SMARC Sparks Online Magazine
After Action Report

Ten local area amateur radio operators participated in Winter Field Day (WFD) that was held 24 - 26 January 2020 at the Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center, Nanjemoy, MD. Participants were:

The overall weekend plan was to play radio, eat, play radio, play radio, eat, sleep, play radio, eat some more, and then maybe play some more radio.

Setup and Operations:

Set-up began on Friday afternoon in a slight drizzle with Charles, Ken (POX), Pam, and Jeff onsite around 1400.

Charles and Jeff put up a Carolina Windom 160 (Special) by selecting two trees about 150 feet apart and using a pneumatic antenna launcher to send the "pucks" over the trees. Being the crack shots that they are, all shots were perfect, going completely over the trees and down to ground without snagging on any limbs. The antenna, when stretched out and tied off, had its center point about 50' above the ground. Jeff also deployed a 2M/70cm Diamond X-50 on a Buddipole mast in a tripod on a picnic table, making the height about 23 feet. He also deployed a roll-up 2M/70cm J-Pole hanging from one of the Buddipole mast's guy ropes at 10 feet, just because.

Ken deployed his *40M-75M-80M linked dipole antenna in an NVIS configuration from his trailer hitch mounted mast. *shameless plug - Ken will be leading a build party for the linked dipole antenna at the 5th Annual Connector Workshop on 26 April 2020. We have 11 builders signed-up so far. If you also want to attend, contact Jeff at [email protected] for more information.

Pam began preparing/coordinating the banquet-esque feasts that were going to be devoured during the breaks from playing radio.

The rains tired of being mainly on the plains in Spain, moved over to Nanjemoy, and baptized the recently installed antennas with a deluge.

However, there were no worries for the Friday night crew as we played radio safely ensconced within the pavilion walls. We waddled over to the radios after the Friday night supper feast to pass the time before the Friday late night feast.

Ken deployed his POX Box with 2M/70cm mobile, HT, and HF radios. He held off on deploying his solar panel until later because of the H2O infestation.

Jeff deployed his table full o' stuff with 2m/70cm mobile, HT with amplifier, and HF radio. Ken made the remark that the HT cabling connecting it to the amplifier, power supply, and computer (for packet operations) made it look like the HT were in intensive care on life support.

Ken and Jeff both made Winlink Winmor HF gateway connections and multiple successful 80M Winmor Peer to Peer (P2P) connections with Jim - WB3KAS in Brandywine, MD.

Jeff was able to make Winlink Packet node connections with the mobile (Kenwood D710) on the Diamond X-50 and with the HT (Kenwood D-72) on the roll-up J-pole. Local repeaters were also accessible.

Ken and Jeff also brushed up on packet "chat" using RMS Simple Terminal in converse mode on VHF.

Then the late-night feast bell rang, and it was off to stuff ourselves.

Before we knew it, it was Saturday. There may have been some sleep in there, but it was not memorable. Kato arrived in time for the Ken and Pam sponsored breakfast gala and also managed to set-up his station with a Ziegu X5105 and Alex Loop antenna between bites of breakfast. Kato was mainly running FT-8 during the weekend.

Bob, Ken (XAF), Joe, Bill, and Steven arrived during the day on Saturday.

Bob took numerous photographs to document the activities of the day and commented that Jeff’s HT on life support was receiving an infusion of electrons.

Ken (XAF) made a number of successful WFD contacts from his vehicle mobile station.

Joe, who was a first-time visitor to the field day site, was given a tour of the facility and talked to the operators of the various stations, getting tips on equipment and station/antenna configuration.

Bill set up his HF station inside the pavilion and hung a large loop antenna from a protruding tree limb about 12' high.

Steven set up his shack-in-a-box station in the pavilion and deployed a linked dipole antenna on a mast at about 25' in an adjacent field.

Most of the bands were devoid of activity until the magic hour of 1400 Local on Saturday. A switch must have been flipped because the bands suddenly became alive with activity. All Nanjemoy operators were using their personal call signs with 1I MDC as the exchange in accordance with WFD rules. The one is the number of transmitters capable of simultaneous use by that call sign's station. The India is for "Inside," which is defined as an inside station location away from home. The other categories are Hotel (for a home station) and Oscar (for an outside station). The MDC is for our ARRL section of Maryland/DC. Since there were five operators in the pavilion, most of us had to use headsets to keep our sanity. To anyone listening, it was a cacophony of "please copy One India, Mike Delta Charlie," "negative, it's Kilo Bravo Three" (not Kilo Papa Three), and "QSL, 73." Every one of the operators made at least one contact, with an average of 30 contacts each.

Because of the din of the operators, the dinner bell had to be replaced with taps-on-shoulders, upon which, the headsets were thrown off and the hams trundled over to the feeding station. We operated into the wee hours of Sunday morning before having to do that sleep thing.

Sunday morning had a nice Sunrise, which prompted Ken to towel off his solar panel and start receiving battery charging photons to replenish the POX box. More operating time ensued before another feast gong caused an interruption to break (the at least four hour) fast.

Station breakdowns started around 1200 Sunday by mutual agreement and we vacated the premises by about 1400 Sunday afternoon.

WFD, filled with frequencies, food, friends, and fun, was deemed a success by all participants!

You should have been there. You missed a great time.

Jeff / KB3SPH