Winter Field Day 2019

Between errands and other obligations, I squeezed in a little time for Winter Field Day. I was only on for about 3 hours over the weekend but it was still fun.

On Saturday, I went to one of my usual Winter operating spots, Black Rock Sanctuary. (It’s one of a few local parks that have Porta-Potties year round.) I used my usual stationary-mobile set-up and operated from inside the truck.  I operated in category 1O from EPA.

WB3GCK operating in Winter Field Day 2019. If you look closely, you can see a microphone connected to my KX3. Yep. I actually made some SSB contacts.
WB3GCK operating in Winter Field Day 2019. If you look closely, you can see a microphone connected to my KX3. Yep. I actually made some SSB contacts.

I got off to a rough start, though. My trusty Palm Mini paddles gave me some problems. The connector at the paddles wasn’t making reliable contact. After fiddling with it for a while, I managed to get them working again. I’m babying these paddles since Palm is no longer in business and parts are unavailable.

After I got on the air, I found that 40M was wide open. I was able to work pretty much any station I could hear. In a little over an hour of operating, I logged 19 contacts — all on 40M CW.

I packed up and headed home to have dinner with my (far) better half, who had been out of town most of the week. I also went to work on my Palm paddles with some contact cleaner.

On Sunday, I headed back to Black Rock to make a few more contacts. This time my paddles worked right off the bat. (Note to self: Hey, Craig! Do some maintenance on your portable keys once in a while, will ya!)

The QSOs came a bit slower this time around. In two hours, I logged 20 contacts on 40M and 20M. I even made some SSB contacts for the extra multipliers. (That’s a fairly rare thing for me.) My best “DX” of the day was California.

When it starting getting tough to find “fresh meat” on the bands, I decided to pack up and head home. It wasn’t the most adventurous Winter Field but it was fun to get out there to make a few contacts.

72, Craig WB3GCK

Winter Field Day 2018

I had every intention of doing something special for Winter Field Day (WFD) this year but Life-in-General got in the way. I hadn’t made any particular plans, so I decided to do a little operating from some local parks.

Day One

I drove out to nearby Upper Schuylkill Valley Park for a few hours on Saturday afternoon and parked in a spot with a nice view of the Schuylkill River. We were experiencing some above average temperatures this weekend (it was 55° F today), so I actually had my window rolled down.

My location at Upper Schuylkill Valley Park for Winter Field Day 2018
My location at Upper Schuylkill Valley Park for Winter Field Day 2018

I set up my 19-foot vertical in the back of the truck and my KX3 in the cab of the truck just in time for the start of the contest. I operated in the Outdoor category (1O), running QRP CW only.

In just under 2 hours, I logged 21 stations on 40 and 20 meters. Part of that time was spent chatting with a curious passerby. I spent about 10 minutes talking about ham radio with him. After he left, I made a few more contacts before heading home for the evening.

Day Two

What a difference a day makes. On Sunday morning, I operated from Black Rock Sanctuary, just outside Phoenixville. While the temperature was still fairly moderate (47° F), it rained steadily all morning. I had to cover up my antenna components with plastic to keep everything dry.

My vertical antenna wearing its raincoat
My vertical antenna wearing its raincoat

The 40M band was in pretty good shape, so I spent most of my time there. I checked 20M once or twice but there was another contest going on and I didn’t hear any Winter Field Day CW activity.

Winter Field Day at Black Rock Sanctuary
Winter Field Day at Black Rock Sanctuary

After about 1.5 hours, I matched yesterday’s effort with another 21 contacts. I even dragged out the microphone (gasp!) and made 4 SSB contacts. One of the SSB contacts was with WW1USA from the World War I museum in Missouri. He was also giving out WFD exchanges.

WB3GCK hunkered down for Winter Field Day on a rainy Sunday morning
WB3GCK hunkered down for Winter Field Day on a rainy Sunday morning

Overall, I worked 42 stations in 24 sections and 21 states. I’m certainly not a threat to win but I’m happy with the results of my meager effort. It was great to hear all the CW activity this year.

