Field Day 2015 – Did that tree just fall over?
Field Day 2015 ended just a little over 24 hours ago as I sit down to right this article. The entire team (operators, setup, food-prep, etc.) have hopefully all had some time to rest and get back to normal life. The comment was heard, “WOW! That was a lot of fun, glad we only do it once a year!”.
This year started with some fun new challenges when we lost our spot due to flooding on Thursday before Field Day. The committee had to quickly spend radio night reviewing locations and choosing a suitable new location. The team decided on Stoney Creek Park (Boat Launch side) as a suitable replacement. Friday setup started about 2 hours late as work was done to secure the location with proper permits, insurance and updates to the DVR and facebook pages.
Setup was an exciting new challenge this year as the Lowell Amateur Radio Club attempted for the “Go Big or Go Home strategy”. The team assembled a 106’ Cell on Wheels tower along with a brand new 2 element Steppir Antenna (with 6M Passive reflector). This required burned fingers while soldering and many a questions about where bolts should go and why we had extra bolts. Another team worked to erect a 35’ tower with beam and the pick-up truck 20ft tower and beam! Would you believe we had 3 beams on the air? You said it – go big!
Things went together fairly smoothly during setup on Friday and the location worked out well for setup after the “back breaking” work of removing temporarily a large post with 3 physical members and a tow strap to get to our desired locations. The one setup moment of excitement was when BOB KD8HNF hollered out “I think she’s going over boys!” as the Cell on Wheels tower had not yet had proper rear anchors placed and was a bit heavy on the back-end. All was quickly resolved by Del W8WDW and other team members jumping on the front while the adjustments and leveling was completed.
Around 6pm we were visited by local law enforcement who were glad to hear all our permits were in order and we explained what we were doing and talked a lot about amateur radio and the resent Portland tornado. They appreciated us!
Setup finalized about 11:00PM with tents and preparation discussion for Saturday around the camp fire. Plenty of communication through the use of “Jet Power” and “Sawing of wood” were experienced through-out the evening.
Saturday – Day2
Saturday began about 5:30AM as club members Mike (KB8ZGL) and Adam (KD8SLH) determined operating positions and setup tents and ran equipment for WiFi and Ethernet. Tables, chairs, and five (5) TS-2000’s were setup (YES, 5 TS-2000’s this year! We did it BIG!). All TS-2000’s were setup with remote control of the logging software and/or antennas (Steppir) and tested. The Steppir showed a perfect SWR of 1:1 on all intended bands and our 40+ solder connections were all good.
Day 2 continued with members beginning to arrive and dipoles were strung at proper levels, SWR checked, coax soldered and connected. By 1:00PM we had 4 working stations (4A MI) and a GOTA station ready to go with N1MM Logger+ for logging.
At immediately 2PM operators and loggers were on the air! We immediately secured a CQ calling frequency on 15M and 20M when our president Nathan (N8THN) exclaimed, “Who forgot to setup my computer?!?!”. Mike (KB8ZGL) apologized and quickly worked with Daniel (KD8WYS) to rectify the situation.
Shortly after (about 2:15pm) the 10M station was also up and rocking!
Dave W8ZT took his calm position as his desk in his enclosed trailer and began hollering CQ CQ Field Day on 20M and the Q’s just started piling in. Dave had said a goal for the club to work 1,000+ QSOs and we knew it would take some work to get there!
Del W8WDW and other members were at the GOTA station and work was on-going to get this station up and properly operating without de-sense from the large beam stations at the other primary locations. This is an area we hope to improve antenna wise for 2016.
By 4:00PM, Mike (KB8ZGL) was running around to all stations to make sure functionality was good and everyone was knocking out QSO’s. Little did everyone realize, we had already put 400+ in the log! Go big = off to a great start while the bands were hot with an impending solar storm.
Many operators (too many to be named individually here) worked the stations through-out Saturday. Experienced operators (so great to see Jean K0RZD) and inexperienced operators (just learning the logging ropes and how contesting works). Many members of the club and other clubs stopped by to socialize and/or get-on-the-air (GOTA).
Our lunch/dinner was graciously prepared by Jack (NY8D) and Anne which the team was very thankful for around 7:00PM. The operators were so committed to success that eating was even done in shifts to allow the secured frequencies not to be lost.
Contacts continued through Saturday evening and allowed Mike (KB8ZGL) a chance to take a much needed 3 hour nap (it was planned for 15 minutes). By 2:00AM operators left were down to slim pickings when some reserves showed up (Charles – KD8SEM) and others. It should be noted we could never run like we did without all you great ops and I apologize if I miss any of you directly.
We were joined by our canine mascots (Buffy, Max, Mandy, and others). A personal memory I will never forget is when Paul (K8CRD) was logging with me on 80M about 11:30PM on Saturday. The QSOs were flying, the keys for logging were humming and the two dogs were laid down butt (nearly butt to butt) at our feet keeping us warm. The occasional “Let’s get em” bark was pure inspiration for one of the best QSO runs we saw during the 24 hours.
Jon (KD8GGA) was plugging away on 15M, Dave (WZ8T) was plugging away on 20M, Nathan (N8THN) was plugging away on 80M and Adam (KD8SLH) was plugging away on 40M! Del (W8WDW) was learning the ropes of the GOTA station and putting contacts in across bands where he could hear without interference. Kurt (K8AI) showed up and logged many high point CW contacts for us on many different bands. By 3:00AM the team was still hard at work and there was that moment of pure exhaustion when everything is funny. The QSOs coming from one tent were heard something like this, “QSLRZ, W8LRC 4A Mitchigan, 73ds”. At this time it was determined some of the team members better go get some sleep.
