ARRL Field Day

Each year, on the last full weekend in June, a time honored tradition takes place. It is ARRL Field Day, which began in earnest in 1933. A lot of us “old timers” (not necessarily old by age, lol) fondly remember our first, and many other Field Days. Some of us had great times, eager for the next year’s Field Day, others had the worst time and swore off Field Day forever. I believe the rest of us fit somewhere in the middle.

Temporary tri-band beam on a crank-up tower for Field Day 2019.

Field Day can mean sweltering conditions, being eaten by mosquitoes bigger than your microphone, and setting up and operating in hurricane like conditions,  with no actual hurricane in sight! But, through it all, most of us come back to do it again, year after year. We moan, and we groan, but at the same time, we’re thinking about how to make it better next year. 

Next to the Florida QSO Party, the ARRL Sweepstakes, and several other contests, Field Day ranks high. Let NO ONE tell you that this isn’t a contest! This is easily every bit or bigger, than all of the contests mentioned. I know a lot of operators just aren’t contesters, and that’s OK. They can think of Field Day as more of an outing, very much like our year end holiday party. It can be our chance to get together as a club outside of a meeting, enjoy what Field Day has to offer, and hang out with our fellow club members. Field Day is also a great opportunity for PCARS to test and enhance our preparedness to help the community in times of emergency.

Field Day offers more ways to score points than probably any other contest. Besides SSB, CW, and digital contacts on HF, you can score points for VHF contacts, satellite contacts, Radiogram handling, and copying the ARRL bulletin transmissions. There are even bonus points for off-air activities such as having education al activities, and information table, visits by public officials. One of the most fun special activities in the Get on the Air (GOTA) station.

Donalyn working contacts with the coaches on the GOTA station at PCARS Field Day 2019.

I particularly like to stress the GOTA station. Any ham licensed less than a year should operate on the GOTA station, at least for a short time. Newly licensed hams are only eligible to operate the GOTA station for their first year. It is not like Rookie Roundups, where you can only operate for your first three years. Any unlicensed person may also operate the GOTA station with supervision, regardless of age. The GOTA station is the perfect opportunity for your family members or friends to get a taste of ham radio operating. The GOTA station has been the catalyst for creating new interest in ham radio over the years. The PCARS Field Day GOTA station was featured in an article published in the ARRL Letter for June 27, 2019.

Each GOTA contact counts for more points than a contact from the other stations. By operating as a GOTA operator, you will help PCARS overall points with GOTA contacts. This goes for newly licensed hams as well as non-hams.