If you're anything like me you may have missed the fact that the Winter Field Day 2017 results were posted a while back. The website breaks down the entrants into the 3 main categories for posting results: Indoor, Home, and Outdoors. To see those results check out the Winter Field Day 2017 Results Page.
Based on those categories, I was in the "Outdoor" group, and I ended up in spot 77 out of 182. Last year the categories were done slightly differently, and in the group I was in, I was about 33 out of 40. I'd say I improved, considering that in the new groupings my score was up against all the multi-ops etc! I was curious though, how I fared compared to the same group I was in last year (Single Operator, Outdoor) so I grabbed the data and worked some pivot magic with Excel. In just the 1O group I was 41 out of 118 - a great improvement if you ask me!
Anyway, enough about me - it dawned on me that others might be interested in some more detailed groupings, results, and data evaluation. With that in mind, here are the results in some of the breakdowns that people might be interested in. At the end of this post you can also find the Excel file that I used to generate these results, in case you are data nerd too and want to play around with it. Lastly, I do have a typo on some of these, but it is just that - a typo, it doesn't actually change the scores or rankings, so I'm not going to bother fixing it, since it would take forever (I'm not even going to tell you what it is - we'll see if you catch it ;-) Enjoy!
Or, at least that's all the categories that I broke down - if you're a data nerd, you can probably think of even more ways to slice and dice this, but I figured this would cover the majority of what most people would want to see! If you want to do some of your own slicing and dicing, the files below are free for the taking: The first is a zip file of the PDF's of all of the tables above, and the second is the Microsoft Excel file that has the data and pivot table in it that you can feel free to play around with..enjoy!
WWFF Activation Report!
I haven't been out to do any portable operations for some time, primarily because I haven't had to do any work trips for a while. For me, the two things usually coincide. I just had another work trip to do that took me to our New York City office, which meant I also had the opportunity to do another activation! I'll warn you now - this post gets a touch sentimental at the end, but ham radio does that to me...
Liberty State Park KFF-1623
I used my normal bag of tricks when deciding which park to activate on this trip. I've written in the past about my methodology for choosing a park to activate, so if you're into that kind of thing you can read about it here. For some of my recent activations I have stayed inside of state parks, but for this trip I was staying at one of the standard chain hotels and driving in and out of the park in the evenings.
Since I wasn't going to be able to do one of my preferred portable setups, I did a little fiddling with my antennas. I wanted to use something a little more than just the hamsticks that I use while mobile, but I was going to be limited with what I could do because of time and space constraints associated with driving in and out of the park. The solution I ended up going with was to use parts of my Buddipole as a vertical antenna, in the ball mount on my car. I've touched on this before when I wrote about how I love the standards (specifically, the fact that most of our antenna bits use 3/8-24 connectors!) This time, I kept notes when I was fiddling around, in case someone wants to replicate it:
20 Meters: 2 antenna arms, 1 coil, tapped 13 windings down, and 1 of the standard telescoping whip sections (extended just short of 5 full sections)
40 Meters (voice portion of band): 2 antenna arms, 1 coil (not tapped), 1 of the standard telescoping whip sections (extended 4 sections), and 1 additional detail - verticals on cars at this frequency often need some assistance making a match. In my case I have an MFJ-907 unun installed the car (I talked about that here.) I also needed use that on it's "J" setting to match the antenna to the feed-line.
So how did the activation go? Awesome! The first evening I made 50 or so contacts, with a couple DX highlights: Portugal, and a Mobile in England.
The second night I made a handful of additional contacts, but I also had an additional DX contact that deserves special attention - ON7NQ. This was my very first DX contact on CW. While that in itself is special, what really struck me when I made it back to my hotel for the evening was this:
For me this was awesome. Not awesome they way we use it in every day language, but awesome in the sense of it's true definition - inspiring great admiration - because I feel like this contact represents the very heart of one of the purposes of ham radio, international goodwill. Here's why:
I'm very new to CW. I've only had my license since 2014, so I didn't have to learn code for my test, but I'm fascinated by it, and wanted to learn it. I'm still a complete noob though, struggling through contacts at 5 wpm. That's what makes this so fantastic. It was obvious to me that Danny took his time, and slowed way down from what he was accustomed too, in order to make this contact with me. He even worked through me sending the "?" character a couple times as I tried to work out his call. After we finally made the contact he even followed up with encouraging words on FaceBook, which was just spectacular.
