Field Day 2022

The Half-Wave Society, W4BXC, was on the air once again from our back yard for Field Day this year. We were joined this year by newly inducted members Mark W8ZRB and Scarlett KO4ELA and their respective families.

Three deep-cycle AGM batteries provided an ample amount of power for the HF and 2m radios this year and had no problems keeping the HF radio going at 100 W. I’ve run the HF radio on one of these batteries before, but this is the first time I’ve had all three connected together to provide power.

Three deep cycle AGM batteries connected together in parallel
Battery power for Field Day 2022

An Arrow 2m/70cm J-pole was set up for the 2m radio. Wasn’t hearing much on the repeaters, but we did use the 2m radio to put some of the kids on the air over simplex with a handheld.

Radios and laptop on a table with three batteries supplying power
Radios and laptop on a table with three batteries supplying power

The CW key collection and Heathkit code practice oscillator I set out on the dining room table proved to be popular items with the crowd that wasn’t outside with me playing radio.

Amateur radio items on display for Field Day 2022
Amateur radio items on display for Field Day 2022

We managed a total of 67 QSOs this year on the 10m, 20m, and 40m bands. Propagation on 10m was pretty much non-existent. I wasn’t hearing any stations at all on Saturday, and just a lone station out of Missouri Sunday morning.

This year we’ve decided to make Ham the Terracotta Pig the official mascot for the W4BXC Half Wave Society. I think he makes for a very majestic looking mascot.

W4BXC Mascot Ham the Terracotta Pig
W4BXC Mascot Ham the Terracotta Pig

Atlanta Hamfest 2022

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of meeting Connie and me getting my amateur radio license, we went back to the Atlanta Hamfest this past weekend.

A tote bag with text to commemorate the 10th anniversary of NR4CB and AB4UG meeting
NR4CB + AB4UG commemorative tote bag

This was our first trip back to the Atlanta Hamfest since the last time we went back in 2014. The 2022 edition of the hamfest was back at the Jim Miller Park with a shiny new events building.

This year, the hamfest was quite a bit smaller in terms of the bone yard and vendors inside but considering the times, I thought the turn out was still pretty decent. Apparently there were a number of last minute cancellations so there wasn’t much in the way of commercial vendors at the hamfest this time. We still found a few things to buy from the swaps and people out in the bone yard though.

The hamfest acquisition I’m most excited about is one that Connie came across: a bin of slide rules and slide rule books including a neat little round slide rule. This will expand my slide rule collection quite a bit. Some of the larger slide rules have scales I haven’t come across before, so I’m looking forward to learning about those and how to use them.

A bin of various slide rules and slide rule books
A bin of slide rules and slide rule books

Other acquisitions included a couple boxes of ferrites and toroids, an Astron RS-35 power supply for the shack, and a stack of QRP Quarterly magazines someone was giving away.

Part of our day was spent serving as volunteer examiners for the testing session being held at the hamfest. We helped out with the afternoon shift, and had about 5 people taking tests in the afternoon. Most of the test takers were in the morning shift and it sounded like it was pretty busy.

Even though the hamfest wasn’t as big as the previous years we went, we still had a really good time.

70cm radio in the shack

Got a 70 cm mobile radio set up in the shack yesterday. It was a radio I picked up at the Charleston Hamfest a few years ago but had been sitting in the closet waiting for me to get to. After getting the 2m radios set up in the car and the shack, I decided it was time to turn my attention to the 70 cm radio.

The radio is a Yaesu FTM-3207D. It’s a nice, compact little radio, in pretty good shape, and works great. Programming the memory slots is pretty simple and pretty much the same procedure across the other Yaesu radios that I have, so getting the local 70 cm repeaters stored went pretty quickly (there aren’t a whole lot of them in the area).

Yaesu FTM-3207D 70cm mobile radio tuned to a repeater at 441.450 MHz
Yaesu FTM-3207D 70cm mobile radio tuned to a repeater at 441.450 MHz

The radio is currently connected to a 2m/70cm dual band mag mount that I used to have on the car. Got the mag mount set up on a shelf sitting on a side panel from an old computer case as a ground plane.

Dual band mag mount antenna perched on a shelf connected to a 70 cm mobile radio
Dual band mag mount antenna perched on a shelf connected to a 70 cm mobile radio

The microphone is still functional, but looks like it’s seen better days. The cable covering has become brittle and broken away. Fortunately, replacement cables are available and it’s easy enough to replace.

Yaesu MH-48 hand microphone for the FTM-3207D
Yaesu MH-48 hand microphone for the FTM-3207D

I managed to check into the local ARES net last night using a repeater about 30 miles away with the radio set to high power (55W). Don’t know how I sounded, but it must have been good enough for the net controller to pick me up.

I’ve got a little handheld Arrow 70 cm Yagi antenna, so maybe I’ll work on getting this radio outside to see if I can eavesdrop on some FM satellites, or see what kind of UHF FM simplex I can do.

6m/10m attic dipole

Joining the 2m ground plane antenna in the attic now is a 6m/10m fan dipole.

There are too many rafters and roof supports above the ceiling to easily get a longer antenna into the attic, but a 10m dipole is short enough to get up there with some reasonable effort. I decided might as well make it a fan and add 6m to it as well.

Getting the antenna installed in the attic and connected up turned out to be a process that spanned a few weeks, but yesterday I finally got it connected up to the antenna analyzer (RigExpert Stick 230) and got everything trimmed up to about as good as it was going to get.

The SWR is under 3 for most of the 6m band dipping down to just above 2 around 51 MHz. For the 10m band, the SWR is under 2.6 across the band and dipping down to just above 2.2 at about 28.8 MHz.

The radio’s internal antenna tuner seems to handle the antenna pretty well. Now to see if I can make any contacts with it…

New 2m shack radio

With the old 2m radio installed in the car, it was time to install the new 2m radio in the shack to replace the old one. We picked up a Yaesu FT-2980 a couple months ago and this weekend’s project was to get it up and running.

A 2m ground plane antenna was installed in the attic a few weeks ago, but I ended up having to reposition it to make it easier to run the coax into the shack. Once that was done, I was able to feed 50 feet of RG-213 coax through the conduit running into the shack with about 10 feet left over which got coiled up next to the antenna.

After a bit of running up and down between the attic and shack, I got the antenna trimmed enough to get ~1.1 SWR across the band.

The weekly ARES net gave me a chance to test out how everything sounded and see how well I was able to get into the nearest repeater. At first, it didn’t seem like I was being heard on the repeater, although I could hear everything going on. After looking up the repeater details, I discovered that I had the wrong CTCSS tone set. Once that was fixed, I had no problem being heard on the repeater.

On a good note, the radiant barrier on the roof sheathing seems to have absolutely no effect on the radio’s ability to pick up RF (in the 2m band at least). I wasn’t expecting the radiant barrier to have any effect, but I occasionally see people in forums say they’re bad for radio. I suppose that would depend on the type of radiant barrier that’s installed. The barrier on my house is just a thin layer of shiny foil type material glued to the back of the roof sheathing and as far as I can tell, doesn’t have any effect on the radio’s ability to hear the local repeaters.

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