Three Parks, 4 Days, 4 Degrees

By: Mike KD9KMV

Last week I decided to set myself a challenge. The challenge was to operate from 3 new (to me) State Parks within a week, as part of the POTA (Parks On The Air) program.

Activation 1 – Monday March 4th 2019

Chain-O-Lakes SP, IL – K-0986

With winter temperatures still with us, the gauge in my car measured the outside temperature at 4 degrees F. “Why am I doing this?” I thought as I drove to my destination. Well, I want to prove to myself that I can. Simple as that.

Arriving at any State Park for the first time is interesting. Not knowing the layout of the park, suitable operating positions, etc., especially when the snow often seems to block access to certain sections. Google Maps and its Streetview feature can help for some pre-planning, but it is not a failsafe.

I found a suitable spot that had a picnic bench in just about the perfect place, so I decided to setup.

Here are some photos of the deployment:

I used my FT-891, with a homebrew ammo can battery box (12v 18Ah), and a 20m LNR Precision endfed. The antenna was supported by a 31’ Jackite pole mounted to a hitch support on the back of my vehicle, and then sloped down towards to the picnic table. No need for a tuner, the antenna is resonant on 20m.

I operated for about 2 hours (my typical deployment), and made 44 contacts, all in North America. 3 of those were Park to Park contacts, making contact with operators also activating other national/state parks.

Activation 2 – Wednesday March 6th 2019

Volo Bog State Natural Area, IL – K-4160

Less to write about for this one. I didn’t get much in the way of photos either. I used the same deployment, just concentrating on 20m.
This time I setup and operated from the passenger seat of my vehicle. This park is much smaller with just one parking area, most of which was blocked from all of the snow plow pileups. Unfortunately that was the only kind of pileup I encountered that day!
I made 32 contacts, all within North America.

Activation 3 – Thursday March 7th

Illinois Beach State Park, IL – K-1000

Saving the best till last! I wanted to try a different band this time, so I setup as normal with my 20m antenna, but then also deployed my LNR 40m endfed with the help of an additional tripod/20’ mast combination. This allowed me to setup an inverted L, with the feed point near the ground and the coax running towards my operating position. Again, I operated from the passenger seat of my vehicle.

The best part of this activation was the contacts I made. On 20m, I had a pileup from Europe as well as North America, with a total of 79 contacts.

Below is a neat map (courtesy of showing all the contacts that I made that day, and all within a 2 hour period.

As you can see from the map, I worked into Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium. One important reason for the pileup was that I was activating a park that people needed, as part of Parks On The Air. With band conditions as they are, having a reason for people to reply to my CQ calls helped immensely.
I had never been on the ‘good’ side of a pileup before. It was fun and stressful at the same time.
Best of all, challenge successfully completed, 3 parks in 4 days,
73, KD9KMV

Schaumburg Amateur Radio Club Business Meeting March 21, 2019

Geoff KA9QGH President called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

Rebecca KA9EFE brought brownies!


Wake Wacaser AF9I Danny Kafka VP KD9HIL Jim Campbell KB9RGU
Kevin Willard KB9QVX Rob Glowacki N9MVO Burt Shultz AB9CV
Rick Cook KC9PLO Geoff Stevens KA9QGH Doug May W9YFC
DJ Traxler WA9UBR Mike Griffiths KD9KMV Robert Kocourek W9RKK
John Zietlow K9WIC Bill Crockett KD9AUP Terry Jarholm AE9TJ
Edward Lishka AC9SD Dennis Calvey KD9HIK Bob McIntyre W9DXR
Chris Brewer AC9GN Roberto Beltramelli WA9E Cliff Sowka K9QD
Dale Kwarta NJ9E Phil McBride WB9C Steve Karson AC9EM
Greg Howard Mike Sorensen K9KQX Leo Ribordy N9NBH
Kevin Mukahirn KD9MKD Peter Maziuk N9POL Frank Giampa N9QPD

Treasurer’s Report

Chris Brewer AC9GN reported:

Beginning Balance           $5,026.29

Income                                 $   378.00

Expense                               $     93.53  ($60.42 Data Line, $46.55 club raffle prizes, Sec’y State Annual Rpt)

Ending Balance                  $5,307.76

Current fully-paid membership:  75

President’s Report

Geoff KA9QGH opened the meeting with introductions and Question of the Night:  “when using phone, do you talk directly straight-on or on the side?”  Finished discussion on imaginary numbers and survey shows there is only limited interest in Extra class.


