Prepping: SHTF Weekend for Hams

Tons of ham radio operators will be planning for your Hard Grid Down (HGD) and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) laced future this coming weekend with something called  Field Day.

Sponsored by the American Radio Relay League ( the event had its roots in 1933 when a bunch of hams decided to “take to the field” with their fledgling hobby.

Most of us who have been hams for a while (55-years for me) remember a time when radio and television gear was not nearly as dependable as it is today.  The reason?  Back in the days of vacuum tubes, equipment was more fragile.

When times were back, though, even  back then, there were dedicated hams who could move a message across the country and in the event of a natural disaster, that was a godsend.  My introduction to emergency message handling was helping a neighbor, now a “silent key” – run phone patches out of Alaska for something like 14-hours non-stop during the 1964 Alaska Earthquake.

People in the Anchorage area could visit a local ham and a message sent to Seattle (or other “outside” points) and relayed to the right city for local phone delivery.  In the case of military personnel, or people lucky-enough to live with a ham in the neighborhood, a transmitter in Alaska was picked up by a receiver in the lower 48 and then connected to a phone line – allowing the sender in Alaska to “talk” back and forth with relatives sometimes 4-thousand miles distant.

Field Days is Practice

My buddy, the Major, is part of the set-up team fielded by the Mic & Key Amateur Radio Club up in Seattle.  Their idea of Field Day is to head up Fort Flagler State Park and set up a number of both voice and CW (Morse code) stations around the state park.

The idea is: Without grid power (something we have touched on a lot recently, what with power outages in South America and such, not to mention the (alleged) Russian probes of our grid) what kind of communications can be maintained?

Using the call sign K7LED, the Mic and Key’s operation is in two clusters.  Morse code operators will be down at “CW Beach” by the water while the voice operators will be on an overhead bluff.  All antennas pointing out toward the high population density parts of America with the idea of a basic message exchange in order to rack up “points.”  Morse counts double points compared with voice.

Here, I’ll be doing just a “charts only” kind of Peoplenomics report this weekend to take some time on Field Day.

Our category is 4 (home station) with emergency power (E suffix).  Our ARRL region (called a “section number”) is North Texas.  When a contact (“work”) someone on Field Day it will be AC7X operation 4E NTX – the abbreviation for the section.

Come along and I’ll show you around and point out some of the “building blocks” involved:

I’ve shown you our power center before.  This is where the 3.5 kilowatts of solar panels comes into the shop and is converted into massive battery storage (16 large deep cycle golf cart batteries) and from there it’s converted from DC to AC –  something useable – with stacked 120V since wave inverters.

For us, going onto “emergency power” is as easy as throwing two breakers.

One Field Day issue for us is the lack of sunshine in the forecast for this weekend.  We may be in the middle of another round of strong thunder storms which does add a bit of risk, but we shall see.

With a source of power, the next requirement is for an antenna…

This is an old Cushcraft A-4S wideband beam and under it my seriously heavy 16-conductor 80-meter dipole.

Choosing which radio to use is always a tough one.  Tube-type gear takes a little more fidgeting with to dial it all in right, so a simple Kenwood transceiver will likely be the “weapon of choice” this time out:

This gets me to an interesting discussion of “the Rules.”  The rule is that in order not to draw the high-powered amplifier penalty (because anyone can talk anywhere with enough power and the most humongous antennas) I can run 150 watts out to the antenna.

However, the little Kenwood only puts out 100 watts.  Which is more than enough for worldwide communications, but remember Field Day is a mad house.  Signals all over and crowded band conditions.  One strategy is to turn on this beast, a 2,000 watt-capable of linear amplifier:

Then comes the operator skill to dial things back:  The amplifier has a low-power switch (1,000 watts,, lol).  But the radio is adjustable in small increments.  If 100 watts will get 1,000 watts out, 15 watts ought to get 150 watts out.  Simple enough there.

Just to play fair, though, I use a calibrated power output meter to make sure.

Data Capture

Here’s one of the issues with “contesting” with ham radio:  Keeping track of all the people you contacted.  Oh, it’s easy to keep everything straight during the first half-hour, or so.  but after that?  10-hours of Morse code and manual logging can be tedious.


K3FPJ has developed a very nice and inexpensive ($8.99) Field Day Log  program.  You can also use logging programs that are built-in to other ham radio software packages like Ham Radio Deluxe which also supports a lot of digital modes via Digital Master including slow scan TV, teletype and…well, we have a schedule to keep.

In your travels about this weekend, should you see a sign that says  GOTA – that means “Get On The Air” – a station set up so the public can see ham radio first-hand and maybe become involved.

As we’ve told you may times, Ham Radio is as much a “technical religion” as a hobby because there is so much long history and structure to it.

The ARRL Handbook  is somewhat akin to a Bible for those possessed by the demon RF.

There’s fellowship like crazy.

In place of 10 Commandments we have sets of Laws handed down by prophets with names like Ohm, Volta, Tesla, Marconi, Hertz and that gang.

Some of us think the “Building fund” should be putting in a new  Alpha linear amplifier or an 80-foot motorized crank-up tower.

