Field Day 2022

LARG is hosting Field Day 2022 , Saturday through Sunday, June 25 and 26.

We will be located in the south parking lot at: 44045 Riverside Pkwy, Leesburg, VA 20176

Visitors are welcome and encouraged to stop by. We’ll be operating two HF stations, one VHF/UHF & Satellite station, and a Get-on-the-Air (GOTA) station where visitors can participate. We’ll also have training for scouts to get their Radio merit badge.

For more details, please visit: https://k4lrg.org/field-days/field-day-2022/

Thursday HF net report.

The Thursday net was called at 20:00 local time. Those who participated:

KE4SDave
K8SYHBill
AB3KC *Collins
K3WD *Bill
W0MPM *John
W5ODJ *John
* indicates those who also checked in on 10 meters

Topics were Field Day, 13 Colonies, the recent local weather and PVRC among others. The band was in good shape and signals were strong in spite of the storms and static crashes.

We continued our discussion to 10 meters at 28.405 mHz. That band was in decent shape too.

It was good to hear everyone on the air tonight.

73,

John
W5ODJ

13 Colonies Recap

It took most of the week but I did finally manage to get all stations for the original 13 Colonies and the two extra stations.

They were tough this year! WM3PEN either used CW or FT8 every time I looked to see where they were operating. I did not have FT8 installed on my computer nor do I really know how to use it. I managed to install the software but was not successful in actually making it work in my favor. So I waited for CW which I finally accomplished tonight.

Speaking of CW I worked 4 of the 15 stations using CW this year. The Tuesday night nets really helped me get this done! I still need to get better at this mode but I’m doing OK with it. Enough to help in a contest anyway.

My log for 13 colonies 2020.

On the operator side of things I’ve managed to put in 6 hours of work this week. In that 6 hours I have worked 859 unique stations. That’s about 143 per hour. It gets pretty crazy at times.

K2B summary log from my station.

I hope to work another hour or two tomorrow. Maybe I can top off the list at 1000 for 2020.

This is always a fun event for me. This year was the hardest for me to finish but it was rewarding using some new skills to make it happen.

73,

John
W5ODJ

Field Day 2020 Recap – W5ODJ

It didn’t start with the normal hustle that comes with executing a well thought through plan.

In fact, it was pretty benign. I was in my chair at the beginning and tried to make a contact in the last minutes. Casual “Search and Pounce” was my M.O. for this event.

The bands were in such good shape! In particular 20 meters. My noise levels were very low on all of the bands with 80 being an exception. It was fun to hear everyone still out there trying to make as many contacts as they could. Getting a new contact was as easy as spinning the dial and logging.

100-200 contacts and at least 1 digital contact was my goal.

The times I was sitting at my desk I also left 146.52 open in my headset. I was surprised to hear all the chatter on that band this weekend. I ended up making 8 FD specific contacts on 2m simplex. A first for me. Lots of people were out on hikes and making FD contacts with HTs. I also talked to a few people outside of FD. That’s always fun.

Another goal I set for myself was a Field Day specific digital contact which I did in the last hour of the event. That’s not easy to do. If I do digital contesting and want to log and have control of the radio from two programs I have to work on some communications on my desk. Both the digital program and logging want to have access to the radio at the same time. I have the gear, just need to hook it up.

At 2pm today it was like someone turned the electricity off. All of the bands were empty again. This Field Day was over.

In spite of it being a Field Day of One I had a good time. The “clean up” will certainly be easy.

As I push away from my desk I wonder … maybe the hustle will return in 2021.

73,

John
W5ODJ

Field Day 2012 – Eight years ago.

Where does the time go?

I don’t remember all of the details of this particular Field Day event. I do remember It being a another well-run activity and was followed up by a de-brief the evening the Derecho came through Virginia. Hard to believe that was 8 short years ago.

What followed the Derecho was 7 days of over 100º weather and no electricity at my home for 7 days. It was interesting for sure. I was prepared for this thanks to all my work with radio, Field Day, ARES and EOC.

Could you do without electricity for 7 days?

What about 24 hours?

Today you may be able to test that theory.

Do you recognize anyone in the photographs above?

For me 8 years ago was a very chaotic time in my personal life. Trying to keep corporate job while running a local business was not an easy thing to pull off. I quit that job and sold the business(es) since then. Life is much more placid.

