Posts Tagged ‘Special Event Station’
NPOTA: ARRL’s Best Idea?
The National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) is off and running. Making contact with a handful of stations currently operating from NPOTA locations has made me wonder if the ARRL has had a good idea with NPOTA as a way to help celebrate the anniversary of the National Park Service.
From ARRL: “Throughout 2016, Amateur Radio will be helping the National Park Service celebrate their 100th anniversary. Hams from across the country will activate NPS units, promote the National Park Service and showcase Amateur Radio to the public.”
I am a huge fan of both the National Parks and the National Park Service. Anyone who is interested in the history of our National Parks would be well rewarded to start with the Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Yellowstone generally gets credit for being the first National Park back in 1872. However, the National Park Service was not established until 1916. That period in between provides us a very good reason that there are times when we need a government organization to protect us from ourselves. During that in between period, the Army was given the mission of attempting to protect both Yellowstone and Yosemite. Like most missions the Army received, they were underfunded, under equipped, and undermanned. They did, however, do the best they could to protect these amazing areas. Many Americans saw these new National Parks as areas for economic exploitation. If it wasn’t for many individuals working long and hard for the establishment of the National Park Service, it is very likely we would not be able to enjoy the parks we have today. Stephen Mather and Horace Albright were the two primary individuals who secured the establishment of the National Park Service. Ken Burns talks about these two individuals in his documentary and there are also a few books that do a great job telling the story (Creating the National Park Service: The Missing Years and The Birth of the National Park Service: The Founding Years, 1913-33).
The National Parks exist for our enjoyment. Generally that enjoyment manifests itself in some type of hiking, camping, fishing, watching for wildlife, or learning about history. This interaction between Park and citizen can be passionate, emotional, revitalizing, inspirational, and an educational experience.
With all that being said, I was a bit surprised to hear stations making contacts for NPOTA locations like it was a contest. Each NPOTA location is identified by a letter-number combination. No discussion of where they actually were. No description, no discussion. It is a bit sad to see there is a Leader Board – which only facilitates looking at NPOTA as a contest rather than an actual celebration.
I also wonder how these activations are impacting those non-amateur radio enthusiasts who are visiting a NPOTA site. Is this putting amateur radio in the best light?
Are these NPOTA activations promoting the National Park Service or showcasing Amateur Radio to the public?
If so, how?
What would Stephen Mather and Horace Albright think about NPOTA?
It will be interesting to see how NPOTA progresses over the coming weeks and months.
Notes from the shack
Over winter break I have been putting in a lot of time behind the radio. Here’s the wrap up:
First – more DX. In general, this is a good time of year to catch hams behind their rigs. Some contacts that I am particularly proud of:
4U1WB, The World Bank in Washington D.C.
ZD7DL, St Helena Island
C5YK, The Gambia
MI5AFK, Northern Ireland
FG5GP, the island of Guadeloupe
ZS6TVB, South Africa
EA8DAZ, Canary Islands
Second – working a lot of DX. There is the 90th anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) special event activations. Plenty of good DX participating in this and working multiple bands.
Third – working Santa (aka AA4EE) on Christmas Eve. The girls really enjoyed telling Santa what they wanted. Thank you Santa!
Four – joining the OMISS and the 3905 Century Club nets. I am not sure if I fully understand these nets. I get the convenience in pursuing Worked All States awards. That makes sense. However each club also has an additional bevy of other types of awards. The actual contacts during the nets seem a bit unfulfilling. But I may not yet fully understand these nets. I need to thoroughly read all the literature.
Five – Log of the World: I have uploaded the vast majority of my logs. I mentioned before about uploading my YI9MI logs. I also went back and uploaded my log from KD7PJQ back in Virginia. The logs from Korea (HL2/AD7MI and HL9MI) are now uploaded. All my logs using AD7MI have been uploaded.
Get Ready: Month-long Special Event for SKCC, the 2016 K3Y Celebration
Are you ready for the annual, month-long special event by the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC)? The SKCC Group membership is free, and celebrates the longest tradition of amateur radio: Morse code. But, not just any Morse code. The manual creation of Morse code by “straight” keys means no electronic origin, only mechanical. This is a month-long event, during January 2016, modelled after the ARRL Straight Key Night.
