ILLW 2021 from Doubling Point Lighthouse

Steve AA1HF operates 20m SSB

On Saturday, August 21st, the WSSM team activated Doubling Point Lighthouse, in Arrowsic, Maine, for 2021 International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW).

Since the lighthouse is accessed by a single lane dirt road, and can only accommodate about 4 vehicles, the Arrowsic Town Hall was chosen as a meeting place, where participants could park and carpool to the lighthouse. Everyone arrived by 10:00 AM, and soon after, Tim Watson KB1HNZ led the group to the nearby lighthouse, where setup of the stations and antennas began.

Jason W1SFS operates 40m SSB

Club members, including Jason Andrews W1SFS, Dylan Bauer KC1PSD, Steve McGrath AA1HF, Tim Watson KB1HNZ, and Stefania Watson K1GJY, took turns operating HF, on 40m, 17m, and 20m throughout the day using Tim’s Yaesu FT857d, Jason’s Yaesu FT-450, and Steve’s Icom IC-705, along with a variety of antennas, including a BuddiPole rotatable dipole, DX Commander vertical, and a portable loop. All stations ran on battery power.

Stefania K1GJY operates 20m SSB

For 2021, the WSSM team used special event call sign, W1D, for ILLW, and it certainly got some attention on the air!

The band conditions were excellent and the contacts came quick and often. Stefania K1GJY maintained a presence on 20 meters for most of the day, while Jason W1SFS, Steve AA1HF, and Dylan KC1PDS, operated 40 meters with equal success. Later in the afternoon, Dylan and Stefania tried different bands with the Icom IC-705 and loop antenna, and Stefania had a QSO with fellow WSSM member Frank KR5N, in Plano, TX, on 17 meters! Jason worked Rick K1OT, who was mobile, on 40 meters SSB, and Stefania also made several DX contacts on 20 meters SSB, the most notable being a lighthouse in the Azores. The team made over 100 contacts by the time the stations were broken down at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Dylan KC1PDS works 17m SSB

Afterwards, Dylan and his dad, Steve and his wife, Marilyn, and Tim, Stefania, and son, Elliot, all met at the Kennebec Tavern, in nearby Bath, for a nice dinner, before heading back to Southern Maine.

Click here to see pictures of this year’s and previous lighthouse activations.

WSSM Team Activates Mt. Blue State Park (K-2397) for POTA

Jason W1SFS operates 20m SSB

On Sunday, August 1st, members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine (WSSM) activated Mt. Blue State Park, in Weld, Maine, for Parks on the Air (POTA). The team met at a Dunkin Donuts on the corner of Routes 2 and 142, in Dixfield, at about 10:00 AM, to refuel on coffee before venturing to a scenic overlook just a few miles down the road.

View from the overlook

Located in the western foothills, Mt. Blue State Park is Maine’s largest, encompassing almost 8,000 acres. The area is named for the spruce that inhabit the granite slopes of Mt. Blue. The overlook opens to an expansive view of Webb Lake, and Web River, surrounded by hills that are dominated by the 3,187 ft. tall Mt. Blue. It’s a beautiful area to visit, and the weather was nearly perfect, with only small puffy clouds making an appearance now and then throughout the day.

Tim KA1VPU and Brad KC1JMH

The WSSM team, consisting of Jason Andrews W1SFS, Brad Brown Jr. KC1JMH, Tim Watson KB1HNZ, Stefania Watson K1GJY, Rory McEwen KB1PLY, and Tim Welch KA1VPU, made use of picnic tables to setup their stations, which included a Yaesu FT857d connected to a Buddipole configured for 20 meters, and an Icom IC-7000 connected to a 40 meter vertical. Both stations ran on battery power.

Jason W1SFS acquired a special event callsign, W1B, for the activity, and it was popular on the bands! 40 meters was busy throughout the day, and 20 meters came on strong in the afternoon.

“Being the first time using KA1VPU’s Buddipole, we experimented with using the included balun, which requires it to be configured more like a traditional dipole, and then by eliminating the balun, which sees it configured like an off-center fed dipole, with one radiating element longer than the other,” explained Brad Brown KC1JMH. “We found that it worked much better without the balun.”
Stefania K1GJY had quite a run going on 40 meters, and Brad KC1JMH and Jason W1SFS racked up many contacts on 20 meters.

“We had a great time!” says Stefania Watson K1GJY, “and finished the day with over 80 QSOs!”

Stefania works 40m SSB

During the event, operators were mostly calling CQ, but did some searching and pouncing, giving out the POTA designator K-2397, which is assigned to Mt. Blue State Park. They also made a few park-to-park contacts.

Afterwards, the team followed Jason W1SFS, to his parents’ house on Rt. 142, on the Webb River, for an afternoon cookout, before driving back to southern Maine.

This was the second time the WSSM team operated from the state park, the first being a Summits on the Air (SOTA) activation, from the summit of Mt. Blue, in 2014.

ILLW Activation of Doubling Point Lighthouse, August 21st!

Please join us Saturday, August 21st, as we venture to Doubling Point Lighthouse, in Arrowsic, ME, to activate it for International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend (ILLW).

Similar to our recent POTA activation, we’ll setup portable battery-powered HF radios, using free-standing antennas. Since this will be the first ILLW activation from Doubling Point, it does not yet have an ILLW designator assigned, but it will very soon.

