I had a fairly successful day participating in the Armed Forces Day Crossband Test. To recap, I am currently at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin for a brief period of time supporting a National Guard exercise. Normally when I go around to different Army units and assist in their exercises I fly. But I decided to take my Toyota Tundra on this trip and re-installed my HF rig. I have never preiously particpated in the Armed Forces Day Crossband Test and have always wanted to…. this was my chance.
The AFD Crossband Test has two components to it. The first is to receive a message from the Secretary of Defense which is transmitted in various digital modes from different military stations during the day. The second part of the Test is to make contact with the military stations with the military stations operating in their band and the amateurs in their band (hence the term “Crossband”).
For the Secretary of Defense message I hooked my Rigblaster Plug & Play to my IC-706MKIIG and brought my laptop into the truck (which has fldigi installed). The Rigblaster worked like a charm and I was able to copy the SECDEF’s message from WAR (at The Pentagon), AAZ (Fort Huachuca, AZ), and AIR-2 (New York). All these transmissions were in RTTY, which fldigi was able to read without issue. Now I need to print out copies of the messages I copied (which are the same, except the header information which reflects what station was transmitting the message) and send them in to the corresponding station. In return, I believe, I’ll receive a certificate from the SECDEF (suitable for framing, I’m sure).
The crossband contacts caused me to take a crash course in split frequency operations for my IC-706MKIIG. Fortunately I had my Nifty “Cliff Notes” version of the manual and was able to figure it out pretty quick. Although the actual execution took a bit of time to get down. First, obviously, I had to hear the station calling. MARS HQ publishes ahead of time a list of each station and the frequency that they will transmit from. I built a spreadsheet that allowed me to sort by frequency which made it easier to search for the transmitting station. The searching was done in the IC-706MKIIG’s VFO A. Once I found the station, I had to listen for them to announce the amateur frequency they were listening to… which most stations did periodically. Once I got their listening frequency, I flipped over to VFO B, dialed up the frequency, tuned the Tarheel screwdriver antenna, flipped back to VFO A, then hit the Split function, and waited for a chance to call. In the end, I was successful in contacting five different stations: WAR (at The Pentagon), NWKJ (located on the USS Yorktown, Charleston, SC), NMN0CQQ (located on the USS Midway, San Diego, CA), AAZ (good ol’ Fort Huachuca, AZ), and NWVC (a Navy MARS station in Indiana). For these contacts I get to send in my QSL card and hope for a response.
None of this was exotic DX but it was fun and exciting… and a bit challenging trying to do it all from inside my Toyota Tundra. I hope I am able to particpate again next year.
$3 AIR-2 AIR-2 MESSAGE FOLLOWS
DE AIR-2 AIR-2 MESSAGE FOLLOWS
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
ARMED FORCES DAY 2012 MESSAGE
TO AMATEUR RADIO AND
MILITARY AUXILIARY RADIO SYSTEM
FOR THE PAST SIXTY-THREE YEARS, OUR NATION HAS RECOGNIZED
THE DISTINGUISHED GLOBAL SERVICE OF OUR UNITED STATES
MILITARY DURING THE ANNUAL ARMED FORCES DAY CELEBRATION.
AMATEUR RADIO AND MILITARY AUXILIARY RADIO SYSTEM OPERATORS
PROVIDE ESSENTIAL CONTINGENCY COMMUNICATIONS TO RELIABLY SUPPORT
OUR NATIONS MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. YOUR SUPPORT OF
COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN DEPLOYED SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AIRMEN,
MARINES, SUPPORTING CIVILIANS, AND THEIR FAMILIES IS DEEPLY
ON BEHALF OF ALL UNIFORMED SERVICES, I EXTEND MY SINCEREST
APPRECIATIMN FOR YOUR HARD WORK, SELFLESS DEDICATION, AND
VITAL SERVICE TO OUR GREAT NATION. WELL DONE!
/S/ LEON E. PANETTA
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
APPROVED FOR TRANSMISSION,
DE AIR-2 AIR-2