I operated in the first-ever International Field Radio Event on May 28th. (See my earlier post for information on this event.) A few days before the event, I decided to operate near the Hopewell Fire Tower in French Creek State Park. The day before the event, my XYL and two of our grandchildren accompanied me on a hike to scout out operating locations. I found a small clearing in the woods near the fire tower. It was off the beaten path and looked like it would work out for me.
The next day I got off to an early start and headed back to the little clearing. There wasn’t enough room to toss a line up in a tree, so I used two Velcro® straps to secure my 31-foot Jackite pole to a tree. I set up a 29.5-foot vertical wire supported by the pole and laid out two radials on the ground. I fed the antenna through a 4:1 unun and a short length of coax. I set up my KX3 on a small table near the tree and was soon ready to get started.
It was tough going for this event. Band conditions were less than stellar and 20 meters was wall-to-wall with CQ WW WPX CW Contest stations. I spent my time searching for other Field Radio Event stations, both CW and (gulp) SSB. After a few hours, I only had 3 CW contacts on 30 meters in my log. None of them were Field Radio stations. One was a National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) activation in Kentucky and the other two were rag chews with stations in Florida and Michigan.
One pleasant surprise was an eyeball QSO with Jerry K3BZ. Jerry was walking near my location and noticed me back in the woods. He stopped by to say hello and introduce himself. After chatting with Jerry for a bit, I packed up and headed home.
I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t work any other Field Radio Event stations. On the Field Radio group page on Facebook, many other stations reported similar disappointing results. There is talk about conducting another International Field Radio Event later this year. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that band conditions will be better and that there won’t be a major contest going on that weekend.
73/72, Craig WB3GCK