In North America, Field Day (FD) is a amateur radio event designed to inform operators of emergency operating techniques. Most hams do not consider Field Day an emergency scenario preparation, but regard it as little more than a competition to make the most amount of radio contacts within a 24 hour period within the context of self-generated electrical power and hastily erected antennas. Always the 4th full weekend of June, Field Day is for many operators the height of the ham radio year. For a few, Field Day is the only day during the year in which to operate.

Since it is a contest, or radio competition, Field Day is chockablock with rules. No participants may erect stations before Friday at 2 p.m. Since many outfits have five or more individual stations (transciever, computer, antenna and controls) most clubs preassemble gear at a remote location before the official assembly period. The contest proper stretches from 3 p.m. Saturday to the same time Sunday. Stations running CW (morse code) gain four points per contact, single sideband (SSB, voice communications) earning only two points. Binary digital communications are considered CW. In special cases multipliers are awarded for contacts with certain stations.

Our club ran a 2A event. 2 signifies two stations, while A denotes a club running on emergency power. Most FD participants are A's. One of our stations ran CW on all HF (shortwave) bands; another ran SSB for the same. Our CW station was fully automated. The morse code was computer generated, leaving the operator free to log the contacts into the computer in real time. Many new hams, hams without code experience, and others were shocked to see us typing code rather than sending it by hand with our backup key. In some cases keys were required to send messages not stored on the computer, or as an aid for hams wary of the contest software.

Many people including myself came to run CW exclusively, though most new hams and bystanders flocked to the voice station. Many in our club came to FD not to operate but to help handle food, set up and tear down, or just hang out. While FD is designed to attract the curious to amateur radio, we did not recieve any people fresh off the street. I always encourage people curious about Field Day to contact the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) or the Radio Amateurs of Canada to find out about a local club and their site. Come on down and support us; get on the air with the voice station and watch the CW ops bang keyboards in frustration.

Wait until tear down, and get free soda(pop) as well.

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