W5RRR Field Day 2024

Terry N5LOW with FT-710 and nice displays at night time ops


June 22-23, 2024.  Wow, it’ was another fun, wild and wooly Field Day for the JSCARC and CLARC team who diligently put 12 radios stations on the air (12F STX) within the SSB/Digital/CW villages at the Gilruth Center location.

This year was a bit different than previous years.  With limited pre-planning across clubs, key club members simply showed up and made it a 24 hour entertaining party of grace, hospitality, and fellowship for everybody that came to operate or visit.  We once again were lucky to have Curt WB5UZZ who actively multitasked across all the villages offering assists, helping guide visitors, and facilitating coordination (and food) across the event.  Likewise, we were fortunate to have Kelvin K5KGH continue his dedication to outreach by host our Get On The Air (GOTA) station, at the CW Village- hoping to influence any wandering wayward newbie into ham radio.

Kelvin K5KGH and Curt WB5UZZ at the Get On The Air (GOTA) station


And special thanks to Ken K5RG for taking the sole initiative to submit the W5RRR entry into the ARRL locator service just in time- this let visitors know we were open to the public and where to find us.  And it worked for our visitors.

 ARRL Locator Map showing W5RRR and surrounding other ham clubs


For this year, probably the most astonishing note was the weather- hot BUT with a constant cooling breeze and relatively LOW humidity.  Except for David K5DLF’s report of a pre-dawn mosquito invasion at the Digital Village, the bugs were mostly sparse and tiny (by Houston standards).  And thanks to the dizzying confusion due to climate change, those pesky June bugs lost track of the seasonal calendar and remained sleeping underground- or wherever they live before they fly.

All of this made it a most tolerable FD especially for the Digital and CW villages out in the open-air Bluebonnet and Live Oak pavilions.

N5LOW soaking up the sun and breeze at CW Village
David KB5PGY operating outdoors FT8 at the Digital Village


Another atypical  event happened … no regular club members spent long hours in SSB village.  Although we had several members, like Jerry N5FWB, Keith KG5HOK, Reid WA5ARI, and Chris W5HOO) operate a several hours at a stretch, the SSB shack usually had available operating stations throughout the event.  Luckily, local ham Bekah, KD5TDP, jumped in headfirst and commanded most of the operating times at the shack, working the W5RRR SSB pileups skillfully and tirelessly.

Bekah KD5TDP working a 20m pileup on SSB
Bekah KD5TDP and Chris W5HOO working evening shift at SSB Village


Digital Village continued to be well anchored by David K5DLF who I am now calling, “Ironman Dave”, since he once again operated 24 hours straight on FT8. 

“Ironman Dave” K5DLF’s 24hr FT8 station under the Blue Bonnet pavilion


David KG5PGY co-anchored Digital Village and once again went to the trouble to get us extra points by successfully receiving and transmitting ARRL bulletins and messaging.  David also continues to serve as our ADIF logfile master- thank you for willingly take our piece part logs files and magically integrate them into a single entry for submission to the ARRL database. 

David KB5PGY operates FT8 while visitor Anastasia observes digital comm in action


Digital village was radiating from two TS-2000s and using a Wolf River vertical and an Emergency End Fed Chameleon.  Both solar, battery and genny power were used by the guys.

K5DLF genny and one of two telescoping masts that elevate his Chameleon end fed antenna
KB5PGY’s Wolf River vertical antenna
K5DLF solar panel
KB5PGY solar panel


Terry N5LOW served as CW Village captain this year. 

Terry N5LOW and his XYL, Cheryl.


He commissioned (and I built it) a new 40m Bobtail curtain antenna a broadside array of 3 phased vertical lines, which we strung between the 40′ lampposts.  Because of its modeled tight beamwidth and low angle of radiation, we had giddy expectations to create a super booming signal into New England/New York. 

40′ Lamp post used to elevate the end of the 40m Bobtail curtain antenna. Note the one of three 34′ vertical elements hanging from the horizontal line.
The 40m bobtail is hung between 2 of the lamp posts.


 Fizzled expectations now…It worked “OK”, but not necessarily better than the W5GI Mystery Antenna that Terry built.  The W5GI Mystery Antenna is a controversial antenna of ham historic lore.  Coined “Mystery” because nobody could model nor explain how it worked, yet countless hams had claimed amazing performance over the years.  Its odd construction uses a segment of open ended coax terminated in a short circuit and inserted in-line with the bare wire legs.  This odd construction has helped promote its “mystery” moniker, but it indeed worked GREAT on 20m and 40m.  Unfortunately, we didn’t try it on 80m (hindsight 20/20).  The Mystery Antenna was hung from one of the lamp posts to an adjacent.  It should be noted that all the antenna hanging was courtesy of Terry’s fishing pole, monofilament fishing line, and a combination of nylon and polyester cords and pulleys. 

