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.