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It started with a horse. After the 1997 Field day exercises were over, QST magazine had an article in it pertaining to the "First Horseback Field Day Contact". Now that sounds like a challenge don't it.

Field Day 1998 was coming along fine. The antennas were up. The volunteer operators were working the contacts. The generators were humming and then without warning, the loudest noise was heard coming into the campground. At that moment Field Day, as we knew it, came to an end. Something new was about to be added. The opportunity had arrived to challenge that sway backed old horse. (Just kidding horse)

What was entering the campground of course was the answer to our problem. What was entering the campground was what had to be the biggest eyesore to hit the only open area of Doug Herrold's N9DUG backyard. Well that's what his wife said anyway. What was entering the campground was a 1971 CASE 600 Combine.

It seems, as I understand it. Doug was doing some computer work for one of his clients. The old combine was sitting in the middle of this client's field. The conversation must have gone something like this. Doug--"What's that thing?" Client--"That's a 1971 Case 600 Combine." Doug--"Does it run"? Client--"Yep" Doug--"You want to sell it"? Client--(with a gleam in his eye)"Yep" Doug--"How much?" Client--"One hundred dollars." Doug--without the least hesitation, "OK"

So what do you do with a 1971 Case 600 Combine, that while it runs, has seen better days? Doug's wife knew what she wanted to do with it, but we can't print that here. What you do is show up at the 1998 Field Day. With young son driving and you hanging on for dear life, park the dang thing in the middle of the operating area and yell out real loud "HEY GUYS, WHATS HAPPENING!!!!??"

The next thing you know, people are swarming all over this thing. Hanging antennas, posting a sign on the rear end and just generally taking over. The horse, remember him, is about to be buried. He will reign no more after this day.

Today is the day that OPARS will make history. Today is the day that the very first Combine to Satellite Field Day contact will be made. Under the watchful eye of our main Satellite expert Jim France KA9LDD, that sorry old 1971 Case 600 Combine was transformed into a SAT-COM communications system. SAT for satellite, COM for combine. Get it?

With all of us standing around watching, taking pictures, or just shaking our heads in disbelief, Doug and Jim climbed up on that thing and after watching the clock for a few minutes proceeded to holler "CQ FIELD DAY, CQ FIELD DAY W9EOC CALLING CQ FIELD DAY"

For you technical hams, who just have to know. The up-link was on 145.850 and the downlink was on 436.805 or there abouts (study up on Doppler shift*). The Satellite they were trying to talk through was AO-27.

Well, what do you know? Someone answered him. It was official, Jim and his expert helpers made the first Combine to Satellite Field Day contact in history. At least we think so. I don't believe a Field Day Satellite contact has ever been made from the top of a 1971 Case 600 Combine. I think they only made the one contact. Have you ever tried to track a Satellite from a stationary 1971 Case 600 Combine? Didn't think so. The only thing bothering me is, "I wish they had made that contact by talking to the horse."

Contact was made with: W4NML DE W9E0C VIA AO-27
Click here to hear the contact.

* Equipment used:
Uplink--Radio Shack 242
Downlink--Kenwood TH-48
Uplink Antenna--Homebrew 4 element beam
Downlink Antenna--10 element Cushcraft Yagi
Antennas mounted on surveyor's Tripod
Power to RS-242 was 1971 Case 600 Combine

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