“CQ Winter Field Day…”

The best training comes from getting out there and doing it. Especially in the light of recent events, the ability to communicate efficiently in less-than-ideal conditions is crucial; the testing of equipment and finding out what works and how to improve what doesn’t is even more important.

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Antennas, radios, cables, and batteries; the whole thing is a system. Knowledge and efficient use of each component is crucial, or none of it is gonna work. For the participants this year, some takeaways include:

  • differences in propagation between vertical and horizontal antennas
  • keep good power supplies
  • Never forget how important feedlines are; they normally get the least attention and are extremely important
  • Tuners can make life easy; some antennas can be re-purposed, even though less than ideal, on other bands
  • No matter what the QRZ band conditions reflector may say, there’s no substitute for the experience of playing it by ear; band conditions on all the bands this year were up and down dramatically…knowing how to listen for it is priceless

Get out there and get experience. There is no substitute. It matters.

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9 thoughts on ““CQ Winter Field Day…”

  1. I concur with your statement about the QRZ band condition reflectors. I really think its a great time to work the bands when they are not so hot. It’s a real confidence booster for me to work another station under less than ideal band conditions. My first DX contact was with Puerto Rico from WNC on 10 meter SSB when the band was listed as poor. Right then, I decided I wouldn’t let conditions discourage me.

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  2. Bruce

    Made contact from Bonners Ferry Idaho to friend in Kalispell Montana, using my
    817 Yaesu, A home made 80 meter end fed antenna while doing a scout recon
    class.a distance of 160 miles. The antenna was set up at 10 feet above the ground for near vertical sky wave nvis using my QRP rig on 5 watts. HOO RAH.

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    1. Antennas as close to resonance as possible; Good batteries; Solid, proven radios.

      I wrote a couple of posts about it a few months ago…if you have any questions feel free to ask!

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      1. What can you share about radio detection efforts on 2 meter frequencies for comms running under QRP in typical Appalachian mountain areas?

        Like to share an observation I made a couple of times, that may be germane. Working at a strip mine up on the western edge of the Monogahela mountains, about central north and south to the spine, on hoot owl. I notice on a number of occasions what looked like a UAV flying grid patterns over the area. Up in those mountains on a cold clear nights no moon up there is no light pollution, and I could see the silhouette of the UAV flying against the spectacular star field up there. I’d guess only a few hundred feet above ground altitude, no marker or running lights. Myself and a couple other miners remarked on seeing them, and how at times our CB radios, which are typically used for equipment operator comms, would not function correctly and behave strangely, sometimes completely inoperable for brief period of times. I made an uneducated assumption they where drones performing some kind of electromagnetic or other mapping. I thought maybe if it was electromagnetic or ground object/feature mapping, it might be for intelligence, to have a standard of establishing what is there no, so in the future that base map could be referenced to see what was unusual to it in a future mapping. Get my drift?

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  3. mtnforge

    I understand that about any signal can be tracked. But what are the limitations imposed on DF in mountainous territory. Understand the emperitive to avoid developing patterns, but you still have to use comms, or you may as well throw them in the creek and go total meatspace. That is the whole idea of using QRP to begin with right? To be as discreet as possible, limit broadcast power, to compliment and enhance comm opsec techniques? My question being, what are the present known DF ranges of tracking 2 meter, is DF limited by the same limitations using 2 meter comms present, (LOS?), or is DF equipment sensitive enough that have longer stand off range, than the 2 meter comm equipment itself. Is DF of 2 meter as subject to LOS limitations as those running 2 meter comms?

    Think of it this way. You have your AO, it is very rural, few roads, their course dictated by the geography of ridge lines and valleys, large farms, impassible mountains, and very steep narrow hollows, it places limitations of lets say the physical locations a DF team in their wheeled mobile unit can set up. (How common are foot mobile bush whacking DF teams?) As it is your AO, you have a local knowledge of the lay of ridges and mountains, you have practiced your comms from various locations so you know the limits of LOS comms based on geography and distance, mapped your dead spots, where the best signal on the lowest power can be acquired, the outward limits of range, etc. of your specific comms system.
    What I’m thinking it is not enough just to run your comms, or run good opsec with your comms, but take proactive counter DF measures. After all, it’s your AO, you best be good at running it, and that includes understanding how DF can potentially operate in it.
    Of course I could just be barking up a tree here, and the opfor runs drones 24/7 and there is no counter DF measures and the electromagnetic spectrum is totally mapped.
    But then again, drones run out of fuel, don’t last forever, there is bad weather in mountains, the regime has to expend valuable and limited resources for them.
    Anyone thinking of this? It has been a concern to me from the beginning.

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