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Author Topic: Do digital contacts really matter for Field Day?  (Read 2223 times)

Posts: 224


« on: May 16, 2009, 12:26:35 PM »

I have been told several times by the cw guys in our field day group that it makes no sense to have any digital operations (cw, rtty, psk31) during field day when the guys at the cw stations can have a much better hourly qso rate for the entire field day. In other words, we will get a better score if we only run cw and ssb and don't run any digital stations because digital will slow down our chances at good qso runs. If that is the case, why does anyone in Field Day bother to operate anything besides cw and ssb? It appears that nobody would have more points per hour on rtty or on psk31, so those are wasted modes because if the same was on cw, the cw guys could get the maximum points per hour. I have wanted to operate psk31 for Field Day, but never have in several years because of this reason. I can never make the Qs per hour on psk31 than the CW guys can. Anyone else facing this situation? I had hoped to show digital modes at the GOTA station, but any time you try to run psk31, the noise destroys the other cw and ssb stations, so that is another reason to not run digital. In fact, is there any good reason to use digital operations for any contest except digital only? I'm not as fast at cw as I used to be and I'm not as big on ssb as I used to be, so I enjoy digital, but in the case of Field Day it looks like I am out of luck. Should I skip the club activities and stay home and operate digital so I can do what I want to do? Any ideas appreciated.

Posts: 4283


« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2009, 05:58:50 PM »

True statement as far as rates go.

Posts: 599

« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2009, 08:38:57 PM »

It all gets back to the very fuzzy interpretation of what FD really is.  Is it a contest, a picnic, an emergency drill?  Is it a place to take chances or is it a place to stick with what's tried and true?  Is it a place to learn or a place to use what you've already learned?  Is it a public relations operation where you amass points based on how many folks sign your guest book?

The problem with FD is that it's different things to different folks.  You apparently don't fit in with the hot shot competitors in your group that see it as strictly a contest where the score is everything.  Don't worry about it!

The journey's the thing - not the destination.  Stay home and have fun doing what you want.  If you want to make your stay at home more the windows and let the mosquitos in,  turn off the AC, run on battery power,  eat hot dogs and drink beer all within the comfort and privacy of your own shack!  The important thing is for you to have fun.  

Posts: 3746

« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2009, 06:55:58 PM »

hi Marty,

our club, w4dw, runs 7A  with digital station.

the only problem we have is with 40M SSB,
since we are very close to their station.

20M cw and ssb no problem for us as we are on
opposite side of the lot.

enjoy field day !

73 james


Posts: 21764

« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2009, 09:55:14 AM »

CW and digital modes both get the same multiplier (x2, compared with "phone" contacts), so I'd say to maximize FD score I'd use both.

Of course, to maximize FD score I'd also use 5W battery power, which has an additional multiplier of "5."  So, running QRP and battery or other independent power source, every CW or digital contact is worth 10 points.

Then, the bonus points available which are easily achieved if you assign team members specifically to achieve them can give you a score of a couple thousand points 10 minutes into the operation.

Use very good antennas and excellent operators, stick to these rules, and that's how to "win" FD.

But if you're not in it to "win," then do whatever you like!  It's supposed to be fun.


Posts: 4710

« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2009, 05:46:44 AM »

If getting the best score *for a given class* is the goal, running digital modes may not be worth it *if* the CW/SSB stations can maintain better points-per-hour rates.

Because there are no section/state/country multipliers on FD, and every band/mode is a separate thing, the key to a high FD score is having every transmitter making as many points-per-hour as possible.

It comes down to whether or not doing a particular thing improves the competitive position of an FD group.
That said, there are several situations where running digital on FD makes sense.

1) If you don't have enough skilled ops to keep the CW/SSB stations busy, but do have skilled digital ops, they may be able to do a competitive rate for a couple of hours.

2) If you're in 2A or above, you can run one VHF/UHF station without increasing the transmitter count. That VNF/UHF station can use any mode - including digital modes.

3) If you're in 2A or above, you can run one GOTA (Get On The Air) station without increasing the transmitter count. There are specific rules about who can operate the GOTA station, but if you have newcomers to amateur radio who are interested in digital, and maybe a coach, GOTA could be an option.

4) In a large FD operation at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, you may reach a point where only a few bands are usable, and digital may have a place.

For example, suppose you're running 5A and have CW and SSB stations for every band from 80 through 10.
And suppose that when the sun goes down the only usable HF bands you have left are 80/75 and 40. You run CW and SSB on both bands but that's only four transmitters. At such a time, a digital station could really add to the point score.

Of course this means you have to be able to run multiple rigs on the same band without interference, which is a big deal).

5) Some folks are more interested in overall score, or overall QSOs, than they are in competitive position in a given entry class. In such cases it can make sense to run digital and low-rate bands simply to boost the total score.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Posts: 30

« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2009, 03:53:26 AM »

Yes, I was also told by my local radio club that during Field Day, they preferred the club to run cw rather than my PSK31 digital station. I would have provided all equipment including antennas. I have operated PSK31 exclusively at my personal station for over 4 years and is my mode of choice.  I really wanted to run PSK31 not cw or ssb for Field Day. I did not participate in Field Day that year and am no longer a member of that club. This years Field Day was to be a two man operation. Scheduling problems with my fellow ham precluded it at the last minute. I really feel that all modes of operation should be presented at Field Day and I hope that other clubs realize this this as well.Operating time can be scheduled for all modes particularly with today's bandpass filters.

Posts: 3746

« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2009, 04:21:19 PM »

Hi Don,

Check with any college or university in your area,
they may have a club station you can work with or
they could join you for a team effort.

W4ATC at NCSU here in Raleigh, NC will work field day.

73 james

Posts: 0

« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2009, 02:20:24 PM »

While it is very difficult to beat a highly trained ear and fist of the CW Expert, digital does have one very nice edge....

It takes many years to develope that superior computer called the human brain to do high speed CW.  

All it takes is person with the ability to point and click a mouse to use digital.

AND, IF I remember correctly, both CW and digital are worth 2 points.
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