Friday, February 3, 2017

Winter Field Day 2017

This was my 4th time to participate in Winter Field Day. The first two times I was a home station indoors but last year I took the operation outdoors. This year I was also outdoors and was joined by Kyle N0KTK. We operated as a 2 oscar station which is 2 operators being outdoors. I used the same tent as last year with all temporary antennas.

The Plan and Conflict

The plan was to get at least a 40/80 meter NVIS antenna deployed along with a dipole of some sort oriented with the lobes to favor the east and west coasts. Our location in Illinois is pretty much the dead center of the country. We also planned on putting up a 2m/70cm antenna so we could try for those multipliers. I had hoped to get a vertical antenna setup as a fallback antenna but ran out of time. Below was the antenna plan from a Google Earth view. Top of the picture is pointing north.

The conflict came from the St. Louis and Suburban Radio Club's annual Winterfest (hamfest) being held the same day as the start of the Winter Field Day. Kyle is one of the officers for that club so he had a commitment to that event plus I always enjoy this large hamfest so I attended briefly so I could say hello to some folks. I headed home to finish some preparations and Kyle joined shortly after that. 

On the Air!

We operated under my callsign ND9E for the event and we were on the air right on time this year starting at 1900Z (1PM CST). The picture above shows the tent setup on my deck and we were running on Kyle's excellent Honda generator. To the right of the tent you can see the 32ft fiberglass mast that was used as the center support for the 6-80m Windom antenna as well as the 2m/70cm antenna. Temperature outside was around 35F and with wind. 

Here are some other views of the main antenna. 2m/70cm is hard to see but it is on top of the mast. 

Below is a view of the NVIS antenna that was in the front yard. Lots of comments from the family! Neighbors just stare. 

Operating positions

Main position

Kyle brought out his Flex radio setup that he has in a MCM case and can be setup and ready to go in only a few minutes. He ran mostly on the Windom antenna as he could search and pounce faster using the Flex and he could change bands quickly. He did the bulk of the contacts for this event. 

2nd position

I used my IC-7100 radio this time and I am enjoying this radio more and more. I love its QSO recording feature along with the built in voice keyer. Definitely more to hook up than Kyle's go-box. I did have a couple short runs on 40 meter phone but I mainly chased digital and CW multipliers while Kyle drove up the QSO count. 


 We ended up with a claimed score of 10207 with 12 multipliers. Surely we will get a lower score after the log is looked over by the contest committee and the busted calls are deducted.

Some observations: 
Two people are not enough for a 24 hour operation. We were both tired from the setup and the hamfest so we stopped for the night around 9PM. Kyle came back in the morning around 8AM just as I was getting the generator running and warming up the tent.

The tent works OK but it is a large space to heat. Something smaller like an ice fishing tent would be ideal. Have one per operator and gain some separation between stations as we were both under the Windom and I was getting RF into my CW keyer whenever Kyle transmitted on the Windom antenna. Any colder outside and the tent would not have worked without us being really bundled up.

Another multi-band antenna was needed. This was the intent of putting up a vertical antenna but things didn't work out.

Band conditions were poor on 20 meter with 10 and 15 meters being a no-show. 40 meters was the workhorse.

N1MM is a very powerful logging program and can be customized to many types of operating. There are so many options that it can be intimidating at first but it is worth the steep learning curve(for me).


Thanks to Kyle for helping out with the event. Also thanks to the folks that coordinated the Winter Field Day event and have kept it going. There was much more activity on the air this year and the Facebook page was a great way to build excitement. 

Thanks to my son Simon for being the official ND9E WFD photographer. He also helped take everything down and pack it away.

Now if we could just get the WFD and the hamfest on different weekends!