Field Day 2017 plans

2017 ARRL Field Day
2017 ARRL Field Day

Field Day is coming up in a few weeks! As usual, this year I’m planning on spending most of Field Day weekend down at the USS Yorktown playing radio as WA4USN.

In addition to that, at home I’m also going to set up the antenna on my temporary PVC mast and run the radio off a couple of lead acid batteries that I took out of some UPSs. I’ve made up a wiring harness that will let me connect the two batteries in parallel to the radio. I tested it earlier to make sure they would power the radio, but I haven’t tried transmitting with it yet. I figure the batteries should be good for operating at QRP levels for a couple hours. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a few contacts.

Museum Ships Weekend 2017

Had a blast playing radio in the NJ2BB Museum Ships Weekend event this weekend. I think this was the first time I’d done any significant radio since last year’s Field Day (I really need to get that antenna up in the air…).

This year two of the ships at Patriot’s Point were activated: the Yorktown (WA4USN) on Saturday and the Clamagore (NJ4DU) on Sunday.

Although there was a lot of QSB on 20m both days, there was still some decent propagation into the northeast, midwest and out west. Lots of contacts in the New York/New Jersey area, a bunch of contacts in California and Michigan/Illinois/Ohio. Texas was a big hot spot of contacts.

Unlike last year, we got some pretty good pileups going, and I was able to work on a pileup for a solid hour on Saturday before taking a break. I had a few other pileups going earlier, but that was the longest one I worked. When I left for the evening, I think we were up to just over 400 contacts for the day for WA4USN.

Sunday I wasn’t able to play radio for as long, but it was the first time I had operated as NJ4DU. Interesting little tidbit:the NJ4DU call sign is derived from the ship’s naval call sign, NJDU.

We got a few small pileups going on 20m before the band got too crowded. Took a bit of a break to look for some other ships, and then found a decently clear frequency to run again. Had a nice little pileup going before I had to call it quits for the day and let someone else take over.

Unfortunately, this may be the last time the Clamagore gets activated for Museum Ships Weekend. Because of its deteriorating condition and high cost for restoration, it looks like it is destined to be sunk for a reef off the coast of Florida.

It may not be the last time NJ4DU gets on the air though.

Next up: Field Day 2017.

Happy hamiversary to me!

Today is my 5th hamiversary! 5 years as a licensed amateur radio guy!

It’s been a pretty fun 5 years where I’ve learned a lot of new things and remembered a lot of things I used to know. The shack has been off the air for the past year, but once I figure out how to get the antenna back up in a mostly stealthy manner, I’ll be back to throwing RF into the sky.

I’m looking forward to many more years playing with amateur radio.

Antenna box

First step in getting the shack back on the air has arrived.

Ordered an antenna entry box for the house from KF7P Metalworks that arrived the other day.

Antenna entry box
Antenna entry box
Antenna entry box
Antenna entry box

It’s a pretty spiffy box with a locking hatch and enough space and grommet holes for future antenna expansion. Feels pretty solid, and the lid already has weather stripping installed to keep the elements out.

Next step will be to mount it to the house and run some coax into the box.

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.