Sharon Thompson, KM5GV, and Robert Coxsey, KM5GZ
Sometimes it’s nice to forget about points and just enjoy a little outdoor operating.
Field Day 2013 broke hot and sunny in Oklahoma. Robert and I headed out for our own laid-back, rural, and nostalgic Field Day. Traditionally, we had always joined the Edmond Amateur Radio Society, K5EOK, for their Field Day, but this year we decided to have our own Field Day operation. We did loan K5EOK one of our rotators, so I guess that counts as our participation for this year.
We drove to the town of Rush Springs, approximately 65 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, which was Robert’s hometown. Rush Springs lies along historic Highway 81. It is located near the old Chisholm Trail, over which cowboys drove cattle from Texas through Oklahoma to the railheads in Kansas. The town is named for the large spring found within Jeff Davis City Park, which is located on Rush Creek. This spring was a camping place for Native American tribes in the early 1800s and served as a common watering hole for the cattle drives. Rush Springs is also known as the “Watermelon Capital of the World” and hosts the well-known Watermelon Festival each year on the second Saturday in August.
We arrived mid-morning and decided to set up our station in the Old Water Tower gazebo, a neat little place where the roof is the metal dome of the original water tower. Our plan was to have a laid-back, enjoyable day with no pressure, no points, and no expectations — just a relaxing time. There was also no electricity, so we had to roll out our homemade generator/battery system to power things up.
On two card tables, we set up our Icom IC-746 transceiver with a yellow legal pad and a couple of pens. We walked up the hill about 100 feet, hammered a piece of metal pipe in the ground, and erected our four-band trapped vertical, which only required a tuner for 20 meters. We laid out about a dozen radials on the grass and were just about ready to go.
Our homemade generator uses a neighbor’s discarded lawnmower engine running a 110 A car alternator that generates 14.2 V, which is applied to a couple of car batteries. The generator is mounted in a rusty old children’s wagon, which allows it to be easily rolled around. We decided to position it in one of the wooden festival shelters nearby. When it ran out of gas, we continued operating on the batteries while waiting for the engine to cool. We then refilled the generator and were back on the “mains” again. For the final Field Day necessity, we had coolers packed with Gatorade and sandwiches. With everything in place, we were off and operating.
We had planned a schedule with some friends on 7.260 MHz, but we weren’t able to make contact. We did talk to a fellow ham stationed on top of Mt Scott in the Lawton area; also a Houston contact. Okay! We were off to a good start. At 1 PM local time we jumped on 20 meters and made a few contacts, but it was just too busy for a laid-back operation like ours. Fifteen meters was somewhat better but also crowded. We moved slowly around the bands, listening to all the Field Day activity, and noticed a Tennessee station had stayed on 10 meters for a couple of hours. I started calling CQ on 10 meters and after about 10 minutes, a small pileup started. Ten meters was open! We made a good deal of our contacts there. The rest were made on the Amateur Extra class portions of 15 and 20 meters.
Our low-key operation was brought to a temporary halt when a couple of the local residents came by to see what was going on in their gazebo. They rode up, mounted on their horses, curious about our operation. We had a nice visit and gave them a nickel tour of our Field Day site.
Though the temperature hovered around 96 °F, we were surprisingly comfortable under the domed water tower roof. A stiff Oklahoma breeze was continually blowing across us, keeping us cool and insect free. Add a few trips to the natural spring for some cold water to wash up and it became an excellent Field Day location. It doesn’t get any better than that. We operated on and off all afternoon, with less focus on point accumulation, as on the experience of being out in the open, with the simplest of equipment, in a true “disaster operations” setting. This was a Field Day we’ll long remember and a site we will probably return to again next year.
All photos by the authors.
Sharon Thompson, KM5GV, an ARRL® member, was first licensed in 1996, following her friend Bob Coxsey, KM5GZ, who was licensed shortly before. She upgraded quickly through the licenses, getting her Amateur Extra class license in 1998. At the time, Sharon enjoyed HF operations and was working toward Worked All States (WAS), when an out-of-state move and the lack of antennas put an end to her WAS activities.
Returning to Oklahoma, Sharon rejoined the Edmond Amateur Radio Society (EARS) and has been an active member for the past 18 years. EARS is a special service club with numerous activities in the community. During her membership Sharon has served as secretary, board member, and in various coordinator positions. As a volunteer examiner she has been an instructor in Technician and General licensing classes for many years, has enjoyed club activities working parades, and assists with monthly siren test monitoring. Outside the shack Sharon is a retired secretary, a quilter, and a great-grandma. Sharon can be reached at 1002 W Gemini Rd, Edmond, OK 73003-5808, email@example.com.
Robert Coxsey, KM5GZ, an ARRL member, was first licensed as a Technician class licensee in 1995 and soon advanced to become an Amateur Extra class licensee. He first became interested in radio when he was a youngster and became intrigued by SWL and broadcast band DXing.
Robert is a long-time member of the Edmund Amateur Radio Society having served as a board member and secretary. As a volunteer examiner, he has taught ham radio licensing classes for many years. He is the net control station for the EARS Information Net and the Route 66 10-10 net. In July 2012, Kay Craigie, N3KN, participated in the EARS 2 meter net where she was interviewed and took questions over the air.
Robert is a Chevrolet mechanic by trade. Besides ham radio, he is interested in cars and motorcycles. He can be reached at 3612 NE 140th St, Edmond, OK 73013-7244, firstname.lastname@example.org.