Field Day 2020

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Field Day was a bit different this year. No big gatherings, and many of the public spaces that normally hosted Field Day this year were closed or only permitted small groups. With some modified rules for Field Day this year, there were a lot of Class D stations (commercial power) on the bands this year.

We got our back yard Field Day set up (1D SC) and invited neighbours over. Set out a few items for people to check out, and got the radio fired up. Had a few of our nearby neighbours over, and another person stopped by with her grandkids later in the afternoon.

We were able to show off radio operating during Field Day, talk about some of the things amateur radio operators do on the radio, shared radio stories, and show off radio related paraphernalia like QSL cards, boat anchors, Morse Code keys and some of the kits I’ve put together.

Plenty of activity on 10m today, which was where I spent most of the afternoon in seek and pounce mode. The pileups were thick and a bit challenging to get through, but I was able to make it through a few of them. 10m started to slow down as the afternoon went on, so I dropped down to 20m where there was even more activity. Worked a few stations there and popped back up to 10m to get one of our newly minted Tech friends her first HF QSO. Then it was back down to 20m for a few more contacts until the mosquitoes got bad enough to make me call it a day. I ended up with 22 QSOs in the log, with the last few getting out to the west coast.

Even though this year wasn’t a typical Field Day, it was still a good radio weekend.

More boat anchors

Every now and then, as president of the local amateur radio club, I’ll get an email from someone looking to donate radio gear to the club so that it can be put to use by someone. I usually arrange for myself or one of the other club members to go pick up the gear, and we’ll check it out. We’re always appreciative of donations like this and usually the equipment ends up with new hams starting out in the hobby.

The most recent email I received a few days ago didn’t say what kind of equipment it was and when I arrived to pick up the gear, I was quite surprised. The equipment donated by the family turned out to be not amateur radio gear, but two sets of old surplus US Navy communications equipment dating back to 1944 and 1945. Pretty cool museum pieces.

There were also a couple of old CB radios and some mag mount antennas but compared to the main haul, they seemed somewhat incidental.

Surplus US Navy communications equipment
Some unexpected equipment

On the outside they’re not in the greatest shape, and appear to have been sitting around in storage for at least a few decades. Most of the pieces had lots of built up dirt and dust, and a lot of flaking paint. And they were heavy.

Each set has a transmitter, receiver, power unit, antenna loading coil, and remote control unit. All of them look like they might have been cannibalized for parts at some point.

An instruction manual even came with the collection, luckily enough. Should be helpful with the restoration.

Model TCS-13 instruction book
Model TCS-13 instruction book

The power rectifier units were the heaviest of all the units, and each of them appeared to have had a few parts repurposed from them.

They’ve definitely seen better days.

I kind of doubt they can be restored to operating condition, but I think at least one set can be cleaned up enough to use as a display piece, maybe for the club room. I’ll have to see if there are any club members interested in restoring boat anchor gear who might want to make a club project out of this. Should be a fun project to work on.

I made a thing

Charleston Hamfest 2020

This year’s edition of the Charleston Hamfest went fairly well I thought. I had a pretty good time there anyway.

Most of my time was spent up front at the microphone making announcements and picking door prize winners, but I did get to spend some time wandering around looking at stuff. Picked up a couple books, a box of analog meters, and enough spools of wire to keep me going for decades. Builder hams getting rid of stuff can be very generous when they find other builder hams (or aspiring builder hams) looking for stuff.

Toward the end of the hamfest, the “Free Stuff” table starts getting more and more things piled onto it. Found an old Heathkit Automotive Tune-up meter and an EICO Model 460 oscilloscope that ended up coming home with me. I figure the oscilloscope will make a nice restoration project to learn/practice on without having to worry about messing up. Also grabbed a box of miscellaneous wires and microphones off the free table.

Two of the big vendors that have been regulars at the hamfest were notably absent this year (retired from the hamfest circuit), so the vendor space seemed emptier than usual. Still a pretty decent amount of stuff to look at and buy.

Back this year was the go-box exhibition and competition. There were some pretty cool go-boxes that were submitted. One of these days when I have more time to spare, I’ll have to put one together.

No time for radio, building, or tinkering these days but once I get past the PhD, I’ll have plenty of projects to work on.

Field Day 2019

Didn’t get to spend as much time doing Field Day this year as I have in the past. Made it out to the Yorktown around 1PM and setup was still going on. Got the generator fueled up, plugged in the extension cord and we were ready to go.

Listening for call signs

It looks like I’m logging a contact here, but I’m just trying to pick out the call sign of a station amid all the noise and other nearby stations.

Spent a few hours operating at the station. Started with phone, but got tired of listening to the noise after a while and switched over to RTTY. A lot less RTTY activity on 20 m and 40 m than I expected (that the radio could hear anyway) but managed a few contacts over an hour or so.

Wasn’t able to make it out on Sunday because of injuring my foot trying to navigate my way around the ship. Missed a step and when I landed on my foot, it bent in a way that it shouldn’t have. Nothing broken, fortunately, but really sore and made walking around difficult.

Turn out for this year’s Field Day was pretty light. Not sure how many people came out for the evening/night shift, but there were only a handful of people during the time I was there.

With club members getting up there in age, maybe it’s time to find an easier to access Field Day location.