Railroad Depot operating

Discuss and share portable operating equipment and techniques. Photos are encouraged.

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Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:17 pm
Location: Homewood, IL

Railroad Depot operating

Post by aa9kh » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:22 pm

For the past several years it has been my privilege to operate from Beecher Illinois' restored Chicago and Eastern Illinois railroad caboose. In years past, I have ALWAYS brought along a DC-powered station to oerate using CW. Through the auspices of a local club that I am also (hee) a member of, <www.W9VT.org>, I'm looking forward to operating from the caboose that is permanently parked near the Beecher depot again this year. They even have an area inside the depot that is a (non-functional) railroad-era, land based, telegraph station complete with an appropriately-attired manequin (spelling?) at the operating position.

Have seen several messages on the Yahoo reflector about this subject recently so thought I would also post something about this specific operation here. Not sure of the date for 2009, but believe it will be on a Sunday in mid-April. If you do come across W9B, please ... give us a call ! TKS !

Jay AA9KH #219C
The difference between adventure and ordeal is ATTITUDE !

Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 5:57 pm
Location: Burlington, NC FM06gd

Post by kb4qqj » Sun Mar 29, 2009 4:40 am

Hi Jay,
Well we have something in common! I have a QRP party each month from March to September.
I operate from different cabooses in VA, NC and SC. I mostly operate from several cabooses local to me on weekends. I operate as KB4QQJ SKCC# 3508T or as K4INC SKCC# 3702. The K4INC is a cw training club I founded to elmer new ops and to introduce them to contesting, sprints, special events etc. The local club I belong to is pretty hardcore contesting so they have a hard time slowing down or explaining the in and outs when they are in full contest mode. K4INC offers as smooth transition.
If you have a look at the photo section in the SKCC yahoo group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/skcc/phot ... 0/pic/list
you can see some of the places I operate. I do a special QSL card for each site specific to the location.
Now that W0JRM, Rob, has started the "Depots on The Air" thing, I'm looking forward to a lot of the guys making an effort to work some of them. I know when I started the caboose last year, it amazed me how many SKCC guys are ex railroad workers, rail fans and just how many could find me on the air!!! I was swamped several times. Have a look at the photos if you get a chance. I think you will see a similar mannequin in the Burlington Caboose hi hi. Also that lady in the photo restored that caboose by herself! It is a real hoot operating from them and I look forward to working you when you get started up this year. please let me know when you are going to operate. If you give me a heads up, I'll post it on the SKCC Event Calendar so everybody can have a shot at you and the club.
We need to sked. de KB4QQJ K



Operating portable at depots...

Post by W9DLN » Sun Mar 29, 2009 2:15 pm

This sounds like a lot of fun! There are about a dozen depots within about 25 miles of here. Some are no longer there but I know where they were.

I just joined up with ARLHS. Friday I activated a lighthouse for the first time. In June I plan to operate from several Canadian lighthouses while on a vacation trip around Lake Superior.

A few of things to consider are: First a good numbering system will need to be thought out. There are many more depots than there are lighthouses. This will be a major undertaking if you decide to go with a standard numbering system. I don't know if using the road names as part of an identifier would help because they change hands. For example the one in Crivitz was originally Milwaukee Road, then it was bought out by the Soo Line and now it is owned by Escanaba & Lake Superior. There is also going to be the matter of setting up a website to keep track of all this information. That is something ARLHS and IOTA have done very well.

Second to keep with the tradition of railroad telegraphy operators I hope that CW becomes the mode of choice. Hardly anyone in ARLHS use CW so I have to use a microphone. This is really out of my element for those of you that know me.

Another thing that ARLHS lacks is the ability to post activations in a timely manner. SKCC really is cutting edge with the SKCC Sked Page. In ARLHS you have to post a message about activation on what's known as BeaconBot, which I have just recently found out I have not been able to do. For some reason my email sends in html verses plain text so my messages do not get posted. I still don't know how to fix that. The other method is posting a spot on DX Summit or the 425 cluster but your posting is only on for five minutes at best.

One last item is that most railroad depots are in urban areas which can make setting up a portable station a little tricky. The depots I am familiar with are also on railroad owned property. Permission would be needed to operate on their property. One railroad here actually posts signs warning off visitors. Their signs say things like "Rail Fans NOT WELCOME" and "Trespassers will be prosecuted first and asked questions later". I'm not sure I'd even have the guts to ask these folks for permission to set up a station on their property. The only solution to this would be to use the "Line of sight" rule that ARLHS uses. If you can eyeball the depot from where you operate from it is as good as being there.

Please don't get me wrong. I am all for the idea of operating from depots. I think it is a great idea. When I travel around I try to make it a point to visit the town depots. If they are still standing they are usually a beautiful unique piece of history. Starting this project is going to be a lot of work to make it work right. If there is anything I can do to help I would like to offer my services. I have been into lighthouses about 10 years now. I have been a ham for 31 years. And I have been into model railroading since I was about five years old. I'm 47 now so do the math. You'll see where my passions are.

Good luck and please remember I want to help!

Dan, W9DLN, Crivitz, WI
SKCC #3635, ARLHS #1616


Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 5:57 pm
Location: Burlington, NC FM06gd

Post by kb4qqj » Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:16 pm

There is already a process in motion to start the "Railroad Depots On the Air". It was started by Rob W0JRM. It was posted recently on the SKCC reflector. I joined up and plan on activating several Depots in my area in addition to my normal caboose operations. Here is the link to the associated yahoo group. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rrdota/

Randy _ KB4QQJ ---->

and here is the original post:

[ SNIP ]
I've combined my love of railroads and railroad history with ham radio and created an
organization called "Railroad Depots on the Air." The purpose is to activate railroad depots
and sites where railroad depots once were, similar to how lighthouses are activated for WLOTA.

If you're interested, please visit:
http://www.robmatherly.com/blog/2009/03 ... n-the-air/
[ SNIP ]

I'm still very interested in maybe a mystery sprint using this theme and would also be very interested in any station/caboose/lighthouse etc any of you activate or just plain go have fun at. I manage the SKCC Event Calendar and will gladly post in advance any outing you plan. Let's get something going.


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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:50 pm
Location: missouri

RR and CW on HF ham bands...

Post by wd0bc » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:44 pm

My cousin N6MQR threw togather a device which keys a sounder via headphone output of my Yaesu...

You CAN copy just fine up to about 30 wpm.

It is a hoot to see an old RR telegrapher smile even though a bit different.

WD0BC "Covey"

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