June 21 - 23, 2019 - Armstrong British Columbia, Canada

The ARRL Field Day is the most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June each year, more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.

The event is a bit of a contest, to see how many contacts can be made, but it is also an opportunity for licensed amateur radio newbies, interested parties and young folks to learn more about amateur radio.

Most of all, for NORAC and our neighbours (OCARC, KARC and SARC), it is the social event of the season, with the highlight being the club-sponsored prime rib roast and pot-luck supper on Saturday evening.

Friday

This year's Field Day started Friday just after noon with Ralph VA7NU (our host for the event) and Mike VE7KPZ (the event organizer) meeting up at the Station Diner in Armstrong to grab one of their epic clubhouse sandwiches and sort out final event planning details. Mike had just parked outside and happened to see Karl VE7ZDL/N1DL cruising through Armstrong on his way to Ralph's a little early to drop off a table and some chairs for the event. Karl joined Ralph and Mike for some lunch and then all three headed out to the site.

Earlier in the week, Jane VE7WWJ had created and placed signage in key areas of Ralph's property, outlining parking areas, camping areas and the official Field Day event entrance. As Ralph, Mike and Karl rolled in, we also noticed Shawn VA7TBD parked on the side with his 29' trailer, ready to get into the field where the event would take place. It's neat that we were actually having Field Day in a field - Ralph's back field.

Mike VE7KPZ drove into the field and guided Shawn in to a suitable camping location where he would be able to exit early on the Sunday morning (for other commitments).

Soon other campers and setup crew started arriving for the 5 PM official start of the event. With us were Bud VE7KBK, Merlyn VE7MZP, Doug VE7VZ, Mike VE7MHE (tenting), Phil VE7PAZ with his 3 eldest sons (trailering), Brad VE7WBM and Jennifer (tent trailering), Jake VE7WEA and Dusty (tenting), Kevin VE7XY (camping in his truck), Lorne VELWK, Denny VE7ASY, Garry VE7GZM, Lindsay VE7LPG, Steven VA7STV, David VA7SZ, Jane VE7WWJ, Bob VE7EZI, Nicholas VA7AZZ and his YL...

Campers began to setup their core equipment and get rain-proofed while Bud, Merlyn and Kevin secured the site with pickets and neon marking tape. Ralph's regular HF antennae had guy lines and stakes that needed to be identified clearly for both adult and child so marking tape was placed low at ground level as well as higher up to cover all bases. Kevin supervised all activities as the official safety officer of the event.

Once the site was secure and the campers somewhat settled, the raising of Cranky began. Cranky is the affectionate name for NORAC's crank-up mobile tower. The VHF/UHF collinear antenna needed to be assembled, the 10/15/20m beam (yagi) antenna needed to be assembled and the rotator needed to be checked out and serviced. Most of the crew worked on the antennae, while Lorne, Merlyn and Denny worked on the rotator. David provided critical guidance/leadership in the erection of the tower and it was soon up. A check with Mike's RigExpert AA-230 Zoom antenna analyzer showed everything was ok for each antenna. The only thing missed was the affixing of a Canadian flag to the mast as there was no flag to be found in Cranky's storage box.

The station was then set up on tables under the Bud's and Mike VE7KPZ's "EZ-UP" tents that made up the "shack" area. A decision was soon made to use Brad's Yaesu FT-991A transceiver for the main HF station. Brad was very gracious to offer for us to use his rig for the entire event. It was a treat to work with this radio as it has both CW and voice keyers, a panadapter and a clean 100 watts RF output.

Karl also demonstrated his portable setup that he had recently used on an IOTA activation. We would not use Karl's gear for this event though, as the decision had been previously made to stay in the <150 watt RF output category. However, I'm sure the showcase of Karl's setup sparked the idea of getting an Advanced certification in many amateurs' minds.

David brought 2 x 100 watt solar panels along with charge controllers to use for our solar-powered demonstration. The panels were connected to an 8D FLA battery that the club had recently been gifted from a decommissioned repeater site. For most of the event, our 6M/VHF/UHF+ station would run on the solar setup.

