Get On The Air!

GOTA.jpeg…It’s Field Day Weekend! There’s not a better time that this weekend to get on the air- even better if you’re doing it outdoors. It’s looking to be a wet one here, but a good time nonetheless. If you’re a new operator, old operator, or fence sitter I strongly encourage you to at least work the bands a bit to brush up on your skills. And if you’re not licensed at all but wanna see how stations are run in a quasi-grid down situation, find a group operating a GOTA station and see what it’s all about. 0904161555a

18 thoughts on “Get On The Air!

  1. PsyOp

    Even though wifey & I are off in VA on a romantic getaway, enjoying the Trump Winery (fine meritage & chardonay) and an outstanding traditional single malt from Virginia Distillery, i did bring my HT, plan to do some Simplex in the area to get some fellow operators points….

    73’s all….

  2. Can’t agree more. There are literally tens of thousands of groups around North America participating. I do believe that has all of the info. Here is their link:

    This year my club will have 6-7 dipole antennas up plus two verticals. We will be working digital and CW as well as phone.

    My team is made up of a two 13-year old’s, (one with a General ticket), three HF radio’s (one as a back-up) and we will be working the airwaves from 1400 hrs Saturday till 1700 hrs ET Sunday.

    At 1700 hrs Saturday the club will stop sending/receiving and share-in the clubs traditional barbecue of: Shaved rib roast sandwiches, side dishes that everyone brings and a few beers before we are back on the airwaves at 1800 hrs.

    Like my team, many hams will stay over night taking shifts throughout the night.

    At 0800 hrs Sunday the folks who went home for the night will start to straggle in to hit the airwaves and to enjoy the traditional clubs Field Day breakfast. This year that will be what I call Pirate Stew. Onions, peppers, and eggs scrambled together with cheese on top. Strong coffee and fried scrapple.

    So if you are thinking of getting your ticket, have a ticket and just want to get back into amateur radio, or just want hang with a group of hams, click on the link above. The ARRL has made it easy to figure out where your closest Field Day is.

    Heck, if you are near our clubs Field Day, (N3SRC) stop in, introduce yourself to old JohnyMac, get on the airwaves, and I will buy you a beer.


  3. My personal goal each field day is to make one more contact than the year before….sometimes I have to miss because of work or whatever, but this year I’m happy to say I achieved my goal.

  4. June J

    Made my first visit to a Field Day, was able to take and pass the Technician exam while there.

    1. Congrats. General awaits (and as a VE, I tell people who just passed tech to sit themselves right down and take the general, they almost always pass it/)

    2. Excellent!

      Welcome to amateur radio, June. Field Day is one of the oldest operating events around, but there are plenty of others, depending on your taste. Look around your area and check out whatever amateur radio clubs that exist; you’ll probably find one you like, and you should start looking for what amateurs call an ‘Elmer’ AKA a mentor.

      NC Scout has a plethora of good information here on this site, but there really isn’t any substitute for face-to-face interaction with a live person actually doing the things you want to learn about

  5. Our very small outfit ran 2a this year despite having few operators in order to have the GOTA station; I think it is important to encourage folks to get into amateur radio. While we did not have enough operators to really support 2A, the nice thing was that everyone that showed up had as much operating time as they wanted.

    My goals (as they are in every Field Day) were:
    0) be safe;
    1) have fun;
    2) encourage unlicensed folks to operate the GOTA;
    3) Polish my skills (both organizational and personal) and help the rest of the crew improve, too;
    4) make more contacts than last year;

    In the event, we had:
    1-No injuries, first aid incidents or close calls;
    2-All the attendees left with happy smiles;
    3- Improvements:

    Every operator on the 2 HF stations did significantly better in QSO count than last year, and two operators who had not been able, in prior years, to hold a frequency and ‘run’ it learned the skills required to hold and run while self logging. These two operators saw very significant increases in their personal QSO totals, which was satisfying both for them and me; I spent a fair amount of time coaching the less experienced guys, and that made a difference.

    Our newbies learned more about how to put up antennas, and the antenna crew had a chance to learn about field repairs to hoisting ropes and feedpoints.

    Logistics went very smoothly, an often under-rated but very important endeavour. If the crew doesn’t have good food, meals and snacks, and drinkables, you won’t have a crew for long! Having a clean fresh porta-john is nice, too; I find you get more XYL support and more family participation if you have a ‘civilized’ bathroom. I also always set up a handwashing station in the food tent.

    We also instituted a ‘station box’ concept this year, with each radio and appurtenances residing in its own 30 caliber ammo can. The primary motivator for this was the high likelihood of rain, but this worked extremely well and allowed very rapid setup of a station and very rapid takedown.

    Ex- We had a mother show up unexpectedly with two children at 12:00 on Sunday, after we had packed up the GOTA station. (IC-7200) I was busy coaching one of the other ops, heard the mother say, “Oh, I’m sorry I missed the GOTA station!” and my buddy said- “no problem, the antenna is still up and the radio is right there in the box, we’ll set it up!” We had the station unpacked, hooked up, and operating within 10 minutes, radio, power supply, rigrunner and laptop included. She had only a half hour, and in that time the crew jumped in, set up the station, hooked up the tuner and the filter bucket (stubs and bandpass for the band) briefed the two kids, and her two children each made their first amateur radio contact. The can-do attitude, the expertise demonstrated by the crew, and the willingness of my volunteers to put out a little effort on Sunday afternoon for an unexpected visitor was very satisfying, as was the fact that I did not need to drop what I was doing to make that happen. I think I’m as pleased about that little event as I am about anything else that went right this year.

