Field Day Praise

  • 1
  • Praise
  • Updated 9 months ago
  • (Edited)
I guess I made this a little long... Probably a few of you will TLDR this but it is praise for flex and how well it worked for my field day.

For quite a few reasons including two four pawed furry reasons I elected to op field day from home but use my generator for all power.

Like every other field day I have been involved in it has been an adventure with various things that went wrong.

First, I spent evenings during the last week to run new coax, spiff up the wire antenna, move my amp and tuner out to a shed near the antenna etc.

So Saturday morning arrives.  I haul out the generator, give a few pulls and it fires right up!  I'm thinking ok!  This is going to go well.  So I plugged one cord into it to snake over the shop with the tuner, amp etc.  I get to about 5 feet of the shop and run out of cord.

Ok no problem.  Just move the generator a little.  Walk back.  Pick up the pull handle (its one of those generates on wheels).  Walk about three feet towards the shed and suddenly it coughs and dies.  Go the rest of the 5 feet, set it down and pulled and pulled and pulled and it refused to start.

Ok perhaps I'm 1D this year.  Head back into the shack, test a few things and at about 10am mountain time I go back out and generator starts on the first pull.  I plug in the cord to the shed, I get my cord for the shack and as you might guess it's about 10 feet short.  Damn... didn't plan any of this very well.  Run up to the garage find another cord and extend it.

At about 10:30am I finally try everything on the same circuit.  So far so good.  When I used my amp even at about 1/4 power I can hear the generator just struggle so I figure I'm going to be running about 200w max.  I personally like to use the amp even if the power output is fairly low as it saves the finals in the Flex.

Ok everything set, shutdown the generator.  Go and have some breakfast finally and relax a little.  

Start time arrives.  Pull the generator.  Nothing.  Again, nothing.  Ok back to 1D perhaps...  One more pull and it fires off.  Check the tank, its full.  Head inside and boot everything up.  All alive and well.

Head over to 40m CW and it looks very busy.  So I starting working my way though from the bottom of the band up.  On CW I'm using S&P mode as I'm not good enough yet to run a pile up.

I learned a few things:

1) I love the SDR but the mouse is not the best tuning tool.  I was using N3FJP software and if I'd had a control to tune with my left hand I could have typed mostly with my right hand and been faster.  Ok point for next time.

2) I have let my CW skills go.  For the first two hours I struggled to copy things and often had to wait on frequency after my contact to be sure I had the call and section right.  That slowed me down a lot.  But by the time Sunday morning rolled around I found I was copying about 30 wpm without a problem at least for call signs, class and section.

4) Now that my code copy was better I took to expanding the pan way out so I was looking at the space between signals and I actually found and copied and worked quite a number of low power and weak stations right in between the big signals.  I have to credit the flex.  With just the regular filters I was able in almost every case to find a combination that would copy.   Having the pan in this expanded form I was able to easily hop from signal to signal and since I could again read code quickly determine if I should wait around.  At one point my QSO / hour rate approached 84.  Most of the time however it was down around 30ish.

5) I stayed on 40m until midnight working CW, some phone, then back to CW.  I am not sure what happened but I woke up with my head on the desk at 8am.  So I missed an entire block of time just cause I passed out.  What made it bad was that sleeping in that position was painful but my shack cat Haley who weighs in at about 10 pounds decided to climb up and sleep at the base of my neck between my shoulders.  When I woke up I could barely move.  So I took a break for some coffee, a little angry I'd slept the entire night away because 80m had looked pretty good before I passed out and then got back to work.

6) I kept missing the ARRL bulletin times.  I know my score would be pretty bad being my first time, single op, bad antenna (comparatively) etc.  So I really needed that 100 points.  I managed to catch the Sunday 10:00am digital broadcast.  This is where I had to really applaud the Flex.  I didn't know what propagation would be so I opened 4 pans and set the frequency and DAX on each then setup fldigi ready to receive.   I ended up getting good copy on rtty on 18.1025.   But with a flex you can open the pans and pick the best one!  It is a lot harder to do that on anything but an SDR.

7) I jumped around from band to band trying to get as much in as possible.  At around 12pm mountain time everything just died.  I mean 20 meter CW which had looked like a very nasty pointy mess of signals was suddenly flat except for a few.  There were huge gaps.  It was so bad I checked the clock to make sure I had not missed time and it was over.  I even went out and looked at my antenna.  There was just nothing happening.  So I practiced running my own small pileup.   I found a quiet part of 20 and on Phone called CQ FD.  I got probably 35 contacts and at times had 3-5 stations calling at one.  Good practice.  But I was starting to slur my words.  I was pretty tired.  I'd made the mistake of staying up Friday night til mid-night then worked FD till about 1am Saturday, slept on the desk, then continued on Sunday.  I was sore tired and it was begging to show.  I even by mistake called CQ FD CQ FD and gave the call of my last contact.  sigh...

So anyway I had a ball.   The flex is great.  My score probably sucks horribly.  I had a lot to learn, fell a sleep, had my share of problems.

Oh ya I forgot to mention that my generator ran out of gas twice both times right in the middle of trying to finish a contact so I'm down two contacts due to poor generator management. LOL.

CW contacts: 257
Phone: 116
Digital: 8

And I did get the bulletin.  Not even sure this score is worth sending in.  I know I get a few bonuses here and there but man it seems pretty bad.

The N3FJP software shows you what sections you get and don't get.  Seems there were some that were just not around:

NNY, PR, VI, MS, NM, EWA, WV and a bunch in Canada.

I was suprized NM was not around as I know lots of hams that live in that area.  MS drove me crazy.  I found two stations reporting from MS but both could not seem to hear me.  One:  n5oo seemed not to hear anyone at all!  Everyone was calling that guy but he just kept CQing.  I think he might have been a big station and perhaps his receiver was getting swamped.

Anyway it was a good event to learn on.  I've got a long way to go but I'm hoping that perhaps next year I'll do FD with a club and actually contribute.  But I'll have to bring my flex.  That is all there is to it!

Mark - WS7M
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Mark WS7M

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Posted 9 months ago

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Dave Gipson

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Made me smile :)
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Mark WS7M

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I'm glad!   It was an adventure.
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Gary Johnson

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I am soooo looking forward to my new 6600M for next FD.


Gary J
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Dave KD5FX

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I greatly missed my Flex 6300 at FD with our group. Had to run an old Icom PRO746 (or something like that). It had NO TALK POWER. I really missed the ESSB! Plus the sharp filters on the Flex for receive. Maybe next year I'll run remote from home. E.G. I'll be at the club FD site and I'll operate the Flex at home, oh wait, there's probably some rule against that....