Field Day Recap: Good friends, lots of contacts, and a little portable POTA!

Since I was first licensed in 1997, Field Day has been the on-the-air event I’ve always looked forward to more than any other.

I love the combination of playing radio outdoors, experimenting with antennas, hanging with fellow hams, and inviting the public to experience the world of amateur radio.

I’ve participated in quite a wide variety of Field Day events over the years. A few times, I’ve spent the entire event with one club playing radio for the full 24 hour period of time and only getting a couple hours of sleep. It’s exhausting, but loads of fun!

Other times, I’ve been a guest at clubs as we’ve spent the summer in Canada–most notably with the Charlottetown ARC and with the Club Radio Amateur du Québec.

That’s the great thing about amateur radio: no matter where you go in the world, you have a built-in local community of friends.

Many years, I’ve also combined Field Day and POTA (also NPOTA in 2016) with my good friend Vlado (N3CZ). We typically find a nice park to play radio, make some food (Vlado is the grill-master extraordinaire), and hang out for a few hours, many times with our families and other ham friends. Our goal is mostly to have fun, make contacts, and be ready to answer questions when a crowd gathers.

My buddy Vlado (N3CZ) draws a crowd in 2016,

Field Day 2023

On Saturday morning (June 24, 2023), Vlado and I met up around 12:30 at Vlado’s QTH and I placed my gear in his car.

The plan was to hit a park and do a POTA activation–albeit just running Field Day with my callsign–then go to the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club‘s Field Day site for dinner and operating with their club call (W4YK).

Holmes Educational State Forest (K-4856)

We made our way to Holmes Educational State Forest (K-4856). It was a logical choice since it wasn’t too far from the BRARC Field Day site.

I had hoped the covered picnic shelter at Holmes would be unoccupied, but it was very much the opposite. I think there must have been three birthday parties in that thing!

Knowing rain showers are all around, I packed my ENO hammock rainfly and, in fact, we chose our picnic site based on tree spacing to hang the rainfly over the picnic table.

Vlado (N3CZ) warming up his IC-703 Plus

We put up the rain fly first and it’s a good thing we did because showers moved in immediately. Fortunately, the fly worked a charm and we both–and more importantly, our radios–stayed bone dry.

Since this was primarily a Field Day effort, I didn’t schedule the activation or do any spotting. No one who worked us knew that it was also a park activation.

We ran as a 1B Battery station, thus our maximum output power was five watts. (Of course we were only going to do this QRP!)

Vlado and I both operated, but he made the bulk of the contacts. While one of us worked stations, the other logged.

In the end, we logged 45 contacts–all but one were CW.

Vlado really enjoyed using his IC-703 Plus. He built a small go kit around it some time ago, but this was actually the first opportunity he’d had to use it in the field.

I also packed the IC-705 and made quite a few contacts with it including our one SSB contact!

Around 4:30 PM local, we packed up and headed to the Blue Ridge ARC FD site at one of the members’ QTH.

Holmes Video

I made a short video at Holmes Educational State Forest–not a typical activation video, just a quick visit with us:

Click here to view on YouTube.


We arrived at the BRARC site around 5:00 PM. Typically, the Blue Ridge Club sets up in very public ares–primarily the middle of some of the larger area parks.

This time, however, there was a permitting conflict that forced the club to find another space. Fortunately, two of the club members offered up their home which wasn’t in a public spot, obviously, but in every other respect was ideal.

We arrived and met with several friends I hadn’t seen in ages.

Vlado immediately hopped on KC5F’s Icom IC-7610 (the dedicated CW station) and gave Steve a break at the key.

I then took over after Vlado’s run and added a few more contacts to the W4YK logs.

I then moved to the SSB station and added about ten contacts to their logs. That particular station was the club’s Icom IC-718 and if I’m being honest, it’s not the best HF radio for crowded band conditions. It’s an overall good radio, but when the RF is dense (as it is on Field Day) its front end sort of falls apart. The difference between the IC-718 and IC-7610 was striking. The ‘7610 is a contest grade radio and it handles FD conditions with grace.

The barbecue at the BRARC Field Day was amazing. We appreciate good BBQ here in North Carolina. Don’t get me started about that potato salad–it was spectacular!

