KX4O 1B VA Field Day 2012

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A Long Time Ago…

In 2001-2002 I participated in two 1B ARRL Field Day events in the backyard of a Church. Since then I have helped plan Field Days for my local club, W4VA, with reasonable success. I missed being in a 1B however. This was the year I decided to go small. Last July I told my club mates I would not be chairman for 2012. I began planning for 1B.

The last time I was 1B the transceiver was a Kenwood TS-520SE. I still have this thing and it has it merits including ample power and crisp clean audio when matched with my D-104 microphone. Tuning up a hybrid rig’s tubes is a hassle. Plus I am a CAT addict and don’t much like computer logging solutions that don’t automatically track the radio’s frequency, mode, etc. Fortunately I have since purchased a used Icom 746… non pro version.

The generator back than was noisy enough to make birds flee in fear. Since then, a Honda EU2000i generator quietly fulfills the role of Emergency Power Source.

Antennas

Planning Field Days always gets out of hand with dreams of multiple antennas and several masts. In the end, 1B practicality and visitor safety wins and you trim things down a lot. The antenna count dropped to three…

  • ZS6BKW Multi-band HF dipole – This has a Ladderline feed much like a G5RV, but with dimensions more appropriate for ham use.
  • 2M Four Element Yagi-Uda by Arrow Antennas – This is an NBS Yagi design… nothing special, but quite functional.
  • 6M Three Element Yagi-Uda using a modified G0KSC Loop Fed Array[1] design – This is 2012’s project antenna.

Bonus Points Attained

I always pursue the bonus points outlined in the ARRL Field Day rules.

  • 7.3.1 100% Emergency Power – Most of us get this one.
  • 7.3.2 Media Publicity – I sent a grammar corrected version of the ARRL Press Release to the local paper and they published every word.
  • 7.3.3 Public Location – Church’s are public locations especially when Field Day coincides with the Church Picnic celebrating the end of Vacation Bible School.
  • 7.3.4 Public Information Table – This is the easiest thing to do. I simply ordered the free handouts from the ARRL when I bought my hat and set them out.
  • 7.3.9 – W1AW Bulletin – This is an easy one to get if you bring your RTTY and/or PSK decoder gear with you.
  • 7.3.10 Educational Activity – This year I brought out a variety of small antennas to discuss with visitors the idea about wavelengths and why lower frequencies have bigger antennas. Several folks were interested and asked many questions. NOTE: B Class Entries do not qualify for this bonus, but we did it anyway.
  • 7.3.11 Site Visitation by Elected Governmental Official – I invited and was visited by the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in my county.
  • 7.3.14 Web Submission – This one is the easiest bonus to get.
  • 7.3.15 Youth Participation – I had several young guests operate, but only counted my son since this was a 1B.

QSOs

A modest effort…

Band CW Mode DIG Mode PH Mode
160m 0 0 0
80m 0 0 120
40m 1 0 51
20m 0 5 49
15m 0 0 1
10m 0 0 1
6m 1 0 9

We didn’t make a lot of contacts (200+), but did expose Amateur Radio to a whole lot of folks thanks to our location next to a planned Church Picnic.

Picture Gallery

Lessons Learned

  • The formatting for CW Macros changed in N1MM and caught me completely off guard rendering them useless. Next time I will preview every feature of the logging program before heading to the field.
  • The ZS6BKW is not designed to handle 15 meters and it sure didn’t.
  • The ZS6BKW was wonderful on 80, 40, 20, 10 and even usable on 6m. 40 meters was the best. I did use the radio tuner at all times as the antenna feedline stretched a bit changing the tuning from optimum.
  • I forgot one adapter for the 2m beam so didn’t get to use it. It still looked pretty cool though rotating on the VHF “stack.”
  • The 3 Element LFA 6M Beam worked quite well, but no 6m opening this year. I also accidentally made a bunch of 20m contacts with it before I realized what was going on.
  • Six ticks found and four got me.
  • One skunk roamed nearby the entire 24 hour period.
  • Some mystery beast was crashing through the brush in the morning.
  • The cup of coffee from the Church’s morning crew was some kind of fantastic.
  • Just because you are 1B or 2B doesn’t mean you can’t interact with the public effectively.
  • My station performed exceptionally well on 40m and was the band of choice for introducing Search and Pounce to my visitors.

Visitors #1 Priority

Since ARRL Field Day is a rare opportunity for non-hams to witness Amateur Radio, visitors were my #1 focus. Score, QSO rates, etc. all took a backseat to guests. When they came down the hill for a visit, I stopped everything to ensure their visit meant something. The good news is my visitors remain interested in Amateur Radio making ‘follow up’ my next important task.

Aftermath

Our club’s two Field Day efforts received a nice write up in Page 2 of the Marshall Minute Newsletter from Peter Schwartz, one of the members of the county Board of Supervisors, who paid a visit to the W4VA station in Crockett Park.

I just love ARRL Field Day… even with the ticks. It is always a superb opportunity to share Amateur Radio with others.

References

  1. A short 3 element LFA Yagi for 50MHz with a 1.94M boom” – Justin Johnson (G0KSC).

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