Dennis Calvey KD9HIK will be contacting the Board with some publicity ideas.

SARC Repeaters 

Terry will be purchasing spares for our machines.   The BOD has approved $200 headroom for inventory acquisition.


Bob Benwitz N9JAX not present.

Secretary’s Report

Cliff Sowka K9QD:  Approval of Meeting Minutes as published on our website.


John K9WIC EMCOMM Chairman reminded April 27th Statewide exercise Illinois simulation exercise from 8AM to 4PM.  There will be four, one-hour increments to simulate propagation efficiency statewide.   JT8 may also be invoked to ascertain viability.

There will also be a joint exercise involving multiple communities and agencies during the week of June 17-21, 2019.  This exercise will likely include amateur radio participation.  It should be noted that time is the week leading up to Field Day.

Construction Project (CP)

Meeting this coming Saturday is on schedule.  We had attendance of 29 people last session.

The current Park District Free-Rental Agreement for the basement facility needs to be renewed.  Vince K. has retired and the ladies at the front desk of the Tennis Club told us Richard W. was the new Superintendent.  We will need to renew our insurance rider as well.


John KD9KSH not present; will assume Social Chairman Role for 2019.


Leo N9NBH reported he will hold a Tech class this fall and the library district requires 6-month notice for publication.  Mike Griffiths KD9KMV inquired if there is interest within the club for CW classes. Several discussions revolving around the viability for continued CW operation within the Ham Community ensued.

VE Testing   

John AC9JS not present but previously reported VE Tests Results for March, 2019

VE Tests Results for March 2, 2019

Name Call Class
Scott Witten Jr KI5DOP Technician
Charles Davis KD9MOY Technician
Matthew Anderson KD9MOZ General
Mark Pavia Jr KD9MPA Technician
Jeffery Blackman KD9MPB General
Glen Otto KD9MGH Extra


Technician 3
General 2
Extra 1
Failed to Upgrade 2
Total 8


Next examination date: April 6, 2018


Mike KD9KMV has taken RHG duty and already spoken with Matt AC9IG to affect orderly transition.

Public Service

Rob N9MVO reported MS Walk is moving all the way to Roselle May 5th.  Rob will have the MS Society link posted to SARC-ALL as this will help them register participants.  We need to arrive about 7AM for the 3 mile walk.  We’re usually finished by 11AM.  Expect about 1 mile propagation needs so an HT is adequate.  Rob expects he’ll need about 10 hams to work the event.

Future events include Hoffman’s Fourth of July Parade and Triathlon in the summer; details soon.


Cliff K9QD reported that a new Program Chair is needed for 2019.  John K9WIC EMCOMM Chair will present Communicating Effectively tonight.


Tech Net Tuesday 7:30 and general net every Thursday 8PM except the third Thursday of the month.

Salvation Army has been given our club’s permission to use our 2M machine on Monday nights.  Their reports are indicating they’re able to hear participants from Rockford and Rochelle;  state our machine’s coverage is working well for them.

Ebay Sales

No eBay sales to report

New Business

Need to add committee chairs to the SARC-BD email reflector to help internal efficiency.

Steve Karson AC9EM asks about current plans for this year’s Field Day:  reminded we’ll need to get permits, insurance rider, committee formation.

Old Business

Hereby Invoking Required 30-Day Notice Provision

Committee asks membership to approve mechanism presented to the Board of Directors during February session that allows the club to remove an undesirable member(s).

Two separate proposals:

Article III Section 5

Revocation of Membership for cause will be considered in a method specified by the Board of Directors

Article VIII   Section 3

No member shall act in an official capacity on behalf of SARC, or allocate/order emergency funding without having prior approval of three (3) members of the Board of Directors.

Ask an Elmer

Mike KD9KMV purchased a solar panel and battery but seemed to be non-operational.  He took some measurements and then called customer service desk.  It seems the required 13V is not available but he measures 20V with no load.  The group tonight offered some ideas to trouble-shoot the equipment.

