Field Day 2017

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Hi guys/gals... I'd be interested in hearing any experiences using Flex (or not) during their Field Day activities this year.
Personally, my club gave me an ICOM-718 to use for my overnight (12-hour) shift and while it's a nice-enough radio and did the job, I REALLY missed by Flex!

No panadaptor, so I was doing the crank/scan of the band to find stations; they had set the frequency scan to 'slow' for the newbies, so it took forever to get from one end to the other.

ICOM was trying to keep the # of 'buttons' down on this model, so almost everything was buried in some level of menus somewhere, which were not intuitive.

No notch filters (or I wasn't allowed to use them) so intermod was a definite problem.  I had to revert to my old school learning/tricks from back in the 70's when receivers weren't as good and use my ears to separate stations. :-)

Lots of times when we could hear a station clearly, but they just couldn't hear us -- very frustrating.

Very limited range on the onboard auto-tuner.  I just love that 'set and forget' aspect of my Flex.

So, what about you? Anyone actually get to use their (or others) Flex for FD2017?
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VE7ATJ

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Posted 2 years ago

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Mark WS7M

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I posted my FD update just a few minutes after you created this thread.  Please see:

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/field-day-praise

But I will simply say, Flex worked wonderfully and with my meager FD skills I was able to use the SDR to my advantage.
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Ken Hansen

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"Very limited range on the onboard auto-tuner. I just love that 'set and forget' aspect of my Flex."

The IC-718 does not have an internal antenna tuner.
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VE7ATJ

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Hmmm, maybe i got the rig name wrong. There was a *tuner* marking on the display, so i just assumed... but the pictures of the 718 sure look like what i was using.
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Ken Hansen

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There is a "tuner" button on the IC-718, but it is to activate an external antenna. When one is attached, like an LDG, MFJ, or even an Icom unit like an AH-4 it will reduce output power and put out a constant carrier for the auto-tuner to do it's thing.

There most likely was an external tuner attached - the AH-4 is designed to connect to the antenna at the feed point.
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Andrew O'Brien

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Although I have had a Flex for years , this was first real effort of using a Flex under FD battery rules . I installed software on a laptop that hitherto had no ham software on it . I found installing SmartSDR a breeze . DX Lab Suite easily configured for CAT of the 6300 , had CAT established at the click of a box when choosing. Commander's 6300 option. I found FLDIGI CAT controlled a little finicky to set up so gave up and easily configured Winwarbler for PSK and RTTY ops. CW was so easy with CWX , I finished up making all CW contacts .

One thing I did find a bit of a challenge was adequate audio from the laptop . Being outdoors I was subject to various ambient noises like lawn mowers and various neighborhood activity . The laptop's internal speakers were too low even at max , when dealing with weak CW. I plugged headphones into the rear jack because my headphones did not have the right plug for the front headphone jack . I'm not sure why, but I did not hear any audio from those headphones other than when keying my own CW transmissions.

ANDY K3UK
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VE7ATJ

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Did you run the laptop from it's own battery or from the one supporting the flex? Hmmmm, isn't the rear jack for an ext spkr? Not sure headphones would work there. Also, did you have the Remote button off? On mine, when remote is on, i don't get audio from the headphone jack on the front,.
(Edited)
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Andrew O'Brien

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I had "remote" set to ON.  That explains it, thanks.  Laptop's own battery.
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Jim Gilliam

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I sat in a cool bar (Cleaman's Galley) drinking ice cold Amberbach beer and eating hamburgers. I worked 42 stations with my iPhone using my remote 6500 a hundred miles away. Broke no records but had a hellava good time.


Jim, K6QE

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Bob Szerszynski

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I used my Flex instead of the planned, and used last year, K3.  I made more than twice the contacts than last year.

Bob KV4MJ
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Steve W6SDM

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I used an IC-706 and I feel the same way as the OP, missing the amenities and conveniences of my Flex.  Of course, in an emergency situation, less is better as it may not always be practical to get a computer, monitor, and radio operating off the grid.

I operated with several members of the club.  We stayed overnight in the Arizona Sonoran Desert.  The temperatures ranged from 95 at the absolute low (4:30 AM) to 116 during the previous afternoon.  I think I lost a few pounds.




