by William Eric McFadden



The Athens County Amateur Radio Association (ACARA) participated in the 2011 ARRL Field Day with solar-powered 100-watt stations at the Athens County Fairgrounds with the callsign W8MHV.

The club participated in class 1A, meaning one transmitter, club or non-club group, power output of 150 watts or less. A total of 547 QSOs and 890 bonus points resulted in a score of 2896 points. A breakdown of QSOs per band can be found below. The ACARA earned bonus points for 100% Emergency Power, Media Publicity, Public Location, Public Information Booth, Alternate Power, W1AW Field Day Bulletin, Educational Activity, Site Visitation by a Representative of an Agency, Web Submission, and Field Day Youth Participation.

The ACARA Field Day operation took place at the Athens County Fairgrounds. Power for both the HF station and the 6m VHF station came from Third Sun Solar Power (link) demonstration trailer. Doug Bentley, KC8PNE, Chief of Operations, Athens County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications, provided a beautiful 50' trailer-mounted tower.

Both the HF station and the VHF station were set up in the Kiwanis shelter. The HF CW station consisted of W8MHV's Elecraft K2/100 and KAT100 automatic antenna tuner. The HF SSB station consisted of N8XWO's ICOM IC-746. An 80/40m fan dipole was suspended between the top of a tall tree--and thank you KC8JWZ for getting the rope over the tree--and the 50' trailer-mounted tower. The 80m legs were oriented north-to-south to provide directivity to the east and the west; the 40m legs were sloped as an inverted-V and were oriented east-to-west to provide directivity to the north and the south. A 10/15/20/40m trap dipole was suspended below the 80/40m fan dipole with the north-to-south orientation to provide directionality to the east and the west. A 20m vertical delta-loop was brought but not installed.

The VHF station consisted of N8XWO's IC-746 and a homebrew two-element 6m yagi mounted on a homebrew 20' mast; the yagi was aimed with an armstrong rotor. A 2m Ringo was mounted on a mast so an attempt to work the ISS could be made but no QSO resulted.

The CW station was active for about 19 hours and 452 CW QSOs were made. The Elecraft K2/100 with its optional AF DSP worked very well and very few stations were heard that couldn't be worked.

Everyone participating in the event were surprised at the very strong performance of the VHF station. Seventy-three QSOs were made on 6m, three of these being CW.

HF digital modes were tried by N8VZ using his ICOM IC-703. No PSK-31 QSOs were made but four QSOs were made using JT-65; it quickly became apparent that JT-65 is not the ideal digital mode for contesting.

Through a logistical error on the part of the Athens County Fairboard, a fund-raiser demolition derby was scheduled at the fairgrounds Saturday afternoon and evening. The noise of the derby at times made copy difficult but QSOs were made throughout.

QSOs per band:

Band CW Phone Digital
80 54 7
40 180 2
20 186 13 4
15 28

6 4 69
Total 452 91 4

Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, ACARA president and Field Day chairman, wishes to publicly thank all those club members who helped make this a successful Field Day:

John Biddle, W8PG set-up, tear-down
Gary Carter, KD8MSR tear-down, logging
Jim Crouse, KC8OVB location reservation
Bob Curtis, KD8FRQ set-up, tear-down, SSB
Carl Denbow, N8VZ tear-down, digital captain, digital
John McCutcheon, N8XWO VHF captain, HF SSB captain, set-up, tear-down, SSB, logging
Drew McDaniel, W8MHV set-up, tear-down, CW, HF CW rig
Kate McFadden, KD8KNB SSB Youth Participation QSO
Miles McFadden, KD8KNC set-up, SSB Youth Participation QSO
John Thomas, KC8JWZ set-up, tear-down, logging, SSB
Pete Wickman, KD8MZA set-up, tear-down, SSB, logging, Education Bonus, Media Bonus

Eric McFadden sends very special thanks to Geoff and Michelle Greenfield of Third Sun Solar Power (link) for the use of their wonderful solar power demonstration trailer and to Doug Bentley, KC8PNE, for the use of the 9-1-1 trailer-mounted tower.