Mini Expedition 2017

Spruce Knob West Virginia, Elevation 4,863 feet, the highest point in West Virginia and the highest peak in the Allegheny Mountains.

Date: 8-18-2017 though 8-20-2017

Callsign: w8v

The Coal Country Amateur Radio Club planned this outing well in advance. We had our campsite reserved many months before the trip. We coordinated with the National Radio Quiet Zone in Greenbank West Virginia to make sure we did not cause any interference and we made sure that operating from the platform on top of Spruce Knob was allowed by the National Park Service. We had several people wanting to go, but with K8VYD’s xyl about to bear their first child, two of our fold didn’t make it, grandpappy K8KDC was on “baby watch” duty. And we’re happy to report the new addition to Ham radio was born and all is well 🙂 There were others that had wanted to go, but it came down to three of our members and one father thereof.

We set out in the early evening on Friday, August 18 2017 for the 4 hour trek through the hills of West Virginia to get to our campsite. Myself (wv0cq) and Roy (kd8vyo) went the southern route across I-64. Tristan (ke8enc) and his father (not yet a ham) went the northern route up I-79. Roy and I were held up along the way, despite this, we were able to make it to the Spruce Knob Lake Campground before Tristan. Turned out, Tristan lost a wheel off of the utility trailer that was borrowed from kq8usa (Jim Nelson) for the trip. They tried to make repairs, or find a wheel, and the result of which was two 5 gallon bucket lids, duct-taped together. We eventually bore a hole through the center, aligned it with the axle, then secured it in place with what else? More duct-tape. Red Green would be proud!

 

Let me tell you, it’s absolutely amazing how much gear three ham operators can take in three different trucks! We had our choice of equipment. Several different rigs and several different antennas were used by our crew to make a bunch of contacts. We were able to have successful QSO’s from Germany to California, from northern Ontario down into Central America. We worked 10, 20, 17, 40 on vertical antennas and 40/80m ever-so-briefly on a dipole.

We had planned to operate on 40/80m well up into Saturday night, but the weather started looking rough. We had a big storm rolling in with air-to-ground lightning. Considering we were on top of the tallest point in the State of West Virginia, we decided to bug-out prior to the storm becoming an issue.

The following day, we decided to forego any more Knob operations. We took a drive down to the Spruce Knob Lake and then each of us went our separate ways.

We had a blast, I would do it again in the heart beat! Hopefully, we’ll be en route to some other exotic place in the hills of West Virginia within the next year or so! Stay tuned!

 

73!

WV0CQ

 

 


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Mini Expedition 2014

The Coal Country Amateur Radio Club ventured out into the Mountain Tops of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia for a 24 hour mini-expedition, 4-wheeling and camping excursion. Four members of the club made it to the top of an 1890′ peak at coordinates  38.015223° -81.798769° where we setup base camp and our radios/antennas. We were able to make many contacts from our location, however, due to the DX contest taking place this weekend, we were not able to make as many contacts as we would have liked. John Holstein (WV8JBH) was able to successfully check in with his OMISS net and make a few contacts, Ken and Matt were able to tune in various repeaters and make contacts as far away as Bristol Tennessee through a repeater in that location. We experimented with two different types of antennas, a vertical “Eagle One” and a multi-band di-pole, both were tunable and workable on selected bands.

Here’s a shot of my Side-x-Side, loaded up and ready to head out from the house:

loaded and heading out I had everything but the kitchen sink in there. If I didn’t have it, Matt’s Deuce had it 🙂

 

Let’s take a look at Matt Cregger’s (KD8VYD) Deuce as it heads up the mountain for the final leg of the trip. Riding shotgun is the CCARC President and Matt’s dad Ken Cregger (KB8GLY):

 

Here’s a video of the last bit of 4-wheeling in the Deuce before arrival at the campsite. Matt’s Deuce is like a goat in the mountains, it shredded everything put in it’s path.

 

Now, in order to setup a proper campsite, we had to get food on the table as quickly as possible. with some help from the KP crew of Ken, Matt and Roy, John threw together a “Deer Stew” into a Dutch Oven where we cooked over charcoal while we setup the rest of the camp…..

 

Here’s Matt splitting some firewood:

camp

Matt Splitting Firewood

Some shots from around the campsite:camp 2dinner is served

And here we are, setting up to make our first contacts for the evening: making contacts 2

making contacts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few shots of the sunset, as seen from camp:

sunset 2sunset 2

 

Here’s some more shots of the West Virginia Mountains:

 

scenery 1scenery 2scenery 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a screenshot of some of the contacts we made over the weekend. Like I said above, we didn’t make a lot of contacts because the bands were absolutely saturated from folks on the DX contest. That’s ok though, we had a great time, made a few contacts from multiple countries and various states, had a great deer stew, told stories and enjoyed the outdoors.

 

log

And finally, here we are loaded up and ready to head off the mountain. It was a great trip, one that we hope to make an annual event in the future.

packed and heading homescenery 3


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Field Day 2017

The Coal Country Amateur Radio Club’s participation in the ARRL Field Day 2017 was held on the soccer field at Water Ways Parks near Julian West Virginia. We ran as a “4a” station, with 4 radios running from generators and batteries. We want to thank the Boone County Parks and Recreation (Russell Thomas and the gang) along with Pam White and the Boone County Commission for working with us this weekend and allowing CCARC to setup at the Water Way’s field for ARRL Field Day 2017. This location was perfect for our use and enabled us to have the most successful Field Day that we’ve had to date. Much appreciated folks.

Lisa Holstein dropped by from the Boone County Health Department to check out Field Day, as did Delegate Rodney Miller (to whom we still need to recruit as a member . Amateur Radio enthusiasts work with various government entities to assist in providing emergency radio comms. As a member of our club, Michael Mayhorn, on the staff of Boone County 911, is intimately familiar with our capabilities and how our systems can interact with government systems in the event of a disaster.

From Canada to Puerto Rico, from Maine to California, over 1000 contacts were made over radio frequencies with other ham radio operators between 2pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday. CCARC members were working on Field Day for around 30 hours, preparing and supporting our activities. We maintained 4 radios, multiple antennas and had a great time. Other folks stopped in to see our progress and to have a chat while we were doing our thing…. ARRL Field Day only comes once a year and it’s like a carnival for our members. We look forward to this grueling outing each year and we’re already making plans for Field Day 2018.

 

John Holstein,

WV0CQ/CCARC Secretary


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Field Day 2016

img_1937As usual, we had a great time during Field Day 2016. There was food, drinks, people, VIP’s and other visitors – including some from other clubs that dropped by to chat with us (and one or two helped us operate the radios!). We were visited by local Police, the City Manager, a City Councilman, and the City Emergency Operations Director.

We began our 2016 Field Day experience the day before, hanging up a new halyard off of the side of the Civic Center. We planned to use our shack location at the Madison Civic Center because our shack is a designated Emergency Operations Center (alternate) for the City of Madison, in the event of a catastrophic disaster. Off of the halyard, we were able to raise the end of our multi-band dipole antenna, enabling comms on 80m/40m and we also placed a fan dipole into an inverted “V” configuration in an adjacent tree, which enabled us to comm on 20m, 15m, and 10m. After getting setup the following day, two additional antennas were used, a “Super Antenna” provided by one of our members and a make-shift 80m dipole was crafted our of a roll of staple wire for a copying machine. Matched with a balun, this “staple wire” antenna proved to be very useful in making 80m contacts.

Throughout the day, operators were utilizing various radios to make img_1939contacts on the HF bands, along with operators on VHF and UHF. Working in shifts, operators were able to make a variety of contacts along with testing various configurations between the multiple radios and antennas.

img_1934On the outside of the building, we had a public relations table setup with a demonstration of radio operations. Operators were actively making contact on these stations as well as handing out information pertaining to ham radio and the ARRL. During the operations outside, a brief educational period was held, discussing antenna feedlines and matching the impedance of the antennas vs. an unbalanced feedline.

Saturday afternoon, our VEC John Holstein and the CCARC VE Team gave a scheduled exam session through the ARRL at nearby Madison Volunteer Fire Department where candidates tested to obtain their licenses and current hams tested to upgrade their existing licenses.

Overall, we had a pleasant experience. We met some new friends, had a good laugh or two. We engaged in a lot of amateur radio discussion and rubbed elbows with some of the city officials. Our capabilities are strong and our membership was strengthened through the camaraderie. We hope to be involved in Field Day 2017 and look forward to hearing you on the air!

