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