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Author Topic: Field day--in general  (Read 9636 times)
2INTEREST
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« on: June 26, 2012, 05:05:54 AM »

It seems that some field day activities are meant just for certain, select hams.  Outsiders need not apply.  While I was told that hams used field day to showcase their hobby and 'brotherhood', it seems to be not so, at least as far as I've seen.

A comment made to one long time ham this past field day at a certain site where I was invited by him to experience my first one (no, I will NOT say where) seems to be contrary to the general acclaimed 'brotherhood' of hams.  The comment made was to the effect of 'Where would you go for field day if you didn't come here?  Nobody else will put up with you.'  That person, from what I saw, never offended anyone and just seemed to be content with help out in setting up and with the other 'gofer' things that need to be done.  We left shortly after the other hams started talking over their radios.

After that, I wonder if it's even worth it pursuing my license at all.  If ham radio is so cliqueish that that is what I can expect, well, maybe I don't want to get involved in it at all, or is it that we just picked the wrong site to visit?
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2012, 05:39:35 AM »

You experienced an incident that could have happened at any "club" gathering, no matter what the club interest (sailing, hunting, curling, running, bicycling, etc.).  Remember, you are dealing with people with all their inherent faults.
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N2RJ
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 06:17:38 AM »

Details are missing here.

Every FD and other ham gathering I've been to (with the exception of ONE emergency comms group who has a reputation for being snobbish anyway) has welcomed me with open arms.
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N2EY
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« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 06:23:50 AM »

You picked the wrong site to visit.

Amateurs are just like everyone else; their focus and sociability are all over the map. Field Day brings this out very clearly.

For example, I've been on Field Days that were run with incredible precision, the result of many months of planning. Teams of hams worked getting the stations and antennas set up, cables run, food and other amenities going, visitors welcomed, etc. Not a moment nor movement wasted.

And I've been on Field Days that were so ad-hoc, unplanned and lackadaisical it was almost embarrassing. All sorts of stuff that didn't work, folks who showed up late or not at all, no direction, etc.

Some FDs are really just social gatherings with radio thrown in. Others are really serious radio operating endeavors, and woe betide the person who gets in the way!

And everything in between.

I've done several Field Days single handed - just me doing everything. Had a great time, too. But a lot of work!

The Big Question is: What are your expectations? And how did you let them be known?

73 de Jim, N2EY
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NQ3X
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2012, 06:58:56 AM »

What KG4RUL said.  People are people.  Every gathering of people is going to have its own sub-gatherings of in-groups.  In my local club, the contesters are over here, the emcomm guys over there, the kilowatt ragchewers there, the QRPers there, etc.  I don't know if you've ever noticed, but sometimes relations between in-groups can be less than cordial; at least with hobby in-groups it doesn't lead to nuclear exchanges.  Wink  As to individuals, it's not as though the FCC surgically remove a person's existing douchebaggery when they issue a license.*  FWIW, I've never met a ham group unfriendly to newcomers.  That, of course, doesn't mean that such groups don't exist!  It just means I haven't encountered one.

The first thing that occurred to me based on your limited testimony was, Hey, maybe 2INTEREST's amateur pal is a cast-iron pr!ck and the other hams know it, and s/he hasn't picked up on it yet.  I've known a LOT of people like that.  They can fool you into thinking they're all right or just misunderstood or something innocuous, when they're really obnoxious prats.  Maybe you want to consider that. 

Finally, if I might paraphrase Hanlon's Razor, never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by something less contemptible.  Hams, being by nature solitary creatures who normally have a wall of electronica between them and other humans, are not often blessed with excessive amounts of in-person social grace.  Perhaps they simply weren't prepared to deal with walking a new person through what amateur radio can be.  Perhaps they were just plain busy; as Jim pointed out, if the people you tried to interact with were focused on some activity, perhaps they simply didn't relish interruption. 

Those are my thoughts. Take them with however many grains of salt you wish.

73 de Bob NQ3X

* Besides, that's a pre-existing condition, so it won't be covered by his health insurance. ;-)
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N2RRA
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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2012, 07:59:41 AM »

Details are missing here.

Every FD and other ham gathering I've been to (with the exception of ONE emergency comms group who has a reputation for being snobbish anyway) has welcomed me with open arms.

N2RJ,

I'm die'ing to find out which EMCOMM group your speaking of. LOL!

