June 23rd & 24th, 2012
Amateur Radio Field Day is held at the Fall River - Freetown
State Forest Ranger station. There is a large field we pulled the
HAMCOW into, and swiftly deployed our array of antennas
for the weekend communications exercise.
W2DAN & N1JOY unload antennas from the roof of the HAMCOW
Next big item off the roof is the aluminum tower.
N1JOY attaches the center portion of the HF Yagi to the HAMCOW rotor mast.
While N1JOY bolts on the center section, W2DAN readies the director and reflector
segments of the 5-elemant tri-band HF Yagi. This huge antenna stores in 3 easily
assembled sections on the HAMCOW roof and takes 5 minutes to assemble.
Since the HAMCOW Hauler GMC 2500HD truck will not be going anywhere during
the weekend, we kept the hitch connected, but set the jack support to provide
a solid base for the pneumatic tower.
N1VDK carrying a large umbilical cable.
N1VDK unrolls the HAMCOW tower umbilical cable. Various umbilical
cables are between 50 and 150 ft. long, and allow speedy connections
to the antennas of multiple cables. Coax, rotor controls, and DC power
can be connected in seconds.
N1PMB connects the umbilical cable according to the
Coax Matrix taped to the patch panel door. The Coax Matrix
identifies which ports are connected to which radios
and simplifies the hookup in the field.
At the rear of the HAMCOW are two 25 ft. flagpoles.
This one will support the 2 Meter APRS antenna along with
The HAMCOW sports a Wil-Burt locking pneumatic tower. This
locking tower allows all of the air to be released while it is
erected and it will stay in place.
W2DAN unlocks the tower sections in series to telescope
the tower while N1JOY watches things are not getting hung
up such as guy ropes or coax cables.
Here you can see just how light the aluminum auxiliary tower is. W2DAN
easily carries it across the field to where it will be erected .
Meanwhile, N1VDK starts pounding in the base plate stakes.
The 2nd HF Yagi assembles in minutes with pre-installed
U-clamps and wing nuts to hold the elements on. Color
coded positions insure a perfect install every time.
W2DAN & N1VDK position the tower on the base plate and
insert the hinge pins.
Next the tower gets propped up on the swing out leg to hold
it in the perfect position to install the 4-element HF Yagi.
With the help of a step ladder, W2DAN can attach the HF Yagi to the rotor mast with
two U-bolts, then attach a dedicated umbilical cable for the coax and rotor wiring.
VIDEO: N1JOY & W2DAN stand up the Auxiliary HAMCOW tower with KB1JBC
assisting on the guy rope.
The auxiliary tower ready to operate. Three heavy guy ropes keep
it stable even in windy conditions.
The 5kW generator and auxiliary fuel tank were set up pretty early so we could
get the air conditioning running and keep the operating position cooled down.
It also gave us a cool refuge while setting up once the hot sun made an appearance.
Next we broke out the air cannon tennis ball antenna launcher. This launcher
can easily hurl a tennis ball filled with 8oz. of lead sinkers and RTV silicone
over 70+ ft. tall trees while pulling 60lb. test fishing line. A modest gell cell
battery and portable air compressor provide the propellant. This is used
to install our wire antennas high overhead.
The tennis ball is pushed into the barrel with a length of PVC pipe,.
Then the air chamber is filled with compressed air. The large fishing reel
stores several hundred feet of 60lb. test fishing line.
N1JOY seeks out the perfect launching point to get the line over
the highest trees he can find. The line is launched from the woods
into the field, then a light rope is tied to the fishing line, and the antenna
support rope is then pulled aloft and tied to a tree.
Release of the high speed tennis ball has fishing line
paying out quite rapidly. Once the ball clears the trees and
the line is attached to the antenna support rope, the reel
winds the line back up quickly and easily.
Here is the tennis ball after clearing the tall pine
tree on its way to the ground.
VIDEO: N1JOY using the pneumatic antenna launcher.
N1YCQ, KB1JBC, & N1PMB prepare a 160 Meter Carolina Windom to be hoisted
aloft to the tree tops. This antenna was used for the GOTA (Get On The Air)
N1PMB & KB1JBC set up the full sized 40 Meter vertical in just a few minutes.
The vertical element is 2 pieces, and the ground radials wind up on the base
for rapid deployment.
We're ready to operate!
WB1HGA doing CW on 20 Meters.
KB1G made the trip from Pawtucket to join us and knock out a
bunch of CW contacts.
We had plenty of ARRL pamphlets and club packets on hand.
Our APRS Station was also capable of sending e-mail via WinLink.
KA1BZE stayed the duration and knocked out a bunch of SSB contacts.
KB1JBC operating the GOTA station.
K9HI, our ARRL Section Manager, came by with a proclamation for
"Amateur Radio Week" signed by the Massachusetts Governor.
Left to Right: N1PMB, WB1HGA, KA1BZE, N1VDK, W2DAN, N1JOY, KB1G, & KB1JBC
The "Amateur Radio Week" governors proclamation.
And what kind of Field Day would it be without great food? Here is N1JOY adding a
few calories and some additional flavor to some great tasting steaks.
Thanks to KA1BZE for providing the beef!
N1RHS serving slabs of delicious lasagna made by his wife Dale.
Our educational lesson of the day was N1JOY demonstrating the high power
Ham Radio WiFi station used to connect the HAMCOW to the Internet during
the 2012 Vineyard DX-Pedition. This gear gave us a 20.5 mile WiFi link!
Left to Right: KB1VXF, N1VDK, N1JOY, N1PMB, & KB1JBC
KB1JBC set up home for the weekend in his tent.
The night sky was gorgeous and clear.
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