2018 SHELBY HAMFEST – ROANOKE DIVISION CONVENTION
AUG. 31, SEP 1, SEP 2, 2018
Cleveland County Fairgrounds, Shelby, NC
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Lighthouse-On-The-Air. BRAG activated Hunting Island Lighthouse (USA 392) 4-5 AUG. This was U.S. National Lighthouse Day weekend, and was the opening event in a week of lighthouse activities at Hunting Island State Park.
Band conditions were less than ideal but typical of recent propagation. You could always hear and work someone, although tuning across the band often produced a smallish selection of stations already worked. The first contact was with another lighthouse! Over the two days we worked three lighthouses, a lightship, USS TEXAS, USS OLYMPIA, two state parks and a mountaineering event. And the normal assortment of hams around the country. Operation was relaxed, and we often stopped to talk with Park visitors. 20 meters was the best, followed by 40 meters and 10 meters. 12, 15 and 17 were dead.
We used two HF antennas, so we could compare them, have a backup and basically test an untried antenna. We had our Eagle One vertical, and it performed reliably as it did at Field Day. The other was a full-size (132’) end-fed half-wave wire. The far end went to the platform near the top of the lighthouse. Being a little long, the other end was wrapped around a palm tree next to our station. Both antennas worked, and on the first day, some stations were stronger on one antenna, some on the other. On Sunday, we re-worked the bottom of the EFHW so we would have a perfect sloper with nothing wrapped around a tree. It seemed to be the clear winner now, not surprising since it is much longer.
We set up a Diamond X-50 VHF/UHF antenna (borrowed from the Emergency Communications Trailer) on the surveyor pole. It didn’t work. At all. The X-50 was dissected, some disc caps pushed around and reassembled. Now it works. Imagine getting it up on the tower in a trailer deployment and finding out that it doesn’t work?! Anyway, it’s now READY to go back into trailer service.
We set up an “easy-up” with one folding table next to the Oil House, where the lighthouse docents do their thing. They were nice folks and our best buddies for two days. We took electrical power from the oil house, although we had a generator available.
David (N2EIO) and Mike (KB1CTC) were there from start to finish. We had a fair number of other folks stop by one or both days to operate, help and socialize. Sorry, the pictures don’t show everyone. All in all, it was an enjoyable and worthwhile operation. I don’t see it as an annual event, but I could see it a few years down the road. We can refine a few things. One would be a half-day commitment by at least four people, in addition to the couple of entire-event folks.