Updated July 13, 2017
Field Day 2017
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You can hear the static as you open the door to the Meadows lodge. It sounds a bit like garble, but then you start to understand, “Kilo Bravo, five, Alpha,” as an operator calls out into a hand-held microphone. Another one calls out, “Kirk Battles five Aliens.” There are two people sitting at each of three small tables. One in front of a radio system and a piece of paper, the other with hands on a keyboard typing in the call signs and sections. There is a projector showing a map of the United States and Canada divided into ARRL sections. Suddenly, one of the operators shouts, “New State!” and that state changes color on the projection. What have you just walked into, a secret war room? Are black helicopters going to fly over next? No, it’s just one of the many ARRL Amateur Radio Field Day locations. In fact, it was the MARS Field Day location at the Briarwood Retreat Center in Argyle.
For those of you not familiar with ARRL Field Day, permit me to share the ARRL’s description in their own words:
“Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio’s science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933, and remains the most popular event in ham radio.”
Despite the early morning Saturday rain; poor solar conditions hampering communications; an antenna that fell on my head (yes, I brought a hard hat, no, I wasn’t wearing it); people found sleeping in our kitchen area; and outrage of outrages, no toilet paper when we at first arrived, we overcame and made over 130 contacts from Canada to south Texas. We hams are very resourceful.
Field Days are more than an unofficial competition to see which club can make the most contacts. Amateur radio, to hams, represents free communication across the globe and Field Day events are a type of simulation of how communication networks would be set up following a cataclysmic event that knocks out other digital forms of communication such as internet, cell phones or land lines.
This year we had a new addition to our setup. A RATT (Radio and Teletype) ex-military communications hut mounted on a trailer complete with camouflage netting brought by Dan Howard, KE5CIR and his friend, Eric Guzowsky, KO0M. This setup was a big hit for the public to see. Go to this site for more information on the rig:
We worked stations from 10 through 80 meters. As of this writing we made 86 phone contacts, 17 CW contacts, and 34 digital contacts. We got extra points for:
Operating on emergency power
Setting up in a public location
Having a public information table
Receiving the W1AW bulletin
A visit by a public official (Mike Hennefer, KD5ZCF, a MARS and Carrollton city council member)
Submitting our report via the web
Posting on social media (Facebook)
Having a safety officer (Venzula Mathews, KF5PJH)
My thanks go to the MARS Board of Directors and members for their support and especially to each operator and guest who came that weekend. We all had a great time at Briarwood Retreat Center in Argyle. We are already making plans for next year.
Andy Parcel, KE5KOF