Monday, June 27, 2011

ARRL Field Day 2011

This year's Field Day activities were some of the most fun I have had yet as an amateur radio operator.  Because of scheduling conflicts the site we used last year was unavailable so we had to scramble to find a place to set up.  In the end the club did find a great location on private property bordered by highway US 30 on one side and a CSX railroad line on the other.

The place looked like an average campground with the exception of each campsite having it's own working amateur radio station.  There was no electrical service on the property so we used a combination of generator and battery power for our operations.  Using the club callsign W8BAE (That's "Whiskey-8-Bacon-And-Eggs" for you phone guys) we covered 40 meters CW and SSB (single side band voice) , 20 meters PSK-31 and SSB, 15 meters SSB, 6 meters SSB and 2 meters SSB for VHF.  We even had a YL (female operator) gracing the airwaves with her voice on 15 meters.

Here is the 40 meter phone station of Roger WM8I and Wayne KB8ATE.  I love watching these two experienced hams at Field Day.  Besides making lots of contacts these guys are always swapping out equipment and trying different antennas.  This year they deployed a quarter wavelength vertical with a full compliment of ground radials.

I set up on the other corner of the pond where I had access to trees along the CSX right of way to hang my new Par End Fedz  EF-40.  I have no picture of this antenna because it is basically a 65 foot long piece of black wire that all but disappears when viewed against a background of foliage.  The heavy duty tripod is visible that I used to suspend the feed point/impedance matching box about 8 feet above the ground.  The wire then sloped up to a tree top 40 feet above the feed point.

A peek inside my spartan station.  I love the warm glow of a kerosene railroad lantern and with a LED light clipped to the bill of my hat I was able to work stations well into the wee hours.  When I finally heard one too many beeps of Morse code I got out my bed roll and caught a couple hours of shut eye with my head under the table.  Croaking bullfrogs and the rumble of passing freight trains definitely added a unique ambiance to the experience.

By late Sunday morning I had logged 102 contacts with various stations in 30 different states and 2 Canadian provinces.  This is my new benchmark being the most stations I have ever contacted in a single operating event.  A cool bonus from the Field Day rules states that cw contacts count as two points while phone contacts are worth one point.  My efforts proved a great contribution to the club's overall score and I got a huge workout copying fast code on a busy band.  Our main objective(s) was to have a great time, eat lots of good food and play radio.  I'm confident we succeeded on all fronts.     


  1. Looks like a great time...envy setting up in a tent like that. Great numbers!

  2. Great fun John. I'd even sit in the tent in the rain and work cw all day!