2020 Field Day Recap

Field Day brought many challenges to the table this year. Typically, the biggest worry leading up to and during the event is what twist Murphy will throw at you! Or in simpler terms, what time the lunch and dinner meal is getting served. But not this year…

Picture of the parking lot right before Field Day started – skeleton crew!

Before we get into the dits and dahs of Field Day, recognition needs to be handed out to the Field Day Leadership team: Keith Grimm (KG5HOK), Fred Gimenes (KG5WNN), and Chris Counts (KD5CGB). Without their tremendous support, Field Day would not of been possible at Gilruth this year. Their support guided our protocols while operating to keep everyone safe. An additional thanks to Fred for being our safety officer to ensure all the protocols were followed. Also, many members attended the online Field Day planning meetings to provide their input and ensure total alignment. With many additional details needed for this year, this was a total team effort. Excellent job everyone!

Now… time to talk some RF!

Lots of things were different at Gilruth this year compared to previous years: reduced number of operators – many members operating from their shack or remote locations, no visitors, distancing protocols, mask requirements, cleaning of equipment after and before use, and no catered meals this year.

With no catered meals, that meant a re-fueling attempt at 1am would need some planning since there would not be any left over BBQ! This was one area I was short on. While I brought plenty of snacks, I forgot to bring a sandwich for a late night snack. Luckily for me, AB5SS had an extra sandwich he was willing to share in the early morning hours on Sunday – thanks again, John!

Fortunately, there were many things that remained unchanged: CLARC/JSCARC teaming up for a combined effort, 3 villages for operating (SSB, Digital, and CW), and 24-hours to play and talk radio!

At Gilruth, 3 villages were operational again which included SSB, digital, and CW. Not only did this help with RFI, but it also allowed social distancing to be maintained.

W9TWJ operates 20m.

Inside the SSB village, the primary HF bands operated this year were 20m and 40m with a few contacts sprinkled in on 80m. From my point of view, all the equipment worked wonderfully and allowed many contacts to be logged. The bands did go fairly silent around the 2am time frame as I’m sure many stations went QRT for the night. An interesting note, at 0609z (1:09am Houston time), we were able to work Guam on 20m – very cool. Also, towards the beginning of Field Day, we were able to make a quick QSO with JSCARC member Milt Heflin (K5KRM). Off the top of my head, I know we were able to make QSOs with several other club members including: Terry Moore (KG5TJT) and David Fanelli (KB5PGY) – I sure there were others but those are the callsigns that jumped out at me when I was preparing the log for submission (my apologies if I missed you).

Every year, one of my sub-goals is to make a QSO with my old club back in Indiana (W9EOC) – I was able to do that fairly early and it was great to say a quick hello to some of the folks I used to operate Field Day with.

W5ACM operates AMSAT Field Day.

AMSAT Field Day operations also occurred inside SSB village. Andy MacAllister (W5ACM) and John Maca (AB5SS) provided the anchor for our AMSAT operation. Every single pass available was worked again this year. The satellite that produced the most QSOs this year was RS-44 followed by CAS-4A. Although AO-85 was lost, we were excited to work AO-27 again; however, we never heard AO-27 during Field Day. No L-band this year, so we were in and out on the FM birds making the 1 QSO permitted on SO-50, AO-91, AO-92, and PO-101. John provided his new Icom IC-9700 and it worked great! This operator spent most of his time on the HF bands, but did have an appearance in the AMSAT FD during the last two passes and closing minutes.

There was one new addition to SSB village this year – 6m FT8 (I know, it’s digital). Anyways, John set up his 6m beam on a military mast and the TS-2000 to work 6m FT8 during openings and when time permitted. There were several openings and QSOs were made in Canada, Guadeloupe, and Puerto Rico. 125 total 6m FT8 contacts were made. Great results and a likely repeat set up for next year.

At Digital Village, Kelvin Hickman (K5KGH), David Fretz (K5DLF), and Keith Grimm (KG5HOK) held down the fort by operating PSK31 and FT8. As usual, they had no problems making QSOs.

It seems every year I tell myself I’m going to get out to the other villages to see what’s going on and get a few pictures. I fully intended to make it back to Digital Village this year to get another lesson from David and Kelvin since I really haven’t done much operating on PSK31. While I was able to accomplish this last year, this year it didn’t happen. Before I knew what hit me it was midnight… time flies!

Solar CW station at W5RRR.

At CW village, Larry Menser (N6LLM) and Rick Diaz (AA4RD) set up a solar CW station to operate. They used an Icom IC-706MKII set at 5 watts. While operating QRP is a tough mountain to climb, Larry and Rick were able to get QSOs in the log with their setup. Great looking setup and thanks for putting this station on the air.

Several members operated from their home shacks or at a remote location.

Here are a few comments from their operations.

Terry Moore (KG5TJT) reported:
“I was using W5RRR to help learn my settings on my new IC-7300 and it was nice to find a familiar station at 3am.”

Thanks Terry! Hope you enjoyed the beacon… it was definitely a little slow around 3am!

W5OC’s Field Day site.

David Lee (W5OC) reported:
“Here was my setup. 10m-15m-20m K4KIO Hexbeam on Clark pneumatic mast up 30’ (couldn’t go higher due to trees) IC-703 5W w/ also Bioenno 12V 20 Ah + Sunpower 12V 125W Solar Panel.

Battery powered my microcomputer + low power display, so I could get full Class 1B battery operating credit while using N1MM+/Winkeyer. Also had 40m and 80m end fed up about 50’ in pine tree, but those didn’t perform as I hoped.  Next time will use good old zepp with balanced line. Forgot a power plug for my microcomputer, so had to disassemble box and gingerly hook up power directly on PCB via clip leads. Only blew fuses twice when clip leads shorted out a few times.  Whew!”

Great set up, Dave! Glad you were able to over come the missing power plug. Always pays off to have spare fuses.

Bob Logan (NZ5A) reported:
“I operated Class D this year for a little bit with about 80 watts from my TS-2000 and Hustler 5BTV vertical for 129 Qs.  Not many but each one fun.  I am pleased to say I did make at least one contact on every band from 80 through 2 meters.  10 was actually open a little bit to SE and Midwest.  It was a nice surprise.

As I expected, the big majority of my contact exchanges were 1D.  That’s never happened to me before in 58 years of Field Days.  I tuned and tuned for W5RRR but never heard you guys.”

I certainly noted the high number of 1D stations this year too. In fact, I was really happy seeing so many because my initial thought was most stations would not bother to operate from their home station.

Again, thank you to all members of CLARC and JSCARC. I certainly hope we are to a more normal state next year where we can all gather for Field Day, chat, eat, and play radio.


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