Even though I only worked the radios for a few hours on Saturday, the 2014 Field Day was another fun time to be on the radio. I had two objectives for this weekend - try to make a QSO with NA1SS, and try a new radio on HF - which I was able to do. I was on some satellite passes, making a couple of QSOs, which I'll submit to both ARRL and AMSAT.
Knowing that the ISS would be passing by within minutes of the start of Field Day, I was set up in my back yard for that. I used my normal FM satellite setup (IC-2820H, Elk log periodic), with the power cranked down to 5W to fall in the 1B QRP classification I normally operate for Field Day, and was ready to go. About 5 minutes into the pass, and after hearing other stations' calls from NA1SS, I heard my call coming from there. Within seconds, I was getting e-mails, SMS messages, and tweets from friends who also heard that. A nice way to start Field Day! I listened to the rest of the pass, and recorded it. I was on the next ISS pass at 1952 UTC, hoping to hear anything from the ISS on 70cm (around 437.550 MHz) while recording the 145.800 MHz downlink. Lots of activity on 2m just like the earlier pass, but nothing up on 70cm. Did anyone hear anything from the ISS on 70cm during Field Day?
A few hours later, with more shade in the back yard, I broke out the HF setup. An FT-897D with autotuner and its internal battery packs, set to 5W transmit power, and a Buddipole portable dipole with its mast and tripod. Before I started on the satellites in late 2005, I used to do a lot of portable HF operating, so it took no time to get the antenna up and the radio ready to go. Although I heard Field Day activity on most HF bands (10m was surprisingly quiet in the late afternoon), I ended up working 15m and 6m SSB to get a few QSOs.
I tried to work FO-29 during a western pass around sunset, but could not get through with my normal SSB satellite setup - two FT-817NDs, Elk log periodic. Lots of activity, with some who sounded like they may have been overpowering the transponder a bit. Around 0400 UTC, 9pm for me in Arizona, there was a western SO-50 pass where I was able to break through with my IC-2820H at 5W and Elk log periodic. Lots of twisting the antenna around, trying to keep up with the satellite and hear myself on the downlink. I made two QSOs there - one that counted for QSO points and the satellite QSO bonus with VA7VW, and the other was to respond to W6KA calling me. I did not score the second QSO. I heard two other stations calling me, but could not get back to them and complete those QSOs with so many stations trying to get through. Some were not using PL tones on the SO-50 uplink, which only made the situation worse.
I also wanted to make an SSB satellite QSO, so I tried AO-73 about an hour later, at 0500 UTC. A high pass for me, I was able to make a QSO with W5MSQ before another strong station overpowered the transponder. I was using my two FT-817NDs and Elk log periodic for the SSB pass, staying with my normal SSB satellite configuration instead of getting the FT-897D set up for SSB operation. This was the last QSO in my Field Day log.
I have already sent off my QSL request for the NA1SS QSO. Since I recorded the audio from those two passes, I made slideshow videos of them. The first pass, or the 1815-1822 UTC portion I could hear, is on YouTube at:
I removed the first couple of minutes of my recording, since it only had my calls to NA1SS, and one unreadable response from NA1SS. By the way, did anyone else record this ISS pass? Especially if you are on the west coast? If so, please e-mail me directly.
My slideshow video of the later ISS pass (1953-1957 UTC) is at:
This was a shallow pass here, with maximum elevation of only 8 degrees, so this was a bit shorter than the earlier recording and slideshow video.
I had the audio recorder sitting near the IC-2820H for the first pass, so it could pick up the speaker audio and my voice. For the later pass, I had a patch cable running between the speaker jack on the TH-D72A HT and the mic jack on the recorder, since I was not planning to work the later pass on 2m. I had my Elk log periodic antenna routed through a diplexer, so the 2m side was going to the HT and the 70cm side to the IC-2820H, in the hopes of working NA1SS on 70cm and recording the audio on 145.800 MHz.
Another summary of my Field Day activity, including some photos, can be seen at:
I'm hoping to get out of town for next year's Field Day, which is what I normally do. It is fun to work with a portable setup, but it would be better if the outside temperature was not as hot as it was in Phoenix on Saturday afternoon (108F/42C at one point, in the shade of my back yard!). Until next time...
Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK http://www.wd9ewk.net/