NS9E Field Day Page

[Layout of a Field Day station.]

By Tim Stoffel, NS9E

This page is intended as a general purpose resource for those who operate Field Day. This event is considered by some to be a public service event, while others think it is a contest. I have found that it can be both!

Here you will find a table of past field day records. You will also find some useful programs for the Field Day operation.

This page can easily accomodate more topics. I hope to add some pictures when they are available, and perhaps some planning/setup/operating helps. I always covet your suggestions and ideas on how this page may be improved. Submit ideas and material contributions to the email address at the bottom of the page. Thanks!

Good luck on your Field Day outing this year. See you on the air!

2002 Field Day dates are June 22 and 23!

2001 Recap coming soon!!

Recap of Field Day 2000!

Field Day 2000 was to be a return to the team-style operations of the past. However, I wanted to try a different location, and a new concept for organization. Well, the new location was great, but the organization concept backfired.

We all know that the primary purpose of Field Day is to test our emergency prepardneo test our emergency prepardness skills. Since emergency skills are usually called upon with little warning, why spend a lot of time organizing a training exercise? Therefore, I issued an open invitation for anyone interested to particiapte in Field Day 2000. The invitation told where to show up, and when. It also stipulated that the participant bring whatever they felt was needed to make the operation sucessful. The idea was that everyone would show up at a certain time (7 PM Saturday morning.) We would then see what each person had brought, and organize the station(s) based on what we had on hand. As a precaution, I brought enough gear to pull off a solid 1A operation with no frills.

Two other things were new this year, as well. The first was the location. I had been repeatedly offered the use of a large field that was on the same land as a major VHF contest station. A thick treeline seperated the two areas, which removed all appearence of cheating. It was also an ideal spot, as it was completely open, and measured 700' by 2000' or so. The second new thing was the power source. The TV station I worked for owns a 5 KW generator they had purchased as part of their Y2K contingency plan. It's second intended use was to power our radio remote unit, but it is way too noisy for that purpose. So, it appears that this generator will only ever be used for Field Day. As it was, it had never even been fully comissioned. I took care of this and then some.

Earlier this year, I developed gout in one of my toes, quite possibly due to an all-meat diet I prefer. (And is otherwise a really good diet for my body type.) In any case, it was threatening to act up at any moment. I knew the constant motion during setup and strike would be really hard on my foot. All weekend, I had to use my foot very carefully to prevent a problem. Furthermore, a heavy rain on Friday forced me to do a very late packing job. I did not get a good nights' sleep.

Well, 7 AM Saturday morning found me still 20 minutes from the site. As it turns out, this was not a problem. When I finally arrived, there was no one there. I stopped and snoozed for about half an hour, hoping someone would arrive. No one did. I now faced the realization that I was probably doing Field Day alone!

I started setup with the tent. Luckily, the landowner had bush-hogged the edges of the field for a width of about 20 feet. this made setup much easier. As soon as the tent was up, and the station electronics were safely inside, I turned my attention to the antenna system. I used the military surplus AB-155 portable mast systems I usually use. But since I was alone, there was no good way to safely raise them to the 40 foot mark. So, I only put up 30 feet. It was the first time I had tried just 30 feet, and it worked spendidly. I took my time, and did not hurry to protect my foot. At one point, I even stopped and took an hours' nap to rest my foot.

Finally, everything was up. The last task was situating the generator. Fully fueled, it was too heavy to lift off the back of my truck alone. So, I just left it there. This turned out to be a really nice generator. It's output voltage was reasonable for electronic equipment, and it's regulation was superb. And after burning up the stale gas that had been in storage, it didn't miss even occasionally.

Since I was alone, I operated 1B. This is a new class for me. I also did not get on until about 4 PM, 2 hours into the exercise. I opened on 10 meters, which was somewhat open. I worked mainly phone, but made sure I worked some CW as well. I used the 20 meter dipole tuned to ten. I then tried 15 for a while, using the 20 meter antenna. I quickly learned that this antenna did not work well on this band, so I switched to the 15 meter dipole. Now, the band was hopping! From that point on, I tried to use antenns cut for the desired band.