Dave (W8ZT) stayed up and took over 40M, Mike (KB8ZGL) took over 80M – with logging assistance from Daniel (KD8WYS) and Charles (KD8SEM) with others took over 20M (which was still incredibly useable until nearly 4AM).
By 6:30AM Mike (KB8ZGL) and Daniel (KD8WYS) were all that remained on the air – bouncing between 20M and 80M wherever there were people that we had not worked. The rest of the team was sleeping or napping (Dave – WZ8T never was off the air more than 1.5hrs – simply incredible operator!).
Mike (KB8ZGL) retired to nap and Daniel (KD8WYS) attempted to make Satellite and ISS contacts until the team began waking back up.
All 4 stations were in full swing again by 8:00AM with 20M thundering on the Steppir antenna. We had secured CQ calling frequencies we hardly lost for the entire day on Sunday due to our early morning aggressive (yet testing of energy) start.
The team ate wonderful breakfast burritos and bacon off the grill that Jack and Anne prepared. The food was great all weekend and even the torched (small grease fire on the grill) bacon tasted amazing. Thanks to Del, Kurt, Jack, Anne, Jodi, Haley and everyone that donated and/or prepared food! Many Mt. Dew and Iced Tea runs were required! Thanks to ALL our paid members who allowed us to have the budget needed to perform this. You would be happy to know that with donations from club members and new members that joined or renewed at the event we did the entire weekend at a break-even (no money was spent out of the general fund) for the club.
Team members continued to rack up QSOs through-out the day on Sunday. The feeling in the air was general excitement as we smashed the WZ8T goal of 1,000 QSOs and focus was set on 2,000.
Comments were heard from the members such as,
I don’t remember a field day this good!
This is the most fun event I have ever attended.
Did you ever believe we would even get 1,000?
Where’s Buffy? Where’s Max? Where’s Mandy?
Where’s the bug spray?
This is the greatest FD team effort I have ever seen!
Get back to your radio, your shift is not over, do I need to get my whip?
How did we do last year? Answer: 384 QSOs. Are you kidding?
Kurt (K8AI) joined us about 11:30AM and sat right down at the key. If you have not had a chance to witness Kurt’s CW abilities, it is truly an inspiration for us all and we should aspire to be as good. Seriously, the guy can copy without headphones and someone asking him a question on the side. Kurt, you made our field day special and the points totals are BIG because of your skill! Personally I look forward to the day I can sit beside you and copy more than 4 letters.
Field day fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your level of sleep) ended at 2:00PM. The unofficial final QSO counts: W8LRC – 2,165 and KD8RXD (GOTA) – 79. Total points are north of 5,000 at the time of this writing. Checkout the facebook group (Lowell Amateur Radio Clubor our webpage for another blog for final results.
Tear down went well, with minimal mishaps and the entire team was cleared to their homes for unpacking and sleep by 5:00PM.
The Lowell Amateur Radio Club wants to take time to thank the following organizations that made this year possible to GO BIG:
City of Lowell – for the permit and the use of the Park. Also provided it to us based on what we do for emergency services and thanked us for our service.
FreedomNet – for the use of the Cell on Wheels Wireless Internet tower.
Virtual Systems – who provided the WiFi, Ethernet and routing gear.
And of course our largest Thank-you: To all the members who have joined the Lowell Amateur radio club and made it the impactful and exciting club it has grown to be. As of this writing (and this weekend) we have over 43 PAID members and growing! If you have not checked out W8LRC for several years or were a former member who has become less active, now is the time to join us again and partake in these wonderful events your club is doing for you! Without the membership none of this would have been possible. We also want to thank those who joined us that are not yet affiliated with our club, affiliated with other clubs and/or who look to join us in the future. We want to thank the wives and the girlfriends who joined us and made it special and/or who just let “their HAM” out for the whole weekend and allowed them to be cranky after little sleep on their return.
It is with great memories and many new friendships and stories that I personally close this year’s field day 2015 and begin preparing for 2016. Kickoff starts almost immediately with a follow-up meeting of the committee to record what worked and what did not to make 2016 even better!
I titled my year Go Big or Go Home, but do it with fun and among friends! Please share your blogs and memorable moments with us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/w8lrc?fref=ts&ref=br_tf) or write a blog for our webmaster (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Many pictures and additional blogs will be posted at www.w8lrc.org for your enjoyment! Check it out!
In closing, 73s DE W8LRC 4A MI – see you next year!
A gallery of pictures taken during the 2015 Field Day is available here!
Lowell Amateur Radio Club
The Lowell Amateur Radio Club is a group of amateur radio operators seeking to promote the use of Amateur Radio and encourage growth in electronics, radio, Internet and other related activities.
The club meets for unofficial meet and greets 7:00 Thursday nights at the FROM Outreach ministries building 11535 Fulton St. SE, Lowell MI 49331. We thank them for their continued support as well. Official meetings are held the 2nd Saturday of every month at the same location.
Stop by and meet some of the “Go BIG” hams who can answer your questions, program your radio or help you with learning to pass that first Amateur Radio test.