Thursday, 30 June 2016
Field Day 2016 – 40m Phone
I don’t know why, but I always find set up for Field Day stressful. Maybe it’s the looming threat of the Melted Coffee Pot award that sends me into a tizzy, but more likely it’s just the worry about getting the antennas working early enough that I still have time to set up the station.
Over the winter I scaled back my dreams from a 9 verticals, each with 60 radials, arranged in a phased array, down to 5 relay-switched dipoles hanging from the tower, then down to a simple dipole. Then, just 5 days or so before the event, I decided to add a full wave loop sloping from the tower in a diamond shape, fed from the side. This, as Bob told me, would give me a mix of horizontal and vertical polarization to get me some of the all-important low-angle radiation to the West Coast.
Surprisingly, because I had no time for debugging, I found this worked quite well. Both antennas tuned reasonably well. The VSWR on the loop seemed a little high at first but then I realized that I had the analyzer set for 75-ohm impedance instead of 50 (left over from when I was confirming the electrical length of the RG6 matching section). It was more or less flat at about 1.5:1 across the 40m phone band. The dipole was slightly higher but still fine and none of it bothered my KAT-500 tuner at all.
The station came together pretty quickly and just before kick-off I started making some casual QSOs on 7.200 MHz to commandeer a calling frequency. That seemed to work, although about 15 minutes into the 24-hour marathon I was bullied off the frequency by high-powered stations encroaching from above and below, and went off searching and pouncing for the next couple of hours.
John, VE3IPS took a turn and went down to about 7.130 where less US amateurs are licenced to operate and found a clear frequency to run. His unique style attracted lots of attention and he made plenty of contacts.
We went back and forth between S&P and run mode several times through the 24 hours with Alex VE3ASE taking a few turns at the helm between satellite passes and doing really well.
After thoroughly enjoying the loop antenna’s pattern to the West and working Hawaii plus lots of stations in the Pacific time zone, I abandoned the station at 3:15 and went home to get some sleep, returning at about 8AM to have breakfast and go at it again. The last couple of hours were really productive as the big guns abandoned their frequencies to do some S&P themselves leaving a spot in the middle of the band for Alex and then me to get another 100+ contacts.
The result was that we blew away last year’s record of 272 to get a whopping 492 contacts in 24 hours. Doug VE3VS, along with Jack VA3UU and Bert VE3NR still beat us with more than 520 on 40 CW, but I’m just glad we were in the same ballpark as those veteran operators this year. Besides, we have room to aspire to a 500+ next year!
Thanks to Steve VE3UT and Rick VA3VO for organizing this fine event, to Peter VE3PBT, grandson Robert and a host of family members for their fine work in the galley, the other band captains for their hard work and risking their equipment, John VE3IPS for the social media direction, Bonnie Stone for working the information table and everyone else who dropped in or stayed the duration for making the club’s 2016 such a fun and successful event.
Once I’m back to my normal sleeping pattern I’ll start looking forward to next year. The club should be proud of its efforts and ability to collaborate to bring about a fine result.
73 from Chris VE3NRT