[TowerTalk] Wire Antennas Only For Field Day

Charles Farr cefarr at hughes.net
Thu Jul 6 14:05:47 EDT 2017

#As a primarily CW operator, one of about 4 in our club, I am always in 
demand at FD. Unfortunately, I am also getting old. The California heat, 
the hip replacement and the rigors of getting antennas up, handling very 
heavy batteries, and getting the solar panels and gear set up is 
becoming more and more difficult. Once we are set up, I'm fine. Then 
there's all the take down. Not complaining, just having to reckon with 
my own disabilities. There are many things I like about Field Day, the 
"contest" part is the fun part for me, and solving the problems of 
remote and off-grid operation is fun, too. My CW partner is older than I 
am and he's suffering similar aging issues. We just decided not to 
participate this year. Too hot, too much work, etc. We have to rely on 
the next generation to haul the load. I'd be delighted to teach anybody 
CW, all they have to do is ask. I have NEVER met anyone that couldn't 
learn CW if they will apply the same effort applied to playing games on 
their cell phones. Much like any foreign language, it's the effort you 
make to learn it.


Chuck, W6AJW

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 a CW QSO.
> 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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