Field Day is an annual opportunity for radio amateurs to practice their skills and show the world what a valuable resource the amateur radio service is. Many amateurs who are not particularly active in the hobby the rest of the year will always come out for Field Day. Then there are the amateurs who are constantly working on some project or another. To them, every weekend seems like Field Day so it’s not such a big deal if they skip the real one. No matter how deep you are into the radio craft, Field Day 2017 is the “prom” of ham radio and a great opportunity to improve your off grid radio skills and also show others how to improve theirs.
For about a year and a half Off Grid Ham has been on a mission to teach other radio amateurs practical, useful, and affordable ways to operate their equipment without commercial power, and by extension, expand the knowledge base and enjoyment of the hobby. I’m surprised at how well received my idea has been; it’s very gratifying and humbling to have such an impact on others.
Now I’m challenging my readers to use Field Day 2017 as a venue to pay it forward. Did you build any of the projects described in my articles? Or maybe one of my projects gave you inspiration to make something totally new? Or maybe you didn’t actually make anything but got some good ideas that were helpful in other areas of the amateur radio hobby? Whatever it was, take it to Field Day 2017 and show everyone what you’ve learned. If you’ve been reading websites like this one and making an honest effort to learn, then you should have plenty to bring to the table.For you laggards out there, a second chance.
What if you have been dragging your feet and not doing much to learn new radio skills? That’s ok. There are always second and third and fourth chances in amateur radio. Field Day 2017 is your “reset” button. Get out there with a renewed attitude and commit to moving forward.
You don’t have to be a professional engineer or invest your entire life into tinkering with radios & solar panels, you only have to want to know more. Show up at Field Day 2017. Don’t be intimidated. Ask a lot of questions, and answer questions as you are able. You may surprise yourself as to how much you really do know!
A challenge if you can’t make it to Field Day 2017.
A lot of amateurs cannot participate in Field Day due to work or personal commitments. That’s ok, too. But I challenge you to set aside an afternoon at some point this summer and go off the grid with amateur radio. You don’t have to set up out in the wilderness; your own home shack is fine. Nor do you have to operate through the night. All I am demanding is that you get out there and practice. Use your skills and equipment in the real world. Find out what works, and what doesn’t.
Anyone can spend a lot of money and collect shelves of equipment. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is the equivalent of being prepared. Field Day 2017 is one weekend but the spirit of the event is meant to be observed all year. Therefore, it’s more about what you do rather than on what day you do it. And likewise, it’s not about how much gear you have as much as how well you know how to use it.
Here’s a basic truth: The amateur who only has a $30 Chinese handheld radio but knows how to use it forward, backwards, and inside out is better off than the amateur who has a room full of high dollar equipment but can barely do more than turn the stuff on. See also: Mall Ninja
Hopefully Off Grid Ham readers have heard my call over the last 38 posts and are better situated for off grid radio operations than they were before we started this quest. I consider it an honor that so many amateurs have benefitted from this website (and a special thank you to those who took the time to tell me), but none of it means anything if you never get out there and do it.
Field Day 2017 is your opportunity to walk the talk. And if you can’t be there, make up your own “field day” some other time. Keep trying and keep reaching for more.
We had a sort of mini field day here last week when the power went out. It was inconvenient but it was really a good thing because I learned a lot. It took me far, far longer to get back on the air than it should have because of my own mistakes.
Among the lessons I learned – 1) Keep all essential emergency radio equipment plugged into their own power strips so I don’t have to waste time crawling around under desks trying to find the right plugs. If I’d had the VHF/UHF radio, LED desk lights and handheld charger plugged into the same power strip I wouldn’t have had to crawl around under the desk with a flashlight trying to figure out which one was which. 2) keep extension cords for running equipment in an outage separate from the general use ones, in their own location, AND LEAVE THEM THERE. Took me way, way too long to track down where they were. 3) rewire the sump pumps so I can feed both from a single point rather than have to run two separate power cords to opposite ends of the house… Well, you get the idea. Because of little annoyances like that it took me twice as long to get all of the essentials going and get back on the air during the storm.
Anyway I hope your article gets people out and on the air during field day! Even if it’s just setting up in the backyard or on the front porch or at a local park.
… Oh, for people who belong to ARES — if your local ARES has a mobile communications trailer or vehicle, field day is a great time to dust it off, set up in a park, parking lot, etc. and do some operations and testing. It’s good training for your organization and it’s also an educational opportunity to let the general public know what amateur radio operators can do in emergencies.
I’m glad you found your way through your “mini Field Day,” Back in April my article about generator safety discussed the need to have all your essentials organized ahead of time: Extension cords, fuel storage, etc. It certainly does pay to be prepared.