• My First ever HF QSOs from my home station under my own call sign
  • My relatively vintage equipment worked!
  • I copied the ARRL Field Day Bulletin a few times and reconciled the copies
  • My first ever Field Day message to my Section Manager
  • But some of my things needed fixing

This is some of my Field Day story. What is yours? Anyone else who participated in Field Day is welcome to post about their efforts to this web site.

This post is a follow-up my post of October 27, “Preparations for Field Day 2020 at VA6SJA.”

Although I have participated in or visited a Field Days operation every year except four since 1994, this is the first time that I have set up and operated my own station for Field Day.

I regularly carry my cellular telephone around with me, alas, my first reaction is not to take photos when something happens. So unfortunately, I have no photos off this period

Since I was operating Class 1E, all radio operations including receiving the Bulletin would have to be under emergency power, from any of my gasoline generator, my truck battery (in my truck), and a small gel cell, as well as my laptop battery. I did however plug my laptop in to my generator power.

Starting and stopping my generator was a little complicated. The On/Off control and the starter rope were inconveniently on the side under the table shelter. So, I would lift the generator out from under the table, start or stop it and lift and push it back under the table on top of its base plywood.  I had cut the plywood base to keep the generator’s air intake grating on its bottom form plugging up from grass and leaf debris.

I was set up to receive Friday evenings CW Field Day bulletin.

At 00:00Z (Saturday, still Friday here) I used my laptop computer with the digital amateur radio program FLDIGI to decode the CW Field Day Bulletin and I also recorded the audio signal with my cell phone at the same time so I could verify spots that seemed flaky. I am not proficient at 18 wpm CW but I am able to check a text with only 2 or 3 tries. I also decoded the subsequent Field Day Bulletin in digital form with FLDIGI. This was all done using the internal speaker in the transceiver and catching the sound with the microphones in the laptop and the cell phone.   I read enough to get a general sense and later reconciled these files as I was preparing my report for the ARRL.

Whenever I shut down the generator overnight, I put the ends of my extension cord and the transmission line from the temporary HF antenna outside the garage under an elevated planter box.

I haven’t used my Kenwood TS-50 transceiver very much and I enjoyed getting used to the operation of it and its associated AT-50 automatic tuner.  I noticed that my transceiver entered tune mode automatically whenever I selected a new band with the Band Up/Down buttons. It also decided to retune at its predetermined intervals as I was tuning across a band. It seemed to be mostly OK with my offset non-resonant dipole. So, all I had to do was call. I could get used to this!

After the Field Day period started at local noon on Saturday, in tuning around I eventually heard Garry VE6CIA in a 40-meter QSO with VE6FI north of Edmonton. When that QSO was over I answered VE6FI’s CQ and logged my first ever Field Day contact from my home station under my own call sign (on my laptop)! I logged that one at 18:49.

I made a 2-meter contact with station VE6CIA at 19:55 my handheld, powered by my gel cell. I had prepared a formal NTS message for the Alberta, etc., Section Manager who, coincidentally, is Garry. I took the opportunity to send this message on 2 meters. Now that was worth 50 contacts for me. I did learn that trying to explain possessive apostrophe’s in the middle of words is hard in a verbal formal NTS type message. It is probably better not to use punctuation in the middle of words in a formal message.

I tuned up and down. I made a few QSOs. I found that my generator caused some impulse noise on the 40 metre band, which was easily controlled by the noise blanker built in to the TS-50.

I heard a loud station, VE6BLD, calling CQ but I did not have the RF punch to break through his pileup.

I logged my 16th QSO with VA4PAR at 23:07. That was my final QSO of Saturday, our local time when I was called for the evening meal.

On Sunday morning I started again, using my truck battery and contacted W0G on 20 meters at 1441Z. That turned out to be my last QSO of the Field Day Period. Doug VE5DCP advised me that Sunday conditions were not very good.

If I remember correctly, I called CQ a few times, particularly on 15 meters. I did not get any answers.

At about 14300Z I decided that the neighbours would have to live with generator noise. As I was changing the power supply cables one of my newly installed Powerpole connectors came apart! I thought about my priorities and I decided that I wanted a station that I could count on next time. So, I repaired the connector, which is a bit of a fiddly job. The lesson that I learned is that the 45 ampere Powerpole inserts are easier to crimp and solder for relatively large wires than the 15-amp or 30-amp cup inserts.

I dug out my computer to radio CW cable. I had forgotten if my TS-50 would give sidetone as it was keyed so I decided not to try that form of CW. And I was not confident of my skill. I will have to push myself harder next time.

I had managed to make QSOs with stations in Alberta, Alaska, British Columbia, Manitoba, Minnesota, Oregon, the Sacramento Valle in California and Western Washington State. Well, that’s a tiny start on my DXCC!

VA6SJA QSOs Field Day 2020
Map Generated by N3FJP ARRL Field Day Contest Logger

I was so used to the 24-hour operating time of Class A stations that I forgot that I could operate until 2100Z Sunday. Later, Mike VE6MIM old me that he and Garry VE6CIA had made some CW contact on various bands during our local Sunday afternoon. I will have to remember that a home station can operate those hours next time.

I wrapped up the scoring by using my N3FJP logging program to prepare a summary and a list of contacts for each band-mode and submitting my entry via the ARRL Web Applet on June 29.

Even though I only made 17 QSOs I feel that this Field Day operation was an accomplishment for me. I set up and operated a station that actually made 2-way HF QSOs. I made my first ever HF QSOs from my home station (under any of the 3 call signs that I have held), reaching as far as Alaska, California and Minnesota.! I copied the Field Day Bulletin in two transmission modes and used all copies to make a correct transcription!  I successfully sent a first ever Field Day message to my Section Manager (any Field Day under any of 3 call signs I have held). I later found out that I had received a couple of eQSL cards which. I have now confirmed them.

But I also found some things that need fixing, like my Powerpole connection and my previously found RG-213 length. And my rusty Big Dummy Dummy Load could use refurbishing.

All in all, I had fun and this was a new accomplishment for me.