For some hams it is challenge of setting up temporary radio operations in the great outdoors. For these amateurs, assembling the gear, hoisting and adjusting antennas, solving problems, and making everything work is what it is all about.
Other hams it is about lighting up the ether and operating in the wild. For these amateurs, the fun is in making great contacts in the great outdoors with perhaps a bit of the old competitive spirit mixed in.
For Field Day 2014, KC2VSR, NJ2X, and KG6UBG set up two outdoor stations at the home of the Monterey Bay Amateur Radio Association (MBARA) headquarters in Marina, California. We operated using the MBARA call N6IJ. The site was formerly part of the Fort Ord military base which gave the operations a historical feel.
California weather is famously mild and we were not disappointed during Field Day 2014. The skies were blue and there was a light cool breeze coming off Monterey Bay that encouraged a sweatshirt or jacket most of the day. We we felt like we had little too much sun at the end of the day. We forgot to pack sunscreen; though, we did remember to wear hats.
For antennas, we had a multi-band beam, a wire dipole, and NJ2X's portable rotatable dipole. The beam was hoisted up onto a pole about about 15 feet and was used with the 20 meters station. KG6UBG ran the 40 meters station through a ladder line fed wire dipole. NJ2X and KC2VSR setup the portable rotatable dipole for use with the 20 meters station. We rotated the beam and dipole with the aid of ropes attached to the antennas. A gentle pull on the rope and the antenna could be pointed in any direction.
|NJ2X's Portable Rotatable Dipole in the bag|
|KC2VSR setting up the portable rotatable dipole|
|K2CVSR with the portable rotatable dipole up and ready for use (California blue sky)|
|KC2VSR with the 20 meters field day station|
|KG6UBG running the 40 meters field day station|
A few lessons learned for next year:
- Pack sunscreen - our wide brimmed hats alone didn't keep us from getting a little too much sunshine
- Pack more snacks - we lost a bit of operating time making a mid-day food run
- Encourage a few more folks to come out and play radio - the more the merrier
- Fire up the grill - hot dogs and hamburgers would be terrific next year
- Failing to inspect the antenna bag beforehand to make sure technical info and everything needed is inside - we discovered that we had not packed a manual needed to setup the antenna. Through trial and error we figured out how to put up the mast and tune the antenna for 20 meters; though, at the expense of operating time.
- Bringing KG6UBG's Honda generator - small, quite, and ran flawlessly during the day providing power to our amateur radio stations
- Bringing the rotatable dipole - setting up a temporary antenna is part of the field day experience
- Setting up field day operations at the Monterey Bay Amateur Radio Association HQ - great location with plenty of room for operations, grilling, antennas, ...
- Drinking plenty of water - hydration is extra important when outdoors in the sun and breeze
- Pack a few spare batteries - 9v, AA's, ... handy when needed as proven by KG6UBG having a spare needed for our 20 meters station's SWR meter.
- Bringing 2 meters HT's - handy for communications around the field day site
2014 is 100th anniversary of the ARRL so this year's field day was particularly important for many amateurs. It was a memorable event for KC2VSR and NJ2X since it was our first in the great state of California and with the Monterey Bay Amateur Radio Association. We enjoyed it thoroughly and look forward to next year.
A special "thank you" to KG6UBG for helping pull together this year's field day. It simply would not have happened without him.
Good DX and 73, NJ2X
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