So what are Field Days all about? The main drive behind the event is to encourage Amateur Radio Operators and Clubs to test their preparedness and ability to set-up emergency communications.
This work involves setting up a portable Amateur Radio Station, including the deployment of a number of antennas. Clubs may not use mains power, so generators, batteries, solar and wind power are used as they would have to be in an emergency.
There is a contest activity part of National Field Day where stations will try and make as many contacts as they can in a 24 hour period. During a Contact (or QSO ) certain information will be exchanged. Here in the UK we exchange a Call Sign, Serial Number and the Locator of where the Amateur Radio Station is located.
Why is there a contest element? Well, this tests the group’s ability to plan the event ensuring that it can operate over a 24 hour period, providing Amateur Radio Operators to cover the station’s operation. Secondly by operating over 24 hours this tests the technical set-up of an Amateur Radio Station that, very often, will involve different people supplying different parts and constructed somewhat hastily.
Also tested, but very much part of the fun, is the group’s ability to camp out and provide food and drink for everyone during the contest.
Personally for me this was a great fun weekend with the opportunity of combining camping, which I love, and Amateur Radio too.