Sunday, 28 June 2020

Field Day 2020 - the outcome...

It was just not the same operating on my own rather than with the guys in the club.  It was thoroughly enjoyable and a tough slog, but, we have to stay safe - especially as we have had another outbreak of the covid-19 here in Kingston this week.

This year I entered the event as 1B, QRP, and SSB only.  This is the first time I have entered Field Day as QRP since we formed the QRP Club.  It certainly was a learning experience.

The starting propagation at 1801 UTC on Saturday was:  SFI = 67, SN = 0, A Index = 4, and the K Index = 1.   As is becoming usual around here, these numbers were not the best.  We have operated Field Day QRO a few years ago with numbers very similar to these and still did a good job, so there was hope.

Coupled with the poor propagation numbers was some extremely deep QSB on all bands.  A station would be S8 and a second later they would be totally gone.  Very tough conditions to work.

The ARRLs decision to temporarily modify the rules was, in my opinion, an absolute disaster. I'm sure the ARRL will scream that this year was the "Largest Field Day Turnout in History!" within the next couple weeks as the logs begin to roll in, and of course the numbers look good for their amateur radio publicity, but Field Day should not be a numbers game. It might just well have been any other contest weekend. 

 

The people who actually participated in the real SPIRIT of Field Day had absolutely no chance at all. They were getting completely blown away by the D and E stations running large antennas and amplifiers. That's all you heard. I'm just guessing right now without looking at my log, but I would say easily 95% of the contacts I made were Class D and E. 

 

Radio used was the KX3, and the antennas were my 80m OCF Dipole and the 80m-10m EFHW.  Thankfully, I had no issues with any of my equipment at all, it all worked perfectly.

I mainly used the EFHW as I wanted to give it a really good workout this weekend, and a good workout it got.  I managed to work stations from Southern California to Northern Ireland, all with very little problems.  If I could hear them, I always managed to work them.  

On Saturday 20m was operating very short, and it was very noisy no matter which antenna I used.  Of course we had thunder storms all over the place and I actually had to shut down for 1.5 hours while one raged over me before it slowly moved away to the east.  

My main band on Saturday was 40m as 20m was a nightmare.  There were many high power 1D and 1E stations calling and splattering all over.  There were not so many 1B's though, which is a great shame.  In fact 40m kept me so busy, even into the late night, that I forgot to go down to 80m and have a listen around to see who was there to work.

Sunday morning came very early, and the propagation was the same, except for the SFI which had risen to 68.  Not much of a difference I know, but it seemed to help.

I have always enjoyed operating Field Day on Sunday morning.  It seems to me that the band quiets down as many of the American operators shut down and go to church.  That allows we pagan QRP'ers to get some good contacts in the log.   Stations I could not get near for the large pileups on Saturday were answering me on the first call Sunday morning.  It was great.  In fact my rate went up to 16 contacts an hour......not bad for QRP!!

On Sunday I managed to work stations on 20m, 15m, and a big surprise....on 10m as well.  The QSB was not as bad as Saturday, but it was still there.  It was great to hear 10m open....However......some of the worse behaviour of the weekend was heard there.  It seems to me that some operators, note I did not call them hams, like to go out of their way to cause trouble.  I just don't get it.

At 1800 UTC I shut down with 111 QRP SSB contacts in the log.  I'm very happy with that, in fact it's many more than I thought I would make.

The map below, from the N3FJP logging program, shows the Provinces and States worked, and it shows the reach of the new EFHW antenna.  I'm sure you will agree that it's working pretty well.




My contact breakdown is:

40m = 60
20m = 23
15m = 21
10m = 7

Overall it was a great weekend, different from the usual Field Day, but hopefully we can all get safely back to normal times, or as normal as it can get, next summer. 

I hope you are all staying safe!!

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