I seem to be one of the few hams that really doesn’t care for Field Day. It starts too late in the day, the scores don’t really mean anything, and it’s generally been a mess every year I’ve participated.
Here in the south, Field Day typically falls on a brutally hot day of the year, which always leads to an afternoon storm. It’s damp, muggy, and miserable. Still, I get the point, and there are aspects of it that are fun — the food and friends mostly.
I mentioned in my last post that I’d fallen out of love with the hobby a bit. I’ve only recently taken some steps to get back on-board after nearly a year of being off the air at home. While ambitious plans were in place at both of the clubs I visit, I decided I wasn’t going to even visit the FD sites. That did change, as I wanted to see some of my old buddies.
The folks at Dutch Fork had a relatively quiet, competitive effort going and word has it they cleared more than 1,000 QSOs. That’s great. They also have the benefit of running from a nicely appointed shack/EOC with real antennas.
The club I was formerly president of, The Columbia Amateur Radio Club, planned a gathering at an exceptionally beautiful lakeside retreat. The difference there is you’d never know a ham event was taking place, as all the operators were huddled in their own campers/trailers. I did speak with one of my favorite gents of the hobby, Bill, W4FSV, who was old-schooling it in a picnic shelter with a KX3, low dipole and his CW paddles.
I arrived home from my Field Day tour and my wife and I had a leisurely meal, followed by a craft beer run. It was after 9 p.m. when I finally turned on the rig and began operating.
The bands sounded decent, with SSB featuring the usual chaotic mess. I tuned over to the RTTY portion of 20 meters and started there, then clicked over to 40 meters.
Hey guys, pro tip: don’t use PSK macros for RTTY in a “contest” situation. I don’t need all the “best 73 and good DX, god bless, logging this QSO at 01:38:00 GMT / dit-dit” crap. Just provide the class and section, preferably 2-3 times, and regurgitate my callsign so I know you have it properly. I half expected to get “WX here raining, 73 degrees” on some of these exchanges. Also, why bother sending a paragraph of text to tell a station he’s a dupe? Log it (or don’t) and move on.
Yeah I know… “it’s not a contest.” That’s why the curmudgeon in me ended up going to CW and staying there for a long time. Lean, fast QSOs and no BS, as always. I wasn’t sitting in a pile feverishly screaming my callsign into the mic — I was working stations. And while I never achieved a fast rate, it was steady, and I worked everything I heard.
I ended the night after about three hours of operating with 102 QSOs. I planned to try for more the next morning, but I overslept and it was nearly noon when I got back on the air. 10 meters was jumping and I managed the most SSB of the event on this band. Ultimately I reverted back to RTTY/CW and finished with 125 QSOs in the log.
That’s not a lot of QSOs, but when I think back to my first “serious” overnight FD a few years back, I struggled to even get a hundred. In fact, I think this may have been the most QSOs I’ve ever logged on Field Day. No doubt, working from the peace and quiet of my home station probably helped.