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’24 ARRL Field Day Summary

  • Date: July 1, 2024
  • Location: Mt. Graham, Arizona
  • Club Call Sign: N7GMR

Operators:

  • Darren Carlow (K7VLL)
  • David Adriaanse (K6DSA) + Owen and Ames
  • Gory Goesch (K7RRR) + Evan

Event Overview:

The SWCRS (Southwest Community Radio System) had a blast participating in the ARRL Field Day on Mt. Graham, Arizona. Picture this: overcast skies with a gentle drizzle and temperatures blissfully in the mid-60s, a refreshing escape from the scorching valley floor below.

Setup:

Our adventure began with all three operators camping from Friday to Sunday. Bright and early Saturday morning, we set up our stations, ready to rock by kickoff time.

  • Darren: Set up his HF station with a Yaesu FT-991A, mag-loop, and OCFD, tackling FT8 on 40m, 20m, 15m, and 10m.
  • David: Brought his HF station with a Yaesu FTDX-3000 and portable vertical antenna, working FT8, FT4, and SSB voice on 40m, 20m, and 15m.
  • Cory: Operated his HF station with a Yaesu FT-991A and a homebrew mag loop, diving into FT8 on 40m, 20m, and 15m.

All stations ran on off-grid power, using a mix of car inverters and solar chargers to keep batteries juiced up. By 11 AM, all stations were buzzing with activity.

Challenges and Solutions:

  • Interference: Some pesky inverter noise cropped up while topping off batteries, mostly affecting 40 meters. We had to juggle which bands each operator used and occasionally doubled up on FT4/FT8 sequences.
  • Power Management: Voltage drops were a challenge during high-power operations. We managed by reducing power and shortening conductor lengths when possible. However, this meant solar panels were a bit far from their batteries—not a big deal since it was mostly cloudy. Note to self: bring heavier gauge cables next time!
  • Computer Networking: We used a 5.8 GHz WiFi access point connected to Starlink for logging and control. Some gear only supported 2.4 GHz WiFi, so next year we’ll need to expand our access point to cover this band as well.

Closing and Reflections:

We had a fantastic time and are already planning improvements for next year’s outing. The team logged an impressive 129 contacts and racked up 1,300 points! We’re excited to welcome more operators to join the fun next year.

SWCRS is looking forward to the next ARRL Field Day and other events, continuing to enjoy and promote the wonderful world of amateur radio.

Submitted by: David Adriaanse, K6DSA
Role: SWCRS Station Operator

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