JULY 2012

Building A Super Station First Time At Field Day Field Day - Another Super Job
Field Day Hall Of Fame Back Up Back Up Chocolate Cookies

Download Newsletter in PDF Format


Our July meeting will be very interesting, indeed.

Paul W1IMD will give us a presentation on his efforts (successful!) at building a remotely operated, high performance station—a full size 2-element cubical quad for 160 meters, a SteppIR MonstIR installed at 90 meters on a former AT&T Long Lines tower in Southwest Maine, reversible Beverage antennas for receive on the lower frequencies. And, of course - a whole lot more. Don't miss this one! After Paul's talk, enjoy snacks and some chat time.


Kathi K1WAL

We had several new people at our Field Day this year. I asked some of them what they were expecting when they showed up, what they learned, and if they would do it again:

"It was more physical work than I thought it would be, but, I enjoyed it and would be willing to do it again. It was also a good learning experience at picking call signs out of static & pileups." -Bob KB1WXM

"I was expecting a little shack and a few small antennas. Anytime I had a question someone was always happy to take the time to answer. No question was too silly or stupid. I had to listen closely to responses there's a real technique involved! Even the tear down was fun!" -Melissa KF5MGD

"It was my first operating experience calling CQ and making contacts. The script was very useful. It was so organized, like a professional radio camp." -Shane KF5MGC

"Did I want to go? Kind of yes, kind of no. I didn't know what it was. When I got there I liked it. I liked the food. How old do you have to be to get a license?" -Morghan (daughter of KB1THX)

"It was impressive that it all went up, operating for 24 hours, and came down in just 2 days! It was interesting to see how many antennas can fit on a single tower! I learned about getting on the air and making contacts, using the logging software, and the different kinds of people and attitudes on the air. Without a doubt I would do it again! There was so much I wanted to do but didn't have the time." -Tim KB1THX

"It was an amazing experience. It was totally new to me and everyone was so encouraging. It's "CQ" not "QC!" I will definitely do it again." -Bev KI6ISG

"I learned there can be three ways of doing something, but whoever’s way is done first, is done last - as long as it is done right. I walked away from the event with enthusiasm for HF and contesting. I hadn't the experience nor interest in operating HF or contesting before, but am now finding myself bitten by the bug!" -Jeremy KB1WDM


Mitch W1SJ

Wow! We nailed it again! We put another tremendously successful Field in the books. And we did it with sketchy propagation on the higher HF bands and no propagation on 10 and 6 meters.

For those who count the QSO's and points we ended up with something around 4700 QSO's and well above 14,000 points. This was below our 16,000 point blowout last year, but that was a record setting performance which won't be repeated so soon. We won't know how we placed until November, but I'm quite happy with what we accomplished score-wise.

It was in several other areas that we really shined. One of our weak points in the last few years was the lack of young operators. Besides getting bonus points for getting youngsters on the air, it is simply good business to expose young people to the thr ill of operating. Just maybe they will remember the experience and decide that making contacts on 15 meters is more engaging than texting on a silly phone. We can only hope.

The GOTA station, ground-zero for new operators, was well staffed and busy throughout Field Day. Last year, if you remember, we totally ran out of operators by Sunday and had to struggle to find operators and worked like crazy to make the 500 QSO maximum. This year, there was still a crowd hanging around the GOTA station and we hit 500 QSO's early on Sunday, despite poorer conditions.

Speaking of bonuses, we got every one of those suckers! This amounts to 2450 points. Put another way, we would have to make 1225 phone or 613 CW QSO's to equal that. We had to do all sorts of crazy things to get those bonuses. Bob W4YFJ copied a W1AW bull etin. Jeff N1YD did an educational demonstration of circuit modeling. Paul AA1SU coaxed various officials to visit us and then passed a whole bunch of traffic. Carl charged up batteries on a solar charger and made sure we had GOTA operators and coaches. A nd I fought with various newspapers to get Field Day publicity and then fought with drifting satellites to make a contact.

Setup and takedown was quite smooth. The manuals and pre-event training paid off dividends as everyone had a pretty good idea what to do. I was able to take a much needed break during setup to actually look around and see what everyone was doing and how s mooth it was going.

On the operating side of the house, we were doing great for many hours with the rates holding fairly close to last year’s results. But Sunday morning both stations hit a brick wall and the rates went way down, even though 15 meters came back to life for a bit. It was good to see everyone working as a cohesive unit.

As well as everything was planned, there was hardly a food plan in place 3 days before the event! In quick order, we secured a grill (thanks Tim KB1THX), food supplies (thanks Kathi K1WAL) and other food (thanks NK1A). Great job everyone in bringing this all together.

If you haven't submitted feedback, please do so. In addition to what worked well, we are looking for things which were broken, didn't work well, or need to be improved. We have a lot of equipment and it all must be stored and maintained. You may not reali ze it, but the tents, yagis, towers and much of the phone station all date back 40-50 years. And some of the participants are even older!

Stay tuned next month for Field Day scoring and other details.



Mitch W1SJ

We all use computer devices where critical data is stored on hard drives. I've dealt with hard drive failure over the years and it is never pleasant. But usually, you get a telltale warning – either in the form of file corruption or obvious things like th e drive screeching! And when these things occur, you start copying files off the drive like mad, hoping you get it all before the drive totally dies.

Across the table from W1SJ is our sister station WEVT-LP, an FM station playing oldies music. It is a radio station in a box - all of the programming is generated in a computer (sadly, most radio stations work this way). I walked in the shack the other day and heard this weird clicking noise. I finally traced it to the station computer and I thought the noise was coming from the CD drive. When I viewed the screen, no programming content was playing nor could it be made to play. A reboot of the system brought the horrible news, "Drive 1 Not Found!" Upon sticking my head into the computer, the clicking noise was coming from this hard drive. I later learned that this is the infamous "Click of Death", a common catastrophic failure mode. No warning, just total, irrevocable failure.

Fortunately, the failure was in a data disk containing the music, which was mirrored to an external drive. It was easy enough to get the old drive out and point to the external unit to get the normal programming back on. While this went on, the station is set up to default to a memory stick up at the transmitter when the studio programming cuts off. A few days later a new drive was installed.

If you are wise, don't even finish reading this - make sure your stuff is backed up and can be recovered easily. When you realize that a drive has to spin at 7200 RPM and a head has to seek micron-sized information on a magnetic platter, you realize that a lot of things can go wrong! And sometimes, like in this case, it is a situation of here today, gone tomorrow!


Kathi K1WAL [by Kelsy]

These are good contest cookies when operating late into the night! But for younger kids, before bedtime - maybe not so much.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then, add eggs one at time, mixing after each addition to make sure they are well combined.

In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder. I use a whisk to make sure the dry ingredients are well mixed.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix everything until the ingredients are fully combined, but do not overbeat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in chocolate chips.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop, or rounded teaspoon, drop dough on the sheet 2" apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve. Makes 50-55 cookies.

Back to the top
RANV Newsletter Library
Back to RANV Home