Island - NA-068
RSGB IOTA Contest - July 2003
It has been quite
some time since members of the Fredericton
Amateur Radio Club had set forth on a
DX-pedition. Several of its members started
talking about some kind of project late in 2002.
They weren't sure where to go, but wanted to take
a mid-summer weekend trip to some location in
annual Islands on
the Air contest was perfectly
suited to such a journey. IOTA maintains a list
of "official" islands that can be
worked for awards and contest multipliers. The
contest is held in the last weekend in July, and
encourages amateurs to activate islands for
others to work.
Brunswick has been allocated two
"official" island groups by IOTA. The
Fundy islands count as one multiplier, and the
northern islands count as the other. Miscou and
Portage islands are included in the northern
group, while Campobello, Deer Island and Grand
Manan are part of the southern group.
the Fredericton Amateur Radio Club had several
options for the contest, Miscou Island was set as
the destination for a couple of reasons. First,
it had not been activated for quite some time.
Second, it was relatively easy to reach -
especially since the bridge was built to the
island in the early-1990s. Previously Miscou was
served by a ferry in the summer months, and had
no guaranteed access in winter.
positive factor in favour of Miscou was that it
reached into a rare Maidenhead grid square, FN78.
VHF operators collect grid squares and the
opportunity to activate this rare area was
VHF operations would not be part of the IOTA
contest, the opportunity to combine two types of
operation made Miscou that much more attractive
as a destination.
planning meetings took place in the spring of
2003. Contact was established with members of the
Tracadie area amateur radio club. It had a VHF
tower site on Miscou Island, and kindly granted
permission for us to use the facilities.
||The contest ran
from 1200Z Saturday to 1200Z Sunday.
Although more wanted to participate,
several FARC members had other
commitments that weekend. Three members
of FARC made the journey to Miscou. Tim
VE9XA, George VE1ACU and Brent VE1JH
arrived late Thursday evening to set up
the station. They arrived on the island
with a 3-element beam for HF, a 2-element
6-meter beam, Cushcraft R7 vertical,
80-meter dipole and a Windom for 40. They
had been asked to wait until one of the
local amateurs could open up the tower
facilities, so they were unable to erect
most of the antennas right away. Tim
decided to put up the vertical antenna
first and test it while they waited for
access to the rest of the facilities.
They were initially
undecided as to exactly where to set up the radio
equipment. Tim brought a nice large tent as well
as the travel trailer. Mother Nature decided the
issue by sending swarms of mosquitos to attack
them at every turn. Soon it was clear that they
had to operate all of their gear from inside the
trailer. Two tents were put up to add to the
sleeping accomodations and the radios were set up
on the two tables provided in the trailer.
||By noon on Friday
they had the vertical antenna up and
running, and set up the operating
positions in the trailer. Tim VE9XA
brought his FT-1000 for phone work, while
George set up for CW. The logging laptop
was rotated from side to side as each
operator took his turn. George also set
up an extra monitor above his Kenwood so
he could see Tim's entries into the
requires participants to issue serial
numbers as part of their contest
exchange, so it was necessary that only
one computer database be maintained,
regardless of band. After toying with the
idea of two computers updating the log,
Tim decided it was best to just use one
computer and move it between operators.
||For 50 MHZ, Brent
brought along his TS-680S and set it up
on another small table at the front of
the trailer. Brent's role was to spell
off the HF operators, and work any
openings that Six would provide. For an
antenna they used Brent's home-made Moxon
wire beam, which had seen use in two
Field Day operators for VE9ND and had
Friday afternoon Frank VE9FOX showed up
and opened up the tower site. The club
kindly granted permission to take a feed
of AC power from their tower building,
and Frank also volunteered to scoot up
the tower and mount a pulley which would
hold one end of the dipole and Windom
Once they had an
idea where the wire antennas would be
situated, they then went to work and set
up 30 feet of tower and mounted the HF
beam on it.
A rope was attached to one
end of the beam and it was rotated using the
"armstrong" method as needed.
