SOUTH HILLS ARC FIELD DAY '2000 - THE STORY

South Hills ARC Field Day '2000 - The Story

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South Hills ARC Field Day '2000 - The Story
By Jim Mounts - KA3EBX

They say lightning never strikes twice, but I think it's fair to say that hot summer days sure do. Despite the fact it was almost 10 degrees cooler than last year, it was still too hot for my tastes. Our original plan for this year's event was to renovate the camper that Ken - WB3JOB donated to the club. Unfortunately, we just simply didnít have enough time to pull it off. As an alternative, we decided to rent a 25' mobile camper.

I asked Jack - K3DMY to help with picking up the camper. The plan was for me to drive Jack - K3DMY to the camper rental office Friday afternoon so he could pick up the camper, and then I would follow him back to the site in my car. As it turned out, Jack had to drive me to the rental office because somehow in all the excitement I lost my glasses and couldn't see to drive. After what seemed to be an eternity at the rental center, we finally got on our way to the site, with Jack driving the camper and with me tagging closely behind, squinting my eyes, so I could focus on the rear of the camper. I sure missed those glasses! I bet Jack laughed each time he looked at me in the side view mirror.

We turned onto a back road and got within a couple miles of the site when all of a sudden Jack hit the brakes. I pulled off the road, jumped out and asked Jack what was wrong. Jack pointed at the railroad overpass just ahead. It didn't take a mathematician to realize that a 12' high camper won't fit under a 10' high overpass. Jack had to turn around and come in from the other end through Canonsburg.

We got the camper at the site at about 5:00 PM Friday. Mark - N8UVQ was waiting for us and took command of the camper while I drove Jack back to work to get his motorcycle so he could go home. I then dashed home to shower and meet my daughter and ex-wife at our local high school to watch our daughter perform in a dance program. Several of the guys met at Hoss's in Canonsburg for our monthly get-together. I managed to make it out to the site around 9:30 PM Friday to relieve Mark from his post. Mark then drove back to his home in Wellsburg, WV and began packing his gear for Field Day and would return in the morning. My daughter and I slept in the camper that night and I got up early and began setting up things. Shortly afterward, my daughter and I drove out to Crafton to pick up the VE test materials. Once I arrived back at the site, Mark pulled in and we began unloading Mark's vehicle and going over the VE material. It was around 8:00 AM when a vehicle slowed down and a fellow in it asked us if this was the place where the exam was being held. We said yes it was, but the exam wasn't going to be held until 12:00 noon. He didn't seem to mind and decided to wait. The fellow was Ed Lechner, and he had driven all the way from Ligoneer to take his Technician class. You know what they say; the early bird catches the passing grade.

I decided to take a quick run home and pack my gear. When I returned, Jack had arrived and was setting up his station in the back of his Lumina van. Mark and I were headed back to my
place to grab an 8' table and lawn chairs. Just as we pulled out, Karl - WE3Y gave us a call on the SHARC-1 Repeater telling us he was on his way up to the site. Karl offered to meet Mark and I at my place to pick up the chairs & table. We loaded the table into Karl's truck and the chairs into Mark's vehicle and headed back to the site. By the time we got there, the time was around 11:30 AM. A couple more people showed up for the exam, so we decided to get started on passing out the 605's. While Mark, Karl and I concentrated on the exam session, Jack and my daughter, Sasha, continued to set up the Field Day site. Sasha hosted the club's information booth again this year. We moved the information booth closer to the entrance this year so Sasha could greet visitors and have them sign the club's guestbook. This year we had a total of 20 visitors, which exceeded last years count of 13.

We had 6 candidates show up to take exams, as opposed to only 1 last year. South Hills ARC wishes to congratulate the following individuals who passed their exams:

Caroline Davidson - KC8OZZ, Weirton WV, Element 2 (Tech written), No-code Tech.
Thomas Davidson - KC8PAA, Weirton WV, Element 2(Tech written), No-code Tech.
Edward Lechner III - KB3FGM, Rector PA, Element 2 (Tech written), No code-Tech.
Malcolm McDonald - KA3YTS, Mt. Lebanon PA, Element 2 (Tech written) Tech w/HF
Nelson Nemes - KB3FGO, Washington PA , Element 2 (Tech written), No-code Tech.

All candidates were offered refreshments and given a SHARC club pen in appreciation for testing with us.

I want to personally thank the following VE's who assisted me with the exam session:

Karl Frankenstein - WE3Y (Extra Class)
Mark Phillips - N8UVQ (Extra Class)

VE Processing Statistics:
Date of exam: 6/24/2000
Mailed to ARRL: 6/29/2000
Received by ARRL: 7/3/2000
Processed by FCC: 7/8/2000

Once the session was over, we went over to help Jack with the general set-up, but Jack had everything already under control. Jack had set-up the canopy over our operating station and ran all of the power cords. All we had to do now was put up the antennas, plug in our gear and go on the air. Jack put on his climbing belt and headed up the tower with a couple spools of nylon cord. He attached a wrench to each end of the two cords and lowered the cords down to us on the ground. We tied the cords to the center of each G5RV dipole and hoisted the dipoles up the tower. One dipole was set up as an inverted "V" off of the front of the tower and the second was set-up as an inverted "V" off the back of the tower. Last year, we had an inverted "V" off the front of the tower and a sloper off the back. Mark, Karl, Nelson and Jack secured the legs of each dipole with nylon cord.

