Here are the tips and lessons learned from helping set up and run the VOA 80th Anniversary special event…
- Get a good crew together FIRST! (We had three members Jocelyn KD8VRX, Marc K3POE, Peter N4PVH).
- Get started early, like many months ahead of the scheduled date (we had 9).
- Get the 1 x 1 call signs early (W3V, W8O, W4A).
- Pick out tasks for each member to accomplish with target dates.
- Review with the crew the project weekly until the event. (Met on Zoom weekly).
- Project parts: What frequencies, modes, hours of operation, QSL’s, Certificates, Logging software, QSL software, where to hold the event, PR events, wrap up…
- Designed Logos, QSL cards, Certificates for the event.
- Arranged for electronic QSL cards and Certificates to be sent.
- Gave interviews to multiple outlets to let the public know of the event.
- Organized local operators to man the stations.
- Run the event…
- Collected all the log files into one log
- Send out station digital QSL cards via software (PA3R software).
- Send log files to the person handling the certificates.
- Wait for paper QSL requests (SASE please) and mail them out.
Jocelyn and Marc were the ones to initialize the idea of a special event to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the first transmission from the VOA. They contacted Macon Dail who ask me to join in the fun coordinating the Greenville portion of the effort. The three of us hit it off and started to coordinate the event. Jocelyn has done this before and had the most experience. He arranged the QSL portion of the event and coordinated with others that had software to handle the certificates.
The thought went like this: Each station would handle the digital QSL cards using Hamtools PA4R software, make their own station card and send it out via email right after the event. This is dependent on the callers keeping their email address on QRZ up to date.
The final logs would be emailed to Jocelyn who would forward them to the person handling the certificates. This would also allow identification of those individuals that got all three stations as a “clean sweep” and get a special certificate.
If paper QSL cards were requested, that would be handled by the individual stations. A special paper QSL card was designed by Amanda K1DDN and printed for this purpose.
Logos were handled by Peter but they were a team effort trying to avoid the current official logo so that people would know that this event is not supported by VOA (although encouraged) but is supported by the three radio clubs involved. We drew inspiration from discarded logos and came up with the ones we used.
Background images were created to be used in Zoom and Skype meetings to add ambiance to the background seen on these media outlets during our public relation meetings promoting the special event.
Public relations was organized by Jocelyn, Marc and Peter just showed up. A script was written to keep us on track to be able to getting the message out to the public. Each one of us had a portion or bullet point to cover and certain areas that we would field questions. For example: Jocelyn working at the VOA Museum would handle historical questions and comments. Marc would handle past and present directions that the VOA has been going. Peter discussed the VOA Site C Project plan and current situation of the project. This seemed to work fairly well with little stumbling or dead air time. Take a look:
Ham Talk Live audio podcast.
The fun part is yet to come. Trying to get the membership to help out and actually participate should not be hard. Multiple mass emails and a blog later, the schedule is not full just yet. The old adage: “10% of the members do 90% of the work” is still true. The hard core came out and manned the radios. At W4A, we could not get onto the VOA site C just yet and the feed lines are still down. We decided to have a “community” station where due to the pandemic, people worked the “Station” from home. One did CW another did SSB and a third did FT8, all from Greenville. We took turns on bands and modes. This seemed to work out well as we coordinated using the local 2M repeater. The number of contacts will answer to the question of how did we do.
We used DxHeat.com as a Dx cluster. It is an internet web site that you can spot your self or others so that people can find you. You do not need to download an app or program to use it and the interface is good. On the left side of the screen there is a column of filter buttons that you can turn on or off. #1 is the mode filter (DIGI selected). #2 is the bands you want to know about. #3 is the button you press to report a spot (you must register with them to do this, I reported “W4A”, “7073” kHz, “ft8 VOA 80th anniversary” for comments and there it is for all to see. #5 is the “Heat Map” of band activity that users have reported but you must set the “Your Continent is:” question at the top of that mini panel or you are not getting information reported to your continent. 20M is very active in EU europe, NA north america and AS or asia (not so active in SA south america, AF africa, OC oceanis). This tells you where the propagation is best so far from NA.
Lower down on the filter block is DX, where do you want to go?
Further down is De or which continent are you on or from where are you calling?
Operator instructions: A few reminders for this weekend.
- Make sure your operators log a contact with themselves (personal callsign), that way they can earn the awards🙂
- By FCC rules, you need to identify with your own callsign every 30 minutes. Something like “This is (your personal callsign) operating Special Event Station (W3V, W8O or W4A) for the VOA 80th anniversary, QRZ”.
- Spot yourself or ask someone to spot you once you have a clear frequency. (on DxHeat.com)
- Stay within your band privileges, you already know this but never hurts to say it again. The 1×1 are tied to your callsigns.
- This is not a contest, it’s a special event, there’s no need to rush. Have fun making QSO’s.
Next comes collecting the logs and sending the digital QSL cards.
more to come after it is over…