Monday, 30 June 2014

Field Day - 2014

Richard- VA3VDP  in the "Digital Shack"

What a weekend we had!  The weather was just about perfect, and the rain stayed away…what more could we ask for?

Many thanks go out to Don, VE3MNE, for once again hosting the team at his property on Hay Bay.  I’m not sure what we would do if we didn’t have access to the “Ranch”.

Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday was spent cleaning up, mowing the huge lawn, and pulling out various pieces of equipment and old antennas to see what we needed to fix and repair. The big job we did first – fixing the 160m OCF Dipole that had come down over the winter.

Thursday evening we worked some good DX while testing out the dipoles.  I managed to work V63YM, Silvio in Yap, Micronesia, and VK3QD, Aubrey in Melbourne, Australia.  Not too bad with a 100w into a wire antenna.

Sunset on Hay Bay Friday evening
By Friday afternoon most of the team had arrived and had set themselves and their equipment up in various locations around the property.  Tim, VA3TIC’s set-up had to be seen to be believed….there’s not too many mobile 30 foot towers with three element beams about……but Tim has one.

Friday evening we all left for Wellington, and the Sandbank’s Grill at 1700 hours for our traditional supper out.  The beer was cold, the food was good, the stories flowed......and we all had a great time.

Saturday morning was spent doing antenna and interference checks between the five stations, and after a few tweaks and at least one total antenna change we were ready at last.  1400 hrs came and the bands erupted in near total chaos as Field Day kicked off.  It truly was, as Dave, VA3ORP, would put it, a very high electronic warfare environment.  It took me about 30 minutes to get my ears adjusted to the noise and the rhythm of the bands. 

Saturday afternoon the bands were all very short and we were not getting any distance out of them.  The 40m station was only getting out about 200 Kms, and the other stations were much the same.  By about 2000 hrs the bands started to get a bit normal and we started to see the movement out west. 

Richard, VA3VDP, our resident digital mode guru did very well this year, just about doubling last years score.  He must have been helped by the fact he had the "coolest" position of the weekend....and the view wasn't too bade either.

One of our Club members is on vacation in New Brunswick this week, we did hear him operating as a /VE9 on a couple of occasions.  We never did have a QSO with him, but that was due more to the shock of hearing him on SSB instead of CW !!!

Derek - VE3HRW getting the 10m position ready for launching

Making contacts got more and more difficult to do, even though the SFI numbers kept improving!!  By Sunday morning we were struggling to find contacts on fairly busy bands.  Unfortunately, the propagation God’s never really smiled upon us, but the good news is that the propagation God’s never smiled upon anyone else either.

I don’t have a definitive score yet, but it’s around 1019 before we tack on the extra points we are eligible for.  We have done very well over the past 5 years, consistantly placing in the top 4 clubs in the 5AC category.  So we are hoping to at least equal our standing of the past few years.

There were a number of visitors to the site over the weekend, Ted, VE3KEH and his XYL Margaret, VE3WIR.  It was good to finally put a face to Ted after talking to him many times on the our repeater.  Matt, VA3OZI, came out to the site twice!  The second time he brought out the whole family.  It was very nice to see everyone.

All in all it was an excellent radio weekend…….and only 364 days to go till the next one.

Our 2014 Field Day Map showing the result.

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