This weekend is almost here ! Every year towards the end of June, ham radio clubs and individuals setup their equipment to exercise and demonstrate their capability to provide radio communications across the US and Canada. This year we expect over 35,000 licensed ham radio operators to participate in what we call simply “Field Day“.
We do this as part of our public service initiative to support local, regional, and nationwide emergency management response for natural (or un-natural) emergencies. To encourage more activity and a sense of competitiveness this event is setup as a contest, with a well-structured scoring process. It really is not so much about the final score, but that does help to provide additional incentive to get the word out. Bonus points are awarded for using emergency power, inviting local officials and news media, and other activities that help promote and spread the awareness of the valuable function that ham radio plays in today’s world. If we practice our methods and exercise our equipment and talents, we are well prepared. We continue to prove our point that ham radio works “When All Else Fails“.
The Marshall Amateur Radio Club is proud to return to this tradition of ARRL Field Day. In our re-activation of this historic club, rejoining the annual Field Day event is a major milestone. Operating under the classification of “1F“, as an Emergency Operations Center, this station is announcing it’s availability and it’s viability as an extension of the Contingency of Operations plans for the NASA/MSFC Emergency Operations Center. As this club rebuilds it strength and resources, our full service communications offerings will be available to the regional and nationwide emergency management infrastructure as a functional team member. We will not only be advancing the technology by providing training for our new members, but providing a valuable resource for the community.
Please join us for even a brief visit so that we can show-off our technology and demonstrate our commitment to the science and art of radio communication. At this time we can only accommodate those who already have access to MSFC and Redstone Arsenal. We operate from Building 4622, as located on maps further down the page on this website. We will be there from approximately noon Saturday until noon on Sunday (this IS an over-night event) – this weekend Jun 26 & 27… Not a big crowd, nothing fancy – but we take our fun seriously. Ham radio is a professional hobby.
Curious ? Interested in electronic communication ? Already have a license ? Come see us !!
Lotsa good action on the bands today for the contest… We have enjoyed the company of several folks at the club station. The most rewarding to me of course, is seeing the new hams working the radio, and learning the routine. Contests like this one are great for that, as many many folks start this way, and no one needs feel awkward – as flubs and tongue-tangles are everywhere. It’s just part of the process. Lots of questions were asked, and answers flowed freely. Here are a few pics taken thru the day so far.
Just before Wil got here, I had worked a handful of stations on 50 MHz, first time I have used 6m during Field Day. I was glad Wil stopped by as he asked to see the satellite equipment, and he got to hear a few stations via VO-52. On the next pass I was ready with the uplink, and worked station W5MSQ (the Houston QRP club) for our satellite bonus contact ..!..
We’ll have to see how well the wee hours hold up, it’s already been a long day – and its only 11 pm local. Thanks everyone for coming out – really makes it worth it ..!..
The first Thursday of July is sneaking up on us for our monthly meeting. The first Thursday is on the 1st this month, which is this week. We have several new members, and have participated in two significant events this month – so we really need to keep the ball rolling. The path to a successful re-birth of this club is to engage the membership, and Field Day certainly engages folks. We had a great time not only making contacts with stations all around the country, but visiting with each other and having one-on-one Q&A time. There is interest in both an entry level class, and an upgrade class. Bring your ideas and questions ! We have a lot of talent and resources – lets put ’em to good use.
One of the ‘high points‘ of the FD activities Saturday was tracking the WB8ELK hitch-hiker payload on the weekly ozone sonde. “The What ?” you’re probably saying . . . Every week NOAA launches a weather balloon from the UAHuntsville NSSTC building, to measure and report back with ozone levels from various flight elevations. In supporting the UAH Space Hardware Club projects, Bill Brown – WB8ELK designs and builds miniture/lightweight telemetry units that include a GPS receiver and a milliwatt transmitter. The beacon signal on 144 MHz is received and decoded with a soundcard modem in a laptop, and the Lat/Lon/Elevation data is passed over the internet to a web site that displays the path on a map – in near-real-time. Pretty cool. Actually, this is really cool. Last Saturday there was very little wind aloft, and the balloon stayed nearly overhead the whole flight. We could actually see it ‘naked-eye’ from our club station house – at nearly 100,000 ft !!!!! We were even watching as it burst – amazing. I’ll post Bill’s flight recap as a comment to this article. I wish I had possessed the presence of mind at the time to do a screen capture of the flight path on the map. The payload was recovered only a short distance from the HARC Field Day site at Intergraph, which was only a few miles from our location.
And speaking of the HARC, on Sunday morning I made our 2nd satellite contact via VO-52 with K4BFT (the HARC callsign)..!.. Pretty neat to use the satellite to talk with Tim – N8DUE, while he was only a few miles away. BTW – congratulations to Tim for bringing a ‘real‘ satellite station for HARC‘s FD this year. I understand he had quite a few followers and has again inspired several to chase these birds with us. Welcome back Tim . . .
All in all, I declare this Field Day effort by WA4NZD to have been a success.!. We put this station back on the air after a protracted absence of over 10 years, we introduced several new hams to the thrill of nationwide fast-paced contacts, and we re-invigorated a few ‘less-than-active‘ hams with a new motivation to get back into the program… We now have two contest logs to upload into the eQSL database. Even tho we were not out ‘in a field’, our operating circumstances were not much better considering the run-down state of the club house. It has greatly improved tho, and is starting to look like a real station again. The fact that the building’s air-conditioning unit has a bad compressor – and by late afternoon the inside temperature was 90+ … was taken into stride as one of those hardships that we might face under ‘adverse emergency conditions’ – and we survived…
(Hopefully that replacement unit will soon be approved and installed.)
(Hint, hint, hint – Wink, wink)
Thanks again to all those who came out to operate and show their support. For everyone else – I hope you can make this next meeting !
See ya there. /;^)