Field Day 


2013 Field Day is June 22-23!


   Field Day is an annual amateur radio exercise, widely sponsored by IARU regions and member organizations, encouraging emergency communications preparedness among amateur radio operators. In the United States, it is typically the largest single emergency preparedness exercise in the country, with over 30,000 operators participating each year.

   Since the first ARRL Field Day in 1933, radio amateurs throughout North America have practiced the rapid deployment of radio communications equipment in environments ranging from operations under tents in remote areas to operations inside Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs). Operations using emergency and alternative power sources are highly encouraged, since electricity and other public infrastructures are often among the first to fail during a natural disaster or severe weather.

   To determine the effectiveness of the exercise and of each participant's operations, there is an integrated contesting component, and many clubs also engage in concurrent leisure activities (camping out, cookouts, etc.). Operations typically last a continuous twenty-four hours, requiring scheduled relief operators to keep stations on the air. Additional contest points are awarded for experimenting with unusual modes, making contacts via satellite, and involving youth in the activity.

   Field Day is always the fourth full weekend of June, beginning at 1800 UTC Saturday and running through 2059 UTC Sunday. Field Day 2013 will be held June 22-23, 2013


First International Field Day

In its June 1933 issue, QST magazine announced the start of the first International Field Day activity. The event should last 27 hours beginning the second Saturday at 4 PM local time (there was no daylight savings yet !). The author, F.E. Handy, W1BDI told to conclude his annoucement, "the real object of this contest is to test 'portables' wherever they may be available. If successful, we want to make it an annual affair". The RSGB, NVIR and RB sponsored similar national Field Days in Europe. To score the event, each QSO worked with a fixed station counted 1 point, contacts with other portables counted 2 points, and DX contacts counted 3 points. Multiply QSO points by the total number of ARRL sections, plus countries worked. The winner of this contest was a non-club group signing W4PAW. Club members made 62 QSOs.

1933 Field Day at W0AR.

For the second Field Day of 1934, the multiplier for sections and countries was removed, emphasing to the total number of stations contacted. At this point, multi-band contacts were not permitted. DX contacts, while still allowed, received no special point advantage. The scoring system began to ressemble Field Day as we now know it, with 3-, 2-, or 1-point multiplier per QSO depending on power ouput. But in the '30s, the breakpoints were set at 20 W and 60 W !

This is in 1937 that the "Field Day message" was born. This bonus gave 10 points (before multiplier) and was awarded for a single properly formed and serviced message to League HQ stating the number of ops, location, "conditions", and power.

For the first time, the winning QSO total reached 204, with a breathtaking average rate of 7.5 QSOs per hour. Today copying the ARRL's W1AW message is worth 100 points.

This is in 1940 that modern rules emerged, including contacts on multi-bands, 25 points for Field Day messages, and a 500-feet radius for all equipment what gave multi-transmitter teams a little breathing room. In 50 years the rules changed not less than 12 times, mainly the points assigned to message or the one associated to CW and SSB contacts !

Note at last that in 1941 a VHF-only category was introduced and in 1949 the first Field Day Mobile came to age. In 1975, to avoid the supremacy of SSB, the 2X rule for CW QSOs was introduced. In 1976 while amateurs celebrated the Bicentennial, W1VV/1 celebrated its 10,010 QSOs ! In doing so, the group surpassed the 1933 QSO record in its first 15 minutes of operation !

Today most national IARU societies organise their own Field Day that is usually accessible to all categories of amateurs. Some contesters work QRP with 5 or 10 W output while others work only on VHF, by satellite, powered by battery or even natural power source (e.g. using a bike if a muscled OM is supplied, HI !). In all categories the Field Day stays an event very appreciated by both novices and advanced amateurs. For the contester working in the field in the shadow of a tree this is always a moment of freedom and pleasure. Even SWL are happy as they can easily hear more than a hundred of countries in a weekend.