Adjourn  8:19 PM

Submitted: March 22, 2019 by Cliff K9QD during the prearranged absence of Ken KD9HIJ, Secretary.

Skywarn Presentation Notes

John K9WIC presented information about SKYWARN at the club general meeting on March 21, 2019. He’s provided the following notes from his presentation.

Interesting sites with information on storm spotting

List of selected local nets

  • Kane County SKYWARN Net
    • Kane County OEM Repeater
    • 145.47 MHz -600kHz PL 103.5Hz
  • Lake County SKYWARN
    • K9IQP repeater
    • Tactical call sign Lake County SKYWARN
    • 147.180 MHz +600kHz PL 127.3Hz
  • McHenry County SKYWARN
    • K9ESV repater located in Woodstock, IL
    • 146.835 MHz -600kHz PL 91.5Hz
  • Additional Information for Cook County from:
    • Northern Cook Co. Skywarn is a joint effort between members of the North Shore Radio Club, NORA, and Palatine ARES. Severe weather nets take place on the primary 147.345+ MHz (TPL 107.2 Hz) repeater. The NORA 147.09+ MHz (TPL 107.2 Hz) repeater is the backup repeater if 147.345 is down. Spotters may check into this net during severe events. Net control will operate with callsign WX9NC. All severe reports will be relayed from net control to the FISHFAR liaison system as encouraged by the NWS. Reports will be taken from anywhere within the repeaters’ coverage, however, we will actually only activate based on severe weather for Northern Cook County.

Reporting Tips

  • Don’t call in just to “check-in.” This is not a roll call net. Call in if you have a severe event to report, question about the storm, or you need emergency help. If you do not have a notable weather report of interest to the general public, just listen.
  • Don’t call in and say “KC9AAA… I’m on my way to Woodfield Mall and will be monitoring.” No one cares if you are on your way to the mall or where you are unless you have a notable weather report. You may be tying up the frequency unnecessarily just announcing where you are.
  • Don’t call in that your corner sewer is clogged.
  • Don’t ragchew during severe nets. Even casual QSOs are prohibited during severe net
  • Do call net control if an area river is rapidly rising which may cause a road to be washed out.
  • Do call net control if you are bike riding, boating, golfing, your kids are playing outdoor sports, or if you’re part of a marathon team and you would like to know more about the storm’s path or intensity forecasted by the NWS.
  • Do call net control to report property damage, uprooted trees, or large broken branches caused by the severe event.
  • Do report your name/call, location, time, and describe the event.

The NWS Chicago office provides this Spotter Reference Sheet

From the President March 2019

From the President,

March is here and that means the return of SARC in the Park. This is an outstanding opportunity for anybody that wants to get on the air and make a contact, that does not go through a repeater. This is Ham radio….old school!  If you have never operated an amateur radio, now is your chance! The group will be out there, roughly every other weekend, depending on weather. Don’t just stand around and watch, ask somebody if you can operate, they will gladly help you make contacts and talk to somebody over the horizon.

There is a very common issue that has afflicted most hams in the very beginning. This malady is called “Mic Fright”. It’s the fear a new ham has of actually picking up the microphone and saying something wrong or sounding stupid, and it is very normal. A good Elmer will never let you sound stupid, and we have lots of good Elmers in the Schaumburg Amateur Radio Club.

Field Day 2019 is coming. We look forward to this day as it is an opportunity to work on the radio for 24 straight hours. Similar to the SARC in the Park events, Field Day uses all emergency power to make as many contacts as possible. I highly recommend putting your name on the sign-up sheet that can be found our website, WWW.N9RJV.ORG [In mid April – Ed.]. Just showing up thinking a radio station will be open usually ends in disappointment. Typically, there are not a lot of operators in the overnight hours. For example, I walked around the Field day site at around 2 AM, last year. There was nobody on any of the radios, so I sat down on the Sideband Tent, fired it up and started calling CQ. After about 5 minutes I was working pile-ups on the 20-meter band.  I Made about 40 or 50 contacts before heading in for a nap. I remember I had to leave three stations still calling when I turned the radio off. The sideband radio station was not turned on again until after sunrise and breakfast was served. There is no reason for not getting on the radio.

Hope to see you out there.

Geoff Stevens