Canada Day 2013

 

On 30 June to 1 July 2013 VE8WD, VE8RT and VE8IR operated VE8RAC from the St. Patrick’s High School station (VE8PAT). 

 Conditions were very favourable, compared to Field Day only a few days before.  As we set up the station, VY0HL called in on 6 m from Iqaluit, Nunavut.  The opening lasted for about 30 minutes and we could also hear the Iqaluit beacon—this is of course 2,264 km (1,404 miles), more or less due east.  We speculate that this was probably east-west F2 propagation which is expected for only about three years round the peak of each 11-year solar cycle.  This is the first time I have ever heard east-west DX on 6 m.  In the past I have heard north-south DX with Norman Wells, Inuvik, Manitoba and Washington State from Yellowknife.

 Returning to the contest, on the evening of 30 June we made about 60 QSOs in CW and USB modes working on 40, 20 and 15 m.  A number of RAC stations were contacted, including BC, Quebec and Ontario.  A New Brunswick station was contacted.  DX contacts included Croatia (7,289 km or 4,519 miles—on 20 m CW), Sweden and Bogota, Colombia—7,235 km (4,486 miles)  - on 20 m. USB . 

 The radio used, as shown in the image, was the FT-897 ov VE8WD with logging software N1MM.  VE8RT and VE8WD operated CW and VE8WD and VE8IR operated SSB.  Maximum power out was 100 W.  The R7 vertical on the roof was the main HF antenna.  No antenna tuner was used.

 By about 10:30 PM we decided to shut down operating in order to avoid the alarm system and because some us had to participate in the Canada Day activities the next morning (in my case the parade).  When VE8WD and VE8RT showed up in the morning they were unable to get back into the school.  A power surge had disrupted the new key coding proximity reader system and there was a general lockout of all persons who were authorized to enter the school.  We were unable to return to the station until mid-week when we started dismantling it.  As a result we could not operate on 1 July at all.  This is unfortunate as we were on course to break all previous Canada Day contest records.  “Stuff happens”.

The contrast between this contest and Field Day is very interesting.  There are differences.  The VE8PAT station is permanently set up and operates 100 W.  The Field Day station was a temporary set up and we only operated on 5 W (QRP).  The Canada Day contest was several days after the M-class flares and there was no HF radio blackout as during Field Day.  The VE8PAT station was significantly more comfortable than the Field Day station for operating.

 Because Field Day and Canada Day contests were so close together, running the Canada Day contest made a great deal of sense in terms of our physical efforts.  It also allowed us to test the VE8PAT station during the summer, which we have rarely done.

 In a sense the Canada Day contest tests different skills than the Field Day event.  It is more oriented towards making actual QSOs with other stations and in particular with RAC stations.  I was a bit surprised at the number of Americans participating and even more at the number of DX stations participating. 

 Despite the logistical problems, this year’s Canada Day contest was extremely interesting.