[CQ-Contest] Field Day is a Joke...

Tom Hammond n0ss at sockets.net
Mon Jun 30 23:27:51 EDT 1997

On Monday, June 30, 1997 7:54 AM, Ken N4UK [SMTP:ramirezk at emi.com] wrote:
> Field Day has strayed from its basic tenet of providing
> an actual and real life emergency communications drill in
> preparation for the real McCoy. Field Day should be limited to
> Batteries and small generators, 100 watt power levels, small,
> portable antennas, and basic communications methods.
> (voice,cw,packet) The idea is to set up portable emergency
> communications in the fastest time possible after a disaster has
> happened. 20 dedicated and knowledgeable operators don't easily
> assemble in fast time with all the above equipment. A good
> percentage of the participants I have met at a field day
> exercise don't even know how to connect up an amplifier to an
> exciter!
>         I don't think filling up large fuel tanks, buying a few
> cases of beer, having 2 or 3 dedicated cooks, and connecting to
> the internet is going to be possible after a major disaster.
>         Field day strayed away from the basic premise of
> emergency communications on a dime and became just another
> contest long ago. This is why I and many others I know, won't
> get in on it. Field Day need a major overhaul!
> It has become a joke...
>             73 Ken n4uk
>       EM84xp South Carolina

I'm sorry to see that Ken has such a sour outlook on Field Day.  While 
what he has written may be true of some FD operations, I'd dare say 
that it's not nearly the 'typical' operation.

Our club (Mid-MO ARC, Jefferson City, MO) is pretty small, about 50
members.  We have our Field Day antennas, coax, slip-ups, tables, tents,
etc. all stored, available at a moment's notice.  ALL of our stations are
100W or less... we have one tribander, which is also stored with the rest 
of the FD gear, ready for use if needed.  The Club generator is a 1875W 
Sears, which stays at a member's home, and is run periodically throughout 
the year, just to make sure it runs when called upon to do so.  Several 
of us also have generators which we make available to the Club for Field 
Day as well... none is over 4KW.  We also have access to the Comm Van
which belongs to out State Emergency Management Agency, but in a real
emergency, we'd have access to it anyway, and if the emregency was 
somewhere else, there's a good chance that we'd be called upon to man
the stations in the van anyway... so, we might was well train on the
van as well.

We do make our Field Day operation into a contest.  We do so because
we feel it is a better way to interest our operators, particularly our
newer operators who may have never tasted contesting or emergency
operating.  We have found, over the past 38 years of operating Field
Day, that this operation is one of the very BEST ways to train our
operators to be able to operate under pressure and in the midst of
confusion, both on the bands and in the tents.  We don't want to put
a new operator into a real emergency situation without a bit of 
experience operating under some pressure.  Contesting truly is a great
way to allow operators to get some time 'under fire' without it being
a life-threatening situation.

During the Great Midwest Floods of 1993, we (our Club) were called to
provide supplemental communications for the City.  We were able to do
so within a very short period of time (actually a couple of hours).
Had HF communications been required, we could have provided that as 
well.. and just as quickly.  We found that our contest-experienced
operators generally provided better network 'decorum' than did those
who had never participated in a contest before.  Of course everyone
came around by the time the waters receded, but it was pretty
obvious who had the experience and who didn't.

Field Day may have blown out of proportion by some, but not by the
majority.  And regardless, of the setup, it's still one of the best
opportunities for training new operators we can find.. and it takes 
only 24 hours of our time.

As far as I'm concerned, Field Day's just fine... if the big boys want
to do it up 'large', let 'em... we'll keep on doing it our way, having 
fun, and bringing new ops into emergency communcations and contesting.

73 - Tom Hammond   N0SS

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