Field Day 2020: emergency perspective

Field day is suppose to be about promoting amateur radio, with a slight bit of contesting to work toward bragging rights on who is better than another, and most importantly, fun!

This year, as 2020 faced a Black Swan, our whole perspective changed and so did ARRL’s Field Day. We were no longer in a field day situation like previous years and hope was lost that clubs (Especially RAGS) would get together as a family. The ARRL did a “bang up,” job (that means great), getting designations and amended guidelines together for what everyone could call “A Field Day.”

This year, I knew I would be doing field day and at some capacity at Steve KD2ETP’s secluded corner of Central Square (FN13vb). I had a mindset to do what I had not done before in previous Field Day events, Run QRP and on Solar / Battery.

Running QRP meant a different style of operating:

  • Actually using my S Meter and picking out stronger stations
  • Not Calling CQ
  • Hollering “QRP!” over and over again.
  • Accept that a majority of stations would not hear me
  • CW would be prime and most effective communication mode (digital was too much of a battery hog on battery).
  • using VOX (never really used it before)
  • Running logging software on a battery hungry surface pro.
  • Not being comfortable
  • Dealing with Weather Conditions ever changing

This list goes on and on.  To give readers some perspective, Operators were in a very wooded area with compromised antennas strung up in trees as Tarzan would have his vines. Nothing was perfect, everything was makeshift.  Was this really field day? Was this how field day was intended to turn out?

Our antennas were most definitely compromised. I was running a 9:1 unun “random wire antenna,” and KD2ETP was using a G5RV. Neither antenna was at optimum height and were broadside one another. Interference and QRM a plenty.

Our stations were set up as comfortably as possible.  I was running an Yeasu FT 891 (5w). and I had a backup of a FT 818 (5w). Both radios even at 5w, still consumed 2Ah on transmit, but had the least likely chance of consuming less battery and allowed me to run 20 + hours.  KD2ETP had more battery power than I could possibly carry and was running a 300W Linear with a Icom 7200, Heil Mic Included.

There were no shining stars on this 2B station, but we did eat like kings.  Chicken roasters, Top round roasts, hamburgers, sausage and hot dogs wafted their aroma in the rainy breeze flocking a few other individuals to our station for a meet and greet.

We all had a blast given wet conditions we had. Our stations remained dry and contacts were relatively on-going.

What would I had done differently? I should have ran CW even if it was with my K1EL K44 Keyer. I decided to run a some FT4 and a regrettable mistake as only a few contacts, including K9CHP were made, and battery power on my logging computer was near 1 hour remaining. I also should have brought a better setup and less gear.

With all that said, a possible ~670 points were made toward RAGS.

Lets see what happens next year.

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