This year I decided to check out on my club's Field Day location. I came early and helped a bit in erecting their yagi. We finished just in time to have some lunch and we beat the rain. Erecting said antenna in the rain would have been unpleasant to say the least.
I then discovered that I was in a no-cellphone zone, and as CNY does not have many K9 resources, I felt I could not spend more time there, totally off the grid. Next year, I may just pass the local landline number to my wife and teammates etc... That premonition was well founded as I did get a call on Sunday!
I decide to operate in minimalistic mode, using just what was in my my fanny pack (a small one from www.powerportstore.com) and an 7A SLA that was on my screen porch and that I had used previously. Amount of power left in it unknown. I also had a 5A Li-Po battery that had been recently recharged as well as the internal 2.7A pack, also recently recharged. My old used SLA battery lasted me the entire field day! And yes, the poor think needs to be recharged now!
For next year, I want to be able to use a folding solar panel for recharging my battery (5-10 watts).
Well I used what was in the fanny pack the ATX and my Miracle MMD 20m antenna. No ATU, nothing else. I used the ATX on bands other than 20m, but just for a short while. Most of my work was done on 20m with the Miracle MMD antenna. I just threw the antenna from my deck to a tree, some of the antenna was horizontal, but did not go in a straight line to my rig (physical constraints of the house) and some was hanging vertically from the branches of my tree. Definitely not ideal but to me it simulated well a situation where I would be asked to get communications going in the shortest amount of time, no help, just get it done!
It got done! I had two contacts on Saturday. Competing with stronger stations was hard. I did better Sunday morning, four QSOs and I was hoping to achieve ten when a search call came to interrupt my Field Day. Since I started setting up well after the start of Field Day, regulations allowed me to operate an extra 3 hours. That's when I got most of my contacts for a total of 17. Those last few hours were good, as competition was much smaller and any station was ready to deal with a weaker signal just to get the points.
Next year, I might try operating later at night or in the wee hours of the morning, when competition is not as fierce.
Conditions were bad on 20 meters. I could hear a station loud and clear, nice and high on the S-meter just to have it fade within a few seconds.
I enjoyed working QRP. Life is not too short for it. Those who shun it don't know what fun it can be! Using 100w into a beam now seems like shooting fish in a barrel!
I think I'll continue using QRP next year. I would like to see batteries charged with a solar panel, work later at night or in the wee hours of the morning, and this time use my best portable antenna, the TransWorld Backpacker. The latter is also very easy to set up in a few minutes. But this year, I wanted to just use my fanny pack.
Now in real emergencies, I think that I still would like to be able to Tx with 100w. That means using my Icom 706MKIIG. But what I could do is use the FT-817 for listening and then turn on the IC-706MKIIG and using it to make the contact, once done, power it down till I'm ready for the next one. One of these Field Days, I may try this configuration and see whether I can conserve power while listening and still use 100w for Tx.
I kept a paper log. With 17 QSOs this is not a problem. I don't even know if N1MM will do the (IMO excessive) paperwork ARRL wants us to do. I've never so far submitted my logs for FD, just for that reason. Maybe I'll do it this year. Who knows, 17 QRP/battery QSOs might just be enough to get a mention? I don't know if I want to use my laptop for logging, as while it may make things easier to log, it means a much more complicated and less portable station.
Well I just got a Droid Incredible and hopefully soon I'll be able to log from there and send the ADIF file to my email address and import it into HRD without too many problems.
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