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Winter Field Day turned out to be a whole lot of fun for me. Perhaps I did not dive in with the "winter spirit" of the event, as I operated category 1H ME (indoors in the comfort of my home shack on commercial power, using my regular station equipment and installed antennas!!) Plus I was only able to operate about 4 hours of the 24-hour event. But those 4 hours were fun. I worked a few pile-ups and made 207 contacts. Hanging my head in shame -- only 1 of those contacts was using CW! Well, that certainly leaves room for progress. If I make 2 CW contacts next year, I will have doubled that accomplishment. Impressive!
Most of my contacts were on 20 meters, and a few on 40m and 75m. I was surprised at how many winter field day stations I heard on the air, especially on 20m. I remember several years ago when few hams seemed to participate. This year it was on par with the regular summertime ARRL Field Day. Amazing!
I am not a big contester, but Winter Field Day has wetted my appetite for more. Now I am looking forward to the International DX CW (Feb 20-21) and Phone (Mar 6-7) contests. I am also anticipating the summertime Field Day, and pandemic or not, I will participate in some way. I may set up a tent in the back 80 acres and perhaps even attempt QRP. That would certainly be challenging!
Covid-19 has been impacting all aspects of our lives for nearly a year now. This includes our ham radio social events that many of us love and miss. Ham radio breakfasts and supper events, clandestine coffee meetings, and in-person club meetings are just a few examples. When will it end?
Ten months ago there were no known cases of the Covid here in Washington County, yet we started implementing social distancing. Now we have had more than 500 cases here in this county with 331 active cases as of today, and sadly, we have had 7 deaths here in Washington County. Obviously it looks like social isolation will continue for some time, at least until the vaccines become more readilbly available and we see the numbers falling.
I know many hams that are not abiding by the guidelines put out by the federal and state governments. That is their choice to risk catching or spreading the virus. Not everyone has high risk factors that I do, so I choose to be more cautious. I still go out to eat at our local restaurant on occasion, and go into stores, etc, wearing my mask. You can't stop living, after all. But I will also not invite disaster. I stay home waaaay more than I used to in the pre-covid times. I save gas money and other expenses that I can use to buy more ham radio gear, ha ha.
Getting on the air and using our ham radio frequencies is a super way to spend time in this new era. As I write this, I am listening to AB1PZ chat with AC1BS on the 146.910 repeater AND listening to several folks chatting on 3940khz on the HF rig. I'll jump in on the conversations in just a minute. I plan on getting my digital gear humming in a bit as I prepare a presentation for an upcoming Zoom meeting.
So, let's not let this Covid-19 keep us from socializing with our ham friends over the air. Power up or shut up? Hi Hi
I have noticed it is getting more challenging in getting ham radio test session press releases accepted in Downeast Maine's weekly newspapers. Facebook appears to be the most common way of getting the word out. It would help if every ham in the test area would "share" any test session posts they see on Facebook. The more it gets shared, the more people, including potential hams, see the information. When I post test sessions I try to make sure the post is "public" so that it can be shared, and not restricted by a privavcy setting.
Until I get my blog up and running, I would like to use this space to call attention to something that I think is important. We need new blood in the amateur radio community. As a volunteer examiner, I know that VE teams around the country are doing just that. But i think we need to put more emphasis on that goal. We not only need more new hams, but many more from the category of 'Not Yet Over The Hill!'
Nothing against all the more mature (and I use that term loosely) hams, because I am included in that bunch, but our hobby and service needs some younger generations of hams. It would be nice to have a lot of teenage people licensed hams, but when I go to hamfests, club meetings, and chat with people on the air, I find very few people that are in their 20s, 30s, and even 40s. Yes, they are busy raising families and juggling jobs, for sure, but there must be a way to demonstrate that there is something attractive in the hobby to these age groups, and that the time they commit to it is totally up to them.
For instance, ham radio can, and should be promoted as a family fun hobby. Ham Radio 'sporting' activities may draw some interest, as well as the newest digital modes, getting some club members to demonstrate space communications, incorporating the Raspberry Pi computer into ham radio, and more.
Let us start sharing our ideas and then start acting on some and recruit some fresh DNA into the hobby! Who is with me?