This last weekend, as a member of the HP Boise Amateur Radio Club, I participated in a national Field Day event. The event is an annual contest for amateur radio operators to communicate with each other across the country. From the American Radio Relay League (the US National Association of Amateur Radio) website:
For 75 years, Amateur Radio operators across the country have been providing emergency communications when other systems failed or overloaded in a crisis. Each year they take their equipment into unusual locations to test and make sure Ham Radio will always be there to get the message through. This year, is their the 75th anniversary “Field Day” as thousands of Ham Radio operators will be showing off their emergency capabilities this weekend.
The event ran from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. Points in the contest are accumulated by making unique confirmed contacts with another party. The contact is confirmed when each party exchanges the station call signs, locations, and class of the operation (how many radios operating in which formats). Additional bonus points are accumulated for special operating procedures such as running on alternate power, making contacts via solar or wind power, linking with others through satellite communication, having operators under age 18 participate, demonstrating other aspects of amateur radio (such as direction finding), getting new people on the air, etc.
The HP Boise club usually operates, as we did this year, from the HP Boise East Park facilities. Our setup included three main radio stations, a station for non-licensed users to experience amateur radio, and equipment specifically for communication through satellites. We had more than 20 people working the event at different times, but there were about 8 core operators who spent a significant time there. I operated off and on during the day, but worked most of the night shift from about 10 pm until 5:30 in the morning. At this point I was very relieved when another operator woke up from his nearby tent and relieved me of my duty.
It was a fun event and I learned a great deal, not only about making contacts, but radio and wave technology in general. The more experienced operators were happy to share their knowledge. Photos of the event.
In all I logged about 120 unique contacts for the event. My contacts were located in 29 different states with a few from British Columbia, Canada. Here's the list of states (and provinces) where my contacts were located: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.