This weekend I’ll be taking part in the largest emergency communication exercise in the United States

The fourth weekend in June is always Field Day weekend for us Amateur Radio operators.  An estimated 40,000 of us dedicated operators will be gathering in parks. on remote hilltops, and other locations where no facilities exist, to practice emergency communications.  We will bring everything we need to communicate with fellow Amateur Radio operators all across North America, and all across the world, under very adverse conditions. 

We will operate out of temporary shelters, which include camping trailers and tents.  All of our equipment will be powered by portable generators, car batteries, and solar panels.  Our antennas will consist mostly of wires supported by ropes which are held up by trees. All of our radio equipment is portable, consisting mostly of specially designed high frequency transceivers, which have a power output of 100 watts. With that setup the club I belong to will make in the neighborhood of 2000 contacts in a 24 hour period.  The contacts will be spread out all across the world with a majority of them all across North America.

We Amateur Radio operators take Field Day very seriously because emergency commutations is at absolute center of Amateur Radio. Ir is what we do best.  Whenever there is a major disaster, such as an earthquake or a hurricane, the only communication into and out of the affected area is through Amateur Radio.  That is because of the nature of our equipment, which does not rely on any infrastructure, and our expertise.  Throughout the year Amateur Radio operators practice and hone their emergency communications skills.  Field Day is just the largest of many practice sessions we take part in year round.

To make things more fun Field Day is also a contest.  All contacts are directly between two stations only.   That is the way Amateur Radio is.  We log every contact we make and submit our logs, which are recorded using logging software on laptops.  During each contact there is certain information we must exchange with the other station. This simulates emergency messages we handle during a disaster such as supplies needed.  Field Day contest scores are posted by the organizing organization, the Amateur Radio Relay League, in their magazine called QST and on their website WWW.ARRL.ORG.  There are serious bragging rights at stake.

Field Day is also very much a social event.  Amateur Radio clubs usually organize all of the preparations and activities at each individual  location.  Club members and their families gather to socialize along with all of the radio related activities. The club I belong to, the Eastern Connecticut Amateur Radio Association really out does itself when it comes to the socializing side of Field Day, along with the more serious stuff.   We have a huge potluck supper Saturday evening. There are always people gathered around to talk and enjoy each others company.  I always brew a batch of beer for Field Day and share it with everyone.

Here is a map to all of the Field Day sites all across the US and Canada.  The one I will be at is in Thompson Connecticut, which us at the northeastern corner of the State.  It is listed under the call KZ1M.  ECARA will have six complete stations set up.  If  you are in the neighborhood please stop by.  We are open to the public.