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Ralph and I have been enjoying our new radio activity of visiting the various local parks and operating our ham radios. The program requires one to be within the boundary of the park and then to make 10 contacts to other hams. We have both done a number of parks but they had all been done previously by others and we wanted the opportunity to be the first to activate a park. To this end Ralph and I checked over the list of local parks to see if any were waiting for their first activation. I found Coyote Springs and so our next destination was settled. Now to wait for a nice day and hope it wasn’t on the radar of another ham.
Come Friday morning the day looked good and so we decided to head out at 12:30 after a quick lunch. Ralph arrived at my place and we loaded up my wife’s EV and off we went. The park was in central Surrey so only around 15-minute drive away. There were a number of access points to the park but the western side had a grassy area that looked ideal for stretching out a radio. We drove north on 168th and then west on 80th. The park was to our north and I turned up the next side street but it was too early and so we returned to 80th and tried the next couple eventually finding the correct side street. We drove past the park grassy spot and turned around to park on the opposite side. A nice short walk across the road and into the park.
We decided to leave our gear stowed and we set out to explore the park and select our operating positions. We followed the gravel paths around the area finding a few more grassy spots and eventually we settled on locations which should be far enough apart to reduce interference. Back at the car we loaded up my wagon and we started along the park trail. My location was first and we unloaded my gear, Ralph continued with the cart to another grassy spot 100m further along.
I set up my tripod and fishing rod mast and strung my wire antenna between it and two trees, keeping it high enough above the pathway to ensure no one got snagged by a thin wire! Then I finished attaching my KX3 radio and dialed through the band looking for a spot at which I could put out a call. As Ralph and I were both operating on the 20m band we needed the physical separation. It worked (mostly) as we did not interfere too much with each other. I could hear Ralph’s morse splatter on the band as I was searching for my spot so I assumed he was well on his way to making a high number of contacts. I selected a frequency and announced my spot on the Parks-on-the-air website. Soon I had a number of people trying to reach me and I was logging them.
After around 5 contacts I see Ralph walking towards me. He asked if I would spot him on the site as he wasn’t able to. I asked him how many contacts he had made already. He reported the sad news that he hadn’t made any yet. That was unfortunate as we had planned for him to have first contact and now I had it. Well, too late to hold back now. I did spot him and soon he was working a pile-up of stations trying to reach him.
While I was operating a chap came by with his dog to play and exercise the dog. We chatted quite a bit as his was an electronics engineer doing software development. As a techie he was quite interested in the radio set up and we got into more detail than I normally do with people asking about things. It was a fun chat but his dog was unhappy about being ignored for a while.
I made a few more contacts finishing with 13 of which 1 was a duplicate. Ralph eventually finished with over 20. Though we could have continued we both felt we had competed the task and we were ready to pack up and head home. So that we did, I took down my gear and packed it up and waited for the passing cart as Ralph finished stowing his gear and trudged back past my location. We both had a good time and we have found another un-activated park we can try next and hopefully Ralph can get the first contact.
We stopped for a coffee on the way home as it was still before Friday Rush hour. That is the one negative about operating on week-days – fewer operators to work and heavy traffic. But if one times things well the traffic problem can be reduced somewhat. A pleasant little community park. I think it would be a pleasant picnic spot for a family come the warmer weather. This time of year, it was wet and grungy.