Winter Field Day was a mellow affair yesterday, with only four club members coming out to operate. Once again we met at Thom’s farm near Camden. This is such an ideal place to operate. There are many trees, and plenty of wide open space. You can operate indoors out of the cold or go as deep into the woods as you dare.
Last year a lot of club members came out and it was a party atmosphere. I don’t know whether the weather scared everyone off (It was about 50 degrees during the day, not bad actually) or whether folks were just too busy, but this year it was just four of us. That meant we had our choice of bands/modes to operate on. I opted for 40 meter SSB. The other guys were 20M SSB, 20M digital and 15 meter SSB. I found a tree with a clear limb about 30 feet up and tossed my line over to pull up the dipole. I connected the 817 and tuned up and it sounded great.
I managed to snag every field day station I discovered on the band, using only QRP power levels. One station told me I was S9+20. The Heil Traveler headset seemed to be working quite well also. States logged included Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Florida, and Delaware. One of the guys was working from a GOTA station with the Kershaw County Amateur Radio Club and I was his first-ever HF contact. That brought a grin to my face as I remembered making my very first HF contacts at this very same event last year.
Five QSOs in and the battery on the 817 expired. I later discovered the cold had drained it, because it fired right up with a full battery indicator later. I wandered back up to the farm house, where we had our club trailer stationed. One of the guys was giving up after making no contacts on 15. Another had logged a single QSO on 20 and was heading home. Thom was scoring a few points with PSK.
With my 817 down, I moved into the club trailer and fooled around the the FT-450 rig. I logged a couple local guys and a station out of Ohio before shutting down and heading home myself.
Overall, a low turnout for W4CAE, but I accomplished more on QRP than I thought I would. The home-brew antenna was also a nice surprise. To use a Star Wars analogy, I feel like I’ve constructed my own lightsaber!