Our first day in Dayton was spent at Contest University – this was our 5th year in attendance but each year we learn more from the contesting experts. This year, we attended two presentations from Frank Donovan, W3LPL on operating techniques for the declining solar cycle and on 80m and 160m antennas. We also heard a talk from Val NV9L from Ham Nation on Log Analysis tools and another session on SO2R (Single Operator 2 Radio) Operating.
Friday was the first day of the Hamvention and we spent most of the day visiting all the vendor exhibits. We visited the Icom booth, where we looked at the new Icom 7851. It has an incredible display as well as one of the best receivers on the market.
We also saw the new KX2 Transceiver at the Elecraft booth. It is even smaller than the KX3 and is perfect for SOTA and other portable operations. I would expect to hear some NPOTA activations using this radio.
Friday evening was the Top Band dinner where we learned all about “Top Band Disease” from Larry “Tree” Tyree N6TR. Hams with this disease are nocturnal, love the bottom of the sunspot cycle. They are constantly improving their 160m antennas – when you upgrade your receive antenna, then there are people who can’t hear you, so then you need to improve your transmit antenna – and the cycle continues… The DX Alarm Clock is perfect for those with Top Band Disease!
After the dinner, we were treated to a concert from the Spurious Emissions Band (N0AX, KX9X, K4RO, W4PA), with hits like “On The Cover of the NCJ” and “Sittin on the Edge of the Band”. They were so funny! You can watch their performances on YouTube http://bit.ly/DaytonSpurs2016.
On Saturday, Fred, AB1OC and I presented our Station Building talk to around 250 people as part of the Dayton Contest Forum. It was a great honor to be selected to speak there by Doug Grant K1DG, who has organized the Contest Forum for many years.
We also continued to tour the vendor booths, visiting Club Member Bill Barber, NE1B, at the DMR-MARC booth.
After that, we stopped by Gordon West’s Ham Instructor booth where we spoke to him about the success of the Club’s License classes. Here is a picture of Gordon, WB6NOA, and Fred sharing the secrets of how the Hilbert Transform and the Flux Capacitor make Single Sideband and Time Travel Possible.
We also visited the AMSAT booth, where we met Burns Fisher, W2BFJ, who now lives in Brookline, NH and is moving to Hollis. They had a cube sat on display – you can see how small it is below. It’s amazing that AMSAT builds and arranges to launch them into orbit so that we can make QSOs through them!
Fred could not resist a visit to Begali Keys where we purchased a neat travel key. It should be great for operating mobile and for Field Day.
On Sunday, we headed back to New Hampshire, sad that the weekend had come to an end but full of great memories from the trip.
Ok, this is slightly misleading but it’s true. I had a QSO with a Canadian station over 200 miles away on 2 meters. From my car none the less!
You may wonder how this was done. I had some help from above that’s how. I discovered that on the International Space Station (ISS) is this cool thing called a digipeater. Now I’m no pro at this but I will attempt to explain in hopes that someone else can enjoy getting their toes wet in Amateur Satellite opportunities.
To start, here is an eQSL card of my from my first QSO of this nature:
Note the mode on this card. It’s packet. The digipeater on the ISS relays APRS messages. This was all foreign to me prior to this contact. I discovered all of this by accident while I was monitoring the ISS frequencies for voice and SSTV. APRS transmissions were pouring out of my radio. Curiosity got me to research the sounds and ultimately steered me towards giving it a go.
Although I already had all the parts and pieces to start my way I lacked the knowledge of what to do. It took some figuring out, but I now have a simple and relatively low-cost way of working some satellites. Unlike voice mode, you do not need a directional antenna to do packet through the ISS. I use my mobile radio in my car, an omnidirectional antenna, a USB SignaLink sound card and an inexpensive Windows tablet pc. I downloaded UISS and AGW packet engine (both are free). I think I blew a brain fuse or two figuring out how it all goes together, but in the end, it works.
The uplink and downlink frequency for this is the same: 145.825
Go ahead, tune in and listen while the ISS is over your location. There are many websites and smart phone apps to give you the pass schedule.
If you are interested in this and want help getting started on this for yourself then feel free to shoot me an e-mail [email protected]
The first half of 2016 is behind us and I believe that we are well on our way to a record year as far as contacts made by our club. Among other things, I have had the fun of being the QSL manager for our club as well as for the New Hampshire stations (K2K) for the 13 Colonies Special Event.
