Weekend radio fun

Thanks to Tom/AJ4UQ, this past Sunday I got the chance to play radio once again on the USS Yorktown operating as WA4USN. This time Connie/NR4CB/@Bionic_Nerd was there and we managed to work almost 40 contacts from 4 countries including St. Croix and Croatia (Connie was doing most of the working). I think 4 or 5 of the contacts were me operating. Whenever Connie got on the air there would be people piling up to make contact.

I also got on the air using my own call sign, but wasn’t getting any responses back. Still working on getting used to talking on the radio, but Connie was a big help with prompting me on what I should say.

It was a lot of fun getting to play HF radio again. Looking forward to getting my own rig set up one of these days.

Yaesu VX-8DR X-ray Take 2

Radiographs of my VX-8DR that show the innards a little better. 81 kV, 5 mAs, small focal spot.

The battery (which is actually two batteries)

The radio itself

The antenna. If you look closely, you can see some internal structure now, compared to the fluoro image from earlier.

Yaesu VX-8DR X-ray

Put my VX-8DR under a fluoro unit I was testing today. Fluoro generally doesn’t provide the greatest resolution images, but enough to see what the innards of my radio are like. Will get a regular radiograph later.

This is the antenna. Not a whole lot going on aside from a lot of metal.

I’m playing radio!

Tom (AJ4UQ) managed to catch me playing radio this morning for the last half of Field Day. I spent a few hours logging, and then finally got onto the radio to make some contacts on the 20m and 40m bands.

Me operating on the radio

I operated the radio for a few hours and managed to make a dozen or so contacts from Ohio, Georgia, south Texas and as far away as eastern Massachusetts and Vermont. This was the first time I actually played radio and did any transmitting. It turned out to be a lot of fun and it didn’t take long for me to get too caught up in finding people to contact to be nervous about being on the radio.

The second half of Field Day was noticeably less crazy and frantic than the first half. 20m was still pretty busy, but not nearly as crazy as it was yesterday. 40m was relatively quiet compared to yesterday, and after a few hours it felt like we had run out of people to contact, because we kept running into the same ones while sweeping through the band.

I did manage to catch W1AW (ARRL’s station) on the air and tried to get them in the log, but I’m not sure they were able to receive me, or else I was just too caught up in their pileup. Also tried to see if I could get Bionic_Nerd too, while she was up in the Boston area on her road trip, but no such luck. She did manage to hear me calling part of the call sign I was using (WA4USN belonging to CARS), but I wasn’t able to pick her up at all. Maybe another time.

Field Day wrapped up at 2PM with just over 200 contacts logged at the phone station. Not sure how the other stations did. After spending a couple more hours cleaning up, putting things away and loading various vehicles it was time to call it a day.

Field Day turned out to be a pretty fun experience on the radio, and there’s nothing like a baptism by fire to get you involved in something.

My pictures from Field Day are up in the photo gallery and also on Flickr.

Field Day 2012

What do you get when ham radio operators all over the country get on the air to contact as many people as they can in 24 hours? A madness filled event called Field Day.

Yesterday I participated in my very first amateur radio ARRL Field Day, and it was in a word, madness.

The Charleston Area Radio Society (CARS) held their Field Day event on board the USS Yorktown, where they had a few radio rigs set up for phone (voice), digital, satellite tracking and CW (Morse code) from the trailer.

Two amateur radio operators at a Field Day radio station near the port gun turret on the USS Yorktown
Radios and laptops set up for a Field Day station

The CARS Field Day activities were well organized. The madness was happening on the air, with everybody trying to contact everybody and making for just a chaotic jumble of overlapping voices on top of the static (at least to my noob ears). Most stations came in pretty loud and clear on the phone (voice) station, although a bunch more we were struggling to pick up out of the static.

I spent a most of my time at the phone station logging contacts and helping to decipher the contact info from the static so I didn’t get on the air. It’s a little bit intimidating at first with all the activity happening. It was pretty cool making contacts with other operators though. Managed to get people from Ontario and Saskatchewan, across the country in Los Angeles and even heard someone from Croatia. We spent a while trying to pick out his call sign from the static and trying to establish a contact, but I don’t think he was receiving us. Would have been a cool contact to make.

Two amateur radio operators at a Field Day radio station
Two amateur radio operators at a Field Day radio station

Had a really good time helping out with the Field Day events (I only smacked my head on a bulkhead once) and am looking forward to getting back to it today until it wraps up at 2PM this afternoon. I’ll probably even try operate the station and get on the air for a few hours.

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