WB8RC at WBCCI 53rd International Rally in Gillette, WY

[updated July 9, 2010 2355 UTC]

The WBCCI 53rd International Rally had over 700 units on the ground.  The campgrounds on Gillette’s CamPlex Facility campus were filled with lots and lots of aluminum.  It was easy to bump into people you know just by walking around any of the several campgrounds filled with Airstreams.

We had good foot traffic to our amateur radio club station, WB8RC.  The Club station was located in the Morningside Arena ticket booth (front entrance, faces West).  Didn’t have as much participation as we would have liked, six operators carried the bulk of the operating schedule.The local club, NE7WY, graciously invited us to join them for ARRL Field Day.  We discussed whether to join them at their station, approximately 70 miles north of CAMPLEX, and decided the WB8RC station would participate in Field Day as a training exercise for our club’s amateur operators.

Saturday morning, Jun 26, members of our club gathered at the station and discussed our day’s strategy.  We located the long W5GI Mystery Dipole antenna in our cargo box and laid it out on the ground between a pair of underground-fed tall light poles (nice to have no conflicting power lines, eh?).

After six attempts we managed to loft our pull ropes over the small cross-arms of the light poles and hoist the antenna almost 45 feet above ground.  The ladder line pulls almost horizontal across the street and then down into our Club’s temporary shack, the arena’s ticket booth.

We weren’t surprised the antenna is a dead-on match throughout all of 20 meters band, and tuned 40 meters perfectly with a small MFJ mobile tuner.   We already have a radio on 40 meters, using a Buckmaster OCF 4-band hi-power dipole and a SB-220 amp.  So the second radio stayed on 20 meters all day.

Our first attempt with the Mystery antenna was only partially successful because we did a surprisingly poor job configuring our lead-in coax.   Awhile later we awoke to the situation and changed the lead-in coax to a much much shorter length we had on hand.  Result?  Instant improvement in signal received (and surely sent as well).

The big plus from today’s Field Day exercise for our Club?  We met hams we hadn’t worked or worked with before.  We teamed up to raise an antenna in a tricky area (the light pole arms are only a couple of feet long and are approx 45 feet above ground).  More experienced hams graciously coached the newer hams, present company included, in antenna analysis, how to work the stations we could hear, and the advantage of calling CQ instead of hunt and pounce.

Special thanks to Richard AJ4UX  and Lyn KC8I for their patient coaching and help.  Thanks to Vaughn N7ODT and Elliott WK3G for supervising as we setup and for taking pictures.  Thanks to Jerry K4NHL, Bob KC6HBW, Dean KE6UVH, Frank KE4TIL, Jim N5RTG for participating in Field Day radio contacts.

And thanks to Annette KB9CPZ, Dave KI6ZZD, Bill VE3TUC, and the other dozen hams who stopped by during this Field Day training exercise.  I apologize if I left anyone out, it wasn’t intentional and I don’t have the station visitor log at my desk as I type this.

Jim n5rtg