I didn’t spend a lot of time on WFD this year but it certainly was fun. Maybe next year I’ll do something more adventurous like Winter camping. We’ll see.

72, Craig WB3GCK

Winter Field Day 2017

Well, there wasn’t much “field” in Winter Field Day (WFD) for me.  My XYL and I traveled out to central Pennsylvania for the weekend to babysit our 2-year old grandson.  My plan was to sneak out into the backyard for a few hours each day to operate in WFD as category 1O (outdoor).  Before the weekend, however, I came down with a wicked cold (courtesy of my other grandson).  I decided that operating out in the cold probably wasn’t a good idea.

I strapped my 31-foot Jackite pole to the fence in the backyard and used it to support the far end of my LNR EFT-10/20/40 end-fed halfwave antenna.  The feed point was just inside a second story window.  I set up my KX3 and operated under battery power.  I read over the rules and concluded that I was a “1H” (home) station.

My temporary indoor station for Winter Field Day
My temporary indoor station for Winter Field Day

After setting up, I had a warm-up QSO on 20M with K0WEW in Kansas.   Everything appeared to be working.  I operated mostly during nap time (my grandson’s, not mine).  With just a couple of hours of actual operating,  I ended up with 20 CW Winter Field Day stations in the log.  I’m sure I could have logged more if I had plugged in the microphone.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Outside of the contest, I worked TM1A (France) in the REF Contest (on 40 meters, no less).  I also had a nice two-way QRP QSO with W4MQC.  Alan was operating portable from New Hampshire.

Even though it wasn’t much of a Field Day for me, it wasn’t without some excitement.  At one point, all the signals on 40 meters suddenly dropped way down.  I looked out the window and saw that the wind caused my Jackite pole to collapse putting half of my antenna on the ground.  My halyard line got caught between two sections of the pole when it collapsed.  It took me about 30 minutes to get that mess straightened out.

My hat goes off to all the hardy hams who braved the cold for Winter Field Day.  Hopefully, next year I’ll get out there, too.

73, Craig WB3GCK

Winter Field Day 2016

My original plan was to get outside or, depending on the weather, operate “stationary-mobile” from my truck for Winter Field Day 2016.  However, my XYL and I had a long-standing obligation to head out of town for a weekend of babysitting our grandson.  So, “Plan B” was put into effect.  I would have to operate in the “Indoor” category and, at least, hand out some points to those braving the elements.

On Saturday morning, I started to set up my portable station at my daughter’s house.  I secured the feed point of my LNR EFT-10/20/40 end-fed antenna and tossed the rest of the antenna out of a second story window.

Antenna support for my LNR EFT-10/20/40 EFHW antenna
Antenna support for my LNR EFT-10/20/40 EFHW antenna

The next part was a little tricky since there was still more than a foot of snow in the backyard and I neglected to bring boots.  Anyway, I trudged through the snow to secure my 31-foot Jackite pole to the fence.  I used three velcro cinch straps that I had recently purchased.  I used some twine to hoist up the far end of the antenna.  It turned out to be mostly horizontal but with a little bit of sag in it.  Then, I set up my YouKits HB-1B and my logging computer on the dining room table.

My portable station for Winter Field Day 2016
My portable station for Winter Field Day 2016

About 2 hours before the start of Winter Field Day, I fired up my YouKits HB-1B and had a nice 2-way QRP chat with John, W3FSA, up in Maine. So, my slightly sagging antenna wasn’t doing too badly.

In between entertaining my 1-year-old grandson and taking my grand-dog out for walks, I got on the radio.  There didn’t seem to be a large number of stations on, so I bounced back and forth between 40 and 20 meters.  At the end of the first day, I had worked 22 stations and a few stations not in the contest.

I got on for a bit on Sunday morning but things had really thinned out a lot.  I made a few non-contest contacts.  It was a while before I heard any WFD activity.  I only managed to pick up one new one.   Around 10 AM, I packed up and tore down my antenna.

With my 23 contacts, I certainly didn’t set any records.  It was, however, a fun event.  Hopefully, I can get outdoors next year.

72, Craig WB3GCK