This cautionary tale is not from our own Field Day but from our neighbors to the south, the Ellis County Amateur Radio Club. My buddy John Denson (AI6A) was in charge of their PSK31 station. He was ably assisted by his grandson, Taylor (KG5AOD) and Jerry Pomeroy’s grandson, Ryan.
It was Saturday morning and they were setting up in Getzendaner Park. John had a spot picked out on the east side of the restrooms. (Yes, this is Texas, so there were two restrooms, unambiguously marked Men and Women.) They had put up their table with equipment, erected the antenna and marked the guy wires so that nobody would trip over them. And everything tested well, so there was nothing to do but relax until the start time of 1 PM.
All of sudden, almost out of nowhere, a tractor with a backhoe bore down on them at full speed. It tore right between their station and antenna. It must have been somebody with the parks department — I can’t imagine anyone else driving a tractor in the park. I asked John if the guy had done it maliciously and he didn’t know. They had had to dive out of the way and it took a couple of minutes for them to regain their composure.
They were very glad that neither the station nor the antenna had been damaged. But when they ran another test it was nothing doing. A check of the SWR revealed that something was bad wrong. They looked at the coax on the ground and found it in six different pieces.
I asked what they did about it. They set up again, this time on the west side of the restrooms where the kamikaze tractor driver was less likely to go. And yes, John was prepared with extra cable like I would not have been. They were back on the air before 1 o’clock.
So next year when you head out for Field Day you might want to take an extra 100 feet of coax. You never can tell when your cable might be sliced by a backhoe!