WS1SM Team to Participate in 9th Field Day from Wassamki Springs

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by Pete Donovan, K1SK

Members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine are set to participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise June 22-23 at Wassamki Springs Campground, 56 Saco Street, Scarborough.

The public is encouraged to attend on Saturday, June 22, from 2p.m. to 8 p.m.

For more than 100 years, amateur radio – sometimes called ham radio – has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster, all without needing a cell phone or the internet. Field Day demonstrates ham radio’s ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network. More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day last year.

“Field Day is part emergency communications exercise, and part competition, where we accumulate points and test our operating skills against other clubs and individuals around the U.S. and Canada,” says club Vice President, CJ Carlsson, of Portland, ME.
During the event, participants will try to earn points by meeting specific goals as outlined by the American Radio Relay League. Some of these include handling and delivering messages, hosting educational activities, and making contacts with other amateurs through various methods, such as voice, telegraphy, satellites, and digital technology.

“This is a fun event that gives us an opportunity to share our passion with the community and to improve our operating skills, all while getting everyone out there and on the air,” says Carlsson.

Field Day, which has taken place annually since 1933, is designed to test radio operators’ ability to quickly setup and operate portable stations in emergency conditions.

“The entire operation will exclusively use emergency power sources like batteries, or solar energy, in order to simulate how things would be during a catastrophic event,” says club member, Tim Watson, of Saco. “The public should be aware that in the event of an emergency, we’re ready to assist in any way that we can. While people may have the impression that cell phones and other technologies are good enough, we stand by as a trained pool of experienced radio operators to provide the vital communication services others may not. Hams have provided emergency communications during hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, blackouts, and other disasters, where more complex and fragile communications systems, such as cell networks, have failed or become overloaded.”

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The Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Emergency Communications Team provides communications support to the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency and members also support the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN operations in Gray, ME.

“Since 2014, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, using call sign WS1SM, has recorded the highest Field Day score in Maine and hopes to finish on top again in 2019,” says Carlsson. “The public is welcome to attend the event and if anyone is interested in learning more about the hobby, we’ll be glad to help.”

Anyone can become a licensed amateur radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100. The Wireless Society of Southern Maine is ready to help anyone get involved and licensed right here in Scarborough. For more information about Field Day, and amateur radio in general, please visit: http://www.mainehamradio.com

2018 Field Day at Wassamki Springs

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The Spiderbeam with WS1SM banner on a guy wire

2018 Field Day was a tremendous success, and a lot of fun! Special thanks to the Hillock family of Wassamki Springs Campground for hosting us for the 8th consecutive year!

UPDATE: The 2018 ARRL Field Day results are in, and WS1SM captured 1st place in Maine for the fifth consecutive year. In addition, we finished 14th overall in the 3A category, cracking the top 20 for the 2nd time in 2 years. Congratulations to everyone on our team for a job well done! Click here to read the QST article.

Operating twice around the clock, in the 3A category, we captured 1,730 Bonus Points, and 6,968 QSO points, which is a new record for WS1SM. The biggest areas of improvement this year were in SSB QSOs (+500), and in the bonus points (+200) over last year.

Setup began Friday morning, as Rick K1OT and helpers met to raise his 40′ tower and antennas. Later in the evening Tim KB1HNZ and Eric KC1HJK setup the Spiderbeam tribander.

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Rick K1OT (L) and Joe K1JB (R) in the CW Trailer

On-air activities began at 2PM on Saturday, and continued through 2PM Sunday. All the radios ran on 100% battery power, with the exception of a handful of QSO that Charlie W1CPS made on solar power.

Frank KR1ZAN and Steve AA1HF served as coaches for a Get on the Air (GOTA) station, which operated concurrently in the Wassamki Springs Ham Shack, which is located in the former camp store. There were 6 participants who made QSOs!

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Waylon KC1HJN and Steve AA1HF hunt for hidden transmitters

The educational activity for this year was Radio Direction Finding, using various methods, including a tape measure yagi, rotatable loop, and attenuator.

Peter KC1HBM, invited Scarborough Town Councilor, Jean-Marie Caterina, who spent some time talking to participants and got a tour of the Field Day and GOTA operations.

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Scarborough Town Councilor, Jean-Marie Caterina visits the WS1SM Field Day site and also checks out the GOTA station (seen above).

Special thanks to everyone who brought food to the pot luck supper on Saturday evening, especially to Sheila Martin, W1DXX, who brought lots of pizza, and Mike Mooney, who brought ribs and pulled pork!

