CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day….

CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day….
By Glenn Petri KE4KY
As we near the month of June, most Amateur Radio clubs turn their attention to the annual ARRL Field Day radio event.  Since 1933, Amateur Radio enthusiasts across the States venture out of their comfort zones and operate in many different public venues.  Thousands of individuals, small groups, and radio clubs strike portable Amateur Radio stations in parks, camping areas, farms, large fields, churches, government buildings, and the like to celebrate this “on-air” operating event.
Ralph Wettle W4HK & Glenn Petri KE4KY (CW Station)
Since the early days of Amateur Radio, the operator and his radio has long been a source of secondary communications during times of local or statewide disaster events.  The history of Amateur Radio is replete with accounts where the Radio Amateur, coupled with a served agency or group, has responded to a need for communicators thereby rendering assistance  during a short-lived absence of standard communication avenues.  During most any natural disaster, or severe weather event, a corps of trained Amateur Radio volunteers is ready to serve and to fill a communication gap until professional disaster assistance arrives on the scene. 
The early Field Day events were geared mainly toward the mere physical exercise of getting “portable” stations on the air and completing as many contacts as possible over the prescribed period.  Upon seeing the success of the initial event, the ARRL determined to make this a yearly exercise.  Considering the equipment of the day, it must have been a monumental task for the equipment to go “afield.”  As the years progressed, the ARRL continued to add some additional nugget to the event to generate interest among the growing Amateur Radio ranks.  Although stymied by WWII, with no Field Day events from 1942 through 1945, the event was back on track in 1946.  Field Day has changed and morphed several times since its inception, with the look of the Field Day we see today beginning around 1950, with the advent of more extensive “rules” to govern the event as it grew in its popularity and in its scope. 
Given the advancements of radio equipment during World War II, Amateur Radio took leaps and bounds in its growth in the years that followed.  Naturally, going portable in those days became much easier, thus increasing the activity of the annual event.  As Field Day continues into the future, it is sure to see small changes here and there to keep itself viable given the state of current technology, and to keep the event relevant to the active Amateur Radio community.
Field Day is best described as a pie containing three slices….
1.     One part public service event
2.     One part social event
3.     One part contesting event

The club or group participating in the event is most suitable to determine how large any one slice of that pie should be.  One group may use the event purely for a social gathering with little emphasize on “radio” or even having a serious operating regimen.  The next group may be all out for the training value of setting up a series of stations in quick fashion to determine their abilities for serving a particular agency or community.  Another group may focus solely on achieving a high QSO count with a contest style approach to the outing, hoping to earn top billing in their state or region.  Whatever the approach, it all fits well within the scope of the event.
Buddy Sohl KC4WQ at the CW Station of KY4KY
Even after thirty-eight years of being involved in the Amateur Radio hobby, I still enjoy the many aspects of the Field Day challenge.  I am a semi-serious contest participant and love the competitive aspect of the event, but I am equally thrilled to see friends and mentors from my past that makes it out for some fun, food, and a little radio.  It is always good to reconnect with friends and acquaintances from years past, to reminisce about humble beginnings and the good times had over the many years.  The “team” aspect of the event is also very intriguing to me.  It is great to have a core group of friends that work so very hard to get stations assembled, antennas erected, generators operational, and computers interfaced.  My Field Day experiences prepared me well for many of the activities I encountered while on my first major DX-pedition to Campbell Island in 2012.  I likened our DX-pedition activities to a Field Day that lasted seven days!
Bill Scott NM4K Pounding out the CW Contacts
As you approach YOUR Field Day event, think about what it is YOU can do to make it better….for everyone!  It is imperative that everyone wishing to participate:
·       Provide input to the organizers in their areas of expertise
·       Be active in the planning of stations, antennas, etc…
·       Participate in the set-up and/or tear-down
·       Mentor the less experienced operator
·       Except coaching from the more experienced ops
·       Be positive, no matter what goes wrong
·       Get on the radio
I look forward to it every year…. I hope you will too!
See you on the air!