Inaugural FARA Winter Field Day

“CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day!” WFDA Winter Field Day took place from January 27 through January 28 and for the first time, FARA members got together at C. M. Crockett Park in Midland, VA to participate as a club. Similar to ARRL Field Day in June, this event allows ham radio operators to practice portable emergency communications but in winter environments.

Justin, NB3A, led our efforts which resulted in a very successful event with over 650 QSOs. Despite a rainy forecast, we were prepared with canopies, tarps, and even the generator donned its own umbrella. Luckily for us, the weather wasn’t too bad and we had a great turnout.

It is important at an outdoor radio event activity to protect your equipment from the elements

As a 4M operation with 4 HF and 3 VHF antennas set up in the front field of the park, Justin’s rover housed 2 HF stations while Nic, KY4OP, brought the Fauquier 4-H club radio and STEM trailer fully equipped with an HF station as well as a VHF all-mode satellite station. After a few hours of setup following our monthly club breakfast, we were ready to go!

Winter Field Day Setup

Andy, K1RA started us off on CW while Reed, AA1RB began on phone. Conditions seemed nice throughout the day, and we were happy to get on some of the higher bands like 15 and 10m. The most memorable QSO of the day was probably Brie, KO4LNR, working Japan on 10m phone between 6:30 & 7:00PM on Saturday. Regardless of it not being in the club log and in her log instead, it was still a thrill. Steve, AG4SR, left for dinner, but eventually returned at around 10pm and was able to get the club on js8call for new band/mode multipliers on several bands. He was also able to send and receive winlink emails fulfilling one of the “objectives” as WFDA has called them this year. Nic pulled off his first field day satellite QSO immediately followed by his second a little later in the night.

K1RA operating CW at WFD

Most people went home for the evening but Justin and Chuck, KO4VNZ, stayed overnight and held down the fort. Justin was even able to run for a couple hours into Sunday morning, which he appreciated since his operating time has been limited at the last couple field days. Several club members and new visitors returned in the morning to enjoy coffee, donuts, and bagels, and got back on the air for the remaining hours of the event.

The rain had stopped early in the morning and Gil, KM4OZH started off the day’s operations on phone at about 7AM. His new VAQP antenna had been quite the show stopper the day before and he was happy to get on the air. Conditions were just as good on Sunday as on Saturday. The careful placement of antennas proved that separation and proper positioning is the most important part of mitigating inter-site interference. No one noted any, and in fact at one point Steve was operating digital at the same time that Chuck was on phone, both on the same band, with no ill-effects. Andy closed out the contest on CW. Of course, the rain started right on schedule.

An intense Gil, KM4OZH, and a relaxed John, KX4O

We appreciate the many FARA members who came out to support our efforts and we happily welcomed several impromptu visitors from the community who stopped by to learn more. Many non-hams were able to learn more about the amateur radio hobby and some had fun getting on the air for the first time. It was an overall success and we hope to make Winter Field Day an annual club activity going forward.

Some slides from the the event. (Click to enlarge)

90 Ric Group Ant80 Ric Demo Ant