Monday, June 24, 2013

Field Day 2013

One of the fun things to do on the yearly Ham Radio calendar is to participate in the ARRL's Field Day, held on the fourth full weekend each June. This is a chance to take your gear into the field, set up a station, and make contacts with as many other stations as possible. While disguised as a contest Field Day is actually the an emergency communications exercise developed decades ago by the ARRL to train Ham Radio operators in the art and science of handling emergency communications under primitive conditions. There is a big difference between communicating on the ham bands from your shack and establishing and maintaining communications under adverse (field) conditions. 

My original plans called for David, N4KD, and me to get together and do a 1B Battery entry from the side lot adjacent to our house in Dacula, GA. With plenty of room to erect wire and vertical antennas we had a seemingly ready made FD area. I was getting things ready Friday. Than came the phone call!

Dave, N4KD, called me late Friday afternoon and told me he gotten tapped for a conference on Monday and had to fly out on Sunday, so there went our FD plans. My alternative was to go find the Gwinnett Amateur Radio Society (GARS) and show up at their FD site as one of the "Pros from Dover"! I took my extremely small N3ZN QRP paddles, the Kenwood headset and some Gatorade and (after driving Peppermint Patti to work) set out for the GARS site at Sweetwater Park in Lawrenceville, GA. 

I got there about 2000 EDT, and found Mike
Weathers, ND4V, (AKA: Mikey) and his K3 set up as the 20M CW station (the GARS group ran 8A this year). I made the rounds shaking hands with the old crew and then it was down to work. About 0100 EDT Sunday morning a pipeline in to the SW and So-Cal opened up. I managed to work the Zuni Loop Mountain QRP Expeditionary Force (AKA: "The Zunis") on 20 on the first call. They were using Cam Hartford's call, N6GA. Cam is the QRP column editor for CQ mag and I've known him for well over 30  yrs. In 1996 Patti and I drove across the country to do a Zuni FD with them on Table Mountain outside LA. Talk about fun!!! I even learned how to cook pizza on a B-B-Q grill!  Anyway, N6GA's sigs were steady S-9 on the K3's meter at my location. Great sounding sigs.

By 0500 EDT I had worked the band dry. No new Qs to be had so I got up, shook off all the 3 inch cockroaches and found myself a bottle of water and some stimulating conversation with the guys at the food tables. Went back to work after about an hour. The band was getting "weird", long skip to the west coast was starting to die off as some sigs from the upper NE filtered through. The NE sigs sounded "weak and watery" with a touch of QSB. Thankfully the day shift, with Mikey in tow, arrived about 0630 EDT to take over the station. That gave me a chance to devour one of Uncle Earle's, AF4FG, "Belly Bomber Breakfast Burritos", which are positively guaranteed to open up your intestinal tract and hit the toilet bowl like a flaming meteor! WHEW!!! Remember Thai peppers?? Well, multiply that x 100 and you get the picture!!!! For the last two days I have been taking a Popsicle to the bathroom to use in lieu of toilet paper!!! 

After picking up Patti at work, we got home around 0800 EDT on Sunday. I hit the rack for a few hours. I felt very good about my time running the 20M CW station and bagging some Qs for the GARS effort. One thing for sure, I have a lot of work to do before I am as good a CW op as Mikey. Mike and Dick Bentley, K2UFT, (who was not present at GARS FD this year) are a couple of world class CW ops. These two are my personal inspirations to get my CW skills up to the next level. (Honest, Mikey....I'll quit using the pencil and paper!!!)

Hope everyone had a great FD experience this year. If not, there is always next year! 

C U on the bands

Vy 73 Rich K7SZ
Bent Dipole Ranch
Dacula, GA

1 comment:

  1. Rich, you probably should know the rest of the story... I did head off to my rendezvous with unnamed customers at an undisclosed location, but it didn't go quite the way I expected. I got off the plane, claimed my baggage and headed out to where I was going to catch a ride to the site.

    The Men in Black were there, as expected, but told me I wasn't needed and I should book the next flight back to Atlanta. At least they didn't neuralize me, at least not as far as I know.

    I got back to Atlanta, drove home through the freeway construction and got back to my place with enough daylight to sit on the dock with a strong drink and reflect on how it's usually the best laid plans that go awry, but also that plans made in haste can be hosed up pretty fast, too. Then the mosquitoes started biting and it was time to retreat.

    It's good to see that Field Day went so well for you and for GARS. I talked to Kyle a little the other day and it sounded like participation was way up from last year, so I'm sure the points were too. Coming up is what I consider to be the most fun contest of the year -- the 13 colonies thing. Starts July 1 and the certificate is as attractive as ever.

    Dave N4KD