Field Day 2023

This year, W4BXC was on the air for Field Day as a 1E SC station after we noticed one of the Field Day FAQs said

Convenient access across one’s backyard to their home station facilities is not in keeping with the spirit of Class A or Class B portable operations. Such convenient backyard operations on property of home stations remain either Class D (commercial power) or Class E (emergency power), even if home antenna structures are not used.

ARRL Field Day 2023 packet

Like last year, we had the radio running on three deep cycle batteries connected in series, and they had no problems providing enough power to keep the radio transmitting at 100W the entire time we were operating.

Radios and laptop set up for ARRL Field Day 2023
Radios and laptop set up for ARRL Field Day 2023
Antenna set up for ARRL Field Day 2023
Antenna set up for ARRL Field Day 2023

I also set up a recently acquired Kenwood TM-221A 2m radio to monitor repeater activity.

Kenwood TM-221A mobile radio set up for ARRL Field Day 2023
Kenwood TM-221A mobile radio set up for ARRL Field Day 2023

I noticed this computer speaker used a 9V DC power supply, so I decided to power it with a 9V battery and connect it to the radio. Worked out pretty nicely. Note: if you notice that the noise characteristics from the speaker have changed, it probably means the battery is going dead and needs to be replaced. Took me a while to figure out what was going on.

Computer speaker connected to a 9V battery for power
Computer speaker connected to a 9V battery for power

The bands were crowded but pretty mushy during the day on Saturday. Lots of noise, quiet stations fading in and out, and only a few really loud ones. Things started getting better into the late afternoon and early evening and stations out on the west coast in the LAX and SDG (San Diego) sections started coming in pretty well. We waited for the ARRL Field Day bulletin and copied it down before calling it a night.

The next morning I got back on the air and worked a bunch more stations. A nice mix of sections across the country and into Canada. All the contacts we made ended up being on the 20m and 40m bands. Made a few forays up to 10m, but heard absolutely nothing there which kind of surprised me.

Ended up with a total of 106 contacts in the log for a total of 212 QSO points. 350 bonus points brought our total score up to 562 points. Final score might end up being a bit higher, because this year we’ve got some of W4BXC’s non-local members participating as well.

NC QSO Party 2023

Spent a few hours playing in the North Carolina QSO party, returning the favour for the NC stations that I got the previous day.

As usual with the nearby states, all the NCQP action I heard was on 40m, and all of them were coming in pretty loud.

Ended up the day with 47 contacts, 31 counties, and all but two of the bonus stations (N4[WRIGHT]) set up to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Wright Brother’s first flight. I was just missing N4W and N4R. I did manage to work a W4W station though, but that was a different special event station.

 Band     QSOs     Pts  Mul  Pt/Q
     7      47      94   31   2.0
 Total      47      94   31   2.0
Score: 2,914
1 Mult = 1.5 Q's

Update 2023-05-30: The results for the 2023 NC QSO party were posted a few days ago and my 47 contacts got me 3114 points, including 200 bonus points. If I counted right, that put me at 31 out of 102 submitted logs in the out of state, phone, low power category.

SC QSO Party 2023

Made it back to participating in the SC QSO party this year after missing it last year. Apparently, the county we’re in wasn’t activated at all last year, so several of the SC contacts I made were a bit surprised they were able to add the county to their list. Surprised me too considering how many hams there are in my neck of the woods.

We put the Half Wave Society club call, W4BXC, on the air for the QSO party this time and had some friends over to participate. Had a lot of fun and made a bunch of contacts in both run and search/pounce modes.

Most of the SCQP activity ended up on 40m with a smattering on 20m. 20m was pretty crowded with a lot of POTA activations, and I didn’t hear a lot of stations calling for SCQP. I was even able to make a contact down on the upper portion of 75m although the radio wasn’t very happy with the antenna there, judging by the SWR meter.

Ended up getting the two bonus stations as well (W4CAE and WW4SF), but the highlight stations were OM2VL (Slovakia), Connie’s dad WA4BXC, and NT7S and his boys in Oregon.

Had a good time getting back on the radio for the QSO party. Looking forward to doing again next year.

 Band     QSOs     Pts  Mul  Mt2  Pt/Q
   3.5       1       2    0    0   2.0
     7      63     184   29    1   2.9
    14      11      44    5    0   4.0
    28       3      12    3    0   4.0
 Total      78     242   37    1   3.1
Score: 9,946
1 Mult = 2.1 Q's

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

RFI in the house

Finally had a chance to connect the antenna up to the radio using the coax running through the conduit from the garage side of the house into the shack. Up until now, most of the operating (what little of it there’s been) has been out in the back yard with the radio connected directly to the antenna.

This weekend, I thought I’d give the ARRL November Sweepstakes (Phone) contest a try. After making a 40m contact Sunday morning, I noticed the network had gone down. Discovered the GFCI breaker for the circuit that our service provider’s ONT box is on had tripped. Not entirely positive it was because of me operating on 40m, because I had made a handful of 40m contacts on Saturday without any problems (that we noticed anyway). Seems likely to be an RFI issue though since the network was up just prior to my QSO.

Reset the breaker, got the network back up, and switched over to 20m but then the wife spotted one of her edge lit acrylic signs flickering on and off while I was making another contact and basically turning it into an “On the Air” sign.

Not wanting to risk messing up anything else in the house by overloading them with RF, I wrapped up the ARRL November Sweepstakes contest with 12 contacts in the log and 240 points with most of my contacts from Saturday evening on 40m (40m opens up pretty nicely out to the West coast in the evenings from here).

I’ve had the antenna up a handful of times since we’ve been in the house, but most of my operating has been outside, so any RF-induced problems there might have been in the house have generally gone unnoticed (except maybe for the time the Nest thermostat died). I’m pretty sure the issue is because most of the antenna lays on top of the roof and on the side where most of the wiring is (electrical service entrance, breaker panel, network router, AC unit, etc). Running 100W is probably causing a lot of RF to be coupled into the house wiring.

So it looks like I’ll have to work on changing the antenna situation. Moving the antenna and mast to the fence on the other side of the house would probably get the antenna far enough away to solve most of problem, but then I wouldn’t be able to use the coax running through the conduit without making the coax run a whole lot longer. The mast would also be on the street side of the house making it even more visible when set up. I could also order a ton of ferrite chokes to put on pretty much any current carrying wire in the house (that could get pretty expensive). I guess I could also take my operations portable and head out into the field or a park.