by William Eric McFadden



For the first time in several years, the ACARA put forth a Field Day effort. The ACARA participated in the 1995 ARRL Field Day with a solar-powered, all-QRP effort, at the Kiwanis Shelter at the Athens County Fairgrounds, using the callsign W8MHV.

The club participated in class 1A-Battery, meaning "One transmitter, Club or non-club group, Power output of five watts maximum". A total of 226 CW QSOs and 45 Phone QSOs resulted in a score of 3325 points. This score placed the club 14th out of 31 class 1A-Battery entries. (A break-down of QSOs per band and mode can be found below.) We earned bonus points for 100% Emergency Power, Media Publicity, Public Place, Information Booth, W1AW Field Day Message, Natural Power, Packet Radio, and VHF/UHF.

The HF station consisted of an Argonaut 515 CW/SSB QRP transceiver, several gel cell batteries charged by solar power before the event, and two solar panels for charging during the event. A fan-dipole for 80m and 40m was suspended between a tree near the shelter and the flagpole inside the horse track. A backpack-able 20m and 15m fan dipole was suspended between a tree and the shelter house. A CMOS Super Keyer II was used for the CW operations, and logging/dupe checking was performed using a palmtop PC computer. The HF station was operated by Drew McDaniel W8MHV, Mike Hansgen AA8EB, and Eric McFadden WD8RIF on CW, and by John Biddle WD8JLM, John McCutcheon N8XWO, and Walter Grube WD8MNE on SSB. (Debate continues about whether Drew or Mike was the best CW man--both were superb.)

The VHF/UHF station consisted of a dual-band FM mobile rig, operating at 5 watts, mounted in a motor-home. The antenna was a Cushcraft AR-2 on a 15' mast strapped to the rear of the vehicle. This 2m/70cm station was operated primarily by John McCutcheon. A 6m handheld with rotatable dipole was operated by Walter Grube, but no contacts resulted.

The weather for the weekend, always the third full weekend in June, was perfect for set up. It did rain in the evening; the rain, while sometimes heavy, didn't blow, so the the open-sided shelter was sufficient protection for the operators and equipment. (The motor-home had been brought primarily as back-up shelter--it wasn't needed for this.) The air got very cool overnight. The low temperatures and the rain served to keep mosquitoes to a minimum.


Several of the operators and visitors were impressed with the performance of the little QRP HF rig. The 5-watt transmitter limit was no liability at all on CW--nearly all stations copied were worked. The 5-watt limit was more of a hardship for the phone operations, however. The lack of a CW filter in the '515 made copy very difficult on the crowded bands. The ten VHF/UHF contacts were very difficult to make--Athens is too sparsely populated for many operators to be monitoring. A directional antenna should make QSOs easier.

The ability to run all stations off of batteries was very nice--the lack of generator noise and hassle was especially nice.

The computerized duping was extremely useful, as was the programmable contest keyer. (Most CW QSOs could be made with the only paddle work being the sending of the other station's call sign.)

The group had taken advantage of the rule allowing them to operate 27 hours if they didn't begin setting up until the event started. They learned, however, that nearly all other stations didn't take advantage of this rule; indeed, the bands seemed to "dry up" within a few minutes of the passing of the first 24 hour period. In the future, the club may decide to set up early, in a leisurely fashion.

QSOs per band:

Band CW Phone
80 51 15
40 72 14
20 99 2
15 3 4
2 1 9
70cm 0 1 (FM)