This is my go box, which the XYL sarcastically dubbed the nuclear football.  I have a Smart Antenna that goes with it, so I am covered to get on the air quickly and with very little overhead.
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Norm - W7CK

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What's a "Smart Antenna"?
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Steve W6SDM

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Norm,

Actually, I meant Super Antenna.  I think the desert sun cooked part of my brain.
http://newsuperantenna.com/MP1-SuperStick-Portable-Vertical-Antenna-Deluxe/

This thing is great.  It fits in a little carry-on package that's small enough to fit inside a briefcase.  There are add-ons which I have, like the titanium whip and the WARC band radials.  It allows me to operate from just about anywhere.  I would compare it to the Buddy Pole series of antennas, except they're less expensive.
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Pat WW9R

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You read my mind, it was agony operating FD without my Flex. I used multiple radios and none of them could hold a candle to a flex. It is amazing how much I depend on the panadapter and the tight filtering, and feel lost without them. Our college club needs flex radios.
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Phil - WG5D

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We ran a Flex 6700 for FD this year and it worked wonderfully. The last several Pyears we ran an IC-7700. The flex really paid off because we monitored several bands all the time and we were able to easily track band conditions across the board. This paid off when we noticed band openings and were able to capitalize on those openings. It was also nice to not have to lug around the 50-pound Icom rig. Considering that we operated leisurely, had a lot of breaks to empty a couple cases of beer and hang around the BBQ, and also considering one of our three operators was a 10-year-old girl, we logged well over 500 contacts using the Flex.

Phil - WG5D
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Steve W6SDM

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Phil,

You bring up a good point:  casual operating.  I think that Field Day is as much a social event as it is a "contest".  Sure, we learn how to get rigs on the air without the benefit of commercial power and discover what it's like to operate under less-than-ideal conditions.  In our club, we try to tie in a barbecue, invite family members, and do other things to make it fun to be there.
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Norm - W7CK

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I can't imagine using ANY radio without a Band Scope or what we call a Panadapter.
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Mark WS7M

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I did field day from home but on e-power so I ran a bunch of cords to a generator and powered my computer, flex, net switches, amp and tuner from the generator.

I wrote in my other thread that my flex as simply amazing.  I'm not a skilled contest op and my cw copy skills have really taken a beating.  But with the flex and putting in some hard listening time I found by Sunday morning I was copying stations first time and getting section/class right almost every time.  This was compared to my first few where I needed repeats.

I used only one pan/slice unless I wanted to and look at another band.  When I needed to copy the ARRL bulletin and opened 4 pans tuned slices to each frequency and assigned separate DAX values and sat ready to set the right sound card for FLDigi.  This alone was amazing to me.  I got a great signal from W1AW on 18.1 but almost nothing on 40 and 20.  So having all the pans open allowed me to find and copy the best signal.

I did a lot of CW because it was so easy.  I found I like to really expand the pan so I have like 3 or 4 CW signals on the display, nice and wide and then I can filter and look between them.  I found quite a few weak stations this way and picked up some I might not have seen normally and certainly would have tuned right past with a knob radio.

I let my logging program do most of the CW but made sure my CWX keys were set to the same values.  More than once I hit F2 only to have CWX take over and send.

If I do FD next year and I go to a club site I'm bringing my flex.  No if ands or butts about it!  :-)
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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I spent a few hours at my club's FD site Saturdayfrom about 6-11 pm.
I made 110 CW contacts and about 10 SSB contacts, all on 40. I was the only one in the club who ran any CW that day.

The 40 station was a Kenwood TS-590 (not the newer SG model) it wasn't a bad CW rig, and the DSP filtering, while nowhere near the brick wall of my 6500, was much better than my old TS-850SAT.

The 20 Meter station was a Yaesu 897.

Both ran simple dipoles, about 15-20 ft. above ground.

What I noticed:

1) I felt almost blind, after having gotten used to the panadapter on my 6500! It felt really strange being restricted to tuning only by sound. As an S&P station, I always wondered how many stations I missed as I tuned past them while they were in listening mode and I never knew they were there...

2). The station was set up with the rig in front of me, and the laptop off to the right side. I had to adopt an operating style of tuning with the left hand, and hitting one of three CW memory send buttons with the left hand... and entering logging information with my right hand.....

They didn't have a CW interface cable between the computer and the 590. It would have helped. I had my Bencher paddles, but used mostly the CW memory function.

I missed my familiar operating. Setup...keyboard square in front, FlexControl on my left hand, mouse and keyerpaddles on the right, both hands available for the keyboard, dual monitors in front of my. Now THAT's a contest station!

3). The 590 was not nearly as easy to configure and adjust as the Flex station is....especially setting up the tx audio EQ and processor. The CW tone, sidetone, monitor level, filters, etc, were also more difficult to access. Even though many of them had knobs and buttons....most of them had two or three functions, and I had to have the user guide in front of me to drive it.
I realize that I would get used to it quickly, having driven many, many rigs over the course of 43 years. But it wasn't intuitive at all.

