Field Day 2021 Grand Tour
Six States, Seven ARRL Sections, 559 miles
By Tom Frenaye, K1KI, ARRL Director Emeritus
I’d been thinking about my travels in the past to Field Day sites in New England. Most years I would concentrate on visiting 5-10 locations in a single section or sometimes as many as 15 in a couple of adjacent sections. I probably have visited more than 150 clubs and groups at different FD locations overall.
For 2021, with the break from Covid and associated restrictions, it seemed like an ideal time for a grand tour. My goal was to see if I could visit Field Day sites in all New England states, and all seven ARRL Sections in New England. It was going to require a lot of driving! At the same time, I wanted to stop at each location for long enough to learn how each club was doing and what questions and comments members had about the ARRL. It would also help that a visit from an ARRL official could generate an extra 100 FD bonus points for each group!
Here are notes from a few of the Field Day sites visited this year:
Radio Amateur Society of Norwich (Colchester CT) – N1NW 4A
Very nice location in a historic farm museum’s field. Talked with Chip/N1MIE, Charles/NA1CN and Stan/KT1SS as they were setting things up on Saturday morning. Plans for dinner included filet mignon – and a big turnout was expected! http://www.arrl.org/soapbox/view/10303
Blackstone Valley Amateur Radio Club (North Scituate RI) – W1DDD 3A?
Their site is at the Chopmist Hill WW2 radio listening site in western Rhode Island. New club president Ken/N1RGK and I hadn’t seen each other in 25+ years. It was good to get reacquainted. Section Manager Bob/W1YRC was there along with many others including Bob/WB1P and Byron/K1CYQ. They were well prepared to engage visitors and explain ham radio to anyone who stopped in. http://www.arrl.org/soapbox/view/10304
Sci Tech Amateur Radio Society (Natick EMA) – W1STR 3A
Their setup was in a parking lot with convenient trees for antennas next to an office building used for STEM educational efforts. Coordinator Bob/K5TEC had a group of students and volunteers working to devour pizza and other goodies in a pre-FD lunch. Jeremy/KB1REQ, Mindy/KM1NDY and Bruce/KC1US were among those running cables, assembling antennas and making last-minute improvements as the start of FD approached. http://www.arrl.org/soapbox/view/10305
Framingham Amateur Radio Association (Framingham EMA) – W1FY 4A
Dave/KB1YXL helped me to find their FD site, in a nice wooded corner tucked behind the town library. President John/KB1VXY gave me the grand tour. It was good to meet VP Ron/WO1E, and see longtime instructor Sumner/W1VIV again. http://www.arrl.org/soapbox/view/10306
Port City Amateur Radio Club (Stratham NH) – K1R (W1WQM) 4A
Their very long term (60 years) FD QTH is in a town park on top of the hill with great views across eastern NH. President Kriss/KA1GJU was making sure everything continued to be organized, Brayden/KC1KUG, Mark/K1RX and Gerry/W1VE were all working on 20 and 40m CW and SSB. http://www.arrl.org/soapbox/view/10307
New England Radio Discussion Society (Kennebunk ME) – K1A 3A
This informal group sets up at a local school where they are also advisors in STEM programs. Alex/AI2Q, Dave/K1WHS and Tom/KB1VPD were meeting visitors, operating and snacking on lunch in a multi-op effort. http://www.arrl.org/soapbox/view/10308
West River Radio Club (Townshend VT) – W1RRC – 3A
After a three-hour drive from Maine across New Hampshire to Vermont, the wooded setting for the WRRC wasn’t within sight until sundown. It was certainly the most off-grid FD QTH visited this (or any) year. President Tim/KA1ZQX and several others (Ken/N1WGU, Peter/KC1SS, John/K1JON and Remi/K1KHU) gave me a great welcome as the evening sky turned into night. I think they also arranged for the spectacular fireworks display I passed in Deerfield MA on the way south. http://www.arrl.org/soapbox/view/10309
Hampden County Radio Association (Agawam WMA) – W1NY – 4A
The HCRA setup has been in a very nice flat open field in a town park, and always has lots of locals drop in while walking or at the nearby playgrounds. President Larry/W1AST was busy even after a late-night shift, Fay was working hard to greet visitors and manage the extensive meal production effort, and Pete/W1RM was generating a lot of CW QSOs. They even had a drone active for photography. http://www.arrl.org/soapbox/view/10310
Comments from FD participants:
o Quite a number of people commented on the mix-up with the ARRL Field Day bulletin – not found at the advertised time Friday evening.
o The use of the ARRL Field Day locator seemed to be in decline, suggesting more publicity is needed to encourage more groups to enter their plans. Or fewer groups active?
o Has the ARRL lost influence with Congress and the FCC?
o Whatever happened to efforts to overcome home owner association restrictions?
o Why did we lose microwave band spectrum?
o Why hasn’t the ARRL focused on improving the Technician license privileges?
o ARRL board and management issues mentioned:
o Isn’t it about time for improvements to Logbook of the World?
o Why does it take so long for IT projects to be finished?
o Are you our ARRL Director? (no) Will you run again? (just might)
o Did ARRL really need the PPP loan received during the Covid crisis?
o Is there really any ethics/election committee?
o Why is the ARRL board involved in HQ staff hiring decisions?
o Why have there been five different ARRL CEOs in five years?
o Is QST only for beginner construction projects these days?
Thanks to everyone for their comments and input!
When I finished my last Field Day visit late Sunday morning, my odometer showed 559 miles travelled. I promise I never went over 73 miles per hour. I didn’t actually see one Covid mask during the whole weekend – though there were some elbow touches instead of hand shaking. Overall, Field Day efforts were slightly smaller than in the past – not quite as many stations and people at each FD site, fewer clubs doing FD, not quite as many operators, but the food was excellent, and the organization exceptional. Overall, I’d say that the health of the various clubs I visited was very good.