Phone Net on 75M on Saturday evening and pass this message - which would be routinely discarded. It also made us late for dinner ! There is a much easier way to obtain this message bonus without the hassle factor !
  • Message Handling : 10 bonus points for each formal NTS message relayed, received , or originated during the Field Day period, up to a maximum of 100 points. This is ten (10) messages. You can't count the message to the SM or SEC but the technique is exactly the same. This is usually points left on the table because people envisioned a lemonade stand-like operation where messages from the visiting public would be collected to be sent via ham radio to relatives to say "I am here. How are you? I love you." That sort of thing. Nothing could be further from what is required to obtain this bonus - and the SM bonus above. The secret sauce - Winlink !!
  • Satellite QSO : 100 bonus points for completing one QSO via amateur radio satellite during the Field Day period. It used to be a LOT of work to obtain this bonus because an entire station needed to be constructed for the purpose or making one single QSO. Here are a couple of guidelines to gaining this bonus - first, don't even think about working an FM low earth orbit (LEO) satellite such as AO-51 and AO-27. They are completely jammed with the multitude attempting to do the same thing - capture an FM repeater in orbit. Completely futile ! :( The easiest actual satellite to gain this bonus is VO-52, an SSB bird. This will require some learned technique as this is an inverting transponder - you transmit in LSB and receive in USB. You transmit on 435MHz and receive on 2M. As the Doppler effect will increase/decrease frequency faster on transmit than on receive, it will do so inversely. That is, when frequency increases on 435MHz, it will decrease on 2M. Yep, it is actually more complicated than that ! :geek: These birds are actually a LOT of fun and a great learning experience. If you have never operated on satellites before, Field Day is NOT the time to learn it !! Another SSB bird to consider that has a great footprint is FO-29. This all works with a simple hand-held Arrow antenna.

    There's a better and much easier way ! Most curiously, the International Space Station (ISS) is NOT considered a satellite and contact with astronauts on the ISS only count as voice contacts as with a DX station. Quite some DX ! Their usual exchange is 1E DX as they are most assuredly distant from commercial mains ! Interestingly, they could be considered 1C as an aeronautical (astronautical ?) mobile ! :shock:

    As luck would have it, the ISS maintains an operational packet digipeater on 145.825 MHz. Direct packet contacts with the occupants of the ISS, like the phone contacts, do NOT count for the satellite bonus. BUT, contacts through the digipeater to others on terra firma count as a satellite QSO. This can be done with minimal hardware and software - put a 2M 'stick' on top of the VHF tower for Field Day and you have plenty. Use the free UISS software for packet digipeater QSO's through the ISS and have fun ! I use a pocket-sized Kantronics KPC-3+ TNC for this ... and Winlink ! :ugeek:

    Bottom line - if you're not competing / operating in the parallel AMSAT Field Day, don't bother setting up a complete separate satellite ground station. It's not worth it.
  • ;)
  • Alternate Power : 100 points for making a minimum of five (5) QSO's without using power from commercial mains or a petroleum driven generator. Alternate energy sources can be solar, water, wind, or methane / propane. Methane is your basic cow flatulence - I wouldn't recommend it. What we do to obtain this bonus is to use a small 7 amp-hour gel cell battery in concert with a solar panel and charge controller and feed it to the CW station. You have to use one of your regular stations to get this bonus - not an extra station. We run the CW station at QRP levels for 5 QSO's on solar power and then disconnect and reconnect to the regular generator. This is a very easy bonus to get.
  • W1AW Bulletin : 100 points for copying a special Field Day bulletin transmitted by W1AW (or the West coast K6KPH) during the operating schedule posted by W1AW. This is to simulate general bulletins which would be sent in the event of a widespread emergency / disaster. The schedule makes it clear that you can obtain this bonus by copying it via several modes - voice, CW, or digital modes. An accurate copy of this bulletin must be submitted for bonus credit. This bonus should be delegated to the new HF operator in the club - an easy 100 points.
  • Educational Activity Bonus : This is a relatively new bonus started a couple years ago to make Field Day more, um ... educational. (as if it weren't already !) Here's how you get this easy 100 points for your club - get folks together on Saturday morning before operations begin and make a short presentation on any number of things. This could be dipole basics, installing a PL-259 connector, solar power how-to's, etc., etc. Don't plan on doing this during the actual operational time - nobody will have time to listen !
  • :roll:
  • Site Visitation by an Elected Government Official : 100 point bonus if the site is visited by an elected government official. We have had the county mayor visit in past Field Days.
  • Site Visitation by a Representative of an Agency: 100 points for an appointed (non-elected) official of an agency served by ARES such as American Red Cross, Salvation Army, local Emergency Management, or law enforcement.
  • GOTA Bonus: This bonus set was discussed in detail in a previous post. This is a big time bonus that warranted a separate post.
  • Web Submission : Yep, that's my duty after everybody's gone home and I'm alone with my computer. Scary, huh !? 8-) Anyway, the powers-that-be actually give you 50 points if you use the internet to submit the whole kit and caboodle.
  • Youth Participation Bonus : This bonus earns 20 points for each participant 18 years old or younger who makes one QSO to a maximum of 100 points. This means that 5 young folks 18 years old or younger that make one QSO will get you the maximum bonus of 100 points for the operation.

The above is a pretty exhaustive treatment of all the available bonus points during Field Day. As you can see you can obtain a great many points before even making the first QSO. For example, if you decide to setup in a WalMart parking lot, have a media release in the paper, and handouts for the visiting public and have the mayor and Red Cross officials visit during your event, you've just earned your club 500 points without ever touching a radio ! :D

Maximizing these Bonus Points is the meat of a truly successful Field Day event. Go get'em !

73, Jamie
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:45 am
Location: Union City, TN

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