Thursday, June 30, 2016

Field Day 2016

Field day is always fun but a challenge.  It's hot, the bands suck with QRM and there are always 4 people calling CQ on every 100Khz for 24 hours straight.  What a great event!  Where do I sign up?!? LoL!

This year instead of going to Justin's house to setup like we did last year, we spent the day just East of Troy MO on a friends farm.  The cows were in the other pasture, so we had plenty of free space to setup antennas and play radio for the day.

We setup 3 antennas for the day shown below.  North is basically straight up in the picture below.


Antenna setup for the day

We arrived around 8:30am and started setting up.  First agenda item was to shoot the dipole guy ropes into the trees.  And again, we had trouble with our slingshot/fishing reel.  Shot after shot would get tangled up in either the slingshot rubber bands or the reel would not release the line without hitting a friction snag.  One thing I learned, you don't need a lot of power when shooting, so only bring back the slingshot maybe 50% of the way back.  Two, when winding back your line, make sure you don't wind it over tension as that's where the friction comes into play when trying to shoot the line back out.  You want that line to come out friction free.  Our original reel was an old 6 dollar Amazon prime deal.  We've since upgraded to a 12 dollar Amazon prime deal, so we'll see if that helps.  Using construction orange braided fishing line with a bright orange weight at the end always helps with trying to find it on the other side of the tree.


Version 1.0 on the left, version 2.0 on the right.

Justin operated with his 80m - 6m Buckmaster.  I decided to string up my new cut down 80m - 6m Windom dipole from RadioWavz.  If you remember, I did have a 160m Windom that had horrible SWR on the 40m band.  I used that antenna during the MO QSO Party in April 2016.  During the Dayton Hamvention, I asked them if they could give me a new balun, cut my 160 down to 80 and redo the lengths.  They agreed and now I have a 80m - 6m Windom.  After we put it in the air, we shot the SWR on it and it's OK, not the best, but workable.  I also had my 30ft vertical radiator attached.  I think I'm going to cut the radiator down to 15ft as most of it just lays on the ground if I don't get it high enough.

Here is the SWR plot for the 80m - 6m Windom I was using.  It's not the best nor the worse, but I think it's about the best your going to get for a 5 band Windom dipole.




We also setup one of the military surplus push up masts we purchased at Hamvention.  They go up quick and can be deployed at 40ft or higher with enough guy ropes.  I made a "L" bracket to sit on top of the mast to move the balun and dipole away from the aluminum, which ended up breaking at the base due to the weight of the dipole hanging down.  Good thing Justin had an extra, so we brought the mast down and then back up again with the 2nd dipole hanger.  His worked great!

A 40m dipole was pulled to the top of the military mast at around 30 feet to start out with.  I'm thinking would use this setup in our states QSO parties and not use a tree hung dipole.  We shot this with an SWR meter at different heights to see how well it would perform.  Because I used 14 gauge wire, it has a large bandwidth with the bottom around 1.3 SWR.  Depending on the height, the SWR changes, so it will defiantly be a "setup and check the SWR" type of antenna if I'm going to use it without a tuner.


Military mast with a 40m dipole attached

For our operating position  we setup along the southwest corner of the lot under some shade trees.  This location proved good during the morning and noon hours, but as the day moved along, the shade was less.  Next time we'll setup in the northwest corner where it's much shadier during the whole day.  It was hot, even in the shade.


It's hot

Below is a picture of our operating position.  I picked up a 10x10 canopy at Wal-Mart, and glad thing I did as we would probably been spilling out with all the equipment we had.  We built the redneck A/C units to try and keep our radios cool.  A fan, a dryer vent, an cooler and some ice.  It kept my stuff cool the whole day, so say what you will about it, it actually worked.


Operating position

I learned quite a bit from contesting go box version 1.0, as there will be version 1.1 coming out soon.  I had some blue tooth issues with my keyboard.  Not sure what was causing it, but if I didn't have the keyboard and mouse right beside the PC, it would not pick up my keystrokes.  I also noticed when I transmitted one of my screens would get some interference.  I'll hopefully fix that with some snap on ferrite chokes around the A/C cords and HDMI connections.


Can you spot the redneck coolers?

My monitor setup included running the Flex software on one screen and N1MM on the other.  The fan was pointed towards me, but after it rained (yes, what would field day be with out a rain storm), it got cool and the fan was demoted to blowing air on the equipment.
We actually worked N1MM on 20m and 40m during the day.  I didn't even register that I worked N1MM, as I was in "contest mode", but I got N1MM in the video below.  
In the current setup I have one large monitor and one smaller monitor.  I think I'm going to purchase another smaller monitor so I have two of the same make/model as you can see one has a different base than the other.  Putting together bases becomes a pain, so stream lining that process would probably be best.


My view for the day

We don't need no stinkin' goats...I think that might be Rooster and Peanut!  How did they get in Missouri?

Goat boy...

I started off S&Ping for probably 10 to 15 contacts and then got wise as everybody else was calling CQ over top of one another, so what was one more person calling CQ???  While I was searching and pouncing, I was really impressed with the Flex and my new RadioWavz antennas as I never called more than twice the whole contest before someone answered back.  When I was running, I got a lot of complements how good my signal was.  I think the antenna, the radio and the new mic with the correct EQ settings is a winning combo.

I did have a first while I was operating.  Two stations were calling CQ on the same frequency.  I threw my call out there and both came back to me.  I then said my exchange and both said 73.  Logged both contacts at the exact same time on the same frequency.  How odd is that??? I'm sure that's probably illegal somehow, but I'm going to count it!

The next portable operating goal is to reduce the amount of stuff I bring.  If I can get down to a total of 2 of the large black totes plus my radio, tool box and generator, I would be very happy.  I think 2 totes is stretching it...but I'll at least try. 

We tore camp down around 6pm and started for home.  I ended the day around 10pm and fell right to sleep.  On Sunday I got up and attended the SLSRC's field day for a few hours, made some contacts and came home.  Check out Sterling's YouTube channel for his video of the St. Louis area Field Day.  His call is N0SSC.

In total we worked 114 stations.  Our total time in the field was 5 hours.  Butt in chair time was around 2.5 hours.  It was hard telling as we had many visitors the whole day (friends who knew we were going to be down in the field), so we did a lot of socializing.  

Below is the Field Day 2016 video I put together.  Give a thumbs up in you enjoy and subscribe to my channel!
















1 comment:

  1. MOST INTERESTING!!!!!!!!! I ENJOYED THE PICS..... WISH I HAD KNOWN AHEAD..... WOULD HAVE GIVEN YO GUYS A FEW EXTRA HITS ON HF!!!!!!! LOOKS LIKE ALL HAD A LOT OF FUN.... EVEN WITH THE SUN!!!! WISH I HAD BEEN THERE!!!!!! 73s...KC9VKV....JIM FERGUSSON'S RADIO STORY... THANK'S FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!! P.S. I'M THINKING ABOUT STARTING A NEW SEGMENT ON MY YOUTUBE PAGE... A SERIES ABOUT AMATEUR RADIO!!!... FEATURING ME DOING LIVE HF INTERVIEWS TO TAPE AND THEN UP-LOAD TO YOUTUBE.... I HAVE A NEW (TO ME) SB 220 AMP SO MAYBE WE CAN MAKE CONTACT "ON THE AIR"....AGAIN 73s!!!! JIM

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