Radio W4KAZ

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2021 FD W4KAZ 1B NC from Cape Lookout, NC

Very part-time and casual Field Day this year, mostly a vacation break at Cape Lookout National Seashore with a couple of tag-along non-ham guests. Set up of the station late Friday afternoon was pretty low key. Not a lot of work involved. Planting two auger bases into the sand and mounting two telescoping masts was very simple. The 40m EFHW went up soon after. A folded counterpoise radial for 80m was laid out along with a separate feed point box for converting the antenna into an 80m quarter wave vertical as needed. The station was fully set up and tested Friday evening.


The FT-891 was used along with an MFJ external tuner, mostly for its ability to double as an antenna switch. Computer logging with N1MM was tested and ready. Very simple. The most complicated part was configuring the sound card settings to use the computer for voice keying. The station was completely battery powered, and the battery was supplemented wit 200w of solar panels. Everything tested and working early Friday evening. Just in time for bacon wrapped shrimp kabobs, supplied by tag-along companions. And the obligatory whiskey and cigar break.

Saturday, time to welcome Murphy to the party

Count on Murphy to make an appearance RIGHT at the start of FD event. Somewhere along the way the logging computer went to sleep causing N1MM to delete the logging files along with all of the settings and drivers for communicating with the radio.[The *.s3db file disappeared, although that was determined a few days later.] The first hour was blown trying to re-connect/configure N1MM with zero success. So it was time to ditch N1MM in favor of using Writelog. The only reason N1MM had been set up was that it could connect to the FT-891, which I cannot get set up in Writelog. Switching out to the Elecraft K2 backup radio was considered, but instead decided to forego computer-to-radio comms and do band changes manually. That was certain to have caused some log errors, but it was simpler than switching radios while angry/disgusted/tired.  My low opinion of N1MM logging program was reinforced.

It turns out there was no burning reason to rush. Saturday conditions were none too interesting, with little activity on 15m and 10m.  The relatively weak antenna for 15/10 did not help that situation. Or maybe everyone has switched to digital modes. It also became apparent from RBN spots that the antenna orientation was heavily favoring Europe instead of the US on 15m and 20m. So a bit of SSB S&P on 20 and 40. Also took the opportunity to fiddle with the antenna by removing the jumper to make it a 20m EFHW. This worked better for 20m in the short time on the air before dinner.

Being mostly casual, the folks that tagged along for vacation time pulled out the night’s meal. That was later accompanied by a bit of whiskey and cigar time. When the tag-alongs decided to turn in for the night it was time to get back to radio for a bit around 0400Z. Being 80m time, a foray out among the bloodthirsty nighttime island fauna was required to make the manual switch from 40m EFHW to 80m vertical.  A nice hour on 80m proved the function on that band.  Pretty good for a last minute kludge idea.  In bed for the night by 0500Z.

Day 2 – Sunday

After a shift on breakfast duty it was back on the air at 1015Z. Worked a few more on 80m before switching the antenna back to 40m EFHW configuration. Then it was a CW run on 20m, to 40m, back to 20m for a good hour. Did a lot of band hopping after the 20m run through 1630Z and called it quits early. As always, tearing down the station and antennas went really quickly. Plenty of time to enjoy the afternoon. The FD log ended with 250 Qso’s – 25 SSB and 200 CW.


The weather over the entire weekend was really nice. Most of the weekend had a cool ocean breeze blowing, instead of the more normal southwest blow. Skies were overcast the first two days, but began clearing Saturday. Sunday evening produced a clear sky and a flowing Milky Way which was followed by a later moonrise just past full moon. It is interesting how brightly lit a desert island becomes under a full moon.


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