And like many religions, we take alcohol only in tiny amounts named after electron tubes.  A “beer” is an “807” and anything strong become a “4-1000” – a hefty transmitting tube almost the size of a plastic gallon milk jug.  Yes, tubes of any consequence are still called jugs.

Then, in the same vein, ham radio – the religion – has its own “10 Commandments.”  This version is more “working on the gear” iun nature, but there can be other such Commandments brought forth on Contest Weekends.

  1.  Listen before transmitting.
  2.  Keep thy code speed up to 30.
  3.  Donate 10% of your income to the Radio Fund
  4.  Honor your Beam and your Dipole
  5.  Do unto others before they get that 9A4 before thee.
  6.  Get your spouse involved
  7.  And use minimum power to maintain a contact…except on  contest weekends  when you’re trying to sop up country multipliers out of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Let the fun begin.  Ladies and gentlement, light your filaments!  The countdown to key down is a go…

de ac7x 4e ntx, qsl?

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George Ure
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10 thoughts on “Prepping: SHTF Weekend for Hams”

  1. Our club will be participating in Field Day also. We have an unusual location, on the 6th level of a parking deck with the antennas on the open 7th level and we will be out of the weather and it is also cooler with a nice breeze. Our club call sign is W4MOE and probably be a 4A station in NC. FD is always fun and everyone has a great time, plus the one’s with a Tech license this is a good way to introduce them to HF and get them on the air. In the past we have had several to upgrade to their General license after FD and letting them work the HF bands.

  2. Thank goodness for hams we love you all.

    Now for the future decentralized cryptocurrencies like digibyte , are going to create three main goals.
    1. By holding digibyte or Bitcoin everyone has the potential of wealth as each purchaser holds and drives up the price so as throughout the year 365 days the Bitcoin or digibyte crypto has the ability to keep increasing as the 7 billion people gradually start buying and holding and only selling for basic needs and only uses under dire circumstances. What this does is like a pyramiding scheme but hday those cryptocurrencies value have the ability to increase a little bit a little bit more as more and more people of the 7 billion Buy cryptocurrencies now that’s going to take a long time ,
    do you think it’s only going to take 5 or 7 years for the whole world 7 billion people to be fully saturated with digibyte or Bitcoin no it’s not because some people are going to lose it lose what they had some people are going to store it and die and nobody ever know about it that alone will drive up the price but as each person throughout the world this is a global thing as each person throughout the world buy some and there’s a lot of people who don’t even have any way of buying anything so lot of multi-millionaires and future billionares ,there’s will be helping or donating to people who don’t have anything and instruct them on how to use it so that if they only use a portion of it the rest of it will grow every day as more and more people come on board.
    2. Enabling the world to find love for free.
    3. Enabling the world to be ready for what’s coming.
    Now you can fill in the blank of what’s coming next each one of you 7 billion people have an idea what’s going to happen and between us all on this one planet at least on the outer surface there’s Millions on the inside and then we have well you know beyond the solar system so we are being helped with this because there’s no way with a decentralized cryptocurrency and only 21 billion of them are going to be created that any Corporation or any individual will be able to have a market on it.

    Yes we will enter the expansion of the universe and as a total unit of the population when we’re all rich and as the technology increases we discover we don’t have to work instead we are creators of the working robots we are creators that create whatever we want because we’re wealthy we have the ability to go anywhere as far as you can imagine throughout the Universe and in ways that you can’t imagine well some people can’t until they’ve been opened up and their brain and they understand there’s no limit 2 expansion the same as there’s no limit to the micro.

    Again we love you hams keep up the great work you are a connection when all else fails thanks.

    May all beings be lovingly fulfilled .
    may all beings be financially fulfilled and may all beings be readily fulfilled .
    so be it

  3. The Big Island Amateur Radio Club (BIARC) scored with the parks dept and we got a permit to operate from the big ‘Parking Lot 1’ fronting Hilo Bay in downtown Hilo. Great public exposure! Just across the highway from the bayfront and open ocean to the NE. Listen for KH6EJ .

    • Got my amplifier and Kenwood xcvr set up yesterday: 17 watts out gives 148 out on the watt meter…so good to go. Today, I’ll be getting the logging program set up….. ac7x

  4. The powers-that-be are looking for the long run another hundred and some years this time instead of charging the small businesses or the major businesses for Visa user charges fees they will be charging the individual buyers the fees at all the exchanges especially when transferring money from whatever coin account you have 2 the major business coin like Facebook and then another fee to buy .
    This will cause more and more people to use a decentralized coin and service that has extra low rates.
    Compared to the major players

  5. George, wouldn’t you be a 1E station ? I thought the number represented the number of radios running. Our club is a 2A (two stations,non commercial power).

    N4MRS, 2A Tennessee


  6. All that work for 1.761 dB?
    A standard S-unit on the other end is 6dB, so less than a third of a unit.
    Can you actually hear that, hee hee?

    • Not close-in when the agc kicks in – but at the margins? In Europe? 1.5 db is hell-yes discernable! When you’re down in the noise floor?

  7. We worked K7LED here in Fallon, Nevada. Man he really was pounding the airways with CQ. Our club is ARCC Amateur Radio of Churchill County. 3A NV.

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