Field Day 2016

Had another good time with Field Day with CARS on the Yorktown this past weekend.

Only had a little bit of rain for Field Day this year, but fortunately nothing severe enough to stop us from operating. New tarps this year worked great for keeping the stations and operators dry. About the only real snafu we had was one of the generators wasn’t working. Fortunately the other generator was able to power both rigs and computers without any complaints.

We had two stations set up, one for phone and one for digital/CW operations. This year I operated on the digital/CW station, doing PSK31 and RTTY on 15 and 20m. Doing digital contesting is a lot less tiring than phone contesting. Hearing that constant noise on phone can really wear you out.

Bands seemed to be a bit up and down while I was operating. There were many times where I’d see the middle of a QSO on PSK or RTTY, wait until it was finished for my chance, but then the signals would disappear. Made for some slow going at times. Sunday seemed a lot better. Not a whole lot of RTTY activity, but there was a lot of PSK going on. Had a nice little run going for the last 30 minutes of Field Day until we called it quits at 2PM.

I was even able to make a contact from home, with just the dipole on my PVC mast propped up against the ladder. Hardly an optimal setup with 3/4 of the ladder line laying on the ground, center up about 4m or so and the ends of the antenna staked into the ground. Didn’t really expect to be able to get out well at all, or for the radio to even tune the antenna, but it did and a station in NH heard me well enough to make the QSO.

Field Day photos.

More VE credentials

I have VE credentials with the Laurel VEC now!

At this year’s Southeast Linuxfest, the amateur radio licensing tests were conducted through the Laurel VEC group. They’re noted for giving free testing sessions, and they also submit the paperwork online, so people who pass can get their new call sign or upgrades as soon as the next day.

Since I already have my ARRL VE credentials, getting the Laurel VE credentials was pretty easy. The team leader verified that I was an ARRL VE, I filled out a form, and done.

Don’t know if there are any other Laurel VEs around me, but their team directory doesn’t show any VE teams in SC. At SELF, I was working with the Star City team under Wally, WD1U. His procedures were all pretty easy to follow and seemed pretty logical. I enjoyed working with Wally and the other team members. Hopefully I’ll get to work with him again at SELF next year.

Museum Ships Weekend 2016

Spent a few hours on the USS Yorktown yesterday activating it for Museum Ships Weekend as WA4USN. I had the Saturday afternoon shift from noon-4PM. Didn’t bother to count how many contacts I made, but managed to get a few in the log.

Operated mostly on 20m in seek and pounce mode as well as sitting on a frequency calling CQ. I wasn’t able to generate any pileups like some of the other ship stations out there, but there were a few times where I got a nice steady flow of contacts.

The band was pretty noisy with lots of QSB while I was operating. Contacts would be booming in one minute, and by the end of the QSO would be almost down in the noise. Still, it was a lot of fun getting back on the radio and making contacts. Getting to play radio on the Yorktown is always a lot of fun.

Ham radio cake day #4

Today is my fourth year of being a licensed amateur radio guy. It’s been a lot of fun so far even though I haven’t been on the radio a whole lot recently.

Now going into my fifth year, we’re about to move into a new house with a few additions geared toward amateur radio. Looking forward to being able to get back on the air, and hopefully spend some more time playing radio. I have a lot of radio and electronics related projects to work on. It will take some time to get the shack and workbench set up and organized, but it will be nice to have a space to work in again.

The only thing missing is a convenient way to get an antenna a good height into the air. The trees next to the old house were a great place to hide an antenna in, but no such features at the new house. I’ll have to work on something else to get the antenna(s) up in the air.

TARC swap meet haul

The Trident Amateur Radio Club has a small swap meet/tail gate every year that usually has a handful of people with stuff to sell. It’s not huge, but it’s a nice little gathering and an opportunity to meet up with other hams that I don’t get to see often.

This year’s tail gate gathering was this morning. I usually go more for the hanging out aspect than to find  stuff to bring home, but this year I managed to find a few things to bring home with me.

One of the older hams was giving away a bunch of his older amateur radio books, and being a sucker for old vintage books, managed to get a few of them. A 1979 ARRL handbook, an old ARRL antenna book (from 1958 or so I think), an ARRL Radio Fundamentals book from 1972  and a 1959 Rapid Radio Repair book were the ones I grabbed.

He also had an old US Navy AN/URM-26B signal generator in a big heavy duty looking case that still worked (according to the sticky note he put on it anyway), so I bought that from him too. $10 for what looks like a neat piece of equipment (even if it doesn’t work) seemed like a pretty good deal. I’ll wait to check it out once we’re settled in the new house.

The last couple of items I grabbed were off Tom/W4DAX’s table, an MFJ SWR/watt meter and a dead power supply that he didn’t have time to fix up. The SWR meter will be useful in the shack, and the power supply will be a nice project to work on once I get the bench back in operation.

MFJ-815C SWR/Watt meter
MFJ-815C SWR/Watt meter
Dead power supply
Dead power supply