Field Day: The Engineering Challenge

Field Day is an interesting event. Putting aside the age-old debate of what it really is supposed to be – emergency preparation, publicity, social activity, contest – for now, I think we can agree that the on-air aspect of it (the objective to make as many contacts as possible in the 24 hour operational period) certainly resembles a contest. In that regard, Field Day is unique in the universe of known contests in that portable operation from temporary stations is encouraged. This limits what is practical to build (nobody is putting up stacks, for example), and the inter-station interference potential increases dramatically, and that makes it one of the most challenging multi-operator, multi-transmitter contests of the season.

At the Tyler Amateur Radio Club, we set out on the path to Field Day 2015 not long after the completion of FD14. At FD14 we operated in the three-transmitter class (AB CW, AB SSB, AB RTTY) plus 6 and GOTA. We broke our club record with 1004 QSOs, mostly SSB, but were limited by inter-station interference. In particular, the CW position, despite having a K3, was plagued by either phase noise or desense (or both) when on the same band as the SSB transmitter. We also learned that RTTY would provide a decent number of QSOs to help fill a log but not enough to be a major station (there aren’t enough QSOs available to be made).

For FD15, we wanted to minimize interference between the stations, assign band-modes to transmitters in a way that would maximize our presence, select a station configuration that was well suited to the operator pool, and keep as many of the transmitters as possible on the air for the full 24 hours. Continue reading

Field Day 2015 Operator Schedule

Tentative operator schedule as of Monday, June 15.

June 27 (Saturday) PM June 28 (Sunday) AM PM
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
20 PH W5MCT N9JN KC5KCT K5TWR W5MCT W5MCT
40 PH W5FOW WM5Q AG5X+KF5WFA WM5Q WM5Q
15/80PH OPEN K5TXU KC5JDR KG5BWP KG5EHQ
CW WS5C WJ5Z WS5C
VHF K5LXK TBD OFF K5LOW
GOTA OPEN OFF TBD
RELIEF KG5EHQ
LEGEND Confirmed Unconfirmed Available No Schedule Off Air Maybe Off Air

Able to help? Got a correction or change? Send an email to Wayne WM5Q (his callsign at his callsign dot com), or get in touch with him some other way such as on one of the repeaters, and let us know:

  • Who you are (name, call)
  • Band and/or mode preference (if you have one)
  • Operating time period preference
  • General availability and conflicts
  • Any other information you think would be beneficial (contest experience, etc.)

This type of information will help us best schedule operators according to their preferences and strengths.

About the stations/positions:
We hope to be able to keep the 20 SSB, 40 SSB, and CW stations operating for the full 24 hours. Ideally we hope to keep these in Run mode (CQing), rather than Search & Pounce (tuning), as much of the time as practical to maximize the number of QSOs we make. If you have some contest experience and are comfortable with running, these stations may be ideal for you.

The CW station will be able to be on any band 40 thru 10 as desired at the time. We anticipate the 20-10 tribander and the 40 dipole, with physical separation from the SSB tribander and dipole, will provide sufficient isolation for any same-band operation. Needless to say, if you enjoy CW, changes are good that this station is for you.

The 15/80 SSB station (15 daytime, 80 nighttime) is designated for casual operators: those who might not be comfortable running for an extended time, walk-ups, and so on. We are intentionally not scheduling operator shifts for this transmitter during the Saturday daytime hours in order for it to be available for casual operators. If you are less comfortable or experienced with contest operation, or perhaps you prefer working at a more relaxed pace, this station may be the one for you.

The GOTA station is intended for unlicensed people, new hams, and generally inactive hams. For the most part this means guests from the general public. This station will be on either 10 or 80 SSB daytime.

Periodically, an operator may need a short break from the radio. To facilitate this, especially at night, we would like at least one relief operator on site to fill in. If you want to help in a potentially very casual capacity, this might be for you.

Some operators prefer to handle their own logging. Others prefer to work with a separate logger. If you’re scheduled as an operator, please let us know if you have a preference. If you prefer to be a logger for another operator, let us know that as well and we’ll do our best to accommodate everyone’s preferences.

Check back periodically for updates, and we look forward to seeing you at FD15.

Welcome our 2015-2016 Club Officers

Welcome to our newly-elected club officers for 2015-2016

President:  Rick Hall, W5WVH

Vice President: Wayne Hoskins, WM5Q

Secretary Treasurer: George Plotkin, KF5WFA

At – Large John Freeman, KC5JDR; Thomas Moss, KC5KCT

Wayne Hoskins remains repeater trustee, and Mark DePaepe continues as our Public Service Coordinator.

Club Elections

The Club Annual Elections are coming up in May at the monthly meeting.

Nominees may be submitted up until the May Club meeting on May 21st.

Please consider who you would like to be your club president, vice president, board members, secretary-treasurer and public service coordinator.

Names may be submitted to the Nominating committee which includes Thomas Moss, John Freeman and Mark Depape.

Tyler Mini Maker Faire®

The Discovery Science Place is the site of the Second Annual Tyler Mini Maker Faire®, on Saturday, April 18. The Van will be there and we’ll show off Ham Radio. Come join us and watch this space for more information…

Field Day 2015…

… will be here before you know it. Last year, we placed very well among clubs in North Texas. So why not the top spot this year?

Field Day happens every year at the last full weekend in June. That’s June 27 and 28 this year. Begin to save the day now. And watch this space for more details.

Field day will be held at Camp Tyler again at the Tehan building.

If you have never been on the air, this is a great chance to experience ham radio first hand.  This weekend only we have a G.O.T.A. (Get On The Air) station.  You are welcome to come out and make contacts with the help of experienced ham radio operators.

Come on out and join us for food and fun.

Images with fldigi

We’ve become familiar with using the amazing fldigi program for PSK-31 browsing and formatted document transmission, but the program is also capable of sending and receiving images in the MFSK-32 and MFSK-64 modes.

pic_2014-11-23_195748z

 

 

The Voice of America has been experimenting with fldigi for almost two years, They send a half-hour program four times each weekend from their North Carolina shortwave AM transmitter. The logo above was received here in Tyler on 17650 kHz. For more information about these broadcasts, see http://www.voaradiogram.net.

European commercial shortwave broadcaster The Mighty KBC is also experimenting with fldigi.pic_2014-11-23_013057z This noisy image of a shortwave radio tuned to their primary frequency of 6095 kHz was also received here in Tyler from their 7375 kHz transmitter in Germany.

You can download the software at http://www.w1hkj.com. It’s free, cross-platform, and open source. I hope you have as much fun with it as I have!!  — 73 de WB5CTQ

City of Tyler Warning Siren test

The Tyler Police Department has asked us to help with the monthly test of the Outdoor Warning System. These tests are performed at 11:00 AM on the first Tuesday of the month. The next test is Tuesday May 5th

Pick a siren location, and let Rick Hall know. A net will be started shortly before 11:00 on the 147.000 repeater, and you can check in there. After the test, net control will poll the participants to be sure the siren sounded. A page describing the system and the testing protocol is here. And a Map of siren locations is here. See you on the radio!