The weather was pleasantly sunny, warm, and breezy. For a while, the skies looked a little cloudy and threatening, but there was no rain in sight. We set up two rigs in the shade a little ways from one another. One used an inverted-V antenna on 40 meters, while the other used a vertical on 20 meters. Tasty sandwiches, chips, and drinks were graciously provided by our hosts. Other operators stopped by to visit throughout the day and to check out the activity. We took turns operating throughout the afternoon.
I've been copying W1AW's 18 wpm code transmissions for practice the past couple weeks, but it had been a long time since I had made any contacts on the air. While I've been able to copy code fairly decently onto paper, I still can't copy only in my head. That makes it hard for me to operate in real time with ease. To tell the truth, I was quite nervous about getting on the air to make contacts. But I decided to be patient with myself and to take it one step at a time.
First, I looked for stations which were easy to hear. After I found a loud station, I parked on that frequency for a few minutes. I wrote down the exchange and listened to a couple sample QSOs that the op made with other folks. Once I knew what to expect in the course of the exchange, I spent some time listening for the pattern of his CQ call. There was a little variation in these, so it took me a little time to learn when it was time for me to call. Once I knew my cue, I then mustered up some courage and sent our call. I found that in most cases, they heard me just fine. Hooray QRP! (Ok, so the folks I contacted weren't thousands of miles away, but that still made me very happy!) Initially, I wasn't sure how to work the paddle that I was borrowing, but I found that it worked just fine so long as I kept a finger on it to keep it from shifting around while I sent the code. I only made a couple QSOs, but they were successful and pretty smooth, so I considered that to be a success!
During the course of Field Day, WA4MM made 108 contacts with people from 35 different sections. And we had plenty of fun and good conversation during the weekend, too.
My first CW QSO since...a long time ago! (Wow, that lapse of time shouldn't have been so long, but I did have a crazy, distressing year last year and just didn't feel like exerting the energy towards ham radio.) "Huzzah" for getting back on the air!
While we were getting the vertical up, the shortening wire fell off somewhere in the field. We went about kicking grass, clover, and wild strawberries trying to find it. Thankfully, we did find it!
After turning the 40 m rig back on, I took a seat to operate. I was listening to one fellow for quite a while and finally jumped in to call. But when I did, the paddle seemed abnormally sluggish like the helm of a huge steamship. I threw my hands in the air and jumped out of the seat while one of the ops took a look. Somehow the paddles had gotten reversed (dit was dah, dah was dit)! We got it sorted out and then I completed the contact - hooray! :)
Thanks to everyone for a nice FD this year! I'm eager to continue CW practice and to get my station back on the air soon, Lord-willing. TU AGN es 73! (dit dit!)