Arrgh! See Ya Chum!
No no no, not radio pirates making illegal transmissions - I'm talking about peg-leg, eye-patch, hook-hand, swashbuckling pirates!
Now that I have finally finished up my Information System degree, my evenings and weekends are (hopefully) just slightly less busy, so I'm actually going to be able to participate in Field Day this year. The club I am a member of (well, usually a member, I think I still need to send in my dues for this year!) is the Red Rose Repeater Association in my home-town of Lancaster PA. This year, Doug, W3COB, volunteered to coordinate things for us (thanks Doug!) After the emails bounced around about who had what equipment, and what types of stations we wanted to set up, we landed on that I would be using some of my equipment to set up a station to do 6m SSB. The core of the station will be my Yeasu 857d, and my Buddie-Pole (configured as a 6m beam.)
Am I planning on dressing like a pirate? Certainly not (probably not? maybe not? I might....) but I have found that with our club's callsign - W3RRR - I do end up sounding rather pirate-ish when trying to work fast. Saying W-3-R-R-R during a contact often ends up sounding W-3-arrrrrrr in a contest-like environment:-)
I know of at least one other pirate station out there(K3RRR). Are there more? Maybe we should start an HF net on Talk Like a Pirate Day...
Arrgh! See Ya Chum!
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!
While these are neat little cabins, I will warn you that it is much more fun if you are an "earthy" person. Creature comforts are limited to mattresses that have seen better days, the furniture you see on the porch in the picture above, picnic tables, and a communal bathhouse (with only 1 working shower in the men's room!) Notable things that are missing if you are accustomed to standard hotel chains are things like bed linens, pillows, towels, toiletries etc. Any time you stay in a lodge/cottage/cabin inside a state park, think of it more like camping where you need all the stuff you would need if you were camping, except for your tent.
For those of us that don't mind a little grit however, this was an awesome place to set up and play radio! The bunk beds quickly became the place where I threw my luggage. There was a small, wall mounted table which immediately became my operating desk, and (after emptying it) one of my Pelican Storm Cases become my chair. Operating position - check.
- If you travel a lot make sure you buy non-aerosol bug spray (you can't take aerosol on the plane, even in checked bags. I should have known this with all my traveling I do, but I guess never considered it before.)
- Make a checklist of things you need, and keep it with your gear/traveling supplies so you don't forget anything. I forgot a towel, so each day after my shower I had to dry myself with my shirt from the day before! I also had to use a shoe to pound in my tent stakes that I use to tie off my dipole ends!
- It's cheaper to fly with two 50lb pound bags (on AA $60), then it is to fly with a single overweight 70lb bag (on AA- $125.) See my post about re-organizing my luggage.
- If you think cats fighting make an awful sound, you've never heard a racoon fight.
- There are some awesome little natural spaces hidden right in the middle of our populated areas - go look for them!
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!
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!
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!
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:
- For a northerner, Florida in winter is awesome - 70 degrees vs. the 20-30 at home!
- While driving in-and out check out the Everglades Radio Network on FM Broadcast 107.9. They share all kinds of cool info about the swamp, the ecology, restoration efforts, etc.
- Eat Cuban and Latin food! It's waaaaay better in FL than in most area's of the country!
- Don't get scared by the Panther crossing signs - the population is very small and they are trying to help them recover. If you do see one, send us all pictures - they're pretty elusive!
- If I didn't mention it before - bring bug spray!!!
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.