4). In spite of all this, I was able to have a lot of fun. Probably talker to the other members of the club more than I operated. But when I quit, my110 CW and 10-20 SSB contacts accounted for half the contacts and 2/3 of the points of out small operation up to that point.

My past 4 years behind the 6500's keyboard have been good training.
It wasn't a highly competitive event - lots of time take out to eat hot dogs and hamburgers, shoot the bull, and complain about the weather.

It was the first field day I have been able to operate in four years, due to vacation schedules.

Ken - NM9P
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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My fieldday setup 

- Flex-3000
- FlexControl
- Panasonic Toughbook CF-52
- GPS mouse (keeping exact time for JT65/9)
- SCS PTCIIIusb PACTOR controller
- Kelemen DP-8040201510 80-10m
- Generator and/or Battery

has been working for the last 4 fielddays and gets a lot of approval
from my friends.

I use this setup for EMCOMM (with the PACTOR controller)
and can work SSB/RTTY/PSK31 and JT65/9 all with one small setup,
where the CF-52 sits on top of the Flex-3k.
No problems with HF getting into the cables (I put out 100w max.).

The whole equipment fits into 3 watertight aluminium cases and the
time to set it all up is about 30 minutes max.

My Flex-6k5 stays warm and safe at home, of course ;-)

73, Alex - DH2ID
(Edited)
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Ernest - W4EG

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Super opening from the left coast: Cal, Arz,Tex, etc on 6 meters to Fla.  Unfortunately, they were not using Flex radios to hear me!
Had a great time 1D Northern Fla. 
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Michael Coslo

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I would love to be able to operate with my Flex, but my  club is pretty anti-SDR, and don't want to operate with anything but K3's. I did manage to get them to allow a 756 Pro 3. Yippee skippie.

I may decide to operate a FD without them, because I just don't find legacy radios without a way to see the entire band at all pleasant to use. Or the sound.
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DON

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Anti-SDR ?

Maybe time to look for another club.....

I set up my 6300 at one of the positions and folks really were impressed 
with the operation. The operating position was quite popular. I only got to 
run CW for a  few hours and then let other folks run whatever they wanted.
 I even got a couple of questions about where you
can buy one of these things.
(Edited)
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Steve W6SDM

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It's sad that people get like that.  There's probably a club out there that's still operating with tube radios.  Our club is okay with anything that you bring out and put on the air provided it doesn't cause interference with the other operators.

Thunderbird ARC in Phoenix has been operating a Flex Field Day for years.
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VE7ATJ

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Re: Anti-SDR -- while I understand that some are not comfortable without a 'knob' on their radio, I have to say that, while demo-ing our stations to new hams we were training for their tickets, EVERY ONE of the under-thirty crowd LOVED my Flex.  If it weren't for the entry price, they would ALL have gone for one.  A number have already purchased thumb-drive SDR's to play with.  And having the Flex Control just sealed it for a couple of them.  I'm sure they are saving their pennies to see if they can find a used one on the market.
Personally, I can hardly wait to show them SSDR 2.0 next year...
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Mark WS7M

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In reading this thread and thinking about ham clubs and what Field Day is about I realized that what was said above really is true.

While FD is a "contest" the emphasis is not on max contacts or high speed, but rather on public relations, social interaction, public awareness, etc.

If that is really the purpose then it also seems to make sense that it should be a showcase of abilities and technology.  By this I mean we should be demonstrating what we know and what we can do.

So it seems to me if a club is anti-SDR for Field Day they are missing the point of Field Day.  I would guess the "perfect" field day station would be one where all forms of the public got to come, see, and play with the technologies in the hobby.  GOTA is just one example but imagine the thrill a non-ham could get if you could demonstrate and let them work a ham sat or EME or see an SDR screen and have someone describe what you are seeing and how it sounds.

Guess I agree with the above.   Find a better club or try to educate them some if possible.
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Paul Lourd

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I operated a big Icom  (7600?) that had a band scope. Well, I suppose if thats all you got, its a band scope. Amazing how spoiled we get!! I managed to make a decent amount of SSB contacts, but without have the time to learn the 7600 and how to properly use the passband filters and all the other buttons I was lost.  But in fairness, this would be with almost any rig you have never used.  I may bring my flex 6300 next year!  But would need a great monitor for the sunny area we operate in.  WB2JVB
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Steve W6SDM

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Keep in mind that Field Day is supposed to be about getting ready for an "off-the-grid" emergency.  The most likely such emergency is a total failure of the power grid and the most probable cause of that is an EMP, naturally occurring or otherwise.  

