USECA MEGA Field Day Initial Report

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From: Floyd Soo (hires@rust.net)
Date: Sun Jun 30 1996 - 05:57:55 EDT


Gang,

This is my 4th attempt at getting my report of the USECA Field Day to the
QRP-L group. I think I may have a problem at my end, but here goes
anyway...

As most of you know, the Utica Shelby Emergency Communications Assn
(USECA) has been known for putting on the largest Field Days in NA when
it comes to visitors to our site. At times, we have had close to 400
people sign-in on our guest register. We are also well known for our
hospitality and the fact that nobody leaves our FD site hungry! When it
comes to food, NOBODY EVEN COMES CLOSE! We welcome all with open arms,
and almost all of the visitors bring a dish-to-pass. We have supplied
the roast pigs in the past and the last 2 years, we have supplied several
hundred sirloin steaks and large homebrew charcoal grills so everyone can
grill their steaks as they like. The side dishes, desserts, snacks, etc
are plentiful and last all weekend!

Anyway, back to FD. USECA has been knocking on the door of placing in
the Top 10 overall in NA for several years running without really trying.
 So, in 1994, the club made a concerted effort to get into the Top 10,
which we accomplished by placing 8th. Just to prove to ourselves that it
wasn't a fluke, we did exactly the same thing last year, placing 8th
overall again! We were talking at the end of last year's FD about doing
something a little different, and QRP came up as one of the suggestions.
 At first, the idea was poo-pooed, but after more discussion, it became a
viable option. The thought of no gensets making noise and EMI, the
lessened chance of interfering with other stations in the FD site, and
those multipliers! It took a while for it to sink in, but we finally
came to the realization that if we were able to make half the contacts of
last year, we would attain a much higher score running QRP! It was
decided, we would commit to a full blown QRP, battery FD!

It took some convincing at first, there were many skeptics, but after a
while, most all of the club decided that it was worth a try. We paid
attention to the same details that we did the last couple of years and
the suggestions from some of you! Most were in agreement that high
performance antennas, low loss feedlines, plenty of food and drink, and
sufficient ops to make it through the night without any down time for key
stations; were the main points to pay attention to. That's just what we
did, and it may have paid off!

I will pass along the details of each station with regard to rigs,
antennas, and the like; when I receive the final report. Also, the final
tally of points should be available soon, and I will pass that along when
it is made availble too.

Normally, set up begins late Friday afternoon. We then have a Bar-B-Q
and then the all ham band "QRM" plays classic rock and roll into the wee
hours of the night. All that went pretty well until a very strong storm
front came through the area immediately to the north of the FD site in
Romeo, Michigan. If you didn't see it in the news, the historical town
of Frankenmuth, was heavily damaged by tornados, and some areas just to
the north of us received 5" of rain or so in an hours time! Luckily, the
severe WX just missed us. We did get rain, but not like they did to the
north.

Saturday AM was glorious! Both Saturday and Sunday were PERFECT for FD!
 Temps were in the 70s with a little breeze to keep the bugs at bay and
keep the area cool. Set-up continued on Sat AM, with Breakfast and Lunch
being served at the appropriate times of day. At 2 PM, the contest
started. At 5PM the great steak-in began! What a feast! We weren't
proud, we just pigged out!

The contest continued into the evening with most stations staying on the
air all thru the night, especially the big point getters, like 20, 40 and
80 CW and phone. Dawn Sunday was beautiful! We were visited by a hot
air balloon at antenna top level just after dawn! Breakfast was great as
usual, and the contest continued in earnest. Sunday was another gorgeous
day! After lunch was served (steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs along with
all the fixin's...yum!), the contest continued until 2 PM. Tear down
went on without a hitch, and all of a sudden, it was over again for
another year! Virtually evryone that participated learned a lesson or
three! What a fabulous learning experience this FD was! Everyone was so
excited about what happened that weekend, that our repeater has been
buzzing with QRP FD activity since then!

Some of the lessons learned: Running QRP power levels placed the phone
ops at a much greater disadvantage than the CW ops. Going from 18 or 19
generators to 1 this year made it so quiet, that people are calling for
another QRP FD for that reason alone! It IS possible to hold a frequency
with 5 watts! (for a short while, anyway) One good deep cycle battery
was sufficient to run most state of the art rigs at QRP power levels for
24 hours. We worked anybody we could hear, even though it may have taken
more calls than we were used to. The lack of noise and interference was
great! FD was still fun, even though we didn't make as many contacts as
the last couple of years.

I will pass some initial numbers and info at this time, just because
there are many of you that are curious. We ended up running 16A,
QRP-battery. Our original plans were to run 17A, but a death in the
family of one of our station chairpersons precluded him from
participating. So, 16A it was! With a couple of stations still not
accounted for, we have about 12,500 points before any bonus points! 40
CW led the QSO count with 346, good for 3.460 points. All but one phone
station did not achieve their point totals from last year. I believe
that all of the CW stations equalled, and many bettered last year's
scores.

Most interesting antenna was the vertical 160 meter delta loop that was
supported by surplus WX balloons! The upper 2 corners of the delta were
balloon supported and the feedpoint was the bottom corner of the delta.
It stayed up all night and worked pretty well! The 160 CW station also
had a 300' end fired wire supported by a kit all day Saturday! The 80
CW station boasted a PAIR, count 'em, TWO, 1/4 wave verticals that were
phased. They also had a dipole too. The 40 phone station used 5 sloping
dipoles equally spaced around a 70' support. This antenna was steerable
using a relay box and 1/4 wave feeders. The 40 CW station used a caged
dipole supported at one end by a tree, and at the other end by a 43'
vertical. The bottom 33' or so was made up of 4" aluminum irrigation
tubing and was loaded up as a vertical. These 2 antennas worked great!
There were also the usual assortment of 3 ele yagis, dipoles and
verticals.

Anyway, that's it for now. I will post more info as I receive it from my
station chairs.

72,
Floyd Soo, KF8AT
QRP-L #392
President, USECA


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