Ok, another ARRL Field Day has come and past! Boy does it feel like they come and go faster and faster, then before you know it, we are facing another one… Now is the time to think about how we could make it better and better learning from our past mistakes. Hopefully not repeating them. From the comments I hear on the nets, we did well with attendance and participation at the event. Even got compliments on the food that was largely pot luck with BARC providing the hot dogs, hamburgers and brats.
We were “radio active” with 3 stations on emergency power, a GOTA station and 2M talk in to the local repeater. We tried to do a better job on HF isolation between the stations by using double shielded cables in the ham shack, band pass filters on the output of the radios, one filter for each specific band. This means that each radio only had one assigned band to operate and the operator should not change bands as that would blow the finals of the radio or blow the filter. We had one radio on 20, 40 and 80 meter bands and did not change. When this was tested, more than 90 DBm separation was seen on the spectrum analyser. No interference could be measured or observed, unlike the previous year. This simplified the operation as once the radios were tuned, it did not change. The radios were mostly active all night as a late shift came in and worked until the AM. By noon of the next day, we were all tired and broke it all down packing away the equipment. By 4pm I was napping in the AC of my house!
Modes used: SSB, CW, FT8. The most points amassed was on FT8 (2 points per contact), then SSB phone (1 point per contact) and finally CW. Our ace CW operator moved to Canada, no wonder so few CW points were scored! I was going to try and use a CW reader to help but I never got time to try it. Some would frown on using a CW reader as cheating however I would also defend the use of computers as FT8 is also a digital mode that you can hear but cannot understand without a computer. Not much different?
Our “first time” illustrious FD leader, Beth KN4FZB, did a fine job organizing the event, purchasing the food and getting people to help set up and run the event. A fine job! With her came her husband who volunteered to grill the hamburgers and hot dogs. Can I suggest the title of “FD leader in perpetuity“? … Beth… BETH… come back… do not run away! At least do it one more year as now you have it down cold and it will be easy!
Dinner was served at 6pm and consisted of grilled Hot dogs, Hamburgers and Brats. Potato salad, noodle salad and many other items were on the menu. Desserts included ice cream, blueberry cobbler, key lime pie and other sweets. The dinner table was full of advice on all topics.
Mark KG4GVJ came with the latest solar power system to run one of the radios. We were dealing with software issues on the PC and never got the chance of really testing the incredibly fancy “NetZero” system. Impressive unit however. We have experienced a moderate amount of broad band noise coming from other inverters (Yamaha 2kw generator) and would suggest looking into and testing the noise generation of any inverter system that you are looking to purchasing. We have built filters for the powerline noise for 110v (thanks Dave W4EJ) to try and knock out the generator noise.
“Antenna Man” Bernie WA4MOK was hard at work setting up the triband beam for 20/15/10 meters while others were trying to set up a 40 meter inverted V on army poles. Finally, we all agreed on setting the Carolina Wyndom on army poles to catch 80 meters. This worked relatively well however the band was mostly dead on 80 until later in the night. There was an intermittent pulse of noise desensing the connected radio on all bands tested. The source could not be found but later in the evening, the band opened up and many contacts were made on FT8. The Wyndom had to be repaired half way through the night as one of the support poles gave way. Typical field day stuff. Making things work without all the stuff you need, making do and patching it together.
Sunday came and we operated almost to noon before we started the take down as we were bone tired. Every year I swear I will not do this again, but then, I look at the pictures and the fun we all had getting together and helping each other out and I relent, committing to doing it again next year.
See you then, 73 Peter N4PVH.
PS: The secret of running FT8: WSJT-x software does not directly control the radio. Select “Dx Commander” in the radio tab, not your actual radio selection in the drop down menu (in settings in WSJT-x). In N1MM, configure the location of the WSJT-x on the last tab of configure panel so that when you select Open WSJTX under the window menu, N1MM launches WSJT-x and then the commands from WSJT-x go through N1MM and N1MM controls the radio. Now you have eliminated the serial port sharing issues that plague PC’s. The contacts and dupes function works well. -Peter (it only took 5 hours and a million restarts to figure this out!)