Passing ARRL Field Day messages the easy way with packet radio

Here is a video of a Virginia amateur radio group passing field day bonus point messages off site using packet radio.

KX4O 1B-Battery VA Field Day 2015

The 20m AHVD and 40m small loop antennas during KX4O 1B VA field day.

Despite a weak battery and few contacts, our 1B-Battery effort verifies a 40m small-loop and packet-radio NTS messaging using quick deploy antennas.

40m Mastless NVIS Antenna

Folded 40m NVIS Dipole Concept

Yet another 40m Cloud Burner design featuring a folded dipole driven element plus one reflector wire to facilitate 40m NVIS contacts without need of a tall mast. The design uses electric fence posts for support and needs no balun.

Elecraft K2 – My Favorite Field Day Station

This year our club ran 3A for the ARRL Field Day.

Radios included an Icom IC-756 Pro, TenTec Omni VII, Icom IC-746 (for the GOTA) and a Icom 7000 for VHF plus HF spare. All these radios performed quite well despite the high temperatures.

The 100 Watt Elecraft K2 stood above the others not necessarily on performance, but the elegant way the radio’s owner configured his K2, 100 Watt Amplifier and 100 Watt Matcher.

Read moreElecraft K2 – My Favorite Field Day Station

Field Day Prep

Well Field Day 2010 all started to come together pretty well. I put all the drinks and heavy items in the front to ensure good positive tongue weight. Pre-positioned the radio on that beautiful desk. Loaded up several antennas. Three masts plus stakes, etc. I even managed to figure out how to get my hex beam in there with a minimum of dis-assembly. It is quite a mess. I am sooo glad I selected that slinky wire that does not kink.

Here is a picture.

Read moreField Day Prep

Field Day Lessons Learned and Future Requirements

Our Field Day in Virginia was pretty decent this year. We had plenty of visitors responding to our newspaper notice. Several folks took a turn at the Get On The Air (GOTA) station.

However, we always forget some obvious items every year.

The lessons learned from sunshine related issues are obvious. We forgot ways to shade them again this year because we got so busy with other preparation details.

Here are a few lessons learned from our Field Day written in the form of system requirements.

  1. The network routers shall be set to one fixed speed rather than auto-negotiate the speed to keep the network connections more seamless.
  2. The network routers should have their speed set to the minimum speed of 1 Mbps to provide the best sensitivity (this is plenty fast enough for the meager network needs with the N3FJP software).
  3. The network routers should have their RF output power set to below the maximum (250 mW for the Linksys WRT54G running DD-WRT) if the Field Day site is hot
  4. All network nodes shall use static IP addresses.
  5. Network nodes shall not use DHCP addresses.
  6. The Network shall not use domain or host names.
  7. The radios shall be protected from direct sunshine at all times.
  8. The computers shall be protected from direct sunshine at all times.

Read moreField Day Lessons Learned and Future Requirements

Field Day Wireless Network Should Have Autonegotiation Turned Off

Here is a network tip to make your wireless 802.11 Field Day network more robust.

Digital GOTA attracts the Youth

If you are like many ARRL Field Day operations you have a Get On The Air (GOTA) station for guests.

We have done this every year I have been involved with my club’s Field Day and have had mostly good results. We usually have one Boy Scout troop stop by and make a few QSOs each. Also some technicians in our club like to operate the station during the late hours to get a chance to do SSB HF (yes we always have a control operator with valid privileges). Also it seems every year a new ham really enjoys the simplicity of the GOTA station without the concern over band sharing the other stations deal with.

Every year our GOTA is set up pretty much the same…

  • Icom 746
  • HF Antenna – Wire Dipole
  • Microphone
  • Key
  • Computer for logging
  • and that’s about it

Last year I posted observations about what the youth seem to enjoy most about our Field Day 2008…

Read moreDigital GOTA attracts the Youth

Alternate Power Bonus for Field Day

Bonus points are important for the annual ARRL Field Day event in June.

If you are thinking of participating in your local club’s Field Day festivities or are heading to the campground with your family for a Bravo station, bonus points are available.

One of my favorites is the Alternate Power Field Day bonus.

To quote the ARRL Field Day rules for 2009…

Read moreAlternate Power Bonus for Field Day

Field Day 802.11 Wireless Network

This is a reprint of an article posted on More than ever the ideas of using 802.11 WAN network gear for Field Day makes good sense.

It took two years, but we finally managed a super reliable wireless network for our ARRL Field Day operations.

This year we will be at the same location and plan to accommodate up to five HF stations plus GOTA, VHF and, hopefully, some kind of Satellite station. Also a natural power station is planned, but will be co-located with an existing station.

The layout within the 300 meter circle will be close to what is shown in this picture…

Field Day 2009 Facility Layout
Field Day Facility Layout

Read moreField Day 802.11 Wireless Network

Young Attracted to PSK31

During Field Day 2008 we carefully observed what operating modes the young teens did and did not enjoy while they operated. Without a doubt the digital modes, especially PSK31, got their attention.

Teenager and a younger boy sharing PSK31 contacts on an HF station.
Teenager and a younger boy sharing PSK31 contacts on an HF station.

The older of the two, KJ4FAJ, in the picture above said this when he made his first PSK31 contact just after midnight during Field Day…

Read moreYoung Attracted to PSK31

Johnson Match Box works well at Field Day 2008

At Field Day 2008 our primary Phone station used a 135 foot ladder fed dipole as the primary antenna. The ladder line is home brew with wood spacers putting the parallel 14AWG wire about 5 inches apart.

For years I have used a home brew fully balanced matcher of a design found on the Internet. However, the results have been less than what I would expect.

A club member mentioned he had available a big Johnson Match Box. I said please bring it. Here it is on our operating table with the antenna feed connected.

Read moreJohnson Match Box works well at Field Day 2008

Why QSO Contest Logging and Paper don’t mix

Field Day 2008 was great for us. Our wide area wireless network worked pretty well and every station could monitor progress of the whole group.

This year we extensively used the “operator initials” field in the N3FJP Field Day Network 2.8 logging software package. Operators used their call-sign as their ‘initials’ while honored guests used their actual initials.

The site-wide log offered many great analysis possibilities. One particularly interesting metric we tracked this year was QSO rates. We generated graphs of QSO totals vs. Time Between QSOs. Here is an example of the entire log…

Read moreWhy QSO Contest Logging and Paper don’t mix

Fuel Cap on Honda EU2000 Will Shut Off Generator

The manual for the Honda EU2000 clearly states this, but you need to be sure you adjust that little circular knob on the Fuel Cap to the operating position or the generator will certainly quit after a few minutes operation.

Fuel cap with knob on Honda EU2000 Generator
Fuel cap with knob on Honda EU2000 Generator

Read moreFuel Cap on Honda EU2000 Will Shut Off Generator