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.

I’m in QST again!

I made it into another issue of QST! In the Dec 2016 issue among the 2016 Field Day results there’s a picture of me taken by Tom/AJ4UQ of me operating at the WA4USN digital station.

WA4USN 2016 Field Day
Me operating as WA4USN for 2016 Field Day

It’s small and pretty indistinct, but yep, that’s me.

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.

Field Day 2015

Field Day this year was a little different this year since we were road tripping to Orlando.

On Saturday, we ventured out to the Orlando EOC to check out the Field Day operation there. They had a pretty impressive set up going with a big air conditioned tent and 10 transmitters running. We got there kind of late in the afternoon, and they were nice enough to set up a 10m GOTA station for us to get on the air with, but the band was kind of dead by then. We were able to give my sister, brother-in-law and nieces a good introduction to what Field Day and amateur radio is about though.

Sunday we hit the road back to Charleston after watching the SpaceX launch. Fired up the radio and started tuning around on 20m for the last few hours of Field Day. Got 3 contacts in the log which was good enough for me.

This was also our first Field Day together. Maybe next time we’ll do it again when one of us doesn’t have to drive.