Given your QTH location you couldn't possibly be speaking of the same club I attended this years Field Day with but I'd just pass out if you were. The coincidence of the same club I had a poor experience with this year would speak volume for their reputation. They were snobbish, arrogant, impolite, rude, and what made it worse was that just about two maybe three members out of like forty were cool. I couldn't believe so many could be so miserable and plain jerks and be able to coincide with one another. Just about only thing going for them is they have a super repeater system no doubt and their EMCOMM skills are excellent leaving them usefull for an emergency or community work but that's just about it.

They are very cliquish and for myself I clearly was treated like I didn't belong, but I made sure I gave them every chance to rectify their attitude by assisting before the contest started and did not treat them the same way they treated me.

To the poster of this article; 2Interest!

Pursue your interest in this hobby and I assure you will not regret it. You unfortunately participated with the wrong group. I made my first Field Day event four years ago in 21 years being a licensed ham with the QSY Society group and made two others after very happy that I did. Could not drive the two hours to participate with them this year ,but also decided to try a different club to see what's out there. As you can tell turned out not good!

I've very much enjoyed this hobby with out clubs or Elmer's for 22 years and continue to enjoy the passion for QRP, DX chasing, contesting, meeting great people and every facet of this hobby. Never let anybody dictate what you can make of something your interested in. Never let it change who you are or what you can turn something into. This hobby has way more to offer than a bunch of snobbish arrogant jerks.

Funny thing is I made a video about it Sunday on the day it ended. Not knowing ,or realizing how many threads would turn up about their experiences.

Next year I'm gonna try another club's Field Day a friend of mine suggested I should. Coincidently he knew of the poor reputation the club had I attended this year. He would've stopped me had he known I was going. Either way I would have had to see for myself. I believe in having my own experience to have my own evaluated opinion. Life is much more adventurous and fun that way.

Get your license and email with any questions. I'd be glad to Elmer you ,or just help from a distance and show you a better side to this hobby.

73 and good luck!

« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 08:04:16 AM by N2RRA » Logged
KJ4FUU
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2012, 10:32:13 AM »

I consider our club's field day to be a success because:

1.) Nobody died or was hurt,
2.) If you wanted to operate, you could,
3.) The food was great,
4.) There was plenty of time for socializing,
5.) We scored some points, and yes, this was the lowest priority.

Our club values fun over competition.

I think about the only grousing that occured was when visitors (non-hams) dropped by around
the time food was being served. At least they showed some interest in what we were doing, and
asked questions about the radios, so that didn't really bother me (but then, I wasn't in charge of
food). We did have some people drop by to ask for bottles of water who didn't even ask about
what we were doing, which I guess is a consequence of operating in a public place.

If you wanted your name on a plaque for scoring the most points, our club wasn't the field day
for you. If you wanted to see a variety of radios, and antennas, THAT we could show you.

73,

-- Tom
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W3HKK
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2012, 01:17:59 PM »

Hams, being by nature solitary creatures who normally have a wall of electronica between them and other humans, are not often blessed with excessive amounts of in-person social grace.  Perhaps they simply weren't prepared to deal with walking a new person through what amateur radio can be.  Perhaps they were just plain busy; as Jim pointed out, if the people you tried to interact with were focused on some activity, perhaps they simply didn't relish interruption. 

Nicely and cleverly said. Smiley

Our club had 4 stations to set up for FD, and 4 main operators, with 5 other operators sitting in, including a 10 yr old.
We had  maybe 10 other visitors.  I see a dozen breaks in my operating log of 15-90 minutes each -  to rest, eat, chat, and greet, and to answer questions.  So I remember several folks stopping by wondering what CW was etc.

Our largest club issues are: an ageing membership ( less physically capable), and a need  for more folks willing to help with set up and tear down, as well as more  ssb, cw, digital operators.  Each  year,  be it for a contest like the OhQP, OSPOTA, June VHF contest,  the Jan and Feb CQWW 160m contests ( cw and ssb) , we seem to find 1 or 2 more folks with an interest in what we are doing.  So its a slow process to grow our group, and new faces are welcome.   But as another so adequately stated above,  "welcome" isnt always  communicated  as well as we would like. Smiley  Yet, every club seems to have 2-3 folks who are good people people and that bridges the gap.

Clearly I fall into the contester category, but among the help at set up/tear down are others who far prefer EMMCOM, PR, social events, and technical areas.  We even bought a hexbeam for contests/FD and over half of the  contributions came from those other folks who dont show a big interest in contesting.  A nice indication of how club members support each  other, even when our interests differ.

