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