This was my first field day experience, which spanned just about 2 whole days, and it was fantastic! I felt like a kid going camping again, lol!
My friend, K5URU, Blake, hosted the first day of field day @ his ranch where we were allowed free range to setup just about anything we could imagine! Thanks Blake!
We had scattered rain showers coming in all throughout the day it seemed, then it finally cleared up late afternoon. I brought my HF rig & VHF rig (and a truck absolutely full of stuff!). I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing a thing. Setup everything pretty quick, and we were on the air in no time, although it seemed as if band conditions were not favorable (at least for our club). We were still able to snag contacts left and right though.
K5URU also constructed this mobile mast and was able to demo its operation for the club members this weekend:
I’ll let you read about his great write up here: Freestanding Mobile Mast Project
I was definitely interested in something like this for my truck, I had to fashion a pole stuck in a concrete bucket (which still worked ok), but the concrete bucket was a pain to lug around. And this mast is just oh so beautiful! As soon as we were up and operating, my buddy KG5LVT, Matt (or CWBoss as we like to call him) was putting my 590SG in CW mode for the first time!
CW is definitely in my future, I’m only up to lesson 3 on ‘LearnCWOnline.’ The mode is just so simple, and I’m sure with practice, I could really get out with CW even on my compromise antennas, Matt really had his technique down, and is getting faster with each lesson.
Was also able to test out a 6m moxon that KG5LVT built. Had several analyzers around that day, so we were able to get it resonant around 50.125. Although conditions weren’t too favorable that day, not to mention all of the lightning crashes we kept hearing on the radio.
Our day was full of BBQ, good times, good friends, and most importantly ham radio! This was a great opportunity to checkout other gear as well and compare the different brands. I was curious as to how other HF rigs sounded in person (I’d only ever heard my 590SG & a KX3). I was surprised to find out that I was actually impressed with the sound of the Icom line of HF rigs.
We used our club call sign, N5OAK/1D/TX. This was the first ‘contest’ type event that I’ve taken part in, and I actually liked the fast paced nature of it for once, not sure I could contest every weekend, but it was definitely fun! Our day stretched late into the night, but eventually I had to call it quits just past midnight to get ready for the next days events!
Our next day was spent at the local fire department, which was really cool, because we were able to use their ‘training tower’ as an anchor point for our antennas, and it also made for a really cool operating position up top! There were members of the public stopping by and asking questions about the hobby, some were even interested in getting licensed. I think next year, we’ll try to do a better job of getting the message out to the community that they are more than welcome to come out and operate with us! I acted as a control operator a few times helping some folks make their first contacts 🙂
We strung up a 4 band HyEndFed antenna all the way to the top of the tower, attached some LMR400, and pulled the end up and attached the other end to a tall light pole in the parking lot, worked great! The top of the tower is about 50 feet up. There is a floor under the top floor that we were able to run our coax into and make another operating position!
There was so many folks on 20m, it seems like they were calling CQ over each other on the same exact frequency, so yes, it was a bit crazy, I’d usually just spin the dial, and look for someone else calling CQ Field Day. No international contacts were made on either of the two days, next field day, we won’t be using an end fed, but rather an OCF dipole at a minimum, we definitely had the space for it, but wanted to be as portable as possible.
Had the chance to try out lots of new modes I’d never even tried yet, there are just so many routes you can take in ham radio, I say focus on the one that interests you the most and excel at it! Then you can move along to the next.
Looking forward to events like this in the future, but who says you have to wait for field day to enjoy operating like this? 🙂
Lessons learned though – be a bit more prepared for adverse weather, have a backup antenna for HF & VHF, try to promote the event more, and eat more BBQ! I also think it might have been neat if we provided like a class on something that we could all learn from as a club, we each have something we’ve specialized in, I’d like to think my focus has been more on SDR’s, so maybe I can provide some training on that at the next FD. All in all, a great success, hope you had fun too!