Amateur Radio Days at the Texas State Fair

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This is an article written about our experience at the W5TEX Special Event Station at the State Fair of Texas in the 1990's. Sorry about the formatting. I am sure it was done on a 386 computer and a simple word Processor. The writer was an officer at the Arlington amateur radio club and also an assistant Section Manager.

The Dallas Amateur Radio Club Boycotted this event because they could not be in charge of it. It came off without a hitch anyway. Suck it DARC!

Amateur Radio Days at the Texas State Fair

Early Saturday morning October 7, 1995, hams representing the Arlington,
Irving, Garland and Mesquite amateur radio clubs gathered at the fairgrounds
in Dallas, Texas. Our mission, to set up and operate a special event station,
W5TEX and demonstrate amateur radio to the public. We set up under a red
and white striped open-sided tent. Dave, N3BUO brought his HF rig and a
VHF/UHF rig and J-pole. John, WD5AGG brought his HF rig. The HF rigs were
connected to two butternut vertical antennas. Phill, N5PWW brought his
packet station and Garabali, KC5FEY brought a complete satellite station
including computer and tracking software. Wiz KI5NL and Bill KC5CBY set up
and operated a MARS station. By 9:00 am we had erected the two butternut
antennas, secured the area with yellow caution tape and were ready for the
fun to begin. We had some noise problems running two HF rigs in such close
quarters, but with a some compromise in band selection all was going well and
contacts were being made. When Ron, WI5C arrived to work some CW, the
interference became more of a problem, every time the other rig was keyed,
Ron lost all contact especially on 40 meter. Joe, KK5NA, grabbed our
home-brew four-band dipole out of the van and with some help from Tony KC5PXW
and his wife Amanda the dipole was attached to the tent. This greatly reduced
the interference problem and operation continued throughout the weekend.
Everyone who entered the tent was invited and encouraged to operate any or
all of the stations. Many hams and non-hams were happy to accept the
invitation. There were at least thirty-five different operators during the
weekend event. Jonathan, KC5EQP, Patrick KC5IJT and Ashley (not a ham yet)
made their first ever HF contacts during the weekend. Traffic handlers from
NTS encouraged passers-by to send a message home from the State Fair of Texas. They explained the steps involved in passing message
traffic and how they assist during times of crisis. Several NTS
representatives participated in the local traffic nets from the state fair.
Saturday evening proved how versatile and determined hams can be. Just before
time for a CW traffic net it was discovered that the key and keyer were no
longer available. A quick search turned up a cable with a 1/4 inch jack on
one end and bare wires on the other. By attaching car keys to the correct
two wires, Megan KF9AS operated a very basic straight key(s) and took her
turn on the traffic net. Joe, KK5NA decided to try his hand on this device
and made a contact via satellite EME using the two car key method. Most of
the crowds were gone by about 10:30 PM. Joe WD5AGG, his grand-daughter
Brandy (who recently passed her Element 2) and her friend Ashley, Joe KK5NA
and I were there for the night to keep watch over the equipment and make a
few late- night, early- morning contacts.. After a quick early breakfast the
next morning the full-scale operations began again. Sunday, James, KC5JQM
and Kim, KC5JYA brought out their ATV station. It was the first opportunity
many hams had to see this aspect of amateur radio and all agreed that if is
another interesting part of the hobby. Through contacts with Doc, KS5S, John,
KA2HDF and Billy, KC5NQ James and Kim provided a very good demonstration of
ATV. The packet station drew a large share of attention especially when
they started making contacts in the United Kingdom, Australia and Russia
through a TCP/IP doorway. The satellite station made contacts in the
United States, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands and Estonia. The HF stations
made contacts in thirty-six states, Washington D.C., Mexico and several
Canadian provinces. The CW operators were impressive to many due to their
skill in sending and coping messages in the midst of the noise and ongoing
activities. Kris KC5AYL and Richard KB5JBV stopped by to visit on Sunday
afternoon. Kris then went off with her mother to see the sights of the fair.
While they were out, a woman passed out in front of them. While Kris ran to
find help, her mother stayed with the sick woman and her child. After
returning with help Kris found out from the woman that her husband was
visiting in a tent up near the amateur radio tent. Using her 2-meter
handi-talki, Kris contacted Richard and told him of what had happened.
Richard was able to locate the woman's husband, explain the situation and
advise him that Kris was bring his daughter to him while his wife was being
transported to the hospital. Thanks to these quick thinking amateurs, the
husband was contacted rapidly and was waiting on his child and ready to leave
for the hospital. Due to their experiences at the fair, many hams are now
looking forward to upgrading their licenses to gain HF privileges and many
non-hams are ready to begin work on their license requirements. The on-air
contacts totaled 278 and the eyeball contacts were too numerous to count.
Both hams and guests enjoyed the beautiful weather and the camaraderie and
will fondly remember the contacts that they made on and off the air at the
1995 State Fair of Texas.

Barbara Spencer, KK5NA

About the Author

Richard KB5JBV has been an Amateur radio operator since 1988. He has held positions with the America Radio Relay League including but not limited to Assistant Section Manager, Official Observer, Official Relay Station, Official Emergency Station, ARES Emergency Coordinator for Resonant Frequency: The Amateur Radio Podcast was created to help get information on amateur radio out to the new ham and the ham that wants to find out more about different aspects of the hobby they are thinking about getting into. So sit back have a drink and enjoy.

Richard KB5JBV has been an Amateur radio operator since 1988. He held positions with the America Radio Relay League including but not limited to Assistant Section Manager, Official Observer, Official Relay Station, Official Emergency Station, ARES Emergency Coordinator for Kaufman County Texas, Volunteer Examiner and Technical Specialist in the North Texas section.

Richard has also served as RACES assistant radio officer for the city of Mesquite, Tx. and among numerous other duties Including club president for the HAM Association of Mesquite Texas.

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