Events & Activities

MDARC Field Day 2014

Field Day 2014 took place at Heather Farms in Walnut Creek. We had a wonderful time with family and friends joining us to enjoy a weekend of radio events. Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to make this event so successful.

MDARC Field Day 2013

Field Day 2013 took place at Heather Farms in Walnut Creek. There was an excellent turn out of radio enthusiasts and folks just curious about Amateur Radio. Breaking Records was Ben Heathorn, KI6WBH with 244 contacts out of the 400 that were made that day. Solar power was provided by Charles Henry, KG6PHZ. Charles' mobile solar setup has 3 235W panels capable of 700W / 15 amps @ 14 volts. The solar rig provided power to the shack! 

MDARC Field Day 2012

MDARC knows how to do Field Day. The reality is, Field day is not 24 hours - but 48 hours, plus. You have all the setup and tear down, and then we stuff Field Day somewhere in the middle. This year, we went BIG! We featured two (2) sites. We hosted W6CX at Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek. We worked 80 through 10 meters pretty hard, and had lots of Get On The Air (GOTA) opportunities for visitors that wished to operate.

The Salvation Army provided their canteen truck, and made sure that no ham went undernourished for the duration. On top of Mount Diablo, we had a hardcore crew that operated with the special events call of K6F. They had well over 150 visitors to their station, and worked hard at night to burn holes in the clouds so that the neighboring astronomy club could see and operate - hi hi. Field Day is a magical time to get out of the shack and operate off the grid with some of the best men and women that you could have the privilege of knowing.

MDARC Field Day 2011

This year our location at Heather Farm Park will offer comfort, convenience and maximum public exposure. The Field Day site will be on the grassy knoll beside the Nature Lagoon just north of the Community Center. We will have the two adjacent rows of parking space cordoned off for our use.

Lauren WA6CIE and Elizabeth KG6HLV Styles, Field Day Chairmen are planning to operate W6CX as class 3F � an Incident Command Event, taking advantage of our joint sponsorship with SATERN. We will, in fact, the operating four transmitters; however, the fourth transmitter will be operating on VHF and UHF, which under Field Day rules will not count in our transmitter tally.

 This year we expect be joined by the Walnut Creek CERT group was planning to run drills and communication tests from the Field Day site. The CERT coordinator will be Richard Dubey KJ6CWQ.

We will also be joined by two of our newest MDARC members, Kati K7KTI and Lief KF7AMY Stendsrud. Kati, an 11-year-old General Class licensee, is a mean 30 words per minute CW operator, a leader in the Reno, Nevada Amateur Radio community and our future Andrea Hartlege KI6AWR. The MDARC Board has "adopted" Katie and will support her nomination for Young Ham Of The Year.

Our band captains will be as follows:

Jim Siemons AF6PU 80 M and 15 M
Larry Lexcrone WW6USA and Kathy Reed KD6USA 40 M
Lauren Styles WA6CIE 20 M and 10 M
Trevor Raty KG6MDW and Steve Wagener KA6SFT 6 M, 2 M and 440 MHz

We will use the new MDARC Logging Program which will send logging data via Wi-Fi from the operating positions to a centralized computer in the Communications Trailer.

Ruth Miller KE6AWR and her family will operate the Salvation Army canteen van. Meals will be provided to all radio operators.

 We are in need of an operator who can initiate messages through the National Traffic System for extra points. We also need a CW operator to copy the W1AW Field Day message. Please contact Lauren WA6CIE. Please come out and join us for great weekend: good friends, good food, good radio, and great fun! 

MDARC Field Day 2010

The 2010 MDARC Field Day was held in Walnut Creek at Heather Farms Park on the weekend of June 26 and 27.  

Trevor Raty, KG6MDW, takes on the world above 50 MHz.

MDARC Field Day 2009

The 2009 MDARC Field Day was held in Concord at the Salvation Army parking lot on the weekend of June 26, 27 and 28.

MDARC Field Day 2008
by Jason Legate W6SN

After all the time put in to organize Field Day 2008, the end result was quite fun. We ran out to the park early in the morning (well, ok, early for us!) on Friday June 27th, and pulled our trucks, RV's, cars, and the club trailer up into the swim parking lot at Heather Farm Park over in Walnut Creek. Things started in the middle of the morning, with heavy smoke in the air. The week leading up to Field Day was a horrendous week, as much of Northern California was ablaze, caused by a series of storms bringing with them the bane of forestry: lightning.