As a 1A class operation, we needed to run on non-mains (emergency) power, so the club's Honda EU2000i generator was utilized to provide nice clean pure sine wave AC power for the main HF station's power supply, logging laptops and IP networking equipment.

Steven brought along a 5.8/5.9 GHz (HAMwan) WiFi bridge device and a 2.4 GHz WiFi access point. A bridge was quickly established to Ralph's WiFi guest network in the house, approximately 300 meters away from our Field Day station. The 5.8 GHz WiFi bridge connected to the 2.4 GHz AP for the older logging laptops to use. With the WAN and LAN setup, the logging laptops could speak to each other and also query QRZ.com for bearings on each callsign heard for proper rotator alignment (although in the end, we pretty much just pointed the 20m beam Southeast to cover both Canada and the USA).

Pizza had been ordered for the setup crew. Ralph offered to go pick it up and once it arrived, it was quickly devoured by the hungry mass.

After dinner, final touches and safety checks were carried out, and then most moved to the fire pit for marshmallows, guitars, stories and fun. The night owls went to bed around 1:30 AM.

Saturday

Saturday morning started with a Dutch-style stuffed pancake (gouda cheese or banana) breakfast that Mike VE7KPZ had promised to all campers staying over on Friday night. The pancake offering was augmented with eggs, bacon, French toast, juice, coffee, etc. from the other camping parties. Exceptional camping community sprit!

After breakfast, Ralph took Phil's sons Isaiah, Gabriel and Jonah to shoot the arrow that would assist with the raising of the 40/80m dipole in the big tree at the corner of the property, 200 meters from the station.

As we approached the 11 AM start of the "contest" portion of the event, day-visiting HAMs started arriving to spectate. Karl VE7ZDL was our first operator. Karl can operate any mode, so Brad quickly figured out the CW keyer settings of the FT-991A so that Karl could use his own electronic key.

And then we were off to the races. Karl started very strong and showed the onlookers how to operate. Various operators continued on after Karl, in 1-hour time slots, on both CW and phone. It was a pleasure to watch Denny operating CW as he does it so effortlessly. It was also great to see so many attendees jumping on to log for the scheduled operators.

Over on the 6m/VHF/UHF+ station, Mike VE7KPZ started with a bit of 2m phone action. We then moved to FT8 on 6m with Doug in the operators seat. Doug ran his Yaesu FT-857D attached to the ATAS-120 on his vehicle parked next to the shack. Later in the day we erected Bud VA7ST's 6m yagi onto Mike VE7KPZ's portable military mast attached to his Unimog, but no other 6m openings were witnessed.

Reports of our phone signal on 2m soon started to come in. The club's VHF radio was making some weird noises on high power. To solve this situation, Shawn quickly pulled the Yaesu FT-2980R from his truck and we put his 80 watt VHF workhorse to the test. With 80 watts for VHF simplex we soon collected some distant VHF contacts as far away at West Kelowna and Sicamous. Shawn was the first spring 2019 HAM basic course (OCARC) graduate to make a Field Day contact.

While the HF and 6m/VHF/UHF+ stations stayed busy with QSOs, Bob was busy with the young folks in attendance doing a variety of educational activities. Phil's 3 sons (11, 11 and 10 years) learned both American and International morse code, learned basic DC circuit theory and then proceeded to be tested on their newfound knowledge. Certificates of proficiency were presented later at dinner. Jerome VE7JAR's sons also took in a bit of the educational activities while Jerome logged for the HF station. Nathan VA7NTN's 8-month-old daughter also got an early taste of amateur radio.

Aaren VA7AEJ (NORAC club president) and family visited the site for a bit in the afternoon. Aaren's daughter Molly took a bunch of pictures and posted them to NORAC's official Facebook page along with updates from the site.

From 4-5 PM a severe rain storm came through so for safety reasons we disconnected all equipment and the station went quiet. Once through, the station was reconnected and work continued with fervour. The bands/conditions were cooperating with good propagation and low noise. This meant good QSO rates for all modes.

