QRZ Logbook

Monday, June 23, 2008

Field Day and all that jazz

Field Day is upon us this week. It's one of my favorite activities, however, this year I am orphaned on Field Day unless I can find a club or group willing to bring me in.

My first taste of HF came on a Field Day in 1994. the local radio club had their Field Day and I was pretty keyed up about it. I stayed for almost the entire 24 hours, camping out in the back of my pickup overnight and went from a novice contester to a near-pro in those 24 hours.

I love contesting but don't have enough morse code experience to really take maximum advantage of the points on a Field Day outing. Basically Field Day and the Tennessee QSO Party are my two big contest events.

The TN QSO party used to fall on my wedding anniversary's weekend. Now it's a couple weeks earlier and I can actually participate.

I've promised myself I would bone up on my code skills. I was able to copy 13 wpm back when General Class licensees needed 13 wpm for their license. I've just never had a code key for use on CW. I've got a straight key, but I'm not comfortable with using one.

I've done many a Field Day under my call sign, but some CW guys said it got a little tiresome hearing my callsign in CW. Lotsa dits in those letters.

I've had the best and worst of times with Field Day. I've had one of them at my home, two at a friend's house, and others with various clubs. I spearheaded a Field Day with the club I got my first taste of Field Day with, but there were issues with that one that I choose not to talk about.

Another Field Day was held at a site where we used my callsign. About an hour into the event (it's technically not a contest) a bus pulled up and some guys from ORNL who have their own group of hams were coming to do their own Field Day from the same site. Apparently there was a small mixup and they were told by the park service the site was "already reserved for them" when it fact the operator thought they were with the group I was in.

But it was no big deal. They joined up with us and they ran the CW. We contacted all but one section in North America thanks to them.

We had a very good Field Day and planned to do it again the following year, but politics and a couple of friends breaking up kinda got in the way of that idea. So I did the right thing and stepped away. I went to another club's Field Day and had a better time.

I'm not sure why, but politics seems to follow me everywhere, and the harder I try to avoid it, the more I get caught up in it. I can't get away from it no matter how hard I try sometimes. But I move on and go to the next better thing. It was due to politics I didn't participate in a couple of Field Days at all.

This year I just don't know where to go for Field Day. There's two clubs I refuse to participate with, one club that no longer does it, one group that screwed themselves when they picked the wrong guy to judge as the "problem", and I don't have enough equipment to operate as a home station (class D) much less on emergency power (class E) nor Mobile (class C).

I may hook up with the group I went to last year for a few hours. I tend to get involved in the overnight ops since a lot of people who stop in tend to stay after dark.

In any case, be listening for me. If you're participating overnight, I'll be the one in Tennessee getting loopy at around 4 AM begging for contacts, or having a "morning show" mentality with anyone who's left with me to write down the contacts I make. That tends to bring the contacts out of the woodwork.

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