FIELD DAY 2024 - June 22-23

2024 Field Day is from 11a Saturday, June 22 through 11a Sunday, June 23.    Come join us for a full 24 hours of radio at the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, located at   

9300 Fanita Pkwy
Santee, CA 92071

We will be operating in the parking lot of the water district near the grassy area.  Look for the WA6BGS banners and antennas!

The Amateur Radio Club of El Cajon is hosting 2024 Field Day at the Padre Dam Water District, located at 9300 Fanita Pkwy, Santee, CA 92071 

Field Day is ham radio's open house. Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio's science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933, and remains the most popular event in ham radio. 

Here is a list of technologies we plan on using and demonstrating during our club 2024 Field Day event.  If you are interested in learning more about any of these, stop by and get connected and see what you can learn.  We were all new at this once.  

If you have something interesting to share, a radio kit or project or some ideas you have been working on, please come visit and share.  

Talk-in Frequency 

WA6BGS 2m repeater  RX 147.420  TX 146.475  Offset -0.945  PL 107.2
DMR Simplex - 441.0000


It is predicted to be 90 degrees on Saturday, full sun, very light breeze.  Evening temps will be in the low 70's.
Wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and drink plenty of water.  Bring a jacket for the evening.

Bring a comfortable chair if you plan on staying a while. 

100 foot tall tower and 50 foot tall tower.  Triplexers let us connect several radios on different bands to the same antenna.  If you want to work HF with us, you can bring your own radio and cable to our antennas.  Bring your own power supply and power cables - we will provide 110v.

Just ask - we will help you get started.

Packet Radio on a Raspberry Pi-1.  Using a 12 year old Pi computer, a TNC kit you can solder at home, and an inexpensive Baofeng radio, it is possible to create your own packet radio station.  The technology from 1980 is still alive and very easy to assemble.  Some skill required, but this is well within your reach.  

Jon - KK6VLO

CW - Morse Code, the original digital mode!  CW is still a big part of amateur communications, reaching around the world with just a few watts of power.  Jerry WA6KIN will be with us Saturday afternoon working the CW bands for our event.  Once this was a primary mode and required test for amateur radio communications, but now it's an advanced skill that takes some study and dedication.  It's not impossible, but it does take dedication.

Jerry - WA6KIN

Winlink Packet Radio   Winlink Global Radio Email is a network of amateur radio and authorized government stations that provide worldwide radio email using radio pathways where the internet is not present. The system is built, operated and administered entirely by licensed "Ham" volunteers.

Using a simple VHF handheld or mobile radio or HF base station, you can send and get email using amateur radio.  Winlink also works over the internet, offering you many choices for staying connected.    Our club assembled a Winlink gateway station using a TNC kit and a small PC, and it has coverage across most of El Cajon and LaMesa and Spring Valley, including some parts of downtown San Diego.

Rob - KM6LBU
Jon - KK6VLO

GOTA - Get On The Air!  If you have your call sign but have never "keyed up" on amateur radio, let us help you take that next step and make a contact.  If you are thinking of getting your HAM license but aren't there yet, you can legally try it with our group on this Field Day event.   Don't be afraid of talking - this is amateur radio, not professional radio.  We will have 2m, 70cm, and HF radios ready for you to take that first step and make a contact.  Many clubs will be hosting their own GOTA station, so you might be a newbie talking to another newbie.  Jump in, the water is warm.

Quinn - KI6LAT

Satellite Amateur Radio   If you remember the Technician exam study guide, satellite communication is explained in chapter 6 and make up several test questions in the question pool.  We are going to attempt to communicate with amateur radio satellite, or at least listen for their signals.  Given the speed of these birds, there is quite a bit of planning necessary for proper communications, so Rich and David will be doing their best to make a contact.   We will be collecting the predicted flyover schedules for various amateur radio satellites and will be giving this our best effort.    It is a rare and special occasion when astronauts aboard the ISS operate their amateur radio.  This is subject to the satellite flyover schedule.  

N2YO Satellite Predictions 

Rich - NJ6F
David - KM6ZKI

JS8 Call   JS8Call is software using the JS8 Digital Mode providing weak signal keyboard to keyboard messaging to Amateur Radio Operators.

VarAC  VarAC is a FREE, modern HF P2P real-time chatting and emergency communication (EmComm) application for amateur radio operators, leveraging the VARA protocol.

Rob - K6PXX

Kantronics KPC-3 TNC   Rich, NJ6F, has updated his TNC to perform standalone BBS operations without a necessary computer.  The Kantronics KPC-3, when connected to a mobile radio, has a limited ability to listen for packet communications and manage short messages for a number of ham callsigns, much like a dial-up BBS from the same era.   The Kantronics TNC was one of the earliest TNC products for packet radio in the 1980's, and is still in production today.  There are two Kantronics units sending weather telemetry data from Mt Brook to McMurdo station in Antarctica.  From our Field Day location, we will be able to connect to Rich's system and interact with the Kantronics to demonstrate packet communications.

Rich - NJ6F
Rob - KM6LBU
Jon - KK6VLO

DMR - Digital Mobile Radio.  One of the more recent additions to Amateur Radio, this is a digital mode that is commonly linked across the internet for world wide communications.  DMR is a common mode for digital repeaters that serve a local area but can optionally link to other repeaters across town or across states.  These links are called "Talk Groups" and are usually assigned by geography.  The San Diego talk group 310014 serves most of San Diego county, but can be accessed by anyone on the internet or by other DMR users who join this talk group from a remote location. 

If you are still struggling to understand DMR and want a little bit of coaching, bring your DMR radio (and a laptop and programming cable) and maybe we can help bring some light to your project.  Once you understand the building blocks for the DMR code plug, programming your radio will become much easier.

The El Cajon Field Day group will be listening on DMR simplex, 441.0000 and will be monitoring the San Diego talkgroup 310014.

Rich - NJ6F

Meshtastic  An open source, off-grid, decentralized, mesh network built to run on affordable, low-power devices.

This is not specifically an amateur radio project, but it operates within the ISM bands (915MHz) which is also shared with the 33cm ham band.
This open source project began in 2020, creating a mesh of LoRa radios capable of sending short messages between nodes.  They are easiest to use when paired with a mobile phone or laptop, but the messages do not travel over commercial or cellular networks.  Each node participates in the mesh, forwarding the payload along until it hopefully reaches the destination.  In 2024, San Diego county has more than 100 Meshtastic nodes which appear on the map, and that doesn't account for all possible nodes.  Two nodes can form a simple mesh in the back country, and provide messaging services for just two people.  Dozens of nodes can form a resilient mesh in urban areas and provide a communication path for many users.  Messages can be to an entire group, or just one recipient.  The typical cost for this equipment is between $25 and $50, and can be configured in a weather-proof solar deployment, or a rechargable pocket size node you carry with you. Here you can see the nodes that have been cataloged onto a map simply because they have been seen and recorded. 
There could be thousands more that won't or haven't made it onto the map.

LoRa and LoRaWAN is a technology best suited for low bandwidth, long distance communication.  These modules transmit between 25mW and 500mW, with a range of 3 to 10 miles depending on terrain, and a LoRa packet is 256 bytes.

Bob - KA6WTF
Derec - KO6EJV