This year's Field Day was truly a historical tour of western West Virginia. It started off on Wednesday, June 20th with N5AAA and KA9VQS arriving at Da Bear's in Harrisville.
WA8ZWJ met WB8NSL, N5AAA and KA9VQS for lunch in Parkersburg at noon on Thursday. After lunch the group went to the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg.
The model shown in the top right below was cleaned up by WB8NSL when he first started to work for the carbon black factory almost 40 years ago! It was later donated to the museum for display.
We were all surprised to see that Texas was represented in the collection of items. We figure that Hoss probably had something to do with getting the Waco Oil and Gas Company going. :-) The collection of insulators made us all think of the upcoming Field Day weekend!
After finishing the museum tour Charlie treated the gang to a boat ride to Blennerhassett Island. We took the tour of the Blennerhassett Mansion! Charlie surely must be a slick tongued devil because he talked the captain of the boat into letting him have the helm for a while on the way over to the island.
After returning to the mainland, we headed to Da Bear's for a short rest before dinner. Da Bear had been busy and had started getting things ready for Field Day. The camper trailer shown is John and Jan's (N5AAA & KA9VQS).
After dinner we went to the Harrisville Court House for a reenactment of a speech by General Robert E. Lee. This speech was given at a college to a group of incoming freshmen and their parents in 1868.
John took a picture of Keith and Charlie's RAM (Random Access Memory) systems.
Friday morning the gang went to the Whitetail Restaurant. You can see in the pictures why the restaurant is so named. After breakfast, Da Bear (KE8NK) and Mike (KN8J) set up the canopies for Field Day operations while the out-of-towners continued their historical tour.
Our historical tour included an old dime store in Harrisville, an old school house museum in Harrisville, an old time hardware store in Cairo, the new repeater site, Charlie's home in Pennsboro, Charlie's 6HP hit and miss engine at his mother-in-law's and The Stone House with 26 rooms where Charlie is one of the tour guides. The original structure was built in the early 1800's.
Friday afternoon we returned to Da Bear's and put up the G5RV antenna for the back up/demo station. Mike had been busy setting up the primary operating station and computer controlled software for the station. He provided the group with his radio and laptop computer running N1MM Logger which has the capability to control the radio - if the operator so chooses. It is a very powerful piece of contest software. Even though the N1MM Logger has the ability to log and dupe we still ran a more traditional logging software package on a second laptop - first for tradition's sake and secondly to provide a backup log in case of some kind of catastrophic failure. That way, all our eggs were not in one basket. The back up/demo station was set up as well. Then the gang went to North Bend State Park and had dinner in their restaurant.
Upon returning to Da Bear's, WB8NSL and WA8ZWJ set to copying the W1AW 8PM CW bulletin. Yee haw! That was 100 points!
After the bulletin had been typed, WA8ZWJ set up an APRS Demo and a SSTV Demo. (100 points per demo) The demo station will be set up throughout Field Day to show visitors as well. Following the demos, Da Bear broke out the Beargaritas and our annual "solving the world's problems session" began. Mmm Mmm good!
Saturday morning breakfast was at the P&H Restaurant in Pennsboro. Charlie and Keith then went to the grocery to procure Field Day provisions while the rest of the gang went back to the Field Day site and began set up in earnest. Once ZWJ and NSL arrived at the site it was time for the big erection. The 40' tall tower supports the fan dipole set up on 20, 40 and 80 Meters. A steel cable is connected to the tractor to raise the tower and it also serves as one guy. Ropes are attached to the tower for the other two guys. The the fan dipole is pulled to the top through a pulley with one side of each pair of dipoles being anchored along the tree line. The other side of each dipole is connected via a short piece of line to an aluminum pipe which is duct taped to a 2 by 4 which is duct taped to a fence post driven into the ground a couple of feet. With this arrangement the dipoles are nearly flat topped and with an antenna tuner most bands can be operated.
While the guys were playing with the antenna set up, Jan put together a fantastic dip plate. As you can imagine, it didn't last long! Since the antennas tuned up okie dokie, we had about 2 hours of free time before the contest's official start at 2PM.
We did have a fair number of guests visit the site during the day Saturday. Most were hams from the surrounding area.
Since we run a 1A station, we take turns being on the air and logging for each other. Saturday evening Charlie checked into the West Virginia phone traffic net and passed our Field Day message to the SEC.
