Field Day 2010 – Part 1

2010 Field DayWell, another Field Day has come and gone. While this year’s Field Day was fun, for several reasons, this Field Day wasn’t quite the blast it has been in the past.

First of all, my plans changed at kind of the last minute. I had been planning a simple, one transmitter operation down at the Hands-On Museum. A couple of weeks ago, though, I let myself be talked into being captain of one of local club’s CW stations.

That wouldn’t have been so bad, but I really didn’t prepare properly. My predecessor, KT8K, always did a magnificent job of getting ready for this event, but I just didn’t have the time or energy to do the same. So, when I got out to the site on Friday evening, I found myself without a shelter or a radio.

So, doing what I could, I set up antennas. First, we put up the antenna for the GOTA station. This was the same exact antenna that we used last year, namely a 40/20 inverted vee fan dipole suspended from a mast made up of those military surplus fiberglass poles.

Next, we put up the antenna for my 40m CW station. For some reason, I got it into my head that I wanted to try a full-wave, 40m loop, even though I’d never really been successful with antennas that used open wire feedlines. But, I had just about the right length of 14-ga wire, as well as a roll of 450-ohm ladder line that I purchased at some hamfest a couple years ago. My idea was to suspend this loop from several of the irrigation pipes that we use for masts out at our Field Day site. There was a little bit of a glitch getting it all up in the air, but we managed to do so before it got dark.

Saturday morning, I arrived out at the site a little after 9 am. What I was to use for a shelter and a radio was still a little up in the air, that issue was settled when Dave, N8SBE, offered the use of a tent. We also seemed to be short of power cords, but Quentin, KD8IPF, stepped into the breach by offering the use of a 100-ft. extension cord that he’d brought. I drove home to get my IC-746PRO and an antenna tuner to use with the loop.

When I got back to the the site, I connected the 450-ohm feedline from the antenna to the tuner and connected my antenna analyzer to the tuner output. That’s when my troubles started. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to find a setting that would give me a 50-ohm output.

At this point, Quentin, KD8IPF, stepped up again. He had brought his LDG antenna tuner. We connected the 450-ohm feedline to the binding posts on the balun, the coax to the tuner, hit the tune button, and everything seemed to tune up fine. “Seemed” is the keyword here, but more about that later. I hooked up the radio, and even made a few contacts.

It was a little after 1pm at this point. I was all set up, except for the logging computer. The computer guys were working feverishly on getting them all set up, though, and just a little after 2pm, I was on the air.

One disappointment was that the computer I got had only a single USB port, and that port was used for the wireless network adapter. That meant that I couldn’t use the port to drive my WinKeyer, but I had set up the memories for FD operation, so it wasn’t really that big a deal. Instead of hitting the computer’s function keys, we could hit the keyer’s memory keys.

The long and the short of it is that at right around 2:20 or so, we were good to go.

More to follow…….

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