Field Day 2019

Posted by Fred C (W6BSD) on Aug 04 2019

Since I got my ham radio license, I have participated in Field Day with the PAARA1 radio club in Palo Alto. PAARA is one of the area's large regional clubs. Their Field Day setup is one of the most impressive of the San Francisco Bay Area.

I am not a CW operator and I am not a good contester, what I like on the radio is talking to people. It is never a good idea to start a ragchew2 with someone trying to get as many points as possible.

What I am interested in during Field Day is the technical part of the operation, building and tuning the antennas. Following our category's rules, we start building our stations on the Thursday before Field Day at 5 PM PST. All the stations need to be ready to operate on Saturday at 11:00 AM.

The club operates with the Class 4, this means 4 Station working HF bands. We also have a GOTA3 station, as well as a VHF/UHF station.

The GOTA station allows any non-licensed, newly licensed, or inactive licensees to experience the fun of amateur radio by allowing them to Get On The Air on any band.

Radiation pattern show where the nulls are located
The radiation pattern shows the location of the nulls

The VHF/UHF Station does not count in the operating class but allows us to earn bonus points for making contacts on these bands as well as making satellite contacts.

The stations are installed at Bedwell park. The park is surrounded by salty seawater, which is excellent for signal propagation. To avoid any interference between stations, we use separation and passband filters.

The antennas are installed on a 900 feet long line. Most of our antennas are beam antennas pointing east. The antennas are installed as far apart as possible from each other in the null zone of the antenna. The radiation pattern on the right shows where the main radiation of the antenna is and where the nulls are located.

Most of our antennas are capable of working the 10, 15 and 20 meters band. We use triplexers4 and passband filters5. This allows us to have 2 stations using the same antenna on 2 different bands. The passband filters also help with interferences coming from other stations operating the other bands.

List of antennas

# Antenna
1 3 band 10, 15, 20 meter 6 Elements
1 40 meter monoband 2 Elements
2 3 band 10, 15, 20 meter 5 Elements
1 20 meter monoband 5 Elements
1 15 meter monoband 5 Elements
1 40 meter monoband 4 Elements
1 6 meter monoband 8 Elements

We also use double bazooka antennas stretched between masts or trees for night operation.

Antenna installation

Some pictures taken during the antenna setup, the Friday before field day. This is hard work but it is really rewarding when everything works great and the operators are making contacts all around the world.

Field Day 2019 antenna assembly
40 meter 2 elements installed on the mast ready to be raised
Field Day 2019 antenna assembly
6 elements 3 band, 10, 15 and 20 meter with the 40 meter antenna in the back
Field Day 2019 antenna assembly
6 elements 3 band and the 2 elements 40 meter antenna ready to be used
Field Day 2019 antenna assembly
Installing the 15 meter 5 elements with the 20 meter in the background
Field Day 2019 antenna assembly
8 elements 6 meters antenna and the VHF/UHF antenna for satellite work on the chair
Field Day 2019 antenna assembly
Me, climbing on the mast to tighten the screws between the mast and the antenna
Field Day 2019 antenna assembly
40 meter 4 element ready, as well as one bonus point for displaying the American flag

  1. Palo Alto Amateur Radio Association 

  2. A long QSO between two amateur radio operators. 


  4. Triplexers allow the use of two receivers simultaneously and independently. 

  5. A bandpass filter is an electronic circuit that passes a certain band of frequency without attenuation.