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Daily Archives: June 25, 2012

W3AO, It’s All About Logistics

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After sleeping almost twelve hours, we sort of feel like human beings again. One of the most important aspects of planning and executing an event of the size of Field Day is this. You can always improve your performance with advance planning and, when operating almost non-stop for 50-60 hours, you need to pace yourself and not overheat, dehydrate or work when you are exhausted.

There were many new helpers and many more people at Field Day this year. Lots of younger people, thankfully, for us old folks 😉 to help us out. And many interested dedicated workers who help make this event a huge success.

I already posted once the team picture just before the start of the event. There were at least 10 people not there, who were out in the field making last minute set up adjustments.

These did not include a large number of people who came Friday to set up, and who returned Sunday to tear down. Set up and tear down teams help relieve the operators who were there almost round the clock starting Friday.

Advance prep like having the more than 2 miles of coax ready to go, already designated for where in the field each roll is placed. At tear down, they are rolled back up meticulously and marked so that the following year there is no delay to figure out where they are placed.

AB-577’s otherwise known as rocket launchers, are pre-loaded for quick slide off at marked sites. Everything is ready to bring into the site with no loss of time for sorting or handling. This year, the club had volunteer help in sorting, repairing, lubricating and repacking all twenty-two kit bags that contain the guy wires, couplers, rings, cranks, stakes and nails that were dropped behind the launchers, presorted and ready to install.


In Process

Tower, gear and antenna arrive in sequence and are ready to assemble by roving tower teams.

We have an amazing member who brings all the generators and keeps us powered up for the 48 hours. Three generators. We even had the Chief of Howard County Emergency Management checking them out in detail Sunday while he was visiting the site. Sunday I ended up so busy cooking, I forgot to take enough pics of the event and tear down. But, without reliable power, this event could not take place.

IT support is also important. Networked computers. Coordination. Again, dedicated club members keep all this organized and use a system to track what gets down where and how.

And, all good armies march on their stomachs, right? My contribution to Field Day (surprised?) is assistance to the food tent, ably executed by the wife of one of the club members who organizes the event. I have been assisting now three years. Every year we get more efficient and make constant adjustments in keeping 50-75 people fed and hopefully, very happy. Enough of them say we do, so I think we succeed.

Friday Night Pizza while still setting up

Saturday Lunch

Saturday while last minute preparations go on, we set out a cold cut, sloppy joe, salad, veggies/chips and dip, luncheon bar for people to grab and go, or take a break before the two o’clock start. It is nice to have good generators to power the crock pot. And, to allow us to hook up a Keurig in the evening for all night long fresh brewed coffee.

Saturday during the most active ops time, we bring in Mexican food. Easy to grab and eat, soft tacos, beans and rice, brownies, grapes, strawberries, all minimally interfere with calling CQ. We even deliver to the operators at their stations if they are holding a frequency and don’t want to lose momentum by taking a break.

Sunday breakfast has become simpler, since I cook it at home and drive it up the road a mile to the site. The site is near the top of one of the higher points in Howard County. We live near there (so do lots of other club members since HAAT is important). It means many things can be transported to the site easily, and for me as cook, it means they get hot bacon and eggs on Sunday morning after operating all night. I cook four pounds of bacon Saturday night, and 4 1/2 dozen scrambled eggs Sunday morning.

Get it all there 10 minutes before the 8AM breakfast call. Coffee is perked. Toasters are ready. Love having enough generator power for fresh toast. We were so busy serving, I forgot again to take pics.

Lunch is grilled burgers, hot dogs, smoked chicken, salads, toppings, all the leftovers as well.

After 2PM, it’s off to tear it all down and put it away for next year. No pics of that either as we were all busy.

A few random pics of the fun times.

Jim, far left, happy after blowing the air horn for 1800 UTC start of Field Day

My OM taking a two hour nap before tear down. Behind him the trailer for the towers, and the camper that is parked right in the middle of it all on Friday night to provide security before everyone arrives Saturday morning to complete set up.

Some of the youngest GOTA operators enjoying themselves Sunday morning.

Another good year. Lots of memories. Tired but happy people from all around this area. Who says there’s nothing to do in Howard County? Anyone interested in joining the fun, check out the Columbia Amateur Radio Association for local club events, county event support, emergency service support and other interests. Potomac Valley Radio Club, more widespread than just Columbia but with lots of local members, does lots of contesting and has social events in the area.

73 de PVRC and CARA