First off‚ did everyone have a great Field Day? I know after getting home and reading comments online and in forums that there is a bit of grumbling about the 1D or home stations on commercial power. There certainly as a large amount of activity from big home stations that made it difficult for the field and QRP stations to survive. Field Day is always a train-wreck on 20 and 40 meters so it takes a bit of skill and finesse to work QRP or with limited resources on those bands. I think the rule waiver was a good thing for this year but I believe the league will most likely make a different or more equitable adjustment if it is required for next year’s event.
One thing to consider with Field Day is that it is not a contest although it is treated as such. The purpose is to show off our emergency preparedness skills as amateur radio operators. One thing to consider is how suboptimal conditions will affect the performance of getting a signal out. And those conditions could also entail high amounts of RF activity or QRM on the bands. So if Field Day left you frustrated‚ please use this as a learning experience so you can better adapt and be ready for the next time.
With that‚ I did receive a few questions on my Field Day 2020 video that I want to catch up on.
Jeff asks: What program did you use to show the locations of your contacts? Not the state map but the red lines to each contact location?
I generated my contact maps with an online service called QSOMAP.ORG. This website allows you to upload an .ADI file from your logging program and generate a variety of maps to help visualize your contacts from a contest‚ activation‚ or some type of special event. While the service is free I highly recommend you donate a few bucks if you find their service useful as the developers have invested quite a bit to make this highly useful service available.
Eric says: Do you think that dust storm caused the noise on 40 and 80 meters? Lots of operators including me in Mo were affected by it.
There was quite a bit of static on the lower bands. I know there was some rain in the lower midwest and I wasn’t sure if the dust storm was affecting my propagation as it hadn’t reached wisconsin by Field Day time. But Eric then sent me a link that showed some research in how dust storms create lightning from static electricity. I’ll put that in the description too. It’s a short and fascinating read and I suppose that even though sand is an insulator‚ much like you would generate a static charge by rubbing a glass rod with a silk cloth‚ wind blowing against sand particles could do the same thing. I guess I’m going to have to read more about this.
A couple of people asked about the trailer. Gary says: Hi Michael, did you make your camper or is that a factory built?
The little camper is a TC Teardrops 5×8 camping trailer. They’re custom built in my hometown of Wausau Wisconsin so I’ve gotten to know the owner pretty well. This is the third year we’ve used it camping and I’ll tell you that I’m not going to switch back to a tent. It will go just about anywhere and fit on almost any campsite. Plus I can have it fully loaded so that all I need to do is fill the cooler and grab a change of clothes‚ and I’ll be on the road. I but the website link for TC teardrops in the video description below if you are interested in more information.
Wrapping up on Field Day‚ I forgot to mention that Flambeau River State Forest is a Parks on the Air entity‚ K-4349. So I’ll also be uploading all my contacts to that site so everyone will also receive POTA credit.
Moving on‚ the 80 meter off center fed dipole antenna was an integral part of my Field Day setup this year and did receive a few questions about it. Including this one from Souta95:
I see a lot of people saying that you need a 4:1 current balun for this and a warning not to use a voltage balun for an OCF Dipole, but nobody seems to have a clear explanation as to why or what happens if a voltage balun is used.
Briefly‚ a voltage balun delivers voltages equally but in opposite phases along the radiator. A current balun delivers current equally in opposite phases along the radiator. A voltage balun may be a good choice for dipole antennas where the radiators are equal lengths because if they aren’t symmetric‚ then common mode currents may occur. A current balun is good for filtering out common mode currents so it works well with asymmetrical antennas like the OCF dipole. You can use a voltage balun with an OCF dipole‚ but you will then also need ferrite chokes on your feed line to limit common mode interference. Using a current balun eliminates the need for the choke.
Bill asks: Same formula work for 40-10.
Yes it does. If you don’t have the space for an 80 meter dipole‚ you can make a 40 meter version just as easy. Calculate for a 40 meter dipole using the formula 468 divided by 7 mhz. Overall length will be 67 feet so split the wires into two segments of ⅓ and ⅔ length. You’ll still use the 4:1 balun at the feed point.
Peter asks What antenna tuner are you using?
For a long time I’ve been using an MFJ-945C portable tuner that I picked up a long long time ago at a hamfest. It’s a good little tuner and has served me well‚ but I was looking to upgrade my portable kit with an auto tuner so I recently purchased an LDG Z11 Pro2 auto tuner. It’s more compact than the MFJ and I also don’t need to fiddle with the controls when changing bands with my new Off Center Fed dipole or the chameleon MPAS2. You can put a battery pack inside the tuner but for convenience I put a 2.5 mm power plug on a 9 volt battery connector. This works great for powering the tuner as it requires very little power for operation and I then don’t need to mess around with opening the case or tapping power off my main battery for the radio. I’ll can do a video comparing this with a manual tuner if anyone is interesting in seeing that.
Cliff asks: Do the end of each leg need to be the same angle from the feed point?
No they don’t. You can deploy the off center fed dipole in a variety of configurations; the most common is the inverted vee and then the flat top if you have the support. In my test run I had it as a V but for Field Day the short segment was flat with the center connector and the long side was more in a Vee configuration. This was mainly due to what I had available for adequate tree support.
And this leads us into the next question. Since we are talking about portable antennas and such‚ Brent comments on the Chameleon EMCOMM III video I did last year: Do you have to use all of the 75 feet of wire to use the antenna? So a small campsite may not be enough room?
This can certainly be a concern if you don’t have the space‚ especially if you are set up in a small campsite or park. You can let the wire on an end fed antenna droop down or even dog leg it another direction so that it fits in the space you have available. Just don’t let the element touch the ground. Any non-standard deployment may affect your radiation pattern or SWR a bit‚ so be sure to check things out with a meter and make adjustments as necessary.
That’s it for my Field Day after action report and follow up for this month. Did you have any Field Day lessons learned? Please share them in the comments below- maybe what happened to you can help out someone else. I’ll filter through them and keep the conversation going. Maybe one will even show up on the next your questions answered video.
But for July‚ I have a pretty active month ahead of me. Starting off with the 13 colonies special event. I’m about halfway through making contacts with all 13 colonies. This has been a fun activity trying to break through pile ups with my little station. I’ve got a couple camping trips planned this month so you may see another activation video and I’m challenging myself to ride my bike 500 miles this month. I got a slow start this season with the pandemic and poor weather so I need to pile on the miles. Who knows‚ maybe we’ll get a ham radio bicycle video out of it.
But before we end‚ I have a question for you. One of the methods of support for this channel is the advertising revenue generated on youtube. I won’t lie to you- the ad revenue I receive is significant enough that it pays for expenses and production costs and helps invest in gear that I use in making the videos. But I know this can cause a sub-optimal viewing experience‚ especially if the ads are in the middle of things. If I were to limit the number or frequency of the ads on a video‚ would you be willing to support the channel through either direct donation or patreon? With the Patreon model I could offer early ad-free releases of each video and also more behind the scenes content. Let me know your thoughts either in the comments below or in this quick little poll that I’ll throw up in the corner of the screen. No matter what‚ I do thank you for watching and your continued support.