ILLW, which first began in 1993 as the Scottish Northern Lighthouse Activity Weekend, sees over 500 lighthouses and lightships activated in over 40 countries, and helps promote the preservation of lighthouses and lightships, and at the same time, gives the community an opportunity to experience Amateur Radio.
The Wireless Society of Southern Maine has participated in ILLW since 2011, activating thirteen lighthouses in nine years. Past activations have included Pemaquid Point Light, Portland Head Light, West Quoddy Head Light, Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light, Spring Point Light, and Rockland Breakwater Light, among others.
This year’s event also qualified as a Parks on the Air activation, since the lighthouse is located within Owls Head State Park (POTA: K-2399). It also has the ARLHS designation: USA574.
Club members, including Rory McEwen KB1PLY, Brad Brown Jr. KC1JMH, Tim Watson KB1HNZ, Eric Emery N1RXR, and Jason Andrews W1SFS, took turns operating HF, on 40m, 17m, and 20m throughout the day using Tim’s Yaesu FT857d, Rory’s Icom Ic7000, and Brad’s Yaesu FT991, along with a variety of antennas. Brad even worked a few stations on 2m FM Simplex – one as far away as Castine, and Tim made contacts on DMR. At the end of the day, we made a total of 77 QSOs.
To learn more about WS1SM Lighthouse Activations and to see photos, click here.
SCARBOROUGH, ME – On the weekend of June 27-28, the WS1SM team participated in their 10th ARRL Field Day from Wassamki Springs Campground, in Scarborough. Since the pandemic prevented many of the usual social activities that take place during the weekend, such as cookouts and visits from the public and elected officials, Field Day had quite a different feel to it this year, but we still managed to pull it together, and it turned out to be one of our most successful to date!
With limited in-person participants, we operated as 2A (which is a club station, on battery power, using 2 transmitters), for the first time since 2013, maintaining a continuous presence on the bands on SSB, and digital. Meanwhile, we had the support of club members who operated from their own homes, including Greg Finch W1GF, who scored a remarkable 4,706 points on his own – making 1,164 QSOs! Joe Blinick K1JB, contributed over 200 QSOs and Roger Pushor NK1I, contributed almost 50 OSOs! And there were others as well. This all added up to a club aggregate score of 9,694 points!
The plan came together late as there were lots of questions about whether or not the ARRL would make changes to the rules to accommodate COVID-19 concerns, and they finally did about two weeks prior to the event. The temporary rules allowed for home stations, operating as either 1D or 1A, to contribute to a club aggregate score, and also allowed those stations to work each other. Normally, 1D stations would not be able to count QSOs with other 1D stations.
Because of regulations in place during the spring about the number of people who could gather in a single location, we didn’t know if we’d be able to operate from the campground – or any public location at all. The idea of doing an outdoor Field Day began to look more promising, though, as some of those restrictions, especially relating to outdoor gatherings, began to be relaxed after June 1st. The Hillock family, who owns Wassamki Springs Campground, were very welcoming when we approached them, and we were able to implement safety protocols that satisfied both parties.
Eleven participants joined us at the campground for the 2A operations, which is about a third of what we normally have.
Setup began late Friday afternoon when a handful of club members helped to setup a tent, hung a multiband dipole across the field between trees, and also installed a 40m rotatable dipole on the side of the CCEMA Communications Trailer. Mike and Chris from Cumberland County EMA helped out as well. The two stations consisted of a Yaesu FT-857d and Icom IC-7300, both running on battery power. On Saturday morning, Charlie W1CPS, setup his 6m station, which includes a 5 element yagi atop a 40-foot mast and an Icom IC-7000. Not long afterwards, we were ready to get on the air!
Although there was a threat of thunderstorms, the weather was pleasant for the entire Field Day, including setup and break down, and the band conditions seemed very good as well. 40 meters was steady throughout most of the weekend, and 20m opened up nicely late Saturday afternoon and early Sunday. Late on Saturday, our tent station, which multiple club members took turns operating from, switched from SSB to digital and continued to operate that way throughout the evening and into the early morning.
6 meter conditions were excellent Saturday afternoon, as Charlie W1CPS and company started to click off steady contacts. As evening set in, the conditions faded, but they had a similar opening the next day. Eric N1RXR had a really good run going on 40 meters Saturday evening, and Stefania K1GJY made lots of QSOs on 20 meters Sunday morning and early afternoon.
Our Safety Officers for 2020 ARRL Field Day were Brad Brown, Jr. KC1JMH, and Charlie Shepard W1CPS. Brad reported the following: “I made sure any trip hazards were marked, that fire suppression was handy, CDC signs were up and did my best to remind people of PPE and distance. Charlie had his space roped off to ensure guests stay within a socially acceptable distance. First-Aid kits were readily available in my pickup, my go-bag and next to Charlie’s fire extinguisher.”
Fellow club members, Frank KR1ZAN in Plano, TX, and Ryan Michaelson KB1YTR, in Duluth, MN, helped us copy the W1AW Field Day message, which was super helpful because many of us were setting up antennas during the broadcast!
Tim KB1HNZ sent radiograms to the Section Manager and several others by way of the Digital Traffic Network via our Packet station on VHF.
Late Saturday, Eric N1RXR, was successful at making a satellite QSO via AO92.
Due to the situation with the pandemic, we chose not to host a GOTA station, which unfortunately means that we weren’t able to spend time introducing any newly licensed or interested parties to ham radio, but it was still good to see Mike N5QYQ and Steve AA1HF, who usually help us with that, at the event.
Special thanks to Chris Wheeler, and everyone at Cumberland County EMA for their support, and to the Hillock Family for allowing us to operate from Wassamki Springs Campground for the 10th consecutive year!
We finished up with 714 QSOs and 3,376 points for the 2A operation, and taking into account all of our contributors from home, we got a total of 9,694 points! It was a massive effort. Thanks to everyone for helping to make our 2020 Field Day such a success!
Click here to view photos of this year’s and previous Field Days.
It’s hard to believe that Winter is almost behind us! It seems like just yesterday we were on the air for Winter Field Day, operating from the parking lot at the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA), in Windham, Maine.
This was WSSM’s third year competing in Winter Field Day, which is similar in many ways to the ARRL Field Day, as it takes place over 24 hours and encourages hams to operate outdoors “in the field,” but because of the season, it often takes place in extremely cold weather. Last year temperatures were below zero overnight and we were fighting propane bottles that were freezing up. That wasn’t the case this year, as the weather was surprisingly mild. Setup on Saturday morning was a pleasure without the freezing of extremities, and the weather was good for breaking down as well. Overnight, and into Sunday morning, we did experience some heavy rain, but it didn’t have any adverse effects on operating.
Using the call sign WS1EC, the WSSM team operated two stations for the entire 24 hours, on emergency power. Thankfully, we had the shelter of CCEMA’s communications trailer, which kept us warm and dry, and access to the bunker for food and restroom breaks.
The setup included an Icom IC-7300, connected most of the time to a 40m rotatable dipole, and a Yaesu FT-950, which was utilized either a 160m end-fed, or BuddiPole tuned to 20 meters. The band conditions were quite good, and contacts were steady. At the end of the day, we logged 455 QSO’s and worked almost every ARRL section.
Thanks for everyone’s help in setting up, breaking down, operating, and for bringing such good food to the pot luck! I’d like to also give a special shout out to Dave Feeney WN1F, for all his support over the years. By the time this is published, Dave will be retired from working as a Planner at the Cumberland County EMA. Happy retirement, Dave!