On the 1st to the 3rd of September, it was once again time for the biggest event in the ARK year: Field Day. We went to Samatun in JP53HC, the same location as in previous years. The area offers a relatively large amount of space and is close to Trondheim at a price that is difficult to match with other places. The cabin can house up to 26 sleeping people, and the surrounding area can house even more people in tents.

The cabin at Samatun. Photo: LB0VG

Slightly different from previous years is that we started setting up some of the antennas and the shack on Friday evening. As it got darker, we assembled but did not raise our Spiderbeam tri-band yagi antenna. We also started assembling our experimental portable automatic satellite tracking antenna.

Espen assembling the satellite tracker antenna, while LA1Q assists and LB5DH secures his foothold. Photo: Randi

After two years of unsuccessfully trying to operate low earth orbit (LEO) satellites with a handheld yagi and two FT-4X handheld FM-radios, we tried to level up this year. Last year, we inherited a rotor and two yagis from Orbit, which we, together with an old tripod, intended to use as a portable ground station. Despite working slowly with it for several months, we did not succeed in finishing it in time for Field Day. We made a last-ditch attempt at sorting out the last issues after arriving at Samatun, but we had no success this year as well.

Gunnar and Emil attaching the elevated radials to the 80m vertical. Photo: Randi

On Saturday morning, we started with the traditional Bananaphone shortened dipole, our new 80m quarter wave vertical, and continued with the Spiderbeam yagi. The new antenna needed new space, so we decided to use the space on the other side of the road. This meant we needed a longer coax cable and an air span, but the good news was that we changed the dry rock ground plane for a wet marsh ground plane. Despite the better ground plane, we stuck with the original plan of elevated radials, which had already been cut.

Espen, Gunnar, and Christian (from left) measuring the distance to the 80m vertical mast in preparation for erecting the 160m vertical. The shack cars are in the back to the left. Photo: LB5DH

The process of erecting it was quite painless, probably because of the practice we gained the week before. In parallel, we continued with the spiderbeam multiband 10m-15m-20m wire yagi. After it broke last year, we had a new support beam and u-bolt, which made it almost as good as new.

LB5GJ and LB0RI hoisting the spiderbeam mast with Randi keeping the guy wire in the background and LB5FJ to the right. Photo: LB5DH

Same as in previous years, we used our trusted homebrew 40m shortened horizontal dipole “Bananaphone”. It has served us faithfully for many years, despite being reduced in size and too low over the ground. Same as for the past few years, we put it in the ancient surplus army mast we inherited from the Red Cross.

The assembly of the bannanaphone antenna. From left: LB6GH, LA1Q, LB5PI and some indistinguishable radio amateurs behind. Photo: LB5DH
LB3SG and LB0RI walking in front of the bannanaphone and a wire dipole. Photo: LB5DH

During the setup phase, we typically prioritize 160m lower than the other bands for two reasons: 1. we expect it to be less important and result in fewer QSOs, and 2. we don’t need it before nightfall. This year, we started after the contest was going. In hindsight, this may seem overly optimistic because our new 160m balloon vertical was new and had to be tuned. Same as with the 80m vertical, we placed it in the marsh. Unlike the 80m vertical, we chose to lay the intended-for-being-elevated radials on the ground as it saved a lot of effort. Nevertheless, after a few hours, we had it flying. Unfortunately, the element turned out to be too short.

Christian, Espen, and LB5DH before flying the balloon. You can see Anton in the background laying out the fish line guy wires. Photo: LB1DJ

After cutting a new element and iteratively tuning it, we decided it was good enough at approximately Saturday midnight. This was the first time we had used a balloon-supported antenna and the first time we had a vertical for the 160m band. We got 17 QSOs with it, which is above average for the 160m band during LA1K’s Field Day, but not exceptionally many.

Tuning the 160m vertical in the middle of the night. From left: Gunnar, LB1DJ, Christian and Espen. Photo: LB5DH

As opposed to the weekend when we made the antenna, Field Day saw moderate wind speeds. The balloon has a relatively high windbreak, which would push it towards the ground. Fortunately, the fish line guy wire concept worked relatively well. There were some gusts where the balloon dropped a little but it mostly kept to the right position.

The balloon with Espen in the background and the guy wires for the 80m vertical in the foreground. Photo: Randi

The Norwegian version of Field Day gives extra points for several other activities than just the QSOs acquired, and one of them is amateur radio direction finding (often called fox hunt). A few years ago, LB1HH made three beacons for the same purpose, which we reused this year. Three different people hid them at three different locations, and the two participating teams got a measure tape yagi each to search for them. The winning team found all three, and the other team found two.

Christian, Randi, LB6GH, and LB4FI eating ice cream during a well-deserved break in assembling the 80m vertical. Photo: LB5DH

In earlier years, we have made attempts at reaching QO-100. This year, we had prepared for a new and better attempt, but unfortunately, the equipment was forgotten and left behind when departing for Samatun.

LB5EJ and Emil trying to reach a LEO satellite. Photo: LB5DH.

The conditions were relatively favorable, but a delayed start due to technical issues with the logging program meant we could not use the shack for the first hour. As usual, the 20m band and 40m band were our best.

 Band   Mode  QSOs     Pts  DXC  Pt/Q
   1,8  LSB     17      48    4   2,8
   3,5  LSB     72     184   13   2,6
     5  FT8      1       1    1   1,0
     7  LSB    316     734   25   2,3
    14  USB    508     946   36   1,9
    21  USB     83     143   23   1,7
 Total  Both   997    2056  102   2,1
Score: 209 712
1 Mult = 9,8 Q's
The distributions of QSOs per band through the contest.

All things considered, we consider Field Day a success this year. We tried out three new antennas, of which two worked great and set new records for antenna height in ARK-context. Thanks to everyone who made this possible!

All the participants of Field Day this year in front of the spiderbeam yagi. Photo: LB0VG
The QTH with the cabin to the left, the banana phone on the parking lot to the left of the shack. The spiderbeam yagi can be seen behind the trees, and on the closest side of the road are the 80m vertical and the 160m balloon vertical. Photo: LB0VG