Field Day 2003 QRP Style
by Bill Carter

This year Field Day would take place camping in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Not far from the Tallulah Gorge.

The set up for Field Day was as follows:
Rig: K1 See Photo
Pwr: Battery (Power Port Station from Ham Contact)
Ant: Long Wire
Paddles: Bulldog

Field Day provides many lessons, and I think each year I learn something new. After backing in the camper, the set-up started and the first problem was encountered. There was a wasp net in the power box where you hook up your electricity. Need to carry a big stick or wasp spray so you can plug in your power.

Yes, Field Day runs on batteries, but what about the air-conditioner inside the camper? I pulled out the electricity cable from the camper and plugged it into the electricity box. Then I proceeded to hook up the water from the camper to the faucet next to the electricity box. I soon discovered that the faucet in the sink was cracked. This was easy to identify due to the waterfall coming out of the galley inside the camper. So I had to mop up the water. The camper is a new Coleman Sea Pine. So much excitement on Field Day! Meals seem to be rather important during Field Day. I learned this because hams like to eat seven meals in 24 hours. Our meal menu was rather simple.
The meal menu is as follows:

Friday Lunch-
Sub sandwiches (Ham, Turkey)
Potato Salad
Onion Dip
Fruit Cups
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pecan Sandies Cookies
Friday Dinner-
Hamburgers on the grill
Baked Beans
Fresh Fruit Salad
Potato Chips
More Cookies for desert
Saturday Lunch-
(Same as Friday Lunch)

Saturday Dinner-
Steak Baked Potato
Corn on the Cob
Salad (Fresh Fruit Mix)
Desert (Late Night S'mores)

Meals were fine, but no seven meals in 24 hours! I normally would not spend so much time discussing meals; however camping adds new meaning to meals. You see there is no microwave, hot & cold water, or other amenities like in the home kitchen. Take Saturday night, the whole meal was cooked on the campfire. Baked potatoes were wrapped in foil and placed on the coals about 40 minutes before the steaks were put on the grill. The Corn on the cob was dipped in a bucket of water and cooked on the grill. This steams it and it tastes even better than boiling it! I mention this because there is virtually no clean up after the meal, as paper plates were used. All you need is a little forethought to start the fire in time, and operating time can be maximized on the radio.

Field Day starts Saturday afternoon. I only made contacts Saturday from about 2PM-6PM. I am not a big contester and this was fine for me. I hear the bands were terrible for Field Day 2003. Not so for me. I made plenty of contacts on 20/40 meters. See log here The good news, I made about 28 contacts on the K1 with several different states. I also had many contacts before Field Day as folks were testing their rigs. I had a small folding table set up outside the camper, one of those that fits in a bag like those chairs. I also operated from inside the camper, especially Saturday morning while it rained. Photo The K1 that I operated is the 4-band version. (15,20,30,40 Meters) I also installed the internal antenna tuner in the K1. The antenna that I used is my faithful long wire. I was not sure if the internal tuner would tune the long wire, so I made a 20-foot jumper with alligator clips on the ends. My thought was to add length to the long wire if it didn't tune. Just as I thought, the first reading was 2.2 SWR! I added the 20-foot piece and the SWR on all bands was then 1.0 SWR. Great, but close call and thankfully I thought ahead and made a wire jumper to fix this issue.

Sunday morning was pack-up time and return home. I must admit that each camping trip is Field Day to me. An opportunity to learn something, make mistakes, and life goes on. I am sure you all learned something from your Field Day, too. I must say that the K1 is a dream to operate, so easy to change the keyer speed, so easy to use the keyer memories too! As a back up I brought the FT-817 just in case there was a problem with the K1. I could not believe that I preferred the K1!

I got my OHR-500 (80,40,30,20,15 Meters) QRP rig back the other day. Nice rig. I sent it off to get aligned. I am sort of disappointed, yes it works great, but after aligning the K1 I am sure I could have done it myself. Made my first contact with it last night to a station in TN with a 5-6-9 signal report. What is Field Day to me? Field Day is operating a rig that you "Built". I can't emphasize that enough. I guess I have this burning desire to be a "real" ham. What is a "real" ham? To me it is the guy who is as old as Marconi himself, who built his own radio equipment, who can fix his own radio equipment, and is a well-rounded ham. I can't say that I have arrived yet, just close with so much more knowledge to acquire.

Thanks to many Elmer's who have helped me, Willis AD4DX, Mike K4HBI, Robert KF4VBR and many others I am off to a good start. Remember, Field Day is a success if you learned something, and your goal doesn't need to match mine, I just like to make my goals almost unattainable, then take the word "failure" away as that is not an option!

Click on Photos to enlarge
Field Day Log-2003 (QRP)

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