NA5N FD Report

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From: Paul Harden (pharden@aoc.nrao.edu)
Date: Tue Jun 27 1995 - 13:51:37 EDT


Hi 'yall,
Re: The NA5N 2A NM QRP Field Day station:

Looks like ~270 CW contacts on 15, 20 & 40M; about twice what we were
expecting. We were pleasantly surprised at the callback rate. Our QRP FD
bore little difference than our QRO experiences in the past; we were pinching
ourselves to remember "this is QRP." I'd venture to say, most of the stations
who worked us had no idea we were running 4-5 watts. We worked both coasts
and inbetween (except where were the "3's?"). It's gonna be "QRP for 96!"
 
Operators: Doug AB5WT, Chuck W5UXH, Paul NA5N and Dave N1IRZ

STN #1: Doug AB5WT used his just-finished OHR 20/40M rig; erected
        his GAP vertical and "magnetic radiator" 40M loop and
        operated from inside his VW "Vanagan" off NiCads. Nice station.
STN #2: Chuck W5UXH used his "just arrived" QRP+, built into a small
        rack with antenna tuner, 7AH gel cell, etc. for a nice arrangement.
        Erected his R7 vertical and 80M dipole, center supported by a
        16 foot pole for a gentle-sloping inverted vee, fed with
        ladder line (and used on 20 and 40M with tuner). Batteries charged
        by solar cells (the day before, naturally!)
   QTH: Atop a high hill/mesa overlooking Socorro, NM and the
        Rio Grande Valley. Probably about 6500 feet, 12 mi. from town.

Doug and Chuck erected the stations about 2 hours before FD and operated
through early evening. Dave N1IRZ showed up and worked a couple of hours
(unexpected, but welcomed operator); Paul NA5N worked the "nite shift"
until 3:30am when a ferocious windstorm halted operations until 6am. The
2 stations were probably manned 50% of the time at best; when you're on a
QRP FD/camping trip with your good friends (and a 7 week old Springer
Spaniel), we spent as much time enjoying ourselves as we did Field Day!
Now that we know a good QRP station can be successful, we might even try
to be competitive next year.

A FEW THINGS LEARNED ...
To quote Smitty, NA5K (no relation) ... we're not FD or contest experts
either, but will ditto his comments and a few of our own - things done
both by design and by accident.

1. Doug and Chuck had setup their stations on the same spot 2 weeks ago;
   most problems encountered were thus ironed out by FD.
2. Erect good antennas! Ones that are tuned and well matched; get the
   power into the air, not the antenna tuner. When one station was on
   a wire antenna, our other was on the vertical - caused little QRM.
3. Learn to zero beat. Stations calling CQ FD are running NARROW filters;
   I heard stations calling 500Hz to 1 KHz OFF! He just won't hear you.
4. Call a station; if no reply, move 100 Hz or so and try again -- try to
   fall in his filter. If after 3-4 tries no response, move on.
5. If YOUR rig doesn't have a narrow CW filter ... build or get one!
6. Avoid the congested bands and/or pileups. Let the big guns work out
   the band and move on. Then move in. 20M is the first band hit --
   start out on 15 or 40; move to 20M early evening when everybody else
   is moving to 40M, etc.
7. Have a "nite shift." There's alot to work after midnite. Plus, the
   hot shot ops are in bed; code speeds are thus a bit slower and at a
   less frantic pace. (Its also cool and less distractions at night).
8. If you're using somebody elses rig ... learn how it works, what the
   sidetone freq. is so you can zero-beat the calling station, etc.
9. Keep those batteries up or a spare! We all know what our QRP rigs sound
   like on weak batteries -- nothing most contesters would answer back.
10. Develop a logging system everybody is comfortable with; we used good
   old paper and pencil system drafted by Chuck. Speed up your log keeping
   and you'll speed up your contacts. Might try computer logging next yr.

Most of all, have fun. Combine it with a camping trip, go with friends,
etc. so you can enjoy yourself, both ON and OFF the air.

I also encourage all FD participants to contact the ARRL and their SCM's
to incorporate a QRP class for future FD's. There is no on-the-air
distinction for QRPers, and there should be one. Many stations would be
more inclined to work that weaker station if they knew it was QRP. Maybe
WORKING a QRP station should be worth an extra point! Put "QRP" on your
summary sheets, etc. to the ARRL ... we need to let them know how many
QRPers are out there. 2A-battery should be 2Q or something.

CU for the next QRP A Field and Colorado (CQC) QRP QSO Party
(and Trinity special event station on July 15-16, 1995)

Paul NA5N
Chuck W5UXH
Doug AB5WT Socorro, New Mexico


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