ARRL Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator Stan Broadway, N8BHL, says he is hoping to expand his section’s “NVIS Antenna Day” on April 23 by encouraging participation by stations in neighboring states. This year’s activity also will offer the concept of establishing “anchor stations” around Ohio to provide consistent signal reports to other participants. The Near-Vertical Incidence Skywave or NVIS antenna has gained traction among emergency communication groups and others desiring a close-in radiation pattern for regional work on HF.
“Working with antennas has been an integral part of Amateur Radio since the first hams took to the airwaves,” Broadway said. “Having the ‘right’ antenna becomes even more important when we’re acting in the interest of public safety. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) organization in Ohio will put these two concepts together in another NVIS Antenna Day.”
Broadway explained the “anchor station” concept this way: Team A puts together a low-altitude G5RV, then contacts Anchor A in Toledo, Anchor B in Dayton, and the Ohio Emergency Operations Center (EOC) station — “The Sarge” — for signal reports. “They then either adjust their design, or try antenna number 2, contacting the same anchors,” he said. “From their signal reports, they can determine right away which antenna is better and by how much.”
Anchor stations’ frequencies will be published, but participating stations may contact as many other stations as they can find, allowing each station to plot its coverage “footprint” to get a good idea of its capability for a real emergency.
Last year, numerous operators, teams, and EOCs took part in NVIS Antenna Day in an effort to determine the best NVIS antenna to use throughout the Ohio Section. “The differences weren’t as dramatic as one might expect,” Broadway said. “Those fashioned after the military AS-2259 cross-dipole configuration appeared to be the best, but other designs worked nearly as well.”
Broadway said NVIS Antenna Day is not a contest but an activity focused on having teams or individuals in and around Ohio to research and determine the NVIS antenna designs they believe will work the best — then get together to build and test them out on the air. Teams may include county-based ARES teams or groups, teams of friends, and even individual operators.
Getting under way at 1500 UTC on April 23, teams will begin making contacts to compare their antennas. Stations do not need to operate from the field but the location should allow room for several antennas.
“We don’t have an ending time, because some stations had so much fun — and so many pileups — last year that that they went on for quite a while past dark,” Broadway recounted.
After the event all teams will file reports with call sign, location, operator(s), number of contacts, and all antenna design and deployment details, including height.
“Each station then can rank its top three antenna performers with comments and ideas,” Broadway said. “Pictures are very much encouraged.” The sponsoring Marion County ARES team will compile the documentation, and narrow down the best-performing NVIS antennas across the region.
Broadway has invited radio amateurs in surrounding states to get involved and to participate in the on-the-air event. “We would really like to make this a regional event in 2016, with stations in their state EOCs and around the Ohio border to test their own capabilities,” he said.