2020 Winter Field Day - Jan 25-26
2020-01-25 Well, I did it, Winter Field Day, 2020. None of my ham friends were available, willing or both, so I ended up alone. When I carefully read the rules I realized that I could set up in my detached garage which is more than 30 feet from my ham shack in the house. And since it is not heated, by leaving the garage door open to the elements, I think I was legal as 1O-WI. At least that is what I claimed!
As the pictures show it is truly winter here in southeastern Wisconsin. Thankfully it is not bitter cold at about 36 degrees all day. Last year this time was -16! We did have a snow event most of yesterday and overnight adding about 4 inches to the about 5 inches already on the ground. Being a fairly wet heavy snow that clung to everything it tested my three simi-permanently installed "portable" antennas strung from my fiberglass fishing poles considerably. But since I always string them up with light weight bungee cord AND they were supported by those fiberglass poles, though they drooped nicely, one even to the ground, they were intact. A light tap with a broom stick dropped the snow and they snapped up into place! For the record, I DID NOT use those today as they were already set up and WFD requires that any antenna must be set up specifically for the WFD event - TODAY!
My antenna for the day was a Wolf River Coils TIA with the mini coil and their three 33 ft radials. I fed it with a 50 foot RG-58 coax. I used my NanoVNA to make sure the SWR looked good, which it did. I actually set it up yesterday temporarily and adjusted the dual coils for the 40 and 20 meter bands and they required no further adjustments when I set it up again today. The dual collars available from Wolf River Coils are a very useful addition to an already good antenna.
My station setup was a temporary table made with a couple of shelf boards laid across a two sawhorses in the middle of my detached garage. I always wondered why one would have a detached garage in Wisconsin. Now I know, Winter Field Day! I elected to keep the lights off for the event to make it even more authentic. I had to bring a counter stool from the house to sit on as the height of the saw horses is NOT camp-chair friendly! The arrangement gave me plenty solid space for everything.
My rig was my xiegu G90 transceiver with mic and straight key. I had both my miady 6Ah and Boienno Power 4.5Ah batteries charged up. Turns out for my operation either one would have provided ample power. I opted for the miady. Its voltage had only dropped about half a volt after my two hours of operating.
For logging I used the VLSLogger app on my Android phone, the first time I've used it for anything. It works pretty well. I decided that I would take notes on each contact and then immediately enter it into VLS Logger since I can't do two things at a time very well! I wasn't in a hurry so that worked well for me. I don't do these contests for competition but for fun, for the experience. I logged eight contacts over the two hours. Seven on 20 meters and one on 40 meters.
Observations. I noticed that most of the stations I heard were in the south and southeast! Florida was booming in here. But I logged one station in Arizona as well. Six contacts were CW, the other two were SSB. I learned fairly quickly that there wasn't much use in calling the Big Guns. They were always swamped and never heard me. But the moderate to weaker stations tended to hear me. I guess in this case, likes attract! Actually, I find that in most contests. The loud stations are too fast and too popular for my little signal and moderate speed. I know for them it's about winning but it would be nice if once in a while they would pause and call for ONLY lower power stations. But that's OK, I'm happy with what I got. It is my choice (well partly my pocketbook's too) to run compromise antennas and lower power.
Would I do it again? Probably. NOT if it were near zero outside! It would be nice to have some company. I'll work on my friends for next year! In the meantime, time to get to work for Summer Field Day, June 27-28, just five short months away! After suffering through about three hours (including setup) at 36 degrees, I may spend all 25 hours sitting outside unprotected! Except for mosquito netting!!!!!