Sunday, June 26, 2011

Field Day 2011

I couldn't think of a more perfect way to start the day after days of rain and clouds and more clouds filled with more rain. I had left Calgary a half hour earlier, and I was pleased as the clouds and the rain had retreated to the northern end of the province, giving way to clear skies and stunning vistas of the Rockies to the west. I was headed out to Scott and Christina Nadler's place southwest of Okotoks, where the Foothills Amateur Radio Society (FARS) were to set up for field day. Of course there was a reason for my getting out there bright and early, as Scott and Christina were putting on a pancake breakfast for those who arrived by 8:00 am. With the Aldersyde turnoff in sight, I turned on to highway 7 and headed west.

I soon was coming up on 64th street, and turned south towards their acreage located south of highway 7 and up along a ridge with commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
Once I had my pickup parked and had a quick look around, it was time for breakfast. Once we had filled up on a wonderful breakfast, thanks to Scott and Christina, it was time for a meeting to plan strategy in preparation for the setting up of antennas. With the meeting out of the way, and everyone assigned their duties, the guys began setting up antennas. For those of you not up to speed as to the objective of field day, it is to work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands (excluding the 60, 30, 17, and 12-meter bands) and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions. ARRL Field Day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. Each year over 35,000 amateurs gather with their clubs, friends or simply by themselves to operate. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Amateur Radio to local elected community leaders, key individuals with the organizations that Amateur Radio might serve in an emergency, as well as the general public.

Before long the various antennas were taking shape, with two towers being set up for yagis, as well as another mast to support a 6 meter yagi, and a variety of wire antennas covering a variety of bands. Once the antennas were set up, the antennas would have their runs of coax connected to the transceivers located in two different operating locations, with six operators manning the radios and making contacts. The noon hour start time rolled up on the clock, and we were underway. With the bands in good shape the contacts began to roll in, and the operators were kept busy with contacts being made and logs being kept. Part of the idea of field day is to concentrate on getting “newbies” on the air, and through the afternoon, various visitors to the FARS field day operation were pressed in to service as operators.

It goes without saying that part of a successful field day operation, is to have plenty to eat, and that was covered nicely with snacks available throughout the day, including lunch and supper served up by the Nadler's, and prepared on a custom built barbecue built by "Aero-Tech" and provided by Tammy VA6TSS and Jim Scheirman. Thank you everyone. Besides shooting photos throughout the day, I also was the go to guy to try and make a contact on one of the FM satellites orbiting the earth. My two first attempts were a bust, due to the mishmash of hams spread across North America trying to access the satellites all at once, intent on making a field day contact, and scoring 100 bonus points for achieving the contact. After two failed attempts, I was getting worried it was not going to happen. At 4:30pm, with AO51 due to rise over the south pole, and a 40 degree easterly pass, I prepared for what would be the final good pass of the day. AO51 came up over my horizon, and I realized that I may have a chance, as the activity on the bird was not as intense as on my two previous attempts. As AO51 worked its way north, and the stations located to the south of me dropped off, I was able to make a successful field day contact, giving me a sigh of relief. Things were good. The rest of the day passed by quickly, and thats probably due to the fact that I had spent a most enjoyable field day. Of course, field day continued on, and those in attendence would man the radios through the night, and ending at noon. I must thank all the hams that were in attendence, and if I missed any one, let me know. Great group of hams, and thanks everyone for a great day. Bryce VA6LBS, Dann VE6TD, Ray VE6LG, Grahm VE6GRA, Scott VE6OBL,Christine VA6OBL Mark VE6AY, Shaun VE6YA, Tyrell VE6TXX, Jim VE6JKV, John WB0EQ, Gord VE6TK, Gary VE6MU, Lou VE6AC, Wally VE6BGL, Tim VA6TH, Tom VE6OBA, and John VA6GEO. Again thanks, it was fun.

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