Field Day 2001 Page!
July 8, 2001
Day at a Glance
CARES completed its third annual
Emergency Communications Station Drill and ARRL Field Day on Saturday June 23, 2001
operating from the common area between the Cupertino City Hall and the Public Library.
Twelve CARES members and 6 amateur radio operators from the
Tandem Radio Amateur Club (TRAC) and Boy Scout Venturing Crew 566 set up,
operated, and maintained the site over a 12-hour period. VHF and HF contacts were
made locally and nationally using a mix of voice, digital, and CW communications
modes. We also jointly operated a public information table and talked with all
community residents who stopped by. Total volunteer hours were 100.5 hours.
CARES operated under the call-sign K6BSA.
This call was easily recognized by several contacts and additional conversations
about the Boy Scouts of America typically followed. Here's the story of this year's
event as reported by Jim KN6PE, EC, Cupertino ARES.
A Field Day Story
CUPERTINO, CA. I arrived
at the Field Day Site a little after 8:00AM and it was already bustling with activity.
Ive been looking forward to Field Day for about a month and was anxious to
see how this years event would turn out. As always, I kept referring to it as
CARES "Emergency Field Communications Drill" to ensure we do not loose
site of why we are doing it.
What is Field Day? Field Day is a national event
sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, the largest organization of Ham Radio
operators in the U.S. Field Day is open to all amateurs in the U.S and Canada and is
both a test of our ability to operate under adverse conditions (such as an earthquake) as
well as a contest to contact as many other Field Day participants as possible.
As we have done for the past two years, CARES operated from
the common area on Torre Avenue between the Cupertino City Hall and the Public Library.
This is a terrific location given the amenities it offers: close proximity to
the EOC in the event of an emergency, flagpoles that make excellent antenna supports,
plenty of trees to shade us from the hot sun, and concrete picnic tables and benches that
make ideal operating positions. In short, we couldn't have planned for anything
As I got out of my car, I could see the 25 kW generator
sitting quietly against the curb about 100 ft further down the road. A power cable
was laid from the generator to a distribution box at the site, waiting for the event to
begin. Ken KR6CO, this years organizer, was checking in members and making
assignments as they showed up. Several members were pulling equipment from a variety
Paul KM7LH, the Boy Scout Troop/Venturing Crew 566
representative, was helping to unload what looked like several sections of antenna, and
... a mast! He told us that we had a 40 meter rotatable dipole and a 2-element
10-15-20 meter yagi at our disposal. He also brought along a Viet Nam-era military
surplus push-up tower that fit neatly into two self-contained packages and a bag or two of
Paul KM6LH explains how the antennas will go
together to Brian KE6ZOY, Andrew KG6HAG, and Janet KF6PUQ. Andrew gets to work
assembling the 40 meter dipole.
While this mast, the AB-577/GRC (as it
is called in military circles) can be set up by an experienced one or two person team in
about 1 hour, it took us "a bit" longer. The base of the mast was carried
out to the field in front of City Hall, stakes were driven into the lawn, and the first
set of guy wires were attached. Another container, holding 8 - 5 foot sections of
aluminum mast tubing, was carried out. With the first section installed (the top
section), Paul connected the vertical mast on to which the dipole and yagi would be
Meanwhile, Rick N6XI, Don W6VTK, Kurt N6OLQ, Brian KE6ZOY,
and Andrew KG6HAG began assembling the yagi. Once complete, the team first hoisted
the 40-meter dipole up to Paul who attached it 5 feet up the mast (for separation).
The yagi was then lifted into place, but turned 90 degrees from the dipole so that 2
stations could operate with minimal interference to each other. Next, the first
(top) mast section was cranked up, clamped in place, then the mast elevator was
lowered. The next 5 foot section of mast was inserted below the top section, the two
sections were clamped together, then the mast elevator was again raised. This was a
pretty ingenious method for putting antennas 45 to 50 feet in the air!
The AB-577/GRC begins take shape.
Brian KE6ZOY holds the base while
the guy wires are prepared. Paul KM6LH attaches the vertical mast.
Rick N6XI is ready with the 2 element yagi.
In under 2 hours, both antennas were up at their 40+ foot
operating height. Rick N6XI checked the SWR as each mast section was added.
Everything looked good. Minimally, we would have a terrific signal in any direction
The 40 meter dipole and 2 element Yagi are
attached. Slowly, the antennas
rise into the air. Our "antenna farm" looking back at the Field Day Site.
