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Field Day 2001 Page!
Cupertino ARES

updated:  July 8, 2001

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Field 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.   I’ve been looking forward to Field Day for about a month and was anxious to see how this year’s 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 better!

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 year’s organizer, was checking in members and making assignments as they showed up.  Several members were pulling equipment from a variety of cars.

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 parts.

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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 attached.

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!

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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 we point.

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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 accounted for!

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 generator’s control access door, there was a series of meters, breakers, and indicator lights.  Ken pressed "one" button and… voila!  The 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!

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Paul KM6LH and Jake KG6GRK started off on 40 meters and made
plenty of voice contacts.

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Barton N6HDN, Jim KN6PE, and Alf K6TWF work to get the
PSK31 station on the air.

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Jake KG6GRK and Don W6VTK teamed up to work CW.

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Bob KD6US and Ken KR6CO operated voice on 20 meters.

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Bob KD6US, Marie KE6RAZ, and Pervez AD6RK take turns
making voice contacts.

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Andy W9BJX and Jeff KD6TDX easily work the
East Coast on voice.

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Barton N6HDN, Ken KR6CO, Janet KF6PUQ and Jim KN6PE
help answer questions for some visitors (not shown).

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Bill KD6TQG, Jim KN6PE, Alf K6TWF ponder the
digital wonders of PSK31!

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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:

Andy W9BJX
Andrew KG6HAG
Barton N6HDN
Paul KM6LH
Kurt K6OLQ
Janet KF6PUQ
Marie KE6RAZ
Pervez AD6RK
Rick N6XI
Brian KE6ZOY

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.