Field Day

Field Day 2024 Report by Adam Kriz – VA7KRZ

FRIDAY June 21st, 2024

Field Day started for us on Friday June 21st, 11:30 am at the North Van Fire Training Hall. Our small team of NSARC members, including Joe (VE7JYH), Igor (VE7AXO), Heather (VE7HEA), Bill (VE7QC), Club President Allan (VE7BRD), and Fran (VE7JL), awaited my truck’s towing capabilities to deliver the newly rebuilt radio tower, thanks to Josh (VE7KXZ), up to Cypress. All gear had been diligently organized, tested, and packed into labeled bins the previous weekend, making for a quick load-up.

Josh spent many hours welding and rebuilding the antenna trailer. The rebuild includes a new trailer tongue, height-adjustable leg, new brace arms to support the tower, two new ratcheting pulleys for cranking the tower upright, and one for telescoping, all-new aircraft cables, new electrical connections, a 4-pin trailer connector, and new LED turn signal and brake lights.

Joe and I headed up to Cypress in a convoy, with Joe providing a buffer behind me in the busy Friday traffic. We arrived at the Field Day site, located at Cypress Park picnic area, around 1:30 pm and found the bollards had not been unlocked yet. Soon after, Janice (VA7JMO) and the NS1 command vehicle, graciously lent to us by the North Shore Search and Rescue and driven up by NSAR member Peter Haigh (VE7PGH), arrived. A call was needed to Parks as it seemed they had forgotten about us. Thirty minutes later, we had access to the field and began setup, prioritizing shade due to blue skies and direct sunlight.

At the base of our antenna, about 20 feet off the ground, we pullied up a dipole for 40/80 meters with an SWR of 1.1 on 40m and about 2.5 SWR on 80m. We considered getting more height on the dipole to improve the SWR on 80m but decided to proceed given the recent sunspot activity and favorable propagation on other bands. Next up was the club’s Tri-Band Yagi (10m, 15m, and 20m) with SWRs of 1.1, 1.5, and 1.1, respectively. Atop the tower, we placed a vertical VHF/UHF Comet CX-33, lent to us by Josh, along with a custom-hemmed Canadian flag.

Night shift security included Wayne (VE7YZK) and his family, and myself. Other than high winds rocking me to sleep in the command vehicle, the night was uneventful.

SATURDAY June 22nd, 2024

At 8:30 am, Joe (VE7JYH) brought the breakfast and coffee. About 30 minutes later, Halden arrived with three 95W solar panels to charge a box of four 12.8V LiFePO4 batteries configured in parallel for 60Ah of solar-charged power, which we ran directly to the radios. Nick (VE7NRM) arrived and promptly started configuring N1MM and the radio.

Bill (VE7QC) dusted off the NSEM Pelican packet kit (VE7EMP) and set it up in the command vehicle. Messages were successfully received by VE7NSR in the NSARC radio room.

At 11:00 am sharp, the radio exploded with voices from all over North America. We stumbled over the start line with a few technical issues that Halden and I troubleshooted, but we made our first contact at 11:06 am.

Erica and Halden operated as a team (scribe/operator) for the morning, pulling in a flurry of QSOs. The mosquitoes this year were fierce. At one point, I found myself taking shelter in my truck to hide from the swarms of mosquitoes. This respite immediately turned into a catnap of unknown duration, only awakening due to the high temperatures and stale air that started to build in my truck as high noon came around.

At 10:46 pm, we had a visitor from Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR), Steve (VA7RSM), which qualified us for 100 bonus points for having a site visit by a representative of an agency.

The 20M band on the dipole was lively until about 11:30 pm when contacts started to fizzle out. We then switched to 40M, where things were more active. We made some contacts off the side of the dipole with some Quebecois who were happy to get their first VE7 of the event.

SUNDAY June 23rd, 2024

Halden arrived early Sunday morning to find that the internal battery had died in his CW keyer. With some quick thinking, he navigated the IC-7300 radio menus, accessed the presets, and pulled in 60 CW QSOs.

Later in the morning, around 10:30 am, Bill (VE7QC) and I sent off three Winlink messages to VE7SWF, VE7PEP, and VE7KAZ, earning us 100 bonus points for sending messages to the section managers and section emergency coordinators.

Jan (VE7EE) closed out the contest, running a fast-paced CQ until the very end. As Jan emerged from the command trailer, takedown had already begun. Tents were being packed up, tables were being folded, and guy wires were being untethered. Takedown felt quick, as the same people who set it up were taking it down. We knew the drill.

Jan and I took a minute to safely figure out how to reverse the tensioned ratcheting gears to take the tower down without losing any fingers or having it come crashing down. By 12:45 pm, the tower was down, the antenna was loaded and strapped to the trailer, the bins, generator, and all our gear had been loaded into our vehicles, and we were making our way back to the Fire Training Center. Nick stood guard with the command vehicle at the Field Day site until Janice could return with Peter, the NSAR driver, sometime after 2 pm.

Unloading at the club container was swift. All the bins were unloaded and stacked with direction from Joe on where everything should be placed. The trailer was backed into its spot and tarped to protect it from the elements.

We had a total of six operators over the 24-hour event: myself, VA7KRZ (Adam), VA7QER (Erica), VE7UTS (Halden), VE7EE (Jan), VA7JMO (Janice), and VE7WVX (Wayne).

In total, we managed to pull in 669 QSOs.

Contesting Statistics:


Score: 729

With a plethora of bonus points and great band conditions, I feel we did fairly well this year. Regardless of points, the success of the event was truly a team effort, and I’m grateful for the support and collaboration of the NSARC members who assisted. Special thanks to Janice for organizing the permits with Parks (way before the date) and arranging the command trailer.

Another great field day under our belt.

Adam Kriz