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2014 ARRL Field Day

06/30/2014 | WD9EWK

After missing the 2013 Field Day, I wanted to work Field Day this year.  Unfortunately, I could not get out of town for the weekend, so I did my usual portable Field Day effort from my back yard.  I used the same gear I would have hauled to Field Day as my 1B/1-operator/battery setup, since I am not permitted to put up antennas for a ham station on my house.  

After reading that NA1SS would be working some passes at the start of Field Day, I set up my normal FM satellite station (Icom IC-2820H, Elk Antennas handheld 2m/70cm log periodic, 12V/26Ah jumpstart battery), verified that the transmit power was set to LOW (5W), and called for NA1SS starting at 1813 UTC.  About 5 minutes later, NA1SS was replying to my call, and my mobile phone started to blow up with lots of congratulatory e-mails, SMS messages, and tweets from satellite operators across the USA.  This contact does not count for the 100-point bonus for completing a satellite QSO, which would come later, but it was fun!  My QSL request for an NA1SS QSL is already on its way to ARRL. :-) 

A few hours later, with more shade in my back yard, I set up my HF station - a new Yaesu FT-897D complete with autotuner and two internal battery packs, and a Buddipole dipole on its portable mast and tripod.  As with my IC-2820H, I set the transmit power to 5 watts.  Although I heard signals on the HF bands plus 6m, I only made a few QSOs on 15m and 6m SSB. I only operated for a couple of hours, but was happy with the performance of the FT-897D in a portable setup.  

In the evening, around 0400 UTC, there was an SO-50 satellite pass covering the west coast and moving to my north.  I put my IC-2820H and Elk log periodic back out in the yard, and tried to get through the chaos.  I could occsaionally hear myself, even at the 5-watt power level, but there were many stations trying to get through.  I was able to complete a quick exchange with Ron VA7VW in British Columbia, and answer a call from W6KA in northern California, before the satellite went out of range.  The QSO with VA7VW gave me the 100-point bonus for completing a satellite QSO.

About an hour later, the AO-73 (FUNcube-1) satellite came up from my southeast, passing to my east before going over the horizon to my norh.  This is a satellite with a 20 kHz transponder, which requires the use of SSB or CW.  I set up my two Yaesu FT-817NDs, along with my Elk log periodic and jumpstart battery, for this pass.  The FT-817NDs have a maximum power output of 5W.  After several minutes, I completed a QSO with W5MSQ in Texas.  This was my only QSO on this pass, and was my final Field Day QSO. 

Along with the satellite QSO, I also claimed the 100% Emergency Power bonus (all radios were powered by batteries, which were not recharged during Field Day) and the bonus for submitting my Field Day summary using the online applet.  

I made a couple of YouTube videos with the audio from two passes of the International Space Station at the start of Field Day.  The first video is from the pass around 1815 UTC Saturday, which includes my very brief QSO with NA1SS:

This video has a few minutes' audio from NA1SS on the next ISS pass around 1953 UTC:

You can hear many call signs coming from NA1SS.  Thanks to Reid Wiseman, NASA, and ARISS for encouraging him to try the ham station in the ISS Columbus module during Field Day!