Report: Winter Field Day 2024

On the weekend of January 27-28, 2024, members of the ACARA met at the Jim Crouse Memorial Radio Station in the Red Cross of Southeastern Ohio chapter house to participate in the annual Winter Field Day ( event in class “1I” (one transmitter, “indoors”).

Operating under the direction of Winter Field Day Captain Paul Schulz, and using the club’s callsign, W8UKE, ACARA members and guests operated the station around-the-clock for twenty-four hours and succeeded in making 518 QSOs using CW and SSB on the 80/75, 40, 20, 15, and 10 meter bands. The operators were Dave Bradley, N8DWB; Drew McDaniel, W8MHV; Andy McDonald, K8FO; Eric McFadden, WD8RIF; Paul Schulz, WD8SCV; Josh Senefeld, N8VXR; and Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ.

The team used the station’s ICOM IC-7610 transceiver, the station’s Hustler 5-BTV HF vertical, and an 80m end-fed halfwave antenna (that provided coverage of 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10m) deployed especially for the event by Paul Schulz.

The team had hoped to operate using the JS8Call digital mode in addition to CW and SSB but, unfortunately, equipment difficulties prevented the team from operating using the digital mode.

Here’s the breakdown of 518 QSOs by band/mode:

  • 80m CW: 14 QSOs
  • 80m SSB: 94 QSOs
  • 40m CW: 57 QSOs
  • 40m SSB: 181 QSOs
  • 20m CW: 71 QSOs
  • 20m SSB: 90 QSOs
  • 15m CW: 4 QSOs
  • 15m SSB: 5 QSOs
  • 10m CW: 1 QSO
  • 10m SSB: 1 QSO

This was the second time the club operated the full twenty-four hours of Winter Field Day and both nighttime operators (Josh Senefeld, N8VXR, and Drew McDaniel, W8MHV), found few Winter Field Day stations to work during the “graveyard shift”.

Josh Senefeld, N8VXR, operates SSB while Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ, logs.
Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ, operates SSB while Paul Schulz, WD8SCV, logs.
Dave Bradley, N8DWB, operates SSB while Josh Senefeld, N8VXR, logs.
Andy McDonald, K8FO, operates SSB while Dave Bradley, N8DWB, logs.

The Winter Field Day rules for 2024 offered no bonus points, but the club met the two of the seven suggested Objectives: “Operate Away from Home” and “Operate Six Continuous Hours”.

With two points awarded for each CW QSO and one point awarded for each SSB QSO, with a multiplier of one for a power output of 100 watts, and with a multiplier for each band/mode utilized, the ACARA’s calculated score for the event is 6,650 points.

The operation provided good training on emergency and contest operations. The operation also highlighted some problems with the station antennas that need to be addressed: the Hustler 5-BTV provides very poor SWR match on several bands; and the 40m end-fed halfwave antenna that should be resonant on 40, 20, 15, and 10m, provides very high SWR on all bands other than 40m.

Sandy Shirey of the Red Cross again saw the ACARA’s participation in Winter Field Day in the chapter house as an opportunity to perform an exercise in mass-care and feeding. She and other volunteers provided the ACARA with snacks and dinner on Saturday. Sandy Shirey, Pat Barstow, Cindy White, and Joe Sprague participated in this training. Thank you, Sandy, Pat, Cindy, and Joe!

Sandy Shirey and Pat Barstow cook the Saturday evening meal.

Thanks go to Paul Schulz, WD8SCV, for serving as Winter Field Day Captain; to Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ, for coordinating with the Red Cross of Southeastern Ohio; to both Jeff and Paul for working before the event to ensure the station and logging PC were ready for the event; and to all the operators who made this operation a success.

Eric McFadden, WD8RIF
President, Athens County Amateur Radio Association