Field Day 2015

the least half-assed WN1MB/1 ever

The annual frenzied trip up Route 263 to Platt Hill State Park for the usual last minute Sunday noonish ill planned Field Day was not to be this year. Having had some out-patient yet activity limiting surgery performed on Thursday prior to the event, an alternative plan was in order.

However, it wasn't bleak doom and gloom.


For the month of June this year, I had been staying at a waterfront cottage on Winsted's Highland Lake. Talk about a prime location! So I decided just to stay put in my "already portable" location and operate Field Day from there. Though nit pickers may criticize this arrangement as not being in the true spirit of Field Day, in my defense I'll say that the equipment (QRP) was run from emergency power and the antenna was both makeshift in construction and temporary in its installation. So there!


With one exception, the station consisted of the usual: Ten Tec Argonaut 505 transceiver, MFJ-482 keyer, Brown Brothers CTL-B paddle/pump combo, and a couple of 7AH gel cell batteries. The exception to the norm (or replacement, or improvement) was a recently homebrewed antenna tuner. Gone is the Rube Goldberg C-L-C tee network kludge: my slapdash, low budget version of Lew McCoy's classic Ultimate Transmatch.

In its place is a spiffy new homebrew L-network tuner. For those interested, there's a detailed run down of the new ATU here.


This years "RF Antler" was strikingly similar to last year's, though a tad longer. Who said all things shrink with age? heh. The radiator was 60 feet of insulated speaker wire; the counterpoise was 30 feet of the same type wire. Nothing fancy - just some Home Depot speaker wire which the conductors were separated. Inexpensive, readily available, and effective. Period.

The radiator was pulled into inverted L position after launching a mason's line well up into (and out of!) a tree's branches. The counterpoise wire was simply run along the ground in the opposite direction of the horizontal portion of the inverted L. Easy peasy.

Both radiator and counterpoise wires were run into the cottage over a convenient window sill with the sash lowered to hold them in place. Running QRP allows for such a low tech, slapdash feedthrough method.


Having once operated a serious 2B QRP effort way back in the 1980's with Ed Hare, W1RFI (then KA1CV), now I just like Field Day to be a little fun operating on the weekend away from the home set up. So I'll admit upfront that my initial goal (if you can call it that) was very lame: 10 QSO's per band, 80 through 10 meters. I figured it was easy enough to attain and any count beyond the goal would be a bonus.

However, Murphy saw to it that operating two of the five bands was not to be.

On 80 meters, the transmitter would load into the antenna, but the receiver was deaf. On 10 meters, the transmitter and receiver peaks didn't coincide on on Argonaut's RESONATE control. The conditions on 10 were punk anyway; at least when I listened.

Of particular note is how strong 15 meters was and how late into Saturday night the band was still open. Fun stuff!

the numbers

There were 25 Q's on 40M; 32 Q's on 20M; and 10 Q's on 15M - for a not-so-grand total of 67 contacts. If one were to want to play with the numbers, it could be said that means an average of 22.333 Q's per band - over twice the admittedly lame goal that was set, at least on a "per band" basis. On a "total Q's" basis, 67 Q's amounts to surpassing the, ahem ... admittedly lame goal that was set by a whopping 34 percent.

It's all a matter of reference -- from which plane one views the stats.

Other numbers include working 24 states and 32 ARRL Sections. Not too shabby for such a low key operation.


I have a great deal of respect for traditions. They are glue that holds many aspects of life together. However, there's one tradition which I'm glad to see broken. It just so happens to be the sub-title for this little essay: "the least half-assed WN1MB/1 ever"

The two Field Days prior to this year's effort were sad, poor excuses for what Field Day could and should be. Zero planning. No goals. Minimum effort. Lazy attitude.

Although 2015's numbers aren't impressive (at least in a positive sense) to perhaps the vast majority of Field Day types, FD '15 sure was a blast for me! And the tradition of half-assedness has been broken. For now. We all know how half-assedness can insidiously creep back into things. I'll see how the planned WN1MB/2 operations go on this year's camping trip in the Adirondacks come September.

Stay tuned!