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.
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.
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!”
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.
SCARBOROUGH, ME – On the weekend of June 26-27, the WS1SM team participated in their 11th ARRL Field Day from Wassamki Springs Campground, in Scarborough.
Activities began Friday morning when a handful of club members helped to setup a utility trailer, tower, and antenna, that would make up the CW station. The station, which is the design of Rick Fickett K1OT, goes together smoothly, as it’s nothing short of an engineering masterpiece. After assembling the antennas which consist of a 40 meter yagi and a 10/15/20m tribander, and tower components, the tower is pulled up by a winch, so it only needs to be guided on the way up, and when the tower is almost upright, a custom made bracket which holds the yagis, allows them to move into position and lock in place. After this was complete, the guys were tightened and the area was roped off for safety. The station consisted of an Elecraft K3 that runs on a pair of deep cycle batteries. The station was operated throughout Field Day by Rick K1OT and Greg W1GF.
Later in the afternoon, another team helped setup a tent that would make up one of the SSB stations, and more antennas, including a DX Commander vertical and a Buddipole (in an NVIS configuration). The team also setup radios in the CCEMA communications trailer, and installed a 40m rotatable dipole atop the trailer. The two SSB stations consisted of a Yaesu FT-857d (in the tent) and Icom IC-7300 (in the trailer), which would run on battery power throughout the event.
With the stations already setup, all that was needed Saturday morning was to check SWR, update the logging software, and help folks who were camping overnight setup their tents. By 2:00 PM we were ready to get on the air!
The weather was pleasant for the entire Field Day, including setup and break down, although temperatures were approaching 90 by Sunday afternoon. 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 lasted well into the evening. One of the highlights was making contacts with Australia, Hawaii, and New Zealand at around 11:30 Saturday night – on 20 meters! We also made lots of contacts on 10 and 15 meters.
Jason W1SFS, Waylon KC1HJN, Tim KB1HNZ, CJ W1CJC, and Dylan KC1PDS (who just earned his ham radio license), each took turns operating the SSB stations. Eric N1RXR had a really good run on 15 meters Sunday morning, and Stefania K1GJY made lots of QSOs on 40 meters Sunday morning and early afternoon. Brad KC1JMH and Josh KC1KTX, took turns operating the 40m station and also exchanged lots of messages on Packet and Winlink.
Our Safety Officers for 2021 ARRL Field Day were Mike N5QYQ and Eric N1RXR. Eric reported that he made sure any trip hazards were marked, that fire suppression was handy, and first aid was accessible. We also made sure to have RF exposure reports on hand for each operating station and antenna combination.
Fellow club members, Frank KR1ZAN in Plano, TX, Ryan Michaelson KB1YTR, in Duluth, MN, and Brad Bown Jr., KC1JMH, 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.
A few times throughout the weekend, Eric N1RXR attempted to make a satellite contact, but although hearing a few passes really well, was unable to make a contact.
Mike N5QYQ and Steve AA1HF reprised their roles as GOTA station coaches, setting up a nice station in the Wassamki Springs Ham Shack. There were both modern and classic radios to try out. They welcomed three operators Nick KC1MSR, Waylon KC1HJN, and Dylan KC1PDS, who took turns getting on the air throughout the weekend, and Dylan and Nick operated at both the GOTA station and the 40m SSB station in the main field.
The GOTA station was a good opportunity to learn about different aspects of the hobby, and Mike and Steve were great teachers. Mike N1QYQ explained the operation and function of the Kenwood TS-520S transceiver and related components and compared this older technology with the newest technology (ICOM IC-7300). Mike also explained basic HF propagation and its relation to the sunspot cycle. Mike helped Dillon troubleshoot and solve an issue with his straight key and his TS-850S. Mike also explained the basic operation of the Hy-Gain 18AVQ trap vertical antenna. He used the Kenwood SM-220 monitor scope to show transmitted waveforms and how the scope was used to monitor output of the transceiver to ensure the transmitted audio signal was not clipping and that the RF emissions from the transceiver were “clean.”
