CQ CQ CQ #HamRadio Sunday – first field day!

Busy day. This morning I had an Extraordinary Form Mass, a blessing of woman before childbirth, Ordinary Form Mass, a First Holy Communion, and a traditional Baptism, with a “churching”, followed by a cookout at which the adults were outnumbered by the children under 10 about 5:1.

Just a couple shots.

The church is St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff, WI, just to the west of Madison.


The new Communicant with his cake.


It being Wisconsin there were unparalleled brats.


Cheesy potatoes in the background.  There were beans and potato salad and amazing organic all beef hotdogs.

After a nap… for it is a day of rest, and it being a perfect day, cool, sunny, no bugs, I decided to take the HR rig on the road.

I drove back to the parish and set up in the beautiful garden by the cemetery on the top of the hill.


Before setting up, I remembered the dead, so many nearby, and said the Angelus with the ringing of the bells in the church tower below the hill.


This is the first time I have set out outside my residence.


Sub tegmine fagi.

I was joined by my local Elmer and, later, the pastor. We had some chat around topics beyond radio.

Back at the Steam Pipe Trunk Distrubution Venue, I can now enjoy a dram.   The parents of the baptizata gave me drop of the craythur.


Thinking back, perhaps I should have scheduled a Blood Moon Disaster Tetrad Shemitah Event, with images of a lunar eclipse over a falling stock market ticker and burning cities on the QSL card.

Perhaps next event might be a All Saints Day in the cemetery.  Think of the possibilities.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. CandS says:

    Very nice setup. How was reception? [Not all that great, but the view, company, and experience was excellent.] I learned a lot today just from the experience of doing it, but could use a good Elmer’s advice!

    Here’s what I’m trying to accomplish in the short term. I studied for and got the Technician and General out of the way, getting licensed. Did some research about radios and equipment. Another dad in our circle of friends got his Tech and another says he will. We’d like to be able to keep in touch with each other locally should it become necessary and we’d like for at least one of us to be able to be able to keep in touch with others at greater distances. I was willing to put enough money into it to try to accomplish that, but without going overboard. I’ll mention my equipment below.

    So far, I’m pleased with what HF can do as far as making contacts with others at great distances. That seems very promising. I’ve yet to be able to make any planned contacts though, so I’m still wondering about how reliable ham radio can be for making scheduled or planned contacts at great distances.

    Locally, we’re having trouble. I can hit the repeaters, my friend with the Tech license and a 5W handheld can’t really. We’ve only been able to more or less one-way communicate and that was through a repeater. So, plenty of work to do there and probably some equipment upgrades are necessary. As a circle of friends, we were wondering what we might need to communicate with each other over about 18-20 miles between houses without using repeaters.

    As of this past week, I’ve got a Yaesu FT-857D, an Alinco DM-330MVT power supply, and an MFJ-259C antenna analyzer being used with a Buddipole Extended Deluxe Package (that’s extra long mast, but the telescopic whips are the 6′ models, not the 10′ models). I was pondering what one might need for proper operation beyond that setup, but trying to do the best I can with that starting package. I’ve looked at other expansions for the Buddipole and some battery and carrying case options for the Yaesu FT-857D.

    That’s where I am with ham radio activities these days.

  2. CandS: Good for you!

    It sounds like you are throwing yourself into this.

    It is fun, isn’t it!

    There is a nexus of science and ingenuity and something like magic.

    Magic is sometimes defined as “action from a distance”.

    An Elmer talks about not communicating with stuff government allows us to use, or cables under the ocean or all that stuff. Instead, bounce a signal off the ionosphere and your earth’s surface and talk to someone on the other side of your planet.

    Very cool.

    I don’t have much hardware, and less of know how… but I am learning.

  3. Fine looking field set up, Father.

    What’s important is getting on the air. [Thanks to you!] Developing the skill to make contacts is more important than some of the minutae (complex impeadance transformations as a function of tuned length, anyone) versus tune for minimum reasonable SWR to effect greater power transfer as the antenna approaches the idealized match.

    You are both going down the right path…and it is so enjoyable to watch you all come along.

  4. MWindsor says:

    The choice between the 857 and 817 was a tough one; the extra power of the 857 vs. the light weight of the 817. I went with the 817 eventually, given that I haul the thing up large hills, from time to time.

