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SPARC’s Winter Field Day Plans

Do you like operating in the field but hate dripping in sweat while setting up antennas? Does the idea of enduring another Field Day constantly fighting off every mosquito in Tampa Bay make you wish they held Field Day in January? Well, you’re in luck! Winter Field Day is an event very similar to the June ARRL Field Day  except—you guessed it—it’s held in Winter. Specifically January 27 & 28, 2018. This is the first time SPARC is participating in Winter Field Day and it is a joint operation with the Upper Pinellas Amateur Radio Club (UPARC) and the Clearwater Amateur Radio Society (CARS). The event will be held at the Clearwater Fire Training Facility on Belcher Road south of Sunset Point Road in Clearwater.

Winter Field Day is a 24 hour operating exercise where hams across the country go to the field, setup portable stations running on emergency power with temporary antennas. This event is not sponsored by the ARRL but the Winter Field Day Association instead. It has been operating since 2007 and gets bigger each year. There are several differences from the ARRL Field Day. Notably, there are only three classes of operation: (Outdoor, Indoor and Home). We will be operating Outdoor with 3 stations capable of SSB, Digital modes like PSK31 and CW. We have some preliminary plans but the most important thing we need now is to sign people up. You can sign up by clicking here. As with summer Field Day, you will work stations operating from home and also indoors in non-traditional settings. But when you work outside stations in Minnesota, please try not to comment on how it is a chilly 65 degrees here. They may not share your amusement. 🙂

We have the radio and computers secured but we do need antennas, people to help with putting things up, some people to help with food and of course, operators. 3 radios will be going 24 hours from 2:00 PM Saturday to 2:00 PM on Sunday so we need people that can operate. No experience is necessary. If you are brand new to ham radio, you are welcome to come out and with a little training; you get to operate the radios. If you are interested in operating portable, you will get first hand experience in how to setup a station outside with no other infrastructure. Additionally, if you are interested in Emergency Communications, you have the opportunity to setup in a unusual location, operating radios on generator power. Note that is just like people had to do in Houston and Puerto Rico after the hurricanes so if you are an EMCOMM operator, this event is tailor made for you. Plus you will be on the grounds of the premiere fire training facility in the area.

As you may know, SPARC has scaled back its outside ARRL Field Day operations in June due to the difficulty of setting up the portable antennas in the heat—we’re not getting any younger. This is the perfect opportunity for anyone that misses that experience of setting up temporary antennas and operating radios in tents. The bonus is that instead of just one club, we have members of all different experience levels from all three clubs. Of course, we have some creature comforts in that we can use the facilities inside the Fire Training center, but all the operating is outside on generator power. While this is winter in Florida, you never know. Last year’s Winter Field was downright cold by anyone’s standards. At the UPARC site in Tarpon Springs, they had fires going to keep warm so while it could be tee shirt weather, be prepared for something colder.

Here is a Google Map to the location. This is centrally located to all three club’s members so we hope the facility proves to be a success for all.


Please sign up and let us know if you can bring anything. Again, we need antennas, antenna supports (masts), coax, tables, tents/shelters, a coffee maker (we have shore power for that) and anything else you can think of that you would want if you were portable. As I mentioned, we have the radios in the form of an Elecraft K3 for CW/SSB and Digital, an Icom 775 DSP for SSB and a Kenwood TS590S for SSB. We also have computers. The rest of the stuff, we need. So please sign up now by clicking here.

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