Operating Field Day 2018 From the Mobile Station

Brunswick, GA – Due to it being a busy weekend at work, I hadn’t planned on operating in Field Day this year, but after getting off from work a little bit late and having breakfast yesterday, I changed my mind. I parked behind work, turned on the FT-857D in the mobile station and tuned up the ATAS-120A antenna on 40 Meters. I intended to just get on 40 Meters for a few minutes and make a few QSOs but instead ended up working 12 stations on 40 Meters. Since 40 Meters was in such good condition, I decided to go ahead and give 20 Meters a try as well; I ended up with 13 QSOs. After a made the run through 20 Meters, it was just after 1300 UTC (0900 local), so I decided to see if anything was happening on 15 Meters; it was indeed active and I ended up with another 13 QSOs. Since I haven’t heard much activity on 15 Meters recently, I thought that maybe since it was open, 10 Meters might be open, too. I tuned the FT-857D over to 10 Meters and discovered that the band was beginning to open up; it wasn’t open good quite yet, but I still made another 5 QSOs. Since 10 Meters was open, I decided to push my luck again and see if maybe 6 Meters open. 6 Meters was trying to open up, but I still managed to add two stations to the log. I wouldn’t be surprised if both 10 and 6 Meters opened up better later in the morning.

I only operated for a couple of hours, but a little over two consecutive hours and 45 QSOs was the most operating I’ve done at one time in at least a year. Band conditions, while not the best in the world, weren’t terrible. Over the course of two hours, I worked 17 states, including much of the southeastern and east coast states: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virgin Islands, and West Virginia. Even though I had just completed a shift on the work radios, it made for a truly fun morning on the air.

Yesterday was also the first real workout I’ve given the FT-857D/ATAS-120A mobile combination and a workout and the first opportunity to compare the ATAS-120A to the Opek HVT-400B I used previously. I was very pleased with how the FT-857D and ATAS-120A worked. Neither the ATAS-120A or HVT-400B are great antennas on 40 Meters, but the ATAS-120A gives me a lot more capability than the HVT-400B did; I found it a lot easier to make contacts on 40 Meters yesterday than I ever did with the HVT-400B. On 20 Meters, there’s not as big of a difference between the two, but the ATAS-120A definitely has the edge there as well. On 15 Meters, I didn’t notice a lot of difference; 15 Meters seemed to be a sweet spot for the HVT-400B and it seems to be the same for the ATAS-120A as well. 10 Meters and 6 Meters weren’t really open enough to form an opinion, but so far it seems like the ATAS-120A definitely hears more on 6 Meters than the HVT-400B did.

After a period of inactivity, I think yesterday morning also rekindled an interest in operating. Since I had so much fun yesterday morning, I doubt it will take another year before I operate like that again; I think I’ll be a little more active on HF. I hope other Hams had as much fun as I did and had the opportunity to put in more hours on the air than I did.

Field Day in Brunswick

Brunswick – I haven’t been to an amateur radio field day in years. While searching for something else on the web last week, I found out that the Glynn County amateur radio club, the Glynn Amateur Radio Association (GARA), had been reformed (GARA doesn’t have a website at this time, but there is a Facebook page for Glynn County ARES where information is shared) and that they were going to hold a field day operation in combination with the Camden County Amateur Radio Society (CCARS) at Blythe Island Regional Park.

After I got off from work on Sunday morning, I went over to the park and met some of the hams who were up and about early. They were operating 7A as K4J; when I got there, a 20 Meter phone station and 40 Meter digital station were active. They were using a nice variety of antennas – verticals and dipoles and power sources – generators, battery, and solar. After watching for a bit, 20 Meters started to open up, so I helped Darrell, KJ4PEO log a good run of QSOs to the northeast and midwest, with Texas and Oklahoma also starting to come in.

 

Darrell, KJ4PEO working the 20 Meter phone station at K4J, the Glynn Amateur Radio Association’s Field Day operation early Sunday morning

 

Over the course of the week and Sunday morning, I also picked up some information on the GARA net and meetings. They hold a club net on Thursdays at 1900 local on the 145.330- (PL 131.8) repeater with an ARES net that follows. They meet on the second Monday of the month at 1800 local at the Ole Times Buffet in Brunswick. Since I’m in Brunswick more often than Savannah, I look forward to taking the opportunity to check into the nets and try to make some meetings.