We left he BRARC meeting around 8:30 PM and on the way home decided to pop by the WCARS Field Day site at a Fire Fighters’ Union Camp Ground. This wasn’t a terribly public place for Field Day, but the grounds were ideal for setting up stations. A number of WCARS members belong to the Fire Fighters’ Union.

We spoke with a few WCARS members/friends we hadn’t seen in some time, then headed home.

In the end, I felt like we’d done a little Field Day tour that Saturday!

It was great hopping on the air, but even better seeing so many friends we hadn’t seen in such a long time.

How was your Field Day?

I’d love to hear what you did for Field Day! Please share your experience with us in the comments section!

Also, keep in mind that Saturday July 1, 2023 (tomorrow!) is the RAC Canada Day Contest! You can find out more about this event on the RAC website.

Thank you

Thank you for joining Vlado and me for a few minutes on Field Day!

Also, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

Have an amazing weekend ahead!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

18 thoughts on “Field Day Recap: Good friends, lots of contacts, and a little portable POTA!”

  1. Hi Tom-

    Thanks for a great Field Day recap!

    I operated from our wood crib once again. Level floor. Rain/shade shelter, and DEET kept the ‘skeeters at bay.
    It just meets the requirements for a portable location. I had temporary 40M and 20M EFHWs up for the event- making it ‘legit’. The attraction there is a 100-foot pine overhead.

    1B battery. I started off on 15M with another temporary antenna. It was like pulling teeth! 10 contacts in an hour, and only one signal was budging the S-meter. I hadn’t gotten the memo that we were coming off a major solar flare. 20M was somewhat better, but still a bit on the sparse side. 40M was more like it later in the day! 67 Qs there and a total of 114. I got in a couple productive hours early Sunday before my wife was up and about. I packed it in at 8:30 AM. By then, I’d already worked most of the stations that’d hear me. A major construction project was calling to me, and the morning’s relative cool temps weren’t going to last long. ‘The Amateur is Balanced’.

    Hope everyone else had a great time! 73- K1SWL

    1. I have a funny story for you, Dave:

      So Vlado was at the key and he found a station in WI or IL, we copied the section and waited to call them. He sent “K4SWL” and the station replied back, “K1SWL.” He started to re-send “K4SWL” but we both looked at each other and Vlado asked, “Could it be?”
      Then we heard you–K1SWL–come back to him with your signal report! Ha ha! That gave us a proper chuckle.

      Then when we tried to work him right after you, he seemed a little surprised to work K4SWL! There was a hesitancy in his reply. I know he was thinking, “No way I got two K_SWLs in a row!”

      But he did and we logged him too!

      Thank you for sharing your report, OM! And thank you for warming up that contact for us!


  2. Excellent report, Thomas!

    We had just gotten back for a family trip late Friday night so our Field Day experience wasn’t quite what it normally is. I wound up setting up on my back porch using my KX2, SOTA Beam’s 20-30-40 dipole set up as an inverted vee, using an MFJ extendable mast to hold up the apex, and made 25 quick contacts before the post-trip “honey-do” list kicked in hihihi.

    I continue to enjoy all of your posts and videos!


    1. Thank you for sharing this. I think the important bit is to just hop on the air at some point and play radio. Like you, my Honey Do list was extensive FD weekend! 🙂
      Thank you,

  3. I spent some time at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds with the Shelby Amateur Radio Club (SARC). They had 2 stations set up. Got to operate CW Sunday afternoon. Good time with the Club folks.

  4. Was going to do a little 1E from home on Sunday but the solar gods were apparently angry at some of the states along the northern tier. Plenty of noise but no signals in Washington State.

  5. Great presentation as always. Thanks! I look forward to getting more and more and more. Just hope your radios don’t get wet from a sudden fierce windy down pour. What precautions, planning, do you take in such an unexpected event? Radios are expensive and it would be a shame to have one ruined from a sudden down pour.

    1. Honestly, I try to keep my radios covered wityh a rain fly or use a picnic shelter. So far, I’ve never had an issue. I have run my Discovery TX-500 in the rain, but it’s designed to handle that!


  6. I ran FD with my IC-718, a tuner and 100ft of wire 40 feet up a pine tree out in Michigan.

    Was really fun. Only managed 43 contacts all SSB but I wasn’t on for a large part of FD (visited two FD sites and that took over an hour each plus having launch and dinner.)

