[TowerTalk] Wire Antennas Only For Field Day

jimlux jimlux at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 6 10:35:48 EDT 2017

On 7/6/17 5:28 AM, Tom Frenaye wrote:
> At 03:51 AM 7/6/2017, Roger (K8RI) on TT wrote:
>> Has anyone noticed an increase or decrease in FD activities in your area.
> Overall the number of Field Day entries has been slowly increasing over the last 15 years, from around 2100 in 2002 to 2700 in 2016.
> What has changed is that the number of home stations(D) and home stations using emergency power(E) has gone from 17% to 32% of all entries.
> The relatively new EOC(F) category is at about 7%.   The traditional group in the field category(A) has gone from 65% to 45%.
This isn't surprising when I think about it - running a N>3 A operation 
typically means a club or organization doing it.  Some areas have an 
active club life, others don't.  Culture overall has changed - If your 
communications were USPS and telephone, getting together at a club 
meeting as a social event might be interesting. And with people 
physically in the same room, organizing a FD event is easier.

With interactive 24/7 communications and the internet (discussion 
groups, various chat/photo apps, etc.) people can socially interact in a 
meaningful way while separated by hundreds or thousands of miles.

Work has also changed for a lot of people, particularly those in 
technically oriented professions - Out of the last 4 weeks, I spent 3 of 
them on business travel - I can keep up with email, various online 
comms, but I'm sure not going to club FD planning meetings where we drag 
all the gear out of the container and make sure it's ready to go, etc.

OTOH, it would have been trivial for me to operate as a D or E station 
(were I actually at home, which I wasn't... I counted on the plane's 
body to shield me from the increased HF EMI coming from the ground).

> I visited about a dozen FD sites this year.  There was no shortage of enthusiasm and interesting antennas.  Seems like more groups than ever
> are finding ways to put wire antennas high up in the trees.

And that's what I think is great about FD.  There's enough people 
operating at the 100W level on SSB (those not striving for the bonus 
points for QRP under 5W) that it's *easy* to make contacts.  Even if all 
you have is a 100W rig, a tuner, and a wire in the trees.  That's what 
gets people excited and interested in the first place.

I've talked to a lot of would-be hams and they tend to say "Oh, doesn't 
that take a huge amount of equipment, and then I'm going to have to 
fight with the HOA,and, and, and".   These people are not cost sensitive 
- it's not about "I can throw together a CW radio in an altoids tin with 
$10 in parts". They can easily afford to spend a kilobuck or two to get 
started, but they need to see that it can go somewhere, and that the 
kilobuck isn't totally wasted.

N5BF (Courtney) often refers to the $200 weekend phenomenon - if you've 
got some sort of ham thing that costs a couple hundred bucks and you can 
achieve success in a weekend, then it's a winner.  The idea being that 
you can order something mid week with a credit card, and it shows up on 
Friday, and you get it working on Saturday and have fun.

Whether you do anything else with it isn't as important - after all, 
dinner at a nice restaurant for 2 people and a good bottle of wine might 
be in that same price range.   It's "disposable income".

You might find it interesting, and continue, or you might throw it in a 
box, maybe give it to an interested friend or coworker, and try 
something else next month.

In any case, FD is a great way to have "guaranteed early success" for HF 
comms.  And HF comms is why we want towers with big antennas, isn't it?

A wire in the trees is a gateway drug.

> A few groups lamented the absence of CW operators though.  EOC stations all seemed to be dealing with RFI problems from within the building or nearby.

Contest score oriented groups love the CW, because you get 2 points for 

 From a "realistic disaster ops" standpoint, though, SSB voice on HF and 
FM for VHF and up, as well as digital comms (using modern modems and 
maybe ALE, not RTTY or Bell 202) would be more useful.

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