Our Investment In Training Paid Off!
Field Day 2012 was the most successful field day in a number of years for our clubs. There are, of course, many ways to measure success but the most obvious one is based on the final score. This year the score achieved was a very significant improvement over 2011 and 2010 so how did this come about?
Late in 2011 a suggestion was put forward that SARC, SEPAR conduct an organized training program with the objective being to achieve a better score in Field Day 2012. It was determined that we would use scheduled contests such as the QSO parties and major contests such CQ and ARRL. Contests that were selected were CW, SSB and RTTY in order to give the trainees a broad enough base to feel comfortable with N1MM, the logging software.
Each training session began with excellent documentation presented by Jim, VE7FO, which went through the basics of N1MM and how to use search and pounce as well as the running modes. The documentation served as the training document as well as a reference document during on the air activities. The schedule of training progressed at a steady pace, always cognizant of the trainee skill level. When the trainee was able to operate in the running mode she was ready for field day. Happily there were several of our operators who became comfortable in the running mode some with CW some with SSB.
For more details on the training see the QST writeup in the extended online version of 2012 ARRL International DX Contest – CW Results.
The portion dealing with our training starts on page 15. If you were a trainer or trainee your photo may be there.
There’s a reference to this in the Aug 2012 print version of QST at the bottom of page 81 if you aren’t able to find it.
Operator training was one factor among many that made this year’s field day a success. Planning certainly was a major factor along with the many volunteer hours preparing for the big day making the start up smooth with all 3 radios on the air at 1800Z. This was a great feeling. Support from the Langley club with the man lift and porta -potty's were major contributions. As with any successful outing plenty of good food is required and Susan and her crew had lots and lots of good dishes which certainly kept our energy level up. Despite the heavy rains on Friday and Saturday the dedicated hams who were focused on making field day a success kept working to get the antennas and operating tent up. Generators were running, power was on, the big tent provided a great shelter from the downpour and the work went on to completion.
This year there was a conscious decision to focus on the 2 point contacts for CW, RTTY and PSK31which proved to be the right choice. Our score mainly improved by making over 950 Q’s on CW plus RTTY and even a few PSK31. There were also good rates achieved by the SSB operators which rounded out the score.
We were very fortunate to have 5 CW ops this year as opposed to two last year. Some clubs don’t have any. There were only 3 hours out of the 24 when there wasn’t at least one op “pounding the key” and driving the points up. Our CW and Digi ops averaged 40 contacts per hour over the 24 hour period.
Our best CW hour was the very last hour of the contest when we had CW ops on 40, 20 and 15m who generated a total of 131 contacts, slightly better than 2 per minute.
Our worst 4 hours (Local) for all modes were 0000, 0100, 0200 and 0300 with, respectively, 10, 11, 13 and 9 contacts. Our best 4 hours were 1400, 1500, 0900 and 1000 with, respectively, 88, 84, 74 and 132 contacts. See elsewhere in this issue for additional statistics on our performance, along with comparisons to last year.
This year we did a much better job of ensuring that every HF op position was manned at all times. Last year there were a total of 13 hours during which at least one op position had no operator. This year, there were a total of 2. Last year we had no one in charge of the station. This year we had a Station Manager on duty at all times.
One of the measures of the effectiveness of an HF station is its coverage. From an Emcomm perspective the question comes down to how far you can reach in Canada and the U.S. We worked most Canadian Provinces and ALL U.S. States.
This year’s field day was recognized by our elected officials and the Emergency Planner who asked to have photos and stats that support our emergency communications program. Dan Barnscher, the Emergency Planner, was very impressed with our setup and our ability to provide complete communications.
Having the served agencies on site, such as the RCMP and BC Ambulance, went a long way to having amateur radio recognized by the cities of Surrey and Langley to say nothing of the extra bonus points we could claim.
Personally I have not experienced a field day of this quality since way back in the late 70’s and early 80’s when SARC was number one in Canada for several years. Thanks everyone who contributed their time and energy before, during and after the field day event - it was very rewarding. Being involved in the pre field day training it was awesome to see the operators sit down and quickly get into a comfortable running mode compared to previous years watching operators struggle with the logging software.
Dave Easingwood, VE7DPE, and I sent the score into ARRL and followed up with support documentation by regular mail. Now we wait until December to find out how we did with relationship to the rest of our Country. I’m sure we will be in first place in our category.
~ Fred VE7IO
~ Jim VE7FO
~ Jim VE7FO