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 Field DY 2018

We said we wanted to focus on making field Day fun for more people and I think we did just that.  Field Day 2018 was fabulous largely due to the many new folks who showed leadership and accepted the challenges. Starting at the top, I want to thank Erich Grauke for serving as my co-lead.  For the 15 or so years I have served as your Field Day Chair, this event has grown in scale and dimensions.  It has under has become a complicated production…that is both a curse and a blessing! It is only possible with the help of many people 

To review and acknowledge a few people, The Demo area was incredible.  It was literally a fair. We had mini seminars on topics like: How to use a Rig Expert; ARDEN mesh networking; APRS; and satellite.  Thanks to Casey Diers for leading the charge with his interesting mesh network demo.  He had a small IP camera in the SSB tent that shipped a signal to his demo area.  He also had a N1MM logging software running so people could see how we were scoring.  Al Hovey did a “Why Ham Radio” discussion for many family groups that seemed to a winner. Greg Karlove outdid himself again with his satellite set up.  He had to fight off Murphy…but with a little help from his friends, they found a work around that allowed them to make at least one satellite contact.  He also showed a handful of folks how to use a Rig Expert meter.  Mike Simmons had a good-sized group gathered to talk about APRS.  Mike Cicchetti and Tami Witbrodt had activities for our younger crowd, although most seemed fascinated by Al Hovey’s bean bag toss.  The activities went on all afternoon and kept people around and engaged.  Kudo’s to the Demo Team for bringing your expertise and enthusiasm to the event.

Ron Settle served as the GOTA chair.  We had many, many operators of various ages and a full set of mentors to work with them.  I enjoyed working with three of the GOTA operators.  We went from folks who had never been on HF to at least being comfortable using the microphone.  There are a million skills sets to learn before you graduate to a full-grown contester, but you must start someplace. Plus, the skills one learns here are all applicable to all radio work.  Antennas, bands, protocols, processes and, of course, talking! Thanks to all who served your fellow hams as mentors.  Last time I checked our score for that tent we had a respectable showing…perhaps 200 points and that was before we calculated the potential bonus points (we can earn up to 500 points in GOTA).

For as long as I can remember, Larry Leviton, John Wass and Howard Miller handled the cooking duties for Field Day. We are very grateful to each of them for their years of service to this club.  Last year, we decided we wanted to make some dramatic changes to the food offerings. Burt Krain stepped up to lead this team…Howard Miller rejoined the group and Burt recruited Tami Witbrodt and Jeremy Dee.  The food was excellent. And many people brought even more goodies: sweets, salads and sandwiches.  Having worked through the night, I appreciated a little midnight snack!  I counted about 92 visitors during this period

The Bonus points represent a sizeable chunk of our final score and I am glad to say we have achieved almost all of them.  We did have issues with one of our generators, but we had spares…hard lessons learned from the past. We did forget some of our safety gear.  I did not bring fire extinguishers, for instance.  My fault, but I had enough on my plate with maddening client deadlines just before Field Day.  It was wet enough out there that I don’t think we were a fire hazard.  Cary Willis created a first aid kit for the event.  Jeff Kraft managed to get us some publicity in the local presses and we had two elected officials visit. Murphy may have squeezed us on the message delivered to the ARRL section manager.  Our Winlink station seemed to be on the blink again.   We sent the message but apparently it did not go through.  We will have to explore what is going on with that later. Mike Cicchetti distributed our signs all over the routes coming into the park. That really helped. And Mark Thompson delivered our fliers to the various locations around town. As mentioned before, we got our 100 points for a satellite contact, even with the issues we faced! The first obstacles we faced was that almost all the passes were too far north of our location to even attempt to reach the birds.  Once they got down to where ewe could work them, we discovered the frequency was not tracking. Randy and Mark pulled down the ARRL message.

Radios. This event could not happen without radios.  Thanks to the Elecraft K3 owners who shared their gear: Don Whiteman, Ron Settle, Dave Hewitt and Al Hovey. Dave spend almost a month testing and updating the computers and radios. Field Day takes a village.

In another display of leadership, Warren Pugh took over the job of being the CW captain.  He helped manage our two CW stations…scheduling folks in so that we had someone in a seat almost all night.  We are still tabulating our scores but looks like we had a solid performance in that areas.  We did have issues with some self-inflicted interference.  CW signals were bleeding into the SSB tent.  We moved antennas and while that diminished the issue, we still had problems.  Funny how what worked in one year doesn’t in the next!

Mark Klocksin was the SSB tent captain and manage our growing list of operators.  I help manage the late-night shift…and I can tell you we had a steady stream of competent operators and loggers throughout the night.  Sometimes it is just sitting there pounding away makes a big difference. Persistence wins.

Set up and take down.  Well, as I write, we are still cleaning tents and gear almost a week after the event.  Thanks to Jerry Weiss and Gary Gordon for helping Monday, cleaning critical equipment. This year was marked by a double whammy. I decided to move our storage locker and so I had the thrill of moving our stuff from one place to another.  Set up was made more complicated with rains…and I took a fun spill, when my feet got caught up in some rope. Thanks to Chuck Saunders, Hy Alexander and Don Whiteman for managing the antenna set up crews.  We had about 25 people to set up tents and antennas.  I had a small mishap.   I ended up flipping over right into a little pool of water that left me soaked.   Tripped on some rope while setting up the big Army tent.  Mark Klocksin has the incriminating photos and his ransom fees are more than I can afford, so they may be public soon. The only thing broken was my pride.

We will publish a link to our Field Day photos later. 

Overall…Field Day was another solid NSRC performance.  Thanks to everyone who took on new leadership positions and all who hung in there to do the heavy lifting.