Creativity Opportunities

In social media circles there has been much discussion about Field Day in light of COVID-19 restrictions.  Many traditional club operations are going to be cancelled this year due to social distancing requirements and the need to protect ourselves and especially vulnerable members of our population, of which there are many in amateur radio.

Folks are going to continue to participate from home this year.  Many people undoubtedly are going to recreate the “traditional” FD experience they are accustomed to, operating in their backyard, perhaps in a tent with temporary antennas, emergency power, a grill, and some cold 807s.

Participants operating at home must operate either as D or E class.  D class stations use commercial power while E class uses emergency power sources.  D class stations cannot contact other D stations for points.  E class stations can contact any other class station.  For those wanting to operate in their backyard with tents, emergency power, and temporary antennas, with the way the rules are currently written, they are required to operate as E class.  This puts them in competition with other E stations that choose to operate in the comfort of their homes using permanent antennas.  This would include antennas like a rotatable beam on an 80′ tower. So participants choosing to operate in their backyard with what would otherwise be a common field station, as 1E are at a disadvantage.  It would be more fair to allow backyard stations to operate as class B.

There have also been calls for ARRL to remove the D class contact limitation.  This would give D stations more opportunities to make contacts than they usually could, but considering the unprecedented situation this year and the likelihood of a large majority of D class stations, it would seem removing the restriction would make sense.

ARRL has noted they will not publish aggregated club scores.  Doing so would be a benefit for clubs that are unable to have their normal FD operations and have members operating from home.  There could be an “Aggregate Club Home Score” reporting category created.  Considering that all FD score data is probably stored in a database, producing such a reporting category would be trivial.

Undoubtedly there are other one time tweaks and adjustments that could be made this year in light of the situation we’re in.  I can’t understand why ARRL hasn’t been more flexible and creative this year and used the circumstances as an opportunity to officially recognize the flexibility and creativity of participants, and instead has ironically asked participants to be creative, but stay within the lines of the current rules.


This article was originally posted at Radio Artisan.


2 thoughts on “Creativity Opportunities

  1. I believe you are wrong in your belief that those operating in their yards with tents, temporary antennas, and emergency power are required to be Class E. If such an operation were by one person or a team of two persons, it would be Class B — “One or Two Person Portable” (FD Rules 4.3). If the operation were by a group larger than two, it would be Class A because a tent in a yard would not be a regular station location (FD Rules 4.1).

    1. Hi Eric. For Class A the rules state “Such stations must be located in places that are not regular station locations”. The rules for Class B state “Other provisions are the same for Class A except it is not eligible for a GOTA or free VHF station”. So Class B is not allowed to be located at a regular station location, either. I think it comes down to how one interprets what a “regular station location” is. I tend to agree with your interpretation that the backyard is not a regular station location, and I think it stays within the spirit of the event and the rules. I doubt ARRL agrees. Arguably, this could be taken to an extreme level and one could say they normally don’t operate in their living room, so that’s not a regular station location. But I digress. One could operate in their neighbor’s yard, off of their property, and it would be an airtight argument that it’s not a regular station location, and within the rules. “Regular station location” needs to be better defined in the rules. I personally agree with a looser interpretation.

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