Field Day 2014

keeping the tradition half-assed

Talk about half-assed: this rundown of the WN1MB/1 2014 Field Day operation hits the Internet before the 2013 rundown does. I should be ashamed of myself, but I'm not. When it comes to tradition, one can't be half half-assed about it...

Here's your half-assed report. Enjoy.


Though I had scoped out Dennis Hill State Park as a possible site for Field Day, I decided to stick to the familiar haunt of nearby Platt Hill State Park in Winchester - the site of last year's half-assed endeavor. Though Dennis Hill is very nice and there's a huge open air building from which to operate and not be at the mercy of the weather, antenna considerations ruled it out.


Everything was pretty much the same as was used in last year's effort: Ten Tec Argonaut 505 transceiver, MFJ-482 Grandmaster keyer, Brown Brothers CTL-B paddle/key combo, 12 volt 7 AH gel cell battery, and homebrew antenna transmatch. All that and miscellaneous wire, adapters, and coax fit in one manageable box for transport.

setting up

Upon arrival at Platt Hill at about 10:40 AM Sunday, it took virtually no time to unpack the car, unpack and set up the gear, and get about launching a wire up into a tree. We're talking 15 minutes, max. The gear stopping wrench turned out to be antenna launching.

I had my trusty slingshot, fishing rod, reel, and sinkers, but the first several attempts failed due to the fishing line fouling. I was using the entire fishing rod leaned up against the picnic table, which turned out to be the mistake. Removing the top half section of the rod and only using the base half section stopped the line from fouling. With that problem solved, it was a snap to get a line way the frig up in the air and over a tree limb. Fortunately, there was just enough weight to the sinker to get the line to drop to the ground. Any less weight wouldn't have cut it. From there it was tie on some brightly colored mason line, reel in the fishing line, then tie the antenna wire to the mason line and hoist the wire. All this nonsense took entirely too long - perhaps 30 minutes.

Oh yes - the antenna was approximately 55 feet of stranded, insulated, 18 gauge wire. Nothing fancy at all. The wire was tuned with my homebrew C-L-C "tee" configuration transmatch - a low budget yet highly effective version of the Lew McCoy Ultimate Transmatch. And about 30 feet of wire and clip leads comprised a single ground radial.


All contacts were on CW as I don't own a microphone, nor do I want one. The first log entry was at 11:26 AM on my favorite band, 40 meters with W8NP in Ohio. Logged another contact at :26, one at :27, and two at :30. Not a bad rate for a half-assed, last minute effort and an equally half-assed antenna system. And QRP, to boot! From there, though, things slowed down - which was just fine with me.

A few folks came hiking through the park and asked some questions, which I was more than happy to answer. Besides an operating event to test remote emergency set up conditions, it's also an opportunity to turn some folks onto the hobby itself. And it's also supposed to be a fun event - not a contest. So QSO rate be damned.

At around 1 PM things started to really slow down, as I imagine the more serious Field Day folks had pretty much had their fill and were tearing down. I did the search-and-pounce between stints playing ham radio ambassador to hikers, but called it a day after the 2:37 PM contact with WB9EGZ in Wisconsin on 20 meters. Being a third shifter, I had to think about getting some shut eye before the night's 10 PM start of the work week. Ugh!

all things must pass

So I tore everything down, packed everything into the car, drove home, unpacked the car, dragged everything up to the apartment, unpacked and set everything back up, took a shower, and headed off to bed. It had been a fun, half-assed adventure in the true, half-assed tradition of last year's half-assed effort.

Do you note a trend developing here?

lessons learned

As noted in the station log, for the next portable operation:

1) Buy more fishing sinkers. Fecal matter happens. Better to have more than needed than not enough.

2) Cellphones suck as clocks - expecially the flip type phones, which the LG-430G is. Consider a cheap, small, digital, stick-on affair to plaster on the face of the Argonaut.

(editor's note: #2 resolved with the purchase of a snazzy, new wrist watch.)

And with that, I'll leave you with two quick shots of some Platt Hill flora:



(Photos taken with the camera function of an inexpensive LG430G cellphone)