FD 2017Field Day 2017, was without a doubt one of ARROW’s best Field Days ever. The fun got started Friday evening, when more than 25 people showed up to set up the antenna masts.

My Field Day got started at 8am Saturday morning at Mark’s Midtown Coney Island. (I feel a little bad about not getting out to the Field Day site on Friday evening to put up the antenna masts, but only a little.) A bunch of us gather there to fuel up for the event. This year, ten of us ate at Mark’s.

Around 9 am, we headed over to the Field Day site, the field just north of the Ann Arbor Airport and south of Ellsworth Road.

The antenna masts for the CW station and the two SSB stations were already up, so about the only thing that I and my team, including Rick, KA8BMA, and Prem, AC8QV, needed to do was to set up the GOTA station. As we have for probably at least the last five years, we used my 20m/40m fan dipole, mounted in an inverted vee configuration, using my set of surplus fiberglass masts. This setup has worked very well over the past five years, in many different locations, and this year was no exception.

The antenna went up quickly, and this year, once it was up, we didn’t have to lower it for any reason. I guess that we’re finally getting the hang of it. I had purchased a new folding table and brought along some folding chairs, and that was all set up in no time as well. That left us some time to help set up the food tent and do some other miscellaneous chores. This was all aided by the simply perfect weather that we had that morning (and throughout the rest of Field Day).

About 10:30 am, I retrieved the radio that we were going to use in the GOTA tent—an IC-7300!—and got that set up. As soon as the generators were fired up, shortly before 11:00am, we were ready to get on the air.

As I did last year, I had a blast making pre-Field Day contacts with other stations who were also testing their rigs. This little activity is actually an important one. It helped me learn how to operate the IC-7300—an important thing for the GOTA coach to know—and it gave me an idea of the propagation conditions. I was happy to note that propagation seemed really good, at least on 40m.

Speaking about the GOTA station, we ended up with 72 contacts made by 11 different operators. Our start operator this year was Aaron, who tallied about 25 contacts. The rest were all stars in my book, though, including my wife, Silvia; her sister, Lucy; Michelle, KE8GZF; Garry, W8GMD; and Ian, age 12, who made four or five contacts before he had to leave (see below).

Ian, age 12, and yours truly at the GOTA station. Photo: Dave New, N8SBE.

At 1800Z, all of our stations were up and running. We ran 3A again this year, including one CW station and two SSB stations.

The “hyoooj” improvement that we made in our operation this year was the food. I don’t know how they did it, but our club officers convinced Tom, W8TAM, and Julie, K8VOX (of MSPOTA fame) to turn and burn on dinner rather than 20m phone. (Later that evening, Tom actually did get a chance to work some 20m phone.)

We had a real feast. On the menu was pulled pork, jerk chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and other assorted delicacies. Someone baked some cookies, and someone else bought a cheesecake. Everything was incredibly good.

After dinner, I convinced Michelle, KE8GZF, to take another turn at the GOTA station, but after making a couple more contacts, both she and I had had enough. We called it quits, and I went home before returning very early on Sunday morning.

I went home, which is only 15 minutes away from the Field Day site, and got about four hours of sleep. I got back to the site about 3:45 am. Arun, W8ARU was turning and burning on the CW station, so I caught a few more ZZZZs while waiting for him to turn the station over to me. I got on about 5 am.

I was surprised that the band was still so active, and even though Arun complained about not being able to find stations that we hadn’t worked already, I was able to find some. And, when I set up on a frequency and started calling CQ, I found plenty of activity. At one point, I got the rate up to over 90 Qs per hour—for a short time anyway.

I don’t know how many contacts that I made, but I think that I acquitted myself pretty well before handing the controls over to Tim, KT8K sometime between 6:30 am and 7:00 am. I got back on a little later, relieving Tim for a while, and even then was able to find stations to work. I think that because the band conditions were so good, that there were more stations on and we could hear more of them, so that we just continued to find stations that weren’t dupes.

Sunrise, Sunday morning. Note the rainbow just to the right of the airport control tower. Photo: Dave New, N8SBE.

After breakfast, we set up the GOTA station again. The first operator of the morning was Aaron, KD8QQA. Aaron turned into the GOTA star for 2017. Over the course of the next hour or so, he made 20 contacts, qualifying for the GOTA bonus points! Aaron would make a few more contacts for us later in the day, when I twisted his arm a little to help us get over 2,000 contacts.

The rest of the day was devoted to racking up points. Sometime around 10:00 am, we surpassed our 2016 QSO total of 1,650. About 1:30 pm, only a half hour before the end of the event, we’d made it to about 1,950. At that point, I went around to all of the stations to urge them on. We hit 2,000 right about 1:50 pm, and our final total was 2,024! What a great effort.

The last two GOTA contacts were made by Ruth Tabeling, W8AWT’s mother. We got her into the operator’s chair about 1:50 pm, and we managed to make two Qs before shutting down. She was operator #11.

Teardown went pretty fast as usual, and by 3:30 pm, I was all packed up and ready to go. Another Field Day was in the books.

Even before I left the site, I was thinking about next year. For example, even though my 20m/40m fan dipole has worked so well over the years, we might want to try non-resonant doublet with an antenna tuner to allow us to work more bands.

I also think that we want to try to have two CW stations, as we have in the past. The club wants me to teach a CW class, and I think that I’ll make it a goal that all of the students will be able to operate a CW station at next year’s Field Day.

Dan, KB6NU