Winter Field Day 2021 – QRP Outdoors

By | January 31, 2021
The warm glow of the heater – Thankfully minimal rain, no snow, and above freezing

I decided to set up outdoors and operate QRP using the Icom IC-705 and only run on battery. I wanted to simulate a situation where I would need to set up a minimal portable station and get on the air quickly. My plan was to set up a 20m/40m dipole using a portable mast, and operate from under the cover of my E-Z Up shelter.

Setting up in the field. The goats and turkeys didn’t seem to mind.

First, I needed to build the dipole, cut for the CW end of the bands. Next I set up the mast, guyed it and hoisted up the antenna. I set up the E-Z Up nearby and ran a length of coax to my operating station. I had a folding table and a Mr. Heater connected to a tank of LP gas for warmth. All went well, but did take longer than I hoped. Everything I used could be packed in the jeep or pickup and set up remotely if ever there is a need.

I wanted to operate mostly CW to practice head copy and for the better signal to noise ratio since I was running only 5 watts. The IC-705 worked great – I shut off the Bluetooth, GPS, and WIFI to save battery, and there was plenty of juice to get through the contest. (In fairness, I did put the battery on the charger overnight). I had a second battery available if needed. In an EMCOMM situation I would have packed a solar panel and battery charger (EPIC PWRgate), and brought LiFePo batteries to run longer or at 10 watts.

Winter field day 2021, 1 Oscar WWA

I am still fighting key-fright, so didn’t work as many stations as I could have. I was not operating competitively (except for maybe challenging myself) but did work stations as far away as CT and TN. Not bad for 5 watts in a field. I probably could have earned more points if I was running vs. S&P, but again, that was not my objective.

I am looking forward to setting up outdoors more this year, both Parks on the Air and Summits on the Air. I will be using a carbon fiber mast instead of the steel mast I used during WFD. I picked up this travel kit from REI, which fits the IC-705, still mounted to the Nifty stand, the hand mic, my ultra porta-paddle (still mounted to the base) and a small length of coax. In a SOTA/POTA situation I would leave the radio stand and paddle base behind for weight savings.

The travel kit fits the radio, mic, and key nicely

Overall it was a success. I broke down the station and submitted my log (measly 3352 points) and look forward to operating more CW contests in the future. Until then, 73!