by Aaron Harper
TRINIDAD- Last Saturday, amateur radio operators across the nation and internationally got together in various places to have an annual event, Field Day. Unofficially, it allows radio operators to tank up on sunlight and Vitamin D for the next year. This event, sponsored by the American Radio Relay League in the fourth full weekend in June, officially serves three functions:
• It allows radio operators to test their equipment and abilities for emergency communications under less than ideal conditions. Hams bring in their own systems, set up expedient antennas, and run off batteries or generators. Many sites are manned for the entire event running shifts through the night.
• It is a contest. The objective is to make as many contacts as you can (they must be reciprocal) with the portable gear under less than ideal conditions. This friendly competition hones the skills necessary to quickly communicate in an emergency under harsh conditions.
• It is an event where a largely private hobby comes into public view. Very few outsiders can understand the purpose and fun of ham radio, but when they see that we can establish ad-hoc radio networks spanning the globe, and compete to connect to more, it becomes clear what we do and why it′s fun.
The event I attended was in a public park in Trinidad. Folks came from as far away as southern Arizona to attend and great fun was had by all. Field day is supposed to be a learning experience. Do it right, share the knowledge, and learn from others. Field Day 2008 was a success heard ′round the world, and 2009 will be even better.