    4- despite the fact that we had less than half the number of operators this year compared to last year (family trips and emergencies, medical issues, college visits, etc., etc.) and having half the number of antennas, (4 vs 8) we made about 50% more contacts this year over last. This was the result of less stress on and effort by the leadership, resulting in more coaching time by me and my co-chair for the rest of the crew, and in more operating time by both of the most experienced ops.

    I was able to make a lot more CW contacts this year, meeting another personal goal, and we were able to successfully operate CW and sideband on the same band at the same time with no interference issues, due in large part to the significant separation we’d set up between the two antennas. One fan dipole was cut for the CW portion of 40 and 20 and the other antenna was cut for the upper end of 40; 40 meters was the band we made most of our contacts on. We operated on 80, 20 and 15 as well; 15 was open late on Saturday afternoon from the mid-Atlantic to the West, as we’d hoped, and the GOTA operator got excited by these easy long range contacts. 20 was very productive too, especially during daylight hours, although I saw a lot of PSK 31 activity past midnight on 20. Upper HF can be great fun when the band is open; comms are much clearer without the noise of the low bands. As the sunspot cycle continues to drop, however, the low bands will be dominant at night for long haul communication. (to that point, we did work Hawaii on 40 with 100 watts sideband, which was neat)

    So that was our Field Day in overview.
    All in all, this year we did everything I had hoped we’d do, but there is always room for improvement, and we’ll continue to strive to better ourselves. And that is the point!


    1. Great AAR Keypounder!

      Like you wrote, no accidents, people left with smiles, and your group exceeded ly’s totals.

      Nice touch with getting up the GOTO station when mom showed up with her kids.

      I will post my AAR Field Day event when I get caught up on my Sat & Sun neglected chores.


    2. Great AAR, Keypounder.

      Glad everything worked out for y’all.

      The weather here was pretty rotten as well, but we ended up with more folks than I anticipated. Our entire plan went sideways thanks to Cindy.

  6. Anon

    drove from TX to SC for contract job on each day (Sat and Sun). Had my All mode/band radio in the rover with a Tarheel 400A. Made 75 contacts at least on 40 and 20 meters from each state.

  7. JohnyMac’s Field Day AAR

    Our club’s designation was 5A and our location was EPA (Eastern Pennsylvania).

    We met as a group to put up ten messenger lines for the antennas on Tuesday June 20. We launched the lines using the club’s Presidents potato gun. It was a potato gun that had a mortar type shell using pressured air, not a propellant. Sixty pounds seemed to be the perfect pressure for our purpose.

    Saturday June 23rd found my team at the field day grounds at 1000 hrs. My team was made up of one 13-year old General License holder and his friend, both boy scouts, and myself. We quickly set up the pop-up gazebo, tents for the night, tables for the radio’s, and last raised our dipole antennas.

    The antennas that we chose were a 20m-80m trap dipole (Ran east-west) and my EARC-H
    Endfed 6m-40m QRP (Ran north-south).

    Ran an extension cord to one of the two generators the club was using and fired up all three radios we brought. A Kenwood 590S, Yaesu 817ND, and my 13-year old neighbors Swan. Did a few signal reports and viola, we were set-up.

    In total, the club had five dipole antenna’s ranging from a flat top long wire, traps and Delta loops. Along with the wires we had two verticals operating too.
    In total, we had eight radios on air at one time or another. My neighbor blew a transmitting tube so seven was the final number.

    The weather was perfect on Saturday. Blue sky’s in the low seventies but at about 2000 hrs., we did have a brief thunder storm rumble through. No problems as I brought out a tarp to put around the gazebo to protect the radios. Sunday was another perfect day. Blue sky but cooler with a high around 65 degrees.

    Saturday, we were assigned the 75/80 meter band. Things were slow until dusk and then things took off. One of my team peeled off to his tent at 2100 hrs. and my 13-year old General stuck it out till 0030 hrs. Sunday morning. I turned off our assigned generator at 0134 hrs. Sunday and hit the sack.

    Sunday, I was up about 0600 hrs. using the 817ND with its internal battery not wanting to wake anybody up firing up our generator. Made a few contacts on 20 meters when I heard the other generator fire up so I fired ours up. Made coffee and started to make contacts on 20 meters. That day we we made contacts on 15, 20, and 40 meters.

    Overall, my three-man team made 221 contacts. One of our radios was designated as the GOTO radio and that radio recorded 27 contacts by non-license holders. We had about 20 folks that stopped by who read our ad in the local fish-wrap paper. We had several visits from local politicians, the fire and police departments, and a neighbor who complained about the generator noise. At this time, I do not have an accurate number of contacts by all seven radios however, I would venture to guess it was in excess of 1,400. That would-be Phone, CW, and digital contacts.

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