Field Day ....long ago

Category: DCARC Communicator - Newsletter Published: Thursday, 02 June 2016 Written by Chad Rapier

I’ve been prompted to share a story this month about Field Day. I think I’ve verbalized to some of you, but for those of you that have not heard it before, here we go:

My brother Clint and I got our Novice licenses in 7th grade.  We were young, clueless, and living in a rural area we lacked a real elmer so a lot of what we learned we learned (on our own) the hard way. In those days a Novice could only work a small chunk of HF voice on 10 meters, and we had a borrowed Swan radio at home. But thanks to our limited skimming of QST magazine articles we understood (barely) in general what Field Day was all about…..operating somewhere other than home under your own power….and we were determined to take part.

Of course, we didn’t understand anything about contesting, registering our station, submitting logs, or any of that other important stuff. We just understood that dad let us off work a little early that day and we drove my 1973 Ford Thunderbird a few miles down a dirt road behind our house to be ready to operate.

I had a Uniden HR2510 (the best my meager savings could afford), a mag-mount on the trunk, and we weren’t at our home station. To us, that was Field Day, and we had a blast. Suddenly the airwaves leapt to life and we were off. We sat there, baking in the sun and sweating on old brown leather seats, passing the microphone and log book back and forth. Our similar voices and call signs (both starting with KB7FJ, mine ending with M and his with N) caused confusion as we both tried to work stations one after the next. We heard so many stations, but few heard us. We didn’t understand station types to know what a “three alpha” was. We had no idea what an exchange was. Was that on the FCC test? We didn’t know. But we worked statins, or tried to work stations, for hours. We started the car occasionally and revved the engine to make sure the battery stayed charge.

We were clueless. We made very few actual contacts. It was hot and miserable. I think we started a campfire but can’t remember cooking food. As it got cold and dark, the band dropped off and 10M became useless. We went home, and didn’t come back the next day. I think mom made us go to church or something like that. In the end, it was probably a total fiasco. From a contesting point of view, we were a waste, holding people up on the exchange and not submitting a log for contest verification.

But for one short time, we really felt a part of a larger ham radio community showing our ability to operate in less-than-ideal situations. The excitement my brother and I felt was palpable. We were hams, and we were operating from somewhere other than our home QTH, and we were operating on our own power, and sometimes people actually heard us.


And for that place and time and space…....that was enough for two young, clueless hams that just wanted to be a part of something more. So, whatever you do this Field Day, just do Field Day! 

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