Members of the Amateur Radio Operators in the local area were joined by other attendees for the Parkland Amateur Radio Clubfield day on June 23 and 24.
The field day was held at the acreage of the Bob and Lorraine Drayer of Sturgis.
"The services of radio hams have already proved to be of immense value during and after tornadoes and other disasters. This is especially true wheninclement weather turns really nasty, and power lines, telephone lines and cell phone towers blow down. It is for such scenarios that the local Town Office has a record of licensed ham radio operators," said Hein Bertram, amateur ham radio operator.
Nine radio hams got together on the farm of radio amateur Bob Drayer and his wife Lorraine for the annual Amateur Radio Field Day; a first for the Preeceville/Sturgis area, stated Bertram.
The weather was perfect for putting up an antenna tower, said Bertram with plenty of humour. When it wasn’t pouring with rain, it was raining mosquitoes. With a great deal of teamwork, a radio tower was erected and raised with two wire “Inverted Vee” dipole antennas at the top. Utilizing his skills as a Naval veteran, Bertram kept his eye on the knots and rope work to make sure everything was in order.
A variety of antennas were in use during the day, stated Bertram.
“A number of homemade vertical antennas adorned the Bob Drayer trailer that was used as a main post with equipment. Operators were put through their paces with varying rates of success when the stations were in operation. That, however, is part of what Field Day is all about,” he said.
Other ham operators in attendance were Craig Larson of Swan River, who brought two other hams with him; twin brothers Chris and Devon Yelinek, also from Swan River, and Thomas Meyer and his father Tom, who came all the way from Saskatoon. The younger Meyer ensured that the right radios were connected to the right antennas, and he did not allow a few inches of rain to deter him from making a valuable contribution to the entire event, said Bertram.
Grant See of Preeceville was also in attendance for the field day.
Jerry Lisitza of Preeceville arrived and put his radio, a Yaesu FT-990, through its paces. As is the case with most of the hams present, he is a busy man, but the field day provide him with an opportunity to contact hams on four different shortwave bands and to hone his skills.
A small tent with a low-power station owned and manned by Marty Visser of Theodore stood a small distance away with a mast of its own.
With half the power of an average CB radio, Visser made contact with stations as far afield as South Texas, outperforming the other two operating positions that were putting out 30 times as much power at 100 watts. His station was powered by a car battery which was charged by a solar panel.
The shortwave radio in one of the two campers was operated by the Yelinek brothers. Each are “Handy-Hams.” Chris has limited vision, and Devon is completely blind. That, however, did not deter Chris from passing his Advanced Amateur Radio examination two years ago, nor Devon, who passed his basic examination a few months ago. Where other hams have the privilege of being able to read the questions and filling in a square on an answer sheet, these two gentlemen listened to the questions and answered them verbally.
“It was their first field day, and they have every reason to be proud of themselves,” stated Bertram.
By far the most experienced ham at the event, Grant See shared his decades of experience in ham radio with the others, most of whom have had little to no involvement with field days.
"When radio conditions improved at noon on Saturday, See was at the microphone on the 20 meter wavelength ham band while those crowded together in the camper listened, looked, and learned a tremendous lot from him,” said Bertram. “But it wasn’t only inside the radio camper that his presence made a difference. Raising the tower, rigging a wire antenna, you name it; Grant was in the middle of it all."
Most contacts were made using “Single Sideband,” a telephony mode that gets out better than other modes. However, an old Royal Navy Morse key also did duty. Many hams and other communicators can confirm that, where voice communications and even radio telex fail, Morse can still get through.
Jack Dawes of CJJC Radio in Yorkton and WTWW radio host from Nashville Tennessee and Matt Klimkowski, KG4WXX, did a 20-minute live interview with Bob Drayer.
Marty Visser’s station was battery-driven, while the stations in the two trailers were powered by gasoline generators. All equipment was set up by the hams themselves, and the station was ready for communications in just about no time at all, according to Bertram.
"Knowing the nature of these generous people, it would be inappropriate to mention the names of those who provided a pair of spare car batteries, the blue power generator or those delicious hamburgers. Nevertheless, the hams expressed their heartfelt gratitude for what they provided; and the benefactors know who they are," said Bertram.
The hams in Preeceville and surrounding area are ready in the event of an emergency, he said.
"That was one important aim of the field day, and that aim was met. Getting together with like-minded hobbyists and working together on antennas was another, but having fun goes without saying. Anyone interested in learning more about electronics and radio, and having lots of fun in the process, can contact any of the radio hams for more details,” concluded Bertram.