2020 Winter Field Day is One to RememberWFD2020 setup crew 20200125 123406

On January 25-26, 2020, CARA participated in its second Winter Field Day. Sponsored by the Winter Field Day Association, the annual event encourages hams to set up and operate outside of their normal environments and make as many contacts as possible during a 24-hour period.

At our first Winter Field Day in 2019 we operated two HF stations plus a satellite station for bonus points. For 2020 we decided to operate again at the East Pavilion of Cedar Lane Park in Columbia, and expand to three HF stations plus the satellite station. The Activities Committee developed a new plan, added a tri-band hex beam and two new radios to the mix, and conducted several rounds of testing to make sure all of the equipment provided by our volunteers could be easily deployed and would work well together.

A good part of success in ham radio is flexibility, adapting to changing conditions, and working with what you’ve got. This was especially true for our Winter Field Day crew this year! We delayed setup by two hours on Saturday to let the heavy rain clear out, and thanks to our stalwart volunteers everything was up and running within the first hour of the contest. With two of the five primary operators unavailable due to illness, we decided to run as a 2 Outdoor station with just two HF stations.

For 23 hours, 11 operators took turns working phone, PSK31, and CW on 20, 40, and 80 meters. We reached 68 ARRL sections and were pleasantly surprised to also log 5 DX contacts with England, France, and Italy! In all we logged 526 contacts, and our final score will be available later this year.

Even more important than the score, we reached many people personally during the event. We were thrilled to have 53 visitors over the weekend, including at least three who had just gotten their Tech licenses and wanted to know more about the hobby. Visitors included four ARRL officials, including the MDC section manager, who said we had a "first-class" operation, and a member of another club who wanted to see how we operated so he could help his club expand their activities.  

Since our goal for Field Day is not the score, but the experience -- specifically, to have fun and give people a chance to operate – we treated both stations as “Get on the Air” stations, open to anyone to operate along with a coach. Through GOTA we helped 12 people make their first HF contacts, including two kids who were so excited that they said they wanted to go get their licenses.

2020 Winter Field Day By the Numbers





Setup hours


Breakdown hours


Operating hours




Total contacts


Bonus points


Claimed score


Adjusted score


ARRL sections contacted


DX contacts


Most contacts (by AD5XI)


Visitors signed in


CARA members visiting


GOTA participants


Setup volunteers


Breakdown volunteers


Avg. temp outside


Avg. temp in the tent


An event like this is truly a team effort, and some huge thank-you’s are in order:

  • To all the members, prospective members, and others who came out to help with setup or tear-down, operate a station, or keep us company during the event
  • To the Activities Committee for planning the event – Alan KM4ND, Andy N3AWP, Iain AD5XI, John W3GJN, Jon KF3O, Michael K3RMO, Nancy W2WCF, Scott KS3O, and Wendy K3TBD
  • An extra-large thank-you goes to Iain AD5XI for developing a fantastic antenna plan and bringing it to life, personally filling in every gap that developed during setup on Saturday, coaching new operators, and running CW any time there was an open seat during the event
  • To Howard County Parks and Recreation for granting CARA 24-hour access to the park (and for the heated bathrooms!) and to the maintenance crews for checking in on us and making sure we had everything we needed
  • To Chris and the Howard County Office of Emergency Management for providing the county generator trailer
  • To Nancy for leading the outreach efforts before and during the event, including securing our first coverage in local media; and providing a beautiful array of refreshments to make sure our operators and visitors were well fed throughout the weekend, including a hearty, hot meal for dinner on Saturday night

Our second Winter Field Day was a fun event that demonstrated the teamwork and commitment of the CARA membership, as well as the power of personal outreach to spark the interest in ham radio in others.



                                                                                                                                                                  WFD2020 final map 20200126 140622 low  20190126 IMG 0331 setup mast   20190126 IMG 0356 satellite setup  20190126 IMG 0320 coax
 caption.  Many hands made setup go smoothly.  Getting the satellite antennas ready to go.   Coax all neat and tidy before being deployed.    
 20190126 215056 Sat nightshift  20190126 171518 CraigKC3HRD  20190127 final contacts map 20190126 174140 Alan hamburgers
 Ready for the night shift.  Craig KC3HRD made his first HF contacts and did a great job on phone and PSK.   We contacted 57 ARRL sections in the U.S. and Canada during the event. On top of planning, setup, and operating, Alan KM4ND kept the Field Day team fueled.
 20190127 092502 TedWA3AER  20190126 IMG 0313 ScottKS3O John W3GJN  20190127 IMG 0431 Kathleen KC3FWF  20190127 IMG 0451 breakdown mast
 Ted WA3AER running CW on Sunday morning.  Scott KS3O and John W3GJN take a quick break from setting up masts and antennas.  Kathleen KC4FWF ran phone and PSK31, and made 99 contacts during the event.  Breaking down after a successful Field Day, Roy KC3JPP, Kevin KC3KZ, Ted WA3AER