Welcome to this special introduction to Field Day, the biggest ham radio event of the year where tens of thousands of hams come together to operate, improve their skills, log contacts and compete, and in general just have a good time.

Whether you’re a seasoned operator or just starting out, if you’re a ham radio operator or even if you’re just thinking about getting into ham radio, you need to get involved in Field Day!

Don’t miss out on the fun – let’s take a closer look at field day and how you can get started.

Use Coupon Code FIELDDAY24 this weekend only to save 10% off all Ham Radio Prep courses!

Watch the YouTube Video for a Full Overview!

Introduction to Ham Radio Field Day – The biggest event of the year!

Field Day is always the 4th full weekend in June. In 2024, Field Day was on June 22 and 23. The great thing about Field Day is that whether you’re a serious contester or a beginner, you can get involved and have a great time.

During field day, ham radio clubs all over the US and even internationally will host meet-ups to operate together and log their contacts. There will be lots of traffic on the bands, so hams from home can hop on their radio and join in too.

Professor Jim N4BFR and James KN4NEH enjoy some field day operations from the back porch!


How to Get Involved

Before Saturday when field day starts, here’s what you need to do.

First, I highly recommend finding a local club meetup. This is a great way to connect with other hams in your area to share knowledge and operate. You might even kick back with some refreshments and take turns operating the club station.

Find a Field Day Event Near You Here!

Within the World Radio League, you can also click “Find Members Near Me” to send a message to a local ham.

You can also search “Ham Radio Clubs Near Me” on Google, and send them a message to ask where they’ll be meeting up, or visit the club website for details.

They may have a posted/date time for the meetup with an open invite, but don’t be afraid to shoot them a message – the ham radio community is super welcoming to new folks. Even if you haven’t made your first contact yet or are still studying for your exam, it’s worth checking out.

To study for your ham radio license, check out the Ham Radio Prep License Courses.

Event Basics

By now you’re probably asking yourself, “Okay, so what actually happens during Field Day?”

Field Day is a combination of a social event, as well as a ham radio competition. The competition is open to all operators in IARU Region 2, which is North and South America.

Photo Credit: IARU.org

Event Start and End Time

The event starts at 1800 UTC Saturday, which is 2pm EST here in Atlanta, and ends at 2059 UTC Sunday, which is 4:59pm Sunday. You can only work a maximum of 24 consecutive hours for the competition.

Event Bands and Modes

The rules are pretty simple – try to make contacts with as many other stations as possible on essentially all the HF bands (160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10), as well as bands 50MHz or above. 

Because it is essentially an all-band all-mode contest, this is an event for the whole community, which makes it easy to hop in and get involved.

Even if you’re a beginner and not competitive, don’t be afraid to hop on and make some contacts.


Logging Your Contacts

When you start operating, it’s a great idea to log your contacts, either for the competition or just for your own personal reference.

The World Radio League offers an easy to use web logger that has Field Day information built in, so you can go to www.WorldRadioLeague.com and sign up for a free account so that you can log your contacts here.

Once the event starts, the World Radio League will generate you a logbook. Each time you make a contact, enter the basic information like call sign, mode and frequency, as well as the Field Day specific exchange.

Check out this guide on how to log your contacts if you’re new to logging.

Logging your contacts with the World Radio League logger is a great way to track your progress and connect with other hams around the globe.

You Need to Know Your Exchange!

An exchange is just additional information you’ll say when making a contact specific for the event.


In the case of Field Day, you have two exchanges:

  1. The first is your Operating Class, and
  2. the second is the ARRL / RAC Section.

So, before operating, you need to know your class and section. If you’re operating with a club, they’ll tell you what class to use.

How to Know Which Class To Use

Your class is the number of transmitter’s you’re using (usually 1) and then the class letter:

  • Class A is generally used for clubs or small groups of 3 or more people who are portable.
  • Class B is used for one or two people operating portable. If you’re operating from home and you use a battery, you can also generally claim class B. If you’re using a battery and less than 5 watts, you can use Class B – Battery.
  • Class C is for mobile stations, including maritime and aeronautical mobile.
  • Class D is for home stations, if you’re operating using home using your home power, you’ll generally use Class D.
  • Class E is the same as home, except you’re operating off of emergency power, like battery or generator.
  • Class F is for Emergency Operations Centers, at an established EOC site

So if you’re operating 1 transmitter, as a single person operating portable or battery power, you would say 1B or 1 bravo.

A two transmitter club station would say 2C or two charlie. Knowing your phonetic alphabet comes in handy here.

This is just a quick overview of the classes, so be sure to check the Field Day Rules if you want more specifics on choosing the right class.

How to Know Which Section to Use

Alright, so now that you know your class, you need to know your ARRL / RAC Section.

For many US states, your section is the same as the two letter abbreviation of the state. So for me in Georgia, my section is GA or Golf Alpha.

Some states, like Massachusetts, are further divided, in this case into Eastern Massachusetts or EMA, and Western Massachusetts, or WMA, so be sure to check the section reference to be sure.

Here is a reference of the Sections – use this guide to find your section.

Saying Your Exchange and Logging

So for me operating as a portable individual in Georgia with one transmitter, my exchanges would be:

  • 1B, or 1 bravo, as my operating class
  • And GA, or Golf Alpha, for my section.

Altogether my field day exchange is 1B (Class), GA (Section).

The World Radio League Logger provides a special logbook template that includes the Section and Class for the Field Day exchange.

And remember, you’ll be both sending and receiving exchanges when you’re logging so give your exchange and be sure to listen for the exchange of the other operator.


Contest Specifics

For the more serious contesters, you need to understand the different multipliers based on power, mode, location and much more.

In fact, there is a special bonus for getting new operators on the air, or GOTA bonus! So, if you’re new to ham radio and show up to an event, some clubs maybe be happy to help you get your first contact and claim their GOTA bonus, if they’re set up for it.

Even if you don’t have a license, you may be be able to hop in and make a contact under the supervision of a licensed operator. 

When field day is over, be sure to export your logs from WRL or logger of your choice and enter them in to the website for scoring and tracking!


Contest Specifics

I hope this has been helpful in learning the basics of Field Day, and I hope you get out and operate.

The Ham Radio Prep and World Radio League team will be checking out a few club events here in Atlanta, so look out for some videos on social.

You can also check out the live scoreboard on World Radio League to see other operators logging in real time.

See you at field day and I hope to hear you on the air soon – 73!

James KN4NEH and the Ham Radio Prep Team