I Don’t Know If We Raised Awareness, but We Did Have Fun

Yesterday, Bruce KD8APB and I had a fine time at Gallup Park operating our Amateur Radio Awareness Day / Emergency Power Operating Event station. 40m was in fine form, and over a period of about five hours we made 27 contacts.

We almost decided not to set up at all. We met at the park about noon, and a fine drizzle was falling. We chatted for a while to see if it would let up, and then wandered around in the drizzle to scout for a good location. As we finished our reconnoiter, the drizzle quit, and Bruce convinced me that we should give it a go.

Bruce had really come prepared. I was planning to use one of the picnic tables there, but Bruce had brought with him not only his antenna and radio, but a card table and chairs. This was a good thing because even though it had stopped raining, the picnic tables were a bit soggy.

We set up on a small rise just south of the first parking lot and just before you get to the bridge. His antenna went up very easily–he’s had a lot of practice–and we were on the air in about 20 minutes. While Bruce got his radio set up, connected the antenna to my KX1, tuned around a bit, and quickly contacted W9EE in Carthage, IL. He gave me a 599 report(!), so I guess we had that Elecraft mojo working.

I made another contact before Bruce got his IC-706 ready to roll. We then we connected the antenna to his rig and made a couple of phone contacts. The band was open, and there was lots of activity.

We had a good laugh over a couple of the contacts we made. The first was with K4B, a special event station in Bardstown, KY at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. We tried to get them to send us some samples, but weren’t very successful.

The other notable contact was with Rose, K8VFR. Part of what I was trying to do is to make contacts in the QRP Afield Contest. I heard Rose call CQ TEST, and called her. She replied right away, but when she sent the exchange, I was confused. I asked her to send again, but I still couldn’t fit what she was sending into the QRP Afield exchange format.

Then it dawned on me–she was working a different contest! She was working the QCWA contest. I told her this, and she asked what info I needed. I told her that I needed RST, state, and power level, which she graciously sent to me. She needed the year I was licensed, state, and my name. I sent this info to her, and after a hearty CW laugh, we said 73.

At one point or another, three different ARROW members showed up. The first was Bruce KD8AON, who rode up on his bicycle. Later, Ralph KB8ZOY made an appearance, and made eight contacts in about 45 minutes. Shortly after Ralph appeared, we spotted Clay W8JNZ and waved him over. He had a woman friend with him, and we enjoyed a nice conversation while Ralph was making Qs.

We not only had fun operating, we did do a little to raise awareness of amateur radio. We were located in a spot that many people enjoying the park passed. While only a few of them actually approached us, many waved or nodded. And Bruce had made up some big signs to inform people what we were doing.

At one point, Bruce went down and grabbed a couple walking along and brought them up to the station and explained in more detail about ham radio. They seemed mildly interested.

Right at the end, we had a guy in his late 20s/early 30s come up with his young son and talk to us about what we were doing. He talked to us for about a half hour, while his son played with his toy truck. He was really interested in ham radio, so I gave him a brochure and invited him to our club meetings and to call me if he wanted to get his license. I hope we’ll be seeing him again.

About 5:20, Bruce and I decided to call it a day. It had never really cleared up, and the clouds were looking threatening again. Good thing we started tearing down when we did. Just as we finished, it did start raining.

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