W2LI SOTA Activation and ARRL VHF Contest Wrap Up

On September 10th, 2016, club members Rob-K2RWF, Craig-KD2INN, and AJ-AJ2I traveled to the Catskill mountains to activate a Summit On The Air (SOTA) mountain - Utsayantha Mountain in Deleware County, NY. SOTA rules stipulate that you must hike the last 75 feet of elevation with all equipment needed. Since this was a short distance, and we had a road to hike up, we brought a fair amount of equipment. 

Once at the top, we quickly set up an HF station and got to work on 20 meters. Our elevation was at 3200 feet, with a spectacular view of the Catskill mountain range. HF operations began at about 9:30 AM, and were conducted  on an IC7100 with a simple homebrew end-fed antenna and 9:1 unun matchbox. Power was supplied from a 36 amp hour deep cycle battery, and we ran at about 100 watts. 

Contacts were made quickly with favorable reports from stations across the continental US and into Europe. States worked included NC, IL, MI, PA, VA, OR, WA, AL, AZ, IN, KS, NM, FL, MO, LA, OK, TN, and TX. DX included DL1BUG and IZ1GMJ. 35 contacts were made in about 3 1/2 hours of operating time. 

As you can see from the pictures, there were multiple towers at this location, with many low band, VHF, and UHF antennas. This ended up causing significant intermod issues with our radios on VHF and up; an obvious concern for the ARRL September VHF contest starting at 2 pm. After attempting to use a Diamond duplexer as a band pass filter with no success, the decision was made at about 1 PM to pack up and head to a more friendly environment for the contest. 

We drove back towards Albany county, and set up at the top of a hill with a great view to our east, at about 1800 feet elevation. We had excellent line of sight access into most of New England, NY, and Connecticut. KD2INN's truck provided an excellent base of operation, and by 2:45 PM we were on the air for the contest. Craig whipped up a 6 meter Moxon during the week, which worked very well for us. We used Arrow antennas for VHF and UHF, horizontally polarized for USB contacts. 

We operated the contest until about 6:45 PM, making over 40 contacts into 8 different grid squares. Our farthest contact at over 300 miles was into FN54, working KT1R on 2 meters SSB. the VHF bands weren't in very good condition, working stations that were line of sight only. There was no 6 meter Es to note. All in all, we made 40 contacts on 6 meters, 2 meters, and 70 centimeters before packing up and heading off to dinner. 

All in all, it was a fun weekend, filled with good friendship and fun amateur radio discussion and activities. We've now caught the VHF+ bug, and I personally look forward to constructing higher gain antennas for 2 meters and 70 centimeters for the June VHF contest.  73, Rob - K2RWF

All in all, it was a fun weekend, filled with good friendship and fun amateur radio discussion and activities. We've now caught the VHF+ bug, and I personally look forward to constructing higher gain antennas for 2 meters and 70 centimeters for the June VHF contest. 

73,

Rob - K2RWF

A Letter From The President

I want to thank the membership as a whole for supporting me as Vice President over the last 8 months. Informative meetings, fun extracurricular activities, and Field Day wouldn't be possible without each and every one of you. 

As many of you already know, per the bylaws, I've assumed the role of President following the resignation of Nelson DeSousa. Nelson has worked hard for the club for the past two years, implementing new ideas and changes that have laid the groundwork to build up TCRA into a strong, active club. He deserves a round of applause for a job well done, and we as a whole wish him the best. 

As President, I plan on continuing full steam ahead to continue to build upon what my predecessors have worked so hard to accomplish. After reading the text on our website about W2LI's glory days, I see no reason why we as a club can't achieve the same accomplishments as our forefathers. Back in the day, our club was revered, winning national competitions, winning Field Day, contributing articles to QST, and being very active within the amateur community. While these are lofty goals, they are non the less goals that we should work to continue to strive for. This requires hard work and dedication, not only from the leaders of our club, but also from the membership as a whole. It takes many hands to accomplish great things, and I hope that you all will join me in this adventure. 

A club like ours is only as strong, educational, and determined as its foundation is - you, the members. I'm counting on you all to help us continue to move forward and grow the club into a prosperous organization. 

As always, I am always open to all of your suggestions, ideas, and input. Please don't ever hesitate to contact me with your questions, concerns, or thoughts on how we can continue to advance TCRA. 

73, 

Rob Fissel

K2RWF

TCRA 2016 Field Day

This year's Field Day efforts culminated in fun, food, friendship, and lots of QSO's all across the US and Canada. An excellent effort was made to improve a number of aspects from last year's setup from a technical perspective, yielding dividends in our increased score. 

Setup:

Setup started promptly at 9 am in the Watchung Reservation by TCRA members and guests. This year, we focused on improving our receiving capability, and implemented a number of wire loop antennas. These included a vertical 40 meter loop antenna, a horizontal 40 meter loop antenna, and a horizontal 80 meter antenna. While antennas were being pitched, other members were busy erecting the large emergency air conditioned tent and deploying generators, courtesy of Trinitas Hospital (thanks to Paul, KD2DRM and his lovely wife Stacy). 

