Radio W4KAZ

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Field Day 2019 – 1B NC de W4KAZ

2019 Field Day was once again a solo effort vacation camping at Carolina Beach. 

WX: 2019 WX was for the most part much better than 2018’s trip to the same location.  Temps were cooler, but the rain played a game of cat-n-mouse for the duration Saturday and Sunday.  Lessons learned in 2018 led me to use a picnic table and a tarp cover for the station, and limit the tent to sleeping and dry storage.  This worked very well, and is the plan for all future outings of this nature.

CAMP: Arriving on site Thursday afternoon, setting up the camp was not rushed by anything besides the chance of rain.  So the tent went in first, and the shade tarp was set up over the table for a rain refuge.  The shade tarp/screen tent is the NoBugZone, an idea I got from a vid by youtube channel “Outdoors On the Air”,   ordered from a sporting goods company in Canada. 

It turns out the NoBugZone was very nearly ideal for the way I chose to use it  in “spike camp” manner over a campsite picnic table.  That turned out to be useful soon after setup, as the rain came in about 5pm.   Friday was clear and warm, but the clear WX gave way to scattered storms on Saturday.  Set up Friday afternoon went well enough, deploying three telescoping masts for the antennas.

Antennas, Station, and Operating Condx.:  Decided to play with alternative antenna ideas this go around.  The recent projects at home prior to FD were some experiments with trap dipoles (in-progress-post coming late August 2019) in an effort to get a physically easier and more reliable method of multiband antennas than the previous fan dipoles.  So for this FD I chose to us an 80m/40m dipole and a 40m/20m dipole at 90 degrees to each other.  For 10m/15m I went with a fan dipole as a quick solution.

The station was once again battery powered, this year augmented by an extra solar cell to help with the mostly-shaded location charging.  The rig was an Elecraft K2.  Station & antenna set up Friday afternoon was fairly smooth, with the only problem being the fan dipole, which was difficult to trim to resonance.  

20m gave up the most Q’s.  40m would have been good were it not for high local QRN which was a tremendous problem, limiting 40m to S&P.  80m condx were better than expected given the local storms.  Operating was interrupted at least three times Saturday by passing storms tossing lightning around.  One of the breaks was prolonged by prolonged rumbles in the distance.  Not a big believer in staying on the air in bad wx, so erred on side of caution.  O’course, more cigar breaks that way was not a problem. 

Lessons?   The biggest lesson was probably related to tuning the 15m/10m fan.  Should have had that task handled before showing up on site.  10m didn’t show itself, so the time wasted was pointless.  The next lesson was finding out a cigar lighter makes an excellent pocket sized soldering torch if and when the connections are arranged for torch work.  The screw-in mast bases are champs.  The Spiderbeam 12m mast is too flexible for most of my intended uses.  The NoBugZone was really simple to set up using a tree support on one end and a pole on the second end, and not much more difficult to set up using two poles and guy lines.  It was also easy to adjust the sides for inclement wx.  Suited my intended uses perfectly.  The antenna plan was valid, as the two 40m antennas showed good results in different directions, but that was restricted by the QRN and the storms.


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