The special event station for the Yorktown’s 75th commissioning anniversary went fairly well. Operations started off with one of the club members operating the Waterway Net on 40m from the club room, and then we got set up to start calling on 20 m. I spent a couple hours or so working stations on 20 m, moving around occasionally because of QRM. Many stations were coming in pretty loud and clear, although at times the fading got a bit deep.
We tried to move down to 40 m after noon, but got a report that our audio had a lot of RF noise in it, so we spent some time trying to figure out where it was coming from. We ended up narrowing it down to a few culprits: noisy laptops and a noisy power supply built into the FT-897. Something we’ll have to troubleshoot further.
We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon up on 20 m doing a mix of SSB and digital, but with storms moving in, there were loud static crashes all over the place, and we only made a few more contacts. With the band dead, storms getting closer, and a tornado watch issued by the weather service, we decided to call it a day around 3ish.
Finished the day with 55 contacts in the log. Not bad for a few hours of casual operating.
Band Mode QSOs
7 LSB 10
7 PSK3 2
14 OLIV 1
14 RTTY 5
14 USB 37
Total Both 55
Even though tomorrow is the actual day of the USS Yorktown’s commissioning, I thought I’d spend the afternoon in the club room activating WA4USN and get a few more contacts in for the special event. I was joined by two other hams for the afternoon.
Things didn’t quite go exactly as planned, but still went fairly well.
After spending some time figuring out the Yaesu FT-897 that was sitting where I expected the Kenwood 570 to be, I started calling CQ on 20 m. After a few calls, we (WA4USN) got a call over the repeater from a ham at a radio station set up at a nearby Boy Scout camp asking if he could put some Cub Scouts on the air with us for the special event.
Always a good thing to get on the air with Scouts, so we talked with a group of Cub Scouts (Webelos) and then got back to HF. Spent some time calling, and then another call on the repeater with another group of Scouts. Rinse and repeat.
After the third group or so, we decided to just give up on HF and spent the rest of the afternoon talking to Cub Scouts (I was too lazy to break out the headphones).
So even though there were no HF contacts today, I still consider it to be a pretty good day on the radio. Talked to 21 Scouts in total, mostly Cub Scouts. Many weren’t terribly talkative, but a few were downright chatty. Some of them learned about the Yorktown. All got exposed to radio and it seemed to have generated some interested at the camp.
Update: I’ll be running the special event activation for a few hours in the afternoon on April 14 starting around 1PM-ish (1700 UTC). Most of the activity will happen on April 15 where we’ll be starting around 9AM (1300 UTC) or so, and going until we run out of steam (maybe into the evening). We’ll probably be operating mainly on 20m and 40m, depending on band conditions and operator preference. There might also be some digital or CW thrown in as well, depending on whoever happens to be operating the radio at the time.
My current plan is to be on the air in the afternoon from about 1-5ish on April 14 and 15. Start times may change depending on who decides to join in the fun. I won’t be able to start much earlier than 1 on each day though.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.