Field Day is the annual emergency preparedness operating event sponsored by the ARRL. Held on the 4th full weekend of June, ARRL Field Day is part contest and part social gathering. Some clubs or groups go whole hog in making contacts and scoring points, while others take a more casual approach and use the time to reconnect with fellow hams. Our local club falls some where in the middle. We have the members that like to get on the air and make noise while others are more than content with the fellowship and camaraderie that Field Day provides.
Do you want to boost your group’s score and make Field Day a rewarding activity at the same time? Then go for the bonus points. The ARRL provides up to 3950 additional bonus points that really can really make a big difference in the final score. In fact some years our club scored more on the bonus than actual contacts. So what are the bonuses that are available? Let’s run them down:
The first few are pretty obvious and most groups will instantly qualify. Those would be:
100% Emergency Power. You get 100 points for each transmitter, up to 20 transmitters or 2000 points, that is on a source completely independent of the electrical mains. This would involve using batteries or a generator to provide power.
Next is Media Publicity. Be sure to send a news release to your local newspaper, radio, and television stations. Doing so will net you another 100 points. If you want the reporters to actually visit your site, follow up on the Friday morning before Field Day with a personal phone call to the assignment editor or news director of the media outlet.
Public Location, this bonus gets you 100 points if you place your station in a local park or facility that is open to the public. Schools and shopping centers are other good spots. Can private property be considered a public location? It sure can, as long is the public is invited. We’ve used Scout camps and a private field that and invited the public to attend.
If you are going to invite the public, you are going to need a public information table. Doing so will net you another 100 bonus points. The table can have some handouts and pamphlets, maybe some photos or a display, and of course a sign-in sheet so you can track who showed up at the field day site.
Message to your Section Manager. Send a Radiogram to your ARRL section manager and get a 100 point bonus. This message needs to be transmitted during Field Day, so check local HF net schedules to make sure one will be operating during the event.
As you are sending a message to your section manager, why not also originate 10 more NTS radiograms from the site. Each radiogram sent from your field day site is worth 10 points, up to 100. The messages must leave the site via RF, so maybe use Winlink to send your traffic.
Satellite QSO. The birds in the air are worth 100 points if you are able to make 2-way contact on one. Satellite contacts can be challenging, so maybe designate one or two people in your field day team to handle that task.
Alternate Power. In addition to using your generator to power the event, you can also receive a 100 point bonus if you make 5 alternate power QSOs. This means an alternate energy source like solar, wind, methane, or water to power your equipment. Batteries can charged by these means, but dry cell batteries can not be used.
W1AW Bulletin. Net a 100 points if you copy the W1AW bulletin that’s transmitted over the field day weekend. This bulletin, is transmitted via code, phone, and data modes and must be accurately copied. I usually try to copy it using a couple times using a couple different methods so I can can get one complete copy of the message. See the field day rules for the times for the bulletin message.
Educational activity bonus. If you are participating with a club, you really should have some sort of educational activity. A formal activity that is amateur radio related you get you 100 points. Need some ideas? Maybe peruse my blog at www.jpole-antenna.com for some ideas.
Site visitation by an elected government official. Elected officials love to get out and meet their constituents and their presence gets you 100 points. So send an invitation to your community’s mayor, alderpersons, board members, or supervisors. Be sure to tell them of the benefits of amateur radio to your community and how it can provide a valuable service at no taxpayer expense.
While you are inviting an elected official, don’t forget to extend the invitation to your local emergency manager, Red Cross, The Salvation director, or other served agency your group is involved with. This will get you a 100 point bonus.
GOTA bonus. Get on the Air stations are a great way for new hams or visitors to have a non-threatening, casual way to experience the fun of Field Day. A GOTA operator can amass up to 100 points with up to 5 operators gaining a max 500 point bonus. GOTA stations have specific requirements, so be sure to read the rules on their operation.
In addition to GOTA operation, you can get a 20 point bonus, up to 100 points for each youth age 17 or under that gets on the air. So be sure to get those kids radio-active this weekend.
Publicizing your site via social media can get you another 100 point bonus. So get active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or others during the field day weekend. Be sure to tag the #ARRL when you post.
One of the most important bonuses you can achieve is by designating a safety officer for your event. This person must complete the safety check list in the rules packet and assure that your operation is a safe one. I have a video on field day safety, so be sure to check it out.
Last, but not least, is the 50 point bonus for online submission of your field day results. So after everything is said and done, be sure to send in your results electronically and claim all the bonus points you are entitled to.
By my count, that’s 3950 bonus points. That’s quite a haul and can certainly have a big effect on your final score. Will you get every point available, probably not. but there is no reason why you can’t get at least 1000.
Does your club or group go after the Field Day bonus points? please feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear how many your group racks up.