Charlie Pitchford, N4QET
A simple setup is enough for an enjoyable Field Day.
Normally in late June I celebrate my anniversary and travel for family vacations, but 2012 was different. As a recent retiree, every day is a vacation day and in 2012 my spouse was out of the country on family business. That being the case, I thought that I should see what Field Day was really all about.
I have been a ham for 25 years and prior to last year I had participated in Field Day only once — several years ago when my local ARES group gathered at a local park for the day. Therefore I had a very limited file of previous Field Day plans to draw from.
My first task was to check out the ARRL® website to learn what the different classification numbers and letters meant. I was very impressed with the extensive array of Field Day information that was available, and the website presented it in clear and simple terms. As I got more comfortable with the rules, I could feel my excitement build and I began to formulate my plans.
With a basic 100 W HF radio, portable antenna and emergency generator on hand I decided to operate as Class 1B (one transmitter, portable). To keep it simple I set up at my own house and operated only SSB. Yes, I am considered portable, whether I have hauled my station and accessories 100 miles or 100 feet.
I brought the generator out of storage and located it 100 feet away from my operating spot. The distance of 100 feet was significant — it is the length of my extension cord. The antenna was a new Buddipole. I had purchased it with the intention of using it for an RV station during camping trips. So I placed my rig, microphone and foot switch on my deck and mounted the Buddipole in the dipole configuration nearby. That was my entire Field Day station.
All Hams on Deck
My first log entry was made at 1815 UTC. I was quite pleased that I had completed setting up and was operating within 15 minutes of the start of Field Day. I was off and running on 40 meters.
Not surprisingly the band was saturated with signals. There was not a quiet spot on the entire SSB segment. The tuning dial became an extension of my fingers as I worked it back and forth across the band.
Three hours later I took my first break. Operating portable from one’s own deck has its advantages. Food and water were right at hand and an air conditioned escape from the ever present Georgia heat and humidity were just a few feet away in my living room.
After being energized by the coolness of conditioned air and nourished from a quickly prepared meal of macaroni and cheese, I was back on the air. The 40 meter band was still packed from end to end with the sound of “CQ Field Day.” I kept my antenna configuration the same. My fingers were repositioned back on the dial as I grabbed my log and pencil and listened for a new call sign. I worked the 40 meter band for a few more hours before I called it a night.
Easy Up, Easy Down
The next day brought more of the same. With occasional breaks, I kept a steady but casual and relaxing pace going until my 24 hour operating period was over. Packing up was as easy as setting up; 15 minutes and my teardown was complete.
I counted up my log sheets and found that I had made 74 contacts. While the “point hounds” may not be impressed because I didn’t establish a heart pounding contact per minute rate, copy an ARRL bulletin, invite a dignitary or send a message to my section manager, I did accomplish my goal. I planned and successfully executed a portable Field Day station, made numerous contacts and had a blast with this wonderful hobby called Amateur Radio. I’ve already checked next year’s calendar and confirmed that there won’t be a conflict with our anniversary. Now I just have to wait through a whole year’s anticipation!
Charlie Pitchford, N4QET, was first licensed as a Novice in 1986. As an Amateur Extra class license holder, he enjoys ragchewing and chasing DX on the HF bands. Charlie is retired following a 29 year career with the YMCA of Albany, Georgia and in The State YMCA of Georgia. He serves as assistant emergency coordinator for Bartow County ARES and also volunteers with the American Red Cross Disaster Services. Charlie can be reached at 281 Holly Springs Rd NE, White, GA 30184, firstname.lastname@example.org