Field Day 2018

Field Day 2018 is now behind us, and I hope you had an opportunity to participate in the annual ‘it’s not a contest!’ contest. For those not aware of field day, it’s an annual event in which hams gather radios, generators, antennas, beer, tents, chairs, tables and the family dog and go off to set up their stations in the wild. Well, maybe not the wild, maybe just the local school playground, but you get my drift. It’s a test of skill and resourcefulness, time limited and goal oriented. Half public service emergency drill and half public relations event, it tests our ability to deploy and communicate in less than perfect conditions. So, a party.
I chose to take part from my humble abode as a singleton, running emergency power and 100 watts of transmitter might. For the first time in my 40 year career as a ham, I chose to participate solely with CW (Morse code). It was quite the experience.
Last year I made 104 contacts, using voice only. Same station setup otherwise, radio and antenna identical. It took me about 8 hours of screaming my call sign out to gather those hard won contacts, and I was happy with the result. It would not be an earth shattering score, but it was far enough up from the bottom to be gratifying.
This year I worked at it for about 6 or 7 hours, and made 265 contacts. About 90% of those were successful on the first try. What a difference. Band conditions were poor, but it was still a target rich environment for the search and pounce stations like me, plenty of signals out there from which to choose. And I kept my voice. The only down side (yes, Don, it is a down side) is that I kept hearing Morse code in every noise I heard for the next two days.
My 8 weeks attending CW Academy certainly paid off. I’d have never, ever, attempted something like this before. But the training in higher speed copying, and copying in my head made what was once a daunting task much less so. In fact, I’m looking forward to more contesting now, with less trepidation. Once again I have Glenn, W4YES, and Phil, W2OZB, to thank for keeping me focused on the goal.
Oh, and this year there was no beer for John. I’m on a diet. Boo.