28 June 2020

Field Day 2020

I was going to join my local club for Field Day this year but I wasn't (and am still not) feeling so well with my broken foot.  I decided to stay home but I had the most successful solo Field Day operation yet.  I submitted my entry form online and have a total combined score of 284.  Not a huge score but I worked hard for with with the lousy propagation and working conditions during the contest.  Keep reading for a full breakdown and a map of the sections I worked.

So my score breakdown is I had 109 voice contacts and 4 digital contacts (two using Feld Hell!).  109 points for the voice QSOs and 8 points for the digital QSOs ... that's 117 points.  Add on the low power (under 150 watts) 2x power multiplier, that brings my score to 234 points.  Add 50 points for submitting my entry form online and that brings my score to 284 points.  I'm proud of myself for hanging in there and doing this.

Here's a map of the sections I worked courtesy N3FJP's Field Day logging software:

Click on the picture to expand it to full size ... it's easier to make out the sections that way.

For some reason, I heard Michigan and Iowa and couldn't work them.  I didn't hear a peep from the northern New York (NNY) section.  I was pleasantly surprised to work all of Texas and most of California.  I did hear a few Quebecers calling but they couldn't hear me.  I did hear a station from New Brunswick (MAR) early this morning but the conditions on 20 meter were rotten.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of local QRM on 20 and that can hammer weak stations.

The only thing that irritated me was because of the 1D exception this year, there were a lot of stations running amps at what sounded like near legal limit and they drowned out lower power stations like me.  My solution: let the amped guys get it over with and move on ... be patient and bust a pileup.  I waited nearly 30 minutes to work my Puerto Rico contact but it was worth the wait.  I watched part of a movie while I was waiting ... multitasking, you know.

I was impressed with the performance of my antenna and am glad I invested in it earlier this year.  For what it is, it does an amazing job.  The proof is above in that map.

I wasn't feeling very well yesterday and am not today—the joys of having chronic illnesses—so that makes me even happier that I was able to work so many stations.  I'm sure if I had a big Yagi antenna up at 100 feet it'd be even better but you know, the purpose of Field Day is emergency communications.  Perhaps if things go well, next year I can take my trusty IC-718 radio out into the sticks somewhere and operate using battery power or something.  Hopefully I'll be physically up to doing that in the heat and humidity that are ever-present this time of year here.

Something funny: I worked Scott Davis N3FJP, the author of the Field Day logging software I used this year, on 20 meters this morning.  When I typed in Scott's call into the program, the program popped up a little screen that said something to the effect of "Scott is the author of this program.  Please tell him hello!"  So during our QSO, I mentioned that to Scott and he chuckled, telling me that he appreciated me using his program.  Something small but memorable.

Another thing that I enjoy about Field Day is that it helps hone my operating and listening skills.  I always use a pair of headphones during Field Day so I can make out weak stations and work them.  It's not easy and I do occasionally get headaches from the drone of QRM (local man-made noise) and QRN (atmospheric noise) but in the end, it's all worth it to me.  I walk away from the contest with a feeling of accomplishment and thoughts of what I can do to improve my score next year.

If you're an amateur radio operator and have never participated in Field Day, give it a try sometime.  You'll enjoy it.

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