Texas A&M University W5AC The Texas A&M Amateur Radio Club, College Station, Texas
College Station, Texas, U.S.A. • Brazos County • EM10tp

W5AC - Texas A&M Amateur Radio Club

Field Day ideas

W5AC participates in ARRL's nation-wide Field Day each year. Field Day acts as a nation-wide EmComm drill, and is held each year around the end of June. The club has a proven ability to operate in austere locations on generator power for an extended time, with procedures and equipment we use on an everyday basis.

The reason for this page is to show what we've done in the past, and to gather ideas for next year (or next emergency, whichever comes first).

Pictures/stories from some previous Field Days:

2009 - Field next to PA 51

W5AC was featured in The Battalion.

Field Day 2009 Field Day 2009 Field Day 2009 Field Day 2009 Field Day 2009 Field Day 2009


2004 - At KZ5M's QTH
Field Day 2004

(click below for full-size images), from KJ5O:

2003 - At KZ5M's QTH
Field Day 2003

(click below for full-size images), from KJ5O:

2001 - At KZ5M's QTH

W5AC held Field Day activities under a large military shelter provided by Mike Linger WA5MOE.

1985 - Held at Lake Somerville

W5AC set up shop at Big Creek Park, Lake Somerville, Somerville, Texas. W5AC operated as a 1A station with its 3 available operators (Robert Eden N5GWY, Fritz Kocker N5FZQ, and Bob Plested N5GNA). The "Winnie" was used again (see 1984), including its onboard 6.3 kilowatt generator.

Info from "Report on Radio Operation - W5AC Field Day - 22-23 June, 1985" by Bob Plested, N5GNA

1984 - Held at Lake Somerville

W5AC worked its usual "2A" class Field Day setup near a marina at Lake Somerville. Just like in 2004, there was a CW station and a Voice station. The equipment was moved to Somerville via the Civil Engineering department's 1973 "Winnie" (winnebago).

Results: 737 QSO's, 18 people, Score: 2400

Info from "1984 Field Day Book" (by Neaves?) in the shack.

1983 - Held at Lake Somerville

This year, a backup generator allowed the club to make minor repairs to the main generator at night. Lesson learned - always have a backup.

W5AC - 2A station, 792 QSO's, 9 people, Score: 2402
Bryan Club - 5A station, 550 B-14, Score: 2038

1980 - A field near the Brazos River just west of town

Our Field Day setup this year included Voice, CW and Novice stations, as well as a camera tripod used to make OSCAR satellite contacts. We used a generator for power.

Field Day 1980

(click below for full-size images), from pictures in the shack:

1978 - W5AC's all-mobile Field Day

As pictured in QST, W5AC /M (working class 2C this Field Day) included WD5BOC, WB5WYX, WB5AZI, WD5CVG, WD5FRN and WD5CQF. The picture showed the group around a gas station sign with the label "DX" on it. A remarkably similar sign hangs in the shack today, revealing the smaller label "Rare" to the side of "DX". Later years' Field Day notes indicate that running all-mobile like this became expensive.


Contacts in the logbooks.


Contacts in the logbooks.

1971 - Held at Kyle Field press box

W5AC set up its radios in Kyle Field's press box, and stretched a "Vee" antenna high across the field. The leads of the antenna connected to an antenna matcher in the press box.

At one point in the day, members heard an occasional "pop" noise, but couldn't identify it at first. After a while, someone happened to glance at the back of the antenna matcher. What they saw was electricity arcing across the two leads of the antenna, just like in a "Jacob's Ladder!" What they later realized was that there was a thunderstorm about 20 miles away (too far to hear) which created a voltage difference across the antenna large enough to send sparks across the leads. Needless to say, they stopped transmitting for a while.

1933 - First ARRL Field Day contest.

The club was still W5AQY in 1933; whether we participated or not I don't know.

Ideas for next time

Things that worked well last time (do these again):

  1. Gigantic tarp - lots of room, even with blowing rains
  2. Site located on a relative hill, so we weren't in a "lake"
  3. Separation between Trailer/dipole and Vertical, but operators sitting back-to-back
  4. Logging software networked via 802.11 between operating positions
  5. Food/drink shared for the group - close to operators, but separate table (ants found later)
  6. Weather radio - gave advance warnings of strong storms headed in our general direction
  7. Gas lanterns - no RFI from flourescent bulbs, several lanterns = plenty of light

Things that need improvement:

  1. Communications between club members near the site was difficult, far from the .82 repeater. Maybe use a simplex frequency, and/or set up a good (beam) antenna for repeater monitoring
  2. Individuals should prepare themselves with bugspray, good footwear, long sleeves optional, etc. (how much do mosquito-repelling machines cost?)
  3. Perhaps next time make "walls" for the big tarp with other tarps
  4. Box fans would help if the weather got particularly hot
  5. Headphones and audio splitters were just adequate for the number of operators, and more would make next year run even more smoothly

New ideas to try:

  1. Packet digi-peater located near the site
  2. Internet access - check weather radar from the field itself
  3. A complete GOTA station

Some documentation of former W5AC Field Days exists in the shack filing cabinet - there are lots of good ideas in these notebooks.

Send more ideas to the , please.

© W5AC, The Texas A&M Amateur Radio Club