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Author Topic: Field Day Equipment Protection  (Read 933 times)

Posts: 100

« on: May 25, 2007, 06:48:16 AM »

Good morning,

What are your thoughts on protecting your vauable radio investment from the elements during Field Day activities?  This is my first Field Day to participate in since being licensed, and I am very excited about this years event.  However, all of my equipment has always stayed dry and at a constant temperature in my shack in the house.  I will be participating in Field Day activities in southeast Texas, which in June is HOT and HUMID.  Our specific location might end up being dusty, also.  My equipment will consist of an Icom IC-718 HF transceiver, Astron RS-20M power supply, and an Icom 208H VHF/UHF transceiver.  Are these conditions anything to worry about, or is modern gear robust enough to endure these conditions?
Thanks for your thoughts, I look forward to sharing a QSO with you on Field Day.



Posts: 10248


« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2007, 07:04:49 AM »

Personally, I don't worry about such things, but then again I have more than one radio. I don't do Field Day any longer, but when I did, I always had a tent, and enough plastic to cover up what every equipment I had. If you have good insurance (the ARRL offers coverage if your insurance company doesn't), your gear will be covered even during FD. Frankly, I'd be more worried about someone spilling beer all over it!

Alan, KØBG


Posts: 6

« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2007, 07:35:36 AM »

Agreed.  I'm in East Texas as well, and the only times humidity has ever been an issue, it was pouring down rain.  A tent or canopy, and a tarp or some plastic sheeting should be sufficient.

Posts: 352

« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2007, 07:49:01 AM »

Lots of people, public access, portable equipment all add up to a potential for theft.  I would think that would be a concern.

Just a thought.

73, JP, K8AG

Posts: 1490

« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2007, 08:41:20 AM »

I have organized FD for my club for most of the past 27 years.  In my pre-contest briefing I try to remember to tell everyone (and I certainly tell them if bad weather looks possible): if a storm approaches with any chance of lightning, disconnect your feedline and toss the end out on the grass.  Then protect your equipment either by taking the expensive bits with you, or cover them up such that high winds won't expose them, and go sit in your (or someone's) vehicle until the storm has passed.  If you can see lightning or hear thunder, you are at risk.

We've never had a generator fail such that the AC voltage surged (knock on wood).  That could be plenty bad for power supplies.  In some years we put down a ground rod for the generator(s) (and probably should every year).  We always use good quality extension cords, and for the past few years one of our well-equipped members has brought out a professional grade power distribution system.  It has twist lock connectors at the generator and heavy duty cables with junction and outlet boxes that can distribute power across the site.  One or more stations at the edge of the contest area may use their own generators, too, but those are completely separate from all other stations, and can't even share antennas.  I walk the site periodically to look for *any* safety risks, too.  Safety is no accident, for equipment or people.

I'll add more if I can think of it.  Hope to catch you all on FD from W8UM or W8PGW.  73 de kt8k - Tim

Posts: 2483

« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2007, 08:51:37 AM »

We have been doing Field Day since 1977.  In addition to all of the above, my greatest concern is generator "spikes" or generator over voltage.  Most generators are OK on both issues, but it never ceases to amaze me the generators some of our members bring to use.  I think Field Day is the only time some of these generators are used and the engines sputter and spit and the RPM varies all over the place.  This causes a  number of problems on the output voltage and frequency.

Years ago I bought a 1000 VA Sola ferro-resonant transformer at a hamfest for $30.00.  If you don't know, this hunk of iron is pretty good at keeping the output voltage at a constant 117 VAC as long as the input voltage is somewhere between 90 VAC and 150 VAC.  It also greatly attenuates any voltage spikes.

We have never had any equipment damaged by generators during Field Day.  

Posts: 17479

« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2007, 09:40:36 AM »

I remember one year putting the radio in the mouth of a plastic trash
bag to keep the rain off.  The antenna tuner (with an open top) was
covered by a fiberglass hardhat.  Tents and tarps, however, tend to be
more comfortable than sitting out in the rain to operate.

Otherwise I think I've known of more rigs damaged by unskilled operators
than by weather, but modern rigs should be pretty bullet-proof with
protection for the finals, etc.  

Posts: 4380

« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2007, 10:01:45 AM »

You can always operate Field Day from your home station.  You can get used to the exchanges and learn how to operate this contest.  Of course this is no substitute for a group effort with emergency power, hastly erected antennas and the ever popular Sunday morning breakfast.  Then there are the stories to be told forever after:  "Remember the time the tent peg came loose and the water started pouring in?"

Posts: 158

« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2007, 10:20:38 AM »

We operate FD from a rural fire station, indoors & air-conditioned - but it is an emergency ops cener ... greatest danger is, as noted above, spilling a beverage onto/into the gear.

Jim NS5M

Posts: 100

« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2007, 10:40:10 AM »

Thank you all for the great responses...They have all been very helpful.  With regard to generators, I will be using a Coleman Powermate portable 3500 watt generator.  One thing that I will definitely bring along is my SEC 400 Power line conditioner.  It is currently installed between my wall outlet and power supply, computer, and other 'delicates'.  Every time my central air conditioning kicks on, you can hear the SEC's relays clicking, as it keeps the voltage right where it should be.  I connected it to the generator, and it takes care of any voltage fluctuations.  Also, compared to the cost of my radios and accessories, the SEC 400 is cheap.  I think I paid around 40 or 50 bucks for it.  A very good investment in my opinion.
Thanks again, everyone.

Posts: 3746

« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2007, 02:22:36 PM »


I use a large rollup pvc type sun shade to keep
the sun off the equipment and our faces at the table.
Can fry an egg on the top of the radios if
the sun is beating down on them.

ICE or Polyphaser on the coax to protect the radios.

an older full sine wave ups is also used at the
operator table and a small 100w floodlight at the
genset for a load to keep it happy between qso's.

also have a few 38Ah 12V sla batteries that were in
ups service as a backup should we forget to buy more gas.

Hardhats a must if you're on the antenna hanging team.

A list of emergency contacts is a good idea if anyone gets hurt
or sick if your are out in the field somewhere.

73 james

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