Another Great Field Day

more pictures

Field Day 2004 was just fantastic here in Ann Arbor. The weather was perfect
(although a bit cool late Saturday night), band conditions were great, and we
had an awful lot of fun.

Our club held FD 2004 at Domino’s Farms
again this year. Domino’s Farms is the headquarters of Domino’s Pizza, and really
a perfect location for Field Day. We commandeer a hilltop there for our operations.

The highlights of this year’s Field Day included:

  • Three HF stations, two working phone and one working CW. I operated for
    two or three hours, splitting my time between one of the phone stations and
    the CW station.
  • Computerized logging in each of the HF stations. We weren’t networked though,
    so the phone stations had to be careful about not operating on the same band.
    This was usually apparent, however, by the interference level.
  • A VHF station, with satellite capability. Unfortunately, we weren’t able
    to hit any of the satellites. We did make quite a few 6m QSOs, though.
  • A Get On the Air (GOTA) station. Our GOTA station was equipped with a Yaesu
    FT-897 connected to a G5RV Junior antenna. We put the station on our public
    information table so that visitors could get a good feel for what Field Day
    was all about. I spent a lot of time being the control operator for the GOTA
    station. We didn’t make 100 contacts and get our 100 bonus points, but we
    did have nearly a dozen people made their first HF contact. That was pretty
  • A HUGE antenna farm. The farm included an 80/40 full wave loop antenna,
    single-band verticals for 15m and 20m, an 80-10 multiband vertical, a 10/15/20
    multiband vertical, a BuddiPole, a couple of G5RVs feeding automatic antenna
    tuners, a half rhombic for 80m, a 6m beam, and a 2m/440MHz combo for working
    satellites. While they all seemed to be effective, the 80m loop gave us a
    very big signal on 75m early Sunday morning. In an hour and a half, i made
    about 125 contacts using that antenna.
  • the RF Cafe, which provided all the nourishment required to keep operations
  • public information tabe (100 bonus points!) to meet and greet visitors;
    and a
  • a visit from Doug Cox, our section emergency coordinator (100 bonus points!).

From an operations point of view, we did very well, racking up more than 600
phone contacts and more than 500 CW contacts. More information on that Tim KT8K
merges the computer logs and pounds in the contacts logged on paper.

Thanks to everyone who made Field Day a success!

Pictures (more to follow!)

The crew just before 2pm Saturday. In the rear is Jeff W8SGZ, Bruce W8BBS, Al,
Tom WB8COX, Tom N8AMX, Steve WB8WSF, Dave WB4SBE, and Mark W8FSA. In front,
Jim N8GNQ, Tim KT8K, Joe KC8VSB, Ed AB8OJ, Staci KC8WYA, and Dan KB6NU.

Here’s a good shot of the station layout. The first tent was Jeff’s phone station,
the second tent the CW station, the third tent the VHF station, and the white
van housed the second phone station. The GOTA station was on the public information
table, not in the picture.

Another Two-Fer

Yesterday, I worked another “two-fer.” That is, I made some contacts in both the West Virginia QSO Party and the Quebec QSO Party, which were taking place on nearly the same frequencies.

Actually, I wasn’t even thinking about contesting yesterday. I spent the afternoon making antennas for Field Day. (More about that later.)

After playing with antennas most of the afternoon, I had to run out to the grocery store and make dinner. Then, of course, I had to eat, so I didn’t get down to the shack until 7:30 pm. Tuning around 7.035, I heard stations calling both “CQ WVQP” and “CQ QQP.” Unfortunately, I only had about two and a half hours to work the WV QSO Party as it ended at 10 pm. Before it ended, I was able to work eleven WV stations overall.

The Quebec QSO Party lasted longer, but there were fewer stations on from Quebec. I made eight contact overall. And in between all those contest QSOs, I managed a few regular contacts, including YY5AJD from Venezuela.

The Serbian Fourth of July??

