By Mike Miles
Ham Radio Field Day is a test of emergency radio communication conducted by amateur radio operators from all over the world. Amateur radio operators test their equipment and ability to set up remote stations and communicate with other hams all over the world.
In the case of emergency, where the power grid goes down, communications will be one of the first areas affected. Whether the emergency is local, state, country, continent or even world, ham radio operators from many countries will be testing all of their equipment, skill and knowledge to set up crucial lines of communication on Field Day. Participants will have to operate their stations completely off grid and the station can only be powered by generators, battery or solar.
The emergency might be weather-related or anything that would shut down our power grid and ham radio operators have been practicing and tweaking their skills and ability to establish and maintain a dependable line of communication if such as situation should occur. Amateur operators, hams, have been conducting Field Day exercises since 1933 and with over 30,000 annual participants is considered to be the largest type of emergency exercise of this type in the world.
Field Day always starts the fourth full weekend in June starting Saturday 18:00 UTC and commencing Sunday 20:59 UTC. The rules may change from year to year but the end results are basically the same, establishing a dependable way to communicate in the event of an emergency. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is in charge of Field Day for all of North America and makes necessary changes to rules and operating procedures necessary for its overwhelming success over the past 89 years.
This year one of my very best friends, also a ham, James “Red” Walker (KA5TBL) from Point Blank, and I decided to join forces, combine resources and work Field Day together. James and I have recently added solar capacity to our backup power sources and are able to operate our radio equipment and ham shacks totally off grid on our own generated power. We are able to generate power from our typical gas and propane generators charging our 12-volt LFP batteries; but after review of the rules, we can receive extra points for strictly operating off of solar power so that’s what we decided to do this year. We decided to set up our Field Day operations in my subdivision, Kickapoo Forest Park. After a quick check with my homeowners association, I was granted permission and we went full speed ahead. We operated Saturday only and tested all of our rigs and equipment to determine which would perform best in these conditions.