Field Day 2013

On June 22 and 23, 2013 YARS operated a Field Day station from the Yellowknife Ski Club Biathlon Range.  This year was special in that YARS had permission to actually use the Biathlon Range hut.  Approximately ten persons participated, seven of whom were members of the Society. 

There were no visitors from served agencies.  VE8RT operated the CW portion of the station.  VE8IR and VE8WD ran the digital mode stations and also SSB at times.  VE8IR’s desktop failed and eventually VEWD’s laptop was configured to run FLDIGI.  Logging was made using Squirl 8.1.  The CW radio was Ron’s Elecraft K2/10 with a homebrewed V beam antenna with automatic antenna tuner.  The digital station was an FT-817 with no antenna tuner plugged into VE8BOB’s end-fed Zepp alternating with the refurbished YARS R-7 HF vertical with ground radials.  Power was from batteries.  Some recharging of the batteries was done from solar panels.

As usual the majority of YARS points comes from the ancillary activites—educational activity, press release, information table, public place set up, 6 QSOs under natural power and use of batteries (100% emergency power).

Two M-class flares erupted from the surface of the sun during Field Day.  This resulted in an R-1 HF radio blackout event and an S-1 radio blackout event.  The effects were quite interesting.  Most radiocommunications to the south were wiped out, but there were a number of open paths to the southern United States, Florida and, interestingly, an opening to the eastern seaboard of the United States on 15 m.  Unfortunately we did not monitor 6 m and probably should have. 

We also did not attempt a satellite QSO although the equipment was present.  VE8IR has since noted that HamRadio Deluxe (HRD) was sold to a commercial entity in late 2011 and that software is no longer freely available.  That said, there are programs in Linux that interface with radios to automatically adjust for Doppler shifts—but as of yet nobody has experience with that. 

VE8RT made the most number of contacts in CW mode.  There were 2 QSOs made in PSK31, but we are not entirely sure if the callsigns were recorded correctly.  No SSB contacts were made.  No RRTY contacts were made.

The ARRL Field Day Bulletin was copied from CT on Sunday morning by VE8RT in CW (by hand) and by VE8IR using FLDIGI (CW, PSK31, RTTY and MFSK16).  The MFSK16 copy was flawless and that is what was submitted in the ARRL Field Day submission.  The relay station broadcast from CA could be heard but it was very garbled and distorted.  This may have been the effects of the aurora that was raging.  Apparently a visual aurora was reported in Kansas.

In terms of scoring, the 2013 score was only about 120 points lower than last year—still much higher than the years 2007-2011 (when not using QRP but a full 100 W).  This is because of the emergency power multipliers.  For each contact made in 2012 or 2013, it equates to 5 contacts made in 2007-2011. This is of course a deliberate design by the contest organizers to promote the use of emergency power.

From about 2 AM UTC to 12 PM UTC the full effects of the radio blackout became felt.  In that gap we also stood down the radio station in order for the operators to get some sleep.  VE8IR stayed on overnight but made no contacts.

 Overall a challenging Field Day with challenging conditions and a very interesting one.