Making everyday Field Day

Since I began my ham radio journey in 1997, I’ve always looked forward to one event more than any other: ARRL Field Day.

No doubt, this is due to the fact that one of my earliest experiences after being licensed was participating in Field Day with my (then) local club ACARA in Athens, Ohio. We were operating 1A battery which meant “One transmitter, club or non-club group, power output of five watts maximum.”

In short? It was a blast and a proper introduction to the power of QRP.

In fact, Eric (WD8RIF) has such a deep archive of field events on his site, you can read the original  field report here.

I was already looking forward to the next field day as we were packing up our site that year.  It was insane fun.

2022 Field Day

Gaétan Trépanier (VE2GHO) making final adjustments to the club’s HF Yagi during Field Day 2017

I had hoped to spend Field Day 2022 with the amazing crew at C.R.A.Q (Club Radio Amateur de Québec), but it just didn’t work out due to our family schedule which included some beautiful hikes. I’ve spent Field Day with C.R.A.Q. twice before and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I did, however, make a couple dozen random Field Day contacts in CW on 20 meters from our condo.

I’m grateful to Vince (VE6LK) who held a Field Day Zoom conference call all weekend hosted by his local club, the Foothills Amateur Radio Society. It was a drop-in, drop-out 24 hour session and was a brilliant substitute for all of the amazing side conversations one would typically have during an in-person club Field Day event. It was great meeting members of FARS, friends like George (KJ6VU), and so many others who popped by for a visit.

Field Day Everyday!

I’ll admit that I get a bit of that Field Day feeling each time I do a park or summit activation.

There’s none of the in-person camaraderie because my activations are typically solo, but on the air I’m connecting with my POTA family and friends. It often feels like a little on-air reunion where we all check in.

Of course, it certainly scratches that Field Day itch of setting up my radio gear in the great outdoors, operating from battery power, experimenting with antennas, and sometimes even managing small pile-ups.

I live for that stuff!

How about your Field Day?

Tell us about your 2022 Field Day experience in the comments section!

Did you play Field Day with a club or at home? Did you hop on the air? What were conditions like? What gear did you use and did you experiment with any new antenna designs?

Inquiring minds want to know. Please comment!

16 thoughts on “Making everyday Field Day”

  1. Well Thomas I didn’t get a chance to even get on the air. In 55 plus years, I have to admit I’ve never been to a field day. Maybe as you said, is why I like POTA — I can get out there and set up independent of my home and the power plug in the wall. I said I was going to go out to the local club though couldn’t find the time, weekends are hard for me to get out and/or on the air most of the time…… maybe next year!!

    Fr Richard

  2. I traveled from NYC to Las Vegas and brought a Mission RGO 1, an Emcomm 3 wire antenna, a 12 Volt Battery, a mike, and a cw Morse key. Andy at W7HEN in Henderson, NV graciously allowed me and my 3 high school students a flag pole (there are no good trees in Nevada!) to hang our wire antenna from. We were up and operating in about 15 minutes, calling CQ on both SSB and cw.

    We made 2 solid cw contacts before we had to pack up and go due to our schedule.

    Everyone had a great time and a big thank you to Andy and his crew!

  3. My short report for my club news, The Elmira Amateur Radio Club, in Elmira, Ontario:
    This was my first ever Field Day in which I operated. Thanks to our club organizers and all who helped with the success of the ERC Field Day. I attended from noon until 9 pm Saturday and it was, from the perspective of a new ham, an excellent experience! I really appreciated the fact that so many in attendance stopped by, checked out my set up, offered assistance (especially a club member who leant me his Bioenno battery so I could run a full 5w on my FT-818!) and offered advice and technical assistance! Thanks for the recharge of the laptop too, and for the food support from fellow club members.
    My goal was the deploy a newly built EF Random Wire antenna using a Nelson Antenna matching box to see if it will work for me using, as Thomas has done on numerous activations, speaker wire!

    I made 14 contacts, all but one on FT8. The single SSB was on 20 from North Dakota.
    My first and last contacts were with VE3 stations, and most of the others were in New England and mid-Atlantic states, and one from Puerto Rico.

