Any tips for throwing a great Field Day event?

Discussion in 'General Announcements' started by KC9WXT, Apr 22, 2014.

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  1. KC9WXT

    KC9WXT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm new to posting on the QRZ forums, but I've been a "lurker" for a while now.

    As a fairly new operator and someone who has never participated in a Field Day event, I was hoping to get some good pointers from fellow hams on how to organize a Field Day event that focuses on obtaining points as well as attracting new folk to the hobby and rekindling inactive hams.

    A few months ago at our regular meeting, my "home" club appointed me chairperson for the event (I showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with a list of ideas... now I know better :eek:)
    We got a "committee" together of around 13 people but only six have been actively participating. We've not got much of a budget and most of our materials have been donated. We want this to be a true community event... we don't want to charge money for anything. So many club members, vendors, and businesses have been so kind to give items to us!

    What we want to accomplish is:
    - Have an info table with various literature on ham radio as well as resources for new and current hams
    - Set up and use 2 HF stations and an HF GOTA station
    - Have some interactive demonstrations/classes/activities (like how to properly solder coax and Morse code name bracelet craft)
    - Provide refreshments for all those who participate/attend
    - Have lots of small "goodies" to pass out when people participate, and since I've been given some nicer stuff, we'll do free drawings for those.
    - Advertise, advertise, advertise... we want to reach everyone!

    The event is June 28-29, 2014. I'm afraid I'm at a bit of a loss on what to do next.

    Here's what we've accomplished:

    - Secured the use of a local park (with the OK to camp overnight two evenings): we've been allotted three pavilions with picnic tables and utilities, a good sized operating area, a small parking lot, and use of the nearby restrooms
    - Figured out what antennas and radio equipment we need to work the chosen bands
    - Secured a good amount of "goodies" to pass out as well as some nicer items to give to those who enter in the free drawings (so the items go to people who really want them) (making a "sponsors" sign is on our to do list)
    - Made a list of supplies needed that has been passed around the club meetings (most of it is taken care of, but we still need a few odds and ends)
    - Done some minimal advertising on a couple community calendars online
    - Compiled a list of local hams that are not affiliated with our club (to invite) - I have names, call signs, and addresses, but I'll have to dig up phone numbers
    - Invited a few people via word of mouth... nothing formally, yet
    - Voted to get liability insurance and we're in the process of doing so
    - Appointed people to run subcommittees (unfortunately, there are a few with no takers, so they fall upon me.)

    Right now, I've been working on trying to get some good prices on hot dogs and maybe some local grocers to donate some... I haven't been very lucky so far.

    Does anyone have any suggestions, pointers, or concerns on what to do or what we've done so far?
  2. KG4RUL

    KG4RUL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Have you invited any local Governmental officials or representatives of served agencies?
  3. KC9WXT

    KC9WXT Ham Member QRZ Page

    We have informally invited (and received his "yes") a neighboring town's mayor, but we'll send the formal invite a little closer to the event time. The invites for the representatives of the served agencies will go out at that time too. We're doing our best to tick off each item on the ARRL's points list that we can do. I'm just really worried that I'll overlook something major that we'll need for this big bash. :(

    Anyway, all you folks are invited to join us in Fairview Park in Centralia, Illinois for our event. We'll have all sorts of goodies to give away (DX Engineering gift certs, hats from various radio equipment vendors/manufacturers, repeater directories, just to name a few) as well as a fun set up for operating!

    Any tips on encouraging our non-committee club members to join us? I've been hoping my enthusiasm will be contagious.
  4. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Free beer and brats.
  5. KC9WXT

    KC9WXT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Haha! I wanted to do that but one of the terms of using the park is no alcohol... we will have brats for the club members and others who help us out for the long haul. I'm trying to get hamburger patties and hot dogs for the masses.
  6. N2SR

    N2SR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Did you go to and list your FD operation on the ARRL's "Field Day locator?" You might find other hams that when they turn the radio on after 2 pm on Sunday, might say, "I wonder where the closest FD group is to me?"

    If you can, have dual earphone setups. Everyone uses headphones right? Use an earphone splitter at each station and let non-hams (and even other hams!) listen in. My radio has dual jacks, so I tell people "bring your headphones over to listen to CW."

    Using a speaker is nice, but not when it creates audio QRM for other stations close by.

    As has been mentioned in another FD thread, if you can, especially on the GOTA station, use a bigger monitor, even say a 32" TV with PC input as the computer monitor. That way you can explain to non hams what is going on. It's hard to see a laptop screen over the operator's shoulders.

    You will need to have at least 1 person during daylight hours at the "entrance" to your operations so you can answer questions of the general public (remember you "advertised," right?) I would think even 2 people, since you could have more than 1 or 2 people at a time.

    I'm guessing that with 2 stations, one will be on phone, and the other on CW? That's a good idea!

    Assuming you are using generator(s), and computers for logging, see if you can beg, borrow, or steal a few UPS's for those computers. Generators have a way of dying when you least expect them to (Hey, I thought YOU filled the generator!) You don't want to kill your computer.

  7. KF5FEI

    KF5FEI Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you do the food thing, have people who are not involved in operating do the prep and cooking -- make sure you have ops to fill in while the other ones are eating. Have people circulate and give relief breaks to the ops so the position does not go unstaffed while the op is making a pitstop.

    Resonant antennas and stub filters are good for preventing interference if you have multiple stations operating. Have backup batteries and a Powr-Gate or similar so if your generator or AC power winks out you can keep going. Print a sheet with the call sign and appropriate exchange in big letters for each station and keep a paper log handy in case the computer dies. Use HTs on simplex frequencies to communicate between people.
  8. KC9WXT

    KC9WXT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Tons of great tips! We'll definitely consider using two sets of headphones per station.
    I don't know if we'll have a way to display a large monitor, but I did read that thread and I'll mention it at our next meeting.
    I know we'll be low on dedicated help for the long run, but we'll just have to do our best with a greeter.
    We will be running two stations, one running digital modes, the other for phone. The one running digital modes will probably also get used for phone occasionally.
    I'll pitch the UPS idea to the committee. I run all my electronics at home on them, so I know how wonderful they are.

  9. KC9WXT

    KC9WXT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sorry 'bout that. I hit the reply button in regards to N2SR's post before seeing KF5FEI's.

    I've planned the "menu" to just about eliminate prep. As mentioned a moment ago, we'll probably be running short on manpower. :( I figure we'll cook up batches of food at certain intervals and keep that cooked food hot in crock pots/tabletop roasters. Nothing will be unsupervised, though.

    I will definitely use the suggestion on having the call sign and exchange! I'm well stocked up on large Post-Its, so they'll go on those. I know my husband will be setting up a logging server, but we'll have the paper sheets, too.

    As for antennas, we've got two verticals and various dipoles. I'll see what we need in the filter depatrment.
  10. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Focus on contacts, have your computer logging debugged ahead of time, plan your equipment and antennas carefully, know which bands at which stations, have a backup station! I attended one FD where with 4 stations there was only 400 contacts and I made 250 of them on one station. They had horrible antennas, the radios were new IC7000 but those radios suffered with so many strong signals at FD and none of them had narrow SSB or CW filters.

    • Objective-
      To work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands (excluding the 60, 30, 17, and 12-meter bands) and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions. Field Day is open to all amateurs in the areas covered by the ARRL/RAC Field Organizations and countries within IARU Region 2. DX stations residing in other regions may be contacted for credit, but are not eligible to submit entries.
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