June 21-23 2024, Armstrong BC

This year's NORAC Field Day was held at Ralph VA7NU's QTH in Armstrong, BC. Ralph’s back field is the picture-perfect location for Field Day. In total, over 40 club members and guests attended with peak attendance at the fantastic prime rib roast and pot-luck dinner Saturday night. A highlight of the event was the implementation of the club’s new VA6AM HF triplexer, allowing for 3 stations to operate with the beam antenna all at the same time - this allowed for many more operators to get on the air during this 24-hour radio event.

Please click here for the photo gallery for this event.

Setup for the event started Friday afternoon with a bit of maintenance on Cranky’s primary antenna. It was imperative that all three bands (20m/15m/10m) had ultra-low SWR as the club’s new triplexer setup required less than 1.5:1 SWR for each for full 100 watt RF power use. All connections were cleaned and polished and new anti-corrosion paste was applied. Then the HF beam and collinear VHF antenna were affixed to Cranky’s tower, the tower erected and raised up to operating height. Setup crew consisted of Howard VA7PWF, Colin VA7EEH, Lorne VE7LWK, Bud VE7KBK and David VA7DRS.

Howard plotted the SWR of each band on the HF beam with his NanoVNA and noted the good areas of each band to operate in. The group then hooked up the triplexer and put 3 radios on the air to test it out. It worked perfectly - three radios at full 100 watt RF output transmitting and receiving at the same time without interfering with each other.

Mike VE7KPZ dropped off the club tables and set up static arrestors and grounding but could not stay Friday night. Simon VE7RIZ and son Bryson joined the group Friday evening, travelling in from Merritt.

The Field Day location had a different look this year with everyone parked around the perimeter. Cranky and the shack (Howard’s and Colin’s fly-screen-sided EZ-UP tents) were positioned in the middle of the area.

Saturday morning Ralph championed getting his folded dipole for 40m strung up between Cranky's tower and a tree at the end of the property. Felix VA7VOL was enlisted to assist.

Three stations (3A class) started the event strong on 20m and 15m, but 10m was pretty quiet. The 10m connection to the triplexer was instead connected to Colin’s dummy load and the 40m dipole hooked up to the third radio to start operating there. 15m and 40m provided a good flow of calling QSOs. 20m was so congested most operation on Saturday was search and pounce. All radios were powered by solar-charged LiFePO4 batteries for the entire event.

Howard and Colin had arranged to use N3FJP contest logging software. 3 laptops were powered by Howard’s Jackery kept charged via 200 watts of solar. Shack TCP/IP networking was facilitated via Colin’s old phone’s hotspot functionality. When Mike came back to the site on Saturday morning he added his tablet to the network to make for easy consolidated logging with the VHF station.

Speaking of VHF, Mike decided to use his Elk log-periodic antenna for some 2m calling on both simplex FM and sideband frequencies. There was not much activity on 2m, but in the end was able to make a 2m SSB contact with Gary VE7GCP in Kelowna.

There were a good number of new-ish operators this year. Howard VA7PWF and Colin VA7EEH graduated from last year’s newbies to elmers as their operation skills were exemplary throughout the event. Club secretary Felix got a good taste of operating HF as did Shawn VA7TBD who had attended NORAC Field Day events many times in the past, but never took on an HF operator position before.

Of course there were many seasoned operators as well, including Wilf VE7OHM and Alex VE7NOC, Ritchie VA7RLX, David, Ralph, Simon and Bryson, plus Mike all working the stations.

A variety of radios were utilized (demoed) for the event. Howard and Colin brought their bombproof Yaesu FT-891s, Simon his Icom IC-7300, Mike his Icom IC-705/DIY599 PA500/TopTek PA-85V setup and Colin also his trusty Kenwood TS-570SG. Of course radios with voice keyers were preferred, especially for the slower bands.

There were a good number of campers this year. Simon, Colin and David all brought their trailers, Simon his bus, Lorne his truck-bed tent, Shawn his ground tent, Kevin VE7XY the back of his Tacoma and Mike his Unimog camper.

The pot luck dinner was a real highlight with a great NORAC-sponsored prime-rib roast expertly cooked by Ralph himself.

Band conditions allowed the higher bands to run well into the night. 20m was open and usable until approximately midnight local (Pacific) time, 40m as well.

Sunday morning started early with Colin making some good rate phone QSOs on 20m, Howard on 15m, Simon on 10m alternating with Shawn or Mike on 40m.

The majority of QSOs this year were phone but Ralph was able to jump on as the sole CW operator and make some QSOs on both the 40m and 20m bands. Interestingly, zero digital QSOs were made - this group really prefers phone.

Our top three operators were Colin with 27% of the QSOs, Simon with 24% of the QSOs and Howard with 12% of the QSOs. In total 984 QSOs were made during the 24-hour event in approximately 19 hours of station operating time. Average QSO rate for the group was around 53.3 QSOs/hour (omitting breaks >30 minutes).

Big thanks to Howard, Colin and David for organizing the event and to all who stayed all the way to the end to clean up every last bit and leave Ralph's field looking like we had never been there.

Field Day really is a great event. The casual contest scenario with such positive happy stations on the other side of the QSOs makes for a wonderful opportunity for anyone to get on the air. This event is both a showcase of amateur radio and a wonderful opportunity to build confidence and skill in radio operation.

Looking forward to next year's event,

Ps: let's also thank these folks for their special contributions:

Ralph VA7NU - event host and CW master. Also thanks to Ralph's YL Pam for her generous hospitality and the other members of the Olds family who came out to support the event.

Simon VE7RIZ, Howard VA7PWF, Ritchie VA7RLX, Mike VE7KPZ - photograph contributors.

JVCKENWOOD for the door prizes!

Everyone who attended and visited. It was nice to see so many faces, even if some just for a short time.