Tim KB1HNZ composed or replied to 23 messages, which were transmitted via Winlink on HF. He also operated some digital modes over night on Saturday.

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Frank KR1ZAN successfully makes a satellite QSO

The CW operators equaled last year’s total, and Charlie W1CPS came just 2 QSOs short of his previous best on 6 meters.

We also copied the Field Day bulletin, thanks to the efforts of Frank KR1ZAN and Ryan KB1YTR.

Frank, with the help of Waylon KC1HJN, also helped us get a satellite QSO during the last SO50 pass of the day.

Field Day was a massive team effort, and it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s help. Great job everyone!

SKYWARN Recognition Day 2017

SRD_2017 Waylon McDonald KC1HJN (background) operates the HF station, while Eric Emery KC1HJK operates the VHF station at NWS Gray, ME

by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

On Saturday, December 2nd, the WX1GYX team participated in SKYWARN Recognition Day from the National Weather Service Forecast Office, in Gray, ME. Activities started at 8pm on Friday evening (0000Z Saturday), and continued for 24 hours.

Now in its 19th year, SKYWARN Recognition Day is a popular on-air activity that was developed by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the National Weather Service. During the day SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world.

SKYWARN Recognition Day 2017 was a fun event and perhaps our best so far! WX1GYX made 315 QSOs in total, on 4 different bands, including 44 different states, and 29 different NWS Offices/SKYWARN Clubs!

Operators included: K1GJY, KB1HNZ, KC1HJK, KC1HJN, & N1KTA

Among the 5 operators, there were three returning and two newly licensed hams, who were participating for the first time.

Thanks to everyone who got on the air during SRD, and also to those who contributed throughout the year!

WSSM at the South Portland Fire Department Open House

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by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

On Saturday, October 14th, WSSM members, including Rory McEwen KB1PLY, Charlie Shepard W1CPS, and Tim Watson KB1HNZ, set up a display table and a portable HF station during the annual South Portland Fire Department Open House.

The event, which took place at the Western Avenue Fire Station, featured fire trucks on display, including a fully extended ladder unit, an ambulance, demonstrations of the jaws of life, food, activities, and more.

The Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA), and several local businesses also had displays. There were lots of kids having fun, climbing in the trucks, and the many families were enjoying the beautiful fall day.

The WSSM team setup an HF radio, using a BuddiPole antenna, for on-air activities, and made a good demonstration of the hobby for the curious onlookers. There were also some other radios on display, including an Icom IC706MKIIG, which is used during SOTA and other portable operations, as well as some of the other equipment used, including SLA batteries of various sizes. Intro to ham radio handouts and club information was also available.

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The highlights of the day occurred when mascots from two of the local sports teams stopped by to play a little radio.

 

Maine SET is October 28th

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by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

On Saturday, October 28th, members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine Emergency Communications Team, which meets monthly in Windham, will participate in a statewide drill to test their communications capabilities between various different sites throughout Cumberland County and the state. The drill, known as the Simulated Emergency Test, or SET, is an annual exercise, sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, which encourages amateur radio operators from across the country test their communications skills during a mock disaster.

During the SET, hams are required to quickly establish communications between various Emergency Operations Centers and exchange formal messages and traffic, which contain requests for supplies, medical or weather information, or other things that may be of importance during a disaster. They do this via voice, Morse code, and digital two-way radio, on bands ranging from HF to UHF, as required.

“The scenario for this year is an ice storm, which is a real possibility in Maine,” says Rory McEwen, of Saco. Rory is president of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, which provides communications support for Cumberland County EMA, as well as the National Weather Service. “The SET tests how we respond during large-scale disasters, where commercial infrastructure has failed. In these events, hams are often the only source of communications.”

“The hams in our club are a dedicated group,” adds Thom Watson, one of the founders of the club. “Amateur radio has a long history of volunteerism. Sure, it’s a hobby and there’s some fun things that we do like mountaintop expeditions or competitive events like contesting, but so many like to stay sharp by providing support for charity walks and community events, and drills like this, so they’ll be ready to offer their time and expertise when disaster strikes.”

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine is participating in the SET for the third time. “The first time we participated was only a few days after we formally established a partnership with the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency, so we weren’t very organized yet,” says McEwen. “but last year went really well, and we have a solid plan and a list of goals to accomplish for 2017.”

After the event, the participants will do an assessment to determine how well they performed and look for areas to improve on. “There’s always new things to learn and ways to improve,” says McEwen. “But the important thing to know is that we’ll be ready to help.”

For more information about amateur radio, or the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, please visit their website at:

http://www.mainehamradio.com