Let's pause for a minute to reflect on this. As a contrast, I was walking the streets of NYC earlier the same day, which is one of the most diverse places in the US. Even in that diversity however, there isn't much goodwill happening. People are in a hurry, they push, they shove, we crammed onto subway cars, and the friendliest thing I heard anyone say was "Get out of my way!" With all the opportunity for interaction face to face, we often miss that chance. But here, on ham radio, someone I don't know, from another culture, who probably speaks a language I don't know much of (Ich spreche ein bischen deutsch, aber es ist nicht so gut...) treated me with patience, kindness and encouragement. Via ham radio, we are participating in international goodwill in a way that exceeds domestic goodwill. I love that I participate in a hobby where this is an every day occurrence! I can't say any more than that, so for now 73!
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This past Wednesday I woke up at 3:00am, with temperatures just under 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 C) and made my way to the Harrisburg Airport in my home state of Pennsylvania. By the end of the day I was setting up my radio equipment in Oleta River State Park for another WWFF-KFF activation just outside Miami, Florida, where temperatures were 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 C). It's nice to experience some warm weather in February!
For me, this was another one of my work trips that took me on the road. Since I was visiting our Miami office, I looked around at the parks that were on the list at the KFF web site. The Oleta River State Park is a little gem, kind of hidden just at the edge of Miami - I'm sure that a lot of people pass right by it without ever realizing it is even there. If you slow down to have a look, within just a few minutes of the hustle and bustle of both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale is this:
Another neat thing about this park is that for less than the price of most chain hotels, you can have a very unique experience staying in one of their small cabins:
While the less hardy folks out there might be worried about the rodent sized crack under the door, for me this made a simple, and perfect place to run coax out to my antenna! Once again, I was confronted with a situation where I didn't have any decent size trees within reach of the amount of feedline I have, so I used my buddipole mast to support my Quick and Dirty Feedpoint that I used to feed 2 inverted V dipoles - one for 20 meters and one for 40 meters. Because the soil here is a weird mix of sand / rock / coral I couldn't really use my ground screw that I normally use to anchor the center of my mast, so I made use of what was available - the picnic table!
So with that - antennas were up and ready to go, and I was able to start operating. With conditions being what they are, and my antennas being so close to the ground, most of my contacts were domestic, but I did have 1 with Italy (on 40 meters, with an antenna only about 12 feet of the ground!), 1 with the Azores, and 1 with Puerto Rico. The biggest highlight however, was my first ever CW contacts! My first ever CW contact was with Richard - W0IS [ed. Rick has his own blog! - www.onetuberadio.com check it out!] and my second came from Chuck - KO4SB. Thanks guys! Since I still didn't own a key (I just bought one today) I made those CW contacts using the Up and Down buttons on my mic via the "MicKey" option on my Yeasu 857d. If anyone wants to know how to do that let me know, because it isn't intuitive, and you have to have the settings on the rig just right - I'm willing to share so you don't have to mess around trying to figure it out like I did!
Because I like to have some "lessons learned" every time I do something like this, here's a list of some of the things I took away from this activation, that might help you if you do something similar (of course, you might be a pro, and already knew these things...)
I won't write too much about my Winter Field Day 2017 activation, other than to say it was blast! At the end of this post I included a video, so other than a few short comments, I'll let the video do the talking for me.
For my antenna I used my "Mast-From-Junk" even though I have trees in my backyard, mainly because I wanted to press it into service (but also because my little operator wanted to set up the mast!) I also used my "quick and dirty feedpoint" at the top of the mast. I did 2 inverted V antenna's - one for 40 and one for 20, perpendicular to each other, with the single feed-point, and it worked out great!
The last think I'll blabber about, before I get to the good stuff, is that I used one of these for heat, both last year and this year, and it worked out great!
They are awesome for this type of thing because they have a bunch of safety features (auto shut off if they tip over, if it senses low oxygen, etc. etc.) and they work well for "keeping the edge off" when you're in the cold (this year it was pretty warm for January - Mid 30's F during the day, only dropped to the 20's F at night.)
