Welcome to Handiham World.
2012 ARRL Field Day is coming up this next weekend. It is always the last FULL weekend in June, which is Saturday and Sunday June 23 and 24.
Summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 20, 2012, at 6:09 P.M. USA Central Daylight Time. Of course this means that our hours of daylight are at their maximum around this time of the year, and that always helps with getting set up for Field Day. There is always a lot of antenna work and temporary infrastructure to be set up at a multiple station club Field Day site. Having those extra hours of daylight can make it a little easier to get to the site and get things ready to go. On the other hand, more hours of daylight are likely to mean more absorption of signals on the lower frequency HF bands such as the 75 m band and – it goes without saying – more thunderstorm activity since thunderstorms are driven by convection and that takes place when you have long, hot, sunny days.
Field Day is different things to different participants. Some clubs are highly competitive, and this goes for individual participants as well. They are in it for the points and there is nothing wrong with that approach because if that is what you like and enjoy, then that is what you should do!
My feeling is that Field Day should ALWAYS be about having fun. I know that I have mentioned this before, but it certainly bears repeating: it is up to you to find a radio club Field Day that matches your expectations for what you expect the day to be all about. A mismatch between your expectations and the type of operating that is going on at the Field Day site will probably result in a disappointing experience for you and a bit of consternation on the part of the event organizers. If your idea of having fun is to get on the air and operate a highly competitive Morse code station to rack up hundreds and hundreds of points, you need to find a club Field Day whose goal matches yours. If you would rather spend most of the day socializing, greeting visitors to the Field Day site, helping newcomers get on the air, or experimenting with different modes of operation, then you should try to find a club that emphasizes those things over highly competitive operations.
If I hear from someone that they did not have a good experience on Field Day, I like to try to find out what went wrong. After talking with them for a while, I usually find out that there was a mismatch of expectations. They expected to do one thing at Field Day while the club's event organizers had arranged for something entirely different. That is why you need to do a little bit of research to find the kind of Field Day operation that will suit you. If you do this, you are almost guaranteed to have an excellent time during what many of us consider the highlight of the amateur radio calendar – ARRL Field Day.
Incidentally, you do not have to feel as if you are all on your own when trying to find a club that will meet your Field Day expectations. ARRL Field Day sites across your state are probably going to be visited by your local League Section Manager. If you drop your Section Manager an e-mail or call him or her on the telephone, you can ask which Field Day sites they have visited and which they might recommend to a person like you with your expectations. Local League officials are a good resource to help you get connected with the right radio club as well. You can find lots of information on the ARRL website, which you can link to from the Handiham website.
Email me at email@example.com with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA