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Field Day 2003 Page!
Cupertino ARES/RACES

updated:  February 17, 2007

Field Day at a Glance
CARES completed its 5th annual Emergency Field Communications Drill and ARRL Field Day on Saturday June 28, 2003 operating from Cupertino's Memorial Park.

Eighteen CARES members participated in this year's event making VHF and HF contacts both locally and nationally using voice and digital modes.  We also operated a public information table, talked with community residents who stopped by, and entertained visits from City Council members and Cupertino OES.  Total volunteer hours spent were 90.5 hours.

Here's the write-up for this year's event by Jim KN6PE, EC, Cupertino ARES/RACES.

This year's story
CUPERTINO, CA.  As I looked across the field from under our 50ft Redwood, I marveled at how fortunate we were to have this Field Day Site.  While the day was warm, excellent shade and a light breeze kept the memories of the previous week’s heat far from mind.  It was very opportunistic that we ended up here.  How did we luck out?

I suppose it started back in 2002 when the City of Cupertino decided to tear down and replace the Cupertino Library with a bigger facility and new community center.  The immediate impact we all contemplated was the loss of our usual Field Day site in front of City Hall (during 2002, 2001, 2000, and 1999).  That site not only had permanently mounted picnic tables and benches that doubled as operating positions, but also three 35 ft flag poles that we pressed into service as antenna mast supports.  Not this year.

Ken KR6CO (AEC, Cupertino ARES) worked with the Dave Knapp, the Cupertino City Manager, on the idea of using Cupertino’s Memorial Park for this year’s site.  This is a 28-acre park that includes acres of picnic grounds and lawns, a lake, an amphitheater, a lighted softball field, and six lighted tennis courts.  With Dave’s help and the assistance of Tom Walters from the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, we were approved to operate our Field Day Site at the northwest end of the park next to the baseball field. 

CARES always approached Field Day as our annual Emergency Field Communications Drill.  The City Hall site was always used because of its close proximity to the EOC.  This year’s assumption was that moving the site of the “drill” would test our flexibility to adapt to a different environment.  Our objectives continued to be: demonstrate we can set up a field communications station anywhere, make contacts, and have fun!  I think we met them all! 

During our June 5th Field Day planning meeting, we agreed to operate as 3A (3 HF stations on emergency power).  The schedule would be as usual:  Setup begins at 8:30am, first station on the air at 11:00am, operate until about 5:00pm, then have clean-up complete by 6:00pm.  

Al K6AB handled Public Relations and blanketed the South Bay with our press release.  Besides the Cupertino Scene and Cupertino Courier (two local publications), the story was picked up by KKUP, a local FM radio station, as a community event spot.  During the event, the Courier also sent a staff photographer and took notes on a story for a later issue.  We've never had it so good!

Tree Huggers
Finally, the day of the event!  Skip WA6VFD was first on the scene and provided masts, antennas, and tables and chairs.  Allan KD6QPP provided enough water for a small army.  Ken KR6CO, Al K6AB, and Kris KG6KPB brought in the HF equipment.  Vince K6TEN brought our 2 meter station, and Ian KG6JWG provided 6 meter coverage.  As with previous years, Cupertino Parks and Rec provided two pop-up canopies that are always appreciated.

1.  Our field Day Site before setup.  2.  George delivers the generator with Dan KA5TAA assisting.  3.  Station supplies begin to arrive.  4.  Ken KR6CO discusses planned HF operations with Vince K6TEN.

We quickly established 2 of the 3 operating positions under canopies close to the towering Redwood that was right by the parking lot.  The 3rd position was set up on a card table right at the base of the tree.  The shade from the tree was better than any canopy could provide, and we continued to adjust all positions to remain under that shade for the rest of the afternoon, bringing new meaning to the term "Tree Hugging" to Cupertino ARES! 

As expected, getting antennas in the air is always the challenge and this year was no different.  We had the pleasure of experimenting with a variety of antennas in the past… NVIS antenna in 2002, a Viet Nam-era 50ft crank-up tower in 2001, and fanned dipoles and G5RVs in previous years.  So, it was no surprise that we spent most of the set up getting metal in the air.

Antenna #1 – Folded Dipole.  Ken KR6CO’s antenna for this year was a newly acquired 1.8 to 30 MHz folded dipole.  At over 130 ft long, we agreed on a local Sycamore tree as one support, and the ball-field light pole as the other.  Several members tried their luck at getting a rope high enough over the tree to support the antenna.  However, success was granted to Eric KG6QPT who had the cord ideally placed on his first short.  He earned the nick-name on One-Shot Eric as a result! 

1.  Allan KD6QPP is first up for getting a "sky hook" in the tree.  2.  He also
surveys the other end.  3.  Ken KR6CO and Dan KA5TAA attach the
antenna to the rope while Pete N6YEO and Allan get ready to raise
it  skyward.  4.  Finally!  The Fanned Dipole is airborne and ready to

The other end of the support unexpectedly turned out to be a bit harder.  With the first rungs of the pole up over 10 feet, we figured this was just a matter of lobbing the cord over a higher rung… not the case at all!  Yours truly won the "Most-Tangled Mess Award" when I lobbed a wrench on the end of a cord over a rung, only to have it wrap around several of them, several times, on its far-end decent.  Now I know why I’m in management!  Luckily, the team not only untangled my mess, but also came up with an ingenious way of exactly placing the rope on a higher rung using 30 feet of mast as an arm extension.  By comparison, pulling the antenna into the air was anticlimactic and HF station #1 was ready to go.

Antenna #2 – R8.  Kris KG6KPB brought his KENWOOD TS-570D and a Cushcraft R8, HF Multiband Vertical Antenna (6 through 40 meters).  With this as an incentive to get the 5 words per minute (of Morse Code) under his belt, Kris is ready for his General Class upgrade and HF privileges.  The R8 was fully disassembled, and assembly began as soon as it was unloaded from the car. 

1.  Skip WA6VHF holds the mast while Kris KG6KPB tightens the U-bolts.
2.  A team effort! The R8 is raised in the air.  3.  Vince K6TEN and
Bill KD6TQJ steady the mast while Kris attaches the lower radials. 
4.  Looking back at the site... the generator and R8 are to the left,
everyone  else is hugging the tree for shade.

Within a half hour, it was ready for air-time.  We started looking at 4 different mounting alternatives, and quickly discovered the practical reality of raising a 28 ft (and heavy) vertical antenna over one’s head without a Gin Pole.  We settled for mounting the antenna on a short 4 foot pole, placing it into a footing dug in the ground, and guying the antenna.

Antenna #3 – Buddipole.  Al K6AB brought along his newly acquired Buddipole.  This is a very compact backpack-able antenna that operates between 40 and 10 meters and easily collapses down into a small roll.  Coupled with Al’s ICOM 756, Al planned to work some digital modes.

1.  Al K6AB begins assembling the Buddipole, then...  2.  Leroy KG6OGA
joins in.  3.  Almost done, Several members help get the mast on
the tripod.

The Buddipole went together easily.  All components appeared to be well constructed and the machining made the assembly very smooth.  With an additional tripod and extendable pool cleaning pole, Al’s antenna was up 12-13 feet in no-time.

 Antenna #4 – VHF and UHF.  To support our VHF and UHF operations, Pete N6YEO brought along his 2 meter and 440 J-Poles that are sold by the local American Legion Post 380.  These were each mounted on separate 20 foot masts and were operational in short order.

1.  Takeo KG6NCB steadies the VHF mast while Allan KD6QPP (facing)
and Vince K6TEN connect the coax.  2.  Our VHF/UHF antenna farm!

On the Air!
At 11:00am, CARES was on the air as K6AB, 3A, SCV.  All stations quickly found their frequency and the contacts starting rolling in.  Here’s a summary of the reports from the teams:

Al K6AB began by tuning his Buddipole to 15 meters and setting up his radio and computer for the digital mode PSK31.  He quickly found that strong signals from other local PSK31 stations made his setup unusable on this band as well as 40 and 20 meters.  So he switched to SSB on 15 meters where he reported the contacts to be few and far between... about 3 per hour.  However the band opened up a bit the last couple of hours of operation and he was logging about 6-7 contacts per hour.  15 meters really started to pick up just before 4:00pm.

