What Happens at Field Day?

What is Field Day?

ARRL Field Day is the single most popular on-he-air event held annually in the US and Canada.

On the fourth weekend of June of each year, more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from non-traditional locations. Field Day is a picnic, a campout, practice for emergencies, an informal contest and, most of all, FUN! It is a time where many aspects of Amateur Radio come together to highlight our many roles. While some will treat it as a contest, other groups use the opportunity to practice their emergency response capabilities.

It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Amateur Radio to the organizations that Amateur Radio might serve in an emergency, as well as the general public. For many clubs, ARRL Field Day is one of the highlights of their annual calendar. The contest part is simply to contact as many other stations as possible and to learn to operate our radio gear in abnormal situations and less than optimal conditions. We use these same skills when we help with events and emergencies. Despite the development of very complex, modern communications systems — or maybe because they ARE so complex — ham radio has been called into action again and again to provide communications in crises when it really matters. Amateur Radio people (also called “hams”) are well known for our communications support in real disaster and post-disaster situations.

What Happens During Field Day?

During Field Day, individuals and clubs in amateur radio operate in non-traditional locations as an exercise at station portability and emergency power setup. Operators then run a contest-like event where stations attempts to contact as many others as possible. The exchanges are not extensive and limited to sending the station class and location to each other. For example, an exchange between SARA’s field day operating as W8WKY and W1AW would be:

W8WKY: CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day – this is whiskey 8 whisky kilo yankee
W1AW: W8WKY this is whiskey 1 alpha whiskey
W8WKY: W1AW please copy 3 alpha Ohio
W1AQ: roger roger please copy 2 delta Connecticut
W8WKY: Thanks for Connecticut. 73. W8WKY QRZ?

Anyone is welcome to operate at Field Day, including unlicensed and Technicians who do not have privileges in most of the HF bands. Control operators will be on hand to allow everyone to legally “get on the air” and enjoy the excitement.

See the pictures from Field Day 2017 for a taste of our event.