Steve AA1HF explained the tracking of weather balloons using one he “caught” and its features and process for tracking and reporting the unit to the sender. Steve also explained the features and operation of his (Steve’s) ICOM IC-7300 and ICOM 9700 software defined multiband radios and the basics of calling and answering “CQ Field Day” and how to log the contacts.
Besides the lessons learned at the GOTA station, we also offered a formal educational activity about radio direction finding. Tim KB1HNZ hid a small purpose-built transmitter and explained some of the various methods that can be used to track it down, including using doppler finder technology, attenuators, body shielding, and a directional antenna. Brad’s son, Jordan, had a fun time trying to find the transmitter and eventually did!
Operating as 3A (three fulltime HF stations on emergency power), 2021 ARRL Field Day was not only a fun time, but a huge success! We logged 1776 QSOs for a total of 2,958 QSO points, and nearly maxed out on all the bonus points.
Special thanks to Chris Wheeler, and everyone at Cumberland County EMA for their support and allowing us to use the CCEMA communications trailer, and to the Hillock Family for their continued hospitality, allowing us to operate from Wassamki Springs Campground for the 11th consecutive year! We’d also like to thank Steve’s wife Marilyn, who provided us with a fantastic cookout Saturday evening and breakfast sandwiches Sunday morning!
Click here to see more pictures from 2021 ARRL Field Day.
Please join us this Thursday, August 12th, from 7:00 PM-9:00 PM, at Wassamki Springs Campground, for our monthly business meeting. If the weather is nice, we’ll be meeting outside near the former camp store. Please bring a lawn chair as there may not be a picnic table available near the site.
For those who haven’t been there before, the camp store is located near the back of the camping area. Turn right after checking in at the office, follow the road past the lake, and take the next left. Follow that road almost to the end, where you’ll see a small white building with a porch. Its important to DRIVE SLOW and follow all campground rules when present on the property. We are guests!
On the agenda, we’ll be discussing our upcoming activation of Doubling Point Light for International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend (ILLW), which takes place Saturday, August 21st. We’ll also begin the officer nomination process, and welcome Fred Kemmerer AB1OC, who will stop by to talk about his candidacy for ARRL New England Director.
If you’d like to join us remotely, here’s the dial-in instructions: (Last month we found that cell coverage at the campground is spotty, so we’ll do the best we can).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please join us this evening at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly WSSM-ECT On-Air Drill!
The topic for this evening will be to discuss our return to live meetings at the EMA bunker. After our net on the repeater, we’ll do a roll call of those who check-in, on 3940 kHz LSB, which is the Maine ARES primary frequency for night time HF ops. As always, we welcome any traffic for the net, either on 2 meters, or HF.
The purpose of this net is to focus on developing skills, such as familiarity with message forms, traffic handling, using modes like FM Simplex, Winlink, Packet, and the FLDigi suite, while fostering an interest in and recruiting newcomers to emergency communications.
Join us this evening at 7:00PM on the 147.090 repeater, for our monthly meeting on-the-air.
On the agenda, we’ll be going over the minutes from the most recent meeting that took place last Thursday, and ask if anyone has had any experience using propagation prediction software, such as VOACAP, ITS, or others.
As always, if you have HF capabilities, you’re welcome to join us on 28.455 USB for the After Net, immediately following our net on the repeater.
Members Present: Tim Allen KC1PDR, Stephen McGrath AA1HF, Josh Brown KC1KTX, Tim Watson KB1HNZ, and (Frank Krizan K5RN, Eric Emery N1RXR, & Tim Welch KA1VPU via Free Conference Call).
Checking balance: $584.17, PayPal balance: $863.49, Cash on hand: $138.09, W1 QSL Bureau: $20.96. Motion to approve by Eric Emery N1RXR, Seconded by Tim Watson KB1HNZ, and approved by all present.
