ARRL Field Day 2015 Wrap-Up

Field Day. Is it a contest? An emergency preparedness exercise? Or a ham radio reunion? I like to believe it’s a bit of all three. My Field Day participation has definitely spanned all three descriptions, and I tend to feel most comfortable with the third.

After last year’s travesty, this year’s field day adventure was an absolute dream. The weather was perfect, equipment didn’t fail, and we got new operators on the air. I guess you can’t ask for very more.

2015 WVRA Field Day-4036I’m active with my local amateur radio club, the Wisconsin Valley Radio Association. We’re not hard core Field Day operators, yet the club’s been involved with setting up field day stations since 1935. So you’d think we’d know a thing or two about doing it right. I’m not going to say that we do the best job, nor make the most contacts. But what we are good at is getting out, demonstrating amateur radio and having a great time. This year’s field day was no exception. And that’s what the Field Day adventure should be all about.

2015 WVRA Field Day-4085Our Field Day chair was Joe, KD9CJX. Joe is a relatively new ham, he’d never participating in field day, let alone attended a setup, so everything was new for him. I think coming in with no expectations made for a better event. Our setup was a little smaller, we ran three rigs instead of the customary 4 or 5. Our two code operators were also back this year, pounding the brass most of the afternoon and into the evening.

2015 WVRA Field Day-4090Equipment setup was pretty straightforward. We had a Kenwood TS-850SAT on a tri-band HF beam, and the Kenwood TS-2000 on a end-fed inverted Vee antenna. The third rig switched between a ten meter Radio Shack on a dipole and a 2 meter on FM simplex. We also had a few demonstrations including Joe’s home built hockey stick VHF/UHF satellite antenna and Mark’s all-in-one ATV package.

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Conditions were difficult on the lower bands, but 20 meters and above was hopping. Saturday afternoon I had an excellent run on 15 meters catching W1AW, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico among others on the beam. 20 ran hot most of the afternoon and evening. 40 meters was noisy late into the evening and I did manage a few 75 meter contacts Saturday night. Sunday saw 10 meters come to life and I also checked into the area 75 meter HF net to pass my traffic for the bonus points.

2015 WVRA Field Day-4097So a bit about the reunion. Once the equipment was set up and we were on the air, we greeted plenty of visitors. Most of them hams themselves, they weren’t really interested in getting on the air, but certainly wanted to know what we were up to. Plenty of time was spent sitting around in the lawn chairs and chatting while the more dedicated hams kept our small number of rigs on the air. It was a casual, friendly atmosphere. And everyone involved was happy to be involved.

Contact wise, we made about 170 contacts over the weekend. Almost half on CW and the rest on phone. Not our highest level of achievement, but considering the poor conditions of the lower bands, enough to be satisfied with.

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We even had a bit of media coverage by both the local television stations. You can see the back of my head as I make contact with W1AW on 15 meters. Check out the video from Channel 7, WSAW:

How was your Field Day adventure? Was it a contest, exercise or reunion? Please feel free to share in the comments below.