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Phil McBride CY9C II DXpedition: Day 7
The view on St Paul Island

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 7 (August 6):

Another great day on the island…

I worked 80m phone last night from 0010z to 0245z and it was just a wall of stations. I went over and tried to work 160m phone, but thunderstorms in the midwest were giving me S9+5dB static crashes, so I gave up and ran 160m FT8 just to get people in the log. I’m going to do the same thing tonight (August 6).

We’ve only got two more nights to run, so we’ve got to make them count. Against all odds, 10m was open today, and we’ve been running FT8 there for at least a few hours now. I tried to work 12m and 15m phone and FT8 but I might as well have been talking to a wall or a passively-aggressively angry girlfriend.

Phil McBride CY9C II DXpedition: AMSAT station
AMSAT station

I have been seeing requests for AMSAT passes, and I’ve tried to pass them onto Pat, N2IEN, but I’ve been up to my neck in pileups for the last 18 hours and I can’t get all messages to him. I do know that he’s working every good pass he can find.

One of our problems is we haven’t been able to hear AO-7. I just worked a pass on it, and I thought I could hear a QSO going, but I couldn’t hear myself. It also doesn’t help that I tripped and broke one of the threaded bolts that holds the director of the 2m side of the Arrow Antenna in half – it’s being held together by a piece of copper wire connecting the elements and electrical tape to keep it in place. It’s not perfect, but from what I understand, the output of AO-7 is so low that the slightly-broken 4-element Yagi might not be enough to hear it.

We’re also getting interference from Lee’s 2m station, and some noise from the ungrounded generators when the antenna points towards them. There is already talk of doing this trip again in a few years, and if we do, and if there’s sufficient interest, I’ll make sure the AMSAT station is ready for quick-deploy and we have the right gear at the outset of the expedition.

This will be the last moonset for Lee, WW2DX. He’ll start breaking down his station and antennas tomorrow for transport back to the mainland. Due to the complexity of EME (Moonbounce), it requires a great deal of equipment and getting it off the island tomorrow will mean a pretty smooth exfil for the team and the rest of our gear on Thursday.

We found that this time around, we’re limited more by the amount of physical space in the chopper than the weight of our gear and supplies, but we’ll be coming back easily 500 lbs and more lighter for lack of consumables (i.e., fuel, water, food). And, of course, I’ll have to dig a hole to bury our waste bags (completely biodegradable and safe for doing so, but never a fun job). Maybe I’ll make Connor do it, yes? 🙂

Phil McBride CY9C II Day 7: another flight check
The flight check

Speaking of, Connor went on another trip in the chopper with Pat today. Pat lets him “take the stick” and control the craft, which means that I might now be on the hook for flying lessons – crowdfunding page coming to a Facebook profile near you.

As we’ve been operating, the donations have been coming in quite steadily, and we appreciate all of them. Even a little donation makes it easier to put these events on. I know that this experience in the shadow of a trip to Sable Island is basically free, and I know that there are expeditions that cost into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and while donations help, a great deal of these costs are borne by the participants.

On the topic of logs: I’ve been getting emails asking for clarifications and additions to the log that aren’t already there. There will be no additions or changes to the log during the expedition. Once we’re all safely home, the team will go through the logs and post any processes for requesting corrections or additions.

As well, I am not the QSL Manager! Last time, all of my bureau credit was eaten up by CY9C cards. All direct QSLs will be via Murray Adams, WA4DAN, with SASE and $2 USD. All bureau requests must go through ClubLog, and we’ll open OQRS upon completion of the expedition. Please don’t send CY9C cards to or via me as the RAC Incoming QSL Bureau has been told to pitch them.

It is now 5:11 pm ADT. Pat brought back four bags of ice for the cooler that contains the better part of two cases of Coors Light. Since I’m going to be on 80m phone later, it seems appropriate that I have a few in me before I start.

I mean, isn’t everyone on 80m a little tipsy in the evening?

Just kidding… kind of.

– 73, Phil McBride, VA3QR/CY9