    Definitely going to be trying to either getting an amp for next year and maybe a near SSB filter for my rig. (A bit of a mess on the bands with the Wide SSB filter only). But for 100w, a Random Wire and just hunting people calling CQ I don’t think I did bad.

    1. You did well!

      So I should qualify what I say about the IC-718. It is a very good radio in so many respects. I’ve used one on, perhaps three or four Field Days with various clubs. They work, I just feel like signals coming back to me (esp. in SSB) are somewhat attenuated because the receiver is a bit overwhelmed. That said, you can definitely have a successful Field Day with one.

      Thank you for sharing your report!

  7. I did Field Day this year with my IC705 with our local Ham club. I have done Field Day a number of times running QRP in the past. Although our other stations are running 100W class and any QRP contact is along with the 100W class, just running QRP is fun. Also much easier to set up.

    73, ron, n9ee

    1. Yes, QRP stations are SO much easier to set up. 🙂 Plus, it’s fun to make those 5 watt contacts when others are using 100W. 🙂
      Thanks for sharing!

  8. After continually revising my plans downward all week, I operated 1B-battery from Wildcat Mountain State Park (K-1480) using the X6100 with an EFHW on Saturday, and a 17′ Buddipole vertical on Sunday. Both days 20 meter sideband had lots of signals but conditions included rapid fading and plenty of QRM. It seemed a bit easier to make QSOs on Sunday; not sure if the difference was in the antenna, or in the slightly slower pace of all the stations on the air. In any case I made 13 contacts, enough to make a valid activation, and raising my FD total to 18.

    1. Conditions that Saturday were challenging. Despite the signal density of Field Day, it wasn’t easy to make contacts!
      Thanks for sharing your report!

  9. I usually participate in Field Day with the Athens County (Ohio) Amateur Radio Association but this year I made the decision to, instead, attend the annual McFadden Family Reunion in Lexington, Kentucky. (Field Day always happens on the fourth full weekend of June. The reunion always happens on the Sunday of the last weekend in June. These events conflict about nine years out of ten.)

    My wife and I decided to take the two small dogs and make a bit of vacation of it. We booked a room in the lodge at Carter Caves State Park in Kentucky for Friday and Saturday nights. Before reaching Carter Caves State Park, I performed a quick POTA activation of nearby Grayson Lake State Park and, after getting moved into our room and having dinner, I performed a Late Shift activation of Tygarts State Forest which is adjacent to Carter Caves State Park.

    Saturday morning, my wife and I took the tour of Cascade Cave. The tour was spectacular, and we wished we would have had time to tour some of the other caves at the park.

    When 1800 UTC Saturday rolled around, I set my KX3 up on our room’s balcony, dropping my tried-and-true 28-1/2′ end-fed wire down from the balcony railing and deploying two 17′ radials on the balcony floor. (There were no lodge rooms beneath us, and little chance anyone would come into contact with my antenna.) I began my 1B-Battery operation about 3pm local-time. Band conditions were absolutely awful, but I managed to make 16 QSOs on 20m and 1 QSO on 40m in just about an hour, validating my first POTA activation of Carter Caves State Park.

    Just after 0000 UTC Sunday (8pm Saturday, local), I returned to the balcony, made a slight adjustment to the antenna and laid out my third 17′ counterpoise wire, and found that band conditions on 40m were quite good. I made 20 QSOs, all on 40m, in just under an hour. As darkness was falling, I tore down the station while I could still see. The 20 QSOs were more than sufficient to validate my second POTA activation of Carter Caves State Park.

    Sunday morning, as we drove from the state park toward Lexington, I diverted into the northern-most tip of Daniel Boone National Forest and found a place to set up my KX3 and 28-1/2′ wire vertical at the parking area at the Cave Run Lake Spillwater area and found 40m to be in spectacular shape. I made 13 QSOs in 13 minutes, all on 40m, before the threat of approaching rain convinced me it was time to tear down and continue our drive to Lexington.

    In total, I made 50 QSOs in about 2-1/4 hours of on-air time. All my QSOs were CW at 5w.

    We drove through some terrific rain before arriving at Lexington but, fortunately, by the time the reunion started the rain had passed.

    Eric, WD8RIF

    1. You have some spectacular photos of the caves in your field reports, Eric!
      It’s been ages since I’ve been to Carter Caves–I need to schedule a family trip there especially knowing how easily it’ll be to POTA!
      Thanks for sharing this!

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