Members of our club have made a total of 13,787 contacts so far this year using a combination of the N1FD call sign and K2K New Hampshire. All of these contacts represent a great effort on the part of our members. For me, the real story here is about the fun we’ve had together on the air and the great progress that many of our newest members have made in developing their operating skills along the way.
Learning About Contesting
Our first major on the air operation was the ARRL Rookie Roundup SSB Contest in April. This contest is for Amateurs who have been licensed for 3 years or less and it’s a great opportunity to try contesting and to learn HF operating skills.
We got a chance to try contesting from a mobile as part of the 2016 New England QSO Party (NEQP). Several of us got together for a weekend of activating counties and having fun as part of this contest. We operated as N1FD/M and the contest gave us a chance to develop and hone our SSB contesting skills further.
In addition to many county line activations in MA, NH, and VT, we also activated two National Parks. In spite of difficult band conditions, we made 631 QSOs and had a great time. You can read more about this operation here.
June and July represented a Tsunami of Amateur Radio operating for several of us. This period began with the best Field Day operation that I have ever been part of. We built quite a station and had a great time using it to operate during Field Day 2016.
We had a great turn out for Field Day this year with a mix of newer folks who were experiencing their first Field Day and the seasoned veterans in our club who have done Field Day many times before. The camaraderie and the learning were fantastic!
Many of our members operated during our 2016 Field Day operation and our diligence paid off. We increased both our score and the number of contacts (2,464) made by a significant amount over last year and had a great time doing it!
Next came the 13 Colonies Special Event. I am the manager for the New Hampshire Colony which operates under the K2K call sign each year. The K2K operating team was made up entirely of Nashua Area Radio Club members this year. This event produces huge pileups and it really challenges one’s operating skills.
We operated using a combination of SSB Phone, Digital, and CW and the club members made a total of 9,719 contacts!
This was more than enough to make the Nashua Area Radio Club the Top Club in the event! We used the 2016 event to further develop our operating skills as well as provide opportunities for new Amateurs to have fun on the air and make contacts.
National Parks On The Air (NPOTA)
Our most recent operation was the Activation of Saint-Gaudens NHS as part of the ARRL’s NPOTA program. Aron Insinga, W1AKI, and his XYL Merle, W1MSI have been working on this project for some time and it was great to see it come together to result in a very successful activation. You can learn more about Saint-Gaudens and out plans to activate it here on our Blog.
We activated Saint-Gaudens on Sunday, July 10th with two stations – a 20m portable station using an Inverted-V antenna and 100W and a mobile station on 40m running 500w.
We again had a good mix of experienced operators and newer folks from our club. It was especially great to see how well some of the newer folks have come along in terms of their operating skills. The group made a total of 528 QSOs in a little over 4 hours and had a great time doing it! We are all looking forward to our second planned NPOTA activation later this summer on August 7th.
Highlights From Nashua Area Radio Club’s 2016 Activities
I must say that I don’t think I have ever seen a group of Amateur Radio Club members do so much operating on the air within such a short period of time. Check out the video above for, In particular, I believe that some of our newer members are well on their way to becoming world-class operators if they keep going the way they are. Anita, AB1QB and I find it particularly rewarding to have the chance to be part of helping our club to grow and to build our skills. It has been truly a privilege to be part of the Nashua Area Radio Club team.
We got up to some great news this morning. The Nashua Area Radio Club is once again Number 1Field Day!!
We are the Top Club in our Category (7A) for 2016 with a final score of 9,292. The next closest club was W6TRW with a score of 5,610. You can see all the 2016 results on the ARRL score page. For a more detailed breakdown of our score for 2016, check out our Field Day page.
Congratulations to everyone who helped to make our 2016 operation a success! Also, a special thank you to our planning team –
We certainly have many great memories from our 2016 Operation. I spent some time today looking at the photos from our 2016 Operation and the video from our 2016 Operation again. I picked out some photos to share here –
Our setup was well planned and the execution was top-notch!
Many folks in our club pulled together to build our setup and we operated hard during Field Day.
We also helped to introduce folks to Amateur Radio via our GOTA Station.
It’s fun to think about all the great things that went on during Field Day this year.
Our 2016 Highlights Video
Looking forward to our 2017 Field Day operation!!!