Our 2004 Field Day

This was a quiet year. Marsha didn't operate but I worked 20, 40, 2 and 70 cm bands in our back yard. Once again, operating as One Bravo, Western Washington using the generator and solar panels. I noted how rare 1B stations are these days. Maybe I should submitt my score next year as I might have a good chance as "best in class"?

Most of my activity was on 20 meters as it was 'hot' in all but the middle of the night here. Two meters and 70 cm were solar powered which is the usual way I like to work these bands. One surprize was a contact on 446.000 Mhz with a passenger aboard the Sapphire Princess which was passing near our house at the time. The Sapphire Princess is a brand new ship of which we'll be cruising on late this year along the Mexican Coast. This was the most suprizing contact made. Its a sister ship to the Star Princess of which I travelled throughout the South Pacific last year.

Weather was excellent and I operated throughout the 24 hour period while taking breaks to get a little sleep now and then.

Satellite efforts

One aspect that got my attention this year was building satellite antennas to do more space borne contacts. The first is a handheld 437 Mhz receive antenna to track SO-50 and others. With my new antenna bridge and UHF SWR capability, I was able to tune it and get the SWR down to virtually 1::1. It works great! The biggest challenge was getting the gamma match tuned. I have always been fond of building antennas and working out the details of matching them.

Marsha thought it was really funny seeing me out at 2:30 in the morning pointing this funny contraption towards the sky to get the best pass of the "bird". I'm waiting to see if the neighbors have any comment. If I get arrested and placed in the State Hospital, please inform them of what I was doing!!! Hi Hi

You can hear a short snippet of the audio here. You'll need a .WAV player to hear it. The signal you hear was calling "CQ field day" and probably from California. This is not the best example of a satellite contact because he was not letting others reach the "bird".

Got to hear the Astronauts on the ISS (International Space Station) for two passes in the morning of 6/27. Very solid copy. I didn't have any arrangement for transmitting to them and really wasn't too excited in trying because, being field day weekend brings out all the aggressive operators and I didn't have the skill or the equipment yet to compete. Maybe I'll be ready next year?

On July 29, 2004 I connected to the new satellite, AO-51 which is sometimes called Echo. This was the first pass where they turned on the FM repeater function on orbit #426. It clearly was very strong and and easy to hit. I used a two element Yagi on VHF and a 7 element Yagi for UHF. Both being homebuilt. You can listen to a 3 minute clip here. You'll need a means of playing MP3 files. It's about 700 kbytes long but runs for 3 minutes.

Our 2003 Field Day

For the first time in 5 years we went out for field day this year. In our back yard no less......

Marsha recently upgraded to her General Class license so she was anxious to operate on the HF bands. We decided to set up the generator, which hadn't been operated in about the same number of years. Our little camping trailer was used as the station and provided shelter in case it rained on our parade. Everything worked out great.

Marsha busying herself making contacts on that very noisy 20 and 40 meters. Now she knows what pile-ups are all about. We operated one bravo western washington on 20 and 40 meters. I wanted her to be able to use her own call but I also wanted to be able to go lower in the band to the Advanced section so we operated with our own call signs. I'd say that we did about 70 stations between us which wasn't very good but with the low power of the Yaesu FT-757GX and less than ideal antenna, we felt good about it. The band's were in terrible shape as their was a big solar flare recently.


For HF we used a homemade trapped 20-40 meter dipole up about 60 feet between two fir trees. On two meters we used a homemade twin-lead "J" pole that works on 144 and 440 Mhz. Since the 2AT is only two meters, we never were able to get on 70 cm. I wanted to use my ICOM 7TH dual bander but didn't have the right connectors to interface with the Solar panel. Also the panel puts out in excess of 16 volts unloaded in the bright sun. I didn't want to risk destroying my 7TH by over voltaging it. I used a regulator for the 2AT but didn't have anything suitable for my dual bander. Next year I'll be better prepared. I think I'll have my packet station operational also.

Solar Power

Also did some solar powered 2 meter contacts mostly to stations on Vancouver Island. I used an old ICOM 2AT running directly off of a 25 watt solar panel without any batteries. It did fine as long as I kept the panel in the sun. It's always fun to operate those special modes and it does improve preparedness. Notice that I didn't overdress for the event.

Neil A. Robin
Last modified: 10/04/04