Thursday, June 28, 2007

Try some antennas

One of my Toolbox Talks was on the 40m vertical antenna I discussed previously. There were two really fun aspects of this talk. The first was the look on everybody's face when I popped up that 10m mast. I forget how big and imposing this thing is when it is extended. The second thing fun about this talk was that we were able to use the antenna when we finished setting it up. Of course, it is good on both 40m and 15m!

Field Day has some funny rules for a contest. Each SSB QSO is worth one point. Getting a member of the local fire department to visit is worth 100 points. Do you know how long you have to work on SSB to get 100 contacts in these solar conditions?! So, at least in my view, if you do a little experimentation on the SSB station you don't really put that many points at risk.
We built this antenna and then used it. Looking back, this is a really great idea! We should have built about four antennas and had them all available to the SSB station so people could do a little "compare and contrast" between them. I should have put up
  • The Buddipole - The one on the 16 foot mast with the long arms and large coils
  • The Sigma-5 - Force-12 vertical dipole
  • A 15m vertical - a 1/4 wave 15 meter full-size vertical to compare with the 3/4 wave version on the 40m vertical
  • Buddistick - just to show that even a small antenna with a few radials can do a good job if deployed well
It would have been fun to have a 5-way switch so we could switch between all these antennas and hear the difference. We could listen to a strong signal, look at the S-meter, and then click, click, click to see how the different antennas stacked up.
I think I'll suggest that for next year's event. Field Day is a really great chance to try out new stuff, train fellow club members, and learn how to set up stuff in the field and make it work. Forget about points! Learn!

Our club is going to have a Field Day retrospective at the next meeting. We'll go over what went right, what went wrong, and what we might wish to change in next year's planning. Of course, I think this is a great idea. Even if you go on a 100 Pound DXpedition alone, go through the exercise of reviewing what you did and how you did. That's the first step in improving your operation and having more fun.


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