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.

Winter Field Day 2019

Participated in my first Winter Field Day this weekend with WA4USN (also the first one for the club), 1O SC. The event made for a good excuse to check out the HF capabilities of the CARS communications trailer (which I suppose is the whole point of Field Day). It’s a much more casual and far less involved day than Summer Field Day (no food, fewer operators, no overnight shift).

Started off Saturday (January 26) getting the trailer set up. By the time I got to the site, the trailer had already been pulled out of the building and the radios were getting set up. Apparently there was supposed to be an HF dipole in the trailer, but it couldn’t be found so we went with the Tarheel antenna that had been mounted to the roof of the trailer.

The Tarheel is an OK mobile antenna but for long distance HF, we found our signal just wasn’t getting out very well. We managed about a dozen contacts over the three hours or so that we were out.

The next day (January 27), I brought out my ZS6BKW antenna. By the time I got there, the others had already set up the trailer with a 20 m dipole hanging on the trailer’s pneumatic mast. We switched out the 20m dipole for my antenna and got back on the air.

The dipoles worked much better than the Tarheel, and with the ZS6BKW, we were able to operate on 40 m and 20 m.

Weather was fairly decent (especially compared to other sites further north). Sunday was a good bit colder than Saturday was though, and I was starting to get a bit on the stiff side by the time we wrapped things up.

Ended up the event with 69 contacts on 40 m and 20 m, mostly phone but a few digital (PSK) in there as well. It was a good exercise for myself and everybody else who came out on getting the trailer set up and operating from it.

I also think I want a pneumatic mast for the house like the one on the trailer.

Field Day 2018

This year’s Field Day was a pretty good one.

Started off doing the first hour of Field Day at home running the radio off battery power. With the radio running 25-50 W, I racked up a few good contacts tuning around 10m, mostly from up and down the east coast.

Field Day antenna setup at the house
Field Day antenna setup at the house

Then it was off to the usual Field Day on the USS Yorktown with the  club. This year we were operating with 2 stations plus a GOTA station that appeared to attract some interest.

The GOTA station was run on battery that was being charged by a solar panel, and also featured a couple of VHF go kits and some Morse code keyers to play with.

At the usual operating locations, people were busy making Field Day contacts. I spent about an hour at the phone station operating, but listening to the band chaos wore me out pretty quickly, so I switched over to logging for a bit.

WA4USN CW/digital station
WA4USN CW/digital station

WA4USN phone station
WA4USN phone station

Spent another hour operating Field Day from home on Sunday morning and was able to score a bunch more contacts fairly easily. Then it was back to the Yorktown to finish off the last couple hours of Field Day and then pack everything away.

At home, I ended up with about 25 contacts over the two hours I was operating. On the Yorktown, the club ended up with 582 contacts spread out over 4 bands and 4 modes. Pretty good this year. Maybe it was the sacrifice of AJ4UQ’s HT to the ocean that helped this year.

We were lucky enough to have a couple of CW operators who were going at a pretty steady pace both days. It was fun to watch them operating. Some day I hope to be there doing CW.

Sunday CW operating for Field Day
Sunday CW operating for Field Day

Field Day 2017

Another ARRL Field Day weekend has come and gone.

This year was a pretty good one. I spent a little less time at the radios this year than in previous years, but it was still busy.

Started out with getting the radio at home set up on battery power (2 SLA batteries that had been pulled out of my UPSs) and getting the antenna mostly up in the air.

Antenna setup
Antenna setup

Battery powered radio
Battery powered radio

I didn’t get to use the radio at home, but Connie was able to use it to make a contact Saturday evening. She started off at 5 W, but wasn’t able to break any pileups. After stepping up to a few different power levels, she was able to make a contact at 50 W, which the batteries apparently handled without complaint. The antenna setup is far from ideal, and I imagine most of the 50 W she had to use ended up warming up the sky overhead. But it still worked. Operating at reduced power is something we’ll have to work on.

The bulk of my Field Day was spent at the USS Yorktown. Once we got the operating positions set up, it was just a matter of waiting for the festivities to start at 1800UTC. We had our usual operating locations off the port side of the flight deck.

WA4USN operating locations
WA4USN operating locations

We also had a lot more visitors to our Field Day operation than in past years. The lady in charge of the overnight camping program at Patriots Point brought groups of Scouts and other campers by every now and then, so we got to show them a little bit about what amateur radio was about.

Our digital station was set up on a dipole mounted on the starboard side of the flight deck but it wasn’t performing very well, so it ended up getting replaced by a Butternut multi-band vertical that was stashed away in the club room. After some assembly, we got the dipole down and the vertical up and everything was performing beautifully.

Assembling the Butternut
Assembling the Butternut

Assembling the Butternut
Assembling the Butternut

New antenna in the air!
New antenna in the air!

One of the things that makes doing Field Day from the Yorktown so great is the view. It’s pretty hard to beat.

Sunday morning, the alternate power source was pulled out of the club room and put to work.

Alternate power
Alternate power

Alternate power
Alternate power

It’s an old exercise bicycle with an alternator attached to the front wheel via a belt. It actually works well enough to power a radio. Unfortunately, the load on the alternator when the radio transmits makes you feel like you’ve suddenly hit a wall while pedaling and the radio shuts off because you’ve stopped pedaling. Entertaining, but not very effective.

Overall, another excellent and fun Field Day with CARS/WA4USN. I think next year I’ll try to do a bit more of Field Day from home.

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.