Jul 02

The fourth full weekend of June.  Those words have special meaning to those with amateur radio licenses in the USA.  It is always the weekend for ARRL Field Day.  This annual event is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio.  It is a combination of a contest, an emergency communication exercise, and a social gathering.

For those who don’t know it, I am a licensed amateur radio operator with the callsign K8MIO.  Kieran and I participated in Field Day in 2008 and 2009 with the Arrow Communication Association in Ann Arbor.  After skipping the last two years we wanted to get back to it.  This year we accepted the invitation from the South Lyon Area Amateur Radio Club (SLAARC) to attend their Field Day.  I used to be a member of the defunct Edison Radio Amateurs Association with Gary Morgan, WA8TJA, who is now the SLAARC president.  I also knew that another former Edison member Bob Pratt, WD8AQX, would be attending the SLAARC event.

The SLAARC Field Day site is behind the Lyon Township municipal center.  It’s a very good site because it’s high.  The view is great in all directions.  So the radio waves propagate quite well too.  The site is on top of a former garbage dump along I-96 near Milford Road.

The members of the club setup a lot of the antennas on Friday.  We weren’t able to help with that.  However, we met the group at 8:00 am on Saturday morning for breakfast.  Then we headed to the site with everyone else to complete the setup of the tents and radios.  The on-air event starts at 2:00 pm and runs for 24 hours until the same time Sunday.

Gary had one of the old Edison club tents for use as an operating tent.  He put Kieran and I in charge of setting that up, but he helped too.  Those tents always used to give us grief back in the days of the old club.  It got easier when we used multiple colors of electrical tape to color code the various pole pieces during the final Edison years.  I was happy to see that the color coding was still on the poles.  It didn’t take too long and it was up.

So after all the setup is done, what do you do at Field Day?  Aside from socializing you spend as much time as possible on the radios.  The goal is to contact as many other stations around the United States and Canada who are also taking part in Field Day.  You exchange a specific set of information with each station.  Once that is done you record it in your computer log program and move on to the next station.  You can either tune around the radio bands looking for other stations to call or you can park yourself on a particular frequency and announce that you are waiting for others to call you.  Kieran and I did some of both.

I spent most of my time operating a radio, and Kieran spent the time logging the contacts into the computer.  We exchanged roles for a little while at one point, but he decided he liked logging better.  That’s not unusual for somebody who hasn’t done much operating before.  I’m sure as he does more, he’ll want to do more.  The good news is he really wants to get his own license before Field Day 2013.  I have my work cut out for me!

Here are some pictures of us in the 10/15/20 meter tent where we spent most of our time on the air.  Thanks to Bob Pratt for providing these pictures.

SLAARC Field Day - From Bob Pratt 1

This station had an excellent setup. The radio (Elecraft K3) and computer were connected which made logging even easier. We’re operating on a beam antenna so you see a rotator control box as well.

SLAARC Field Day - From Bob Pratt 2

That’s a rather serious look on my face.

SLAARC Field Day - From Bob Pratt 3

Looking through the window of the old Edison club tent.

SLAARC Field Day - From Bob Pratt 4

A better view of the N1MM logging software. All of the stations on the site were linked together via Wifi so we could see the contacts the other stations made.

SLAARC Field Day - From Bob Pratt 5

A beautiful sunset in the background while we keep on operating.

SLAARC Field Day - Phone 1

Kieran took this picture with my iPhone. I’m really glad he did. That’s Bob, WD8AQX, at the radio while I log. We had some disintegrating headphones and you can see the remnants all over my neck.

SLAARC Field Day 22

Here’s Gary, WA8TJA, operating and logging.

Now for some picture I took of the site.

SLAARC Field Day 6

The club banner that welcomes the public to the site.

SLAARC Field Day 23

You can almost see the entire Field Day operation in this picture.  That little tent closest to the camera on the right is where Kieran and I spent a few hours sleeping overnight.

SLAARC Field Day 1

On the left is the 40 meter dual inverted-V antenna. On the right is the 10/15/20 meter beam that Kieran and I spent most of our time on.

SLAARC Field Day 2

The blue tent is the 40 meter station.  The other tent is the one Gary brought.  It was originally owned by the ERAA and used at Field Day by that club when it existed.  The generators are behind the trailer on the right.

SLAARC Field Day 3

The vertical antenna that wouldn’t tune is in the middle.  The white canopy is the grub tent.  The red tent is the 80 meter station.  The blue canopy is the public information area.

SLAARC Field Day 4

The antenna on the left is an 80 meter dual inverted-V.  Beams for 6 and 2 meters are on the tower to the right.  There are two off-center fed dipoles extending from that tower as well.  You can see the baluns if you look closely.

SLAARC Field Day 13

The generators under their rain protection. The trailer on the left kept the engine noise from disturbing the radio operators.

SLAARC Field Day 15

Here’s a better view of the 80 meter tent.  The blue tent on the left is the 6/2 meter station.  The blue tent to the right is the GOTA tent.  That’s short for Get On The Air.  This station is for unlicensed or inactive people to give things a try.

SLAARC Field Day 16

The food area and Wifi network hub. None of the people at Field Day went hungry. The food was quite good all weekend.

Kieran and I had a great time with the SLAARC members at Field Day.  We hope to do it again next year.  Our thanks to the members of the SLAARC who made Field Day possible!

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