To get some ideas on planning a field day for HARC, Martin kb3ujq, Lee n4tcw and Shawn ag4ve visited neighboring amateur radio clubs. The object of field day is to develop emergency preparedness skills and acquaint the public with amateur radio. All of the clubs operated their stations over a full day on electricity produced by gas generators. Field day is also a contest to contact as many stations as possible on amateur bands over a full day period, working stations day and night.
We got a late start on Saturday afternoon with a first stop with the Mt Vernon Amateur Radio Club at Pohick Lake Park. They were operating five stations on various frequency bands and modes (voice, morse code, digital text). Each station was tucked away from the others in the camp grounds and each had its own antenna strung from the tall trees. Luckily, we were just in time for a fine dinner of barbecue and fixings.
Next was the Ole Virginia Hams in Manassas. They were set up on the lawn of a public library and featured an air-conditioned tent housing five stations plus a GOTA (get on the air) station. The GOTA station allows newly licensed and unlicensed persons to experience first-hand talking over amateur radio. We also had some excellent spicy half smokes and watermelon for a second dinner.
We made it to Vienna Wireless Society at Burke Lake Park by dark. We were a little late for a third dinner but were shown around their various stations including an EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) bounce and satellite station. The EME station sends a signal that is reflected off the moon and is received back on earth.
Sunday morning we visited Montgomery County Amateur Radio Club operating out of a hangar at Davis Airport in Laytonsville, MD. Their antennas were strung from large masts in a grassy field next to the hangar.
Everyone we visited were quite hospitable and proud of their installation. They all showed great proficiency in operating off the grid in other than usual locations. Most of all…the food was delicious!