Winter Field Day 2017

BRS1Winter Field Day 2017 is upon us! I had aimed to get this posted long before now, but, there’s only so many hours in the day, and things have been busy as of late.

Either way, this year will (mostly) be a TOC-operation, working from the command post here at FOB Cedar. It would be a great time not only to make some contacts on the air but also to get some training in other critical areas, like information handoffs (if working as a group) and plotting points of contacts on a map to measure your propagation.

For myself and the crew, we will be testing:

  • The MiniPro SC Data Interface: Half the size of a SignalLink and more simple in setup, this may be the go-to interface for the Yaesu and Icom rigs out there. SurvivalTechNord has tested this successfully in his youtube videos for both a computer interface for Android’s port of the FLDigi program. We’ll see how it goes- and get back to you.
  • The Wolphilink Data Interface: Another soundcard for the 817/857, but the smallest of the bunch, by far. I haven’t had much luck running it on Android, so hopefully I’ll have time to get the kinks worked out. It is a very promising option for ultralight data interfacing for the 817.
  • The EARCHI End-Fed: The workhorse is still at it. No complaints so far, and it’ll get another activation under it’s belt.

If for nothing else, test your kit this weekend- a lot of folks will be on the air, the event is growing, and networking just to know your signal package works is definitely worth the time. Listening matters too.

I’ll hear you on the air.

40 thoughts on “Winter Field Day 2017

    1. Pick one what?

      There’s embedded links in the article for the data interfaces. The End Fed antenna’s link is inside of the linked article.

  1. Henry Bowman


    heading down to Rock Vegas to set up mobile commo toc, tilt up mast, etc…gonna work/live/sleep in tent, w solar and battery power…

    Will have multiple antennas up for vhf and analog/digi scanning…

    Looking forward to this little ftx…..

  2. 55six

    Hey brother. My OCF 80m dipole is working VERY well as close as 100 miles and as far (so far) as Oregon. I test it every day 🙂

    My field use of 2m is practiced regularly and I have cobbled together several antennas to hang in the trees.

    Thanks for all of the priceless info you have offered. -55six

    1. Awesome!!

      That Windom has a generally omni-directional pattern too- so (in theory, at least) you’ll be able to hit that distance in every direction on that particular band.

      Thank you for reading it!

  3. Hopaii

    So as a newbie, this would be my first field day with all my gear hooked up and ready to go. I have to ask a possibly dumb question: where should I be listening, or where can I go (online or on air) to find out what freq’s, modes, are being used? Or is it just a regional or organizational exercise you’re talking about here specifically (I’m on the West Coast)?
    Also, I have a SCU-17 for my Ft-450D; is the MiniPro SC easier to set up and use? It seems the SCU-17 has ‘mysterious’ configurations, or isn’t easily configurable anyway as sometimes I have to set my baud rate to ‘digital’ and hook up an extra audio line to use FSK in addition to the serial port connector.
    Anyway, just looking for a clue about a clue to get involved. Thanks.

    1. 20, 40, and 80 are going to be very busy.

      Also, I’m not intimately familiar with Yeasu’s SCU-17, although I have a buddy coming over who likely will (he has the 450 as well.) I had great success with the Signallink in the past, but I started looking for something more portable, which led me to the Wolphilink and the MiniPro SC.

      The MiniPro, so far, is the simplest of all options to get going, and interfaces with Android (A HUGE plus for working ultralight). But time will tell.

      1. Hopaii

        I’ll keep my ears on, and see if I can monitor traffic from Oregon. I’ll check in as 1-Delta Quebec if I have good copy, just to shits and giggles. I have an EMCOMM II; if I get the right angle, I’ll get the east coast.

      2. One of the things I like about the IC-7200 is that it is plug and play for digital, no extra box required, although I am using a laptop.

        As far as frequencies, here is what the rules suggest-
        “Suggested Frequencies: (to make it easier for entrants to find each other)
        HF CW 1810-1820, 3.530-3.550, 7.030-7.050, 14.035-14.055, 21.030-21.050, 28.030-28.040

        HF SSB lowest 30 kHz of the US General Class Phone bands (160m-15m), 28.400-28.425MHz (10m) 6m/VHF/UHF – adjacent to, but not on, nationally recognized simplex calling channels.”

      3. True, but we’re pulling a QRP operation- so the 817 is obviously going to be the most power efficient.

        For standard contests (and SWLing!) my 7200 cannot be beat.

      4. NC Scout- you inspired me to get the FT-817 out and do some CW and digital work with that today. I started doing this over 40 years ago and it was nice to be reminded that I still get a bang out of making the contact with a watt or less using my old J37 straight key.

        That was a lot of fun. I’ll have to do that more often, thanks for the reminder.


      5. Our station this year was exclusively an 817 affair- and I made a 2.5w SSB QSO into AZ on 40.

        THAT was a challenge.

        CW and Digi were running well until 40 faded out completely. Since the aerial was optimized for 40m, my result on 80 was less than stellar until it too got too noisy.

    1. We’ll be a 2-India, likely working one of the Oscar Sats as well as HF (And VHF, for a certain former psyops dude hanging out on a mountain 😉 ).

  4. Anon

    Me too. Outdoors, portable off grid power 2 batteries and a small solar panel) and QRP.
    Going to use the 897/at897+ combo with the Chameleon CHA-mini… Holla if ya hear me I’ll be around!

      1. anon

        I got called into work on a near fatal accident at the mine operation I work at. Hated that I missed this event.
        Got the call at 12:15 central. its 12 noon sunday and I’m still at work.

  5. I’d be real interested to hear how your weekend goes with the digital interfaces. I’m helping a friend get a station set up with an 857 and I had showed him the wolphilink before. I really wish I didn’t have to work this weekend.

