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Posted on: February 9, 2024

KSNG Soldiers, retirees engage in camping and communication at Winter Field Day 2024

Soldiers and retirees of the Kansas National Guard Amateur Radio Team set up camp.

Soldiers and retirees of the Kansas National Guard Amateur Radio Team participated in Winter Field Day 2024, a 24-hour amateur radio communications exercise that occurs the last full weekend every January. After setting up camp in the Catfish Alley camping area at Perry State Park, 2nd Lt. Justin Lero, retired 1st Sgt. James Peeler, retired Spc. Harman Singh, and retired Maj. David Stickelman, along with guest Troy Stickelman, settled in for a day of camping and communication.

“This event gives amateur radio operators an opportunity to practice portable emergency communications in winter environments,” said David Stickelman.

Stickelman said although the primary focus of the KSNG team was just the enjoyment of amateur radio and camping, the hobby has practical application for warfighters.

“Many of the principles in operation of high frequency radio are shared with military equipment such as the PRC-150/VRC-104, commonly called the Harris Falcon II,” said Stickelman. “Most Soldiers are familiar with the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, which is a short to medium range radio for a smaller tactical space on a battlefield. It generally suffices for company and battalion sized operations, but battalion to brigade communication or layers above this may reach distances that exceed what SINCGARS is capable of.”

Stickelman said the team used an M35a2 2 ½ ton cargo truck, an Icom 7300 radio, discone antenna, a VHF antenna, and two whip style high frequency antennas. Operating on the high frequency region of amateur radio bands, the team made several contacts throughout the United States, including Arizona, the East Coast and the Great Lakes region; British Columbia and Ontario, Canada; and even one in Belgium. Overall, the event included 1,293 formally registered stations around the world, and many more informal participants. Stickelman said there is a map at winterfieldday.org that shows the locations of registered participants.

“There were even a couple stations in the Gobi Desert (China),” Stickelman said, “which would have been quite a challenge.”

Stickelman said, although high frequency radio can reach across vast distances, several factors may affect this ability, such as the time of day, solar activity, antenna selection, and the vertical angles at which a signal is transmitted.

“With some extra planning and operational factors involved that aren’t required with SINCGARS, this makes high frequency radio something of an art,” said Stickelman.

The KSNG Amateur Radio team will be active throughout the year with the ‘Parks on the Air’ program and Winter Field Day 2025 next year.

For information on Winter Field Day - https://winterfieldday.org. For information on Parks on the Air - https://parksontheair.com

To get involved with the KSNG Amateur Radio team contact [email protected]

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