Field Day

The Shenandoah Valley Amateur Radio Club actively participates in the annual American Radio Relay League Field Day event that occurs the fourth full weekend in June every year, rain or shine. This is a premier annual event where we get out of the ham shack at home and the clubhouse, and practice the art and science of setting up portable stations running on emergency power sources at a remote location, then use those stations to make contact with other stations. While many consider it to be another amateur radio ‘contest’, this event is unique in that its theme is centered on one of the most important functions of the amateur radio community – the ability to communicate in a relatively independent and self-sustaining way, i.e., independent of any municipal or commercial infrastructure (commercial power, telephone networks, etc.), which would likely be inoperative or severely overloaded in the event of a major disaster. ARRL’s Field Day Information pamphlet states:

Object: To work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands (excluding the 60, 30, 17, and 12-meter bands) and in doing so to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions. A premium is placed on developing skills to meet the challenges of emergency preparedness as well as to acquaint the general public with the capabilities of Amateur Radio.

We invite guests, including licensed amateur radio operators and prospective amateur radio operators, and anyone just interested in seeing what it’s all about, to come out and enjoy the experience with us! We’d love to have you out to share the true spirit of amateur radio, experience the art and joy of making contact with other stations over the air, and enjoy the fellowship of a summertime social event with like-minded folks!

SVARC will be participating in Field Day from the Clarke County Fairgrounds located at 890 West Main Street, Berryville, Virginia 22611.

Some antenna work by members of the SVARC crew out at the Clarke County Fairgrounds during Field Day 2012.

Field Day 2017 Among the Best in Recent Memory!

This year’s Field Day was a good one! We made 1,021 total contacts, of which 429 were on CW, 565 on phone, and 27 on PSK 31. The total QSO score was 1,477 (1 point each for phone, 2 points each for CW & digital), and with a power multiplier of 2 for Low Power category (150 Watts or less), our claimed score is 2954. With our total claimed bonus points of 1150, our total score, pending validation by ARRL, is 4104.

We had some wonderful media publicity this year, thanks to the efforts of Tom, KM4FEC, with a pre-Field Day interview given by Tom, KW4CW, resulting in a nice article in the Winchester Star on Tuesday, June 20. Because of that article, a few folks come out to see for themselves! That, of course, is the whole idea! Additionally, the Star sent another reporter and a photographer on Saturday, and we had another nice article in Monday’s edition.

A very nice bonus event this year was the presentation by John, N4MM, of a nice plaque recognizing a lifetime of contributions and dedication to Amateur Radio to Perry, W3HQX. This was a highly deserved recognition of a brilliant mind and a wonderful mentor for this great hobby.

As always, we had a few lessons learned about improved performance, both technical and operational, for next year. This is yet another point of Field Day: to improve our skills and capabilities to make us better communicators, especially in “less than ideal conditions.” It’s never too early to start preparing for next year’s Field Day, just as it’s never too early to prepare for a real emergency situation!

Next Year’s (2018) Plans

The current plan is to complete most, if not all, antenna work starting around 7 PM EDT, Friday, June 22, and to complete general setup of the stations starting around 9 AM EDT on Saturday, June 23. We plan to have 3 or 4 HF stations under the Ruritan pavilion at the front of the fairgrounds, and a 6-meter station set up in the ticket office under separate generator power. On-air operations begin at 2 PM EDT, and go through 1:59 PM EDT June 24th. Following the end of operations, tear-down and clean-up will commence and last as long as it takes to return things to the state they were in prior to commencing set-up tasks.

If you plan to join us, please be prepared for outdoor weather. While the operating positions are sheltered and the fairground well manicured and is generally a very comfortable outdoor venue for such activities, consider that it may be a more pleasant experience to have sunscreen, rain gear, and/or bug spray to maximize your comfort during your visit. Also, if you are coming to help with setup tasks, work gloves, eye protection and work clothes are advisable.

If you aren’t going to be in the area for Field Day, perhaps there’s another club or organization near where you will be. The ARRL has a Field Day Locator tool that can be searched based on location to see if there’s a known event occurring in the vicinity of the searched criteria.