Terry N5LOW tying off ropes
N5LOW’s pulley rigging made it easy to hoist antenna wires up the tree.
W5GI Mystery Antenna


Complementing the Bobtail and Mystery, W5OC installed a quickie setup of a 40m NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave) antenna deployed with 2 fence posts, some mil surplus fiber mast sections and a Chameleon Ecomm II EFHW at 10′ with counterpoise underneath.

This NVIS, known for its especially high angle of radiation for local contacts, was setup to really see if it really made a difference for close proximity contacts.  Well, it really worked!   Late at night, an extremely weak signal kept calling us but we couldn’t copy.  TWe decided to switch to the NVIS and he jumped 1-2 S units AND it turned out to be Joe K5KUA, 25 miles away operating from home!

Here’s our NVIS antenna, temporarily heightened to help test KG5URA’s balun issue


Nick, KJ5GQG, come by as a visitor who expressed lots of ham radio operating enthusiasm.  He came by to introduce himself and got a chance to visit the pavilions and shack and meet several of the members.  After supper, he left and returned with his Lab599 TX-500 QRP radio.  Among his many interests in ham radio, Nick expressed his enthusiasm for radio/backpacking, hence he got a TX-500 mini-rig which exactly fit his requirements for lightweight portable ops.  Terry hooked him up to the CW village Mystery Antenna, and within an hour or so, Nick bagged almost 20 QSOs using only 10W 20m SSB.  Operating SSB QRP is NOT easy, so this was a great affirmation to the Mystery Antenna’s performance but not the least to say as well as the TX-500 and Nick’s op skills!  Congrats to Nick.

Nick KJ5GQG making SSB QRP QSOs using the CW Village Mystery Antenna
KJ5GQG’s Lab 599 TX-500 QRP radio with Elecraft T1 mini automatic tuner


The radios in CW village included Terry N5LOW’s FT-710, Dave W5OC’s TS-590S, Joe K5KUA’s FT-991A, and David KG5URA’s IC-705 w/ Hardrock amp.  David’s IC-705 setup was driving his tripod mounted Eagle One vertical- which was smitten by Field Day Murphy’s ire…

David KG5URA just finished raising the 31′ Eagle One antenna
KG5URA and logger W5OC making CW QSOs
KG5URA Icom IC-705 QRP radio (amplified by 60W Hardrock amp)


David was apparently seeing a 1:1 SWR match to his antenna, but we were struggling to make QSOs on 15m.  We heard them but could only manage one to respond.  I suggested we try hooking up to a Chameleon Em II antenna that I pitch at the last minute which immediately increased receive sensitivity and audio amplitude.  There was clearly a problem with the Eagle One.

Kelvin, Terry, David, and I gathered around for a problem resolution team view of the antenna.  David pulled out the balun module and suggested we try using it out of line.  But before doing that, we opened the balun and discovered an open connection between balun end and the coax So-239 socket.  So up to this point, David’s radio had been radiating and receiving into a length of open ended coax only.  In this configuration, we worked a W1 station which shows that you can make QSOs with any type of distressed antenna.  Wow.

David KG5URA (green) and Kelvin K5KGH (red) examining the troublesome balun.
We opened up the balun and found THIS!


As we know, good hams come prepared, so versatile Terry jumped into his truck and dug up his Weller soldering iron and solder.  Despite burning his hand, he successfully got the open connection fixed!   We tested it out by making a few easy Q’s on 15m without issue.

N5LOW to the rescue. Soldering iron and solder pulled out of his truck and began the fix
Terry N5LOW maintaining his required daily intake of 60/40 Lead and Tin.
Voila! Good as new

KG5URA retuning the fixed culprit back on the antenna.


But part of the adventure of radios and repair is uncovering other issues.  David noticed that the Hardrock tuner would not completely match the antenna better than 3:1. So after we made the successful QSOs with the fixed balun, David had to leave but with the challenge to figure out the other issue with the tuner.

(he later texted that he discovered a partially shorted vertical wire which decreased his effective resonant element by 15%.  Another cycle of “fix and test” for the next outing!

CW village had a strong showing from Joe K5KUA who rattled out close to 200Qs on 20m on Saturday.  Having Joe attend early was a relief for the CW team, since we knew he’d automatically make a few hundred contacts to relieve the pressure of making a good showing in our logs 😉


Serious CW operations by Joe K5KUA


On Sunday, Dale KG5U, the club’s best CW opr come by and went to CW-machine mode and boosted our score by a few hundred as well.  Luckily, he anchored our CW ops all day Sunday and really helped inflate our final score at the end of the day.   Charles K5KXJ, another CW fisted expert (and neighbor or Dave W5OC!), kindly stopped by to also contribute into our CW score numbers.  We all used N1MM as the logger of choice!

Charles K5KXJ testing out the CW airwaves


Dale KG5U coasting along on CW.


George AC5CQ stopped by on Saturday but didn’t get a chance to operate.  He did, however, bring one of his new fancy mini-straight keys.  I was quickly in love with it, as I felt is smooth play and it’s glistening phosphorous green polish like a craftsman’s piece of work.  George shared that it was an under $50 Amazon item made by Putikeeg.  It’s already on my Xmas list as a stocking stuff.  A *very* impressive and good-looking key.

