Field Day 2008

Field Day 2008, although a little wet, was a blast as usual. I say a little wet, but we really got a lot of rain this year. In fact, I thought we were going to be late in getting things all set up because it started pouring about 9:30 am, just as we were in the process of setting up the last of the masts and antennas. Fortunately, we had set up the GOTA tent the night before, and it was easily big enough to seat four of us while we waited out the storm.

The rain really came down for about 45 minutes, but that didn’t dampen our spirits too much. As soon as it stopped, we got back out there and finished the antenna work. We actually got most of the stations on the air by 2pm.

Get on the Air!
This year, I was in charge of our Get On The Air (GOTA) station. I was one of three co-captains. My cohorts included Jim, K8ELR, and Brian, K8MIO. We all did our part to make the GOTA operation a big success.

Jim provided the shelter–a big Eddie Bauer tent– and his Icom IC-746PRO transceiver. I provided the antenna system, including my fiberglass mast set, a 40m/20m fan dipole that we actually built on site, and the coax to connect it all together. Brian brought his son, Kieran, who did a lot of logging and operating.

Overall, we had quite a few operators at the GOTA station, including many new hams from our recent Tech class, including Lisa, KD8IPA; Candy, KD8IPC, and Quentin, KD8IPF. Matt, KB1PXO, showed up, kind of out of the blue, and helped not only helped us set up, but made some of the first contacts. Some of our operators were unlicensed, including Kieran. For many of these operators, this was their first HF contacts. And if their enthusiasm was any indication, they certainly will not be their last.

I’m not sure of the final counts, but we had more than ten operators make more than 150 contacts. How great is that?

Pounding Brass (well at least a computer keyboard)
Of course, I also got to operate a little in each of the two CW tents. We were using N1MM software, set up to key the rigs automatically. So, often, transmitting was simply a matter of hitting the correct function keys. Pounding the calls of stations we worked into the computer was also part of the chores.

What I usually do on Field Day is to help set up, operate a little after 2pm (this year, I coached in the GOTA tent), have dinner, then go home and get some sleep, with a plan to arrive back on site around 2:30 am. I got back just after 2:30 in the morning this year, and after surveying the operation, spelled Jim, WB0KWJ, at one of the CW stations around 3:00 am.

I operated 80m CW for about four hours, making about 160 QSOs.  Not a great result, but not too bad, I don’t think. When the call came for breakfast at 7 am, I was ready.

After breakfast, I operated the 40m CW station for a while, but band conditions were pretty lousy, and the stations we could hear we’d already worked, so I didn’t do too well in the short time I worked 40m.

Scoring high on Field Day is all about gathering bonus points. There are bonus points for a lot of different things, including getting an elected official to visit your site and getting kids to visit your site. Not scoring these points

I did my part in scoring First of all, I wrote and submitted a press release to the Ann Arbor News. This did not garner any news stories, but we did get listed in their events calendar. Second, as our club’s educational committee chair, I came up with an educational activity–the aforementioned presentation on how to make a fan dipole. Third, I set up a public information table. They were all worth 100 points, so I joke that I scored 300 points before Field Day even started!

Food, Glorious Food
Food has become an important–not to mention enjoyable–part of our Field Day event. This year, our chef, George, K9TRV, did not disappoint. He prepared slow-cooked beef brisket, pork shoulder, and salmon, as well as hamburgers and hot dogs, for Saturday dinner. But wait! There’s more!

We had waffles and bacon for breakfast on Sunday, and if that wasn’t to your liking, there was cereal and fruit. That really hit the spot after operating all night. And for lunch on Sunday, there was brats and cold cuts. What a feast!!

Well, that’s about it. I ended the event in the GOTA booth, just hanging out. About 1 pm, it started raining again, and it looked for a while, like we were going to be tearing down in the rain. The ham radio gods smiled on us, though, and it quit about 1:50. Not only that, the sun came out, and tearing down wasn’t as much of a chore as it looked like it would be. My feet were wet, but at least the rest of me was dry.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to do it again next year.

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