  6. Regarding the DigiMaster MiniProSC – in comparison with the signalink, it seems a few bucks cheaper and a smaller form factor.

    I’m an active member with my municipal emergency comms team (like ARES but not), and we do a lot of VHF packet with Winlink.

    Any thoughts on how thie MiniProSC would perform in contrast to the signalink for this purpose?

    I know some folks have begun to roll their own homebrew sound card interfaces in an attempt to reach 9600baud. I understand the challenges of achieving this – just curious if this new sound card interface might be a step towards this.

    1. Honestly that’s been one of my questions too. Although I doubt this weekend I’m going to get that answer, that test will be occurring soon.

  7. Etech

    Those seeing issues with Wolphilink interface, a couple of clamp on ferrite beads took care of my issues. That was on VHF, while HF never had a glitch. Supposedly the higher end Androids do not have RFI issues. but as always – YMMV

  8. Missed making a contact on 80 digital, but apart from that, all went as planned. Tested out my cross dipole for 80/40, and used my tripod for a 20 meter inverted vee. A relaxed and easy fun time; did some QRP cw and digital using the 817 as well today just for giggles. Had a couple good runs on sideband and CW to show ’em the old man still can do it, but had as much fun watching and teaching as operating. We worked all over CONUS, New England to Florida and from the Mid-Atlantic to the West Coast. Ran 20 meters from 2 until about 5 pm, then switched to 40. Went to 80 right before we knocked off last night. 15 seemed dead yesterday and today.

    Weather was cool but not cold, (low was 20 F,) and the op tent worked well again with a 10k BTU propane heater keeping the inside toasty. Will probably do this again next year barring blizzards.


  9. PSYOP

    Enjoyed my first WFD down in SC….

    I was VHF station, and though i made a few simplex contacts, no where near what the HF dudes did on CW/Digi/Voice….I did manage 2m SSB qso on another fellows 857..

    Kit performed as expected, ran outside off solar and 2ea 35ah agm’s in parallel to 3 20w solar panels…kenwood tm-281 was perfect..

    tilt up milmast system and new j pole and yagi did well too, full length, approx 30′ up, was able to rotate yagi using MKII Appendges and align using compass for more specific heading..

    i was able to hit some guys waaaay out near mt mitchell simplex using yagi…that was nice….

    gently used marine 2 man combat tent was a nice haven as temps dropped into hi teens/low 20’s and MSS kept me toasty…

    big shout out to Streamlight LED Seige lantern w red light option, was perfect….

    Some takeaways are: vhf simplex comms is damn difficult, even with the kit i have and used, 65w of power too..unless someone is on the same band and freq, very tough to make contact, so those folks who think they can buy some simple HT’s, and toss em in ammo cans are going to be in for a rude awakening…..Great for squad/small circle comms, but wholly unrealistic for anything more, especially if repeaters are down…

    HF rules…

    another good idea is to mark feed line on 2 position switch so that one can easily discern what antenna is active..had to drop mast and double check, red tape would have been easier….lesson learned….

    Best part was to meet, talk w fellow operators and exchange ideas, help each other and learn from those older and more knowledgeable than than this cherry….

    All in all a good time and some lessons learned…..

    ps….i really want an 857 now…….

    1. Scurvy


      If you make your own coax lines try using colored shrink wrap, on both ends. I have a couple of different antenna feeds and the color code works swimmingly.

      I need to get my 857 rigged for the truck so I can go back and forth. Less background noise when operating at the beach.


  10. Keypounder74

    One of the interesting occurences this past WFD weekend involved NVIS. Made a CW contact on 40 during the afternoon, but even though he was only about 40 miles away, he was extremely weak, about a 319 report. About an hour or so later, he found us on 80 CW and was booming in at 15 db over S9. Anybody want to tell me why?


      1. Keypounder74

        True, the 80 meter antenna was only 0.2 wavelengths from the ground, rather than the 0.4 wavelengths the 40 meter antenna was, but that would change the peak gain in the vertical direction only a db or so, and I think the 80 meter side of the cross dipole would actually have more gain straight up. This difference was on the rough order of 60 db, from S1 to 15 db over S9.

        Just gave you guys two hints; are y’all just going to let NC Scout dangle out there with no help? C’mon, guys, what are the factors that affect received signal strength, and what is the ONLY factor that can affect signal strength that much?

  11. I went out into the wilderness, and had a great time – not a lot of contacts (QRP and digital) due to terrain and trees but thats why we practice…

    My 7AH LiFePO4 battery (that weighs less than a liter of water) kept the FT-817D, the Signallink, the 10″ tablet, the bluetooth keyboard, and my phone going for the event….with life left in it. The tuner has internal (rechargable nicad) batteries that last and last.

    Next time, a much better antenna, or a better location.

    In terms of survivability, it’s never too cold….sometimes you’re not dressed warmly enough. It was cold (in the 20’s during the day) but not much of a problem in the tent.

  12. Keyponder, my best guess would be the extra range via groundwave that you obtained on 80M allowed a stronger contact. In flat terrain 40 miles via groundwave on 40M would be a stretch.

    1. Desert Scout:
      That could have an effect, but in this instance there are several tall mountains and a good sized river between me and him. Ground wave is not the mode being used; these contacts were being made by skywave, specifically NVIS.

      There is another hint, guys……………

  13. For keypounder74 – prefer it NOT be posted –

    Not sure of your QTH, but here in COLO last few months the foF2 and fxF2 get up to 7 MHz for very briefs periods – if at all. The Boulder Ionosonde is pretty handy here.

    Tnx – nona

    1. keypounder74

      You win the prize, Nona.

      my assessment is that the FoF2 was not high enough to reliably support 40 meter cw.


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