The 2013 SPAR Winter Field Day is over for another year, allowing us time to thaw out before the next one arrives. This year myself, Don VE3MNE, and Bill VA3WOW chose to go to a small uninsulated summer cottage on the shores of Leggat Lake, in Central Frontenac County for the weekend and operate from there.
The first surprise of the weekend was the lack of snow in Central Frontenac at this time of year, normally there is a couple of feet down, this year it barely covered the gravel on the road. On the positive side this made it a safe drive in to the site......which is always a bonus.
|Don VE3MNE working DX|
The propagation numbers didn't look too promising as we left on Saturday morning. They were SFI-101; SN-44; A Index-6; and the K Index 3. But it actually wasn't that bad for us, most remote operating sites are very quiet, and Leggat Lake was no different. In fact we had a probable gain of 5 to 6 db compared to our home QTH's, as we had no background noise to fight at all at the lake.
First item on the agenda upon arrival at the cottage was to get the stove going, the place hadn't been used since last October was absolutely freezing. It took nearly 5 hours to finally get the place comfortably warm.......but we suffered through it.
We operated two HF stations, both of them FT-857D's, into simple wire antennas. The antennas of choice this weekend was a 31' foot vertical with nine 16' radials laid out on the snow, and a 66' longwire.
The 66' longwire was a bit of a last minute decision. Don and I had originally planned to use a 44' Doublet, and in fact had it in the truck to use, but we had also recently build some 9:1 Baluns for use with long wire antennas and this was the perfect opportunity to try one out.
The longwire went from the top of a 25' TV tower and was sloped down to lake level where it attached to the 9:1 Balun. A 31' radial was attached and simply laid out on the ice 90 degrees to the wire. The balun was actually just sitting on top of a 18" log out on the ice. Both antennas were up and ready by 1130, just in time for the 1200 start of the event.
Over the weekend we heard, and worked quite a few stations working winter field day. In the past we have been lucky to work one or two. Perhaps this is a sign that the event is finally catching on! We did work DX station after DX station, if we could hear them we could work them.
|This shows the 9:1 Balun location for the 66' long |
wire out on the ice.
The propagation figures for Sunday were SFI-97; SN-55; A Index-18; and K Index 1. To be very honest we didn't notice any change in the bands or propagation on Sunday.
Besides South Africa we worked: Cuba, Azores, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Puerto Rico, UK, USA, Canada, and Russia......but alas, no VA3QV!!
It was a great weekend, good food, good wine, and a warm fire....just what the doctor ordered.
It's obvious that the Winter Field Day event needs a lot more advertising done to roust out more operators. It's a good time and has several options that will allow you to take part in it....and no, you don't have to operate from the field outdoors if you don't wish to. It was born out of the idea that not all emergencies and disasters happen in the middle of summer,and that we must be prepared to operate under all conditions...good and bad. It deserves to be better supported by the Emcomm community at large.
Thanks to Ross and Vicky for the use of their cottage.