After my experience in the 2020 June VHF contest, I decided to participate again this year with a better setup and more dedicated effort as a Single Operator Portable (SOP) station. After searching for good campsites around eastern Kansas, I booked a campsite at Fall River State Park (POTA K-2338) which is around 70 miles west of Wichita. This put me in a rural area with an open and secluded campsite to set up a mini Field Day operation for the contest right on the shore of Fall River Lake.
After going back and forth on plans for Field Day this year, I decided to do it as a satellite-only operation from Elk City State Park to double dip on my goal to activate all Kansas State Parks on satellites. I reserved one of the campsites right on the shore of the Elk City Reservoir which gave me a decent horizon around, although there was some terrain north of me facing away from the reservoir. I planned a 1B KS – Battery operation for the event.
After the nearly three hour drive down from Kansas City on Saturday, I got to the campsite around 2pm or 3pm and quickly set up my tent. The RV/camper section of the campsite was packed full, but the tent area where I set up was mostly empty. This was nice because it allowed me to operate without annoying any neighbors with my passes throughout the day. Unfortunately, I was too late to make some of the early FM satellite passes of the day, so I prepared for a long list of linear transponder satellites. My goal for this Field Day was to 1) activate the park for Parks on the Air, 2) have fun camping, and 3) get some more practice on the linear transponders. Looking back, I accomplished all three, but not without some frustrations. Additionally, the rules for ARRL Field Day, AMSAT Field Day, and POTA meant three separate logs that were all counted differently.
I’ve wanted to give a VHF contest a go for awhile, it never seemed like I could have a workable station for real weak signal VHF being an apartment dweller. With all my travel plans canceled this summer due to COVID-19 and plenty of time to experiment, I figured I might as well clear a few weekends to test a portable VHF setup and then work the ARRL June VHF Contest. I decided I’d largely use equipment I already had which meant entering the contest as Single Operator Portable (SOP) with only 5w.
Over the past few years, my brother and I have been volunteering with the ARRL to help lead the Collegiate Amateur Radio Initiative. Our efforts have mostly revolved around hosting a booth at Hamvention and leading forums at Hamvention and HamCation. Additionally, we introduced and organized the Collegiate QSO Party and have been helping to manage the CARI Facebook group.
Based on discussion with various college clubs, we’ve decided to try a new monthly webinar allowing a different college/university club can present a club event, project, or other activity. We also are encouraging the participants to ask questions and engage in discussion; our goal is to help clubs work together to strengthen collegiate amateur radio.
We held our first call on January 14, and Case Amateur Radio Club presented some of their 2019 activities including a tie-in with the civil engineering department’s surveying class. We’re planning to upload recordings of the webinar to share afterwards – a link to that should be coming soon in the Facebook group.
Although this is directed at college/university amateur radio club officers, we are leaving it open for other interested parties to attend as well. To attend future webinars, please register.
For those who don’t know, my brother and I were both active leaders in collegiate amateur radio while in school. I was Vice President and President of the Rose Tech Radio Club (W9NAA) at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the President of the Ohio University Amateur Radio Club (W8PZS). My brother was President of the Gator Amateur Radio Club (W4DFU). Some of my fondest college memories were events and activities run by the club including annual trips to Hamvention, late night contesting, and antenna experiments.
I encourage hams to check in with the club at the college they attended and see how they can give back; whether it be money, equipment, guidance, or just an extra hand putting up a new dipole, clubs are always in need of help. With administrative challenges becoming more significant for most college clubs, the support and nudging of alumni can be powerful in helping a club get things done. I was lucky to make some great alumni connections through the radio club as well, and those people have been great mentors to me in amateur radio and my career.