Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Some post-mortem Field Day thoughts

While I understand the mindset of those who really consider Field Day to be an uber-contest and go whole hog........ as I get older, I see the wisdom of keeping it simple.  A few wire antennas, a few low power portable rigs make set up in 90F weather much easier and by the same token, tear down is much less of a horror after being up for 30+ hours. Taking down hexbeams, yagis and makeshift towers is a younger man's game. Definitely. Plus you get the added bonus of having visitors say, "You were talking to California (or wherever) with just 5 Watts and some wire?"

CW speeds - this one might be a ticking time bomb. If you want to run QRQ - by all means, go ahead. But if you expect a lot of responses on Sunday morning at 9:00 AM from guys who have been at this continuously since Saturday at 2:00 PM - I think you're barking up the wrong tree. There's no disgrace at keeping CW speeds at a more realistic 25 WPM or less neighborhood. And for Pete's sake, if a guy is calling "CQ FD" at about 18 WPM, QRS for him, please! You're not impressing anyone by continuing to send at 40 WPM. You're just annoying the rest of us by you forcing him to ask you to repeat your exchange for 5 or 6 times.

For those of you, who like us, run a club effort ....... I really recommend N3FJP's logging software. We're lucky enough to have Ron N2LCZ, who is a networking guru set up our logging system . He does it so that we're all tied into a portable network. We log at laptops and this all feeds into a master desktop acting as a server. I couldn't set this system up if my life depended on it, but Ron makes it so that the entire FD team can see our collective effort at each and every transmitting position. And it makes reporting results to the ARRL as easy as falling off a log.

Don't discount digital ops. While I'm not a devotee of FT8 or whatever the digital mode du jour is - they are an invaluable tool. Dave KD2FSI was our DX King, working into New Zealand, Hawaii and other distant locals with the digital modes. Plus ........ while they might not everybody's cup of tea, they also seem to attract the younger crowd and that is definitely a plus.  A youngster of say, 15 or 16 may think Morse Code is cool and may really be attracted to the paddles and keyer,. I know this first hand, as I have witnessed it. On the other hand, that same youngster will undoubtedly feel right at home and like an old pro behind the keys of a laptop. I may not be the one to do it, but sit with a youngster and guide him/her through a connection with the other side of the country (or world) in their first few attempts and you may have hooked someone for life. Getting that youngster to realize he/she can enjoy SSB and CW can come later.

Field Day is the most excellent opportunity to get inactive Hams on the air again. For whatever reason, some Ham's enthusiasm for the hobby can dry up. Raising a family, working a job (or two) might leave no time for sitting behind the radio. Let them sit down and make a few contacts and you're going to help re-ignite that old flame. It works....... I've seen guys who have not been on the air for decades, but have kept their licenses active look at my KX3, see what it can do and they're almost salivating! "THAT little rig does all this?!?"

Besides being a contest, Emergency Communication exercise or whatever ....Field Day is perhaps our biggest PR opportunity of the year. Take advantage of it.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:34 AM

    Good morning Larry, very nice to see your posting again and hope your health is coming along. As for the CW section of your post, I fully agree that the sending sometimes can get out of hand. I was listening to some FD CW action over the weekend and the vast majority were in around 18-22 wpm. I can confirm that while listening to these FD stations I heard some comebacks in around 30 plus. I was wondering regarding FD if a rule could be added for max code speed? We do have slow speed CW contest and really FD is not technically a contest but more of an exercise so why not add a code speed limit to the mix?