Field Day always has the opportunity to have bonus points — points that you can achieve that count above and beyond the actual contacts made during the Field Day hours of operation.
The ARRL does bonus points for three specific reasons (in my humble opinion…):
- Encourage little used modes for points
- Publicize the Field Day event
- Introduce new hams to the contesting environment
Let’s look at some of the bonus point categories:
- Get On The Air (GOTA) Station. This is the classic station that is used to introduce new hams to the contesting environment. This is also a great place to show the public how new hams can learn about operating new modes.
- “Free” VHF Station. When your club has two or more transmitters, you may also operate an additional VHF transmitter without it counting against your entry qualification. This is the “little used” modes to create additional activity on the bands.
- 100% emergency power. DOH! This is an event to test portable capabilities in an emergency.
- Media publicity. 100 bonus points for attempting to have media at your event. I suggest three ways to get media to attend.
- Pubic location. 100 bonus points for operating in a public place — such as a public park.
- Public Information Table. 100 Points for having handouts available for people who come visit your site.
- Message Origination to Section Manager. 100 points for origination of a NTS style formal message to the ARRL Section Manager for your group. Hey, it’s a message.
- Message Handling. This is up to 10 messages at 10 points each for messages relayed, not including your Section Manager message.
- Satellite QSO. This is 100 bonus points for completing at least one satellite QSO during the Field Day event. A little used mode and a great method of getting the media to your event.
- Alternate power for 100 points from a minimum of five QSO’s without power from commercial mains or petroleum driven generator. Like solar — or peddling a bicycle. A great media draw.
- W1AW Bulletin. 100 points for copying the bulletin. Who do you have copying this?
- Educational Activity Bonus. Another way of exposing ham radio to others.
- Site Visitation by an elected governmental official. Not a candidate, but already elected. We need government on our side!
- Site Visitation by a representative of an Agency. Served via ARES. We provide help in communications and Field Day is representative of our capabilities.
- Web submission. 50-points for no human interface with your submission.
- Field Day Youth Participation. Points for QSO’s by people 18 or younger. We want youngsters participating in ham radio.
What a list!
From the club perspective, one needs to have a plan to earn each of these bonus points that are available to the club. This means a plan, a defined person or station captain responsible for getting the bonus points, and a validation that the bonus points were earned by the Field Day Chairman or designate.
One can argue that the bonus points are nuts, crazy, too hard or whatever. But each of the categories make a point about extending the range of operation or including others in our hobby. The bonus points, while worth going after, tell us where we need to be taking the hobby as a club.
Who will earn the bonus points for your club this year?