Here’s a video that I made showing my activity as the control operator of the special event station, K3Y/0, during one of the many shifts during January (2015). K3Y is the special event callsign of the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC). The special event operates each January. I’ll be doing this again, this coming month, January of 2016.
K3Y, the Straight Key Century Club’s annual January celebration, commemorates the club’s founding in 2006 following the American Radio Relay League’s Straight Key Night. A small group of participants wanted to extend the fun of SKN throughout the year. The SKCC is the result.
For the first three years, the club’s founders used K1Y, K2A, and K3Y as the celebration’s special-event calls. But someone cleverly noticed that a 3 is nothing more than a backwards, curvaceous E. This “KEY” event has operated under the K3Y call ever since.
The on-air party is open to members and non-members alike. It runs from 0000 UTC Jan. 2 through 2359 UTC Jan. 31. It’s a great time to introduce others to the joys of hand-crafted Morse code using straight keys, bugs, and side swipers.
This year, January 2016, we’ll be fielding K3Y operators in each of the 10 US call areas, plus KH6, KL7 and KP4, along with specially scheduled stations in each of six IARU continental regions. Your QSOs with event operators in all these 19 areas will be tabulated in the Statistics section and can be confirmed with a K3Y QSL card and Sweep Certificate.
+ The SKCC website is at http://skccgroup.com
+ The K3Y special event page is http://www.skccgroup.com/k3y/
73 de NW7US
I had the opportunity to be a guest operator at WW1USA today. WW1USA is a special event station located at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO.
There was a request for operators that I saw on Larry’s List. Larry’s List is an awesome resource for hams in the greater Kansas City area. Not just another email list-serv, but a truly valuable resource in understanding what is happening in the area. From community events, swap-n-shop, club meetings, weekly nets to nearby hamfests – Larry’s List is one stop shopping for everything you need to know about amateur radio in Kansas City.
I read about the opportunity to sign up for operator/logging slots during this weekends activation of WW1USA and thought it would be a neat opportunity.
Arriving about 10 minutes before my shift started, I was immediately directed to a position and asked to start logging for an operator working contacts on 20 meters. The brief instructions I received was to log the callsign, name, and state of the contact. I think I recognized the logging program as N3FJPs logging program for Windows. I had used this program before during Field Day 2009 with my dad, KD6EUG.
As I adjusted into the chair, my ear turned towards a speaker, my fingers pecking away entering callsigns… I noticed there were not any radios here! Each of the operating positions were laptops, using HRD to control a rig at a remote location. Pretty cool. As I believe it would have been fairly difficult to raise antennas on top of the museum and then route feedlines down to an operating room, the planners of this special event used internet connectivity. To be honest, as an operator, the fact that I was not in front of the rig was really not even apparent.
After twenty minutes, I slid into the operators chair and proceeded to work contacts for the next two hours. Again, the planning effort of this operation became evident when I saw a short script in front of me for calling CQ as well as providing answers on how calling stations could QSL the contact. When a station at the distant end asked for more information about the reason for the special event, I was handed another card which talked about commemorating the failed Gallipoli campaign.
I had a great time making contacts: stations all over Canada and the United States. What a fun time!
National Parks On The Air
From the ARRL: “Throughout 2016, Amateur Radio will be helping the National Park Service celebrate their 100th anniversary. Hams from across the country will activate NPS units, promote the National Park Service and showcase Amateur Radio to the public.”
This should be an exciting event for me. This past summer I got to enjoy some extended travels through a few of our national parks (visited a total of 5). This coming summer I am planning the same but hopefully am going to be able to visit even more.
While I do not intend to conduct any extended activations, I do plan on getting onto the HF bands from my mobile while I am at the parks.
I am getting closer to locking in my summer travel’s calendar. Most parks start taking reservations at six months out… just about there.
ARRL is already selling quite a bit of National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) swag. One item that I have ordered is the NPOTA map, which I’ll post in the room where I will do my trip planning.
I will need to think through how I cam going to do my logging. For QSL cards, I can use postcards from the park and stamp them with each park’s National Park Passport stamp.