I use the optional extension hose to hook it to a larger propane bottle. If you do this like I do, be sure to get the filter, since it's hard to know what's in the propane, depending on where you get your bottles filled! I also keep an extinguisher handy just in case, but this heater has never given any reason to suspect I would ever need it!
Okay, so here's what you were all waiting for! My "Photo Video" of Winter Field Day in my back yard!
Thanks for watching, and 73!
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For those of you that live in, or frequent, Florida, you already know this, but for the rest of you out there, Alligator Alley is the nickname that is given to the stretch of Route 75 that runs through the Everglades and Big Cypress Nature Preserve. So why name a blog post after a highway? The simple answer is - because I activated it!
From January 30th - February 2nd, I had to make a work trip to Ft. Myers FL. When I started doing my standard search for parks nearby to activate, I started coming up with a lot of duds - the parks that were close ended up being a weird mix of places that close at sunset (which doesn't work out well for after-work activations), or places that you need a boat to access! Since I don't travel with a boat, those were out of the question. I was about to give up and just stick to activating the Holiday Inn, but instead I reached out the community on the POTA Facebook group and wasn't disappointed! Bob, KA9JAC, jumped in and said if you're willing to travel about an hour, Big Cypress is open 24 hours. That's all I needed to hear!
I packed up my backs (I did a a photo-journal style post a while back to show how I travel with my gear) and headed off to work! My plane landed pretty late Monday night, so I didn't really have time to operate but I did head out to the location that I had scoped out on Google Maps. At least that's what I tried to do....apparently I Googled wrong, and ended up somewhere else entirely, but I'm glad I did! Inside Big Cypress Nature Preserve is also the country's smallest post office (and yes, it is an actual, operating post office!)
I didn't set up here at all, but for anyone planning a future activation this would be a cool place to set up - it has a decent little parking area, after-hours there's not much traffic so you shouldn't be pestered too much, and it isn't too far off the beaten path. Just gas up before you start, because the closest gas stations close early in the evening!
So, Tuesday night, I managed to head to the location I initially planned. Right on Alligator Alley (Route 75) there are a couple trailhead parking area's and rest stops. I set up at one of the trailhead parking areas. This was a decent place to operate, but not the most scenic in the world. For me it was decent though - I set up my buddipole mast for a center support, and ran my 40 meter wire dipole parallel to the fence along the parking area, and tied the ends off to fence posts. As far as ham radio goes, it worked well, but a word of caution - bring bug spray! Right around dusk the swarms come out for a feeding frenzy. It doesn't last long but it's awful while it lasts!
During my first evening I managed 30 or so contacts from this location, on 40 meters. The highlight the first night was a digital contact with Venezuela! For the second night I found a much more scenic location in the preserve to operate. I even had visitors come and check out my antenna!
In addition to this visitor, one of the other visitors was an actual person - another tourist that stopped by and asked about my set up and what I was doing - he thought it was pretty cool, and even said "That's awesome!" when I told him I was making contacts with the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Puerto Rico. We may have a new convert to the hobby!
The location I chose for the second night was actually just down the road a little bit from the tiny post office. There is a roadside park called "HP Williams Roadside Park" that has a decent parking area, some benches, a small boardwalk for viewing, and even restroom facilities (but no running water, so no promises on what they might smell like in the heat of the summer!)
For night 2 I wised up and set up my station inside the back of the rental car (A jeep compass) and ran the wires through one of the windows, open just enough to let the wires through. I stuffed the opening with a spare t-shirt for good measure. I then spent the early evening operating from behind the vehicle with the tailgate up, and then when the swarm started coming I just jumped in and closed the tailgate, and kept operating until the feeding frenzy ended.
My only disappointment from this activation was that I didn't get into any CW like I had planned. Cell phone reception at this location was in and out, and I had to pack up and leave so that I could be back into an area with cell coverage before my nightly FaceTime call with my kiddo's at home (this is a tradition when I'm traveling - we do our bedtime stories and everything just like we would if I was home.)
With that, I'll wrap it up and leave you with a couple tid-bits, and some pictures:
Till next time!
- N3VEM -
Welcome to my Ham Radio Blog! This blog was started primarily to share my two concurrent shack builds - my mobile station and my home station. Over time, this has grown to include sharing about my operations, and general radio-related thoughts that I have as a newer operator.
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100 Watts and Wire is an awesome community, based around an excellent podcast.
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