The current Napier Branch Field Day team has been in the fray for over 30 years. Stan ZL2ST, Peter ZL2LF, John ZL2QM, Lee ZL2AL and Michael ZL2FAR are regulars. We have enjoyed success at winning the Patea Trophy many times often placing first nationally with top scores. Success is enjoyable but having fun with your mates is always our objective. We have been doing the Jock White Field Day contest so long that any of us can do each other’s job.
Each year, the equipment varies as do the antennas but the constant is the usual tent and the generator.
Yaesu FT1000MP’s, K1EL electronic keyers and IBM laptops are used along with the N1MM Contest logger which has a module specifically designed for the Jock White contest. We always use boom mic/headsets and Bencher keyer paddles. The program controls the radios, operates the keyers, while keeping track of QSOs, multipliers and total scores. It also prevents us from making duplicate contacts and creates a Cabrillo format file for submission to the contest organizer.
We gave up using paper logs over 15 years ago and have used several logging programs since then and finally settled on N1MM. It’s free to download and use. The screen shot shows that when the callsign is entered, the RSTs are automatically placed (may be modified) and it waits for our op to enter the other station’s number and branch number. When you hit Enter, the contact is logged, the score calculated and multipliers considered. The running total score for the band is always at hand. The score screen is shown for the 40M operation only. The 80M operation is on another laptop screen.
At the end of the contest, the 80M and 40M logs are combined and the total score is arrived at. No paper or pens are needed. Computer logging takes care of the mechanical side of operating and allows us to concentrate on searching, pouncing and operating. Sending automatic perfect CW exchanges allows the other station to copy the numbers much easier with fewer requests for repeats.
The team assembled Saturday morning and quickly got to work. Peter, John and Stan got to work assembling the 80M vertical loop and 40M horizontal loop antennas.
Lee assembled the two stations in the tent. Computers and radios were lit up when the generator was fired up. Meanwhile last minute changes to antenna lengths were made to bring them into resonance.
All was ready on we were into it at 3pm contest start. Stan and Lee got away to a good start and 40m was playing very well. ZL2G was slowly edging away from the pack. It became evident early on that our competition was coming from the usual ZL1s and ZL2QF who won the Patea trophy in 2012.
For most of the contest, ZL2QF was only a few contacts behind and chasing us. We were ahead on 40M while they were level with us on 80M and the final score always comes down to the multipliers each station works.
In previous years, the various branches around ZL fielded a lot of teams and most were active. We felt that there were more “Home” stations entered. 40M has traditionally been a band where we trail behind our 80m band station. This year the activity was almost equal in QSOs made.
Big scores over 600 – 700 QSOs on 80M hasn’t happened over the past few years which may be a reflection of sunspot activity, more home stations or just overall reduced contest participation. We don’t know but I am sure the Contest Organizer, Stuart ZL2TW will comment at a later date. Our raw scores are up on last year and we had additional multipliers which gave us nearly 40K more points than last year.
The weather was kind to us and fortunately Murphy didn’t strike in any major way. The end of the contest saw a good score in the log. The important thing was we had a lot of fun. It sure beats watching TV for the weekend doing something a bit out of the ordinary. A fast teardown of our setup and we were back home in Napier two hours after the contest ended.
73, Lee ZL2AL