[3830] K0OB FD Adventure!

Greg Fields aa0ob at popmail.skypoint.com
Tue Jul 1 14:58:46 EDT 1997

The K0OB Field Day Adventure!

What do the Hindenberg, the Titanic, and the K0OB Field Day all
have in common? They were all disasters! Why was our FD on par
with these famous disasters? Read on!

It all started out with good intentions. My partner Jeff, K0MX, (ARCH
rival from "Battle of the Cheese Cake!" March/April 97 NCJ) and I 
wanted to be LOUD this FD. We decided our little 500 watt amps would
make us one of the bigger signals on the band, something we don't 
get from our QRP stations at home. One of the locals was 
kind enough to let us use some property he had purchased in the
country. We managed to get a tribander and a 40 meter dipole up 
60 feet on a tower. Plus another tribander up 21 feet 500 feet away
and a full size 80 meter loop up on 21 foot poles. (Had 42 foot poles
ready but, just ran out of time.) With all those ant's and
that kind of separation, we were sure we would be OK with two 
transmitters, even at 500 watts. (This doesn't prepare us for
a real disaster you say? Try hauling all that stuff into a field
a half mile from the road and set it up with just two people! There
is no better training for a emergency than going through a drill like

1800 Z struck just as we finished putting up the last ant. Took 
us 20 minutes to get the PC's going together but, then we were 
off! I started on 20 CW with the tall tribander and I was LOUD!
After a hour of that I switched to 20 phone and WOW! So many were
calling that I couldn't pick out people right away. Felt like I 
was on a real contest DX pedition! Jeff struggled with 15 and 10 meters
but, then tried 20 CW while I was on phone. Not even a hint of 
each other's signals were heard in our receivers. Now the rate
soared to 300 plus! At 2020 Z, shortly after our rate took off,
I noticed Jeff nervously looking out the side window of 
our little tent. The sky was turning darker to the 
West of us.  Ten minutes 
later Jeff was running around the tent like a frightened little
rodent turning off things and disconnecting cables. I took off 
the headphones to hear the wail of high wind approaching! Suddenly 
the wind and rain hit the tent and I thought we were going to loose
everything. Jeff ran to his pickup for shelter while I
stayed with the tent, determined go down with the rigs rather than
loose them to the storm. It was then I realized the the tallest 
things around us was all our ant's (We were surrounded by a corn
field.) and that I would be nothing but a rumor if one of those
big bolts hit our ant's and found it's way to our tent. I too ran
like a frightened little rodent to Jeff's truck! O.K. we
thought, it should blow over in a hour or so. Over four hours 
later the lighting was way off in the distance so we fired it up
again. In about 30 minutes I noticed the static crashes were 
getting louder. Suddenly, the lone light we had in the tent grew
brighter, the rigs blanked out for a second, and Jeff's PC locked
up. We looked at each other with wide eyes and did the rodent shuffle
again to the truck! Surly this is going to blow over soon, we thought.
At 3 A.M. I was sitting in my car watching the most vivid lighting 
display I have ever seen. I was listening to a local talk radio show 
who had people calling in questions about the Internet. I wondered what
kind of looser would be calling in at 3 A.M. to ask these stupid 
questions? But, then I realized most people would wonder what kind
of looser would sit for hours in their vehicles, surrounded by
lighting attractors, while the biggest thunderstorms of the summer
went through! It's all in your perspective I guess.

I woke at 6 A.M. to more pouring rain and lighting. I stepped out
of my car to find my feet submerged in water! I looked around in 
horror and realized the tent, our vehicles, and the generator were
all under 4 to 5 inches of water. I knew it was a half mile drive through
the field to road and the water might already be too deep to escape! I
quickly woke Jeff from his slumber and said we had to get the *!#@ out of
there! Jeff, still half a sleep, said we ought to be able to continue
with the generator in the back of the truck. I asked him to step 
out of his truck. He then quickly agreed with my assessment.
We frantically emptied the tent of the equipment and decided that we must
abandon the tent and the ant's for a drier day. Jeff tried to move 
his rear wheel drive pickup out of our small lake but, the wheels just
spun in place. I then proceeded to push Jeff over 400 feet to high 
spot where he then took a run at the next low spot, barely making it
through. I took a different way out with my front wheel drive Taurus but,
had to go through a 2 feet ditch at full speed. The ditch and my car will
never be the same again. Now we had to walk the Honda generator a good 
quarter of a mile to the pickup. The only obstacle between us and freedom
now was the quarter of a mile drive to the road in a narrow passageway
between the fences. I took the lead with the sure footed Taurus. The 
last puddle (More like a pond.) was at the end of the passageway. It
looked deep but, I decided it was best I didn't know how deep so I 
gunned it! My bowels threatened to empty themselves when I could only
see a wave of water on both sides of the car and could feel the car
drop into the abyss. But, my momentum carried me through to freedom!
I saw Jeff approaching the pond and realized the pickup may never 
make it through so I run back down the passageway waving my arms
hysterically! Fortunately I stopped Jeff before he attempted the
lake crossing. We decided we had no choice, if we left the truck 
for a drier day it would cost us $62 dollars a day for the generator
in the back of the truck. If we got stuck, it would cost us a tow.
Being cheap, neither looked like a good alternative so we decided to
gun it and hope for the best. I stood on the back bumper for more weight
and hopefully more traction. Jeff took off at incredible pace with
me hanging on like a frightened, soaked, little rodent. The water roared 
upwards as Jeff hit the new Minnesota ocean. I could feel the pickup
sinking and slowing as we plowed our way to the end of the water. 
I  screamed out promises to a higher power about what I would do if
we escaped. (Always seems like a good idea in these situations. Now, 
if only I could remember what I promised?) After what seemed like a eternity,
I could feel the front wheels hit the edge of the water and pop onto dry
land. The rear wheels barely made it over the lip but, we were out! We 
laughed hysterically and exchanged high fives!

Yes, our FD was truly a disaster. We spent $400 and nine hours putting
up ant's to operate 3 hours. Our ant's and the tent are still out 
there. Our participation in the annual emergency preparedness ritual
of FD turned into our own little emergency. But, we were LOUD!
I did throw my station back together at home and finished FD from
my dry, comfortable shack but, it just wasn't the same. We'll be 
back next year, just as LOUD! (But, if it starts to rain, we might
have second thoughts!)

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