Talk about being hooked, I feel like a fish just yanked out of the sea. For the past several months, I have been involved in self made operating events, commonly known in the ham world as POTA, or Parks on the Air. I’ve mentioned this now for the past few months. There have been a few articles I’ve written over time about this type of event, but in the not-too-distant past, these operating events helped me polish my contest type skills for Field Day. Even though Field Day is not technically a contest, I like to treat it as one. For me, it’s a notch up from a club special event.
I find myself going out to the Parks almost in a daily basis to do what is called an ‘activation’. To successfully activate a park, you must make at least 10 contacts in the park on any specific day between the hours of 7PM local time to 7PM local time the next day.
I pretty much had my best day ever as I worked over 170 mostly CW contacts between two designated parks known as K-6553 – The Eisenhower Birthplace and K-0548 – Hagerman Wildlife Refuge. The pileups were endless, on both CW and side-band.
Presently, I’m in the process of putting a small server in my car so that I can run digital communications such as FT4, FT8, and PSK31. I tested it briefly during a dual-activation at a few parks when Lee – N5SLY came out with me. During that time, I strictly ran SSB and Digital because I wanted Lee to have fun with SSB and digital. But in the future I want to also include CW and side-band, and more POTA special event contacts using the call designated to me – W5O for the upcoming Eisenhower event. So, preparations for me for a club special event will sometimes take months. The goal for the Eisenhower Birthday Special event will be to make at least 1000 contacts. The older I get, the more I feel I can get burned out doing this kind of stuff. But it’s habit forming and I just can’t stop. For me, nothing else is more fun in retirement than Amateur Radio, and I’m taking advantage of operating every chance I get.
Most days, I’m at home while my wife works. As an example, she plans to work every day next week, working on her normal days off from her main location of employment, to other satellite work locations with the same company, to help them when they are understaffed. My wife is a workaholic and I’m a man that may seem to be in his second childhood, as I want to play radio most all of the time. She works and I play. Maybe it’s because I spent most of my adult life working hard at my job, and took little time to ham it up. So maybe I’m trying to make up for lost time. Maybe that’s it, but for some reason, ham radio seems to fill the void when I have time on my hands to work the radio.
On a more serious note, for future club events like Winter Field Day or Summer Field Day, I may seriously consider not participating in the club event if I don’t get some help operating CW. Many people go to Field Day to be at the event with the club and many do not operate. For me, I go there as my main purpose is to make contacts. Socializing is second nature for me at the event. Each year, I keep hoping that someone in the club would step up and help with CW, but since I’ve been a member of the GCARC since 2015, there has been just one of our members, Levent Kahveci – KB5TMU help with logging for the majority of the Winter Field Day Event a few years ago. Logging is just as important as does operating the radio. For any field day in 2022, I would like to take a few breaks to rest, away from the radio, but at the same time, I’d like to have someone else at the radio, operating CW. It was almost impossible operating around the clock this year during field day, but I managed to do it without any sleep or no substantial breaks, but at a physical cost. It took the next two days to recuperate.
So, for next year, I’m undecided if I will participate in on-site club events like Field Day with the GCARC. I’m just being honest and forthcoming here. I’ve been asked by other clubs to participate in their operating events, and I told them that the only condition would be that it could not only be me at the key. I haven’t made any commitments anywhere at this time, because what I really want to do is stay active with the GCARC during Field Day. We can discuss this briefly at the next meeting if there is time. The main question here for the club would be… Do you really want or need CW operations at the event? How important is it and can the club provide me at least one operator that can help me with CW? Or the question may be, is there anyone in the club willing to help me in the event at all? So far since I’ve been a member, I’ve done a poor job trying to recruit CW operators. I taught two CW courses in the past and I thought a handful of the people were truly interested in CW. But to date, I know of noone that I’ve taught that operates CW either on a regular or temporary basis.