K7PG – A New CVARS Callsign & Celebrating A Life

Gary Litteer, K7PG

The Chehalis Valley Amateur Radio Society (CVARS) has been around since at least 1973, probably longer but there are no records to be found prior to that year.  The CVARS callsign, WA7UHD, has been with the group for 48 years,  but it is time to make a little history and change that callsign.  On August 7th, the club conducted a special event station on our BawFaw Repeater.  At 11am, club President Bill Knepper, N7GWK, formally accepted our new callsign, K7PG, from Corene Litteer, N7FAO, wife of that callsign’s former owner, and now silent key, Gary Litteer.

So who was Gary Litteer?  Well, let me tell you a little about him.  A long time CVARS member, Gary held most of not all officer positions in the club.  As a teacher with a love for all things electronic, he taught new ham classes, conducted Volunteer Examiner sessions and, most importantly, became an “Elmer” to nearly everyone associated with our group. He served his country with both the U.S. Navy and the Coast Guard. He held both Canadian and US ham radio callsigns (as did Corene), and had a love of sailing and flying.  Mostly however, he loved nothing better than sitting in his ham shack talking with other hams.  His main wish was simply to leave his callsign to the Chehalis Valley Amateur Radio Society.  As a past CVARS president, I only recently found out that Gary approached every single president with his request.  When the time finally came, current president Bill Knepper and his officers made Gary’s wish come true.

Gary’s favorite saying was “such a deal I’ve got for you…”.  I don’t think any of us thought that “deal” would be worth so much to past, present and future CVARS members.  While the FCC acknowledged the callsign change back in April, CVARS members spent several wonderful hours on August 7th remembering Gary as one by one, so many folks checked into the special event with great memories. Those checking in received a Certificate of Participation and a special Gary Litteer QSL card, but those things are just paper.  Those memories of Gary Litteer, K7PG, will last forever.

Sitting with Corene in their home ham shack just off the kitchen as we conducted the special event, nobody could blame her when she choked up just a little when she told everyone over the airwaves what Gary’s favorite saying was:  “such a deal I’ve got for you…”.  Rest in peace, Gary.  We will miss you but your callsign will serve the Chehalis Valley Amateur Radio Society for many years to come.  Thank you.

Chehalis Valley Amateur Radio Society Ham Radio Swap Meet

Southwest Washington Fairgrounds Ham Radio Swap Meet

This last Saturday, the Chehalis Valley Amateur Radio Society (CVARS) held its 22nd annual ham radio tailgate swap meet at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds.  Located in an open pavilion at the fair, hams from all over the region congregated to sell their wares or find that special microphone or key they just had to have.  As the day progressed we watched a constant flow of folks heading out of the pavilion with armloads of used ham gear, and every one of them had a smile on their face.  Many of our Amateur Radio Emergency Service team members, most of which are also CVARS members, worked long and hard on Saturday taking tickets, spotting vehicles, working the auction or the information table and generally keeping the event moving.  In addition, Comm III handled the talk-in frequencies and made sure everyone could find their way to the fairgrounds.

Comm III entertaining visitors

It is amazing how many old friends you find at these swap meets.  Time to catch up on new radios or antennas purchased, hearing about new license upgrades or just reconnecting.  Many hams stopped by Comm III to chat or just look over the communications equipment inside.  Attendees from as far away as Idaho arrived early to get a good spot where they could sell and buy. By noon, things were winding down and the auction was over as everyone began to leave with their treasures.

The ham radio tailgate swap meet has been a tradition for many years in our part of Washington which will hopefully continue for many years to come.  Look for us next year.  It is never too early to start gathering those ham radio items to sell, and it never hurts to start saving up your loose change.  You know you will find something you just have to have.


Field Day 2021

20 Meter Field Day Transmitter

Field Day is always interesting.  Last year we dealt with Covid-19 issues and concerns.  This year we held Field Day during the hottest weather ever seen in the Pacific Northwest.  Field Day is all about taking amateur radio into the field and making it work.  It tests our ability to be flexible, to use alternate power sources and to face all kinds of problems head on.  As an Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) team serving our local police and fire departments, it is exactly what we are looking for in an exercise.  Plus it is just plain fun!

This year, our ARES team set up four transmitter stations: 20 meters using a crank up mast and beam antenna in an open field, a 40 meter station in one of our mobile communications vans, a 15 / 80 meter station in the other mobile comms van and a 10 meter station in a members truck.  While setting up the comms vans is relatively easy, it is an all hands on deck job to erect the tower and beam safely – especially in record heat.

20 Meter tower and beam

As part of our ARES mission, we added a few things to our Field Day program.  Saturday morning before Field Day began, we conducted propagation tests from our FD site to a high overlook point we use for many of our exercises.  We checked our normal repeaters as well as the club repeater.  We checked 6 meters simplex,  6 meter repeater, 10 meter propagation and all of our simplex frequencies.  All worked well.  Next we tasked team member Diane W7DWD, to send a radio report from our local airport back to our FD site involving a pretend supply drop of food, water and supplies.  Midway through Saturday, we had a lesson in how to assemble and erect a military NVIS antenna.  Once we established its frequency we were able to make some decent contacts as well.  Sunday morning we tested propagation from the main fire department amateur radios back to the field day site again through various repeated and simplex frequencies.

Communications Van site

Field Day is not all work however.  We enjoyed a great breakfast to get us started on Saturday along with the world’s best cinnamon rolls made by one of our team members, Evelyn, and a large potluck meal mid afternoon.  Both the police chief and the fire chief came to the FD site for visits.  Riverside Fire Authority Chief Kytta spoke to our group about upcoming summer fire dangers and how our ARES team could help with both wildfire windshield survey work and our new Red Flag Spotter’s program.

Field Day will probably always be about the number of contacts for most amateur radio operators but for our ARES team it is also about preparedness and working together as a team to accomplish a mission.  At the end of the day if we can claim that we worked out most of the big problems and a few of the little issues, then it has been a successful Field Day exercise.  Now, if we could just figure out how to stay away from the 112 degree temperatures…..