A cold weekend in FN13, on the site of Winter field day, Central Square NY. Tempetures ranged from 30F during daylight hours to 7F during evening and night time. A very cold weekend.
Field day consisted of food, fun and festivities in winter weather under conditions that were not luxurious, more like SHTF conditions, but enough to call home for a weekend a year.
This year I have dubbed this field day “Trial by frostbite.” This connotation was meant only to be funny at first, but later turned into a very interesting affair of QRP, Antennas and sleeping in bitter cold conditions.
Our radio shack was a derelict truck refrigerator unit (refer) repurposed as a storage unit. In this provided shelter and warmth. Coax was run from our antennas outside through a makeshift hole through insulated walls.
Brown: makeshift 2m Jpole
Green: Hole for coax
Here is our antenna layouts.
Andriy’s (KD2KUB) Antennas
Yellow: Random Wire (53′) 9:1 Unun
Red: Buddypole set up for 10m
Green: Wolf River Coils 213″ Stainless Steel Whip for 20m.
Steve’s (KD2ETP) Antennas
Green: Off-Center fed Dipole
The challenges encountered with antenna placement was to primarily reduce or negate any out-of-band interference between our transceivers. This setup worked remarkably well for that purpose.
Coax lengths also proved to be a challenge since random lengths and types were used. Simulating using only what we had on-hand and any failures had to be dealt with or “Lived With.” There were no major failures!
What we learned about verticals is that tuning them for good SWR can be done using counterpoise wires. Bundling them together (shorter) can really decrease SWR when adjusting radiating element proved to be ineffective.
The Buddypole worked very well and was entirely flat for all of 10m.
Station setups are another story.
Andriy’s (KD2KUB) Station
2 coax inputs for random wire and buddypole / vertical
RED: Icom IC705
Green: ZM2 ATU antenna tuner
Not in Picture: 4Ah Battery.
Steve’s (KD2ETP) Station
Operations were plentiful on 80m, 40, and 20m with sporadic work on 17m, phone and CW. When evening time came (approx. 22:00 ET) Band conditions became poor. Below is a snapshot of absorption conditions. As you can see that east coast had poor conditions.
- Coax gets stiff in very cold weather. Think of a garden hose frozen and full of water. Knots are difficult to get out.
- It gets cold when going to number 2.
- Sleeping in a tent is fun, but lots of insulation and proper sleeping bag is needed.
- Have lots of great food and some junk food.
- Making contacts can be boring. Work multiple modes and operating styles.
- Working QRP is fun. Not all of the time 100w is needed.
- I used a 4Ah battery for over 18 hours and it worked very well. Did not need 30Ah using QRP.
- Don’t put full stock in VOACAP predictions.
- Don’t carry a butane lighter, use a white gas / gasoline (Zippo) Lighter.