But it is also very quiet. Very, very quiet.

Field Day Site 2012 – Now covered in trees.

In the past few days I’ve prepared my station to work some in this year’s Field Day. I’m not going to kill myself trying to make contacts so this year is about the fun of making contact rather than the tactics.

If I get a wild hair I’m prepared to run a frequency at high power and log it all in real time. So we’ll have to see where this goes. No plans to show up on any top 10 list this year.

I’m happy to report I have no engineering problems with my station so I can just sit down and operate. Part of eliminating the chaos of 8 years ago has afforded me the time on my own station that I did not have the time to do then. And to do it properly. Time has taught me how to do things right the first time or at least wait until I can do that.

The last ten years have been interesting times for sure. So many life lessons learned. I’m thankful that through all those lessons that radio has been at the center of it all. it’s the one stable thing I turn to each day to distract myself from the noise of life.

Every year at this time I remember those who have been instrumental in my life. While I don’t remember all of the details of time passed I’m thankful for those who have been there with me.

Where did the time go? Not so sure. But thankful for the time I spent doing this.

Have a great Field Day 2020. Maybe we’ll hear each other on the air.

73,

John
W5ODJ

We Have Contact

Contact was made with the International Space Station. More details soon!

… And what a contact it was! Initial impressions from KS1G:

Everyone did a fabulous job delivering a quality radio and audio and visual experience and dealing with the last-minute (and TOO last minute!) crisis, including having to reboot the entire video streaming system just before contact, and my own fighting SatPC32 for the longest 2 minutes 54 seconds of my life to get the antennas pointing correctly. (I know what happened, why, and how to NOT LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN (he hopes)).

Once underway, the contact went quite smoothly. The school (thank you Sandy and Amy) did a great job shepherding the students to the microphone and cuing them to ask their questions. And there were some EXCELLENT questions. WE received great feedback from the school about the audio and video quality, particularly how clearly everyone could hear Astronaut Dr. Drew Morgan. Thirteen students were able to ask and get their questions answered; unfortunately we could not make up for the lost time upfront (ISS doesn’t have “park” on the gearshift) so we lost contact around the end of that answer. The students and staff (and all of us) gave out a loud cheer and congratulations all around. We followed the contact with a short Q&A by myself and John, N0JSD before the assembly concluded.

Afterwards, there were interviews by media; I know Loudoun Now, LCPS Public Affairs, and NBC4-TV were present. Brice Hilliard (who deservers huge credit for instigating this idea in the 1st place) and N0JSD were interviewed by NBC4, and LCPS PA chatted with me as well. After a quick pizza lunch in the library, it was time to pack up and depart. Loudoun Ashburn Fire Station arrived again with the tower truck and made quick work of getting our larger items off the roof. N0JSD got an added bonus – a ride in the tower to it’s maximum height! (that’s TWO “bucket list” items in ONE DAY, maybe 3 if NBC4 airs the video).

Social media was ablaze, I know there were several posts on Twitter from the school and the associated elementary schools. And a great behind the scenes shot (WA4TXE did a masterful job of directing the cats and managing backstage so everything went sufficiently smooth out front!)

I’d like to personally thank everyone for the help today. This was a team effort and it took a lot of people over many days to make it a success, including making a clean and safe departure this afternoon. So besides Jeff K0ZR, Paulson KG4TIH, Dave WA4TXE, John N0JSD, and me KS1G, our helpers for contact day included:

Kevin AK2M, Denny KF4TJI, Paul N4PD, John W0MPM, Kurt KI4FWB, Paulson’s colleagues Gary Walker, Dave Denison, Michael Parker, Cory McHale, Martin NV3H, Bruce KN4TS, and WA4TXE YL Cheri.

(Again, if I left anyone off or messed up a name or callsign, please tell me or Paulson and we’ll make the corrections)

So after all that, who wants to help another school talk to an astronaut on the ISS? I DO! (ARISS is taking applications for the 2nd half of 2020 through November, the window for 1st half 2021 is in May….)

