Field Day 2020 Update

Greetings! June is here, and that always means our biggest event of the year: Field Day.

Unfortunately, this is not a normal June, nor a normal year. Therefore the Decatur Amateur Radio Club will not be holding a “normal” Field Day event this year.

However, to keep the streak alive (this will be the club’s 67th Field Day!), we felt that we needed to do something. So, here’s the something that we are doing.

The club maintains radio equipment in the radio room at the Morgan County EMA in the basement of the Morgan County Courthouse. Since the radio room was extensively remodeled and the antenna system and coax cables replaced, we have not had anything other than a casual test of the equipment. This Field Day gives us an opportunity to “shake down” the radio equipment to make sure that it is functioning correctly and will work for us in a true emergency situation.

The courthouse administration has given us permission to have 5 (that’s five, cinco, fünf, пять, 五, or V, and no more) people inside the courthouse on Saturday afternoon, June 27th, from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon. That’s 3 of the first 4 hours of the 24-hour Field Day event, which starts at 1:00. But it’s better than nothing! Additionally, we plan to set up one of our portable antennas the day before using of a run of coax cable that is currently unused to so we can run a second station from the radio room. Since we’re operating from an emergency operations center, we would then be a “Class F” operation. With 2 stations on the air, that would put us in the “2F” class.

We certainly won’t be scoring very highly this year, but it will show us that we can operate under unusual conditions, and that our emergency communications equipment is sufficient for handling emergency traffic.

Now, the 5 people that are allowed in the courthouse cannot leave once they are admitted, which means we will not be allowed to rotate people in and out. So whoever gets in needs to be ready to work a radio and/or a logging computer and to help get as many contacts as possible for the duration. So far we have 3 hams confirmed to help out (and possibly a 4th). If you’re willing to commit to those 3 hours and want to help out, please contact the club president or me and we will see how all of this can work out.

Now there’s something else that can help the club’s overall score: The ARRL has made 2 major rule concessions for this year’s Field Day in response to the strange conditions surrounding this virus thing. The 1st concession is a rule modification allowing class “D” stations (working from home on fixed equipment and commercial power) to count contacts with other “D” stations for points. In prior years this was prohibited, but this year, since so many hams are confined to quarters it makes sense to open up the scoring to those who cannot make it to a regular event of some type.

The 2nd rule concession is that, if you work Field Day stations from your home (or any other personal Field Day activity such as battery or emergency power), you can have those points count towards a designated club score. Your score will be posted as  your personal score, but the club ALSO gets credit. If you operate any kind of Field Day this year and submit a score to the ARRL, you can put “Decatur Amateur Radio Club” in the club name and your points will be credited to us. Please be sure to spell out the entire club name so that there is no chance of confusion in the final scoring.

If you have any questions, please e-mail club president Mike Findlay KD4TGC or e-mail me, KB4CAY.

And pass this along to someone you know who may not be aware but would like information on our Field Day activity.

One more bit of sad news: if you have not already heard, the Huntsville Hamfest in August has been completely canceled for 2020. The next scheduled hamfest in Huntsville will be August 21 & 22, 2021.

Stupid virus. I hope this all ends soon!

Richard Matthews

Author: KB4CAY

Ham since 1981. Secretary of Decatur Amateur Radio Club since 2001. I like digital modes and listening to local repeaters.