UCSC Field Day 2011


Nearing the end of the UCSC’s academic quarter, Kerry Veenstra (K3RRY) thought, “Am I going to do Field Day this year?” There was little time before summer academic activities began, and the thought of an all-night competition was unappealing. But then UCSC professor Steve Petersen (AC6P) suggested that instead of focusing on scoring points, the UCSC Field Day would stress public outreach and amateur radio’s link to EmComm. So with their new mission, Kerry, Steve, and UCSC graduate Erick Castillo (AE6UF) organized radios and antennas, while university staff members Bob Vitale (KG6MBS), Christian Monnet (KG6RHV), and SuperDave provided other needed items (power cords, network cables, laptops for logging software, etc.).

On a sunny but breezy Friday a small team of dedicated hams, including several UCSC engineering students, set up camp near the UCSC East Field running track. Then, since everyone agreed that outreach was the goal, Saturday’s visitors were greeted not by the backs of people in operating tents but by hams who were happy to explain what the group was doing.

The most common question was whether the equipment, which included a satellite station and a 40-foot steel tower topped by a tri-bander, was part of some kind of scientific experiment. Once the explanation revealed that the group was communicating with people all over the United States using only 100 watts of power per radio, the typical response was “Wow!”. Many dedicated runners happened upon the camp during their morning or afternoon exercise, and the hams became experts at abbreviated conversations. One visitor, who refused to slow his pace even slightly, got only one or two questions answered per lap. At one point the runner, still intrigued, declared “Penalty lap!” and continued around the course twice again, eventually requesting a business card.

The group was grateful that Capt. Chris Gaylord of the UCSC Fire Department had time to accept their invitation. Impressed with the group’s effort, Capt. Gaylord contributed his foldable ICS Command Board to the information booth and ended up staying on-site for several hours. By Sunday morning, it was clear that a “low-impact” Field Day was exactly what the group had needed.

And although everyone had felt that the points didn’t matter, still the team bettered their 2010 score by 14%!


  • Bob V. KG6MBA
  • Charles S. KG6MUK
  • Eric C. AE6HZ
  • Eric P. KG6LWC
  • Erick C. AE6UF
  • Kerry V. K3RRY
  • Steve P. AC6P

Photo credit: Jack French, KF6ZGO