What is Field Day?
For those who haven’t participated before, you may be asking yourself… “What is Field Day?” The links below from the ARRL provide a bit of background on Field Day and a little more of what goes on.
You’ll sometimes hear the term “contest” in the same sentence as Field Day. The ARRL very specifically spells out: Field Day is NOT a contest. While we DO keep score, the purpose of the points is really to encourage us to be as active as possible, doing as many things as possible in line with the spirit of Field Day. At the end of the day, though, Field Day should not be considered a contest. In fact, at the core, Field Day is more an opportunity to step away from our usual stations, get out in the field and erect a station in less-than-ideal circumstances, all while working to maintain that operation over a 24-hour period. It is a chance to learn new skills, spend time with old friends and make new ones, and put our best foot forward as Amateurs.
There is no cost to attend Field Day, and you can join us for as long or as little time as you’d like. Everyone is welcome to participate, regardless of license class and even whether you have a ham radio license or not. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce friends, family, neighbors, kids, and others to Amateur Radio.
Where will SCARC’s Field Day 2018 take place?
Thanks to the generous assistance of the Ames Chapter of the Izaak Walton League (“Ikes”), SCARC’s 2018 Field Day event will take place at the facilities of the Izaak Walton League Park, 2066 Stagecoach Rd, Ames IA 50010. They have agreed to allow SCARC to use their facilities at no cost to the club.
The following Google map is centered on the Ikes facility and also illustrates the planned operation, stations, and antennas.
Access to the Ames Ikes facility is by means of an access-controlled gate from Stagecoach Road. For the duration of our event, we have been issued a temporary access code. Email email@example.com to request the gate code to open the gate at any time through the weekend. We will also have a handheld radio positioned at the gate on a non-Amateur frequency so visitors can also reach someone via the radio should they have any issues. A cell number will also be posted at the gate.
As the Ikes facility is the private property of the local chapter and use is typically allowed only to dues-paying members, please remember that we are there as trusted guests. All of our actions and activities should serve to reflect upon Amateur Radio and SCARC in the highest regard.
The Ikes have also generously offered to allow any Field Day participants the opportunity to camp adjacent to our Field Day site AT NO COST to us. There is ample ground to set up a tent, outdoor fire and cooking facilities. There are also portable toilet facilities available. Several of us are planning to camp overnight starting Friday evening and will be staying for the duration of Field Day. I hope others will join us!
When will SCARC’s Field Day 2018 take place?
While the actual Field Day event will run from 1pm Saturday June 23 through 1pm Sunday June 24th, SCARC’s Field Day setup will actually start around 2pm Friday afternoon with the assistance of Story County Emergency Management and Mary Greeley Medical Center. The MGMC “mobile command center” trailer will be moved from the normal storage location out to the Ikes facility with the help of Story County EMA and several SCARC members.
Setup will be in full swing starting around 4pm Friday with an “all call” of any SCARC members who can assist. As noted in the map linked above, we have more than 10 antennas to erect, including a 40-50’ guyed tower and at least a couple of wire antennas with multiple elements. We also will be working to set up WiFi network connectivity between stations for logging purposes, along with getting everything else situated.
If you can join us Friday evening, many hands make light work… and we’d love the help. A headcount will be taken between 5-5:30pm with Pizza Ranch pizza provided by the club for those helping out. If you can't join until after that time, you can still drop by. We usually have plenty of leftovers!
We’ll begin setup again in earnest on Saturday morning as soon as we finish breakfast. Again, if you can join us in helping with setup, we’d appreciate the assistance. Radios will be set up and tested, networking kinks will be worked out, and we’ll ensure that everything is ready to go for the 1pm start time.
To ensure we have the maximum amount of resources possible to finalize setup, SCARC will again be providing “sub” deli sandwiches for lunch at noon Saturday. This will ensure no one has to leave the site to grab a bite to each, and will give everyone a chance to fuel up just prior to the event start.
Please also remember that what goes up must come down… and we’d love to have your help to start tearing down around 12 noon on Sunday (Field Day ends at 1pm, but there will be equipment we can start shutting down and stowing before that time).
How do I sign up?
First, there are very few sign-ups on the website so far, so please take a moment to jump online to reserve an operating timeslot, sign-up to assist/log, or to be a GOTA coach.
Sign up online here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0a4aa5aa2eaafa7-scarc1
Here is what each of those “slots” entails:
Operator – This person determines what band/mode they’ll be operating on (in coordination with the other stations) and operates the radio to make the contacts. They’re the voice on the microphone or the hands on the key or keyboard if operating CW or data modes. NEW for 2018: Signups for operator are being limited to two-hour blocks with at least one hour between blocks. This will ensure everyone has an opportunity to operate while also providing regular breaks. If no one has signed up online for a slot, it will be available on a first-come basis.
