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February 7th 2018 - Rhinebeck, NY
The Overlook Mountain Amateur Radio Club (OMARC) held its inaugural “Winter Field Day” operation on January 27th and 28th 2018 at Ferncliff Forest in Rhinebeck, New York. Permission to use the famous venue was granted by Knick Staley, trustee of the facility and grounds which are known for its many well-maintained trails, an 80-foot-tall fire tower, ponds and variety natural features.
(Main operating cabin for WFD 2018. Photo Courtesy of Joe N1JTA. Click for larger view)
The weather forecast leading up the event indicated low fifty degree weather ahead for Saturday with a chance of rain in the evening. The OMARC team responsible for planning the event and all those who helped with actual setup at 10:00 AM Saturday morning made short work of all the tasks that needed to be completed. The club was able to be on the air in time for the official 2:00 PM start of the Winter Field Day contest and weather proved to not be an issue in making the 2018 Winter Field Day one to remember.
(OMARC Registration and Safety Equipment Table. Photo Courtesy of Joe N1JTA. Click for larger view)_
The goal of Winter Field Day is to make radio contacts with other event participants using as many frequencies and modes available to the modern amateur radio operator across the United States, Canada and beyond.
The reason for making contacts from a temporary operating location such as Ferncliff Forest is to promote emergency preparedness and overall awareness of what modern amateur enthusiasts are capable of. Moreover, being able to demonstrate concepts such as antenna setup, radio operating and related best practices in public to many others who frequent the forest made for a fantastic experience. Hikers, families and even those out for a brisk dog walk were some of who stopped by our location to ask questions about amateur radio.
The various antennas in use by OMARC created a lot of interest, especially as to why some were over 130 feet long and others much smaller.
The largest antenna in use was an “inverted L” type of antenna which was 60-foot-high, 90-foot-long and permitted activity on the 1.8 MHz “160 meter” band as well as the 3.5 MHz “80 meter” band. These lower frequencies tend to work better for long range communication during the colder time of year and evening hours because of how the atmosphere and sun influence how certain radio waves travel.
(Greg KD2MBF, expert marksman launching a line to pull up the larger dipoles. Photo Courtesy of Joe N1JTA. Click for larger view)
OMARC also used two antennas called quarter wave dipoles that were used on the higher frequency bands of 7.1 MHz and 14.3 MHz. These frequencies tend to work during most times of the year and during the day time hours. Due to some careful design, OMARC was also able to use these antennas on the 3.5 MHz frequency as well. Most all the contacts the club made during the contest used these two antennas
(Hauling up the 10m/15m/20m dipole. Photo Courtesy of David KD2MQE. Click for larger view)
Many people wondered how OMARC was able to get the ropes and wire antennas so high up into the trees since there were no ladders or climbing gear located nearby with the rest of the equipment. This was all made possible through the use of pneumatic antenna launchers that can propel fishing line with a small weight up over branches which can then be used to pull heavier rope and wire up into the air without breaking.
(Dave K2JLV posing with the MkII pneumatic launcher. Photo Courtesy of Joe N1JTA. Click for larger view)
Two other antennas that were not so large did not require the use of the pneumatic “Mark II” launcher as one member of OMARC referred to it by. The smaller antennas in use for the event was a different type of dipole antenna made from aluminum pipe hoisted up in a lower hanging tree branch and a “spider like” looking antenna called a discone antenna for VHF/UHF local communications.
(Lloyd K2JVX and George K2KME setting up the discone antenna. Photo Courtesy of Jim K2BHM. Click for larger version)
By the end of the event Sunday morning, it was estimated that no less than 80 people, not including the 17 OMARC and a few other amateur radio operators who visited Ferncliff Forest, passing right by where OMARC had set up its station and antennas.
OMARC submitted its log of all contacts made to the organization who regulates Winter Field Day and expects to make the results public in the next 60 days or less.
(Bob K2LD making contact on 80m with the Icom IC-765 and Yaesu FT-450. Photo Courtesy of Joe N1JTA. Click for larger version)
(Jackie K1JGH and her mom, Sherrie K1SDH visiting the WFD "shack". Photo Courtesy of Joe N1JTA. Click for larger view.)
A special thank you to the following people and organizations who participated in OMARC WFD 2018 and made this event run smoothly and safely (listed in alphabetical order.)