CQ Field Day 2016
Each year and the last weekend in June, amateur radio operators across the country, and many amateur stations around the world, participate in an annual radio communications exercise to promote and encourage emergency communications preparedness among amateur (ham) radio operators. It is typically the largest single emergency preparedness exercise in the USA of any kind, with over 30,000 operators participating. Field Day is an opportunity for amateur radio operators to demonstrate an emergency communications capability and to sustain operations in simulation during a disaster under less-than ideal conditions.
Since the first American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Day held in 1933, radio amateurs throughout the United States have practiced the rapid deployment of radio communications equipment and resources in environments ranging from operations under tents in remote areas to operations inside of state, county, and local Emergency Operations Centers (EOC).
At many Field Day sites, operators may use emergency and alternative power sources, such as 12-volt DC battery, solar panels, emergency generators , or wind power since electricity and other public infrastructures are often among the first to fail during a natural disaster or severe weather.
To determine the effectiveness of the exercise and of participant’s operation, there is an integrated contesting and competition component, and many radio clubs also engage in concurrent leisure activities (camping out, cookouts, etc). Operations are sustained to continue for twenty-fours hours, with official start of radio transmission on Saturday, 2:00 p.m. EST through Sunday, 2:00 p.m. EST regardless if sunshine, rain, wind, or mosquitoes. The categories of Single Operator, Multiple Operators at same location and Radio Club Operators may gain “contest” points for each radio contact made during the 24-hour period; and if they’ve received a high score in their class may receive awards and recognition, or be portrayed in various amateur radio magazines.
The Wireless Society of Southern MaineSM (WSSM), a robust radio club based in Gorham, established their weekend operation at Wassamski Springs Campgrounds on Saco Street in Scarborough for During Field Day 2016, the WSSM Club members operated three (3) transceivers simultaneously on multiple band frequencies and communication modes to include Voice, CW (Morse Code), and Digital transmissions across the HF, VHF and UHF spectrum and transmission links through Amateur Radio Satellites orbiting above the Earth.
Wassamski Springs Campground donated the use of the facilities, water and electrical power connections and camp sites to the WSSM Radio Club membership who camped out or operated throughout the 24-hour event.
In addition to being an Amateur Radio Communications drill, Field Day brings an opportunity to promote amateur radio to others who may be interested as a hobby, but may not have known how to get started or whom to learn from. Campers at Wassamski Springs stopped by to ask questions and explore the radio station set ups upon noticing several communications trailers, vehicles affixed with multiple antennas, and the array of fixed antenna to include a 40-foot tower with a 40 meter Yagi Beam perched on top, an HF Spider Directional Antenna, and runs of long wire and masts throughout the camp site.
Jim Budway, Director of Cumberland County EMA, and Mary McElman Deputy Director, along with several IMAT members Kevin Donovan and Jim Fraser spent several hours at the WSSM Field Day venue.
Maine Representative Heather Sirocki representing State District 28, and Representative Karen Vachon District 29 specifically stopped in to meet the Field Day participants and offer their support of amateur radio communications.
The Wireless Society of Southern MaineSM Radio Club is one of Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency Special Teams in support of providing emergency communications in event of an emergency or disaster. The WSSM team has set up an amateur radio station at the Cumberland County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and in the CCEMA communications trailer to provide mobile emergency communications and in further support of the Cumberland County Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT).