[SCCC] Field Day in Big Bear - CW observations

Dave Hachadorian k6ll at arrl.net
Mon Jun 25 12:30:03 PDT 2012

Maybe you will find some interesting tidbits in the write-up below.

I did Field Day in Big Bear Lake, CA with the BBARC.  We were category 7A, with two CW stations covering 15-80, and separate SSB stations for 10, 15, 20, 40 and 75.  There was a free VHF station too.

The main CW operators were myself and Lanny, W6AT.  On CW, we had two K3’s, with two laptops running N1MM, networked by a wireless router. We also had a Virgin Mobile Ovation MC760 3G Wireless Internet adapter, which I bought used off EBay, so we had full access to the Reverse Beacon Network.  I had the RBN’s ARC-6 node set for worldwide-spotters, spotting only USA or VE stations, and requiring a minimum of three Skimmers to be in agreement.  The spots were coming in at a furious pace, but the 3G network seemed to keep up just fine. The spots were virtually 100% accurate. The only exceptions that I saw were K6SB/7, who was also signing K6SB, and another station who had absolutely no space between his call sign and “FD.”  Two weeks before Field Day, I purchased 500 MB of 3G data access from Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go service for $20.  At the end of Field Day, there were still 483 MB remaining, despite the fire hose nature of the spots.  Those 483 MB will expire at the end of 30 days, but it was $20 well spent.  Access to the RBN can totally change the nature of Field Day on CW, especially if one’s station is too weak to call CQ successfully.  We were located in the parking lot of Bear Mountain Ski Area, and were surrounded by hills, except on the north side – not a particularly good spot.

Here are the CW QSO’s by band.
80 – 118
40 – 319
20 – 671
15 – 136

I don’t know the SSB scores, but it was a pretty casual operation.  The SSB stations were generally using inexpensive mobile-type transceivers, which generated horrific wideband noise.  The wideband noise from SSB caused us CW guys extreme agony on 15 and 20, but over the course of the weekend I learned some operating tricks that helped to deal with it. The best trick was that, if they were transmitting at the end of my CQ, I would wait until they stopped, and send a “?” in case someone had called me.  Next year, the SSB guys need some quality radios, and we need more isolation between CW and SSB antennas.

On CW, we had individual Dunestar filters for each band, and we had negligible interference between the two CW stations, even though the antennas were all on the same mast.  The mast was a 50’ telescoping fiberglass unit from Max-gain, and we had a sloping vertical for 80 strung from the top, a 40 meter dipole below that, and then concentric full-wave loops for 20 and 15.  The wind was gusting at 25 mph on Friday, and the mast was pretty wobbly, but once the ends of the wire antennas were tied down, the mast was fairly stable.

We could have done a lot of thing differently and better, but after all, it’s Field Day, not a contest!

Dave Hachadorian, K6LL
Big Bear Lake, CA (for the summer)

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