Sunday, 25 June 2017

09:56 – It was 59.1F (15C) when I took Colin out around 0630 this morning, overcast and breezy. Barbara is cleaning house this morning. This afternoon, more science kit stuff.

We spent yesterday afternoon and evening at the local amateur radio club’s Field Day event. First time in more than 40 years I’d pressed the transmit button on a ham radio. It worked.

We had a hard time finding the park where the event was held. That’s not the first time that’s happened to me. For a small town of about 1,800 population, it can be hard to find things around here. When we first moved up here, I went off in search of the local LDS Church. I knew its street address. I found it on a town map. We drove around in circles looking for it. We could actually see it. I know it sounds stupid, but we couldn’t find any way to actually get to it. We even drove through the parking lot and loading dock area of a nearby factory. We spotted a driveway that was a secondary entrance but it had a steel gate lowered to block it. I still haven’t been to visit the place.

Yesterday, we knew that the park we were looking for was at the end of Trojan Drive, which is where the high school is. We drove around for 10 minutes or so looking for a park. No luck. Finally, we were sitting at the entrance to the high school driveway. We’d agreed that no way could it be up there, but with no other choice we drove up the driveway. Sure enough, there was an small access road leading off to the left, up past the athletic fields, tennis courts, and so on. So we headed up that road and eventually spotted a small drive branching off to the right. We took that, and found ourselves in a gravel parking lot, but with no obvious park facilities. So we retraced our route and continued up the access road. Finally, we spotted a shelter with a couple cars parked near it. If this wasn’t the place, I was thinking we should just give up and head home. But it ended up being the right place.

There were only three or four people there, but over the next hour or so more people showed up, until we had 20 or so adults total. Of those, probably a dozen or so were hams, with the rest being non-ham spouses. The average age was probably about Barbara’s and my age, although there was one 18-year-old guy and his 15-yo girlfriend.

There were six or eight rigs set up on the picnic tables. Everything from a home-made QRP rig that dated back to the 70’s to recent Icom and Yaesu base stations. Over the course of the day, different people were operating on 10-, 20-, and 40-meters, talking to other hams all over the US. One guy even ran CW for a while. And, of course, lots of us were active on the local 2-meter repeater.

The email said kids were welcome, so we took Colin along. He had the time of his life. Lots of new friends to pet him and share scraps with him. We kept him on a roller leash all day, just on general principles, but he was so well-behaved that we didn’t really need to.

I was pleased with the performance of the BaoFeng UV-82. It’s a PITA to program, but once I got it set to hit the repeater (with a lot of help from another ham), signal strength was excellent, even using just the stock rubber-duck antenna. The battery also did well. I’d charged it fully before we left the house. It ran for about six hours, at maybe 90/8/2 standby/receive/transmit, and at the end of the evening it was still showing a full charge.