    Things I learned-

    1-When WSJTX pops up with a “Do you want to enter Field Day Mode?” notification, you need to figure that out more quickly! It took me until late afternoon to get into the Advanced Settings and make the adjustment so that Class and location are recorded.
    2-Reid’s Corollary to Murphy’s Law is true: When Calling “VA” just say “Victor America” to avoid misunderstanding with your call sign with US hams! I attempted to call back on SSB, almost all in the US, but was rarely heard. When US hams hear the V and the 3 it’s often assumed it’s a VE3. We now have many VA3 calls, hence the challenge.
    3-My experimental 41′ long wire antenna with Nelson matching box using #18 speaker wire up 25′ in a tree in “sloper’ configuration was working well. I was able to manually tune it using an old MFJ 16010 tuner while watching the little SW meter on the miniature screen on the FT-818 radio. I was able to tune 80, 40, 30, 20 and 15. One of my contacts was on 30 so it doesn’t count.
    4-Hams are exceptionally patient, even when contesting. I could hear a young girl on SSB coming in at 59 repeating her call sign, with dad’s coaching, over and over while the receiving ham was having difficulty copying it from his location. He patiently asked her to repeat it so he could confirm the contact. She was thrilled! So was I.
    Thrilled with my first Field Day!
    Rod VA3MZD

  4. Hello Thomas. I didn’t make it out to Field Day this year. I am not into the contest atmosphere often found during Field Day. I used to be a contestor and won a couple of awards. These days, I prefer a more laid back attitude. In addition, here in the southeast USA, it gets mighty hot. Instead, I built a storage tie down system for the back of my truck. It makes organizing my POTA stuff so much better.

  5. Thomas, like you I was with family enjoying vacation so I made some random contacts while hiking the Grand Canyon north rim and from our AirBnB in Kanab, UT. Still had lots of fun and was able to work around the family schedule. 73, KI4ASK

  6. Hi Thomas, I had to split my time between a family event this weekend and FD, at our house in NY’s Southern Tier. I managed a total of about 5 hours operation 1B battery with solar, and had a great time. The weather this weekend was perfect: sunny skies, high temp in the 80’s – beautiful.
    Gear was:
    Xiegu X-6100
    random end fed wire (kit from KM4ACK)
    2 Bienno 4.5AH batteries
    60 watt Bienno solar panel and controller
    Everything performed well, although I had a scare with the X-6100 Saturday night – UI locked up and it would not shut down. Long story short, pay attention to the power down sequence when shutting off this rig, remove external power connections first before initiating shutdown. I was able to get it back on line by reloading the firmware.
    All in all a great FD, glad to hear you got to enjoy it too.
    Mike N2HTT

  7. We were camping and had lots of family activities but I did manage to get a chance to do some field day contacts, 102 to be exact. I setup my Bioenno Solar panel system and used my G90 tranceiver. I had a Spider Beam 40′ pole holding up one end of my CHA-EMCOMM-II antenna. 40, 20, and 15 meters were the bands that most contacts were made from. I did make one on 80. I was located in Eastern NC and managed contracts from as far North as Quebec Canada, as far East and South as the Virgin Islands, and as far West as Utah. Some were very easy and some were a little work but all were great fun.
    73 Don kb3drw

  8. Field Day was awesome. I participated as a member of the K3MJW team operating 4E from the Skyview Radio Society club station just north of Pittsburgh, PA. I got a lot of operating and second-chair time with the CW transceiver, and had an absolute blast as my copy skills were challenged and stretched.

    Overall, K3MJW ended up just short of 1500 QSOs. More importantly, there was great comeraderie, lots of learning, many stories shared, new memories made, and lots of delicious food. With Field Day finished less than 20 hours ago, I can’t wait for next year!!!

    Best 73 de Brian – K3ES

  9. I have never participated in field day, at least not the official field day. I am active in SOTA and recently began participating in POTA and WWFF. I always operate QRP, mainly cw with the occasional ssb.

    I took a hike and did a SOTA/POTA/WWFF activation from a summit in the Eastern Sierras, wrapping up about two hours before the official field day began. This is the second year in a row I did this. The bands were up and down down for me. Lots of QSB as it got later in the morning.

    Mike – N6MKW

  10. I didn’t have an opportunity to get out and about for this weekend so I planned on working 1E from home on batteries but the propagation gods were not very pleased with the Pacific NW this year. 20M pretty well shut down top to bottom. Spoke to my brother in SoCal, big contest club, big antenna farm, and their QSO counts were markedly down as well.

