Field Day 2019

The South India Amateur Radio society conducted its Annual Field Day on September 14th and 15th at Kanchipuram, TN. 

The participants began arriving at the location , about 60 Kms from Chennai by   11 A.M.  The first station to go up on air was an experimental QO-100 (Geostationary satellite) setup manned by VU2UAV, OM Kavi.

“The setup is a complex mesh of commonly available components. It is really reminiscent of the olden days of radio when transmitters and receivers , made with common household parts, were different “boxes” and had to be switched manually between transmit and receive. The Core component of the operation is the HackRF SDR operating as an exciter from 2401.5 to 2409.5 MHz. This 10dbm signal is fed to a PGA 103 Amp with a 20db gain and into an RG6 cable(30 meters) which runs from the shack to a predriver near the antenna. The predriver boosts the lossy signal to levels that the linear amplifier can work with. The linear amplifier puts out about 4 watts into the patch antenna through a low loss hardline cable. The Receiver works on a separate dish, where the lnb is also mounted antenna. This lnb is powered through a T-bias which provides “phantom” through the coax. The signal is fed into an downconverter in the lnb which shifts the 10 GHz signal to a workable 739 MHz., which is fed into an RTL SDR dongle. The whole setup can be challenging to put together but the efforts are rewarding!” , writes OM Kavi.

After Lunch, a very resourceful team led by VU2ABS, OM Aravind setup a Butternut vertical for HF operation. There was also a parallel effort by a few amateurs and swls to put up a multiband trap dipole. There was also a Vertical setup by VU3PQN, OM Clement. 

Simultaneous sessions on HF propagation and Operating aboard a sailboat, were run for the benefit of the participants who weren’t involved in setting up stations, by VU3VWR, OM Ragav and  VU2RJV , OM (Brigadier) Raj.

As the stations started to go up on air, the weather went from overcast to extremely windy and rainy. As the downpour continued, hot tea and snacks were served. As the rains began to wind down, a quick check of the antennas were done and the stations went up on air. The crowd took turns to learn about the antennas, equipment and operation procedures on HF, especially for DXing.

As nightfall began to set, hot dinner was served followed by RF for those who wished to engage on a lighter mood. A special thank you to the sponsor of the RF who wishes to stay anonymous. Our cheers go out to you sir! 

This was followed by a late busy night on FT8, on low bands (40 and below)as the conditions seemed to be beautiful at that time. We found ourselves making contacts with Europeans, Asians and the occasional rare dx from Africas and Americas.

The HF station setup was an ICOM IC7300 with an smps running mid to low power via a tuner. Even though an Icom IC718 was available for a GOTA(Get On The Air) station, the idea was abandoned as the conditions were very poor for the higher bands on SSB, shifting the GOTA operation to the morning. This session introduced participants who had never been on HF a chance to make a HF contact with an Elmer by their side.

The field day came to an end in the morning as participants began to wrap up operations after breakfast. The task group for dismantling the antennas found it quiet challenging but fun to remove the multiband dipole win a water logged field. The mast presented quiet an amusing sight as the water began to pump out as the telescoping mast sections were being retracted! The Vertical did not pose much of a challenge as it was on a terrace, with the only catch being not to touch a fiberglass stub that was added for stability. 

“This was my second Field Day, and waiting for my ASOC results. After all the study, it was the visual feast of antennas at the resort that drew the eye. I watched the setup and helped a little. Frankly envious of that complex Butternut vertical, that oh so tall, Inverted V with traps, the serious looking folded dipole ,and, oh yes, those neat Tx & Rx dishes for the Es’Hail satellite. Dream items, when my own mainstay for a year has been a long wire! So a lot of excitement. Satellite communication was clearly demonstrated, and there was also a useful talk on propagation, with many interesting points.
But then evening saw heavy rains, with a power cut till late evening – thank God for the inverter and generator! The Butternut and Inverted V were operated overnight, with a lot of emphasis on digital modes. I think the furthest contact was from Brazil, on 160 metres, with only 5 watts (10% efficiency, 50 watts tx). Then around dawn power was restored, but there was still a lot of unexpected EMI ! This was narrowed down to an unused but still switched-on Tv set top box – must have adversely affected night reception also – sad but a learning point.
I helped a bit with bringing down the antennas after breakfast. A lot of learning and experience, partly by watching and doing, partly by osmosis, in a friendly environment where old timers and beginners meshed well together. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Writes, SWL Sunil Aruldas, an electronics hobbyist from Trichy

The feedback from those who attended has been positive and has also given us some key points to work on to better our events in the future! 

More Photos and videos are here: SIARS FD 2019 ( BY VU2RJV)

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