I love my Flex but it's the least likely system to survive an EMP.  I can put my entire IC-706 go box in a Faraday cage.  It's much harder to do that with a Flex because you would have to put the computer, which doesn't usually run off of 12 volts, the monitor, which doesn't either, and the radio itself.  

But for straight out operating convenience, you can't beat a Flex.  Each time I use my Icom, I have to re-learn the multi-layered menus.
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Mark WS7M

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Remember that for radio to be a solution you'd need another guy with your wits to his put radio in a Faraday cage.

I think EMP is just one likely scenario.  Hackers could take down the power grid.  That is probably even more likely.
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KENT HUFFORD

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We ran a field day station on generators as 5A. We used 5 FLEX radios. 2 6500 on CW, 2 6500 on SSB, and one 1500(with a Ten-Tec amp)  on PSK 31. One of the SSB 6500 used a Maestro running on 12vdc cable. 

We did 1,082 SSB contacts and 1,072 CW contacts on wire dipole antennas. Tho, we did have a HEX beam for 20-10m for SSB. Also had a ICOM 7300 SDR for GOTA. 

The FLEXs ran great, no issues between them. The CW horse trailer was about 500 feet from the SSB trailer. The ICOM in the GOTA horse trailer had issues trying to find a band it could work.
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Mark WS7M

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I really hope I worked you... What was your club call?
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KENT HUFFORD

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K4NAB 5A SC
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Larry - WA7LZO

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This is the beauty of the 6600M. Next FD 2018, I plan to deploy a nice 6600M out in the boondocks, with a big 'ol battery, and no PC or monitor screen will be required. Yippee!!
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Steve W6SDM

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Ah, but the Flex does have knobs... available.  This is a fidget spinner for Flex owners.
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W9WLX-Chuck

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W9FK—2A—WI

We ran a Flex 6500 for the second year.  The radio performed flawlessly and no reboots were needed.  The excellent filtering made working a crowded 40 meters enjoyable.  I find operating the Flex much less fatiguing over a superhet rig.  Spending long hours operating is easy and enjoyable.

We had some great flexibility too.  One of our operators, WB9IXS, also a Flex owner, wanted to experiment using his config and accessory apps.  We swapped laptops, imported profiles, and he was up and running in a matter of minutes--seamless and painless.  Looking forward to the 6600 showing up at Field Day 2018.  Maybe additional Flexes too???

-Flex 6500 into 40m dipole running 40m/15m, CW and Phone

-Icom 7600 into 80m loop running 80m/20m/10m, CW and Phone

-Icom 7100 into 6m, 5 element beam and 6m Squalo, running 6m

-All logging done with N1MM Logger+

QSOs—1115

CW—573

Phone—542

 

6—143 Qs

10—76 Qs

15—181 Qs

20—198 Qs

40—447 Qs

80—70 Qs

-73, W9WLX, Chuck

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N6SRP

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3A-SF

This was the first FD for me, for my brother and for my father. None of us has much experience so our  goals were simply to learn, practice and have fun. I ran my 6500 while my brother and father each ran KX3s with panadapters. We didn't make a ton of contacts, but we certainly accomplished our goals.

A few observations:
  • I loved the 6500, even though the KX3s were using the PX3 panadapter, I was still able to find more stations more quickly and make more QSOs.
  • We were outside operating on a deck and during the afternoon, glare was a huge problem for me with a laptop screen.
  • We had two Buddipoles and one OCF dipole (40/20/10/6). The ATU in the 6500 is great, though I did notice that the ATUs in the KX3s seemed able to tune a few solutions that the 6500 wasn't able to manage. 80m with a low band coil on the buddipole can be a bit twitchy.
  • We ran on battery for part of the time and on a generator for part of the time. I'm running Parallels on a 15" Macbook Pro. This config worked fine with the generator, but it is a bit tough on battery. Once the internal battery goes, I had to run an inverter from our battery to charge the Macbook. The charger is 85 watts and seems to generate a chunk of heat. Needless to say, DC to AC back to DC isn't at all efficient. I wish that Apple made it easier to charge from an external battery. I have a 6600m reservation so this won't be an issue next year.
  • I slept from 130a-330a. When I came back out at 330a, I noticed that my brother had stopped using his KX3 and was using my 6500 :)
  • I truly appreciated the encouragement and positive feedback that other stations offered in FD QSOs. There have been many times when I hear stations admonish others for mistakes, accents, political views, etc.. I enjoyed that on FD everyone seemed to be part of a community.
  • With 100w on 40m I worked folks in STX, IL and Pac. We were right on the coast with mountains immediately to our east. Next year I may try to find a spot on the east slope of the Sierras.

Good times!!