WW2DX’s EME setup for CY9C II DXpedition
WW2DX’s EME setup for CY9C II DXpedition

In August 2016, RAC Ontario South Director, Phil McBride, VA3QR/VA3KPJ, was part of a team of 11 operators who embarked on a DXpedition to St. Paul Island  (IOTA NA-094). Phil is currently a member of a team of eight operators for a return to St. Paul Island from July 31 to August 8. 

Phil will be providing regular updates here on the RAC website and on social media via our Twitter and Facebook accounts.  All images are used with his permission. You can find out more about Phil and follow his journey via his blog and Twitter account and also on the CY9C St Paul Island DXpedition website.

CY9C II – Day 4:

It’s been a beautiful Saturday on St. Paul Island – sunny, nice breeze, no precipitation and the winds aren’t high enough to prevent Pat, N2IEN, from being able to fly.

Pat and I have been having problems getting AMSAT up and running. We set up the portable rotor he brought with him but the controller is buggy as all hell and I just couldn’t get it to work properly. I declared it dead this morning and Lee, WW2DX, was able to get Barry, our logistics guy on shore, to prep one of his extra Yaesu G5500 rotors, plus controller and cable, and Pat brought it back with him on today’s supply run.

It’s a little (LOT) bit of overkill for an Arrow Antenna, but at least I know it’ll work properly. We’re hoping to have it set up tomorrow. For now, Pat and Lee are working back-to-back in the EME tent running on 2m and 6m simultaneously.

I got to spend a good amount of time operating today as pretty much everything is built and operating. At one point, I realized I wanted a shower (and so probably did anyone else sitting in the tent with me), but I didn’t want to drop the JA pileup we had going on 20m FT8, and thus Connor debuted as a CY9C operator.

Connor working FT8
Connor working FT8

I finished my shower and sent Connor for his, and eventually went and loaded the chopper with equipment and refuse bound for the mainland, and then sat back down at the 20m station. That said, FT8 was getting pretty boring so I moved to 20m SSB and tried to create a pileup. And did I ever! In 25 years as an Amateur Radio operator – and keeping mind I did this here three years ago – I’ve never had a pileup like this one. I had everyone spread out across 10kHz and I still couldn’t make some people out as they were walking over each other so bad. This ran for at least a couple of hours but I lost track of time.

All I know is that during my pileup, Pat and Connor came back to the island with pizza, beer, ice cream and cake. Yes, we’re really roughing it out here folks: we have Internet, a heated shower, cellular and Internet access and a chopper. This is truly the life 🙂

We have been having a significant amount of trouble with WSJT-X – specifically, it was dropping about one-fifth of our QSOs without logging them (to itself, not N1MM). We have since received some advice from the authors and we’ve fixed that particular problem, so as far as we can tell, all of our QSOs are making the log. That said, it’s still skipping some of the entries being sent to ClubLog in real-time, but I’m dumping the main log to ClubLog at least twice a day to make sure that every QSO makes it, so if you just keep an eye on the ClubLog DXPedition site and the date of the last main dump in the comment field (not the reported last log entry by Clublog), you’ll be able to make sure you made the log.

At this point, I’m pondering a nap and then coming back to work low band SSB. I know that Pat was talking about 160m or 80m CW after moonset, but I’m afraid I won’t wake up. Anyone who says Amateur Radio isn’t a physical hobby hasn’t done a DXpedition. Everyone should do one of these at least once. For now, I’m going to enjoy myself and get another beer.

Did I mention I had pizza and beer for dinner while working a 20m pileup on an uninhabited island in the North Atlantic? I’m not sure what I’m going to do to be able to top this!

– 73, Phil McBride, VA3QR/CY9

17, FT8 and a Pint.
A cake made for us by one of the locals in Dingwall. Thank you!
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