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Jack initially strung up a vertical wire, but then later changed over to a end-fed horizontal wire and used a home-brew tuner. This year, while hooking up my station, I made sure I connected up everything right to my rig. Unlike last year, the only signals that I wanted from my rig were RF signals and not smoke signals.

Mark was already on the air by the time I finally got my station up and running at 2:30 PM. Jack had us both beat and was operating 40 meter CW. I started out on 20 meters. What a pile-up! I couldn't find a quiet spot anywhere on the band. I heard stations on top of other stations. It didn't take long for me to get frustrated. I worked several stations and then decided I was going to wait a while and let the band thin out a bit.

Around 5:00, Sasha and I headed out to the store to pick up some last minute supplies. When we got back, I was pleasantly surprised to see Ed Lechner on the air making contacts. This is what it's all about! Here's a guy who drove all the way in from Ligoneer to take his exam; passes his exam and gets on the air the very same day! Plus, he's making points for the club! Way to go ED!

Around 5:30, I fired up the grill. Sasha helped me with the cooking. We cooked hot dogs, hamburgers, and kolbassi. Jack brought a big dish of macaroni salad (or "Marconi" salad as he put it) and we had lunch in the comforts of a nice cool camper. We had several visitors stop by from time to time. Some were hams and some were not.

Shortly after 6PM, Jeff - WB3JFS arrived and relieved Mark. Jeff went right to work on 15 & 80 meter CW and continued to work CW stations until well past midnight before heading home. I rejoined Jeff around that time and continued operating on 15 meter phone. By this time, the bands had thinned out a bit, but another problem was cropping up; it was becoming rather windy. The wind kept lifting the center of the canopy off the pole. Several times I thought it was going to be ripped away completely and carried off. I also think the bug's were having a Field Day of there own, despite the fact we had lit a couple bug buckets. A little later, a police cruiser stopped by and both Jack and I chatted with the officer about the purpose of Field Day and made a few contacts while he was there. I continued to operate until 3:30AM and then I headed off to the camper to sleep. Jack was still going at it when I finally fell asleep.

I woke up around 8:00 Sunday morning and began working 15 phone again. Jack woke up shortly afterward and began operating again. After Sasha woke up, she wanted to try working a few stations. So I went through the procedures with her and she proceeded to work 8 stations. She had a great big smile on her face and Daddy was very proud of her.

It wasn't long before Mark pulled up and got back on the air again. The three of us continued to operate until the end of the event (2PM). Bill Hinds - W3HEA stopped by and gave us a tour of his radio set-up in his van. It was very impressive!

Once the event was over, we packed up our gear, lowered the antennas and cleaned out the camper so we could return it to the rental center. Mark followed Jack back to Jack's place and then I brought Jack back to the site.

I then followed Jack in my car as he drove the camper back to the rental center. I later drove Jack back to his place and we talked for a while about the events that took place at this year's Field Day. It's amazing the things you can do when you have your glasses!

So how well did we do this year? Well, we exceeded last year's score by well over 600 points. I would greatly attribute our higher score to the high number of CW contacts made this year (225) as compared to last year (10).

So now that SHARC Field Day '2000 is another page in the history books, I 'd like to offer the following thanks:

Special thanks go out to the following individuals for helping with the set-up:

Karl Frankenstein - WE3Y
Jack Kelvington - K3DMY
Sasha Mounts
Jim Mounts - KA3EBX
Nelson Nemes - KB3FGO
Mark Phillips - N8UVQ

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following South Hills ARC Field Day '2000 operators:

Karl Frankenstein - WE3Y
Jack Kelvington - K3DMY
Ed Lechner - KB3FGM
Sasha Mounts
Mark Phillips - N8UVQ
Jim Mounts - KA3EBX
Jeff Yanko - WB3JFS

Special thanks go out to the following individuals for helping with the tear down:

Jack Kelvington - K3DMY
Mark Phillips - N8UVQ
Jim Mounts - KA3EBX
Sasha Mounts

I also want to thank Todd Anderson for later helping me transport all of the remaining Field Day items back to my place with his truck.

On behalf of the club, I would especially like to thank CTEMA Coordinator, Jim Milbower for allowing us once again to use the Burnside Road site and for making us feel at home. We can't thank you enough!

You know, no matter how hard you plan or organize, there are always unexpected things that will pop up and place obstacles in your way. But then, that's the entire purpose of Field Day isn't it? I mean, if every Field Day were a sunny 75 degrees without high winds and rain or if everything went as smooth as silk, what would be the challenge or purpose? Most disasters or emergencies occur with little or no warning. It's how you deal with the unexpected that's important.

I want to commend everyone who volunteered their time and support toward this event and faced the challenges head-on. I can proudly say it was a pleasure and honor to work with each and every one of you and be a part of the SHARC Team.


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