Washington State “Salmon Run” Contest

John, AD6KT, working the Washington State Salmon Run contest

Amateur radio is a diverse and interesting hobby.  After all, we’re called “Hams” for a reason.  Some amateur radio operators simply love to chat with other like minded individuals across town on a simple hand held radio.  Others enjoy public service and join Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) teams and support their communities.  And then there are the hundreds of special events and contests on the air waves seemingly every weekend.

One type of contest that has many followers are the State QSO Parties.  Each state holds their particular QSO party on some weekend in the year and the object is to contact as many hams from that particular state as possible and/or contact as many counties as are available within each state.  Washington State named its QSO party “Salmon Run” just because we’re a little different.

Centralia ARES, as a group, has not participated in any state QSO parties in the past, just concentrating on the training and exercises we need to support emergency services in the area, but this year was different.  About one third of our ARES team is new to amateur radio and simply don’t have the experience necessary to feel comfortable giving a contest a try.  They are, however, interested in learning all about HF communications.  We decided to use the Washington Salmon Run to let these team members get a little experience using our on board HF system in our two communication vans.  This system uses an Icom IC-7300 HF radio, external antenna tuner and the Tarheel screwdriver antenna system.  We also used the contest to test several NVIS antennas, carried for backup on the vans.  Unfortunately, we had to limit our on-air time to four hours on Saturday morning.  Still, we had good weather, a fun group of hams and donuts.  You can’t go wrong with donuts.

By the end of the morning, everyone had a couple of contest contacts under their belts and knew much more about the IC-7300 HF radio system.  All the antennas worked well with the NVIS antennas a little better than the Tarheel. When the donuts were gone, we packed up for the day and headed home.  What a great day working with everything Amateur Radio stands for.  Maybe we’ll try another contest a little later in the fall.  Thanks to all those who helped set up the vans, raise the antennas, make the contacts and eat… well, you know.


Warm August Nights

Making contacts on 40 meters.

Approximately one third of our team members are new to High Frequency communications. Moving from VHF HT’s to HF with all the confusing radios, tuners, and larger antennas takes some practice – especially on our mobile communications vehicles which are constantly in use. Working together always makes the job easier.

We all love those warm, pleasant August evenings when memories of the Pacific Northwest’s rain are far away. The ARES team used just such a warm evening to practice setting up our communication van’s long wire backup antenna. Each communications van depends, for HF comms, on the Icom IC-7300 HF radio, tuner and Tarheel antenna mounted in each vehicle, but we also believe in redundancy. As a backup, each vehicle carries an all band, long wire antenna. While the Tarheel requires just a push of a button, the long wire needs several willing volunteers to erect it. Using on board military grade fiberglass sectional poles as the mast, the long wire must be attached to the poles, raised and tied off, but this is great practice for all.

When the antenna is up, oriented correctly and tied off, we get an opportunity to spend some time introducing the HF equipment to team members unfamiliar with the system. The IC-7300 is a great radio but still requires some time to get used to its many settings. Before long, however, voices were coming in over the 40 meter band and we were making contacts.

Washington State’s QSO Party – called “Salmon Run” – is scheduled for September 21st and 22nd. This event is a great opportunity for hams new to HF to experience contesting and Lewis County has fewer hams than many other counties in our state. The team is setting up several practice dates before Salmon Run so that we can be ready. At least some of those practice days will probably be warm August evenings. All too soon, the rains will reappear. Look for us during “Salmon Run” in September and give us a call.

Hazardous Material Training At May 6th Meeting

Ken Adams, KK6YUQ

At our May 6th ARES training, instructor Ken Adams, KK6YUQ, gave a presentation on hazardous material to a combined Centralia and Lewis County ARES team. Ken has been with Centralia ARES for nearly a year now and is a retired police officer from Orange, California. A trained hazardous material instructor, ken was the perfect person to provide much needed training for our group.

Armed with the Emergency Response Guide on our cell phones and instructional forms provided by Riverside Fire Authority, the team worked through the process of identifying and evaluating several different potentially hazardous materials. Ken’s presentation also included plenty of disaster video to keep us on our toes

Within an hour, we formed teams and worked on several local disaster scenarios where we were required to identify the hazardous materials by their placard numbers. From there, we worked to determine isolation distances and whether foam or water could be used on a potential fire. Before we knew it, the 90 minute training session was over and it was time to go home.

Ken’s professionalism and training created a fun environment where it was a joy to learn. Thanks to him, our team is much more aware of the issues that face our community.