Report: ARRL Field Day 2024

The ACARA participated in the largest operating event in the Amateur Radio calendar, ARRL Field Day, on Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23, 2024, at the Athens Red Cross. Using the special event callsign “K8V”, the club succeeded in making 848 contacts on HF, and 6 meters, using CW, SSB, and FT8.

Because of the weather forecast for extreme heat, Field Day Chairman Paul Schulz, WD8SCV, and the ACARA Executive Committee made the decision to switch the Field Day location from the Athens County Fairgrounds to the Athens Red Cross and the Jim Crouse Memorial Radio Station. The move from the Fairgrounds to the Red Cross meant a change from participating in Class 2A (two-transmitter, club or non-club group) to Class 2F (two-transmitter, Emergency Operations Center). The move also meant that club members had to learn how to deploy antennas in a small parking lot surrounded by power lines.

Prior to Field Day weekend, Paul Schulz had arranged to use the 50′ mobile crank-up tower from the Athens County 9-1-1 Center and the solar power trailer from Appalachian Renewable Power. Josh Clegg from Athens County 9-1-1 delivered and erected the trailer on the morning of the Friday prior to Field Day weekend, and Paul picked up the solar trailer. That same day, Paul and others toured the Red Cross chapterhouse to identify where each of the three stations would be located within the building: the HF SSB/CW station would be in the Jim Crouse Memorial Radio Station room and would use the club’s ICOM IC-7610 transceiver, the HF digital station would be in an unused office in the back of the building and would use an ICOM IC-7300 transceiver, and the 6m SSB/CW/digital station would be in the lobby in the back of the building and would use an ICOM IC-746 and an ICOM IC-7300 transceiver.

Starting at 10am on Saturday morning of Field Day weekend, Paul led a group of club members in the process of hanging antennas for two HF stations and a 6m station and getting power from the solar trailer into the building. On the 50′ tower, the group hung the club’s 80/40m fan-dipole; an all-band folded terminated dipole provided by Josh Senefeld, N8VXR; and a 40m end-fed halfwave (EFHW) antenna provided by Paul. John McCutchen, N8XWO, deployed his homebrew 6m two-element Yagi on a mast he placed at the north-east corner of the building. Antenna feedlines and power from the solar trailer were brought in through the back door of the building and were arranged to minimize any trip-hazards. Because the club was participating in Class 2F, the antennas permanently installed at the site, including the roof-mounted Hustler 5-BTV HF vertical, would be available for use.

The plan had been for the HF SSB/CW station to use the 80/40m fan dipole and the Hustler 5-BTV vertical and for the HF digital station to use the folded terminated dipole and the 40m EFHW antenna. However, upon testing the antennas, the group quickly discovered that 40m EFHW and the vertical were not working well at all, and the decision was made to give the folded dipole to the HF SSB/CW station and let the HF digital station use the fan dipole.

When Field Day operations started at 2pm local time on Saturday, it became immediately apparent that careful use of the club’s 15, 20, and 40m bandpass filters would be vital if the two HF stations were to operate simultaneously on the high bands. As evening approached, it also became clear that with the primary HF antennas located on the same tower, the two HF stations would be unable to simultaneously operate on the low bands–the HF digital station was completely wiping out the HF SSB/CW station’s receiver on transmit. As darkness was falling, Paul and others deployed Paul’s SOTA Beams “Band Hopper” linked dipole parallel to the back of the building for use on 80 and 40m. With this antenna in place, both stations could co-exist so long as they didn’t try to work the on the same band.

Running a two-transmitter Field Day operation (plus a free VHF station) takes a lot of operators, and nine ACARA members plus two invited guests proved to be up to the task:

Ted Jacobson, W8KVK
Drew McDaniel, W8MHV
Andy McDonald, K8FO
Eric McFadden, WD8RIF
Tony Peric, KE8VFA
Cade Saugier, KC3EKE
Josh Senefeld, N8VXR
Bob Schulz, KD9ONG (from Wisconsin)
Paul Schulz, WD8SCV
Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ
Len Touth, W8VQ (from Pickerington OH)

On Saturday afternoon, the club was honored to have Roy Hook, W8REH, ARRL Vice Director Great Lakes Division, visit the Field Day operation.

