by William Eric McFadden



Bob Weber operates HF while dad KE8LRZ logs -- click to enlarge The Athens County Amateur Radio Association (ACARA) participated in the 2021 ARRL Field Day as W8MHV with 100-watt stations at the Athens County Fairgrounds. This was the club's first group operation since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and was the fifth time the group was able to set up the stations inside the large brick building on the Fairgrounds for protection from weather and insects.

The club participated as W8MHV in class 1A, meaning one transmitter, club or non-club group, power output of 150 watts or less. A total of 585 QSOs and 1,170 bonus points resulted in a score of 3,194 points. A breakdown of QSOs per band can be found below. The ACARA earned bonus points for the following:

The ACARA Field Day operation took place at the Athens County Fairgrounds. Power for the HF station came from a 2kW Honda inverter-generator and power for the the 6m VHF station came from a 1kW Honda inverter-generator. These generators were not as environmentally-friendly as the solar trailer used during some previous Field Day operations but these modern generators are significantly quieter, more fuel-efficient, and more reliable than less sophisticated generators. Athens County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center again provided the 50' trailer-mounted tower to support the two HF antennas.

The antennas on an early Sunday morning -- click to enlarge Both the HF station and the VHF station were set up in the large brick building at the Fairgrounds. The HF station consisted of the Elecraft K3 from the club's Jim Crouse Memorial Radio Station which is located at the Red Cross of Southeastern Ohio. An Elecraft KX3 and a solar-charged battery provided by Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, was used to make the first six HF QSOs to earn the Natural Power Bonus. A dual-yardarm atop the 50' trailer-mounted tower supported an 80m/40m fan dipole and a 10m/15m/20m/40m trap-dipole as inverted-vees. The 80m legs of the fan-dipole were oriented north-to-south to provide east-west directivity and the 40m legs were oriented east-to-west to provide north-south directivity. The trap-dipole legs were oriented north-to-south orientation to provide east-west directivity.

The VHF station consisted of an ICOM IC-7410, a homebrew two-element 6m yagi, and a homebrew 20' mast, all of which were provided by John McCutcheon, N8XWO. The yagi was aimed using a traditional Armstrong rotor. The VHF station also included the club's ICOM IC-2200 2m FM mobile transceiver and a Cushcraft Ringo and mast provided by N8XWO; these were used to pass Radiogram-traffic to Ted Jacobson, W8KVK, via 2m FM simplex to earn the Formal Message to ARRL SM/SEC, the Formal Messages Handled bonus, and the Educational Activity bonus.

Logging for the HF and the VHFs stations was by non-networked laptop PCs running N1MM Logger+. The HF logging PC interfaced with the K3 and KX3 and tracked band and mode changes. Both stations took advantage of N1MM Logger+'s ability to record the operator's identity for post-event analysis. Satellite QSOs were initially logged to paper and then entered into the VHF station's N1MM Logger+. Following the close of Field Day operations, the HF and VHF logs were combined into one file for analysis and submission to the ARRL.

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson was, unfortunately, unable to accept the invitation of Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ, to visit the Field Day operation but he did send a proclamation from the City of Athens. (View the proclamation: Amateur Radio Operators Appreciation Days, June 26-27, 2021.)

Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ, had also invited the Athens County Commissioners to visit the Field Day operation. The Commissioners did not visit the Field Day operation but did send a signed proclamation from Athens County. (View the proclamation: Amateur Radio Operators Appreciation Days, June 26-27, 2021.)

Although Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, submitted press releases to local media, no reporters visited the Field Day operation.

The goal for this year's Field Day was, like that of previous years, to have fun and to get new or inactive hams on the air and this year that goal was met. As-yet-unlicensed eleven-year-old Bob Weber made the first satellite QSO in addition to eleven QSOs on HF SSB. His father Joe, KE8LRZ, who is currently without a home HF station, made 46 QSOs on HF SSB.

Old-timers also worked the stations. Drew McDaniel, W8MHV, made 27 HF CW QSOs. Gary Carter, KD8MSR, made 22 HF SSB QSOs. Brian Taylor, KZ8U, drove up from Pomeroy and made 2 HF SSB QSOs. Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, made 400 HF CW QSOs, mostly during the Saturday night / Sunday morning graveyard shift.

This was the first year since 1997 that the ACARA had a satellite station for linear-transponder satellites. Jeramy Duncan, KC8QDQ, generously brought his Jeep-portable satellite rover station to the fairgrounds so the ACARA could earn the 100-point Satellite QSO bonus. Jeramy's station consisted of a Kenwood TS-2000 HF/VHF/UHF transceiver with a 2m yagi and a 70cm yagi on a computer-controlled azimuth/elevation rotor. Jeramy coached eleven-year-old Bob Weber through the process of making a SSB QSO through AO-73, giving the club the 100-point Satellite QSO bonus as well as the 20-point Youth Participation bonus. Over the next hour, Jeramy made an additional six SSB satellite QSOs on AO-7, XW-2B, XW-2C, and XW-2F.

Ted Jacobson, W8KVK, had graciously offered to be the "on-ramp" onto the National Traffic System (NTS), allowing the ACARA to earn two 100-point bonuses they've not previously tried to get. A properly-formatted Radiogram to Ohio ARRL SEC Stan Broadway, N8BHL, was sent via 2m FM simplex to Ted for the Formal Message to ARRL SM/SEC bonus. Club members and family members produced properly-formatted "ARL 50" ("Greetings by Amateur Radio") Radiograms to Ohio ARRL SEC Stan Broadway, N8BHL, and these were sent via 2m FM simplex to Ted for the Message Handling bonus. The 100-point Educational Activity bonus was earned this year for "Radiogram Origination" using materials developed by Ted Jacobson, W8KVK, to teach club members how to properly generate a Radiogram and insert it via amateur radio into the NTS.

QSOs per band:

Band CW Phone Total
80 149 27 176
40 148 81 229
20 117 17 134
15 13 11 24
6 0 14 14
2 0 1 1
Satellite 7 7
Total 427 158 585

Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast for those present at those times were provided by Joe Weber, KE8LRZ.

ACARA President Eric McFadden, WD8RIF, wishes to thank the following who helped make this a safe and successful Field Day:

Eric McFadden sends very special thanks to the Athens County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center for the use of their 50' crank-up mobile tower; to the Athens County Fair Board for use of the Athens Fairgrounds; and to Stan Broadway, N8BHL, Ohio SEC, for gladly accepting eleven Radiograms.