Posts Tagged ‘field day’
Field Day is once again happening later this month. Hearing everyone is a blast, no? Well, it might not be. Especially if it’s the ham at the table right next to you. The “sshh, sshh” sound of the CW op bleeding over into your SSB ban frequency or the nearby FT8 transmissions doing the same. But you’re forgetting the CW op hearing your voice signal peaks, too. Unless you’re listening to the monitor on FT8 (or other digital mode), you just might not reliably decode a QSO transmission. All in all, it’s just not the folks whom you want hear!
It might be time to include an HF bandpass filter system into your Field Day or other portable operation station(s). But what to do? Build a kit? Buy commercially assembled? Or some of both? This is the focus of my article that appears in the June issue of CQ Magazine.
I bought an HF BPF system covering 160-6 meters from an Australian company, VK-Amps, from their eBay store at a very good price. Here’s a picture of the assembly into a customized aluminum case on my workbench. I tested it for filter characterization comparison against N5DU’s DX Engineering’s comparable DXE-419 filter system. My portable ops team tested the two during the Mississippi QSO Party. How did it do? Take a look at CQ Magazine’s June issue!
OK, this is a cheesy blog post title. But it’s true. Here’s the picture…and it leads into more important things about Field Day.
My annual Field Day plans are spotty at best due to my wedding anniversary falling near that June weekend. I’ve participated in multi-club “big” Field Day events here in Central Mississippi in previous years. But, frankly, I don’t enjoy them. I prefer a smaller event when it doesn’t conflict with our anniversary plans. This year our planned trip to the UP in Michigan was up-ended by the Covid-19 pandemic. So when my portable ops partner, Mike N5DU, invited me to come out to his farm in Raymond, MS on Saturday, that seemed perfect!
He also invited a new ham in the area, Kyle KI5JCL, to come and learn more about Field Day. Kyle works in the IT field so his “JCL” call sign suffix gave me vivid memories of the days when I worked on the Big Iron, IBM mainframes at the Triangle Universities Computation Center (TUCC) while on the faculty at NC State. (For the uninitiated, JCL was IBM’s nomenclature for Job Control Language.) Kyle checked into our club’s weekly 2 meter net which is how we got to know him. This was a chance to play Elmer to a very tech-savvy, only licensed for a month, ham in our area. While a tad nervous to jump into the pile-up held by a Western PA ham, Kyle worked on him for about 20 minutes before he heard the November Five Delta Uniform phrase coming back to him. Mike and I stood and clapped heartily for Kyle as he stayed with that big fish and finally landed him. Fine Business! The ham in PA may never know how significant he was for the calling amateur on this end of the QSO.
N5DU has a small separate building adjacent to his home for his ham shack, an almost perfect setting from my point of view. It’s in the country on a family farm acreage where there are no deed restrictions on antennas (except internal approval in the household unit, of course) and with almost no RF noise. The N5DU team used a Kenwood TS-590SG feeding an Ameritron ALS-1306 amplifier, an MFJ ATU feeding a Windom about 30′ up among trees. We also exercised a digital station, first on a Xiegu 5105 and then on an Icom 7200. The digital station fed an MFJ-2982 vertical. FT8 was the digital mode of choice. We rotated among the voice and digital stations and…well, all of the snacks and great food Mike’s XYL had on hand for us.
While we didn’t mark any achievements on the scoreboard of this “non-contest, contest” that is Field Day, the N5DU team (led by Mike, frankly) finished with 328 points over 268 contacts. We were missing our CW op, Mike K5XU as well as Thomas N5WDG on this one!
Getting a good group together to share knowledge, skills and suggestions is always a good thing. I have learned a great deal from Mike N5DU, especially on style of operating during a contest. It’s not always about points, Boom! Boom! Boom! But working with ops who are either just getting started or who just stumble across something like this Covid-19 lots-of-teams-working-separately-at-home Field Day is important too. The ARRL’s temporary rule modification to allow home stations to work each other make a notable difference on the band waterfall displays. Watch this video, especially of Mike spending a few moments (and likely losing a couple of contacts during the time where he was clipping along at a 93 contacts-per-hour pace).
