Field Day 2006 – Magnolia

Seattle Wireless Field Day 2006 went really well today. I woke up to an alarm I didn’t remember setting wondering if I was late for work, realized it was Saturday and I was technically late for Field Day. Fortunately I was already dressed, unfortunately a little hung over. I noted my plans on irc and managed to lean forward and fall in the general direction of the drivers seat of the suburban. On my way to Matt Westervelts’s house I remembered needing snacks and stopped by Madison Market for a ton of chips (which we didn’t really even eat, but they looked nice on the table) and other assorted foods. I stopped by Andy’s and we headed to Matt’s. Casey was waiting there, and we departed pretty quickly. Matt, Andy and I took my suburban towards Magnolia, found a Tully’s coffee and Albertsons near by for more supplies and then headed back towards the park.

It only took a couple trips to carry all of our gear to the end of the park from the parking lot. It’s interesting to note that the parking there is a four hour limit, but the cop that was camping the parking lot when we left didn’t seem to care about any of that. Which is good, because the whole parking thing is stupid. Besides the lack of power, Magnolia suited us pretty well and the weather turned out good. There was a horrible Urine smell in the toilets, but I think we were thankfull to still have them. There was a birthday party for a bunch of kids and they had a generator and inflatable bouncy castle which made us immediately jealous. Next field day, Magnolia’s totally getting a bouncy castle, even if I have to rent it myself. We had a cheap ‘shelter kit’ from walmart that was marketed as something much more useful but worked nonetheless as our hang out (registration tent). A picnic table nearby was base for the antennas and wireless hardware. That’s the extent of the photos that I took, but I’m sure if you watch flickr you’ll see more crop up (tag search) or on the planet.

Setup was basically a snap for our site, and we proceeded to hang out in the shelter most the day, playing on the frs radio which nobody seemed to understand on us, enjoying our snacks and basically talking smack about everything. Definately best saturday ever, not that anyone was doubting it would be. Gasworks blew up, someone nobody there considered there wouldn’t be power I guess, which wasn’t too bad because we couldn’t get a direct link there from any other sites. Next time we’ll probably find another park near the bay and see if we can really get a mesh up.

Our critical systems didn’t have any power problems but we went through a lot of laptops as their batteries ran out and we didn’t have a way to charge them other than running my truck back at the parking lot. I can run it with the keys out, so I suppose we could of locked the laptops in there on charge, but it wasn’t a big deal. Andy brought a small UPS that didn’t really work, and a jump-start battery that worked pretty good at keeping the ATA online, despite a quirky warning buzzer. Matt’s LiIon battery packs ran the wireless gear without problem and only used 25-50% of the battery all day. Somehow I forgot one my ata, and never bothered trying to setup the grandstream due to the lack of laptop power. Next time, rent/buy a generator. Especially for the aforementioned bouncy castle. With no cars allowed in Magnolia, we debated using a motorcycle as a generator a couple times, and could probably get away with it, but didn’t happen to have one with us and when Matt Wilson came by with the heater later, he brought his car and not his bike.

The evening ended with most of us congregating back at Magnolia and all turned out great. I think everyone had a great time and we’re looking forward to probably doing it again in the spring.

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