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.