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


  1. Chris the great thing about the 40m ssb setup is not just having a wonderful K3 and Heil set up to use (i had rsi cramps after a string of contacts on the low end of 40m phone......i was afraid of the SWBC above 7.2 so i stuck to the low end) but the time you spent stringing up the westward loop really paid off. I had the luxury to switch back and forth across two antennas to dig out several qrp stations and down in the noise 1D epa and MI to add to the list. Please pat yourself on the back for those w6 and kh6 contacts at 3am while i was snoring away. What i really enjoy about FD is the passion and teamwork that comes together.

  2. I was actually upset with Chef Pete and his gang of Sous Chefs....the menu was so good I gained weight.....i am talking to the ARRL about a treadmill mobile class.for 2017.

  3. I should also mention that the 40m ssb tent had no pencils, no paper, no scratchpads...just an awesome k3 set up and n1mm. I started to protest the lack of stationary but after a few pileups it was like " ok chris....i can do this paperless idea". We also had davids voip telephone set up running off our wifi backbone and it was strange as i was working through a bunch of epa, wpa, nny, nli and nnj stations i could hear this ringing in the background. Chef Peter to 40m band captain....dinner is in on...ok ok ok but let me just get this 1e TN in the log and and i will scoot right over....( click )

  4. John - we can arrange for a treadmill with a generator so we can get our naturally powered points. Several years ago we tested the mettle of Canadian soldier by putting him on a stationary bike to generate the power to make some contacts. He groaned when we were transmitting 100W but stuck with it and we got our points.

    Time to start training, I think.