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Old July 4th 09, 11:26 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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First recorded activity by RadioBanter: Jul 2006
Posts: 877
Default Field Day 2009 Results & A Story

Went out with a local mullticlub group that ran 5A + VHF using the call
N3NZ. HF rigs were all 100 watt-class transceivers, mostly with G5RVs
for antennas (the CW station used an OCF dipole, aka "Carolina Windom".

We put the ropes for the antennas up on Friday afternoon and did the
rest of setup Saturday morning. It was pretty easy; N3NZ built the
pneumatic spud gun from QST that launched the ropes, really sweet. You
have to see the thing in action to appreciate it; I even got to fire it
once.

Takedown was even easier, it was less than an hour from the 2 PM
shutdown to saying goodbye.

Power was from the genset in a member's RV, no refueling, no RFI and
almost no acoustic noise. Weather was very good, not too hot during the
day, not too cold at night, no significant rain, no shutdowns due to
lightning.

Food was excellent. Two club members did all the cooking; when you have
venison chili at dinner, made-to-order blueberry pancakes and omelets
for breakfast plus snacks and drinks around the clock it's hard to
complain.

N3FJP FD software did the logging job again; we had more computers than
radios! (one computer at each station, plus a server, plus the computer
with the digital modes)

We made 710 phone, 580 CW and 85 digital QSOs. One HF station was CW
only, three HF stations were phone only, one HF station was both phone
and digital. The VHF station was on 6 meters.

397 of those CW QSOs were mine, made in less than 10 hours. One of
those was K0HB, whose great 20 CW signal was pounding into EPA.

Bonuses for W1AW bulletin, emergency power, public location, publicity
(nice article in local paper), online submission, visit by official,
natural power.

Total score well over 5000, a new all-time-high for the location and
probably the group.

---

One particularly memorable moment was the natural power bonus, which
requires at least 5 QSOs powered by a 'natural' source.

Our usual method is to use the solar-power setup in a member's RV, and
have it run a QRP rig at the very beginning of FD for 6 QSOs or so.

Normally I use a bug to send, and the other CW ops use paddles and
electronic keyers or keyboards. The QRP rig wasn't hooked into the
computers and keyboards because it was just for a few QSOs.

It happened that I had brought along my old J-37 WW2 Army surplus
straight key from my Novice days of 1967-1968. This key was the very
first piece of true amateur radio gear I ever owned, and had cost me 25
cents back about 1966. For the first 7 years I was a ham it was the
only key I had.

Years ago I gave it a "Navy knob" modification with a poker chip, and
it was mounted to a piece of steel from the HV compartment of an old TV
set. Real Low Rent radio!

Normally the J-37 gets used once a year on Straight Key Night, and then
is retired to a place of honor for the rest of the year. Bringing it
along on FD was a last-minute impulse, and more than one other ham
asked why I brought it since we had so many other keying options.

We were all set up for the natural power operation as FD began, but the
QRP rig's sidetone wouldn't work! How could we send without a sidetone?

I knew I could still send decent code with the J-37 even without a
sidetone, so just as FD began I hooked it to the QRP rig and started
tuning 40 meters. Made the required 5 natural-power QSOs with it, then
one more for insurance. With the natural-power bonus earned, we
switched to the regular CW rig and went on with FD - with sidetone.

An old friend had come to the rescue just in time.

51 weeks to next FD.

73 de Jim, N2EY



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