Monday, June 25, 2012

Field Day in EPA

The MURGAS ARC in Wilkes Barre, PA went out to Francis Slocum State Park near Dallas, PA this weekend for the ARRL's annual Field Day. Field Day is when various clubs and indviduals go out into the "wild" to operate portable stations, usually on emergency power, to ensure that the US and Canada have reliable stations and skilled operators in case a communication failure occurs. The club ran a class 3A station this year. In addition to the 3 main stations, a GOTA (Get on the Air) bonus station and VHF station were also on the air. There were three trailers for the main stations while the GOTA operated out of a tent. Two short towers were erected as well as a ground mounted vertical. The club had the ability to operate between 160 and 2 meters. Station was set up on the vertical and a tree mounted antenna. This enabled the station to operate 160, 80, and 40 meters on the vertical, and 20 and 15 meters on the tree antenna. This station operated primarily on the lower bands using CW. The rig was a TenTec Orion VII running 100 watts. Station 2 was for SSB on the higher HF bands and was working a 3-element trapped Yagi. This was the station I worked for about 30 minutes on 15 meters. It had a rotor and the rig was an Elkcraft K2 running about 80 watts out. The third station was running an older kenwood rig on a low 80 meter dipole that acted more like an NVIS antenna than anything else. In the same trailer the VHF rig was running 6 meters to a maxon antenna as well as a longer 2 meter yagi. The GOTA station was running a Icom 7200 to a buddypole. I had never seen a buddy pole in person before, but it seemed a reasonable antenna if a bit of a pain to tune with having to raise and lower the whole thing to tweak the elements. I was only at field day for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. 80 meters and the VHF bands were essentially closed, with modest acvity on 15 and 40 meters. When I worked the rig, the bean was heading west and I was able to work a good number of California stations as well as a few western stations. They seem to come in small bursts followed by long periods of silence. Not a full blown contest style FD by any means, but a good chance to check out what we can do in the field with compromise equipment and low power.