Radio W4KAZ

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2012 ARRL Feel Day(i.e., “Field Day”)

Operated 2012 Field Day with N4YDU and N4GU.  Seriously considered entirely ditching FD earlier in the year, but finally decided to swing back into the saddle.  Using the Central Carolina Contesters call K4FQU, how could I not?

K4FQU – Class 1A, Ops: N4GU, N4YDU & W4KAZ….  1499 QSO’s(942CW, 557SSB)

N4YDU bird-dogged an excellent site by getting permission for operating on the north end of the Franklinton High school campus.  The school has a horseshoe shaped service road around its perimeter.  The north side of campus has a nice line of pine trees parallel to the service road which runs due E/W for about 500 feet.  All in a mostly rural very RF quiet location.  A very good Field Day site, one of the better sites we have used.

We set up the station near a break in the tree line.  Operating as 1A, we put up two antennas.  The 80m dipole was set up as a vee, broadside to N/S.  The other antenna was the four band open sleeve dipole, set up facing E/W.  The apex of both antennas was up at about 70 to 80 feet.

The wx threatened rain on Saturday, but that never happened.  The cloud cover helped moderate temperatures right up until almost 1800z, so the set up was not terribly uncomfortable.  The humidity levels rose all through Saturday night.  A change in the WX about dawn Sunday, and a drier breeze picked up early Sunday morning.  The WX was very pleasant for the duration.  Probably one of the most comfortable FD weekends in a long time outside of the trips to the mountains.

Radio conditions did not seem all that good, but the rates were consistently good anyway.  At times the rates were surprisingly good.  N4YDU had unusually good rates in the “wee hours” on Sunday morning from 2:00am thru 6:00am(local), and turned the graveyard shift into a nice fat 350+ qso count.

For my own part, the best rates I saw were the first hour of my late evening shift from 11:00pm to 2:00am(local), where there was very fun rates on 80m CW as ‘fresh meat’.  Getting a SSB run going proved difficult, but I managed to find a decent 40m frequency close to 2:00am Sunday morning, and N4YDU hit the ground running for the graveyard leg.  The rates kept him awake.  😉

N4GU Power and Light supplied emergency power in the form of a 1000w Honda generator.  We located the generator on an asphalt drive about 125 feet away from the station, and could not hear the generator at all over the ambient background noise of the location(School AC units, birds tweeting, road noise, etc.)  N4GU also supplied shelter in the form of a couple of EZ-Up canopies.  My own concerns about blood-sucking insects or T-storms were not realized, so the lack of side-walls was never a problem.

Over all the event went off without a hitch.  Murphy was probably off elsewhere knocking over towers and breaking yagi’s at other more tempting FD sites.  All of the overnight lighting was supplied by battery operated LED lamps, over concerns we might overload the generator.  Generator overload was never an issue, as a Kill-a-Watt in the AC supply line showed that the power draw never got over 500w.  With the single run station going, the draw was around 300-350watts.   The generator ran for about 7 hours between fill-ups, and was very easy on the gas.  A sweet package.

Propagation seemed to favor the North-South paths for most of the times I was at the controls.  With the 40m-up antenna at 75 feet, it seemed to under perform my expectations on 40m and 20m.  That may have been just propagation, which seemed very short on 20m.  In the evening, it did a better job out to the west, but I found myself using the 80m dipole on the 40m band more than I expected.  Both antennas were fed with 450 ohm ladder line into balanced tuners, allowing them to be loaded where needed.

Reviewing the Reverse Beacon Network spots was interesting.

We wound up besting our QSO totals from 2011 by a couple of hundred Q’s.  10m never opened, 6m was a flop, and 15m was mediocre.  But 80m, 40m, and 20m produced enough activity that we were able to keep the logging computer busy and the operators awake.  Operating 1A with N4GU and N4YDU was just about perfect – both great ops and great fun.  Class 1A also insured we were almost always ‘fresh meat’ somewhere, which made the butt-in-chair time fun as well.

The only real goal I had this year was to have some fun.   Mission Accomplished.

After action reflections indicated if we were to revisit the location we might make a few minor tweaks to the general set-up by re-locating the antennas, but probably nothing too drastic.  The E/W roadway invites flat-topping the dipoles rather than center supporting them as inv-vee’s.   A few other minor station set-up re-arrangements.  None of those would be of large consequence in terms of extra effort, but might pay QSO and comfort dividends.

K4FQU, 1A NC - Quick snapshot of score:

band/mode  Qs       Pts
80 cw     222      444
80 ph     181      181
40 cw     440      880
40 ph     164      164
20 cw     231      462
20 ph     141      141
21 cw      45       90
21 ph      63       63
50 cw       4        8
50 ph       8        8
         1499     2441

Pwr mult 2

Raw score 4882

Bonus pts
100% Emergency power             100
Public Location                   100
W1AW Message                      100
Online submisson                 50
Total bonus pts                   350

Total Score     4882 + 350 = 5232 pts


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