Ken and I retrieved the pop-up tents and a couple of
folding tables from inside City Hall. The tents, courtesy of the City's
Department of Parks and Recreations,
are all self-contained and open like a four-legged umbrella. The biggest trick was
not catching your fingers in between the sliding pieces of metal! All tents went up
in a matter of minutes, were positioned over the tables, and all fingers were present and
Next came the radios. Janet KF6PUQ was anxious to try out
her newly acquired IC-751 HF transceiver. Since her first Field Day experience,
Janet has been taking and successfully passing each ham radio license test in succession.
Now, as a newly minted Extra Class operator, she had a need for HF! The radio
was pulled out of the car, connected to the yagi, and poised for a pretty extensive
workout. Paul pulled out his Kenwood-TS-440SAT transceiver and connected it to the
40 meter rotatable dipole. I completed the HF equipment suite with my IC-725 for
PSK31 operations. I recently completed building and testing my PC-to-radio interface
and was anxious to give my little home-brew project a good workout.
Next, Ken set out to get the generator started. On
opening the generators control access door, there was a series of meters, breakers,
and indicator lights. Ken pressed "one" button and
generator roared to life after automatically sequencing starter motors, throttles, and
regulators. Talk about user-friendly! After a minor circuit breaker
configuration problem and some consulting from our local generator expert George Santos,
we were up and running and officially "off the grid." With donuts, juice
and water on hand, we were ready to put "K6BSA, SCV, 3A" on the air!
As always, operating is a lot of fun. Who was doing
what? Take a look!
Paul KM6LH and Jake KG6GRK started off on 40 meters and made
plenty of voice contacts.
Barton N6HDN, Jim KN6PE, and Alf K6TWF work to get the
PSK31 station on the air.
Jake KG6GRK and Don W6VTK teamed up to work CW.
Bob KD6US and Ken KR6CO operated voice on 20 meters.
Bob KD6US, Marie KE6RAZ, and Pervez AD6RK take turns
making voice contacts.
Andy W9BJX and Jeff KD6TDX easily work the
East Coast on voice.
Barton N6HDN, Ken KR6CO, Janet KF6PUQ and Jim KN6PE
help answer questions for some visitors (not shown).
Bill KD6TQG, Jim KN6PE, Alf K6TWF ponder the
digital wonders of PSK31!
Marie KE6RAZ, our local representative from the Santa Clara
County Fire Department, stops by to talk with Ken KR6CO
and Pervez AD6RK, and gets some operating time in!
During our operations, we had more visitors than the
previous two Field Days combined. Our story into the May edition of the Cupertino
Scene made the difference and, I believe, was the reason for the large number of visitors
we had. We talked with folks who read about our event, as well as those who dropped
by while going to and from the library.
"What are you doing?" "How far can you
talk?" "Is it hard to get a license?" "What do you do?"
These were just some of the questions we answered. We also handed out brochures and
fliers about CARES, Amateur Radio, the ARRL, and other local radio clubs.
Before we knew it, it was 5:00pm Saturday evening! We
made our last contact, pulled the plug on the generator, and began to dismantle the site.
Now was time to see if we were really paying attention when we put the antennas up!
Section by section, the mast was lowered and stowed in its
holder. We were all pleased it came down quickly and safely. The dipole and
yagi sections were disassembled and moved to the curb for packing. Down came the
tents, tables, and displays. Equipment was moved from tables back into parked cars.
Ken, Don, Pervez, and I made several trips carrying folded up tents, tables, and
other items back into the City Hall. By 7:00pm, we made our final inspection of the
site making sure we left it as clean, if not cleaner, then how we found it.
Overall, it was a terrific event. I was pleased to
see so many CARES members and other local ham operators bring their personal equipment,
ideas, and interest into the field with the intent of operating several stations under
atypical conditions. It continues to prove to me that CARES can accomplish its
mission and support the community with communications services when called on.
Thanks to the following CARES, Troop/Crew 566, and TRAC members who participated:
Also, special thanks to: Al K6AB for driving this year's
publicity (it worked!); Andy W9BJX for serving as this year's photographer;
Richard KE6RJY and George Santos for arranging the generator; Ken KR6CO for taking
the lead on this year's event; Marsha KG6CYV for coordinating our efforts with the
City, and the City of Cupertino for their support and hosting the event.
For pictures of Field Day
2001 click here.
For pictures of
Field Day 2000 click here.
For pictures of
Field Day 1999 click here.