John Holstein,

WV0CQ/CCARC Secretary


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Field Day 2015

10518606_10204453886607925_9188315673833927742_oField Day 2015 was held on June 27 & 28. We obtained permission from the Boone County Commission to setup our equipment on the County Commission property located adjacent to the Department of Highways Rock Creek Field Office just off of Route 119, 1 mile north of Danville WV. Overall, we had a great time, even though we did not make as many contacts as the previous year. A contributing factor to the lower number of contacts was band conditions on field day bands. The reception (and transmission) was not all that good. 11061977_10204522578166176_5806310782267800639_n11402999_10204522577326155_8567512577569983559_n

11228942_10204453886567924_2340422655135073762_oThrough the use of the mobile command center (trailer), provided by the Danville Volunteer Fire Department, members were kept in the dry and able to do their work in relative comfort. The command center shack was manned and operated for 24 hours with a minimum of a General class operator present at all times and predominantly manned with an Extra class operator.

11665505_10204522578286179_6445867535553200832_nWe did not participate in CW due to a lack of skill and experience of our operators. We were setup to attempt contact with the Space Station on 2m, but we did not successfully make a contact.

We had representatives from the local Emergency Operations Center onsite on a couple of occasions as well as an informational booth setup with ARRL hand-outs to present to interested parties. 11234052_10204522578246178_8583033884088606407_n

At one point during operations, we were visited (from about 100 yards) by a Black Bear.

11693843_10204522577566161_6411184888644437532_nThe setup included two HF rigs and two antennas. One rig was attached to a multi-band di-pole antenna, the other rig to a vertical “Eagle One” antenna. Both of which have been historically good producers for club members and continue to serve after field day.

Setup was accomplished in about 30 minutes or so. Members worked feverishly to get one of the rigs with the vertical on the air as quickly as possible while 300ft of rope and the multi-band di-pole took a little longer to setup.

All attending members were given the opportunity to operate either rig during the event. 10155972_10204522577006147_149884784330903850_n

While we would have loved for conditions to be more favorable for making contacts, we were happy with the results and proved once again, field operations are a necessity to support the local community as well as to assist in handling message traffic over the entire Nation.1538949_10204522577726165_305853528263048750_n

Thanks goes out to all members and patrons for their support. We cannot do Field Day without the personnel necessary to do the work.


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Field Day 2014

field day 2014As a recently chartered ARRL Club, we participated in the world-wide ARRL Field Day 2014. This was our first attempt as a club and I believe the first participation by any of our members. Here’s a brief run-down on how Field Day 2014 went for us:

  • Setup began at 2pm on 28 June 2014. We planned to setup within the first 15 minutes or so, which would allow us an extra 3 hours of transmission time during field day hours. This was a valid plan and it worked, up until the last 3 hours remained in field day when just about all other stations dropped off the air. We believe most of the other stations within range (still heavy QRM) had setup prior to 2pm, which because of the rules, meant they had to stop 3 hours earlier than we did. We made 3 contacts after 2pm on Sunday, with nothing of note to be reported as far as strong signals go on the other frequencies. So, we cut lose and headed back home.
  • We had two radios originally setup to be used. The primary radio which was tested with a vertical antenna was up and running within minutes of arrival at McDonalds in Madison WV. The second radio, a unit not previously tested, was setup. The radio seemed to fire up just fine and would have proven worthy, if we would have had room at McDonalds to setup the Di-Pole. We did not have room for the di-pole in a horizontal configuration, so we elected to try a 10m vertical, which proved unsuccessful due to the antenna experiencing a dead short in the base. We did not immediately tackle repair on said antenna, which as I look back in retrospect, was a mistake.
  • We continued throughout the first day and into the next morning on the original Radio #1, a ICOM 725. We mainly used 40m as it was the most active.
  • On day 2, WV8JBH brought his new Yaesu FTdx1400 and we used that for the remainder of the day.
  • Several emergency service workers made their appearance along with local elected officials and many private citizens. We also had some interest from other local HAMs that are not in the club.
  • Over 350 contacts were made, of these 321 worked out to be submittable to QRZ and thus, output as ADIF logs for upload to ARRL for our Field Day Report. We had 19 dupes which we threw out and a few that were questionable because of a lack of information provided either by our operator or when looked up on QRZ.
  • All logs and reports have been filed with ARRL. We shall now wait to see the outcome and how we fared.

2014 Field Day

The results are in and the Coal Country Amateur Radio Club did rather well for their first time out! We placed 11th of 17 in the West Virginia Section. We are extremely happy with our first time participation results!

field-day-2014-results

Here’s a link to ARRL’s Results for the West Virginia Section.


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