Doubling Point Light was built in 1898 on Arrowsic Island on the Kennebec River in Maine. It was one of four lighthouses built that year to provide navigational aid for ships on their way to Bath, “the City of Ships.”

ILLW began in 1998 as the Scottish Northern Lights Award, organized by the Ayr Amateur Radio Group. Usually taking place on the 3rd full weekend in August each year, ILLW attracts over 500 lighthouse entries located in over 40 countries. It is one of the most popular international amateur radio events each year.

Doubling Point only has parking for 4 vehicles, so car-pooling is necessary!

For more information about Doubling Point Lighthouse, and for directions, please click here to visit their website.

A donation to the Friends of Doubling Point Lighthouse is recommended.

ILLW SCHEDULE:

10:00 AM – We’ll meet up at the Arrowsic Town Hall, located at 340 Arrowsic Rd., Arrowsic, ME, where some of us can leave their vehicles, and then drive to the lighthouse.

10:30 – 11:00 AM – Setup HF stations and antennas. We’ll be using special event call sign W1D for the event.

11:10 AM – 3:30 PM – On-air activities.

3:45 PM – Breakdown stations.

Talk-in on 146.580 FM Simplex.

See you there!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

POTA Activation from Mt. Blue State Park, Sunday, August 1st

Please join us Sunday, August 1st as we venture to Mt. Blue State Park in Weld, ME, to activate it for Parks on the Air (POTA).

We will be setting up a couple of portable, battery-powered HF stations, using free-standing antennas. Mt. Blue State Park has the POTA designator, K-2397.

POTA SCHEDULE:

10:00 AM – We’ll meet up at the Dunkin Donuts at the corner of Rt. 2 and Rt. 142, in Dixfield, ME (36 Main Street, Dixfield, ME 04224), and then drive to a scenic overlook located within Mt. Blue State Park, where we’ll setup our stations.

10:30 – 11:00 AM – Setup HF stations and antennas.

11:10 AM – 3:00 PM – On-air activities.

3:15 PM – Begin breakdown of stations.

3:30 PM – We’ll follow Jason W1SFS to his parents’ house on Rt. 142, on the Webb River, for an afternoon cookout.

Talk-in on 146.580 FM Simplex.

See you there!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

Wireless Society to Return to Wassamki Springs for Ham Radio Field Day

Members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine are set to participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise June 26-27 at Wassamki Springs Campground, 56 Saco Street, Scarborough.

The public is encouraged to attend on Saturday, June 26, from 2p.m. to 8 p.m.

“After the pandemic limited us to a much smaller operation last year, with very little public participation, it will be great to have a more traditional Field Day,” said WSSM President, Tim Watson, of Saco. “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.”

During the event, participants try to earn points by meeting specific goals as outlined by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). 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 Watson.

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,” Watson explained. “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.”

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 club Field Day score in Maine and hopes to finish on top again in 2021,” says Watson. “The public is welcome to attend the event and if anyone is interested in learning more about amateur radio, 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

“We’d like to thank the Hillock family, owners of Wassamki Springs Campground, for being such great hosts and providing us with an exceptional facility to setup for Field Day at for meetings throughout the summer.” Please visit: https://wassamkisprings.com/ to find out more about this wonderful campground, located in Scarborough, ME.

WS1SM Team Activates Mt. Agamenticus for Summits on the Air (SOTA)

Mt_Aggie_600_1

by Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

YORK, ME – The WS1SM team ventured to the summit of Mt. Agamenticus on May 19th, meeting for breakfast at Maine Diner, in Wells, before making their way up the mountain. Among those who participated were Greg Dean K1ME, CJ Carlsson W1CJC, Brad Brown KC1JMH, Eric Emery KC1HJK, and myself. It was my second activation from the summit, having been part of the 2013 team, but for the others, it was their first SOTA activation from Mt. Agamenticus (W1/AM-381).

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Greg Dean K1ME (left) operates 20m CW, while Eric Emery KC1HJK (foreground), makes his first HF contact, on 20m SSB

Being a former ski area “The Big A,” Mt. Aggie is more developed than most of the mountains we hike to. There is a summit house, that was once a ski lodge, well groomed hiking trails, a parking area, and remnants of an old T-bar chair lift, among other relics. We set up our stations on a picnic table on the northern side of the clearing at the top.

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CJ Carlsson W1CJC, operates 40m SSB

Among the equipment used were my Yaesu Ft-857d and BuddiPole rotatable dipole, which I used on 14 and 21 MHz, CJ’s Icom IC706, which was paired with a 40m dipole strung in the trees, and various VHF radios. Greg brought a yagi for 144, which made for some interesting contacts, and we also used a TYT TH-9000D and J Pole for 220 MHz. Brad KC1JMH also took the opportunity to try his partially finished QRP kit on the air for the first time.

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A friend stops by

The weather was cloudy and windy at times, but otherwise pretty nice compared to the several days of rain that preceded the expedition. The only rain we experienced was a little bit on the drive toward the mountain, and some during setup, but it didn’t last. Conditions on the HF bands were much worse, however, and contacts were slow going with only a handful on SSB and CW. We made the majority of our QSOs on VHF, making one summit-to-summit contact, and one as far away as Boxboro, MA on 2 meter FM Simplex.

Photos courtesy of Eric Emery (copyright mark), and Brad Brown

For more information about WSSM SOTA expeditions, click here.