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.

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

Field Day 2021

This year was another back yard Field Day (1D SC) and invited neighbours over again to hang out, chat, listen to me play on the radio (none of them wanted to give the radio a try), and of course eat. Got the dipole up in the air and had it working pretty well on 40m, 20m, and 10m.

Dipole set up on the fiberglass mast
HF dipole up on the mast

This year I also set up the 2m radio outside to listen in on the repeaters using a ground plane antenna kit we picked up at HRO back in the spring. Made a makeshift mast out of some 2×4, a length of 1″ PVC pipe left over from another project, and a spare mounting base for an outdoor weather station. Had it propped up against the fence, but I didn’t have any coax long enough to reach the radio, so I moved the antenna closer and leaned it up against my ladder. Worked well pretty well and had 1.5 SWR across the 2m band, which is way better than the hacked together mag mount currently sitting in the shack.

2m quarter wave ground plane antenna mounted on a makeshift mast.
2m quarter wave ground plane antenna on a makeshift mast

The ground plane antenna will probably find itself up in the attic at some point once I figure out how to run some coax down into the shack.

Got the radios and laptop set up on the back porch. Fortunately the rain went elsewhere, and the associated clouds kept things relatively cool for operating.

Radio and laptop set up for Field Day 2021.
Radio and laptop set up for Field Day 2021.

Band conditions weren’t that great, but they weren’t terrible. I didn’t hear the usual cacophony of stations this year. Lots of faint stations, a few loud ones, and mostly static in between. Tried 40m, but there was a lot of really odd sounding noise and stations fading in and out. Lots of stations up and down the east coast early on and then later in the evening on 20m, the band went long toward the west and I started hearing stations out in CA and WA. Managed to break through the pileup to get W1AW in the log. Also heard the Walt Disney World DEARS club station, WD4WDW, but wasn’t able to get through their pileup. The operator was fun to listen to though.

Called it a night around 10PM after unsuccessfully trying to break a few more pileups for stations out on the west coast. My ultra-casual operation managed to get 19 contacts in the log, mainly on 20m and 10m, including a few Canadian stations, USVI, PR, and a DX station Costa Rica.

Evening radio station illumination provided by the radio, SWR meter, and W4BXC edge lit acrylic sign.
Evening radio station illumination

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.

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.