On Saturday, September 9, 2023, members of the ACARA participated in the 16th annual PCARS “Ohio State Parks on the Air” (link), activating Strouds Run State Park at the Bobcat Shelter and operating under the club’s callsign, W8UKE.
Bob Curtis, KD8FRQ
Kirk Groeneveld, KC8JRV
John McCutcheon, N8XWO
Eric McFadden, WD8RIF
Kate McFadden, KD8KNB + Archer
Vickie McFadden, KC8MAJ
Rich Post, KB8TAD + Edie
Cade Saugier, KC3EKE
Paul Schulz, WD8SCV
The station consisted of the ACARA’s Elecraft K3 transceiver; an 80m end-fed half-wave (EFHW) antenna provided by Paul Schulz, WD8SCV; and a logging computer provided by Eric McFadden, WD8RIF.
This was the first year the ACARA has participated in this event at the Bobcat Shelter, all previous operations having been at the larger, less crowded, Bulldog Shelter. The Bobcat Shelter is located between the swim-beach and the boat-rental area, which meant that there was to be significantly more foot-traffic in the area than would be the case at Bulldog Shelter. Because of this, the club decided to use the 80m EFHW antenna instead of the usual 80m/40m fan dipole. The 80m EFHW was deployed as a sloper, sloping from the roof of the picnic shelter up to a perfectly-located tree near the swim-beach parking area, with one counterpoise wire on the ground running along the long side of the picnic shelter. A significant benefit of the Bobcat Shelter over either of the two other picnic shelters in the park is that Bobcat Shelter has commercial power available, meaning no generator was needed.
Paul Schulz, WD8SCV, was the first operator to take the microphone but Cade Saugier, KC3EKE, and Kirk Groenveld, KC8JRV, also made contacts during the eight hours of the event.
This year, 80m seemed less productive than it has been in years past but, perhaps, 40m seemed more productive than in years past.
In all, the club made 101 QSOs and contacted stations at 42 Ohio State Parks. By operator, Paul made 85 QSOs, Cade made 15 QSOs, and Kirk made one QSO. By band, 12 QSOs were made on 80m, 76 QSOs were made on 40m, and 13 QSOs were made on 20m. The club’s final calculated score was 4,343 points.
Only one problem was encountered with the ACARA’s station. Several stations worked reported that the ACARA’s transmitted audio had a pronounced hum. To diagnose this, the team first swapped the Astron linear power supply for a 15Ah Bioenno LiFePO4 battery, and then coiled the antenna feedline into a choke near the transceiver. Neither of these actions killed the hum. It was only after the team unplugged the logging-computer’s switching power supply, as suggested by John, N8XWO, that the hum went away. Fortunately, the laptop PC’s battery retained enough charge that the OSPOTA operation could be completed without having the logging PC plugged in.
As has become customary, at 5 o’clock those already present were joined by other members and their guests for a potluck.
UPDATE 2023-10-31: Results from OSPOTA 2023 have been published at ospota.org. After all the participating stations’ logs were cross-checked, the ACARA ended up placing fifth in class “Multi Op, Single Radio, Low Power, in a Park” with 4,200 points. The winning station in-class was Preble Amateur Radio Association activating Hueston Woods State Park, operating as N8XCC and earning 25,016 points. Second place in-class was Pedestrian Amateur Radio Club activating Portage Lakes State Park, operating as K8PRC and earning 6,068 points. Third place in-class was Cambridge Area Maker Group activating Salt Fork State Park, operating as KY8C and earning 5,143 points.