This weekend we went to Samatun for the annual NRRL National Field Day contest. Field Day is an annual contest which requires the participants to set up a new radio station specifically for the contest. Furthermore, participants are not allowed to use the power grid, nor existing structures to support the antennas.
The Covid19 pandemic left a mark on this year’s execution of Field Day. Until quite close before it should start it was uncertain if it could proceed, and we are delighted that it could be done. The most notable change was the upper limit of 20 participants, which meant that not everyone could come. In addition to this we tried to keep 1 m distance and used excessive amounts of hand washing.
The experience with Samatun last year was so good that we returned there this year too. It is located 1.5 hour drive southeastwards of Trondheim, by a dam for a power plant. The elevated location and relatively flat terrain makes it well suited for long distance radio propagation.
Faced with the relatively restrictive limit on participants, priority was given to new members so they could get a chance to experience Field Day. This led to fewer experienced members participating, which was expected to be problematic when establishing the radio station. The expected difficulties proved to be far less than feared, and with a few solvable issues, we were QRV for test start.
One of the problems we faced was that we forgot the rotor controller. We solved that by doing the controller job manually with a battery and human attention when turning.
Our antenna park consisted of one Spiderbeam 20m-15m-10m array, “Bananaphone” homebuilt 40m dipole and wire dipoles for 80m and 160m. The Spiderbeam is three wire yagis fixed on a fiberglass frame on top of a quite tall telescope mast. We are quite fond of it because it is so light and efficient. The Bananaphone is an aluminum dipole electrically shortened by two capacitors. This year we placed it on top of an old army mast we inherited from the Red Cross. The 80m dipole was strung between the first two masts, and the 160m dipole ended up between the Bananaphone mast and a lattice tower.
The weather forecast expected rain, but it turned out to be quite nice.
The conditions were mostly good this year, in particular the 20m band on Saturday afternoon and 40m on Saturday evening. The 80m band and 15m band were more disappointing with a shorter opening. Only the HF bands have been operated this year.
Many thanks to all those who organized this year’s Field Day and made this the memorable weekend it was.