Friday, June 25, 2010

Heat wave

Field Day weekend seems like it will bring the first official heatwave of the Summer of 2010 in Central NJ. By definition, a heatwave is three or more days of over 90F (32C) weather. It topped out above 90F here yesterday and today and is expected to do so again on Saturday and Sunday.

Which reminds me of a PARC Field Day about a dozen or so years ago. I was in W2PQ's pop up camper which served as the 80/40 Meter CW station with Tim Koeth N2LPN and Bill Koeth W2WK. It was VERY hot and humid, a sultry day by the very definition of sultry. It just so happened that a thunderstorm was brewing, so as soon as we heard the distant thunderclaps, Tim and I disconnected the wire antenna from the radio and we dropped it on the floor (forgetting to throw it out the window). As we were sitting out the thunder and lightning, we kept on hearing this small "tic .... tic .... tic" sound. We were wondering what it was when we happened to look down on the floor, where we saw a small blue arc traveling between the center conductor to the shield on the PL-259 connector of the coax we had dropped on the floor! While we were taking no direct hits, the static charge was building up enough on the wire to cause the arcing at the radio end of the coax. Good thing it wasn't plugged in; and that graphic lesson has stayed with me ever since.

If you're going out for Field Day tomorrow make sure you bring along plenty of sunscreen and make sure you stay hydrated throughout the event. Have fun and be careful; and if a sudden boomer pops up out of nowhere, remember to toss the coax out of your tent, trailer, camper or whatever!

72 de Larry W2LJ

1 comment:

John AE5X said...

It's pretty amazing that even w/o a direct hit, enough voltage can build up to create an arc! Such conditions took out an old QRP+ of mine years ago in White Plains NY - no direct hit even nearby but after the storm passed my rig's receiver was toasted.

The normal default mode whenever I'm not actually on the air is to have the antenna cable disconnected from the rig. BNC's make this far easier than with SO-239's and is the main reason I use them.