Last night, I worked YZ200A, a special event station in Serbia. According to the DX bulletins:

Rodja, YZ1AA, is active until the end of year with the special callsign YZ200A. Activity is to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the First Serbian Mutiny against Turks (1804). His activity will be mainly on CW (just a reminder, he is a member of FOC, YUCWK etc…).

For more information on this revolution, see the webpage, “The Serbian Revolution and the Serbian State.”

At first, I was kind of troubled by this, but I guess this is no different than US special event stations commemorating the Fourth of July. What do you think?

Brad Thompson, Amateur and Engineer

Almost 20 years ago, Brad Thompson, AA1IP, did me a big favor. He decided he liked being an engineer much more than he like being an editor for Test&Measurement World magazine, and left the magazine to become a consultant. That opened the door for me; I got his job.

Fortunately for the magazine, and for electronics engineers, Brad agreed to continue writing his column for the magazine. In his latest column, Brad describes some of the interesting test equipment designs that radio amateurs have come up with lately. All of them use an embedded microprocessor in some way.

One of the cooler projects is the Antenna Analyzer II, developed by the NJ QRP Club. It uses the Micro908, which the designers describe as a reusable control and computing platform for amateur radio projects. Unfortunately, the club is not taking any more reservations for antenna analyzer kits at this time.

The column includes several other links to cool homebrew test equipment projects. Check it out, and while you’re there, read some of his other columns as well.

The WPE Program and Uncle Tom Kneitel

I got started in electronics back in the 1960s by listening to shortwave radio. I was not the most serious of DXers, but I enjoyed listening to broadcasts from all over the world. I collected quite a few QSLs, too.

I kept up with the DX world by reading both Electronics Illustrated and Popular Electronics. My dad subscribed to both magazines because at the time he was building hi-fi kits. Both magazines covered hi-fi equipment as well as shortwave radio and amateur radio topics.

One of the ways in which Popular Electronics got readers involved is via the Shortwave Monitor Registration Program. For a very small fee (10 cents!), you could apply for registration. For that dime, you got a certificate with a “WPE” callsign and were eligible for awards, similar to the DXCC program that the ARRL now sponsors.

I forget how I came across the We’re You a WPE? webpage, but on this page, there’s a bunch of interesting information about the program and links to other pages about it. It was like going back in time.

On this page, is a couple paragraphs from Tom Kneitel, K2AES, who was working for Popular Electronics at the time. I didn’t know that Kneitel worked for PE; I knew him as the editor of Electronics Illustrated. For EI, he used to write a monthly column called “Uncle Tom’s Corner.”

This column was a question and answer column. Readers would write in with questions about electronics and shortwave listening and Kneitel would reply, sometimes seriously and sometimes sarcastically. For example, in the January 1969 issue, a reader accused Kneitel of being a CIA agent. He replied, “Buddy, if I were a CIA agent…my next assignment would be troubleshooting defective U2s over Peking.”

A drawing of Kneitel appeared at the top of the column. It was pretty funny, too. It showed him with a cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth. I recently e-mailed him, and mentioned that picture. He replied:

I had a lot of fun writing EI’s Uncle Tom’s Corner. Interesting thing about the drawing at the top of the column. The artist (George Janes) drew me from a photo he had taken. When he took it to EI’s editor for approval, it was rejected. The editor wanted me to look macho. He had the artist add that cigarette to the drawing. Was pretty funny since I don’t smoke. The same artist later visited me to shoot some more photos for another EI story– but that time he took the photos with a cigarette.

I still have some of those old PE and EI magazines. A couple of them have construction projects using tubes, and one of these days I’m going to actually build one or two of them.

For more information on Popular Electronics in the good, old days, click here. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a similar page for Electronics Illustrated.

Back from Vacation

Well, I’m back from a week-long vacation in New Mexico. We did some rock hunting, saw Carlsbad Caverns, and ate some good Mexican food.

One thing I didn’t do is make a single contact while on the road–I left all my radio gear at home. I was tempted to take my HT, and if my KX1 had been complete, I might have taken that, but I wanted this to really be a vacation and do things I don’t normally do. So, I left all my stuff here at home. Hopefully, I’ll get back on the air tonight, though.