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Mackinac Bridge Special event station W8B from an operator's perspective

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  • Hank Greeb
    View from W8M, Mackinac Bridge 50th Annivesary station I had a blast! I got to the site a few minutes after 3 p.m. Saturday (july 28) and plopped down on 20
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 30, 2007
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      View from W8M, Mackinac Bridge 50th Annivesary station

      I had a blast! I got to the site a few minutes after 3 p.m. Saturday
      (july 28) and plopped down on 20 metre CW. Band conditions were "so-
      so", and antoher station (on 15 metres?) was occupying the beam
      antenna, so I had a tough time fighting the mob who were working the
      Islands on the Air (IOTA) contest. I did get into the fray for a few
      contacts, but didn't know the exchange, so I may have messed a few
      contesters up. After a few exchanges, the band went dead - nothing,
      nada, nil - I thought the rig might have blown something. But,
      within 5 minutes Europe started rolling it. They were loud enough,
      but the 100 watts to a wire antenna wouldn't hack the distance. East
      coast stations were still booming it, but not much from the other

      After a while another op wanted to experiment with Slow Scan TV, so I
      relinquished the rig to him. I found a "facility" and then looked
      over the general site - there were two BIG tents and several vendors
      tents. And, the iron workers union had a huge setup made of iron -
      to show off their abilities. The people at W8M told me that prior to
      my arrival the iron workers would periodically start up a riveting
      machine or some other piece of heavy equipment, which would make use
      of headphones a necessity.

      W8M had three rigs, two in a tent, and the third in the State Police
      Emergency Operating center located on site. It had a 75' crank up
      tower, which was mounted on a trailer. On top the the tower was
      a "screwdriver beam antenna" which sensed the operating frequency and
      adjusted the length of the three elements for proper match. (Nice
      beam - the organizer of the event said he didn't know the cost of the
      array plus the antenna, but though it was "about the price of a small
      automobile." :) Two wire antennae were strung from the tower for two
      rigs. The major downside of this array was that the antenna were so
      close to each other than we couldn't operate CW on a band where phone
      was being used, so the chioces were limited.

      When I got back another station had occupied 20 metres (on phone) so
      I found the Upper Peninsula Phone Net on 3921 KHz, checked into
      the "pre net" and worked a few of the stations. When the net started
      I advised NCS that I was moving to 3850, and had a run of about 75
      stations in about 30 minutes. The major limitation in working this
      pileup was local noise - QRN was s9 at the start, after I figured out
      that an APRS station was creating some of the noise it went down to
      S5 to S7, but it was hard to pull stations out of the noise unless
      they were "booming in." I moved to 80 CW on 3550 KHz for a short
      while at the request of KK8I, but it was too early for the casual
      operator to think of working 80 metres.

      Generally, the number of contacts and the speed of making contacts
      were a function of

      1. The number of stations who knew about the event, and therefore
      were listening on the band of choice.

      2. Whether someone out there in radio land had put the call and
      frequency into a DX cluster. (Activity picked up for several minutes
      after I suggested that someone listening to 3850 put my whereabouts
      on the DX clusters.)

      3. The amount of local RFI interference - working through s-5 through
      s-9 broadband hash was not a very pleasant experience.

      4. The operator's inclination to "work a run" or "ragchew" for each
      contact. 100 or more Q's per minute were easy on a fresh band where
      there was a pileup waiting to happen, as happened on 75 metres phone
      when I announced my presence on the UP net. (And, I'm not much of a
      phone operator - I prefer CW.)

      The organizing crew, headed by John, KC8ULE, should be given much
      credit for setting this up. This was one of the better events of its
      nature in which I've participated. The 75' tower was awesome! And,
      three stations, capable of operating simultaneously, was a big plus.

      The only distraction was that antenna for the stations weren't
      physically separated - so SSB and CW couldn't be operated at the same
      time on the same band at the same time. It would have been a
      logistical nightmare to separate the stations, so we "did the best we
      could with what we had!"

      For those who haven't inquired, QSL info:

      Attractive QSL Card OR a QSL Certificate are available to hams who
      work the special event station and to SWL's. QSL packet includes
      Card OR Certificate plus information about the Mackinac Bridge.
      Specify Card or Certificate; enclose $1 and SASE of appropriate
      size. Send your QSL card/QSL request to

      W8M – Mac50 Event
      c/o KD8DKU - Lake Effect Amateur Radio Club
      8 Southfork St
      Marquette, Michigan 49855

      73 de n8xx Hg
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