Field Day 2012

I was looking to do something different for Field Day this year. I was looking for something that was simpler than previous years, potentially involved camping, and potentially QRP.

I talked with N2BEN who is my eleven year old son Ben to see if he was up for a change of pace. We then started discussing locations and agreed upon Trails End Campground on the edge of the BWCA at the end of the Gunflint trail in Northeastern Minnesota.

We elected to make the 300 mile 7 hour trip up there a two day leisurely trip. We decide to leave our camper at home, skip the tent in bear country, and sleep under our topper on the back of our pickup. Ben also wanted to bring "Max the wonder dog." And we agreed to a QRP effort with PSK31 and CW as our operating modes which meant that we would be a 1B-Battery station for the event.

We used two drive-over bases with fibreglass push up masts for the centers of the dipoles. We elected to focus on the 20m and 40m bands. We had decent tree support for the ends of the dipoles so they were true flat top antennas.

My CW skills are still pretty rough so I used the aid of computer for decoding and logging. The computer & inverter clearly increase the RF hash but it was bearable given that we were not trying to squeak out every last contact... it was after all a camping weekend with our radio hobby.

Our main radio was a FT450AT but we had several other rigs with us like a ATS4 and HB1B to play with. I brought along our trusty K1EL USB Winkey for stutterless CW.

Ben did a little operating, but the planned QRP PSK was a bust and he made some CW contacts instead. Ben was primarly focused on camping, swimming, and playing with the dog which was fine with me since it was a relaxing weekend.

"Max the wonder dog" seemed to enjoy the camping and swimming but always wants more attention.  :-)

Near the end of the event I did play with the ATS4 and HB1B. I was pretty impressed with the ATS4 as a nice CW rig for camping. The HB1B was nice but left me wishing for narrower filters.

We had a great time and really enjoyed campsite number 4. I think that we had 101 contacts with slightly more on 20m than 40m. We operated about 5 hours split pretty evenly between Saturday and Sunday. While not a complete minimalist operation we did pack & travel reasonably light. I would love to operate from this site again in the future.

For next year I would like to try this same site again with a KX3 (ATS4 or MTR for backup,) paper logging, smallish battery pack, and another simple antenna. The dipole was nice and a great system, I would like to try an End Fed Half Wavelength antenna (EFHWA) or maybe a simple random wire. I think that we could just our radio gear in half again for next year.

73 de NG0R and N2BEN.