I worked 15 until late enough in the evening to try 160. I got a useable match on 160 using the 80 meter dipole. 160 is a funny band on Field Day. Sometimes it's really busy. Other times, there's not a Field Day station on. This year was one of the dead years. I quickly decided to switch to 80. As usual, this band was BUSY! I worked through it twice on phone, with almost no duplication of stations heard. I tried to call, but couldn't find a clear frequency. I finally switched to 80 CW. I worked through the band once, and had a good start on a second pass when the generator ran out of fuel. It had also started to rain off and on, which had necessitated that I arrange a makeshift tent for the generator. Since it was well after midnight when the fuel ran out, I decided that this was a good time to stop for the night.

The next morning, I woke up unusually refreshed. My foot was also feeling better. So, I fired up the station, and continued where I had left off on 80 CW. I ended up working at least 1 1/2 cycles through the band, maintaining a quite productive Q rate. I then switched bands and antennas to 40 meters. As usual, 40 was also quite productive. However, it was not as good as 80, even though it was now daytime. After working out the phone portion, I worked out the CW portion. This took until 1 PM.

I finished out the contest on 20. The big mistake here was not getting here earlier in the exercise. 20 is a confusing band, which requires excellent listening skills to seperate Q's from the QRM. I worked phone for about 45 minutes, and then switched to 20 CW. It was an even bigger mistake to have not spent more time on 20 CW. Compared to phone, CW was easy. And, there were a lot of interesting locations represented on 20 meters that wern't common on the other bands. Too bad there aren't multipliers in Field Day!

Strike is where things started to fall apart. I first lowered the antennas and dropped the masts. The first mast was packed without incident. About 2/3's of the way through the second, it sprinkled for a few minutes and stopped. Then, it rained a bit harder and stopped. this cycle kept repeating, each time with harder and longer rain periods.

This cycle finally got so bad while trying to pack the antennas that I could hardly work. I finally got the antennas done, and retreated (soaking wet) into the tent. I wondered at this point if the rain was going to allow me to finish packing. I worked inside the tent while letting my body heat dry me off. The rain cycles grew worse and worse. I finally reached a point where I could not do any more inside work. So, I laid down on the cot and took a nap. There was one or two more rain cycles followed by a moment of brillant sunshine! There was one more brief rain cycle, and then it lightened up considerably. The rain appeared to be over. Praise the Lord!

Although having everything soaking wet did not help things, the final pack was drier than it should have been. Even the tent was nearly dry by the time I took it down. I covered the entire load with a plastic sheet and headed for home. (This sheet proved unnecessary and was a major nuisance at highway speeds.) Although hours late, I still took a 12 mile detour to stop at a favorite ice cream stand.

cream stand.

I arrived back in Rochester just in time to run a local net I was net control for. I then sucessfully unloaded everything, changed the oil in the generator, and delivered it to it's storage location. Field Day 2000 was over, and I had pulled it off alone. Furthermore, my foot had not given me any real problem on Sunday despite all the extra work. Praise the Lord for small miracles!

What did I learn this year? I learned that it is not a good thing to try a completely impromptu Field Day operation. Some planning is necessary unless you want to work it alone. Secondly, the AB-155 masts are quite easy to erect to the 30 foot point when working alone. I also learned more about the charateristics of the upper HF bands during major contests.

When the results were finally published, I hadn't finished too badly: Just below 50 pwecent in the 1B1 category.

Sadly, this will be the last Field Day for me from Western New York. I am moving out West to Reno, Nevada. So, look for NS9E/7 next June!!

Tim Stoffel, NS9E

NEW! Click here to see pictures from our Field Day efforts!

Field Day Page Table of Contents

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