SKCC 5123T----- FISTS 14979----- Flying Pigs 2331----- NAQCC 3610-----QRP ARCI 14176-----Polar Bear 257

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Field Day 2017: The Experience

We used the call N4Y and our category was 1B in Northern Florida. Our site was at Falling Waters State Park in Northwest Florida. You may have noticed from my previous posts that I put extra effort into Field Day preparations this year. I came up with the loop antenna to fit the bounds of the camping site. I tested the loop several times in my yard. Then I went to the Falling Waters State Park campsite on June 2nd and did a dry run  All that effort paid off on the actual Field day. I was worried about thunderstorms, but fortunately, the rain held off.

Our Banner for N4Y Field Day at Falling Waters State Park
The social side went well. Tom WD0HBR and wife Sandy who has a license visited Friday. Rick NZ2I came up on Friday night. Rick made smores that night, cooked eggs for breakfast and venison chili for lunch on Saturday. My friend Dennis WA6QKN came up for a good visit on Saturday. Bob KK4DIV came up on Sunday and made a great video. Several of my visitors saw the falling waters namesake of the park. The recent rains had a significant stream to pouring into the sinkhole.

Video by Bob KK4DIV

Friday night we made a few contacts as a test. The Icom IC-7300 and the antenna were doing fine. Saturday morning pre-Field Day, I could hear very little on 40 or 20 meters. Usually, the bands are buzzing on Saturday morning. I expected to pick up a few stations making test calls. I panicked. I rechecked everything and changed out some coax. I even put up a separate dipole to see if I could hear anything. I guess the world was on radio silence. The bands, fortunately, came alive at the start of Field Day.

Rick NZ2I camp cookie and operator

The excellent breakfast Rick prepared.
I am a hunt and pounce operator. That worked well on 40 and 20 meters CW where the stations filled the IC-7300 spectrum scope. They came right back to my call. On SSB there was too much competition for each station calling CQ. It took some effort to snag one. So CW was more productive. Also, CW counts two points for each QSO versus one point for Phone. Rick and Dennis helped me log on Saturday. Rick passed 11 messages to Bob WB4BLX at the Bay County EOC. Those were worth a total of 200 bonus points.

Dennis WA6QKN

I was on my own Saturday Night. I turned in about 10 PM, and I got up at 5 AM. Sunday morning there was different propagation on 40 meters. I picked up several new sections. I was delighted to see that the 15 meters band was open also. I picked up more contacts there.

Campsite 11
Then I setup for the alternate energy bonus. I use a supercapacitor instead of a battery for energy storage. The rig was the Elecraft KX2. I adapted the KX2 to the AH-4 tuner and the loop using an Artcraft interface box. Since it was overcast, the solar panel charged the supercapacitor very slowly. So the K-Tor pedal generator came into play. Ten minutes of pedaling raised the voltage from 9 to 13 volts. I made four 20 meter CW contacts very quickly. The rig kicked down from ten to five watts as the voltage went down.  After the fourth contact, the rig crashed at 9 volts. Bob KK4DIV manned the generator and charged the supercapacitor back up to 13 volts. I made the 5th contact. Each contact was 20 points for a total of 100 bonus points. Perhaps I should have been QRP the whole time.

The alternate energy gear including a 58 Farad supercapacitor

Bob KK4DIV pedaling the K-Tor generator
Everything was going to plan. I allocated two hours to tear down starting at 11 AM Sunday to make the 1 PM checkout time. Packing took every minute of it. The little part that went wrong was this. I was packing up the screen for the pop-up canopy. It is at least 40 feet long. I was stretching it out to fold it up. I said to myself; I will get this done. All of a sudden I fell and landed flat on my back. I had walked backward right over the fire ring I was lucky and had no injury. Good thing the fire ring was not hot! I finished packing and got out on schedule.

The Icom IC-7300 rig
The total contacts were 138, 120 on CW and 18 on phone. The total points were 258. I had 850 points for bonuses to include emergency power, alternate energy, public place, publicity, information table, social media, section manager message, and ten messages passed.

Wow, this was fun! I plan to reserve the same campsite next year and possibly the adjacent one. I might entice a few more ops to join me. You can count on that I will be planning Field Day right up to the next one.


Greg N4KGL