SMCARA Field Day 2019 Summary


The Summer 2019 ARRL Field Day event has come and gone. What is left are everlasting memories shared between club members, visitors, first timers, test takers, and anyone else to stopped by the field day operation site to see the excitement take place.

This year’s event, being held at the Patuxent River Naval Air museum, was a venue fit for all. On behalf of the St. Mary’s County Amateur Radio Association, we thank them all and especially Mr. Pete Butt for all his logistical / liaison work with the museum staff welcoming us in the location. 

We ran a 4A category this year. In reviewing past yearly records, this was the first time in quite a while. I don’t think what was planned for, was the bands going dead right before the contest.

After stringing power wires, connecting antennas, testing out radios, 20 meters was alive and well at approximately 1300-1330 just before the start times. 

There were two SSB stations, 1 digital station (FT8), and 1 CW station which were operated by many that stopped in to check us out.  We even had one teenager so involved and interested in ham radio that he stayed well into the night to operate, ask questions, and have fun.  Hope to see him again and involved with the club – what a great kid he was!

We had a triband beam, two Gap titan antennas, and a 40/80m wire, which all were used for FD, and all performed and did their job as they were designed to do. Mother nature had other plans for us though. 

Once the FD exercise began, it was as if the HF GODS struck us dumbfoundedly silent! We couldn’t make a contact to save us from despair. The afternoon noise level was S6-S7, qsb was horrible, and there just weren’t many signals from the CW to phone portion of many of the bands. Overnight operations were tolerable. Sunday morning, the noise levels subsided to S2/S3 and there were band openings for about 45 minutes on 15 and 20m.  6m and 10m never opened up. On several occasions I would tune the bands to check propagation, but never heard anything at all. Quite the disappointment after seeing the bands pen up the week prior to field day all over the country. 10m had pipelines to LA, MS, AL, and FL.

6M had opening to WY, OK, OH, and WI.

From what I’ve been reading since FD, in many forums and chat rooms, nationwide hams have expressed disappointment with the propagation this year during field day. I received a note from my elmer down south in FL, and what he had to tell me verified exactly what I knew by then. The HF bands were In poor condition for a good run from anywhere on the east coast. 

The contacts that were made, completed 92 SSB, 135 digital (FT8), and 140 CW.  I’m working the log and submission package and will have it finalized for submittal probably next week sometime. Our final score will include the bonus points as we achieved them. 

This was the first year that FT8 digital ops had been ran during FD.  Mr. John McKay, KB0UCT, volunteered his entire station and provided some valuable training.  Thank you, John, for your time and effort and for putting out such a great display of how FT8 is working in present day.

Dinner was great! Almost like the 4th of July picnic venue, Rick and Jayne McNutt didn’t disappoint and created quite the spread for us to enjoy. I know I gained a few more pounds than I would have liked too.

Mike Souders – KB3ZWM conducted a testing session from 1-4pm and achieved new licensees of 1- extra class, 2 General class, and 2 Technician class amateurs.  One of those even became a club member. Great Job Mike, and we all thank you for your time and efforts. 

The venue, in my opinion, was a successful choice. Being so close to the public provided the opportunity for people / museum visitors to stop in and see the exercise in action. And we had quite a large amount of foot traffic by doing so. 

The weather couldn’t have cooperated any better, Temps in mid low 80’s, low humidity, light winds, made for an enjoyable event. And most of all, I wasn’t carried off by ginormous mosquitoes in the overnight periods such as the year before provided.  

We had a great visit again this year by Jim Montgomery – WB3KAS, Wanda – KA3AHI, and Steve – KC3DSO, stopped in to represent a visit from the MDC sectional manager. As like last year, was always great to see and visit with them including some great conversation.

What a great time again this year. There’s nothing better that I like doing than plan something, have inputs and help from each of you and make it a successful event for everyone to enjoy. I thank you all for the ability to plan and conduct our club activity.  

Sure, we had some hiccups, areas to work on, things to make better, but that’s why we have this exercise. To activate, perform, and perfect our operations for public service if ever called on in our future. 

Thank You all, for a great 2019 Field Day.  Like many before this one, I will never forget it.


Tony Barrett