    It does make one appreciate our “regular” field activities since, for many hams, this weekend is their only out-of-the-shack experience of the year.

    On the bright side, I didn’t have to charge the batteries much to get ready for the next adventure!

  11. I did Field Day with our club, the Hernando Co ARC (just north of Tampa, FL). The 10 years I have been with the club we have done big field Days, they have been doing for years. No just drag out a small rig and put up a simple antenna, we do it right.

    Put up at 40 ft a full wave 80m loop and had the Ham EOC trailer as we would if really deployed. This does give us training with the trailer and also gives it a good test and check out for when it is really needed.

    This year we did not put up our tower with tri-band beam, a mistake. I put up my 40m OCFD and worked CW with my IC7300 and some with the IC705 at QRP.

    Band conditions were not so good, 40m opened late, 20m remained open most of the event.

    Field day as a POTA means little although can be fun and lots of stations open. We Hams should really demonstrate we can really put together a good EmComm station.

    73, ron, n9ee

  12. This was my first Field Day as I am a ham newly licensed earlier this year. It was a blast! My local club has a “No Work Wednesday Club” for retired hams to gather for POTA activations at two locations in our area. I’ve participated 5 times now with them graciously letting me run the on-the-air portion & one of them logging for me. (Field Day helped me learn how to run a radio & log at the same time so maybe one day I can handle both at the same time.) Those POTA activations were invaluable, enabling me to calmly handle the Field Day pile-ups and QSOs. Though I finally have a ham shack setup which I am of course still tweaking, I will continue to operate in the field for POTA while looking forward to Field Day 2023!

  13. I had limited time at field day this year. I only got to operate during the last hour at a local club. I was the only CW operator for the event at the club. They were kind enough to let me try my hand on CW with my new TR-35 and new ATU-10 on their antennas. One person logged for me. From NC, I worked a Canadian station in QC using the QRP rig. My CW copying skill has improved significantly due to listening to K4SWL’s videos since last year.

  14. Being a new ham, attended the field day for the first time. Had a chance to put my hands on Elecraft K3S transiever and work on 40 and 20m bands. It was fun! All thanks to folks from the local club at Palo Alto, CA (PAARA).

  15. I showed up to the local club outing at a local park. I’m the go to sat guy to get that extra 101 points. It was so fun this year. I watched one of my Cw hero’s work Cw. “W5mx or n4ss”. He removed his headphones to see if I could copy. He was impressed with my head copy skills. He actually invited me to contest at N4SS contest ridge. Several 5 stack yagis with multi beverage antennas. Luckily I got the first sat linear contacts right off the bat. I tried to visit everyone there bc honestly, I missed these guys over the year. Actually talked about pota a lot and how it’s evolving.
    No new antennas for me. Trusty 40m delta loop and a 3rd shift sked made me popular till 630am. Worked PAC and Brazil which is a big deal for FD. The guy that got me interested in Cw was there late shift. He shared some stories about working at NASA that absolutely had me doubled over laughing. The ft8 guys made burgers and dogs which was cool! I was so tired I felt drunk by 6am. We established shy of 1200 Cw contacts. As Murphy’s law always has to show, the group lead came up and said don’t turn off the laptop until we pull adif with thumb drives. He no longer than got those words out of his mouth when HE unplugged the laptop and as far as I know, we haven’t recovered the contacts as of yet. So yeah it was a huge ball of ups and downs. Like a big marriage! Hehe
    Hope to got y’all in the log as AJ4A 6A KY. 73 w4zxt

  16. Field Day this year was an excuse to do a SOTA activation. The XYL and I are participating in a summer long “Big Butte Challege” her in Central Oregon. The event requires one to hike/run 8 different buttes (mostly volcanic cinder cones) around the area, track the progress with a GPS or app and upload your track details to the site. In return local breweries and distilleries give you a free drink upon completion of a Summit. Fortunately, 4 of the 8 Buttes are SOTA summits so I killed three birds with one stone, Field Day, SOTA and Butte Challenge. Worked FM/SSB and 20 M on my IC-705 paired with the K6ARK EFHW. Not a lot of contacts but enough to call it activated.

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