Operations:

TCRA ran an all-ICOM line up this year. Pete, W2IRT provided his IC7000 for the CW station. Rob, K2RWF had his IC7100 on hand for the digital station, while Joe, KB2OYJ provided his IC7200 for the sideband station, rounding out our 3A efforts. Craig, KD2INN, was kind enough to provide his IC7100 for the GOTA station. We were active on bands 80-6 meters, making contacts on every band. We were active for all 24 hours, making at least one QSO during every hour of the event. Over 500 of our contacts were CW, the digital station made about 120 PSK contacts, and sideband rounded us out with another 420 contacts. Guest operators included Pete (W2IRT), James (KB2FCV), Rob (KB2OYI), and Justin (K2JEB). The club had 21 members in attendance for at least part of the event, and had 17 general public visitors come through to learn more about Amateur Radio. 

Our score was greatly improved by beefing up our CW and digital (PSK) operations, accounting for more than half of the total contacts made at 2 points per QSO. The club also focused on adding as many bonus points as possible. We had our Safety Officer (KD2DRM), an educational activity (Fox Hunt Learning - AA2ZJ), passing a message to our section manager, a visit from a local police officer (Jonathan Regan - Union County Sheriff's Office), a visit by Hudson Division Vice Director Bill Hudzik W2UDT, press releases to media outlets and local news papers, a GOTA station, 100% emergency power via portable diesel generators, hosting in a public location, a public information table, social media presence (via TCRA's Facebook page and event), and an online web submission of our Field Day results. 

Score Totals:

1023 QSO's total

  • 118 PSK QSO's
  • 497 CW QSO's
  • 408 Phone QSO's

Total Score Claimed (including bonus points): 4426 (a 2x increase from last year!)

 

Food:

TCRA really put on a good food exhibition. Burgers and hot dogs a plenty. Specialties included Stacy's meatballs and baked ziti, Nelson (KD2CYU) and his marinated beef short ribs, Rob (KB2OYI) and his middle of the night brats and peppers & onions, and Eric's (WB2LMW) fantastic breakfast sandwiches early Sunday morning.

Tear Down: 

Thanks to advanced planning and learning from last year's Field Day break down, wheels were up from the Wachung Reservation at 2:55 PM - just under one hour after Field Day officially ended. Organization was key, as everything had a place to go, and all participating members and guests provided a helping hand to keep things moving along quickly. 

What we learned:

Our first snag focused on the generators. Two of the three generators had leaky fuel lines coming from the diesel tanks. Gerry Miller ran out to an auto supply store to retrieve new fuel line, and Justin Barbieri made the repairs. After that, the three generators delivered the power needed for the 2 AC condenser/blower units and all of the electronics/radio needs. 

Our second snag was the failure of the homebrew band pass filters in short order. LIve and learn! We muscled through the local oscillator phase noise and both interband and intraband interference for the remainder of the exercise. 

Conclusion:

The conclusion? A successful, fun filled Field Day for TCRA. Believe it or not, preparations are already under way for 2017 Field Day, as we look to continually improve our abilities and equipment. A sincere thank you to all that took the time come out and play radio!

 

Thomas Edison NPOTA Activation

Warm and humid, but sunny, conditions greeted TCRA during our planned activation of Thomas Edison National Park (HP44) in West Orange, NJ. As part of Edison Day, a town wide street fair brought food, live music, and a beer garden. 

TCRA set up shop out by one of the park's feature attractions, the Black Maria. Two pipe clamps secured a 25 foot fiberglass mast to support our 51' G5RV mini. HF operations were conducted on an IC7100, and logging utilized N1MM software. All RF activities ran off of deep cycle 12 volt batteries, a nod to Edison, the inventor of DC. No power supplies! QSO's were made on 40, 20, and 17 meters, working all the way to the west coast (CA, WY, OR, NV). 40 was mainly NVIS, working the tri-state area, New England, and VA. 20 brought us a few pleasant DX contacts, including Lithuania and Croatia. All in all, the club made over 170 QSO's over about a 5 hour operating period!

Members in attendance included Nelson De Sousa (KD2CYU), Joe Czyzewski (KB2OYJ), Paul Biener (KD2DRM), Leon Grauer (N0TAZ), Hank Shannon (KD2DRL), Bob Grassmann (KB2BBD), Ed Grassmann (N2TDM), and Rob Fissel (K2RWF). 

A very special thanks to Terri Jung of the National Parks Service for her assistance and efforts in making this a tremendously successful event. 

Sandy Hook, NJ NPOTA Activation

While solar conditions and weather were not in our favor, Joe C (KB2OYJ) and myself (K2RWF) headed off to Sandy Hook to conduct an NPOTA activation on Sunday, April 3rd. Sandy Hook is part of Gateway National Recreation Area, which also includes parks in NYC. We used my call for the activation, and our NPOTA designation code was RC08. 

We started off on 20 meters around 12 pm, and worked quite a few stations given the poor band conditions. We used Joe's ICOM 706 rig in the truck with a hamstick 20 meter dipole. Propagation favored out into the mid-west and plains states, as well as the gulf coast states. At around 1:30 pm, we switched 40 meters, we used a simple ham stick vertical mounted to the trailer hitch, and covered into NY as well as most of the Mid Atlantic states nicely. We were lucky enough to be worked by former ARRL President, Kay Cragie N3KN! 

Winds were consistent at around 50 miles an hour for the duration of the activation. This lead to quite a bit of QSB on 20 meters when working with the hamstick dipole, which would rotate around like a weather vane, causing fading mid QSO with many stations. 

All in all, it was a very fun time, despite the low QSO numbers. We're hoping to activate a few other National Parks prior to the year end!