Al tried 10 meters once, but it sounded totally dead.  He could only raise one ham in the East Bay, who confirmed that it had been dead all day.

With his Buddipole, he was able to contact most of the western states; CA, AZ, NM, OR, WA, ID, UT, CO, and MT.  He also contacted three stations in British Columbia, with the most interesting contact being with CO0US in Havana, Cuba, a distance of 2543 miles!

After the event, Al did some research on why PSK31 wasn't working well at Field Day and thinks it's primarily a problem with his receiver's design.  It de-senses in the presence of strong nearby signals, which apparently was the case. 

Overall, Al reported he was pretty happy with his Buddipole and how it worked out.

Ken KR6CO was anxious to check out his new fanned dipole antenna, and started up on 80 meters only to find it was also dead… all day!  However, 40 meters turned out to be a better choice providing plenty of contacts all day long.

Operating under the call K6AB, Kris KG6KPB was able to get on HF for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the Field Day experience.  He reported that the best part of the event was making contacts, with New Hampshire being his furthest.

Here are some of the photos from the event.  See the entire photo album here.

Eric KG6QPT watches Al K6AB try some PSK31,
with Leroy KG6OGA looking on.

Ken KR6CO operating with Allan KD6QPP logging, and Takeo KG6NCB
watching the action on 40 meters.

Ian KG6JWG hunts for contacts on 40 meters

Stuart KF6RZR logs while Bill KD6TQJ makes 20 meter contacts.

Shift Change... Bob KD6US operates while Kris KG6KPB logs contracts

Vince K6TEN, the CARES Engineer in Charge, talks with
Ian KG6JWG about VHF.

In the "For the record" department...
Not that CARES is a top contender for 1st Place Field Day points, we were visited by representatives from the City of Cupertino.  Andy W9BJX (AEC, Cupertino ARES) extended invitations to Cupertino City Council members and we were pleased to have them visit us.  Ken KR6CO hosted Mayor Michael Chang, Councilman Richard Lowenthal, and Cupertino OES representative Al Tsugawa KG6NCC.  Not that we're counting, but that sounds like 200 points right there!

1.  Cupertino Mayor Michael Chang talks with Ken KR6CO while
Allan KD6QPP operates on 40 meters.  2.  Vince K6TEN discusses the
state of Amateur Radio and VHF operations with Cupertino Councilman
Richard Lowenthal as Ian KG6JWG looks on.   3.  Ken also met with
Al Tsugawa KG6NCC from the Cupertino OES, one of our Served Agencies.

By 5:00pm, we made our last contact, pulled the plug on the generator, and shut-down was in progress.  By 6:00pm, we were all cleaned up and driving away.

This actually was a very good site.  We operated in closer proximity to each other than we have in the past making frequency coordination a lot easier.  We had excellent visibility with the community with several drop-in's.  And, the shade of our Redwood made the weather enjoyable.

All in all, the 2003 Emergency Field Communications Drill and ARRL Field Day event met our objectives.  Our planning showed we could adapt to a very different situation.  We collaborated and developed strategies together to get our stations on the air.  And, we made contacts outside of Cupertino.

Ken KR6CO is totaling the score and will be reported later.

Thanks to the following CARES members who participated:

Left to Right, Standing: Vince K6TEN, Dan KA5TAA, Kris KG6KPB,
Al K6AB, Pete N6YEO, Bob KD6US, Ken KR6CO, Eric KG6QPT,
Allan KD6QPP, Leroy KG6OGA, Ryan KG6NVS.  Kneeling: Skip WA6VFD,
Stuart KF6RZR, Bill KD6TQJ, Takeo KG6NCB, Al KG6NCC.
Not shown: Ian KG6JWG, Jim KN6PE, Bryn N1UZW

Also, special thanks to Ken KR6CO for organizing the event, Al K6AB for the Public Relations, Andy W9BJX for the for the City Liaison work, and Takeo KG6NCB for the contributing to the photo album.

For pictures of Field Day 2003, click here.
For Bob K6RTM and Alex MG6MOV's Field Day story, click here
For pictures of Field Day 2002, click here.
For pictures of Field Day 2001, click here.
For pictures of Field Day 2000, click here.
For pictures of Field Day 1999, click here.

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