The white canopy serves as our dining area as well as the place we receive visitors and do the assorted demonstrations. It also serves as a place where we can congregate and talk without disturbing the on-the-air operators.
I know it is kind of hard to tell, but the Field Day tower is in the foreground and Da Bear's Den is in the background.
Since this contest lasts 24 hours, we take turns operating all night long as well.
It is sad to say, but we didn't get a picture of Mike and Don running the midnight to 3AM CW shift. Charlie and Keith came on at 3AM and continued until breakfast around 8AM also running CW. By the way, anyone who says CW is dead needs to listen to the bands during Field Day. There are LOTS of stations out there running CW.
Our traditional Field Day breakfast is "Skunk Breakfast". Fast Eddie originally came up with the recipe, stating that it was very important to find FRESH road kill! John and Jan took Skunk Breakfast to a new level a number of years ago when they introduced "Skunk Breakfast Mexically" using burrito shells to serve Skunk Breakfast on and adding salsa to the recipe! Mmm Mmm good! Fast Eddie usually assists Don in fixing breakfast, but, as you see above, he was too busy sucking the feathers out of his pillow to help Sunday morning!
There were 4 satellite passes that we had hopes of making a contact through during the Field Day period. Each of those passes lasts about 10 minutes so, it is fast and furious. Even though we did hear the satellite on each of the passes, we have yet to make our first satellite contact during Field Day. We will continue to try.
Field Day Contest officially ended for us at 2PM. After a brief tear down session (about an hour) we all adjourned to the closest shower to clean up before heading out to dinner.
After dinner, while Fast Eddie compiled all the necessary reports and so on for electronic filing, Charlie and I worked on our official Press Release.
The above press release was sent electronically to the local newspaper Sunday evening.
We ended up with a total of 158 Single Side Band contacts and 372 CW contacts. The CW contacts count 2 points each so that is a total of 902 points for contacts. Counting our bonus points, our final score was 2754 compared to last year's 2844. So, I guess we sent out the press release a bit sooner than we should have as the score was only 90 points less than last year even though the sunspot conditions we are presently experiencing hampered band conditions. What undoubtedly helped our score this year was having Mike also operate CW during a variety of times during the Field Day period. In past years, Keith has been the primary CW operator.
Our historic visit of Ritchie County West Virginia was not yet complete. Monday morning after breakfast, Charlie took the group on a tour through the Historic Pennsboro Train Depot where he is also a tour guide and a member of the Historical Society.
After we left the Train Depot, we got the real surprise. A local fellow who runs a marble factory in the back of his property was making marbles that morning. It is amazing the craftsmanship and patience one has to have to do such an artistic rendering. We got to see him "draw glass" - that is, after working a piece of glass in one of the four furnaces he has he then he placed one end in a vice and stretched it across the building until it was about an eighth of an inch thick. He explained that this pulled glass is then cut to specific lengths to use in his marble making. These pulled pieces and up being the colored pieces that make the swirls in the marbles. The furnaces were set at different temperatures to heat, temper and/or slow cool the various pieces of glass in various stages of marble making.
In the picture on the right top corner below you can see him working hot glass into a ball. It took him about an hour to get to this stage of the process. In the bottom left corner you see this same piece after it has cooled some and he has trimmed and finished the ends. It was then placed into a furnace to heat overnight before cooling. He will make 4 or 5 more marbles from the same stick of glass that the first one came off of. Each of those marbles are a brother to the other in that the colors and swirls will be similar although not identical. For more information you can contact Sammy Hogue at MountainMarbles@zoominternet.net.
Pretty neat stuff! It was truly an incredible finish to our whirlwind historical tour!
Thanks to our tour guide and host, Chuck, WB8NSL. He was most "intelligible"! (Yes, it's an inside joke)
Thanks to our Field Day Site host Don, Da Bear, KE8NK. "ROAR!"
Thanks to our primary station guru Mike, KN8J.
Thanks to our dupe/logging laptop guru Randy, AB8CO.
Thanks to John, "Ain't Got None" N5AAA and Jan, KA9VQS for coming all the way from Tennessee!
Thanks to Fast Eddie, W8ED for the use of his call sign and for bringing the beer!
Thanks to AB8CO, KE8NK, N5AAA, W8ED, WA8ZWJ and WB8NSL for providing the pictures for this web page.
Respectfully submitted, Keith, WA8ZWJ, Vice President of the I.O.O.K.