On Saturday evening, an ACARA member and an invited guest gave a presentation so the club could earn the Field Day Educational Activity bonus. ACARA’s Kirk Groeneveld, KC8JRV, and Logan’s Phil Stanley, W8NZB, taught those present how to successfully participate in VHF fox hunting.

Also on Saturday, Cade Saugier, KC3EKE, passed eleven message-traffic messages via 2m packet to Ted Jacobson, W8KVK, who forwarded them onto the National Traffic System, earning the club 200 bonus points for “Message Origination to Section Manager” and “Message Handling”.

A Saturday evening meal of pulled pork, cole slaw, and baked beans was prepared by Paul Schulz using the chapterhouse’s kitchen. Paul also provided bacon and eggs breakfast Sunday morning.

After the dust settled and the three computerized logs were combined, the participants learned that they had made a total of 848 QSOs with the following breakdowns:

Band	Mode	QSOs
80m CW 34
80m FT8 108
40m CW 175
40m FT8 169
40m SSB 173
20m CW 44
20m FT8 58
20m SSB 40
15m CW 27
15m FT8 9
15m SSB 6
6m FT8 4
6m SSB 1

As can be seen in the table, above, the “Most Valuable Players” in the club’s Field Day 2024 operation were Bob Schulz, KD9ONG, who made 239 FT8 QSOs, and Josh Senefeld, N8VXR, who made 176 SSB QSOs.

The club earned 2,952 points for QSOs and 1,300 bonus points, for a total score of 4,252 points.

After it was said and done, those who participated agreed that the Athens Red Cross chapterhouse worked well for Field Day. (The air-conditioning was particularly appreciated by those present on Saturday afternoon!) Improvements can be made, however, and the club will discuss ways to improve how coax and power cords can be brought into the building, how to use the park adjacent to the Red Cross building for antennas, and how to improve the Jim Crouse Memorial Radio Station’s permanent antennas.

Thanks go to Field Day Chairman Paul Schulz, WD8SCV, for organizing the Field Day operation and for successfully managing the last-minute change in location. Thanks go to Kirk Groeneveld, KC8JRV, and Phil Stanley, W8NZB, for the Education Activity presentation on fox hunting and to Cade Saugier, KC3EKE, and Ted Jacobson, W8KVK, for successfully passing message traffic. Thanks go to all those who operated the stations and all those who helped with set-up and tear-down. Finally, thanks go to Athens Red Cross for the use of their building and grounds, to Athens County 9-1-1 Center for the use of the 50′ mobile crank-up tower, and to Appalachian Renewable Power for the use of the solar trailer.


Athens Mayor Steve Patterson presents the Proclamation to ACARA President Eric McFadden, WD8RIF.
Josh Senefeld, N8VXR, operates HF SSB.
Josh Senefeld, N8VXR, operates HF SSB.
Bob Schulz, KD9ONG, operates HF FT8.
Bob Schulz, KD9ONG, operates HF FT8.
Drew McDaniel, W8MHV, operates HF CW using a vintage Heathkit CW keyboard.
Len Touth, W8VQ, operates HF CW. Notice his unusual left-hand operation of a right-handed bug.
Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ, operates HF SSB.
Paul Schulz, WD8SCV, operates 6m FT8 while John McCutcheon, N8XWO, and Bob Curtis, KD8FRQ, watch.
Phil Stanley, W8NZB, (left) and Kirk Groeneveld, KC8JRV, (right) give the Education Activity presentation on fox hunting on Saturday evening.
Some of the equipment used by Phil Stanley, W8NZB, during successful fox hunting.
The Athens County 9-1-1 Center’s 50′ mobile crank-up tower and the Appalachian Renewable Power’s solar trailer.
Athen County 9-1-1 Center’s 50′ mobile crank-up tower supporting the all-band folded terminated dipole.
A Saturday evening view of the tower and solar trailer.
The 6m station’s two-element Yagi antenna.