January 30th and January 31st of 2021 marked the 4th annual Winter Field Day which the Overlook Mountain Amateur Radio Club participated in. It also marked the first year that Hudson Valley Digital Network (HVDN) was invited to participate in the event and was the first time, due to COVID, that we operated as a group under the pavilion instead of the cabin at Ferncliff Forest in Rhinebeck, NY.
This year rather then setting up antenna in advance on the Friday before Winter Field Day which starts at 2:00 PM Eastern Time on Saturday, we started to setup our scaled back operation at 9:00 AM Saturday morning.
Even with the single digit temperatures for much of the morning, we made short work in getting the fire going and setting up the generator, radios and antenna.
The goal of all this planning was to attempt to make long distance contacts across the US and beyond using amateur radio spectrum under tough conditions while using emergency power, temporary antenna and easy to set up radio stations.
WFD 2021 plan of attack
The plan was to only operate on the 15m, 20m and 40m bands from 2:00 PM until about 5:00 PM Saturday and then resume operations the following morning and until about 2:00 PM when Winter Field Day ended.
This year due to COVID and cold temperatures, it was hard to make as many contacts from Ferncliff Forest compared to years past and our new digital station proved not up to the task when it came to typing with gloves, so the only contacts that K2OMD were on SSB.
We did however anticipate that the conditions this year would be a challenge and we set up a remote logging server for those to participate in Winter Field Day from home incase they did not wish to join those that were willing to spend a few hours outside with facemasks, gloves and cold feet.
Under tough conditions, as a group we collected 26 contacts thanks to three OMARC members who used the remote logging system and another 30 during our time at Ferncliff Forest.
Not just CQ CQ CQ WFD DE K2OMD 3O ENY
During the warmest part of the day on Saturday, a few brave souls participated in a mini Fox Hunt at around 3:00 PM Saturday. This proved a good opportunity to further refine group skills in locating a hidden transmitter using a variety of antenna and other radio direction finding equipment. A basic overview of radio direction finding and our nice informational card can be found here that will also be part of future RDF events.
For everyone involved, it seemed that an enjoyable time was had by all who attended. Courtesy of CJ KD2IIN, there is a nice short video further highlighting the operating conditions during this frigid version of Winter Field Day.
There were way too many people to thank that made this event possible this year, but we are glad that we had such a great team helping to make this a success and lets hope that the 2022 version will be warmer and without a pandemic to deal with.