It’s fairly obvious that power makes a difference. We were able to hold frequencies and work them for an hour at a time. Having a tower and beam in addition would’ve just underscored that situation. We moved from QRP on digital to upwards of 40 watts or so on the Icom 7200. In some ways, the need to “handicap” contest stations will make a huge difference in the long run for highly competitive contests. But on Field Day 2020, I was just glad to participate in a small team, learn from one another, and getting a Tee Shirt to commemorate the event. Thanks for the gift, N5DU!
In social media circles there has been much discussion about Field Day in light of COVID-19 restrictions. Many traditional club operations are going to be cancelled this year due to social distancing requirements and the need to protect ourselves and especially vulnerable members of our population, of which there are many in amateur radio.
Folks are going to continue to participate from home this year. Many people undoubtedly are going to recreate the “traditional” FD experience they are accustomed to, operating in their backyard, perhaps in a tent with temporary antennas, emergency power, a grill, and some cold 807s.
Participants operating at home must operate either as D or E class. D class stations use commercial power while E class uses emergency power sources. D class stations cannot contact other D stations for points. E class stations can contact any other class station. For those wanting to operate in their backyard with tents, emergency power, and temporary antennas, with the way the rules are currently written, they are required to operate as E class. This puts them in competition with other E stations that choose to operate in the comfort of their homes using permanent antennas. This would include antennas like a rotatable beam on an 80′ tower. So participants choosing to operate in their backyard with what would otherwise be a common field station, as 1E are at a disadvantage. It would be more fair to allow backyard stations to operate as class B.
There have also been calls for ARRL to remove the D class contact limitation. This would give D stations more opportunities to make contacts than they usually could, but considering the unprecedented situation this year and the likelihood of a large majority of D class stations, it would seem removing the restriction would make sense.
ARRL has noted they will not publish aggregated club scores. Doing so would be a benefit for clubs that are unable to have their normal FD operations and have members operating from home. There could be an “Aggregate Club Home Score” reporting category created. Considering that all FD score data is probably stored in a database, producing such a reporting category would be trivial.
Undoubtedly there are other one time tweaks and adjustments that could be made this year in light of the situation we’re in. I can’t understand why ARRL hasn’t been more flexible and creative this year and used the circumstances as an opportunity to officially recognize the flexibility and creativity of participants, and instead has ironically asked participants to be creative, but stay within the lines of the current rules.
This article was originally posted at Radio Artisan.
Answers to the top 10 questions at Field Day, with questions omitted (and with 5 bonus answers):
14. Yes, I still hear the interference.
13. Behind that tree over there.
12. Because he knows his callsign and you don’t have to tell it to him three times.
11. Hit Return.
9. Try rebooting it.
8. It doesn’t matter. It’s not up high enough to have any directivity.
7. Just say QSL.
5. Yes, this frequency is in use.
4. It’s on the sign right above the rig.
3. I filled it up an hour ago. It’s good.
2. Yes, it’s done in the middle.
This article was originally posted on Radio Artisan by a team of laptop-equipped squirrels.
This is a very exciting episode of Linux in the Ham Shack for us. It's so special, that it's a double episode! That's right, it's like getting two episodes in one. Your hosts (one of them new to the program) discuss winter field day, WxBot, the origin of Debian Linux, SSTV using Linux, OpenSSH security concerns, solving the Rubik's Cube with Linux and a whole lot more. Hope you enjoy, and please welcome our new host!
73 de The LHS Crew
Well, folks, it's hard to put a description on this episode. We talk about our usual range of topics, but there is so much more thrown in that we can't even begin to enumerate it all. One thing that can be said, however, is that this episode was FUN. We hope you enjoy it all the way to the end. Apologies for the first 20 minutes or so of Pete's microphone audio. We promise, it does get better. THANK YOU for being a listener. We do this all for you.
73 de The LHS Guys
First - set up the antennas, and organize the tent - our "home" for the next 24+ hours.