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.

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