2013 FD Packet Version 1.pdf 2013 FD Packet Version 1.pdf
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Field Day 2012 - FARS

   I couldn't think of a more perfect way to start the day after days of rain and clouds and more clouds filled with more rain. I had left Calgary a half hour earlier,  and I was pleased as the clouds and the rain had retreated to the northern end of the province, giving way to clear skies and stunning vistas of the Rockies to the west. I was headed out to Scott and Christina Nadler's place southwest of Okotoks, where the Foothills Amateur Radio Society (FARS) were to set up for field day. Of course there was a reason for my getting out there bright and early, as Scott and Christina were putting on a pancake breakfast for those who arrived by 8:00 am. With the Aldersyde turnoff in sight, I turned on to highway 7 and headed west.

    I soon was coming up on 64th street, and turned south towards their acreage located south of highway 7 and up along a ridge with commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
Once I had my pickup parked and had a quick look around, it was time for breakfast. Once we had filled up on a wonderful breakfast, thanks to Scott and Christina, it was time for a meeting to plan strategy in preparation for the setting up of antennas. With the meeting out of the way, and everyone assigned their duties, the guys began setting up antennas. For those of you not up to speed as to the objective of field day, it is to work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands (excluding the 60, 30, 17, and 12-meter bands) and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions. ARRL Field Day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. Each year over 35,000 amateurs gather with their clubs, friends or simply by themselves to operate. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Amateur Radio to local elected community leaders, key individuals with the organizations that Amateur Radio might serve in an emergency, as well as the general public.

   Before long the various antennas were taking shape, with two towers being set up for yagis, as well as another mast to support a 6 meter yagi, and a variety of wire antennas covering a variety of bands. Once the antennas were set up, the antennas would have their runs of coax connected to the transceivers located in two different operating locations, with six operators manning the radios and making contacts. The noon hour start time rolled up on the clock, and we were underway. With the bands in good shape the contacts began to roll in, and the operators were kept busy with contacts being made and logs being kept. Part of the idea of field day is to concentrate on getting “newbies” on the air, and through the afternoon, various visitors to the FARS field day operation were pressed in to service as operators.

   It goes without saying that part of a successful field day operation, is to have plenty to eat, and that was covered nicely with snacks available throughout the day, including lunch and supper served up by the Nadler's, and prepared on a custom built barbecue built by "Aero-Tech" and provided by Tammy VA6TSS and Jim Scheirman. Thank you everyone. Besides shooting photos throughout the day, I also was the go to guy to try and make a contact on one of the FM satellites orbiting the earth. My two first attempts were a bust, due to the mishmash of hams spread across North America trying to access the satellites all at once, intent on making a field day contact, and scoring 100 bonus points for achieving the contact. After two failed attempts, I was getting worried it was not going to happen. At 4:30pm, with AO51 due to rise over the south pole, and a 40 degree easterly pass, I prepared for what would be the final good pass of the day. AO51 came up over my horizon, and I realized that I may have a chance, as the activity on the bird was not as intense as on my two previous attempts. As AO51 worked its way north, and the stations located to the south of me dropped off, I was able to make a successful field day contact, giving me a sigh of relief

   Things were good. The rest of the day passed by quickly, and thats probably due to the fact that I had spent a most enjoyable field day. Of course, field day continued on, and those in attendence would man the radios through the night, and ending at noon. I must thank all the hams that were in attendence, and if I missed any one, let me know. Great group of hams, and thanks everyone for a great day. Bryce VA6LBS, Dann VE6TD, Ray VE6LG, Grahm VE6GRA, Scott VE6OBL,Christine VA6OBL Mark VE6AY, Shaun VE6YA, Tyrell VE6TXX, Jim VE6JKV, John WB0EQ, Gord VE6TK, Gary VE6MU, Lou VE6AC, Wally VE6BGL, Tim VA6TH, Tom VE6OBA, and John VA6GEO. Again thanks, it was fun.

Posted by Jerry-VE6AB