– by Peter VA6ARI
At final count, 32 operators either camped or visited during Field Day 2023 at the Fort Macleod Lion’s Club campground in southern Alberta. Thanks to Gary VE6CV who put great effort into the successful event, hams attended from as far away as Calgary and Medicine Hat. Except for one storm that soaked everything Friday evening, the weekend weather was perfect on Saturday and Sunday, completely lacking the west wind southern Alberta is so famous for.
Some have commented that this year’s event was more like a mini ham-fest, with workshops, a flea market, pizza supper, and a pancake breakfast. Kevin VE6KVV made a bunch of very unique and creative signs that were placed around the campground and on every camper’s site. It was difficult to choose a sign because they were all so good. The signs made for a very festive atmosphere. (Vince, I left the CW sign for you…I figured you would grab that one). Brian VE6LAY helped Kevin get the signs up around the campground. Brian was also the registration, guestbook, raffle ticket coordinator, and pizza controller man for the event.
Upon arriving at the campground, no one could miss Renze’s VE6DC 260 ft. half-wave antenna stretched out across the entire hill from a tall tower. We knew we were in the right place!
Before noon on Saturday, the group gathered to honor Tom Buchanan (SK) with kind words and memories by various hams who knew him best, followed by a minute of silence. Tom’s daughter’s arrived later in the day and were given a tour of everyone’s campsite and mobile “shack.”
On Saturday Barry VE6BGR and Cory VE6CYT presented on the NanoVNA, talking about how to calibrate the NanoVNA, as well as how to run NanoVNA Saver software. To demonstrate, they tested an antenna Cory made for the other Cory VE6COR, showing how slight adjustments affecting the resonance of the antenna, are displayed on the NanoVNA Saver software.
Later in the day, Martin VE6FH presented on AREDN networks and an ADRCS server running on his portable PC, along with a copy of asterisk. Martin demonstrated how IP phones can be used on a AREDN network to contact other hams on a radio mesh network.
Another highlight of the day was Vince VE6LK attempting to contact other CW operators using a piece of string soaked in salt water as an antenna. Unfortunately, though we could hear their transmissions, Vince was unable to contact them. We blamed the failure on the heat of the day drying out the string too quickly.
Sunday started out with a huge pancake and sausage breakfast, prepared by Dave VA6IRE (with the flipper operated by Peter VA6ARI). There was a generous supply of both pancakes and sausages and anyone who left hungry has only themselves to blame.
After 12:00 pm on Sunday, the draws began. There were two free Fort Macleod campground weekend passes and a draw for a new Yaesu HT. As the luck of the Irish would have it, a new ham Dave VA6IRE was the lucky winner. Congratulations Dave! The raffles and donations raised over $200 for the campground to plant new trees. Special thanks to George at GPS Central for the donation of the handheld! Everyone also left with a new Yaesu cap.
As a relatively new ham, this was only my second field day. I decided to go QRP this year with my Xiegu G90 and an EFHW antenna pointed roughly North East. This was powered with a little homemade battery box using my DeWalt 18v drill battery. With all the activities going on throughout the two days, I only managed about 20 contacts, but the biggest thrill was that I seemed to have a direct conduit to BC, OR, and WA. Many operators were reporting a 10 to 20 over 9 signal, as I broke through the pileups with my 15 watts. I also attempted some FT8 but was not aware that wsjt-x has a “Field Day” mode and so rather than use that, I ended up just fumbling around trying to change the standard messages to FD messages, which didn’t work all that well. I’ll know for next year.
Speaking of next year, the general consensus is that we will once again plan for another Field Day at the Fort Macleod Lion’s Campground in 2024, but hopefully even bigger and better than this past one. Again, a special huge thanks to everyone who helped put on this awesome event and to all of you who attended! Also, a great big thanks to the Lion’s Club Campground for hosting us again this year.
In case you haven’t seen it, we made the front cover of the Fort Macleod Gazette. Thanks to Frank McTighe for the great article and for stopping in to talk to us.
We do not have our final total score yet, as we are still awaiting everyone to send Gary their logs. Please do so as soon as you can so Gary can get that submitted. Thanks.