SFD Lessons Learned:
Always check your packing list, twice. I forgot a data cable, which essentially flushed all my plans for our 70cm Station down the toilet.
PSK31 on 40m was straight up on fire.
Ruggedized gear is mandatory. This was strongly reiterated on SFD 2017 here in North Georgia. All of our HTs are rated for submersibility, but if they weren’t, there would have been some suck for us. At one point it was raining so hard, the raindrops were touching. One individual literally had a small river running through his tent.
Always have a PACE plan ready. Our primary site was intended to be a SOTA station at a pretty significant altitude; however Tropical Storm Cindy ruled that plan out. We were getting tornadoes and severe storms here, and erecting portable towers up on a mountain, during a severe storm, wasn’t my idea of a good time.
Our Alternate site worked out well and we were fortunate enough to find a gracious host. The downside was, with the unpredictability of the weather, we were still planning on trekking up to the Primary location until approximately 24 hours before SFD kicked off, when we popped smoke on being human lightning rods.
Be flexible with your planning. Ours wilted on the vine, but we were able to make some lemonade out of the lemons and had a great SFD. One of our guys forgot his solar setup, and 8 out of 8 of my 7.2Ah batteries were total shit, and wouldn’t take a charge. Another guy brought an unvetted 70W solar cell along with his Rigrunner 4005 and we were able to operate off-grid, despite the aforementioned setbacks. The 70W solar panel performed like a champ, and when the storms finally ended, it was still getting enough light through the overcast skies to keep the battery fully topped off.
You always learn more from failures than from successes.
Check your gear. Check it again.
Expect to operate in shit weather.
You can never have too much 550 cord.