Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Dash Battery Status: Field Day & QRP


The HVDN Notebook blog tries to remain very unbiased and focused on future relevancy around active lifestyles involving amateur radio without enforcing the beliefs or mission statements of certain national level advocacy groups.

It is the authors opinion that we enjoy a pretty great relationship with our local regional leadership when talking about the ARRL since they were more than happy to encourage what we did via our recent Hudson River Radio Relay special event which was led by a non-affiliated club in the ARRL ENY section.

As we get closer to Field Day and the end of COVID, looking back on our data analysis gathered over the last ten years about Field Day, it was a good idea to shift our attention to the status of battery operated field day efforts.

Certainly 2020 and this year are different when it comes to normal field day operations and is why talking about the differences between low power, battery powered and emergency stations is a good idea since many people will be still at home and possibly contributing to club overall standings.

Battery Powered

According to the 41 pages of ARRL Field Day rules for 2021,  in section 4.2 it specifically explains:

This is very clear. If you are a club, such as HVDN who will be operating under N2HVD this year from POTA K-2084 for just a few hours on Saturday June 26th, or a non club portable group of more than two people  in the Hudson Valley from a location only they can get to via backpack and foot power as a group of SOTA enthusiasts

This means that no matter how much battery capacity you have or output capability of our radio, if you wish to claim Class A - Battery status, you need to stay at less than 5 watts output if you will be sharing one callsign. 

Operating at low or QRP power is a way to drive distinction to your club or group compared to being plain old "alpha" class running on some sort of other power system such as carbon fuel based generators.

If we look at the "Bravo" class of setup and its battery powered variant, it is also very clear how they differ for these smaller groups of amateur radio enthusiasts that are not going to represent a club or be more than two people.

No one here at HVDN is complaining, but simply offering an alternative to encourage distinction for your field day activities for this year and the future.

Being safe is paramount since the majority of those involved in amateur radio are those at highest risk of suffering from not being young any longer.    For those who will be 1D from home this year and rolling your scores up to your favorite club, why not try a decentralized QRP field day instead?

Based on the public data shared from the ARRL, it is amazing that more operators do not try legitimate battery power operations in the field or even at home. The data below does not lie, unless the ARRL material is not accurate.

Look at the above chart. The most popular historic way to operate as a true battery powered station, using less than 5 watts is classified as 2AB and 3AB. This shows that HVDN is only part of a small crazy bunch of operators to attempt this likely in 2021.

There are even the 2 person 2B2B plus one transmitter 1EB and B1B classifications out there which have about the same number of crazy adopters.

So whats the point?

The total of entities operating as true battery powered stations is far too low and needs more to join the club compared to the larger "Alpha" cousins with the bubble based 1D's that will help again this year. which do not operate as battery powered.

The point is that there should really be a different classification for QRP power 5 watt stations as well as a separate class for those running from battery, but may wish to use more than 5 watts since radios like the Yaesu FT-891, Xiegu G-90 and a few others are pretty popular these days and are capable to run more than QRP power.

Low Power

Ever speak with a QRP operator about antennae or feedline?  They will have interesting stories about how to optimize the gain from an antenna headed where they want it, find ways to save weight by avoiding certain types of antenna or even feedline and probably be more knowledgeable about patient operating practices or ways to be more efficient in getting as much RF to radiate outward rather then get burnt up as wasteful heat energy.

All this differentiation should be encouraged by the ARRL, but not confused by battery power.  Nothing prevents anyone from dropping down in power to try QRP nor trying to be sustainable from just a battery. 

If you plan to be 1D from home (again) this year, why not challenge yourself by running QRP from home if you can scrounge up a battery to run your radio from before Saturday.

Emergency Stations

There are many first responder or community groups that fall under the "Echo" class of operation for Field Day, but what makes them so different than a battery powered station?  It is possible to run emergency and on battery, but this still means they are limited to only 5 watts.  

If there was a long term emergency situation and the ability to charge batteries was not possible, would more EB stations be a good experiment? Perhaps the E class stations will not use a whole building generator used for many EMCOMM facilities and see what they can do from a battery and only run five watts.

Obligatory Antennae Stuff

Not always can we arrange the perfect antenna system and often the way around that is to transmit more power to make up for a lousy antenna. 

Perhaps trying to optimize antenna as if everyone was using 5 watts would be an interesting experiment, especially since we have so many low signal to noise ratio modes and superior equipment available today capable of receiving weak signals.

Can we try to improve our antennae systems or try modes that reward low signal to noise ratios?

Hopefully the excuses of whatever you are already thinking about can be put aside and more people decide to try something new when it comes to field day.

It is HVDN's belief that that ARRL is taking us in the right direction during the strange times we live in, but they do not always do a good job of articulating the benefits, values and most important awareness things we should all be focusing on. 

Oh, and did you want access to the nice 10 year database in excel that we compiled from the ARRL website?

Feel free to reach out to me at .K2GOG.@yahoo...com (remove the extra dots!!) and I am happy to share a copy with you of the 2010 to 2020 data that was used for the below two articles.

Thanks for reading

Steve K2GOG
Trustee, N2HVD
Co-Founder HVDN
Organizer, HR3

ARRL Field Day: Independent Data Analysis

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