Paulson is working on final edits of the contact and full program videos and photos, and we plan to have another post and a full report for the November LARG meeting. We will also get video from the school. If you have photos, please provide to Paulson (an upload folder link was emailed to the ariss list earlier this evening)

73s de KS1G

ARISS Final Set-Up

Today was a busy day finalizing the video production, re-checking audio levels, and practice, practice, practice with the full radio & production crew and FSMS faculty. A big thank you to everyone who helped today, including LARG members WA4TXE, KG4TIH, K0ZR, N0JSD, and N4PD (my apologies if I missed anyone) and Paulson’s friends Dave, Gary, and Parker.

We made a QSO via AO-91, and monitored a successful school contact with a ground station in Maryland using the primary and backup stations. My home SATNOGS station captured much of the transmission from the ISS. You can listen to it here. (Use the audio tab. The full contact was closer to 11 minutes; the audio becomes decent about 90 seconds in. I’m sure other SATNOGS stations did as well or better.)

Tomorrow (Tuesday 10/29) is CONTACT DAY! The main crew will be arriving at the school ~7:00 AM. If you are planning on helping (we can use a few more ham-hands and friends of hams backstage) please arrive at Farmwell Station MS by 9:00 AM and check in at the office to get your visitor badge. The program starts around 10:00. CONTACT TIME is currently 11:00:41 (may change a little by tomorrow morning). Contact will finish about 11:11, and students will be dismissed before 11:30.

Live Stream:  https://live.myvrspot.com/player?udi=bG91ZG91bg==&c=ZmFybWlzcw==  starting about 10:25AM for the pre-contact program. [The program may be several seconds up to 30 seconds delayed from live radio.]
Listen from home:  145.8 MHZ, FM.  An HT (orient sideways to the ISS location) can receive much of the pass.  You may need squelch off.  More info at ariss.org, amsat.org. https://www.heavens-above.com/main.aspx and https://www.n2yo.com/?s=25544&live=1

RF QUIET REQUEST:  If on school grounds, please, avoid transmitting on 2M, particularly anywhere near 145.80 MHz, during the contact period to not impair our reception of the ISS.  We are using UHF simplex for local coordination.  

We will need help with tear-down. If you can help with tear-down, please try to arrive about noon. (Later arrivals welcome!) If you cannot arrive until later, we can probably still use your help to remove the equipment and get it back to the KS1G or KG4TIH QTHs. In particular, a pickup that can handle the antenna base (a 6x6x1 angle iron frame, can be stacked on-edge) is needed.

I’d like to thank again everyone for their assistance. This has been a big effort, and we getting a huge amount of publicity for LARG and amateur radio!

73s, de KS1G

ARISS Station – Antenna Setup

After yesterday’s very soggy delivery of all the gear to the school, today began setup. The Ashburn Fire Station had to respond to a call, so their tower truck was delayed. To make progress, a bunch of us relayed all the items that would fit through the hatch and carried them to the antenna site above the auditorium. We pulled the antenna base (oof!) and 2M antenna with rope. The the tower truck arrived and made quick work of getting the ballast for the antenna base (several hundred pounds of concrete blocks) onto the roof. THANK YOU ASHBURN STATION FD.

Ashburn Fire Station Engine “Tower 6” made short work of getting the heavy items to the roof!

We quickly assembled the antenna, mast, base, and supporting electronics and cables and just managed to get everything together before sundown. The results are very satisfying:

L-R: KN4QPI, KS1G, and KF4TJI. Photo by Nancy H.

Thursday, we complete set-up and be ready for rehearsal with the faculty and students that afternoon after school.

THANK YOU to everyone who helped with set-up today!

73 de KS1G

ARISS Scheduling Update

The ARISS contact for LARG and LCPS has been scheduled for Tuesday at 1101 EST.

If you’re able to help with any of these periods please contact Steve KS1G or Paulson KG4TIH ASAP.

DateStartEndDescription
2019-10-221530TBDTransport equipment
2019-10-231530TBDSetup – Wiring & Radio
Must end before 2000
2019-10-2409001530Setup – A/V
2019-10-2415301700Dress Rehearsal
2019-10-28TBD1130Final preparations
2019-10-281151Monitor contact with other school
2019-10-290700TBDFinal setup and preparations
2019-10-29TBDProgram Start
2019-10-291101Contact!
2019-10-291111Estimated LOS
2019-10-291200TBDTear down and pack up