160M CQWW + Winter Field Day 2021 (Jan 29-31)

New information:  

Preliminary Scores show really impressive year-to-year improvements by the Team!

and the  Way Cool Food Spread

Field Day is not just for summertime anymore. Winter Field Day, sponsored by the Winter Field Day Association (WFDA), took place over the January 28-29 weekend -- along with the CQWW 160M Contest-- and TLARC participated!  The annual event’s stated purpose is to encourage emergency operating preparedness in the winter, but it’s also an excuse to get out of the house and enjoy the great outdoors. According to the WFDA, getting ready for emergency communication in a winter environment is just as important as the preparations and practice that take place each June during ARRL Field Day, and — let’s face it — it’s not cold and snowy everywhere during the winter months.

So the contesting sub-group here in TLARC had been planning for this event out at the club's 'go to' location (God's Cozy Acres) for the last few months. Some club members were there the whole weekend and everyone was invited to come by for a little visit or stay overnight as preferred.  The official start time was Friday at 5PM, and it ended on Sunday at 5PM but we were packed up and gone on Sunday morning, as most of the activity was sundown to sunrise on 160m.   They had some wonderful meals, as supplied by some of the more culinary-oriented members in attendance!

The unofficial results are not in yet but organizer Randy WK9M tells us that they did better than last year's effort!  Here's more from Randy ...

All contests pretty much start out the same; my comments cover the two-day 160m contest that tests your ability to reverse your days and nights for a weekend ... because the 160 meter band is open only at night!  Everything is planned such that the needed gear is divided up, the antennas are put up, and a little bit of testing is done because Murphy's Law always kicks in at some point and you want it to be before the contest starts.

Such was the case for this 160m contest even though we had already done it a few times before.  Initially the computer wouldn't connect to the rig (to send band data back and forth) and the WinKeyer keyed the radio down and wouldn't let up.  We fixed both of these by restarting N1MM and WinKeyer; after that both worked fine.  We put up a second 160m Inverted-L wire antenna but didn't have time to tweak it (other than grounding and radials) and therefore stuck with AC6ZM's Carolina Windom that worked great for the entire 160m contest.  And then we had persistent mouse and keyboard oddness as well.  Next time we'll keep these devices wireless or have all wire go through a toroid.  Mice and keyboards do not like RF like we do.

The 160m CW contest continues to be a good contest for the seasoned operator and novice stations alike. The first day is when everyone gets on and the pileups occur.  A normally empty band is so full of stations that you have to use a narrow filter; 250-300Hz is typical.  Calling CW requires good head copy but you can also search & pounce with the computer or rig decoder, especially on the second day when the contest is more casual.  It was neat to see the students become teachers (like KK6OKU) as many of us started out with computer and/or machine decoding; myself included.

An amplifier is helpful on this typically noisy band so that the other station without good receive antennas can hear you. If everyone had beverage antennas for 160m then 100W would be enough.  160m is a challenge that everyone has; there are no 160m yagi beams and any directional (i.e., phased) antenna would be a huge investment in both money and acres.  A full-length 160m dipole, for comparison, is about 253 feet long on this band.

Overall we all had fun in different ways for the 160m contest; such is how this contest goes.  We hope to see you all again next year as 160m takes a rest for Spring and Summer; thunderstorms make the band too noisy to use.  Stay tuned on the repeater for an upcoming score update ... I'm sure we easily beat prior years' scores with all of the help we had this time.

Randy WK9M

So please enjoy the photos of our exciting times down at our wonderful farm-like cabin out in the woods just outside Sweetwater!  And consider joining us in the next contest - there's usually something afoot each month. Or perhaps join in something that's hugely growing in interest across the U.S. called "QRP field ops" where you and maybe some buddies drive out to any one of East Tennessee's 100+ beautiful parks, throw a wire up into the tree and 'work the world!'  Hams all over listen for these "Parks on the Air" and you can get special awards and certificates just for making some CW or SSB contacts ... all the while experiencing some of Tennessee's natural beauty ... What a deal!  


                   Preliminary Scores ... show really impressive Year-to-Year Improvements by the TLARC Team!




The Food Spread (when not making contacts)

The best frickin' shrimp boil ever by KK6OKU. TLARC award winning ...


Benton's Hot Dogs from KF4DKW ... and Dessert by WK9M's mom:


 Still the best frickin' breakfast burritos ever by KK6OKU. TLARC award winning! ...

George Heron, N2APB