I hope that many of you, if not all, got on the air for Field Day this year. It is always a highlight of my year. In general, I love contesting and field day is especially challenging as I usually guest operate from various field day locations all over the US. Over the years I have experienced Field Day with callsigns like N1FD, W4IY, W3AO, N7OS, KC7KEY, W0BM, W5NEM, and even did Locomotive mobile as N5R. One thing that all these callsigns have in common was the passion for this incredible hobby, and not afraid to flaunt our skills in front of non-hams! This year, I was invited to participate with the Mercer County Amateur Radio Club, W3LIF.
HEADING TO K3LR
Tim Duffy, K3LR, opened up his multi-multi contest station for the Mercer County Amateur Radio Club operating under the club call sign W3LIF. This was the second year for this effort, and if you haven’t seen Tim’s station, you can find a summary of his set up on the K3LR website. With 13 towers and two stations each for 10, 15, 20, 40, and 80 along with one station on 160 meters, it’s a very impressive set up and has won many contests.
What I particularly like about his station is that it’s an exclusive Icom operation. He has six IC-7851s, one IC-7850, and six IC-7800s. We call it “Powered by Icom.” What’s not to like about that set up? For some spectacular views of the station, I recommend starting with the YouTube video of a quadcopter flyby of the towers.
W3LIF FIELD DAY OPERATION
As I mentioned above, Tim opened up his complete station for Field Day. Given his spectacular hospitality, it’s easy to see why he was named 2015 Hamvention® Ham of the Year.
For Field Day we set up tents for outside stations, including an IC-703 QRP operating on auxiliary power into a Butternut vertical. We also set up food tents and I even helped out with some of the grilling. OK, a few times the grill got out of hand. I guess that’s why we had adult supervision nearby from Teri Grizer, K8MNJ.
W3LIF had 40 operators involved in an 8E category operation that achieved 3,787 QSO’s. Last year they entered as a 7D operation with 3,000 QSOs. This year they also garnered an excellent article in the Sharon Herald titled The Original Social Media: Group Broadcasts the Popularity of Amateur Radio.
FORTY METER PHONE
My assignment for Field Day was to operate the 40 meter phone station. It was super fantastic to operate a dream station on a dream stack of antennas. During my 9 hours on the air, I did about 30 minutes of search and pounce when the band conditions faded, but most of the time I sat on a frequency, doing what I call “park and bark.”
I will note that the dream stack of antennas at K3LR has been optimized for working lots of DX but not necessarily domestic stations. Nice problem to have… Plus, since I am usually the 20 meter guy, I had one big discovery about operating on 40 meters. I wondered who the devil was playing music on the amateur radio bands, until I realized the bands opened for the Europena broadcast stations.
Even with that I put just over 700 QSOs in the log during my nine hours. I had some peak efforts at 130/hour early, but that rate did not help me catch up to Teri, K8MNJ, who logged over 500 QSOs in the first six hours on 20 meters.
One big takeaway for me was how effective the new 1.2kHz roofing filter was in reducing interference, both from nearby “barking” stations and broadcast stations. In a crowded band, on the east coast, it is easy to get frustrated as the band openings shift around and you think someone has moved down to your frequency, but that was not a big problem as that filter really works!
A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE
Thanks to everyone I worked during Field Day. I also thank all the members of the Mercer County Amateur Radio Club for their genuine welcome to their operation and all the activities. I really felt like a member of the team. And, of course, I want to thank Tim Duffy, K3LR, not only for his Field Day invitation, but all his support for amateur radio.
Were you on during Field Day? I hoped we worked you and that you had just as much fun as I did in one more fantastic activity in this hobby that we all love.
Ray Novak, N9JA
Division Manager, Amateur and Receiver Products
Lifetime Amateur Radio Enthusiast