Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jan 30 Winter Field Day Outing

We took advantage of the Society for the Preservation of Amateur Radio (SPAR) sponsored Winter Field Day on Jan 30th to get outdoors and operate in "other than normal conditions". Had breakfast with the normal crowd at 0700 then stopped back by the house to pick up some stuff and fill a thermos with coffee. It was already about 61 degrees at 0800 this morning and it was raining like the dickens. Just a miserable day to do anything outdoors but we decided to press on with our activites. Afterall, in the event of an emergency or a disaster, we're not going to be able to pick the weather! So I headed over to the MWR office at Hunter Army Airfield to pick up the key to our reserved shelter out at the Lott's Island Recreation Area. Got over to the island around 0930 and began to setup my radio station. Did I mention it was raining? But at least it was warm. Before anyone else showed up I had my Kenwood TS-440 powered up and a 20 meter dipole antenna strung up between two trees at about 40 feet. Shortly, Mark-KA4CID and his son Nicholas showed up as did Matthew-KG4NKE. Eventually Philip-KA4KOE and his son Jordan arrived as did Kevin-KW4B. Philip set up his military manpack and his bumper mounted vertical antenna. Philip and I began to operate and started racking up several contacts all over Europe on 20 meters. The radios and antennas seemed to be working fine. The field day contest started at noon and we started making contacts with other winter field day stations from Florida up to Canada, out to Texas and Arizona, and all thru the upper midwest where we talked to a guy in Duluth, Minnesota that was operating in an ice fishing hut where it was -14 degrees! Bob-KG6MUQ stopped by for a while as did Lester-KF4JBQ.

Peter-KJ4FAW arrived and brought a nice lunch of bar-b-que sandwiches and Brunswick Stew for us all. Boy did that hit the spot. Thanks Peter! Once we finished with chow, Peter set up his hombrew buddi-pole antenna and began to operate on his Icom 706. That antenna was no more than 10 feet off the ground but it was reaching out all over the upper midwest and Canada!
We also had a chance to see Kevin's new homebrew air powered "line launcher". Wow, he launched the projectile over about an 80 foot tree with just 30 psi. Awesome contraption.

Well as the afternoon wore on the temperature began to drop dramatically and the wind began to pick up. We went from t-shirts to coats, hats, and gloves. Total of a 20 degree drop from 0930 to 1630. Cold and wet but we hung in there. Started to get dark so we packed everything back up, cleaned up the shelter, and headed our seperate ways. I never get tired of setting up and operating a station in a new location with minimal resources and talking all over the world on 100 watts and a piece of wire.

Started New Technician License Class

Well we started our first amateur radio license class of the year on Jan 28. Kevin-KW4B and I are teaching again and Tom-KG3Z is assisting. We've got 12 students. Wow, our biggest class yet. A great group of people from all walks of life. Everyone seemed motivated and genuinely interested in the material. In session #1 we covered a "Welcome to Amateur Radio" and then jumped right into "Radio and Electronics Fundamentals". Everyone was able to follow along very nicely. Looking forward to next week when we'll continue the electronics fundamentals and move on to "Operating Station Equipment".

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jan 23 2010 Statewide Georgia ARES Meeting

Steve-K4SDJ and I took a trip to Forsythe, GA for the annual statewide Georgia ARES meeting. Steve picked me up around 0515 and we hit the road stopping in Dublin to have some breakfast at the Craker Barrell. We got to the Goergia Public Safety Training Center around 0900 and the sessions began at 1000. It was a full agenda of updates from the D-Star project, NWS, GEMA Director, and others. Got to see some of my Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief buddies and meet some of the other ARES members. Got some things in the works to possibly extend the Peach State Intertie over here to the coast. It was a productive meeting. Steve and I hit the road around 1630 to head back to Savannah with another stop in Dublin for dinner at the Craker Barrell. We love the Craker Barrell! Had a great day spending some time with Steve.