Winter Field Day

This year the West Georgia Amateur Radio Society (WGARS) decided to hold winter field day at Little Tallapoosa Park in Carroll County, GA. I would call the event semi-serious. I don’t think any of us are real hard-core contesters, but some of us watch the numbers. The majority of our members operate using SSB and I was the only one operating CW. The plan was for me to get as many bands as I could for multipliers. That meant I had to be able to swap bands fairly quickly in order to advantage of changing band conditions. We had five stations set up, 4 of which had bandpass filters. Because I didn’t have any bandpass filters I was located about 100 yards away from the main group.

Gear. I brought the FTDX10 with me to see how it would do in a semi-contest environment. It fed a Mat Tuner, Mat-30 tuner, and then to my 29-foot random wire antenna. This has become my favorite antenna. I logged with N3FJP WFD software and used a K1EL keyer. The computer and radio were powered by a Honda EU-2200 generator (we ran alternate power). This generator is very quiet and is very fuel efficient. The rest of my camper was fed with shore power at the campsite. I kept warm with a little ceramic heater.

Operation. This year I tried something new. Not only did I use the N3FJP software for logging but I also used it to send CW, in other words, I did everything from the keyboard. I was a little apprehensive, aren’t we all when it comes to something new? But I found it worked quite well. Band conditions, on the other hand, were not that good. They were up and down with a lot of fade. By being able to jump around I was able to work 100 contacts on 5 different bands. I was hoping for more, but there weren’t a whole lot of stations out there to work. I thought it might have been my station, but looking at the QSO Map, I was getting out okay.

Cold weather may have kept some CW ops at home. It gets harder to work a key or paddle when your hands are cold.

FTDX10. Part of my ongoing review of this radio. You really can’t get a feel for a radio or any piece of kit unless you use it over a period of time. My other radios are feeling the pain of neglect. How did it do? Not bad really. I made an effort to try the CW decoder. There were times were I really needed it due to QSB (fading). Sometimes the band would drop as I was getting the exchange. The decoder often picked up what I missed. It is not a replacement for your ears and mind. But it did help and made me a little more efficient. My hearing is not that good. The decoder is sensitive to CW speed. It does best when it is close to the sender’s speed. I set the outer dial (MVLP) to CW speed for this purpose. While I normally set the function knob to RF power, because band conditions were so variable, I set it to level (waterfall level) which allowed me to adjust the waterfall as needed. The radio performed well and I appreciate the roofing filters. I had one issue and that was I would tune across the band and about every 10 KC the waterfall would go dark and I would have to retune the antenna system. That became rather annoying. There is an example of what was going on in the activation video below. Very quickly, I got a response from one of my subscribers stating that it was the tuner and not the radio. This morning, I broke out the radio and tested it with the Mat-30 to make sure I still had the problem here at home (I did). I then swapped the Mat-30 for my old LDG Z-11 Pro and viola! The problem disappeared. You can see the results in the second video.

I think my club as a whole had a good time. It is fun to get and socialize, plus throw in a little operating. When testing a radio, or any piece of kit, You can’t really do it justice over a couple of days. I’ve had the radio for a couple of months, and as I work through the issues, I find that sometimes we don’t know each other that well yet. It’s still early in the dance. I will say that I am warming up to the radio more than I thought but I still say that if I had to choose between it and the 7300, the 7300 would still be my choice. However, that gap is getting narrower. If Yaesu would make a few software upgrades…

4 thoughts on “Winter Field Day”

  1. Hello kk4z
    We have meet a couple times. Most recently when you give a speech at the GA library for Vikings on ham radios. I have a Technician license. I don’t know CW. Is there a way for me to type out CW on a laptop and my IC705 transmit it and decode it. Any help would be appreciated.


    1. Yes there are but decoding can be unpredictable as it depends on the skill of the sender. There is also a level of skill needed to send CW via a computer. If you have no intention of learning CW, then a digital mode such as PSK31 would be better. A piece of software called FLDigi which is free is great — it’s what I use for digital modes.


  2. Let me rephrase the question. What’s the simplest and most reliable way to establish communication with ham radios from Birmingham, AL in a 120 mile radius? Digital, Voice, Band and Frequency.


    1. You will need to upgrade to a general class to take advantage of the band allowed by that class. If you are using an IC-705 (10 watts), I would recommend using PSK31 on 80 meters in the digital parts of the band. Voice is possible but can be unreliable with only 10 watts of power.


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