Field Day 2020 Score

Tonight I submitted my Field Day 2020 dupe sheet and multiplier qualifications. My score is 212. It’s meager. I could’ve done better, but I learned things (see the link above for a recount of the difficulties I met during the event).

Contacts (31 points)

  • 5 digital, 2x multiplier = 10
  • 21 phone, 1x multiplier = 21

Contact Multipliers (2x):

  • Below 150 Watt output power = 2x

Bonus points (+150):

  • 100% Emergency Power = 100
  • Web submission of forms = 50 (a freebie, instead of mailing)

((5 dig * 2) + (21 ph)) * 2 power + 150 bonus = 212 total

I mean, if I hadn’t made the investment in batteries and instead ran on commercial power, my score would’ve only been 112, so there’s that (eesh, perspective).

And, sadly, my score can go down. The ARRL contest team has to computationally verify that all the stations I logged on my dupe sheet also themselves logged that they contacted me. There’s no timestamp in the dupe sheet log, but the callsigns, classes, sections, and mode must match. If something doesn’t jive, they scratch it and I lose that contact. So, even though contesting can be an individual sport, we’re all still in it together. Don’t be that guy who doesn’t submit good logs in a contest. Verify correct info before moving along, and help a brother out.

There are a some things about Field Day that I had assumed wrong, and after making my own submission, I know better. I misread the rules that 100% battery power would multiply my contacts score by 2; nope, that’s only a bonus point. Running my rig barefoot below 150W with no amplifier is the 2x contact multiplier. Also, no matter what the N3FJP software shows on that cool map of contacted zones, it doesn’t matter if you get all the zones; there are no bonus points for getting more zones. It’s just pretty set dressing to show to visitors and to goad participants into keeping at it.

The only thing that matters is that you log as many contacts as you can with as many multipliers as you can. But I guess that’s the spirit of contesting; learning the rules, gaming their flaws, finding the honey on the sly and going for it.

I should’ve spent more time on digital modes; it seems FT8 — and FT4 especially — were all the rage during Field Day this year, because this is the first year this mode was permitted for points. Since it’s so rapid-fire and digital modes are worth 2x points, it’s a favorable mode for logging contacts quickly. I rallied in the last 2 hours on Sunday to log points with FT8 and only got 5 contacts among the noise. Hmph.

Man, it’s weird learning all this on my own. I’ve gotten so used to having the club elders do the organizational heavy lifting every year. But it’s like skating: when your parents let go of your hand, that’s when you really learn to skate.

Perhaps next year I’ll be a more valuable contributing member to the club event.

Glazed and Unfazed

Does anybody else who’s into Amateur Radio find that when they talk about it other people’s eyes glaze over? Or is that just me?

I like knowing about this thing, but apparently it’s too crusty for others to consider valid.

I guess as long as it’s the hobby of Grandpa Kindly and Uncle Weirdo, contaminated with the cult of remembering the dead instead of invigorating the living, people will just politely look away when we gush wildly about our passion. We have no juice in the real world. You can smell the desperation on us.

And that’s a shame. It really is a cool hobby.

Misoperator

My primary radio, a Yaesu FT-857, half-died during Field Day, so I sidelined it for debug later and continued with my other HF rig.

Last night, I tore apart the radio and the Signalink attached to it, and dragged my oscilloscope out of storage, in order to probe into why the audio wasn’t modulating any output during Field Day. The Signalink was definitely generating audio, and I followed it from the internal DIP jumper block to the RJ45 connector to the DIN end of the cable. Tried to probe the radio board, but the DIN jack pads are under the board and would take desoldering and unmounting some power transistors from the chassis to reach the underside.

So I connected a dummy load, powered up the radio, changed the internal and external meters to show power and deviation, and sure enough once I set the power over 5W, it was modulating and pushing power out to the load. I think this is just another case where the DIN plug and jack are having connection issues; this has cropped up before.

I guess I’ll either have to replace the DIN jack, or just keep jiggling the cable.

The second issue was more worrisome, because when it happened, it looked like I fried the CAT cable and caused the driver to fritz. Windows alerted that a driver was crashed or incorrect. I can’t remember the exact notification because I had so much going on at that moment. But the PC and the radio were unable to communicate shortly after that. I removed the CAT interface from Device Manager and rediscovered it. Got a different COM port number. Still couldn’t reach the radio.

Then I noticed something in the manual; the CAT port also changes function if you connect it to a linear amp or an antenna tuner, and you have to select which of the three functions that port serves in the menu options. I know I had it set to CAT operation, but I checked again.

I don’t know which dumbass set it to TUN for tuner, but once I changed it back to CAT, the PC was able to talk with the radio. God, what a stupid ass; someone should punch that guy.

In short, the rig works, has always worked, and would continue to work if the operator knew WTF he was doing.