The Test!

Getting it ready for Field Day 2019

It’s getting busy in ARC-station land! Saturday, May 4, a crowd of club members showed up for a couple big exercises! WE brought in all the stations and all the radios anticipated to be used for Field Day, and hooked them up! The idea was to test each radio against the others, to prove or disprove inter-station interference. That, and a power supply noise, is what tore us apart last year. Following that, a complete revamp of antennas was completed by Dale. It seems to have been worthwhile! From Pres. Joe: Thanks to the many who came out to assist with this testing. There was a lot confusion at the start but we finally got into a rhythm with the testing. One problem we noticed was high noise level on the 40 CW station. Exactly what we did not need or want to hear. However, the noise seemed to greatly go away after one of the generators finally ran out of gas. The biggest problem we found was using the GOTA station on CW. We’re thinking GOTA will be SSB- only so it should not be a problem. See more below. There was some confusion over what radio was using which antenna so after verifying, we came to the conclusion that all the stations can live with hearing other radios. Craig’s station seems to be most immune to the other stations. The consensus was that reworked antennas are an improvement. We want to use the GOTA station within the bounds of the rules this year. This means not using it as a “free” station when no kids or unlicensed people are around. We really want to put a heavy emphasis on 40 CW, since that is where we hope to get most points, but if you would like to try some CW, please let us know and we’ll make arrangements. Points are important but getting people on the air is also important. I don’t know if we are totally convinced that a generator was responsible for the noise, but I hope we have a good handle on it. And from Bob: Today we were able to run and test all 4 of the generators at Red Cross. They are now ready for any emergency use. The able crew included Larry N8HTT, Dave K8DL, Donn K8AOK, Joe K8MP and myself. It was not easy to start any of the generators because they have not been run in years, and they had old gas in them. We checked the oil level in all of them. We measured the output voltage of all. It was necessary to remove the air filters and spray starting fluid into the carburetors to get them started. There are 3 Coleman generators and one Briggs and Stratton. The B&S one had never been run, so we had to put oil and gas in it. Even though the Coleman ones all look the same, they are not. For example, they have different size spark plugs, requiring different wrenches. All the generators were then run until they ran out of gas, so as to drain the fuel systems. The plugs were temporarily removed, and engine preservative oil was sprayed into the cylinder, and the engine turned over a few times to circulate the oil. One of the Coleman generators plug requires a universal joint on the wrench, which we did not have, so that one could not have the engine sprayed. We used some Red Cross flood lights as loads for the generators, to get them to run out of gas sooner. Two of the lights had never been assembled, so we did that. I purchased these supplies, and they were left there with the generators: 5 gallon safety gas can, with gas and Stabil engine oil starting fluid Stabil gas preservative. There are also present 2 Red Cross plastic gas cans. One is empty and the other has old gas and should not be used. It should be taken to a hazardous waste place if someone volunteers. I previously gathered up all the manuals, removed the foreign language portions, and put them in a labeled 3 ring binder, so they are safe and easily accessible. I recommend that we test these generators annually, around Field Day time, to be sure they are always in good condition and ready to be used.

Radio update

Tim Trombley gets credit for this genius idea! We know that N8OB’s Kenwood 590 has been available. Tim’s idea (backed by everybody who was asked) is that we should sell the three radios from the ARC station that are old - the Icom, Kenwood loaner and Drake- at Dayton. We can then use the funds to pay for the new Kenwood, and have a second “world class” radio for the station…one that can be plugged right into a computer, one that we can use with the Heathkit SB-200 amp (when needed) and one that is at least using current technology. What a great idea!! The existing Kenwood TS-120 is still viable for digital use, so this gives three radios that should work well for any club member!