Friday, June 28, 2013

2013 ARRL Field Day

Last weekend I participated in my amateur radio club (W8BAE) Field Day event.  I can't believe this was my fourth outing with my local club celebrating one of North America's premier amateur radio operating events. Yet again we lucked out with great weather for the weekend although it was warm there seemed to be a near constant breeze that kept us comfortable.  This is our third year operating from a location on private land which works out ideally for us.  Previous Field Day posts can be accessed from the "ARRL Field Day" label located at the end of this post.

I've noticed from past events that we have visiting hams and general public from around the area making the rounds checking out the operating positions at our site.  Because the main purpose of Field Day is to showcase the hobby of amateur radio in a more public forum I decided to make up a simple sign to post on my tent so visitors can see who, what and where.

 Home away from home.

As a camping enthusiast the opportunity to combine these two hobbies in one is something I really look forward to.  Sure it's a bit of work dragging out all the camping gear and disassembling my radio station and carefully packing and transporting it to the site but once it's all set up and I'm on the air having fun its all worth it.

My Field Day station for high frequency digital and CW (Continuous Wave Morse Code radiotelegraphy) is the same as last year with the addition of my new laptop which I used for digital modes.  The second laptop on the right is for running logging software to keep track of contacts made.  Theoretically all digital station activities could be run on one machine but I'm not particularly computer savvy and to me it's just easier to have one person operate and another do the logging on a separate machine.

Leading up to Field Day I streamlined the portability of my station by utilizing the large Pelican case resting under the table in the photograph.  By careful arrangement I was able to fit all my ancillary gear such as power supply, keyers computer interface, other assorted cabling and test equipment into the heavy duty case.  

 Copying the mail.

In total I made 45 contacts during this years event. I've not spent much time on the air lately so my CW is a little rusty.  I made 13 QSO's using Morse Code and 32 QSO's using the digital mode PSK-31.  Each year it seems that digital becomes more popular during field day and I think that is a good thing.  Certainly from a bystanders point of view CW is an interesting thing to witness however if you don't know the code I think it would get boring pretty quick.  Digital modes on the other hand require only a pair of eyes and the ability to read the exchange in plain English off the computer screen.  The digital modes are a great way to show the effectiveness of ham radio to the public as well as the service's long standing tradition of advancing the radio art.

From this remote location in north central Ohio using my HF transceiver, home built vertical antenna and running off generator power I contacted other Field Day stations in these places:

New York
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Carolina
South Carolina

Here's a shot of me taking a photo of my vertical antenna with a nice sunset in the background.  That's the opening picture of this post.

As in previous years I believe our club's outing was a success combining in equal parts lots of ham radio fun, camaraderie and good food shared among friends.

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