There were 18 members and guests in attendance at our last meeting, which was held June 10th, at Wassamki Springs Campground. The topic of discussion was final preparation for ARRL Field Day, which would take place the weekend of June 26-27. Several items were discussed, including what radio equipment to use, logging, antennas and antenna placement. Tim KB1HNZ went over the bonus point categories and all were covered. Steve McGrath AA1HF offered that his wife, Marilyn could cook dinner (Saturday) and breakfast (Sunday Morning), and the club agreed to provide a $200 budget for food and supplies.
Tim KB1HNZ mentioned that International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW), which is an event that the club has taken part in every year since 2011, takes place the weekend of August 21-22 this year. Tim has been in contact with the owner of Doubling Point Lighthouse, on the Kennebec River, in Arrowsic, as a possible lighthouse to activate. Doubling Point is a private light, and the owner seemed very interested in our interest to activate it for the event.
Brad Brown KC1JMH, asked if we had any club activities planned for July. Jason Andrews W1SFS suggested a Parks on the Air (POTA) expedition to Mt. Blue State Park (K-2307), with a cookout nearby afterwards. More info to follow.
After the formal meeting, several members walked out to survey the field day site, and especially focused on where to put Rick K1OT’s trailer and tower combo. Steve AA1HF offered to speak with Cindy of Wassamki Springs Campground, during the week to secure a location.
New Business / Announcements:
Josh Brown KC1KTX presented the Treasurer’s report, followed by Tim KB1HNZ reading the Secretary’s report in the absence of our regular secretary, Jason W1SFS. Josh KC1KTX made a motion to accept the secretary’s report, seconded by Eric N1RXR, and all voted in favor.
In New Business, the topic of the night was to reflect on ARRL Field Day. Tim KB1HNZ thanked everyone who contributed to the effort, including Steve’s wife, Marilyn, for her hospitality and for cooking for us all weekend, our Safety Officers, Eric N1RXR and Mike N5QYQ, everyone who helped us earn bonus points, those who helped us setup and breakdown the tents, antennas, and other gear – especially in the heat Sunday afternoon, and everyone who operated!
We logged 1776 QSOs, for a total of 2,966 QSO points, plus we earned 1490 Bonus points, giving us a preliminary total score of 7,422 points!
The discussion then turned to our upcoming POTA activation. Tim KB1HNZ mentioned a few possible dates, and the one that everyone seemed to agree on was Sunday, August 1st. Tim said he would check to see if this date would work for Jason, and once confirmed, we can formally schedule it. This would be a portable activation with no more than two transmitters. Tim KA1VPU offered to bring one that he’d like to try out. Possible antennas could be Tim’s BuddiPole, SOTA Beams dipole, or any other free-standing antenna. The site that we were thinking about setting up at is a scenic overlook, with no trees to use as antenna supports. We would operate on battery power, so extra batteries would be helpful.
Meeting Adjourned: 8:19pm. Josh KC1KTX made the motion to adjourn, seconded by Eric N1RXR, and approved by all present.
Open Discussion Followed:
Afterwards, Steve AA1HF showed off pictures of the weather balloons that he’s tracked down, and he talked about some of the techniques used to track them. He and Tim KC1PDR continued to talk about various ham radio related topics.
Tim KB1HNZ and Frank K5RN talked about their experiences at Field Day, portable antennas, and HF propagation prediction software.
Similar to last year’s Field Day, a temporary rule waiver allows participants from any Class to optionally include a single club name with their submitted results. This means that if you’d prefer to operate from home, using your own call sign, and would like to contribute to our club aggregate score, you may do so. Please include the full club name: Wireless Society of Southern Maine with your entry.
Click here to review the complete 2021 Field Day rules.
FIELD DAY BULLETIN
Since quite a few of us will be setting up on Friday evening, we could use some help copying the Field Day bulletin. Click here to view the 2021 ARRL Field Day Bulletin schedule, including times, frequencies, and modes.
See you there!
Wassamki Springs Campground is located at: 56 Saco Street, Scarborough, ME 04074.