Field Day 2011 Recap – K2BAR

As in past Field Days, I operated with my club BARA – Bergen Radio Amateur Assoc at the Bergen County – as K2BAR at the OEM Facility parking lot in Paramus NJ. Friday night I captured the ARRLs transmission of the Field Day Bulletin at 9pm. It was transmitted in PSK and I grabbed it on 80m. It was a bit stormy out so I had a few spots where the transmission was garbled by a lightening strike, but 2 other club members also copied it so together we have the full copy.

We met Sat morning where all our equipment is stored, loaded up a box truck and set off for the site a few miles away. There was already a group of folks there shooting ropes for wire antennas, setting up tables for stations and other areas where we would setup operations. We unloaded the towers, antennas and generators from the truck and started to get the main tribander tower and antenna up and secured. It went up without any issue. We followed that with a short tower for 6m with 2 loop antennas on it. The 40m station had a 40 m dipole up between trees and the 80m station had a 80 wire antenna up in the air. We also had a GOTA station where a couple of club members setup some HF & VHF equipment with a nice vertical and a wire dipole. They had their station setup and working before anyone else.

I spent most of my time at the tribander station which we operated inside an air conditioned OEM trailer from Montvale NJ. It was powered by a gas generator running outside. The equipment was a great Icom 7700 that can put out up to 200w though we didn’t push it that high. We had a pair of Heil headphones so 2 folks could operate with one doing the transmitting and the other logging or listening. The club still uses CT as the logging program which really is as basic as you can get. The notebooks running XP aren’t connected to the transceivers so there’s no frequency/band/mode info being provided and needs to be handled manually by the operator. It shows dups after you enter a call and it will show the count of contacts as well as the sections worked. The keystrokes are not intuitive but for 24 hours a couple times a year (VHF contest + FD) I can deal with it.

Saturday at the start of the contest I started on 20m which was pretty crowded with a lot of overlapping signals from folks on or near the same frequency. I checked out 15m and spent time there being productive. I called CQ constantly over the entire weekend with very little S&P other then when I would switch bands. 15m was the best 10/15/20 band for us last field day and it was the same this field day. I checked 10m once in a while and started to hear stations on it so I started calling CQ and was getting a lot of activity. In fact, late in the day on Saturday there were more 10m contacts logged than 15m contacts. When I was speaking with the other folks from the club, they never recall logging this many contacts. In fact, 10m seemed open for the entire length of the contest, and we weren’t working just local stations.

I took very short breaks on Saturday and tried to operate as much as possible or at least log for others that were operating. We had a nice lunch of hero sandwiches and a great dinner of pulled pork, beans and biscuits. Other than checking on other stations, I only worked the 10/15/20 tribander station. The 40m station was cooking and 80m was just getting warmed up until early in the evening when the activity on the band started to pick up. The only DX station I worked the entire weekend was on 15m in the early evening on Sat night when a VK4 station from Australia called us and was an easy S9 copy. He could have been on the local repeater he was so clear. I had enough around 1am, mostly because we were getting a lot of noise that made hearing all but the strongest stations difficult. So I went into my car and got some uncomfortable sleep for a few hours. I think we ended Sat with more 10m contacts than 15m contacts and 20m contacts had the least contacts logged.

Woke up around 6am, got cleaned up, filled up the generator with gas and got back on the air. 20m was still not very productive though 15m was and 10m was again. We switched back and forth between bands and had no problem running the entire morning. I did a bunch of operating and during mid morning I was just banging out 2-3 Q’s a min as fast as I could work stations on 15 & 10m. It was great!! I took a short break and KC2SKL Kelly got on the radio. I came back a few mins later and spent the rest of the time logging for her and giving her pointers. It’s hard to get into the rapid fire contesting type of responses vs the friendly lady-like repeater chatter she is accustomed to, but after a little bit of pushing she was really starting to fly and was easily working 2 contacts a min on 10m & 15m. I think once you start and get into that mode, you can see how much fun it is working stations as quickly as possible. We were setting some short term goals to keep focused on making contacts as quick as possible with our final goal being 800 at 1pm ET. We made that goal.

At 1pm we needed to shut things down as the OEM trailer we were operating in needed to get cleaned out and taken away. We ended up with the following totals (dupes removed) for the weekend on that 1 station:

20m SSB - 117 Qs  38 Sections
15m SSB - 424 Qs  58 Sections
10m SSB - 260 Qs  47 Sections
Total   - 801 Qs 143 Sections
Pretty darn respectable! The 40m station had a few morning contacts even though they had some severe noise issues at the start that prevented anything productive for the first 3 hours of the contest, but they also operated all night and we were completely off the air for 6 hours. Next year maybe we can beat the 40m station.

Total Q’s for the club for the weekend are approximately (not all counts for satellite and solar are in) 2278 total contacts and we worked all states but Alaska and all sections except SB, MB, NWT & AK.

There were enough people to tear things down and pack up the truck. I was pretty beat and didn’t help too much Sunday afternoon. I got home, showered and crashed before 9pm I think. it’s tough getting old but I’d do it this weekend again if I could.

Field Day is GREAT! Great fun operating, great fun hanging out & great fun working the stations with others. Only 51 more weeks until FD 2012.