Winter Field Day a hit!

The club had a good showing for Winter Field Day 2022 — we had five or six operators plus a good number of folks that showed up for set-up, the snacks, and the camaraderie.

The location is one I’ve been scouting for a while now. It’s a shelter in Dr. Edmund Babler Memorial State Park that seemed to be on high ground. Visiting in the winter makes it a lot easier to get a sense of the geography. Topo maps showed it was on high ground, but seeing the horizon in all directions while the trees are without leaves confirmed that it would be a good spot.

The shelter had a fireplace! We picked up some firewood from the campground there (avoiding the moving of firewood — curse you, Emerald Ash Borer!). The 20m operators had the best and warmest spot! And actually, although the morning started in the teens (with wind chill in single digits!) we were above freezing and in the high 30s/low 40s for most of the afternoon.

A personal funny: I planned to use an off-center-fed dipole (an Aerial-51) raised on a Spiderbeam 12m (40’) mast. With only light winds and a short-time operation, I would forego guys and rely on my “ground mount sleeve” system. The key to its success is driving four short tent stakes into the ground. Well… the ground around the shelter was like concrete, and the first time I put the base up, I had chosen a poor spot. The mast was up in tree branches. So I decided to move it… but the stakes would not budge! and I had no good stake puller. So I used four fresh stakes, but drove them with a lot less vigor.

Turns out I should have given them a few more taps. With five minutes to go before the starting gun, I heard a “Hey! Look out!” and a “whoomp!” as the mast hit the ground. Oops! The club rallied and scrambled, and we got everything back up in the nick of time.

With the contest starting at 1:00 pm and the park closing at 6:00, we only had about four and a half hours to operate (allowing for tear-down before dark). And we were by no means gunning for high scores. We managed just over 100 QRP QSOs (mostly CW with a handful of SSB) over four bands (15, 20, 40, and 80). That, coupled with three 500-point bonuses (natural power, outdoor, remote) gave us a claimed score of 5,560 points.

The WFD team allowed for “COVID-19” mods to the rules this year. So we had several members who elected to work from home, and contribute their individual scores towards the club total. It will be fun to see everyone’s calls when the final tally is posted.

It was a fun outing, and I suspect we’ll be doing Winter Field Day again!

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