The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) sponsors an annual on air radio contest during the fourth weekend of June.
The purpose of Field Day is to encourage preparedness for emergency communications in adverse conditions. Temporary stations are set up using grab and go equipment with off the grid power. Those stations are then put to the test, competing to make the most contacts with other stations within a designated 24 hour period. Information including the station callsign, operating class and location are exchanged to verify that contacts are made.
Contrary to its intended purpose, Field Day is planned and coordinated well in advance of the actual event. Home stations are dismantled and equipment is transported to the site. Set-up begins a few hours prior to the contest and proceeds at a feverish rate unil completed just in time. Operators call CQ in hopes that they can hear and be heard over the air. The next 24 hours are filled with a sense of urgency culminating in a myriad of emotions; anticipation, disappointment, excitement and triumph to name a few. Technical difficulties are inevitable, but so too are a few technically resourceful hams, the unsung heroes, being ready to come to the rescue. Contacts are made and confirmed, then entered in the log one after another (as long as the band holds together and the computer doesn't crash) and time ceases to exist (or matter). By morning, operators are exhausted. Dupes are the norm and what was fun and exciting is now dull and mind numbing.
The brave few who manage to make it through the night are hit with the arduous task ahead, the dreaded tear down. HF rigs, antennas, computers, cables and other miscellaneous items are disassembled and loaded into vehicles for transport back to the home stations from whence they came. The flurry of activity comes to an abrupt halt and another set of Field Day memories is etched into our memories. Almost immediately afterward, discussions about what went wrong, what went right, what was learned and how to make it better for next year begin; and time marches on.