It was definitely a lot of fun to get back to a Field Day operation even if it was just for a couple of hours. I’d like to thank the guys from GARA and CCARS for making me feel comfortable and welcome. Even if all I did was logging stations instead of operating (I’d been on the radio for eight hours at work and really didn’t feel like getting on again!) it was still fun to hang out and talk radio, which is one of the aspects of Field Day I’ve always enjoyed the most.

Field Day 2016 – Operating the Mobile Station in Brunswick

Brunswick – As usual, I worked Field Day weekend, but I set aside some time on Sunday morning after work to fire up the mobile station and get in a few 1C contacts. As I’ve been doing lately, I augmented the FT-857D, Z11 Pro II, and HVT-400B with a tablet with Ham Log for logging and the setup worked quite well. I made 15 contacts on 40 Meters and 20 Meters with a roughly even split between the two, 7 on 40 Meters and 8 on 20 Meters. I’d seen reports of bad band conditions on Saturday on Twitter, so I was worried about Sunday morning but it turned out band conditions on Sunday were fairly decent. The contacts mostly from the 1 and 8 call areas, with a few 2s, 3s, and 5s. They were from eleven different states: AR, CT, MA, ME, MI, NH, OH, PA, RI, NY, and RI. I was hoping to hear some of the local and southeast clubs and put them in the log but no such luck – 40 Meters didn’t seem to be short enough for that at the time. One of these days I will get WA4USN at the USS Yorktown in the log, I never seem to be able to catch them during Museum Ships weekend or Field Day weekend!

The mobile station in use for Field Day; for logging I used the Ham Log app on my Android tablet.
The mobile station in use for Field Day; for logging I used the Ham Log app on my Android tablet (yeah – I know the 40M show USB, I went back in and corrected them!).

It isn’t Field Day without a storm and this year I wasn’t disappointed… right after I shut down, a good-sized thunderstorm passed through the Brunswick area. Even if I hadn’t already made the decision to hang the mic up for the morning I would have been forced to anyway.

I was disappointed, however, in what I heard from the Net Control Station of the 0800 local South CARS net on 7.251. He opened the net with some statements about the net and Field Day which, while they may certainly have had foundation, could have been delivered far better. He decided to stress that the net was not a Field Day net and would not be giving out Field Day exchanges, but he did it in a bellicose and degrading fashion. Now I’m sure that the South CARS net probably has that issue every year, but the NCS should handle it with tact. For a net that whenever I’ve checked into it seems to pride itself on its friendliness, I doubt that it was way that want to be represented. Additionally, Field Day is a day when there are going to be new operators and visitors listening in. If a new operator or visitor thinking about getting licensed heard that rant, they’d probably think twice about our hobby. Nets, Field Day ops, and contesters can all coexist with a little bit of cooperation and courteousness.

Altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed my morning on the radio. Whether I have the opportunity to work from a club Field Day operation or my mobile station, I never hear a lot of C-class (mobile) stations on the air for Field Day so I always enjoy giving out a few 1C contacts.

Dipping My Toes Back Into the Waters of Amateur Radio on Field Day

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything amateur radio related. It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything amateur radio related for that matter. Quite frankly, as late as Saturday evening I had no intention of taking part in Field Day this year, but I woke up Sunday morning with the urge to have a few QSOs. Before going to church and between church and the start of the Tudor United Sports Car Championship 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, I fired up the mobile HF station and did just that. I guess you could say I took advantage of today to dip my toes back into the waters of Amateur Radio.

My first stint behind the mic was from about 1100 UTC to 1145 UTC. There didn’t seem to be all that much activity, but I imagine a lot of operators were probably just waking up or having breakfast. Despite that lack of activity, I was able to work Arkansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Ohio, Puerto Rico, and Virginia on 20 Meters. It was a beautiful morning, the temperatures hadn’t yet begun to rise and the humidity wasn’t intolerable yet; the operating was leisurely and no one I heard on the air seemed to be under pressure to generate numbers.

Looking out at the Skidaway River from the Butter Bean Beach area; not a bad spot to log a few QSOs from.
Looking out at the Skidaway River from the Butter Bean Beach area; not a bad spot to log a few QSOs from.