Six-meter beam was a different story. As it was
not self-supporting, the beam had to be held up
at both ends using nylon ropes. The problem was
that there was no close anchor point other than
the VE9ND tower itself.
rigged up a system whereby one end of the beam
would be supported on one of the tower guy wires,
and Tim mounted a rope and pulley on the tower
which would act as the other support. It worked,
and the wire beam scooted up into place as the
rope was pulled.
beam tuned up well on 20 and 10 meters, but did
not work well on 15 at all. Unfortunately, the
vertical was not the best on 15 either, so VE9ND
was handicapped to an extent. Luckily, 20 meters
was quite hot throughout the contest and served
as the main band.
sunset on Friday the station was in place and
ready to go for 9 AM local time the next morning.
strong breezes on Miscou were refreshing, but
still not sufficient to blow the mosquitos off
course, and consequently the operators spent most
of their time in the trailer.
started the contest off on schedule with 20
meters beamed towards Europe. Twenty held up most
of the day, and was usually open in every
direction. The beam even performed well off the
back, maybe even better than the front. While it
is not an intended characteristic of a beam
antenna, it certainly allowed lots of operating
with little rotating. Brent and Tim worked some
phone pileups on 20 through the day, and George
took care of CW. Miscou, as a multiplier island,
was needed by other operators to boost their
score. While VE9ND was not DX for most operators,
the multiplier gave the club station lots of
business. A few highlights of the VE9ND operation
were the working of VP2MX on several bands and
modes for multipliers, and working one of amateur
radio's most respected members, John, ON4UN in
comical highlight of the day was when Brent
worked FARC Past President Stu Morehouse, who was
vacationing in southern New England and dropped
in to the Ham Radio Outlet store in Salem, NH.
Stu broke Brent's pileup and put N1HRO into the
log for VE9ND.
meters remained open well after dark, and only
reluctantly did VE9ND move to a noise-filled 80
and 40. The QSO rate went way down once the low
bands were frired up. QRN was impressive, as
thunderstorms in the area generated huge noise
crashes on 40 and 80. VE9ND was forced to shut
down for a while in the middle of the night as a
thunderstorm moved over Miscou.
close of the contest period at 9 AM local time
Sunday, VE9ND had worked 499 HF QSOs. The club
station did not win the contest, certainly, as
some of the "big gun" stations recorded
three and four times as many contacts, but the
operators had lots of fun and were happy to hand
out NA-068 to the IOTA members who needed the
not a focus of the trip, VHF provided an
opportunity for the participants to have a little
fun and activate a rare grid square. Six meters
opened up on Friday evneing, and the Sporadic E
opening lasted over an hour, with 20 stations
worked QRP, mainly in the U.S. Midwest and Great
Lakes area. The highlight of that opening saw
some double-hop E-skip, netting contacts on
Friday night with Wyoming and Nebraska.
Saturday morning the band opened again briefly to
the US mid-Atlantic states. Three additional
contacts were made into Maryland and Virginia.
All of the E-skip openings were worked with only
highlight of Six was Saturday night's Auroral
opening. As the beam was originally pointed
southwest, it to be lowered, repositioned, and
scooted up the northern guy wire to take
advantage of the Au conditions. Tim's IC-706 was
put into operation, as it had 100 watts instead
of Brent's 10-watt Kenwood. While many signals
were heard, only five were worked, including CY9A
on st. Paul Island, another IOTA DX-pedition.
Later in the evening the VE8BY beacon in Iqaluit
was heard for several hours, although nobody from
that direction was on the air.
packed his satellite antenna almost as an
afterthought before the trip, and on Saturday
evening decided to assemble it for a pass of
UO-14. Several satellite QSOs were made from
FN78, including YV5SAT/6 in FK70, Venezuela. Not
bad for a 500 milliwatt HT!
excursion to Miscou was lots of fun. The station
recorded 500 QSOs (if you want to count VE9ND's 6
meter contact with CY9A) and the operators
enjoyed themselves immensely. The mosquitos also
enjoyed themselves, as they drank several pints
of blood from the exposed flesh of the VE9ND
vocabulary was rich with commentary on what he
thought of the mosquitos. He was clearly
impressed with their veracity.
photo the versatile Tim, VE9XA, works DX
on the stove with his headset attached,
while George logs and dupes on the
George VE1ACU, Tim VE9XA, Brent VE1JH
FARC Executive, support and planning meetings:
Gary VE9AI, Stu VE9STU, Laurie VE9IBM, Dave VE9AV
30 Harland View Drive
Canada, C1B 1W3
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