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Author Topic: Field Day Lessons Learned  (Read 1308 times)
AC2Q
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Posts: 348




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« on: June 25, 2007, 07:31:20 AM »

I am taking it upon myself to make a list of  Lessons Learned from the 2007 Field Day, so while it is fresh in our minds, please send your input.
 
To Start:
GFCI's and ground rods for same at each station using 110AC (no one had issues, I was just worried)

DON'T parallel the battery, battery charger and power supply

Use a Balun even if the MFR says you don't need one
Make guy lines at different heights of different color ropes
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K9GTJ
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Posts: 12




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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2007, 11:01:53 AM »

Shut down and fill the generator at regular intervals.  Nothing is more embarassing than dropping a QSO because the gas ran out.  

The $100 import generators from the local discount department store are much better than imagined.

Remember to keep field day fun!
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K9GTJ
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Posts: 12




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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2007, 11:09:26 AM »

A couple more...

Make sure the 6 meter and 2 meter station operators are immune to boredom and can entertain themselves between contacts.  

Take lots of pictures.
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N3OX
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Posts: 8852


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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2007, 11:16:00 AM »

1) Make sure the line you're trying to shoot through trees unspools or takes off from the ground well without tangling with itself.

2) Homemade slingshots don't work in the woods anyway.  Having a 40 foot telescoping pole with a hook on the end to drop weights over branches up 40 feet can save the day.

3) Don't assume that the mere fact that it's summer in the Washington, DC suburbs means you will automatically stay warm.  I was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, a long sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt, and huddled under a blanket at 4A.M. and was still cold.

In short, that one is "if you're going to operate the whole FD period by yourself, make sure you don't leave physical comfort to chance"

4)1B MDC is just rough on people at 4A.M. on 80CW with all the lightning crashes.  Next year, I'm getting two more ops and heading northeast... N3OX 3A DE has a nice ring to it ;-)  

5)It's hard not to dupe people when you hear the same 25 stations on 20, 40, and 80m and are logging on paper... next year, inverter for the laptop...

6) Having an open box of graham crackers on the picnic table makes for some excitement at 5A.M. when you end up with a raccoon there instead.

73,
Dan





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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
N3OX
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Posts: 8852


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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2007, 11:22:08 AM »

"Make sure the 6 meter and 2 meter station operators are immune to boredom"

This also goes for YL's...

... which leads to ...

7) buy an iPod car charger to hook to the deep cycle battery in case your girlfriend overestimates the number of "Lost" episodes she can watch before the battery dies .

and

Cool pack the car early so you don't have to run around like a chicken with your head cut off, thereby forgetting all the books your girlfriend might have brought in case the iPod died.

She was a real trooper about it... but it's good for EVERYONE to have fun... not just the operator of the radio.

Oh yeah, and

9) If soup's on the menu, remember the spoons.

73,
Dan



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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
KB3LIX
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Posts: 1094




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« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2007, 01:44:15 PM »

160 meters was a waste of time, both from a setting up antennas perspective and looking for Q's.

Laptops don't like cold temperatures.
The screens were impossible to view, so much
for PSK-31 Q's.
It was downright COLD overnight here in Western PA. It was evident when you can see your breath.

10 & 15 meters were virtually DEAD. Include 6 in that statement.

Yellow caution tape procured from a Fire or Police Dept works WONDERS in marking wire antennas and guy wires/ropes.

Homemade wire antennas work VERY well.
We used a zip-cord groundplane for 40 meters and a full wave 160 meter loop at 30 feet for 80/40/20/15 & 10.

Must plan on more "To go withs" in the food dept. We had plenty of hamburgers, sausage, hot dogs and ham bar-be-que, but very little potato salad, mac salad, cookies, pies etc. Nothing for that VERY necessary sugar boost at 3-4 AM.
Fried potatoes, grilled sausage, scrambles eggs and hot coffee are the MOST delicious just as the sun is rising. MMMMMMMMMMM  !!!!!!!

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KA9DTZ
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Posts: 63




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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2007, 11:46:30 AM »

K9GTJ said: The $100 import generators from the local discount department store are much better than imagined.

We bought one last year and used it a little and it seemed to work fine...... until Field Day that is.

My girlfriend and I took two HF rigs but ended up sharing one.  It got bad with the voltage dropping to the point the neon on the p/s would go out.  We ended up running really low power and still got to operate.  We could have run from the vehicle battery but where would the fun and challenge have been in that?  It was worth the lesson learned. Like Drew Carey says... the points don't count.

All in all we had a blast and will be better for it the next time.  The only real downer... we both asked the same question once set up and running... "Did you remember the cooler?"  

73, Greg
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N0UY
Member

Posts: 158




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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2007, 10:32:26 AM »

1) Don't rely on a third party to bring the third transceiver for your 3A MN.  Always, and I mean always bring the gear yourself.  Switching to 2A MN just minutes before the start causes some heck with the logging plans.

2)  Make sure you can lock the camper door from the inside so the same idiot who forgot the third transciever doesn't move in and mess up your planned operating schedule. I think if he didn't bring the rig he shouldn't operate.

3) Always rely on what worked the best last year and expand on it by figuring out why and improve it if possible.
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KT8K
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Posts: 1490




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« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2007, 10:56:17 AM »

The best thing we did was get all stations logging on wi-fi equipped laptops running N1MM.  
The setup wasn't too hard - fortunately we had a couple of network heavies around to set up ip addresses - but the ability for each station to see what everyone else was doing, and the competition that got going between stations to see who could rack up Qs the fastest, was great.  It really added to the fun.

I learned many years ago to never completely empty a gas can - always leave a half gallon or so in it.  I learned that when the generator ran dry at 4AM and took us off the air for a half hour ... fortunately there was a gas station a mile away, but if we'd been out in the sticks it would have been worse.  That last half gallon would have kept things going while I ran out for more gas.

Simple dipoles and verticals work great, rather than somebody's fancy new whizbang antenna that either hasn't been tried or has too many unknowns about it.  Single band antennas reject more harmonic interference from other stations, but I also orient the dipoles to reduce coupling between them whenever possible.  Also, having both a vertical AND a dipole for each station allowed people to switch polarization.  That way they could optimize their station for propagation and reduce interference with other stations even more.

I use the whole 1000' circle in order to get maximum separation between the antennas that will interfere with each other the most -- typically 80 and 40m are the worst offenders.  I did a spreadsheet to calculate 2nd and 3rd harmonics for the CW and phone segments on the different bands, and then separated antennas accordingly.  For example, 80m CW was at one end of the field while 40m CW was at the other end.

I kept the station shelters all close together, though, to make it easy for people to move between stations, get refreshments, and know when the chow call went out.  It also made it easy to get power and wi-fi signals to everybody.  The couple of hundred feet of extra coax to get to the antennas had no impact on the operation, as loss on HF isn't that big a deal, especially in a crowded contest like FD.

I've got a lot more lessons learned, but no more time to write right now.  C U in FD2008 from W8UM/W8PGW.
73 de kt8k - Tim
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