Armed Forces Day Crossband Test
I had a fairly successful day participating in the Armed Forces Day Crossband Test. To recap, I am currently at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin for a brief period of time supporting a National Guard exercise. Normally when I go around to different Army units and assist in their exercises I fly. But I decided to take my Toyota Tundra on this trip and re-installed my HF rig. I have never preiously particpated in the Armed Forces Day Crossband Test and have always wanted to…. this was my chance.
The AFD Crossband Test has two components to it. The first is to receive a message from the Secretary of Defense which is transmitted in various digital modes from different military stations during the day. The second part of the Test is to make contact with the military stations with the military stations operating in their band and the amateurs in their band (hence the term “Crossband”).
For the Secretary of Defense message I hooked my Rigblaster Plug & Play to my IC-706MKIIG and brought my laptop into the truck (which has fldigi installed). The Rigblaster worked like a charm and I was able to copy the SECDEF’s message from WAR (at The Pentagon), AAZ (Fort Huachuca, AZ), and AIR-2 (New York). All these transmissions were in RTTY, which fldigi was able to read without issue. Now I need to print out copies of the messages I copied (which are the same, except the header information which reflects what station was transmitting the message) and send them in to the corresponding station. In return, I believe, I’ll receive a certificate from the SECDEF (suitable for framing, I’m sure).
The crossband contacts caused me to take a crash course in split frequency operations for my IC-706MKIIG. Fortunately I had my Nifty “Cliff Notes” version of the manual and was able to figure it out pretty quick. Although the actual execution took a bit of time to get down. First, obviously, I had to hear the station calling. MARS HQ publishes ahead of time a list of each station and the frequency that they will transmit from. I built a spreadsheet that allowed me to sort by frequency which made it easier to search for the transmitting station. The searching was done in the IC-706MKIIG’s VFO A. Once I found the station, I had to listen for them to announce the amateur frequency they were listening to… which most stations did periodically. Once I got their listening frequency, I flipped over to VFO B, dialed up the frequency, tuned the Tarheel screwdriver antenna, flipped back to VFO A, then hit the Split function, and waited for a chance to call. In the end, I was successful in contacting five different stations: WAR (at The Pentagon), NWKJ (located on the USS Yorktown, Charleston, SC), NMN0CQQ (located on the USS Midway, San Diego, CA), AAZ (good ol’ Fort Huachuca, AZ), and NWVC (a Navy MARS station in Indiana). For these contacts I get to send in my QSL card and hope for a response.
None of this was exotic DX but it was fun and exciting… and a bit challenging trying to do it all from inside my Toyota Tundra. I hope I am able to particpate again next year.
$3 AIR-2 AIR-2 MESSAGE FOLLOWS
DE AIR-2 AIR-2 MESSAGE FOLLOWS
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
ARMED FORCES DAY 2012 MESSAGE
TO AMATEUR RADIO AND
MILITARY AUXILIARY RADIO SYSTEM
FOR THE PAST SIXTY-THREE YEARS, OUR NATION HAS RECOGNIZED
THE DISTINGUISHED GLOBAL SERVICE OF OUR UNITED STATES
MILITARY DURING THE ANNUAL ARMED FORCES DAY CELEBRATION.
AMATEUR RADIO AND MILITARY AUXILIARY RADIO SYSTEM OPERATORS
PROVIDE ESSENTIAL CONTINGENCY COMMUNICATIONS TO RELIABLY SUPPORT
OUR NATIONS MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. YOUR SUPPORT OF
COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN DEPLOYED SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AIRMEN,
MARINES, SUPPORTING CIVILIANS, AND THEIR FAMILIES IS DEEPLY
ON BEHALF OF ALL UNIFORMED SERVICES, I EXTEND MY SINCEREST
APPRECIATIMN FOR YOUR HARD WORK, SELFLESS DEDICATION, AND
VITAL SERVICE TO OUR GREAT NATION. WELL DONE!
/S/ LEON E. PANETTA
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
APPROVED FOR TRANSMISSION,
DE AIR-2 AIR-2
Special event station N2H at hacker convention
The station has a great QSL card (above) which was drawn by Ed Piskor of Wizzywig Comics. Ed shows on his blog how he created the QSL card. I will have to try and catch N2H on the air to get one of those cards.
Great to see amateur radio involved in the hacker scene.
For above image note: Ed Piskor / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0