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Morning at CY9C’s 20m Beam
Morning at CY9C’s 20m Beam

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 6 (August 5):

The HF gods giveth, and the HF gods taketh away…

I awoke to the news that we’re experiencing a G1 solar storm. The A index is at 4, and the K index is at 5. For those who don’t know what that means, it means that a lot of the energy we’re putting out into the ether is being absorbed, rather than refracted/reflected, by the atmosphere, and it’s going to make it very hard to continue making contacts at the rate we’ve been going at so far.

The only usable band to this point today (August 5) has been 20m, so we’ve been working it as hard as we can – FT8, SSB and CW. We work a mode until it dries up, change modes, repeat. This evening, due to popular demand, you’ll hear my own dulcet tones on 80m and 160m SSB, starting at approximately 9 am ADT (2019-08-06 0000z) this evening. Hopefully we can make pileups happen.

Pat, N2IEN and I have been working satellite today, and I uploaded 23 QSOs to ClubLog earlier. As I type this, Pat’s working another pass. I am posting to Twitter when I know something is happening, but just keep an ear out on the birds. This trip has really rekindled my love for Amateur Satellite and I may need to go shopping when I get home (don’t tell VA3MEW). Thanks to all who’ve made contact with us and shown patience while we tried to figure out how to get it all working.

Seals sunning and playing on St Paul Island
"Last night, I witnessed probably the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen in my 39 years..."
Yaesu G5500 Az/El Rotor and Arrow Antenna for Amateur Satellites
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While not operating (since only one or two rigs are of any use to us right now), we’ve been exploring the island a little. Connor and I went for a walk to watch a bunch of seals who were playing and sunning on the other side of the breach between the NE point and the main island (known as The Tickle). While we were looking around, Connor found a spent 30-06 cartridge. Leave it to my son to find spent brass in the rocks 🙂

Last night, I witnessed probably the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen in my 39 years – a beauty only surpassed by that of my wife (you’re reading this, right sweety?). We swear the bird in the attached photo was posing for us because it swerved back and forth in front of the sun several times while we took photos.

Weather sensors on St Paul Island
Weather sensors on St Paul Island

Another thing I’ve been looking at is the weather station on the island. The local mariners say it hasn’t been broadcasting data to the weather service. I took a cursory look at it and the batteries are good, solar panel is good and charging, charge controller, GOES transceiver, and such all appear to be working. I called Environment Canada and offered to give one of the techs remote access to the station controller, but I was told (second hand) that they’d need to send a specialist to recalibrate the gear. I tried.

We’re starting to make plans to disembark from St. Paul. It took a solid 1.5 days to fly everything here, and while we’ll be lighter for the lack of consumables, there is still a lot of gear that needs to go back.

We’ve been trying to stage the return of stuff we don’t need every time Pat makes a trip to the mainland, and we hope for a smooth exfil on Thursday.

To our JA/VK/ZL friends – these conditions are going to make it next to impossible to work many more of you, but we’ll keep trying.

For now, I need a nap if I’m going to work the low bands into the early morning. Talk to you soon!

– 73, Phil McBride, VA3QR/CY9