Try another couple of clubs til you find one  that appeals.  And good luck.
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N2EY
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2012, 02:28:04 PM »

Our club had 4 stations to set up for FD, and 4 main operators, with 5 other operators sitting in, including a 10 yr old.
We had  maybe 10 other visitors.  I see a dozen breaks in my operating log of 15-90 minutes each -  to rest, eat, chat, and greet, and to answer questions.  So I remember several folks stopping by wondering what CW was etc.

Our largest club issues are: an ageing membership ( less physically capable), and a need  for more folks willing to help with set up and tear down, as well as more  ssb, cw, digital operators. 

You might want to consider a smaller operation next year. Say, 3A or even 2A, so that the rigs are never idle yet folks get time to eat, rest, socialize, etc. This also means less setup and takedown work. It also means more choices of band and mode for each station, and the resources can be devoted to having 2 or 3 really good stations.

IMHO, a smaller FD operation where the rigs are never idle and they are producing QSOs at a good clip is a lot more fun than a larger operation where rigs go idle for lots of time and, when in use, don't produce lots of QSOs/hr.

Remember too that in 2A or larger you can have a "free" GOTA station and a "free" VHF/UHF station.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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WX7G
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2012, 08:42:30 AM »

I have done many 1A or 1B (solo) field days. It's a challenge to operate for 24 hours straight and your score due entirely to your efforts. When I do operate with a group it's with a small group of friends I've known since childhood. There are no big egos there.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2012, 11:16:22 AM »

Don't know about FD, but 11 years ago, I was in Boston for a meeting.  At the weekend, I called K1DG, who invited me to go with him to Maine for the June VHF contest. After an hour or so's driving, we walked up this steep track to the station, and was introduced: the response was, 'Hi, I'm Bill. Would you like a beer?'

Then they had me operate 70cms. No problem except occasionally I'd forget and give a locator of IO91BO - that produced some comments!!! Sadly, the generator gave up in the late afternoon.

Further back, I went to club in San Jose. Real friendly guys. I remember there was a guy talking about YL operators and showing QSL cards from YLs operating special event stations. One of those ops was my XYL........

I have found US groups in my limited experience rather friendlier to visiting hams than the UK clubs.
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KG4NEL
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2012, 06:13:59 AM »

I have done many 1A or 1B (solo) field days. It's a challenge to operate for 24 hours straight and your score due entirely to your efforts. When I do operate with a group it's with a small group of friends I've known since childhood. There are no big egos there.

I tried the 24hr thing for the first couple years I did FD. No more :-D

Found it was a lot more efficient to shut down at 2am or so, let a new crew come in and take over...especially on 40m when it used to involve picking through the SWBC interference to get 15-20 QSOs/hr.

I figure if they don't race Le Mans with one driver in 24 hours, I don't feel so bad letting someone else take over Sunday morning on Field Day, lol.
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K5KNE
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« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2012, 09:56:49 PM »

Most Clubs do not plan their field day very well.  Since a club is a volunteer organization - everybody thinks that they know how it should be and try to make it their way.  Really, nobody is in charge - it just happens.  The very serious hams are so busy rigging up their superstation and operating it that they have little time to just be friendly and maybe even teach some of the newer hams some stuff.  The inexperienced hams are often ignored or left out of the action because they don't know much or nobody has showed them what to do.
Visitors are often not included by the group or have what is happening explained to them in a simple manner. Some people who are just greeters would be good. The operators just go till they are dead tired and there is nobody to relieve them. This is not much fun for anybody.

I have run some Field Days and putting up some good antennas and rigs, a antenna setup and take down team, schedules for operator shifts, letting newcomers and visitors "give it a try" on contacts and logging, good food and drinks and having it in a good location are important.  The emphasis should be on everyone having an enjoyable experience and learning a few things. Making a high score should not the top priority.

Staying up for 30 hours is not the way to for anyone to enjoy Field Day. If the bands get poor propagation at late night - it might be best to just shut down and let a fresh group start up the next morning when the bands open. There are a lot of stations on there Sunday morning when most operators are wiped out.  If points are a big deal to the group - you can make more points in an hour with good band conditions than you can all night.

You can do Field Day by yourself!  Itmay be more enjoyable with a couple of other hams, but you don't have to be in a Club or group to participate.

Next year there will be another Field Day.  Check around the area and see what and who is going to do it and how. Surrounding towns often have better Field Days than where you live.  I'll bet that you can find some hams that want to enjoy it - and not be a slave to it.

73  Walter K5KNE
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