Sunday, June 27, 2010

Field Day Fun and Other Thoughts

Well, our annual Field Day event is over for another year. Nobody was injured (it's happened), no major equipment problems at any of the stations on site (a few "nail-biters", though), we all had a great time, and my friend The Wandering Minstrel even stopped by Friday while I was setting up. We had several elected representatives of local government show up, and the Police as usual stopped by to see how we were doing this year. One of our club members is retired LAPD, so we always have both the LAPD and Port of Los Angeles Police drop by to say hi. Our "Get On The Air" (GOTA) station was a huge hit this year, due to us having it on the grounds of the Fort MacArthur Military Museum, and a lot of the visitors there took the short walk "up the hill" to drop by and see some serious Amateur Radio operations. We previously had to have the GOTA station in the immediate vicinity of the other stations to be inside the 1000' diameter circle the rules specify, but this year, due to some construction at the North end of the area we use, we had to move the entire operation several hundred feet to the South, which put Fort Mac inside the circle, and they graciously allowed us to operate there.
BTW, if you live in the Los Angeles area and like Military historical things, please drop by and visit the Fort MacArthur Military Museum. It's a trip though the history of the defense of the Port of Los Angeles, from 1910 through the Nike missile era. And if your historical bent runs more to things nautical, please drop by the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, another time capsule of POLA history, and the host of my radio club
We ran class 4A this year, which means up to 4 simultaneous transmitters, and running without "commercial" power. I don't have the final number of contacts made, or the total score, but I made 35 satellite contacts, an all-time record for me on Field Day. You get a 100-point bonus for making the first contact, and then any other contacts count as 1 point each. My previous "best" was 5 contacts, so I kind of ground my previous performances into dust! This was the first year that everything I used worked "As Advertised", so it was well worth the time I spent on it since June 1st to hammer out all the bugs I've experienced the last several years, and really learn how to use the equipment I have, both the stuff I've had for years, and the stuff I just built. Just having all the right "Black Boxes", cables, and software doesn't mean you know how to use them, and how they interact with each other. You might be well-versed in theory, and be able to explain exactly what all your gear does, but until you've used it on a regular basis, you don't really grok it. Just like I know people with $3000 "Race Guns" that can barely hit a target at 10 yards with them, and I've seen people in some of the training classes I've taken who had old, well-used, out-of-favor firearms, and they could work magic with them, I know people with the latest $10,000 Amateur Radio rigs who can barely turn them on, and people with gear made from cast-off and WWII surplus parts that are superb operators.
So now is it time to put the gear away for another year? Nope, I'm going to weather-proof what needs protecting, replace a few connectors on some control cables with better quality ones so they don't cause the random, hard to trace down 'weirdness' I had Saturday morning, and leave most of it set up for continued use.
Oh, and I'm going to spend more time at the range. Pounding away for the last month on this particular radio setup made me realize that unless I train with and use my defensive firearms on a regular basis, those skills, too, will atrophy.
And I don't want that.


  1. Glad it went well, and hopefully some good press will come out of this for y'all!


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