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Field Day 2023 – W4KAZ 1B NC, from Cape Lookout (POTA K-0683)

Crazy weather.  Check
Unique Location. Check.
Mediocre Antennas.  CHECK!
No 10m.  Check….. 🙁
Typical Field Day.    Check.
see the select photos…..W4KAZ 1B NC 2023 FD photo slide show

Crazy Weather

The days leading up to field day 2023 were filled with rain and prognostications of more to come.  While having doubts there would be any chances at having a good chance of operating with the expected lightning, the reservations for the great location had been laid in and paid for.  Tropical conditions could have made the trip dicey, but that junk kept on its westerly track to western Carrib.   All of the NC wx junk was spawned by a low pressure system sitting in TN and throwing moisture at us from FL and the gulf coast.   The “bands” of storms flowing through NC peaked midweek, right through travel to the Island.    bleh.  Arriving Thursday the wx relented long enough to move vehicle contents indoors.  Bands of rain, batches of sunshine alternated ad. infinitum.  Lots of time for relaxation.  Friday afternoon brought a longer window of almost 3 hours of clear wx for setting up antennas.  Then more lightning and rain.

Unique Location

Cape Lookout national park provided a great spot for running a field day operation.  The park is a barrier island on the NC coast.  Beautiful in its own deserted island sort of way.  The wx improved constantly during the four day stay….with the exception of a squall line that that moved slowly through Saturday evening.  Operation was shut down for that period, but there was only rain.  Great time to catch up on some sleep though. 

Mediocre Antennas

The antenna plan was hampered a bit by having only four of the five masts intended.  Something always gets forgotten.  Two 40m EFHW antennas were deployed.  Both were configured as inverted L’s.  The “main” antenna deployed with the horizontal tip pointed North, the second deployed with its tip facing west.  The “main” antenna was also manually switchable to being used as an 80m vertical with a K2AV style counterpoise.   The only band that felt loud was 80m.  These efhw’s mounted as inv-l’s are a bit compromised on 40m & 20m, both by the configuration and being relatively close to the ground.

W4KAZ 1B NC, Cape Lookout qth for the FD weekend, All set for FD.The antennas were set up during the Friday break in the rain. WX and antennas good to go

W4KAZ 1B NC, Cape Lookout qth for the FD weekend, All set for FD. The antennas: Left most and center mast hold “main” 40m EFHW/80m base on left and end at center mast. The rightmost mast holds west facing 40m EFHW which slopes toward ground, and is tied off behind cabin.

No 10m

10m was yet again a disappointment.  The recent rise in sunspots must be less effective in light of the pole shift and weakening magnetic fields.  Radio propagation is probably just a symptom of what might be a much bigger issue.  Keeping the band map loaded with packet spots from VA and NC skimmers showed very few spots on 10m at any time I was on the air.  15m was only very slightly better.  Perhaps Saturday evening was better.   20m and 40m were the places to be for the most part.  20m was more interesting, and accounted for the bulk of the Qsos logged.  The early morning Sunday accounted for the only qsos there, all logged around 0900-1000z.

FD as IOTA Prep

FD antenna choices were made as a test for the upcoming IOTA.  The alternate choice was to mount the “main” N/S efhw as described before, but to use a 50m/20m trap dipole as the secondary antenna.  This second pair will probably be better for an IOTA situation, with the dipole being a better choice for DX.  Alternates/backup antennas are a linked dipole that could be used on any of the individual bands and a set of wire verticals.  Also a 15m/10m trap dipole…..just in case.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Start with the ugly…..a slow band of squall lines moved in Saturday evening.  Fearing more lightning I dropped all the antennas.  Being exhausted, I hit the sack to the pitter-patter of another batch of rain, which turned out to be the last of the trip.   The bad…..missed out on the evening which probably cost a lot of qsos.  But without the much needed sleep, Sunday would have been a tough slog.  10m and 15m were disappointing. Missed packing one of the bags with some of the kitchen odds-n-ends, so had to improvise.  The good…..Morning coffee….two magnificent sunsets on Friday and Sunday.  Cigars and whiskey.  Moderate temperatures and a nice breeze.  Moderate bug levels.

Details  Details  Details
w4kaz 1B NC 2023 FD breakdown by hour.

W4KAZ 1B NC 2023 FD breakdown by hour.

Saturday afternoon was S&P combined with wishful thinking about 10m and 15m.  Didn’t feel loud enough to run on SSB.  Then clouds stacking to the west and a check on the wx radar convinced me to lower antennas prematurely.  The squall line was slow, and arrived with more rain.  Was exhausted anyway so ditched for the evening.  Up at 0800Z and started on 80m to try to capture the available qsos.  Took a breakfast break at the not so spectacular sunrise, then alternated between 20m/40m/15m for the rest of the morning.  Finished up on 20m with the best single hour.  Then a couple of hours of breakdown and packing.  Bada bing bada boom.  Another FD bites the dust.  320-ish qsos, about

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