As we started setting up, we had to contend with an accidental double booking; hot, smoky air, and to top it all off, very little wind.

Starting around noon, we had somewhere around 15-20 people on-site, working on antennas and radios. We had a couple issues with illegal weaponry; I guess others don't see the utility of a crossbow like we hams do: where they see a weapon that can rain terror down upon the unsuspecting, we see a "line launching tool".

In addition, there were some things that some people learned about antenna matching. A 4:1 balun does not work with a dipole! There was also a vertical antenna which never ended up being put to use, it could never be matched on any useful band (36m anyone?).

Friday was also a wonderful day for the club on the public relations front. The nice gentleman over at KGO radio, Greg Edmonds, stopped by for an eyeball QSO, as well as an interview for their afternoon news segment. We got a short news blurb at around 16:36 (give or take a couple minutes...but who's really counting, right?)

By dinner time, we had the beams up for 20m, 15m, 6m, 2m, as well as 440. Speaking of dinner, the Salvation Army generously offered their services, cooking all the meals for the on-site group. They gave us a very delicious spread, and there were some people (you know who you are) who showed up regularly for the meals, yet were mysteriously absent most of the rest of the time.

Once dinner had been had by all, we started getting ready for what we thought would be a "walk in the park". Prior to the event,  I had walked the area with some members from the field day roster, as well as with some people from the City of Walnut Creek. We identified what we thought would be the sprinklers to watch out for during the overnight hours. We had been told that the sprinklers could not be turned off, without disabling the entire park, which the Recreation Dept. would not do for us. They were willing to do a lot, but not quite that much.

Thinking we were prepared, we set out with our flashlights, placed buckets, garbage cans and coolers in front of or on top of the sprinklers we knew about. Little did we know, there were two designs of sprinkler: one that was readily visible from above, a second that was... well... NOT.

At 1:26 (yes, that's a 24hr time), it was the latter sprinklers that really tore into us. I do believe that the most amazing spectacle of the night was Lauren Styles� qualifying round for the "High Jump from Prone Position" Olympic sport. We had apparently missed about 6 sprinkler heads, one of which was strategically aimed directly at Lauren upon activation.

We spent the next hour making sure the ones we missed were covered, and no new ones popped up to spoil our fun. Apparently the way the system operates is unknown even to the city: heads popped up at random locations for random durations at random times - sounds a lot a game of whack-a-mole.

Regardless of how wet we all ended up that night, we slept relatively soundly. It, of course, helped a lot that we were exhausted from putting antennas up, running around in the dark covering sprinklers, and all around just being up for nearly 20 hours at this point.

The following morning, the canteen was ready and operating by the time we got up, preparing the morning's breakfast. I believe this was when the coffee started brewing, and it didn't really stop until well into the next morning.

Promptly at 11:00, we started operating radios as part of the contest itself. From the beginning, the club trailer, which was supposed to be the GOTA station, was busy instead, as the information station. We had people constantly passing by, asking things along the lines of "What's with all the antennas?" We really enjoyed a very high profile at this site, and by my count, we had approximately 45 people physically present at one time at one point.

Overall, the club did quite well, points-wise, as we had a lot of the bonus points for putting out a press release, inviting public officials, actually having some of those public officials show up, and not to mention we didn't do too shabbily on the air.

All in all, though we had a rough time during setup, and there were some hiccups during the event itself, we made for a wonderful showing, and the city is asking us how much space we want to use next year. Maybe we can show them next year how large MDARC truly is, and takeover the entire area of the park we were in. If anyone has any advice, equipment, time, or other "consumables" we might be able to use either during the planning for, or execution of field day, please don't hesitate to speak up for next year.

We will hopefully do better next year, this time with many more people involved in the organization and planning of the event itself, so we don't get too overwhelmed again. There is also discussion of moving the club picnic to fall on that Saturday, so we can double our turnout possibly. Either way, we'll have a lot of fun next year, though hopefully, without a lot of the pitfalls that befell us this year. Look forward to seeing everyone out there this next year!

View photos from this year's MDARC field day activities at Heather Farms Park,  compliments of:
 - Richard Lueck
Jason Chavez -W9JPC