For the third year in a row, the Athens County Amateur Radio Association (ACARA) put forth a Field Day effort. The ACARA participated in the 1997 ARRL Field Day with an all-QRP effort at the fire tower in the Waterloo Experimental Forest with the callsign AA8EB.
The club participated in class 1A-Battery, meaning "One transmitter, Club or non-club group, Power output of five watts maximum".
A total of 394 QSOs resulted in a score of 4550 points. A breakdown of QSOs per band can be found below. Bonus points were earned for 100% Emergency Power, Media Publicity, Public Place, Information Booth, W1AW Field Day Message, Natural Power, Packet Radio, Satellite QSO, and VHF/UHF.
WD8RIF provided most of the equipment used at the HF station, including the tent. The HF station consisted of WD8RIF's QRP+ and KC8GLI's MFJ roller-inductor tuner. The QRP+ was powered for most of the event by WD8RIF's 25Ah battery, but the Natural Power bonus was earned by making ten QSOs with the QRP+ being powered by WD8RIF's solar-charged 2.5Ah battery. QSOs were logged to paper and duping was performed on WD8RIF's old, power-hungry, 80286 laptop running WR9Y software. WB6JBM provided the 60Ah battery that powered the computer. WD8RIF also provided the CMOS Super Keyer II keyer and Bencher paddle.
The antenna farm consisted of numerous wire antennas. AA8EB's 330' vee-beam extended west south-west from the 55' level of the tower, across the access road to the trees at the far end of a "wait-a-minute" bush and sycamore bush infested meadow. (Please note: the vee-beam did, in fact, extend over the power lines, but WD8JLM is recently retired from AEP and he learned, both from consulting the AEP maps and by physically following the lines looking for the disconnect, that the lines were dead and grounded.) A 40m delta loop and a 20m delta loop were suspended from carrier ropes sloping from the tower to the ground. Both delta loops were rotated during the evening by moving the stakes at the lower corners. The 80m legs of an 80/40m fan dipole extended east from the tower to a willing tree about two hundred feet away with the 40m legs sloping to the ground. The deltas performed well and the 80/40m fan dipole performed as well as can be expected. The vee-beam was a slight disappointment; this antenna was just a little bit too big for the location, and the far ends were amongst the trees and too close to the ground. It did help, however, in working California stations.
The HF station was set up in the screen-room half of an 8'x12' two-room tent. This turned out to work very well. The screens allowed the breeze through, and by hanging a lantern outside the tent, light was provided for nighttime operations but the bugs were kept out.
The HF station was operated by AA8EB, WB6JBM, and WD8RIF, with additional logging help provided by KC8GLI and by the as-yet unlicensed Matt Powell. Propogation was tough on 20m and 40m when the event started Saturday afternoon, but by the time operations switched to 80m the QSO rate soared, and it stayed high even on 40m and 20m until shutdown at 1800Z Sunday. AA8EB and WB6JBM share the honor of having the highest QSO rates of the event. The HF station made 333 QSOs in 43 states. (Only Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Carolina were missed.)
N8XWO provided most of the equipment for the VHF station. His Kenwood all-mode 2m rig was used for 2m FM and SSB, and his MFJ 6m SSB rig was used for 6m SSB. He also provided the batteries used for these two rigs. The VHF station was setup under the awning of his camper. A military 50' rotatable carbon fiber mast provided by WD8RIF was erected and supported a 4-element 2m yagi and a 2-element 6m yagi. This station was operated by N8XWO, WD8JLM, KC8GLI, and WB6JBM.
Two Meters was not very productive, producing fourteen QSOs with stations in OH, WV, WNY, IN, and WPA. Six Meters, on the other hand, went like gangbusters, producing thirty-seven QSOs with stations in ID, IA, SD, GA, WV, VA, OH, NTX, STX, and WPA. Fully eighteen of these QSOs were with stations in Texas!
A 2m packet QSO was successfully made, thus earning the 100 point packet radio bonus. In addition, the W1AW Field Day Bulletin was grabbed via the 2m packet station, thanks to Ted Jacobson W8KVK, earning an additional 100 point bonus.
As with last year, an attempt to earn the Satellite QSO bonus was made using the Russian satellite RS-12. However, unlike last year, this year success was achieved! The 10m/15m fan dipole was suspended between two trees at just-above-head height, and WD8RIF used his IC-735 in cross-band split mode to work CW through RS-12 on Mode K (15m up, 10m down). To help ensure success, WB6JBM listened to the downlink frequency on the QRP+.
The weather for this event was just about ideal. It didn't rain. It wasn't windy. It wasn't too hot. Daytime high temperatures climbed only to about 85 degrees. Nighttime lows dropped only to about 60 degrees. There were some biting flies and mosquitoes, but not so many that Deep Woods Off was inadequate.
Mayor Rick Abel of Athens has declared the week of 22 June through 29 June as Amateur Radio Week. Here is the proclamation.Lessons:
As was the experience in the previous events, on HF the QRP power level wasn't found to be a handicap as long as band conditions were good. Most stations heard were eventually worked.
Last year the improved QRP Plus (QRP++) was used, and was a major disappointment. Strong signals outside the receiver passband rendered the entire band unusable. This year the original version QRP+, while significantly less sensitive than the QRP++, was much more usable. Only on a few occasions on 80m did the receiver exhibit the "thumping" that was such a problem on the QRP++.
The 50' mast and yagis for VHF was a killer combination. The QRP power level wasn't found to be a handicap. The MFJ 6m SSB rig was very impressive with wonderful receive audio and a hot receiver. All stations heard were eventually worked.
Once again, the computerized logging/duping was found to extremely useful. The 60Ah battery was more than adequate to supply the power-hungry laptop PC for the twenty-four hours. The VHF station worked enough stations that next year a duping computer will be considered for them, too.
QSOs per band:
Field Day '97 results were posted in the November, 1997 QST. The ACARA achieved a 6th out of 28 entries in class 1A-Battery with 4550 points. The 1st place effort had a steller score of 8200 points. The ACARA score was within striking distance of the fifth-place team, who had 5105 points. It seems class 1A-Battery is becoming more popular and competition is getting more fierce.
Reports of other QRP Field Day Efforts