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For June, 2012

We Did It! Portola Valley Field Day

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Revised: 20120711

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Chris Raanes W6CAR, Ray Rothrock WB5NVN, Steve Goldberg WQ6L & me.
Notable visitors ARRL SCV Section Manager Phil Steffora K6TT, and Brandon Bianchi NI6C—New SCV Section Manager (Starting July 1) pitched in; Councilman (ret) Steve Toben.

Notice that the perfect weather and abundant food forced us to work in obviously dire emergency conditions.

More seriously, this exercise exhibits intrinsic merit of a deep tradition for testing rapid deployment and evolving versatility. In fact, the ionosphere was not particularly kind this day, limiting the distance of confirmable HF (1.8-30 MHz) contacts and causing considerable re-strategizing. Ironically, this HF vulnerability to the “Maximum Usable Frequency” simultaneously highlighted the need and role of satellites; which have their own limitations, but do not depend on ionospheric bounce.

My previous field day may have been 40 years ago: and I had to ponder what my mentors might think of now portably tracking satellites while operating indefinitely from solar power. In the 60/70s we paid scant attention to the satellite fringe. Now, with cubesats reportedly available for $10K, the relevance and role of private satellites renders yet another dramatic communications breakthrough and opportunity.

Deep thanks to my buddy Bill van Erp for help with the substantial logisitics needed to actually move my system: It could not have happened otherwise. He also took most of the photos.

An Inadvertent Turn

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Everything seemed to be going fine.
Crusher had started the Honda EU2000 generator with a couple of pulls no problem.
But then, it would mysteriously stop.
Seemingly after connecting a load. Or not?
Then it got real ornery, not even a pop or a kick.

Vinnie couldn’t work from all the swearing and cussing;
went outside: “?Sup Crusher?”
“Aw boss you know this thing never gave us a problem,
now I pulled my damn arm out of my socket for the past half hour
trying to get it to crank. I checked the oil, plug.”
Crusher?
Yeah, Vinnie?
Check out out the gas fill cap.”

Crusher looked crestfallen; but then it didn’t take him long to spot the otherwise invisible, concentric molded black-on-black gas ON/OFF lever of which only the truly initiated would know; hence not be as fools at the mercy of an undetected flick.

Crusher’s monstrous unmanageable mitts were indeed able to find the inscrutable, unexpected lever to enable the flow of gasoline. The EU turned over with a couple of pops.
“Gee, I guess it accidentally got switched off, huh? Like maybe when I moved it?
You know, Vinnie, I’m SURE I read the manual. And I was wondering about that. No lever under the covers. How do you put the flow control up near the fill inlet anyway? It’s always on the tank outlet.”

“I know Crush, I know … It’s consumer, dude; for someone who hasn’t seen an open frame system. For those who have, it is just another little paradigm shift.

Forget about it. Rest those arms.”

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