Next was the big dinner. Ralph's expertly-cooked prime rib was a highlight. The potluck buffet was also exceptional. Dessert was filled with surprises as three birthdays were celebrated (VE7WBZ, VE7WBM and VE7MH) with special HAM-themed cake baked up by Jennifer.

After dinner, while Ralph built the evening fire, Jane and Phil's sons set up a slingshot range. Their target accuracy was notable and they were good to pick up all of the rocks that ended up in Ralph's field. Kevin supervised to ensure safety in all aspects of the "range".

Mike VE7FI worked the HF station after dinner, getting many QSOs on 20m in a variety of digital modes. Once Lorne and crew had assembled and tuned the 40/80m dipole, Mike VE7FI moved to 40m to do some more digital mode work there. Then back to Denny on CW well into the evening. Denny finished around 2 AM.

Sunday

Come Sunday 4 AM, Brad heard a rustling tarp and got up to inspect the station. As the station was now free, Brad jumped on 40m with headphones and started making phone contacts.

Mike VE7KPZ and Jane woke around 4:30 and joined Brad petitioning him to start using the voice keyer and call for folks to contact us. Soon Brad was making a very respectable QSO rate on 40m phone. A little bit later, Jennifer joined in to assist with logging.

Mike VE7KPZ jumped back on the station and made the switch to 20m. A pile-up was soon encountered. The QSO rate skyrocketed on 20m. Mike VE7MHE could easily keep up with the logging but Mike VE7KPZ could only sustain such phone action for an hour.

Mike VE7KPZ was thankfully relieved by Mike VE7FI to do some more digital modes operating... followed by Denny again for some more CW.

Aside: there were a lot of Mikes at the event. Also a couple of Buds and a couple of Gary/Garrys. Interesting how similarly-named individuals are all into amateur radio.

We were able to copy the W1AW Field Day bulletin digitally at 8:30 AM thanks to Mike VE7FI's digital modes setup.

In the last hour of the contest Mike VE7KPZ hit 2m phone hard with just 10 watts RF power on the club VHF rig and managed to score some good QSOs there.

The contest portion of the event finished at 11 AM and all parties in attendance went over to Ralph's house kitchen to finish up the prime rib in the form of sandwiches.

At noon the teardown crew quickly brought down Cranky, disassembled the site and packed everything up. Most participants exited by 1 PM.

Big Thanks

Big thanks to all of the folks who joined the teardown crew. We appreciate everyone's assistance with the task.

Let's also give big thanks to our hosts Ralph and Shannon who opened their field and home to our mass of 70+ individuals.

Let's also thank our safety officer Kevin, our official photographer Jane, our contributing photographer Molly, our contributing photographer Mike VE7MHE, our official videographer David, our emergency medical officer Jennifer, our network administrator Steven, our social media officer + logging computer provider Aaren... as well as everyone else who attended. Everyone pitched in where needed and the event ran very smoothly with zero issues.

Oooh, let's also thank the KARC members (Vern VE7VGO, David VE7LTW and Al VE7TRM) who brought us a new Canadian flag as a "Field Day warming gift". The flag is now in Cranky's equipment box and will be the first thing we will install on the tower next year.

Followup

With the event officially completed, many are now reflecting on their experiences at the event. We would love to hear about your experience at Field Day this year. Please email me Mike VE7KPZ at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with an account of your favourite aspect(s).

The photo gallery of the event will be up on the NORAC website soon. Jane is making her picture selects and we will be posting them in the next day or two.

Lastly, I will be checking the contest logs, exporting them to the appropriate format, gathering proof of all of our bonus activities and doing an electronic submission of everything to the ARRL later this week. The ARRL will tabulate and publish the scores in their December QST magazine so we can see how we did in relation to other 1A stations.

Next Year?

It would be good to hear your ideas for next year's Field Day while this year's Field Day event is still fresh in your mind. What else could we do to make this event even better? Let us know what you think at the next club meeting (September) or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

It was really fun,
73,
Mike VE7KPZ
NORAC Vice President 2017-2019, Technical Committee Member and Field Day 2019 Coordinator