The first year I participated in the event.
Field Day is always held the last weekend in June. It is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League. It is meant to be a chance for all amateur radio enthusiast to practice operating in the field. It is designed as a contest with more points given for being self sufficient (I.E. portable power rather than commercial power) and publicity as well as training. The Shelbyville ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) group participated this year.
Earlier this year I gave a presentation on HF (High Frequency) digital communications at one of the club meetings using Linux. Since you got twice the points for a digital contact versus voice contact they asked if I would set up a digital station. That involves linking a computer with appropriate software to an HF radio. So I set up a spare radio I had with my laptop and all the necessary interconnection equipment on the table in the kitchenette. I was able to work well into a dummy load then put an antenna on it and made a few contacts.
The event starts on Saturday at 10AM local time. You start setting up and at 2PM you are allowed to start operating. You have 24 hours to operate and make as many points as possible. Since this is a very popular event it is not difficult making contacts as everyone is on the air.
I got started setting up around 10AM. I had a 10′ by 10′ canopy with table and chairs. Set up all the equipment and was ready to operate by about noon. Since I couldn’t start I helped the other people finish setting up.
At 2PM we started operating. Two of our club members Leeta and Kate wanted to give it a try. Since education is part of the effort I explained how things worked and they both became very proficient at running the station.
I had come prepared to stay the night at the park but the bugs were very bad so I came home around 10:30PM and got some sleep. I was up at 5AM Sunday and back at the park by 6:30AM. I continued making contacts and we made around 60 digital contacts. We probably could have made more but as I said, one of the important things of the exercise is training. So, I considered that a priority.
We had some bad weather coming in so we decided not to operate till 2PM and chance tearing things down in the rain so we shut down around 9:30. Started tearing down and were ready to leave by 11:30.
This is the first time I have participated in this exercise but will do it again next year. A very rewarding experience.