2, Issue 4
ARRL Field Day
at Wassamki Springs
Team Participates in 2nd Annual Field Day
Tim Watson, KB1HNZ
Wireless Society of Southern Maine participated in their second annual
Field Day on the weekend of June 23rd - 24th at the Wassamki
Springs Campground, in Scarborough. Even with a few minor setbacks,
which included a broken antenna, and a two hour delay due to a severe
thunderstorm, the WS1SM team beat last year's points total and equaled
the number of QSO's!
Climbs to the Top
from Mt. Washington W1/HA-001
Tim Watson, KB1HNZ
Raising Party at KB1FGF's
On July 8th, WSSM members, Thom Watson W1WMG, and Tim Watson KB1HNZ,
made the trip to the highest point in New England to activate W1/HA-001
for Summits on the Air. Using the club call, they made many contacts on
VHF, while braving hurricane force wind gusts and 35 degree temps.
Diamond CP6AD Trap
Tim Watson, KB1HNZ
early June, several club members helped Dave KB1FGF, install his new HF
vertical antenna. Dave's antenna was mounted on an eight foot
galvanized steel pipe, that was driven about four feet into the ground.
Also installed was a remote antenna switch. Click on the link below to
see more photos from the antenna party.
an interesting QSL featuring a special prefix commemorating the Diamond
Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Tim Watson, KB1HNZ
after publication of our last newsletter, WSSM set up an information
display and operated a special event station at the Gorham Founder's
Festival. This year's festival, being condensed from four days to two,
saw much larger crowds and fine weather. We were visited by many
members , many who helped set up. Roger N1XP, even dropped off some
homebrew QRP transmitters to show off.
Tim Watson, KB1HNZ
current edition of the
Yaesu FT857D is still the smallest HF/VHF/UHF transceiver on the market
that is capable of 100W output. Its an ultra-compact package that packs
many of the bells and whistles you'd expect to find on more expensive,
larger radios. We tested one during the CQWW VHF contest from the
summit of Mt. Megunticook, and were pleased with it's performance.
useful feature that we immediately noticed is the voltage meter,
located on the top right corner of the display. This is especially
useful when running on battery power (which we were). The receiver is
good, but not quite as sensitive as my Icom IC706MKIIG. It also
features a WFM receive, so it can be used to tune FM broadcast stations.
FT857D includes digital signal processing (DSP), which is helpful in
filtering out some noise, but seems to work better on CW than on SSB.
The DSB band pass filter peaks the CW signal while cutting adjacent
interference, improving the overall readability. On SSB, noise can be
improved somewhat to pull out weaker signals, but don't expect the
noise filtering of a full blown base station.
As far as
aesthetics go, the biggest complaint I hear is that the radio has a
very small display. This is true. Some people may even find it
difficult to read, but I didn't find it that bad. The small screen is
efficient and displays exactly what you need to know. It has dot-matrix
style numbers which are a little ugly. One interesting feature is that
you have the option of changing the background color. The large VFO
knob has a really nice feeling, and the rest of the buttons and knobs
are comparable to other rigs of the same size.
Operation of this
radio is menu based, minimizing the need for buttons to perform its
many functions. Don't be intimidated by the menu system or memory
programming, however. It takes a very short time to memorize
operation, and you'll soon find that there's no need for cheat sheets
or constant checking of the manual.
The FT857D also features a
removable head for mobile use, with an optional seperation kit.
Although it is well suited for use in the shack as a base station, this
radio is ideal for backpacking and portable operations. If you factor
in the price, convenience, and features, this rig is tough to beat.
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September 13th - at 7PM-9PM at Wassamki Springs Campground.
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the weekend of July 14-15, Tim Watson KB1HNZ, took part in the IARU HF
Contest, operating portable QRP from Tunbridge, Vermont.
the Editor's Desk
come across these articles all the time about the latest record
breaking ham radio contester, with his big amplifier, stacked beams and
perfect QTH, located on the slope of a panoramic ridge that just
happens to also be in a rare grid square. Unfortunately this does not
apply to me... or anyone I know, for that matter.
Most of us
don’t have tens of thousands to spend on equipment or move to a QTH
that can only be reached by Humvee, so that brings us to the question
of the day: “Can we still contest?”
The politically correct
answer that we’re provided is: “The rules of a ham radio contest are
primarily designed to give operators a chance to compete on an even
basis, and have fun doing it.” ... or, my personal favorite: "the most
important thing is not to win but to take part, just as the most
important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The
essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
Wait. That’s about the Olympics. Never mind.
They tell us that
the reason these operators have such monumental scores has nothing to
do with their 200' towers, stacked beams, broadcast studios and $14,000
radios. Instead, it is entirely because of their godlike operating
skills. But, in place of detailing what some of these skills actually
might entail, we're flashed a few more pictures of their beautiful “shacks,”
complete with marble counters, twin 32" monitors, and a full service
Disgusted, I decided to challenge myself even further
this month, and operate a contest QRP, (was I out of my mind?) just to
prove that my own skills are, in fact, better. I think I even insanely
said “I’ll show them!”
Working without the benefit of all that
crap means you have to contest the old fashioned way. In other words,
you have to earn it! So, I set up my BuddiPole in the Tunbridge
Fairgrounds in a valley somewhere in Vermont and operated QRP
during the IARU HF World Championships.
In the first hour I was
totally frustrated. I wanted to throw my microphone at somebody, but
thankfully there was no one around. I realized that I had to
learn new ways of working a station, getting that multiplier, and
busting that pileup.
After a while I became less frustrated
because a couple of things I was doing started to work, and I began
putting stations in the log. And at the end of the first day I figured
out a lot about what the propagation had to be in order to work a
station, how loud a signal had to be on the S-meter before they could
hear me, and whether or not tail-ending, or calling off-frequency
worked best. By the end of the second day I was really in a groove,
clicking off several QSO’s a minute. I had found new ways of working
stations and felt comfortable doing it, which is why I felt like some
learning had actually taken place.
I’m not sure if what I did
proved anything in the end. Operator X will still get more QSO’s than
the total number of licensed amateurs in the world, and I’ll have
sunburn... But, at least I earned it. Maybe that quote about the
Olympics is true afterall.