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Field Day 2008 as N4PY – The Story

Several members of the NC/East chapter of PVRC(the NC Contesters Club, NR3X) put together another small scale field day operation for 2008. Operating as N4PY, we built stations on the campus of Royal Elementary just south of Louisburg, NC. Our operations in the 3A class netted 1808 CW Q’s, 511 SSB Q’s, for a total of 2319 QSO’s and an expected score of just above 8800 points. (Note: Link to Carl, N4PY’s software site, the N4PY discussion group, and the eham review of the N4PY rig control software.)

The set up was moderately simple. All antennas were simple wires of one sort or another. For 2008 we choose to operate as 3A, with a full time 40m station, an 80m/20m station, and a 15m/10m/vhf station. The 15m/10m station turned out to be far more productive than we had any real reason to expect given the current sorry state of the sunspot cycle.

Photo of the base camp in the early morning light, N4PY 2008 A photo of The 15m/10m/6m station, N4PY 2008

Left: 40m foreground, 80m/20m background Right: W4KAZ removing shade screen as W4MY works 15m

For antennas, we used a Vee beam(east/west) with 266 foot legs on 80m/20m. The 40m station relied on another east/west Vee beam with 200 foot legs, supplemented with a hastily constructed but poorly tuned 40m dipole aligned at 90 degrees to the favored direction of the Vee beam. The 15m and 10m antennas were simple dipoles. All antennas were constructed on site – a cause for concern as 1800z approached….!

We had the core group of operators, N4PY, N4YDU, W4KAZ and K4CZ, all returning from 2007’s operation at the fire observation tower. We were joined this year by N4GU and W4MY. KB4DNX was the the only participant who is not a PVRC member, and although Dale’s time was very limited, he contributed to the effort.

The site chosen was very close to ideal for field operations. As you might imagine from our choice of Vee beams for antennas, the Royal elementary campus has a very large unused field to its rear. The divider between the school playground and the adjoining fallow field is a gentle hill with a small group of shady oak trees at its center. The field and playground are lined on one side by a long line of tall trees. The properties to either side of the school campus are either farmland or wooded, so there were no nearby neighbors to annoy(or generate RF noise!). There was even a small space formed by a pair of boulders, well suited for placing the generator and attenuating the generator noise. It was very close to ideal for a field operations site. The high temperatures were somewhat offset by moderate humidity levels and a constant strong “breeze” that at times gusted and ruffed up the stations.

Despite some fairly routine “technical difficulties”(i.e., Murphy), we were on the air very close to the 1800z start time. Everyone pitched in to keep progress going, despite the uncomfortable WX. Thanks to N4PY, we were even able to have a bit of lunch before operations commenced. Our 15m station earned its keep right out of the gate, although it tapered off as evening approached. We didn’t have blistering rates on any station, but all had a steady stream of QSO’s trickling in when they were manned.

W4MY arrived straight from work in the early evening Saturday, bearing a much appreciated box of sandwiches and, more importantly, an infusion of enthusiasm needed for the second half of operations. N4GU returned the favor Sunday morning, returning to the site bearing edible gifts.

Our best single station hour was actually on the 10m station, when N4YDU caught the opening there Sunday morning. In the other station area, two sets of Dunestar filters belonging to N4GU were 100 percent successful at keeping the neighboring 40m and 80m/20m stations out of one another’s way. Despite the close proximity of the two Vee beams, we never heard a peep of interference.

One of the weekend’s highlights was working CT1HZE on 6 meters, and the poor guy had to work a pile-up of N4PY FD operators as everyone in the 6M shack quickly passed the mike around to snag the DX QSO on 6m.

Everyone pitched in and the group worked well as a team. It was a great weekend, even with the high heat, high weeds, high poison ivy, and high tick count. All of those things were far outstripped by high spirits, comradery, good humor, and not a drop of rain to dampen spirits. A bunch of QSO’s was icing on the cake.

Next up for some of our group is another run at the IOTA NA low power expedition plaque by N4YDU and W4KAZ, who are being joined this year by K4CZ. Look for “N4A” from NA-067.

edited 7/6/2008, 1710z, kaz

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