Note that there are two primary HF stations (one primarily intended for CW operations, one primarily intended for phone operations) as well as one VHF station. The VHF station can either be hours of boredom listening for signals on 6 meters or it can be some of the most fun you’ll ever experience on the air when 6 meters comes alive and you’re suddenly talking to stations half a continent away. If you want the “full” Field Day experience, though, look to sign up for an HF operator position.
Logger/Assistant – This individual assists the operator with getting contacts in the log, and provides other support for the operator as needed. Note that some folks prefer to operate solo – you’ll see they’ve signed up online for both operator and assistant slots during their signup times. It is recommended you NOT sign up as a logger/assistant without an operator, in case someone prefers to operate without an assistant. This doesn’t mean you still can’t ‘look over their shoulder’ while someone is operating… in fact, that is one of the best parts of Field Day in my experience. It just means that some folks are more accustomed to running “solo” when contesting.
GOTA Operator – This is a special operating position specially reserved for unlicensed visitors AND particularly for those who have either been licensed within the past calendar year OR are generally inactive. If you’re brand-new to the hobby, this is the chair you want to sit in. Don’t worry; we’ll have an experienced “GOTA Coach” there to help you the entire way. As a GOTA Operator, your contacts count in a different category from our “regular” on-air contacts… providing an incentive to maximize the staffing for the GOTA station. Oh, and youth operators provide even more bonus points, so bring your young family members along!
GOTA Coach – This is a very special and critical position, key to helping the GOTA Operator being successful on the air. If you are planning to be at Field Day but there is not an open operating position, please consider signing up for the GOTA Coach for an hour or two. We need to show the public how fun and important Amateur Radio is, and to help our newest operators get experienced and become regular Field Day operators. If you’ve never done so, it’s amazing how much fun it can be to help someone make their first HF contacts.
What do I need to bring to Field Day?
I’m still looking for a “station captain” for the GOTA station. The station captain will be responsible for assembling the radio, tuner, computer, tables, chairs, etc., so that it will be a complete operating setup. They will not be responsible for providing the actual gear, just collecting it in one place and making sure it all interfaces correctly. Most of the equipment for the GOTA station has been secured, but someone to be the captain and coordinate that station is needed.
The station captains will need to gather together all of the radio and computer equipment during the week ahead of Field Day to allow time to do a dry run. This is planned so that the gear is all in working condition ahead of Field Day, and so there will be no “mad scramble” to get things working at the last minute. This will likely take place on Tue/Wed prior to Field Day at my house in north Ames, and should take under an hour if all goes to plan.
Most of our equipment needs have already been committed, but we DO have a few important items we still need help with. You can see more here:
Items highlighted in RED in the Google spreadsheet are still needed. If you can help, add your name in the box. Note there are several individual tabs across the bottom, a couple for general items and one for each station.
If you’re on the list already, please don't forget to deliver the items you had signed up for. Antennas and coax will be needed at the Ikes facility late Friday afternoon, with other items needed no later than Saturday morning. If you can't deliver your stuff by these deadlines, send me an email and we can arrange to get it there for you.
Finally, if you have a favorite pair of headphones, bring those along so you can use them while you operate.
What about food?
In past years, our food plans have varied significantly. For 2018, we’re going to handle food just a bit different, yet again.
•The club will provide ice water in a water cooler with cups and iced cans of soda for Field Day participants.
•The club will provide pizza on Friday night at no cost to those who are assisting with setup.
•No group meal is planned for Saturday breakfast.
•The club will provide “sub” deli sandwiches at noon on Saturday to those who have been assisting with setup.
•Saturday evening’s meal can be on your own if you choose, or you can be part of a group meal. We plan to take a quick headcount with those wanting to join in paying the cost of their own meals – with one “runner” sent out to a local restaurant to order and return with food. Location will be decided at that time, but several options are nearby, including sandwiches, pizza, fried chicken, and a couple of fast food choices.
•Sunday breakfast will be similar to Saturday evening. This will likely be doughnuts/rolls and juice/milk from Hy-Vee with everyone present pitching in a bit to cover the group cost. Alternatively, you can pick something up on your own.
•No meal is planned for Sunday lunch.
Did you make it this far? Wow! 😊 Please know that a successful Field Day couldn’t happen without help from the entire club… Thank you. We look forward to seeing you at Field Day!