Super nice CW key that George AD5CQ brought to show us
AD5Q shows how tiny his new key is- fits in the palm of your hand!


Kelvin, K5KGH, anchored the Get On The Air (GOTA) station with his FT710 setup driving an inverted vee with an apex of about 25′ from a telescoping fiberglass mast on a tripod. 

Kelvin K5KGH raising his GOTA station mast. Unfortunately, he later relocated it farther out in the field to mitigate RFI from the closely installed Mystery Antenna.


Because we didn’t pre-advertise our FD activity other than Ken K5RG’s quick thinking to submit our node onto the ARRL FD locator, Kelvin only hosted a handful of visitors.  But as they say, it’s quality not quantity- Kelvin gave a youthful Alex an exciting opportunity to make a few QSOs on 20m SSB.  Alex commanded the microphone and under Kelvin’s coaching made quite an impression to his family members as well as the rest of us watching him confidently articulate the FD exchanges with hams that kindly called our GOTA station.

Kelvin K5KGH hosts Alex at the mic with his dad Andrew.


==>Click Here to hear Alex calling CQ

Many thanks go to the CLARC club who hosted our traditional Saturday supper with abundant amounts of delicious Dan’s Pizza from Kemah.  The juicy savory slices didn’t disappoint with huge portions and all varieties of toppings to satisfy everybody’s preferences.  As always, the early supper was a terrific excuse to drop our keyboards, mics, and keys to socialize and kickback for a while.  A special shout out to Jerry N5FWB graciously hosted a tour of the SSB shack for a visiting family after I unlawfully interrupted his aggressive digestion of a slice of pizza.  This was probably the only drama during this year- the 2024 Pizza Interruptus Gate.  Thanks Jerry!

Stuart Wolfe KF5NIX, our South Texas Section Manager and Leslie once again kindly made the time to visit us.  Terry KA5TBB hosted their attendance and rolled out our Field Day dusty red carpet for them.

From L-R, Terry KA5TBG, Stuart KF5NIX, Leslie, Reid WA5ARI, Bekah KD5TDP.


Leslie, Stuart KF5NIX, and Terry KA5TBB


At the end of the Field Day at CW Village, Dale KG5U noticed that the 40′ lamp post was not only leaning, but it was easily swaying at its base as the breeze pushed it back in forth.  Upon inspection at least one of the base screws was loose causing the whole lamp post to risk toppling over time.  Dale called Security to report the incident, but only after he let me remove all evidence that we used the lamppost as a mast for our antennas.  Good job, Dale, for noticing and report a serious safety risk.  Weirdly, while he was on the phone with security, the dispatcher asked Dale to point to the pole, to affirm the target.  Huh, where was the camera hidden???

Here’s the summary that Dale sent to management.  He received a well deserved ‘thank you’ for the diligent finding

As Dave and I were clearing out from the Field Day activity at Live Oak Pavilion yesterday afternoon, we found the light pole adjacent to the Pavilion to not only have a lean to it—several degrees off vertical–but was it was ‘loose’, too—the pole base mounting plate was lifted off the in-ground mounting plate on one side of the 4-bolt attachment base. 

A plastic cover over the base was broken in half lying at the base of the pole. 

I could not see anything in the way of dents, abrasions, scrapes on the pole that might indicate it had been hit by something, but something was obviously happening at the pole base or sub-base. 

The pole was literally wobbly – I could move it by hand. 

After failing to get the attention of the security patrol driving up to and from the on-site gate on the site-side of the fence, Dave and I were both waving our arms over our heads as the guard drove by.  

I called security (x4658) and advised them of the situation. 

I gave the dispatcher the particulars as to the pole location. 

She asked me if I was near the pole and to point to it – obviously, there was a camera somewhere. 

She said she would notify Work Control. 

Attached are the pictures I took of the pole. 

This morning, I spoke with the front desk at GC and advised her this morning. 

She gave me Dwayne William’s email address to let him know. 



Dale, kg5u

Dale KG5U’s car parked to catch the wobbly lamp post if it fell.
There’s a significant gap beneath the bolts causing the 40′ lamp post to easily sway in the wind.

<light pole><126 close up><133 dale leaning tower>

Dale KG5U decides to upright the issue. Leaning Tower of Gilruth 2024.


Congrats and thanks to all the participants who made the W5RRR FD 2024 a huge fun success.  Apologies to the others who attended, but I missed to get your photos taken.   Leslie K5LLE, Bob KD5DYZ, Ken N5VHO, Anna (Ken’s successor as the ISS ham radio project coordinator) were also participating, helping and visiting during the event.


73s Dave W5OC

1 thought on “W5RRR Field Day 2024”

  1. Excellent report! Great photos of all the activities! Thank you W5OC for the super story of our 2024 Field Day event!


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