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.

Museum Ships Weekend 2017

Had a blast playing radio in the NJ2BB Museum Ships Weekend event this weekend. I think this was the first time I’d done any significant radio since last year’s Field Day (I really need to get that antenna up in the air…).

This year two of the ships at Patriot’s Point were activated: the Yorktown (WA4USN) on Saturday and the Clamagore (NJ4DU) on Sunday.

Although there was a lot of QSB on 20m both days, there was still some decent propagation into the northeast, midwest and out west. Lots of contacts in the New York/New Jersey area, a bunch of contacts in California and Michigan/Illinois/Ohio. Texas was a big hot spot of contacts.

Unlike last year, we got some pretty good pileups going, and I was able to work on a pileup for a solid hour on Saturday before taking a break. I had a few other pileups going earlier, but that was the longest one I worked. When I left for the evening, I think we were up to just over 400 contacts for the day for WA4USN.

Sunday I wasn’t able to play radio for as long, but it was the first time I had operated as NJ4DU. Interesting little tidbit:the NJ4DU call sign is derived from the ship’s naval call sign, NJDU.

We got a few small pileups going on 20m before the band got too crowded. Took a bit of a break to look for some other ships, and then found a decently clear frequency to run again. Had a nice little pileup going before I had to call it quits for the day and let someone else take over.

Unfortunately, this may be the last time the Clamagore gets activated for Museum Ships Weekend. Because of its deteriorating condition and high cost for restoration, it looks like it is destined to be sunk for a reef off the coast of Florida.

It may not be the last time NJ4DU gets on the air though.

Next up: Field Day 2017.

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.

Museum Ships Weekend 2016

Spent a few hours on the USS Yorktown yesterday activating it for Museum Ships Weekend as WA4USN. I had the Saturday afternoon shift from noon-4PM. Didn’t bother to count how many contacts I made, but managed to get a few in the log.

Operated mostly on 20m in seek and pounce mode as well as sitting on a frequency calling CQ. I wasn’t able to generate any pileups like some of the other ship stations out there, but there were a few times where I got a nice steady flow of contacts.

The band was pretty noisy with lots of QSB while I was operating. Contacts would be booming in one minute, and by the end of the QSO would be almost down in the noise. Still, it was a lot of fun getting back on the radio and making contacts. Getting to play radio on the Yorktown is always a lot of fun.

Operating days on the USS Yorktown

To make better use of the CARS club room on the USS Yorktown, Jim/KK4REM has taken on the task of organizing monthly operating days open to any club members. Being on the Charleston Harbour and with an HF antenna at a pretty decent height over salt water, the ship is usually a pretty good place to operate from.

There are several purposes for the operating days:

  • Teach new hams proper operating procedures
  • Let people who might not normally use HF experience HF operations
  • Put the club equipment to use

I was able to make it to today’s operating day, and with the club’s laptops, the plan was to do some digital work as well. By the time I arrived at the club room, there were a few people already playing on the radio making some contacts on 20m. One of the contacts even included someone who served on the USS Yorktown back in the 50s.

Operating in the WA4USN club room on the USS Yorktown
Operating in the WA4USN club room on the USS Yorktown

After a few contacts, the Signalink was hooked up and a couple people were introduced to some of the digital modes. Did a little bit of PSK and some RTTY. I was busy with other things so I don’t know if any contacts were made.

While they were playing radio, I was showing my sound card interface to Rick/N8BKN and discussing the possibility of maybe making it a build project for the club. Bryce/K4LXF showed up a little later and from him I learned a little more about the repeaters that the club maintains.

I also got the opportunity to see the WA4USN repeater room., located a couple decks below the top of the Yorktown’s island. There’s not too much in there: the 2m repeater, a repeater controller and the WA4USN-5 APRS digipeater.

WA4USN digipeater
WA4USN APRS digipeater
WA4USN APRS digipeater
WA4USN APRS digipeater

One of these days I might have to help maintain these repeaters.