Sunday, 18 January 2015

Notes from the Shack - January 2015

In the lead up to our SPAR Winter Field Day at the Temperance Hall on January 24th and 25th, we've been reviewing the rules and especially the scoring. Unlike ARRL Field Day in the Summer, Winter Field Day doesn't emphasize community outreach but is a more traditional contest, but with some twists.

One of the biggest of these is the way multipliers are calculated. For the non-contesters out there, multipliers encourage certain achievements by creating a separate tally, with which the main score is multiplied. Many contests, like the North American QSO Party SSB that ran yesterday, use geographic entities (in the case of the NAQP, they were US States, Canadian Provinces, and North American DXCC entities), but Winter Field Day is different.

Winter Field Day offers a multiplier for each band and 'mode'. The bands are counted as any amateur band from 1.8MHz and up excluding the 60, 30, 17 and 12 metre bands. The modes for the purpose of the contest are: Phone (SSB, FM, AM, etc.), CW, Digital (RTTY, PSK, Thor, etc), SSTV and Satellite. The astute reader will realize that satellite is not a mode in the traditional meaning of the word, but them's the rules.

A single contact on any combination of bands and the 5 'modes' will yield a multiplier. We know from reports of previous years that the vast majority of contacts are by phone, so it will be important to crank out as many contacts as possible on the most productive bands which will probably be 20, 40 and 80 metres. However it will be equally important to make a contact on as many bands and modes as possible, as score multipliers will be the key to putting in a good showing by the club.

This brings us to SSTV. Not knowing whether any of our members coming to Field Day will be equipped, I decided to give it a try a couple of weeks ago. It was really easy to set up using the MMSSTV program which can operate stand alone or integrate with DXLab using the MM to DXLab Bridge. The main benefit of bridge is log integration and easy access to spotting information (by the way, there's no limits on using spotting in Winter Field Day).

I've managed to make a couple of QSOs and even received an SWL report from Europe, but so far I haven't seen a crystal clear picture. On the other hand if you can read the call sign and signal report it's a contact, and that is similar to what we need to do on Saturday (where we'll need to exchange the class and temperature, which is supposed to be about -8C).

The call signs are quite readable in the extra large font, while the picture is pretty much unrecognizable. I didn't notice at the time, but that picture received from WB0YDI was taken by me. He'd actually send my own picture back to me, which is a sunrise over the St. Lawrence river near Brockville, Ontario. Since that time I've seen better pictures than the above which are more easily recognized.

The lesson is perhaps to not expect too much detail and not to send too much. If we have any SSTV operators out there please come on down or try to contact us during the event.

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