RWK Field Day 2024

By Chip Coker KD4C

Field Day is coming up this weekend (Saturday June 22nd) and I hope you’re excited about ham radio’s biggest yearly event! We’re going to make it fun for RWK. Although Field Day is not a traditional “contest”, many clubs treat it as such. with a “get points at all costs” approach. I’m hoping that our Field Day prioritizes fun over points. To that end, here’s what we’re planning:

Field Day will again be at the Richardson Emergency Operations Center (EOC) (Plano Rd & Lookout Rd – here’s a map). There’s just too many reasons to have it here (namely lots of parking and air conditioning – it is June in Texas after all). Field Day is basically a nationwide Emergency Preparedness exercise, so some think it’s not a “traditional Field Day” if we are not in a field, but there’s a reason that the rules have a specific operator class (F) for Emergency Operations Centers – the rules encourage us to be familiar with that facility in case we need to use it for real!

As far as operating, we will be operating for 8 hours on Saturday June 22 (plus a little bit extra – more on that in a bit). My goals for this year’s Field Day are to get as many people on the air as possible – even if it’s only for 15-30 minutes. We want everyone (especially if you are a Technician or don’t have a home HF station) to be able to make some Field Day QSOs – if nothing else so you will want to upgrade your license. Why not a full 24 hours? Two reasons: 1) It’s always hard to fill the overnight operator shifts, which just puts pressure on the hardcore operators to slog it out overnight for hours at a time – which for most is not fun, and 2) Respect for our EOC hosts. With the recent ARRL FD rules change, you can still operate overnight and Sunday at your home station with your own callsign (Class 1D) and submit your logs and tag the RWK to add to our score.

Because of some unique circumstances this year, we are approaching “setup” a bit differently this year.  We will have antennas and coax set up in advance (we’ll be doing it Friday morning, in case you want to help), so there will be no outside setup on Saturday morning.  Inside set up will start around 11am and will be basic station (radio and logging) setup, and shouldn’t require that many people.  But you’re welcome to come and socialize (and bring donuts or other snacky treats) before the formal “kickoff” at 1pm.  We will do the traditional “group photo” around noon.

Field Day rules allow a “Get On The Air” (GOTA) station to operate as soon as it is ready, up until the formal start of Field Day (1pm CDST), so that’s roughly 2 hours for GOTA, which is targeted towards new hams. GOTA stations can use their own callsigns too (wherever they have privileges), so they don’t have to learn to send a different callsign. We will use the GOTA station for Technicians to experience HF for maybe the first time, so if you are newly licensed or don’t have a HF station at home, this “GOTA” period is perfect for you to get over your microphone fright.  Show up between 11 and 1 and we’ll show you how to make a Field Day QSO.

When Field Day starts at 1pm, we should have 3 stations on the air: CW (headed this year by WB8QZM, N5KIP, K7IOL and W5PB), FT-8 (headed again by N5SKT), and SSB. Each of the stations will have opportunity for multiple operators, as well as loggers. If you want to operate, just show up, sign in on the dry board queue for that station, and we will fit you in. If people are waiting to operate, we will limit your “shift” to a maximum of 30 minutes, after which you can get back in the queue.  If you’ve never operated during a Field Day, we ask that you take a shift of logging first, to get a feel of how things work, and then move over to operating.

You can try your hand at multiple modes if you want. We will have multiple bands just like last year (we will concentrate on 20M/15M/10M), but we might be limited to only one station per band so we don’t have to deal with antenna conflicts and interference. Please do not change bands/modes without checking with the person in charge of your station.  We will operate pretty much up to 8:30-9pm, or when we run out of operators.

As far as other activities, we are planning (*subject to change):

Ham Satellite Demonstration – our own KE5GDB should have the newly-upgraded news van-mounted satellite station on the go and will demonstrate how to “work the birds” before he heads to DCARA field day to do the same for them.

Park QRP Foxhunt – KE5GDB will also have 4 “microfoxes” hidden in Lookout Park (next door to the EOC).  This will be similar to our regular 440MHz “Wheatley” foxhunts, except no driving and much lower power.  Also, it will be a progressive hunt – only the first frequency will be published.  You have to find that fox to know the frequency of the second fox, etc.  Also, the foxes transmit true CW (not CW audio over FM), so you will really be helped if you have one of those cheap Quansheng HTs that you can modify to receive SSB.  You HAVE been reading the Chawed Rags, haven’t you?  Andrew will have a separate email later for the field day foxhunt.

Like previous years, we’re planning on a Pizza and Salad dinner at 5:30-6pm. for everyone that has been operating, logging, observing and otherwise helping.  Please keep food in the Break Room area and no food in the operating areas, please!

Towards the end, we will also need some help cleaning up and packing up all the equipment back where it goes (and making sure the EOC is just as we found it).

Parking: Please park in the side parking lot or the strip next to the entrance gate.  Please do not drive over any coax or other cables in the lot.  Please do not go behind the EOC – that’s only for the Fire Department and they won’t like it.

Sign-in: There will be a sign-in sheet for Field Day 2024.  Please sign in.  If you don’t see it, please ask.  Also (and I can’t believe that I have to say this), Please wear your RWK nametag and introduce yourself to people you don’t know.

Once again, the goal is for everyone to have fun and get to do something that you wouldn’t normally do – be that work HF (if you’re a Tech), work CW (if you didn’t have to learn it for your license), work FT-8 (if you’re new to digital modes), or just learn to operate in a fast-paced “contest” environment.

Hoping to see you all this Saturday!

ARRL Field Day website: http://www.arrl.org/field-day

More info on Field Day: http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Field-Day/2022/2022%20Field%20Day%20Packet%20v2.pdf

FD Tips & Bonuses: http://arrl.org/files/file/QST/FD%20Insert%202022.pdf