Field Day History

In 1933, The June 1933 QST announced that the second Saturday in June, for a period of 27 hours, starting at 4 pm local time, that hams would go into the "field" and set up portable stations.

W1BDI F.E. Handy said:
“The real object of this contest is to test ‘portables’ wherever they may be available.… If successful, we want to make it an annual affair.”

The scoring of that first contest was each QSO with fixed stations will count 1 point, contacts
with other portables count 2 points, and DX contacts count 3 points. Multiply QSO
points by the total number of ARRL sections, plus countries worked

September 1933 QST announced the winner of the 1st Annual Field Day was W4PAW. They made 62 QSOs and had 28 sections for a total of 1876 points.

1934 Field Day #2 is announced.

1936 Field Day was so popular that a second Field Day was held August 22nd-23rd of that year. The highest qso total for June was 143 and the highest QSo total for August was 136.

1937-Field day #5 is announced for June 19th-20th. The FD message bonus was added. The winning qso for this FD was 204 QSO's at a rate of 7.5 qsos/hr.

1938- Field Day period goes from 4 pm Saturday Local time to 6 pm Sunday Local time.

1939- the first rule to include all station apparatus must fall within a 100 ft radius excluding antennas.

1940-The 100' rules is changed to 500'. Home stations are allowed to work FD.

1941- The ARRL inadvertently forces a nationwide start time by notifying the FCC of the Field day period and the FCC communication 73-D references a single start time for all ham stations for Field Day from 4pm EST June 7th to 6pm EST June 8th.

1942-1945 All Ham activity ceases.

1946-Field day returns and adds a VHF only category

1948- 11 meters (now the CB band) is added for a Field Day Band. FD is shortened to 24 hrs. Battery and Emergency power categories are added.

1949- Mobile category added to FD.

1950- The modern day FD classes are established. The circle is increased to 1000'

1951- To encourage home emergency power, a home emergency power class is added Class D while home stations off power mains are class E.

1957- Simultaneous starts return, starts 4 pm EST and ends 4pm PST the next day. Anyone can operate 24 of the 27 operating period. 10,000th ham participates.

1963-ARRL rules that a FD site can only use one callsign.

1968- Setup within the 27 hr period is mandatory and the start time is moved to 1900z. All home stations are moved to Class D.

1969- The setup rule is hugely unpopular so ARRL changes the rule so that if you wait to set up you can operate the whole 27 hrs, otherwise you can only operate 24 hrs of the 27.

1970- A free Novice station is allowed. Starting time is moved to 1800z.

1972- Battery results are listed separately.

1973- Repeater rule is waived for satellite contacts and a 50 point sat bonus is included for the first time.

1974- A 100 point bonus is added for making contacts solely by natural power. 15 minutes rule for band changes is instituted.

1975- the Explosion of SSB leads the ARRL to institute a 2X multiplier for CW contacts.

1976- 10,000 qso mark is broken by W1VV/1

1977- The natural power bonus disappears and techs are now allowed to operate the Novice station. The 2X CW rule becomes permanent.

1980- RST is replaced with category and class for the exchange. Setup time is changed again, nothing can be set up before the 24 hr period. natural power comes back as a 100 point bonus. Sat and FD message bonuses increase to 100 points.

1981- Due to the popularity of packet radio, a 100 point bonus is instituted for one packet QSO and the repeater rules are waived for qso's through a digipeater. The Yankee Clipper Contest Club W2RQ turn in an impressive 11,201 qso total for Field Day.

1984- power multiplier is changed from 200 watts to anything less than 150 watts.

1993- Due to the influx of Technicians, a 100 point bonus is added for making 10 VHF/UHF contacts and a free VHF/UHF station is allowed class A and B.

1994- The modern FD record is set by K6CAB 15A by getting 3450 QRP QSO's for a total score of 30,150

1998- Free packet station and bonus are eliminated, but RTTY/PSK31 are added as a 3rd FD mode. The 100 point bonus for VHF/UHF stations is deleted.

So that is the history of Field Day. We've come a long way Baby!

Credit: December 1999 QST