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Field Day and other thoughts

Field Day 2013 is packed up and our scores have been submitted. This in many ways was an extraordinary year for us, no matter what the final score may indicate. We had a terrific team setting up on Friday, which included erecting two towers and most of the tents by the end of day Friday, a feat we have never done before. The Saturday operation had all stations working, our VE exams in session, food on the grill and some fascinating discussions on satellite operations. There truly was much to see and do and, from the various reports so far, we all seemed to have had a great time. The ink wasn’t even dry on the scoreboard when we were already discussing improvements for next year and talking about some of the real trouble spots. One issue this year was that we had encountered much more noise than usual. Certainly, operating as we have just under the huge power lines presents some challenges, but we have not noticed much impact in years past. No question the noise floor kept us from really getting some of the weaker stations, still there seemed to be plenty of loud stations to work. The key, as we all know, is to hold a band and just keep calling for stations. CQ Field Day is still emblazed in my brain! Still the noise on 80 was terrible.

I did do some preliminary driving around the sit the day after Field Day and I found a huge amount of noise from some local power lines, but it seemed greatly diminished as we got closer to our site. What I could not duplicate was the impact our generators, long power runs and feed lines had on the stations. So, more than in most years, we have some issues to sort through. 6 meters had a beautiful opening Sunday morning…and while we could hear many, we could not work them. That is always frustrating and seems to indicate that we could benefit from a real beam on transmit. We learned that there is real power in PSK…we garnered almost 200 points from this station alone, so between RTTY and PSK, there are some opportunities to get more points.

Time will tell if we were able to keep our winning position from last year. We know we are down about 700 points from last year, but in many ways, the points are not the only measure of a good Field Day. I don’t know how many local clubs decided not to have a Field Day. That is even more disappointing, so I am very grateful to our group that we still have the interest, energy and manpower to pull off a real Field Day. There are too many people to thank than I have space here. All I can say is it takes each and every one of you making your own special contribution to make the NSRC Field Day the success it has become.

From a PR point of view, it was very rewarding for me to show the FEMA coordinator from DuPage County, Dave Adler, our operation and discuss the purpose of this event. He asked many hard questions but I think he walked away thinking there truly is a place for ham radio in the lexicon of response tools for emergencies and disasters. In the end, that is the purpose of all of this effort and to have him walk away with the impression that ham radio can deliver when the going gets tough was exactly what we were hoping to show.

So, thank you all for making FD 2013 so much fun. I know I had a couple of fabulous 40 meter runs that were my personal best. Like golf, you get a couple of runs like that and you want to come back for more. Of course, soon as I took a break from my last run and came back to the tent to keep the rush going, the band died and the Q’s stopped flowing in…so I left in frustration and started to focus instead on the final stages of clean up and wrap up. Because of the extraordinary effort of a few people, we had put Field Day 2013 back to its resting place in our storage locker by Tuesday that next week. Another first!

Thanks all.