Monday, June 27, 2005

Field Day 2005

Field Day dawned bright and sunny - a portent of the weather for the day.

I got up early and did some basic chores. I ran out to Staples and picked up some ink for the inkjet printer and to the grocery store to do the shopping for the week. After putting all the purchases in their proper places; I began to get ready for Field Day while my wife began getting ready to go to work.

First, I installed the new ink cartridges in my printer and printed up some logging and dupe sheets. Logging was going to be done the old fashioned way - with paper and pencil as Field Day was to be a total battery operation. I would use mini logging and dupe sheets which were formulated and posted to QRP-L and the Elecraft reflector by Wayne Burdick N6KR. Outdoor set up was easy for a solo operation. My trek was not far at all; just to the backyard patio table. And since I do a decent amount of QRP portable operating, I pretty much have it down to a routine, anyway. It was just a matter assembling the PAC-12 and the Buddipole. I could have used my G5RV and Butternut HF9V; but that wouldn't have been in the spirit of doing this as a portable station instead of a home station.

My wife, who is a registered nurse, left for work about 1:30 in the afternoon. With a half hour left until festivities began, I was ready to go. As the magic hour of 2:00 struck, I sat down to make a few QSOs. With 5 Watts, I tend to use the search and pounce method and this was especially true with temporary, portable antennas. After a few QSOs in the log, it began:

"Watcha doin' Daddy"?

"Playing radio, sweetie."

One or two more QSOs.

"Daddy would you push me on my swing?"

"Sure Joey!" Off from the radio to push my son on the swing for a while. I sat down to make one or two more QSOs.

"Daddy, I'm thirsty!"

"Okay, Cara, what would you like .... water, juice, milk ????"

"No Daddy, would you make me and Joey chocolate milk shakes?"

Sigh ....... and so it went. My Field Day operating during daylight hours could best be described as a shotgun effort. A few blasts here and there amongst taking care of "Daddy Duties". But my kids come first before radio - and I was glad to be able to spend time with them.

Later that night, after giving them a bath and putting them to bed; I put in a more serious effort. From about 9:00 PM until 11:00 PM, I was able to put in a decent effort; and made about 40 QSOs in those two hours. Even though I sprayed the area with "OFF" backyard outdoor fogger and applied Cutter's bug repellant to my skin, the insect attack started to become relentless. The Japanese Beetles laughed at the spray and the citronella candles. They bombed me like I was Pearl Harbor! The moths were doing a frenzied dance into the picnic table lights. After much swatting and shooing, I had had enough and pulled the plug for the night.

The next morning, I went out and pulled a few more QSOs out of the aether before leaving for Mass. Then when we got home; the kids wanted to go to the community pool (it was a very hot weekend, after all!) - so that put an official end to my Field Day effort for 2005.

I learned two things, however. For next year, I will purchase a tent or a screened canopy to take care of the bug problem. Next year, I will also put up a temporary doublet or other sort of wire antenna. The PAC-12 worked great to all areas of the country; but I think I'd like to compare it's peformance side by side with a more conventional wire antenna. All in all, I was pleased with my results - over 50 QSOs and 22 states in just a few accumulated hours of operating time with 5 Watts of power. The bottom line was that I had a great time. I hope the rest of you did too!

73 de Larry W2LJ

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