The same weekend that the SFTARC was participating in the KS QSO Party, another Olathe amateur radio club was also the air operating both the QSO party and as a Special Event Station. For the 19th straight year, the Crown Amateur Radio Association (CARA) has been part of the Hollenberg Pony Express Festival in north-central Kansas. The CARA is the ham club internal to Honeywell Aerospace, located at Highways 7 and 10 in NW Olathe.
Located near Hanover, Kansas, the Hollenberg Pony Express Station is a unique part of Kansas history. During the Hollenberg’s annual festival, the old west is brought back to life through a number of exhibits and activities. That includes our amateur radio station configured to look much like and 1860’s telegraph office. This is a display that nicely blends into the many other displays depicting early-American life here on the plains of Kansas. It is also an on-the-air event, allowing other hams across North America to “visit” this historic Hollenberg Pony Express Station site over the air.
Kids of all ages are intrigued by the Telegraph Office’s front-counter display. Here, visitors are invited to try their hand at sending the Morse code. The front counter contains an assortment of Morse code apparatus that takes the visitors through short-course in history of the Morse code, starting with a straight key and sounder that clicks and clacks away, to a straight key and CPO, then to a bug and finally to an Iambic Keyer. Adding to the display is a pseudo-replica of a WWII spy radio often referred to as a paraset (a Bayou Jumper kit by the 4-State QRP group). This radio lets visitors see how Morse code was used by the WWII resistance forces operating behind enemy lines in Belgium and France, allowing them to communicate back to England. That display is followed by an copy of the Overland Journal magazine that contains an article describing how ham radio is used in support of historic places and events http://www.sftarc.org/images/files/newsletter/Radio-Active%20Trails%20Article.pdf).
Behind the front counter is a simple HF station that takes the form of a working telegraph office. A 12-volt deep-cycle marine battery powers a Kenwood TS-50 HF transceiver operating through a tuner into an off-center-fed 80m dipole fed with ladder line. This setup has proven to be quite effective in supporting our special-event operation, and also as a tool to demonstrate to the public how amateur radio operators can communicate over long distance with just a temporary setup and without the need of any man-made infrastructure.
CARA members, Charlie Hett, K0THN, and myself operated the station for over 6 hours—taking frequent breaks to talk to the public. Using the club call for the CARA, K0ASA, we worked 80, 40 and 20m on CW and also had a 20m phone frequency. Propagation on August 26 was nothing to brag about, but we bagged two pages worth of QSO in the logbook. However the most rewarding part of the operation is the meet-the-public aspect and introducing visitors to ham radio. And as icing on the cake, we had a number of area ham operators drop by the Telegraph Office and provide us with eyeball QSOs.