TCRA 2016 Field Day

This year's Field Day efforts culminated in fun, food, friendship, and lots of QSO's all across the US and Canada. An excellent effort was made to improve a number of aspects from last year's setup from a technical perspective, yielding dividends in our increased score. 

Setup:

Setup started promptly at 9 am in the Watchung Reservation by TCRA members and guests. This year, we focused on improving our receiving capability, and implemented a number of wire loop antennas. These included a vertical 40 meter loop antenna, a horizontal 40 meter loop antenna, and a horizontal 80 meter antenna. While antennas were being pitched, other members were busy erecting the large emergency air conditioned tent and deploying generators, courtesy of Trinitas Hospital (thanks to Paul, KD2DRM and his lovely wife Stacy). 

Operations:

TCRA ran an all-ICOM line up this year. Pete, W2IRT provided his IC7000 for the CW station. Rob, K2RWF had his IC7100 on hand for the digital station, while Joe, KB2OYJ provided his IC7200 for the sideband station, rounding out our 3A efforts. Craig, KD2INN, was kind enough to provide his IC7100 for the GOTA station. We were active on bands 80-6 meters, making contacts on every band. We were active for all 24 hours, making at least one QSO during every hour of the event. Over 500 of our contacts were CW, the digital station made about 120 PSK contacts, and sideband rounded us out with another 420 contacts. Guest operators included Pete (W2IRT), James (KB2FCV), Rob (KB2OYI), and Justin (K2JEB). The club had 21 members in attendance for at least part of the event, and had 17 general public visitors come through to learn more about Amateur Radio. 

Our score was greatly improved by beefing up our CW and digital (PSK) operations, accounting for more than half of the total contacts made at 2 points per QSO. The club also focused on adding as many bonus points as possible. We had our Safety Officer (KD2DRM), an educational activity (Fox Hunt Learning - AA2ZJ), passing a message to our section manager, a visit from a local police officer (Jonathan Regan - Union County Sheriff's Office), a visit by Hudson Division Vice Director Bill Hudzik W2UDT, press releases to media outlets and local news papers, a GOTA station, 100% emergency power via portable diesel generators, hosting in a public location, a public information table, social media presence (via TCRA's Facebook page and event), and an online web submission of our Field Day results. 

Score Totals:

1023 QSO's total

  • 118 PSK QSO's
  • 497 CW QSO's
  • 408 Phone QSO's

Total Score Claimed (including bonus points): 4426 (a 2x increase from last year!)

 

Food:

TCRA really put on a good food exhibition. Burgers and hot dogs a plenty. Specialties included Stacy's meatballs and baked ziti, Nelson (KD2CYU) and his marinated beef short ribs, Rob (KB2OYI) and his middle of the night brats and peppers & onions, and Eric's (WB2LMW) fantastic breakfast sandwiches early Sunday morning.

Tear Down: 

Thanks to advanced planning and learning from last year's Field Day break down, wheels were up from the Wachung Reservation at 2:55 PM - just under one hour after Field Day officially ended. Organization was key, as everything had a place to go, and all participating members and guests provided a helping hand to keep things moving along quickly. 

What we learned:

Our first snag focused on the generators. Two of the three generators had leaky fuel lines coming from the diesel tanks. Gerry Miller ran out to an auto supply store to retrieve new fuel line, and Justin Barbieri made the repairs. After that, the three generators delivered the power needed for the 2 AC condenser/blower units and all of the electronics/radio needs. 

Our second snag was the failure of the homebrew band pass filters in short order. LIve and learn! We muscled through the local oscillator phase noise and both interband and intraband interference for the remainder of the exercise. 

Conclusion:

The conclusion? A successful, fun filled Field Day for TCRA. Believe it or not, preparations are already under way for 2017 Field Day, as we look to continually improve our abilities and equipment. A sincere thank you to all that took the time come out and play radio!