    I had no luck whatsoever with the Buddipole system. It seems to me that it can be defeated by terrain problems. I have blocked ground to the west (houses) and partially blocked ground to the east (houses and trees), and high tension power lines to the north and east. I never made a single contact with the Buddipole, and I think I tried it in every possible configuration. (I actually had more luck energizing the gutter of my house.) I eventually got an Alexloop and have made contacts all over North and South America and Europe, and have heard Australia and Japan a time or two. But I think the Alexloop is 20w max power.

    Fr. Z – how long will that power pack of yours run the rig? I use a 12v SLAB that is, I think, 7.5 Ah. It weighs about 4 pounds, but will run the 817 for a day.

    CandS – 18 to 20 miles on 2m and 440 is a very tough distance without a repeater. If you’re both on mountain-tops with clear air, maybe, but trees and houses and hills will do you in. Everything in the city is LOS, and I haven’t been able to get more than a mile or mile and a half out of my QRP HT. You might try to find a pair of 10m HT radios. They’re made more for that kind of range, but even then the power and antenna you have available will be a big deal. I’ve seen CB rigs (also 10m) go 20 miles. That said, 10m is a twitchy band. I love it, and most of my long distance contacts have been on 10m, but it dries up in the summer. I suspect, for TEOTWAWKI, 10m will be one of the most important bands out there. The short and mid-range benefits of 10m will outweigh 20m and 40m, and under the right conditions you can go more than 5000 miles on 5w. You might look into a home-brew yagi and see if that gets you the extra range on 20m/440. You’d need clear LOS and a heap of power.


  5. Fr_Joe_OMI says:

    Great that you could get outside for some fresh air and QSOs. I’m resettled in the US after some time abroad and slowly I’m getting my station back on the air. Hope to catch you on HF sometime.

    73 – Joe, WB5LCU

    [I was inside, looking out the window, thinking “Why am I in here?” So, on a lark, I tore everything down, loaded up, and headed out. I’m glad I did. It was a memorable and good experience.]

  6. MWindsor says: how long will that power pack of yours run the rig?

    Days, I think. I have left it alone without recharging for a couple weeks at a time.

    This is a Juicebox. I’ve written about it before. I had some initial problems with it but they were resolved and it is now operating optimally. It weighs a lot more than 4 lbs. It has two 12v batteries in a .50 cal ammo can. I use it because it is the only thing I have that has an Anderson Power Pole option, and that is what my rig came with (from a reader).

  7. JamesA says:

    “the adults were outnumbered by the children under 10 about 5:1.” Sounds like the “biological solution” in reverse :D

    Good to see you enjoying your downtime, Father, with your ham and (as Sidney Greenstreet said in Casablanca) “the bourbon.”

  8. acardnal says:

    Bryan Boyle wrote, “Fine looking field set up, Father.”

    Are you talking about the brat?
    The perfect day in cheese head country: The TLM, brats, cake, HAM activity, and a Packer win!

  9. Acardnal: Yes. Any one of those would be cause for celebration. Especially the adult beverage (liquid, not antenna, in keeping with the theme) for a taste.

    Father: my honor and pleasure.

  10. Mojoron says:

    We, the local MAARS Ham Club, will be using NVIS home brew antenna’s to communicate on HF locally. NVIS is Near Vertical Incidence Skywave and will radiate on 40 and 80m in the skip zone. since our radio club incorporates three counties in Kansas, and since Kansas, at least in this part, has hills and dales, local propagation signals is an accomplishment for Hams. I happen to live at the highest point in the area and will most likely be able to pick the signals clean. We plan to do this little experiment on October 10 at three times during the day using 80 3895khz, 40 7280khz 0700-0715, 1300-1315, and 1900-1930 local CDT. We will also be using 146.52 FM simplex, which is the 2m calling frequency during those times as well. The net control will be in Manhattan, Kansas. If you’re all awake point your beams our way. I’m not sure how much power we’ll be running, I only have 200w max, but others will probably be powering up to reach out.

  11. CandS says:

    I’m on 40m right now. Tomorrow evening, I’ll be set up remotely at a friend’s house to show people how the radio works.

  12. Nasty weather here right now.

  13. CandS says:

    Clear as a bell here. I’ve heard Germany and Puerto Rico tonight, but also Albuquerque, Minnesota, Kentucky, Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, Iowa.

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