Author Topic: Field Day 2017: an in depth look at my lessons learned!  (Read 1323 times)

Offline DonC

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Field Day 2017: an in depth look at my lessons learned!
« on: July 20, 2017, 01:58:23 PM »
So, Field Day was a blast! I thoroughly enjoyed setup, operation, and tear down! But there was a lesson or two to be learned!

1st of all, FD is a great time to test out different antenna, radio, and power setups. It's not just about the "contacts."

2nd, I got to test 3 different antenna setups. All, my antennas, and different configurations. All performed well for Field temporary setups. Each with their own advantages/disadvantages.

-HamStick dipole: quick setup, directional, definitely better to use 2 of the same band HamSticks vs. trying to make it a multiband setup, very narrow bandwidth: about 12 contacts made.

-W3EDP: setup a bit more challenging based on location, multiband, slightly stronger antenna: about 15 contacts made.

-Bluestar coil loaded vertical: easy setup, Omni directional, low noise, best performance of all 3 tested.

3rd, an auto tuner is your friend on FD. As an example, the HamStick dipole measured a 4:1 SWR with the meter, since it was hot outside, I didn't feel like messing with tuning the antennas. So, I left it as is. But the auto tuner tuned the antennas anyway and gave me a 1.4:1 SWR to operate with on the band I used.

4th, using a solar setup and battery bank was a good choice. My fully charged, 118ah deep cycle marine battery allowed me to operate the full Field Day at 100w power. At the end of the event, my battery still had a 60% charge. I unplugged the solar panels after about 3pm. I noticed a noise coming across my radio. I unplugged the solar panels and the noise went away and vice/versa. Come to find out, it was my charge controller. (An el-cheapo Chinese made $7 controller). When using the battery bank for emergency storm power, it's not a big deal. But using an HF radio for that length of time, was not a good choice. Long story short, I disconnected the solar panels and charge controller and connected the radio directly to the battery.

In summation, FD17 was a great event! I had loads of fun. I got to test lots of equipment under austere conditions, (rain, heat, cool, and direct/indirect sunlight, even a small bit of heat lightning off in the distance). Best of all, it was my own equipment and it performed seamlessly!
Most importantly, I got to learn how my equipment worked and I learned that I need to create a Field Day/portable radio kit to include a few spare parts, some tools, etc. I'm thinking a rolling cart with storage. The biggest part I need to buy is a spare power cord for my Icom 718 radio. One I can modify to attach directly to the battery. A friend of mine just happened to have one I could use.

-Don

Offline DonC

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Re: Field Day 2017: an in depth look at my lessons learned!
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2017, 03:38:47 PM »
I should also note that this Field Day was my 1st on my own without the benefit of my Elmer or using other Hams rigs! Yes, I was with my new Ham Club, but it was my equipment that helped our club do the best we've done in years! So I'm humbled, proud, and excited all in one!

Offline Carl

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Re: Field Day 2017: an in depth look at my lessons learned!
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2017, 03:52:11 PM »
  You paid great attention and learned a lot.
I like how the skills and tactics were of greater interest to you the getting maximum contacts.
In my first of many Field Days I was taught that if I could not make at least 72 contacts an hour someone else would replace me as radio operator because you had to keep up a high rate of contacts to "WIN" and if we won and sent in $14.95 each we would get a $5 coffee cup with our call signs on it.

  Even though I was needed to set up the many antennas for many hours in one of the hottest days of the year while the professional radio operators only showed up when rented air conditioned trailers were delivered and powered up...they left without helping teardown the site as they had done what was one of the every weekend contests and I guess this activity may have ruined such events for me as it still continues today as the locals teach the new Hams that 'contest' way of operating and I only get to 'save' a few ...like you.

  While it can and should be fun,often many lose interest in comparing and confusing contacts without conversation as being what Ham radio is about.
By poor example so many just give you the 'you're 5  9 thanks' I say thanks for what? Share your life with others ,find common man on most of the planet share the same kind of life that you have with the same goals and fears as you have. I now share DAILY with a 70 year old Japanese Ham over EchoLink what I have for breakfast and how his vegetable garden promotes his health and and what plans I have for my next meal...plus his weather and mine...he even knows my dogs name and asks about her as he tells me of his grandchildren..These memories outlast the 5  9 achievements of my 25 plus years as that is why I enjoy Ham radio and the pride I get when my Minions teach me things they have learned .

  I edit now with how slow I typed Don beat my post and I only saw his after I posted this. Good work Don.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Field Day 2017: an in depth look at my lessons learned!
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2017, 05:51:37 PM »
4th, [...] I unplugged the solar panels and the noise went away and vice/versa. Come to find out, it was my charge controller. (An el-cheapo Chinese made $7 controller). When using the battery bank for emergency storm power, it's not a big deal. But using an HF radio for that length of time, was not a good choice. Long story short, I disconnected the solar panels and charge controller and connected the radio directly to the battery.
[...]
Most importantly, I got to learn how my equipment worked and I learned that I need to create a Field Day/portable radio kit to include a few spare parts, some tools, etc.
8)!!!  After the fun-factor, the learning you describe is the best part.

Offline Carl

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