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Author Topic: What makes for an ideal Field Day site?  (Read 3077 times)

Posts: 60


« on: July 20, 2003, 06:52:57 PM »

First, of course, one would have to define goals for Field Day.  For me, those goals would include in no particular order:
 * introducing the public to ham radio
 * practicing emergency comms under disaster conditions
 * scoring well

The following requirements would then follow, again, in no particular order:
 * the ability to run a generator 24/7
 * the ability to camp overnight
 * the ability to set up or string up antennas
 * public visibility

What do you think?

Posts: 1490

« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2003, 01:43:30 PM »

I have coordinated FD for more than two decades for W8UM, W8PGW, and KT8K (one year), and I look for the following:

- Easy access/permission/parking - preferably high traffic with public visibility to our banner
- Sanitary facilities - one year the club popped for a porta-john, but I like to avoid that
- Height above average terrain - more is better
- Distance from neighbors - avoids complaints of generator noise and RFI
- Enough space to put everything up

Finding good spots isn't too hard.  It's getting permission to use them and having accessible restrooms that are the problems in my experience.  Our club has good liability insurance, which sometimes helps us obtain permission, but there's no substitute for friends, which is usually the way it works.

There are lots of nice-to-haves, including:  
- a pond/lake/pool for swimming (better grounds, too)
- proximity to purveyors of food, fuel, and parts/tools/equipment
- shelter such as a barn, shed, etc.
- tall trees to support wire antennas
- highest spot in the county

Hope that helps.  I'll keep thinking about it, and may enter some more here later.  Feel free to contact me with questions.
Best 73s & C U next FD de kt8k - Tim

Posts: 1490

« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2003, 02:00:23 PM »

The *ideal* site would probably be on the veranda at a nice hotel (owned by a ham) with a 24 hour restaurant, all situated on a mountain top.  It would have a handful of tall trees and some grassy area directly adjacent where masts could be put up, and no problem with ham radio signs to pull in the visitors, who would be able to see our antenna farm from the parking lot (if not the town below us in the valley).  Between operating stints one could hang out in the air- conditioned bar or take a dunk in the pool.

Why mess around?  You did say "ideal".
73 de kt8k - Tim

Posts: 1014

« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2003, 11:52:40 PM »

I agree with most everything posted, but for me the big thing has to be access to decent bathrooms.  You guys can go behind a tree easily.  Most women won't.  I have yet to see a Field Day site with Port-a-Johns where they weren't totally disgusting.

I'll show up briefly to almost any Field Day site with a good bunch of friendly hams operating.  You want me to stay for a while?  You want me to take a turn at the key or the mic.?  You better have access to decent facilities.

Posts: 1490

« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2003, 02:25:03 PM »

I am with you, Caity.  The only reason sanitary (and I meant Sanitary) facilities were second on my list was that they wouldn't matter if we couldn't access the site.  Bathroom access defines a good FD effort, in my book.
73 de kt8k - Tim

Posts: 87

« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2003, 02:16:34 PM »

A Field Day site must have a john of some type.  The more plumbing options, the better!  A shower can feel pretty good between setup and event start. Being able to wash hands is crucial to base level civilization and health when group cooking is involved.

I also like a place to build a campfire--chases away mosquitoes and makes a great conversation pit for folks between operating sessions.  It's fun to exchange tales of FD past, present, and yet to come.
The crackle makes a great counterpoint to CW sidetones
and -TOR chirps.  Where there's a fireplace, there's warm memories.

Lotsa trees for stringing dipoles, the more the better!
And trees are safer than portable towers--they dont need to be guyed.

If there is a farm pond, find a way to make a floating feedpoint raft for a fantastic ground plane to a balloon supported wire vertical.  I made the ground plane using a wire mail basket. I attached pontoons made from pool fun doodles. I used a setscrew from a magmount antenna to hold the wire in place.  The raft was fed with waterproof co-ax.  How we enjoyed those pileups!


Posts: 7

« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2003, 08:31:51 PM »

Everyone raises some good points.  I am involved with two local clubs in my area, and there have been things that each club has found.  

- A local park that has sanitary facilities that are located near the site.

- Approval from the local park agency to leave part of the parking lot open at night for access.

- A copy of the approval to use the facility (we had a security guard come up to us one year, and he had not been advised that we would be there!).  

- If you are going to have a vehicle such as an RV on a grass area, some type of pieces of wood to put under the wheels to spread out the weight so that you don't put ruts into the field.  

- Small LED blinking lights to hang on the guy wires so that your operators can navigate safely in the late hours of the night!

- Become involved with the agency that runs the area you use.  If nothing else, schedule a club picnic at another time of the year, and offer to have your people go around and pick up some of the garbage left in the fringes of the park.  It builds a lot of good will.  

Another facility used by another group was a training facility for a local electrician's union.  While we didn't use it, they had solar panels installed at the facility to train people on installation.  This could be your power source!!  


Posts: 362

« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2004, 01:02:12 AM »

Bugs, Mud, and high humidity. If a spot has these 3 main things then it is a good F/D site
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