This past weekend was the ARRL Field Day, and was my first time to attend one of these events. I just upgraded my license to General last November, so I never had much interest in HF before now. Lots of hams would cringe to hear me say that, but I always enjoyed the VHF/UHF operations and building relationships with local hams who I could talk to on a normal basis.
However, I am very glad that I attended the Field Day Event this year. I was able to learn some good information about band limits, what times of day each band is better, etc. I was also able to try some digital contacts on PSK31 and RTTY, which I had never done before.
I spent this Field Day with the Hurst ARC out at Chisolm Park in Hurst. Our class was 3A and our section was NTX. The 3 stations we had setup were a Icom IC-7000 running 15-meters on a homebrew Buddistick Vertical; a Kenwood TS-2000 on a Fan Dipole, which could jump between 20-40-80-meters, and a Icom IC-7200 attached to a 3-half-wave (1.5 waves total, 102′) for 20-meters.
I must say, above all else, the 15-meter station on the vertical antenna made the most contacts, which also impressed me the most. I was expecting the 20-meter dipole to out-perform everything, and its performance was fantastic, but the 15-meter vertical station made more contacts than any station. Most of that was probably due to the operator, KE5SBP. He is quite good at finding contacts on HF, and is very experienced. But the performance of the vertical antenna astounded me.
I was a bit disappointed that 40-meters and 80-meters didn’t open up more-so during the night. We made several contacts on each of those bands, and 40-meters continued well into the next morning, but I was expecting more. Maybe that is just my lack of experience with these bands, though.
The farthest contact that I personally made was on 20-meters to the U.S. Virgin Islands. I also made 1 or 2 contacts into Puerto Rico, and several into Canada. I heard some DX stations on 20-meters, but I was never able to get back to them, due to the pile-ups. Hawaii was also a popular location, and while several others at our location made those contacts, I did not.
Next year, W5HRC is already talking about upgrading to 4 or 5 stations. I’d like to see a 6-meter station, as well as maybe 10 and 12 meters. If 10 and 12 are like 15, they should do well during the daytime.