Sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, the national association of amateur radio operators in the United States of America, Field Day is an annual operating event (contest) in which we test our abilities to communicate in the midst of emergency conditions where conveniences such as commercial electricity, cellular telephones and the Internet are not available. While setting up our radio equipment in less than a day and powering it from electrical sources such as batteries, generators and solar panels, we contact as many other ham operators located in the United States and Canada as possible who are running under similar circumstances. Check out the ARRL Field Day 2005 Rules page for further details.

As a semi-active amateur radio operator, I try to do what I can to stay involved. That effort includes participating in Field Day. Last year, I operated with another ham friend from his house, using exclusively battery power to run two radios, an antenna coupler and two computers. We made 242 contacts. This year, I had planned to participate with the Scottsdale Amateur Radio Club operating from the Maricopa County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). EOC facilities (either fixed or mobile) are often used for the Field Day exercise, as it represents an excellent opportunity to test the on board amateur radio equipment and the skills of available volunteers and emergency radio communications personnel. Sadly, it is looking more and more likely that this will not be possible, due to the fact that the EOC has been activated frequently over the past week as the result of wild brush fires and potentially dangerous weather. Obviously, if the EOC is activated to handle real emergencies, we will not be able to use it to conduct the Field Day exercise.

I am currently working with other amateur radio clubs in the area to discover their Field Day plans and how I may be able to participate. Field Day begins at 11:00 AM PDT Saturday, approximately 23 and a half hours from now. Wish me good fortune in my quest to find a way to participate in the event this year. If everything works out, watch for short audio podcasts live and direct from the Field Day site and possibly a longer podcast a few hours after the end of the contest at 11:00 AM PDT on Sunday. If you are a licensed amateur radio operator who will be participating in Field Day this year, please share your thoughts on the event by posting a text comment or calling the comment line at 206-350-6925.