After church, I decided to go park at Butter Bean Beach near Skidaway Island for about 45 more minutes. The first band I tried was 20 Meters, but by this time all of the operations that were waking up or having breakfast were now fully awake and fed and the band was simply slammed. Folks were now in full contest mode (which is something you’ve never been able to accuse me of!). In spite of the packed band conditions, I was able to log Florida and Hawaii but I quickly decided to change bands. 15 Meters was open and much easier to operate on; I ended up working stations in Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Missouri. Just before shutting down and heading for home, 10 Meters sounded like it was trying to open up and I worked stations in Kentucky and Michigan.

I honestly don’t remember when I was last on the air on the ham bands, but it felt pretty good to get on the air this morning, particularly with the operators who were treating Field Day less like a contest and more like an excuse to get on the air and have some fun. I definitely didn’t feel like sitting in front of a radio for an extended period of time or being around it all day long but I still had fun. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be all about anyway?

Operating 1C in Field Day 2014

Brunswick – I don’t know about other parts of the country, but here in the southeast it just isn’t Field Day without a Thunderstorm (or two). For me, that thunderstorm came Saturday afternoon just as I was waking up (after working the midnight shift) and getting ready to fire up the gear to get on the air. I went out and grabbed a bit to eat while the storm subsided then turned on the mobile station to see what I could do in Field Day as a 1C station. With the storm eating up part of the late afternoon/early evening it didn’t leave me much time to operate, but I did pick up a few stations on 20 Meters and 15 Meters. On the other hand, the storm did cool things off a bit and the temperature wasn’t quite as oppressive as it could have been. After work on Sunday morning, I turned on the gear once again, adding to the log from 40 Meters, 20 Meters, and 15 Meters. All total, I put 44 contacts in the log despite what amounted to challenging conditions for my small station.

Band conditions on Saturday just didn’t seem all that good. Most of the stations I worked were on 20 Meters with a few on 15 Meters. I tried 40 Meters but there were so many stations so close together that I found it practically impossible to get through with the mobile station; it doesn’t help that 40 Meters and 80 Meters are my mobile antenna’s weakest bands. On Sunday morning, I decided that my best strategy would probably be to pick up some stations early before most operations woke up and got back on the air. As a result, it was easier to pick up some stations on 40 Meters but most of the contacts were from 20 Meters. I also made a few 15 Meter contacts, but once again 15 Meters wasn’t as open as I would have liked it to have been. Overall, I think band conditions were better Sunday morning than they were on Saturday evening. On both Saturday and Sunday I checked 10 Meters and never did find it open. I was hoping one or both would have been because those are the bands the mobile antenna works best on.

The log showed some interesting results. I worked 30 different ARRL sections, mostly from the Midwest and Northeast, although I did work a number of west coast stations on Saturday evening. I heard Hawaii on Saturday evening (15 Meters) and Sunday morning (20 Meters) but I was never able to make contact with them.

  • CO – Colorado
  • EMA – Eastern Massachusetts
  • ENY – Eastern New York
  • GA – Georgia
  • IA – Iowa
  • IL – Illinois
  • KS – Kansas
  • KY – Kentucky
  • LA – Louisiana
  • LAX – Los Angeles
  • MDC – Maryland/DC
  • ME – Maine
  • MI – Michicgan
  • MO – Missouri
  • MS – Mississippi
  • NC – North Carolina
  • ND – North Dakota
  • NE – Nebraska
  • NFL – North Florida
  • NH – New Hampshire
  • NLI – New York Long Island
  • NNJ – Northern New Jersey
  • NTX – North Texas
  • ONG – Orange (California)
  • OR – Oregon
  • STX – South Texas
  • WI – Wisconsin
  • WMA – Western Massachusetts
  • WTX – West Texas
  • 40 Meters – 8 contacts
  • 20 Meters – 30 contacts
  • 15 Meters – 6 contacts

I was hoping to work the Savannah Field Day operation and the Effingham County Field Day operations on Sunday morning but there didn’t seem to be any good short 40 Meter propagation, it all seemed to be fairly long. I missed talking to the local folks but I couldn’t be too disappointed since the band was open and working. The highlight of my Field Day had to be working WW1USA on Saturday evening. WW1USA is a special event station operating from the National World War I museum and it was appropriate to work them on the centennial of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination by Gavrilo Princip, the event that helped spark World War I. It’s also worth mentioning that I worked both ARRL centennial stations currently active – W1AW/9 in Illinois and W1AW/3 in Maryland. Altogether, it was a good Field Day and I thoroughly enjoyed getting on the air as a 1C (mobile) station.