[amsat-bb] VA7EWK 3-10 July stats and wrap-up

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Sun Jul 18 20:28:04 PDT 2010


I have started work on the QSL cards from my recent trip to Canada, 
and will also update my web page with photos and more information 
about my trip.  It was a fun time, and by far the longest satellite-
related trip I have taken.  Along with the flights between Phoenix and 
Vancouver, I drove 3024km (1879 miles) in 8 days according to the 
receipt I received when I returned the car to Vancouver airport on 
11 July.  The driving in British Columbia was a few miles/km less than 
the distance I drove on my trip into Utah last year (that was a 
1905-mile/3065km trip), but overall I traveled much further this 
July than either of my previous July road trips in 2008 or 2009 when
the Phoenix-Vancouver flights are added in. 

During the time I worked the radios (3-10 July), I logged 391 QSOs 
from 9 different grids.  Locations included one grid boundary 
(CN79/CO70, at Campbell River on Vancouver Island), the Canada/USA
international border (standing near the Peace Arch south of Vancouver, 
on 8 July), a mountaintop (Whistler Mountain, on 10 July), and even 
from a ship (a ferry sailing between Vancouver Island and Metro 
Vancouver, on 7 July).  I tried to work from CO50, but could not get 
to a place that allowed for a good view of the sky, even after making 
a 90km/55-mile detour out there on 5 July in the hope of finding 
some place that might work for satellites.  On my first attempt to 
work many passes from CO80 on 9 July, I ended up working a few passes 
there followed by a long road trip through CO80, CO90, and CO99 before 
returning to my motel in Vancouver (driving 671km/417 miles that day!) 
and trying again the next day with more success.  

I was able to work SSB and FM, although I only worked one VO-52 pass 
on the first full day I was on Vancouver Island (4 July).  I generally
used the VO-52 pass times for travel to a destination, or looked to 
work HO-68 with its larger footprint when the pass times were close.
FO-29 and (when in mode B) AO-7 were good for late-afternoon and early-
evening passes.  HO-68 in FM was a nice satellite to have available
during the week, for the longer-distance QSOs compared to the other 3 
FM satellites.  Despite trying for passes on AO-7 and HO-68 that covered 
parts of Europe during the week, no QSOs were logged with that continent.

By satellite, here are numbers of satellite QSOs VA7EWK logged in FM:

AO-27:  97
AO-51: 112
HO-68:  73
SO-50:  47
(329 QSOs in FM - 84.1% of total)

and in other modes:

AO-7:   30 in SSB, 2 in CW
FO-29:  23, all SSB
VO-52:   7, all SSB
(62 QSOs in modes other than FM - 15.9% of total)

I had my normal satellite station with me, and I hoped to make use of 
the SSB satellites whenever I could.  I worked many AO-7 and FO-29 
passes, including some on AO-7 where I talked to myself and maybe 
some polar bears in the Arctic.  :-)  Having access to those two 
satellites in particular helped some who were not able to work VA7EWK 
on the FM passes due to either the small common windows on those passes 
or the congestion on the FM passes.  Or, another way of looking at the
SSB effort could be "if Adrian AA5UK could work SSB from Hawaii, then
I should be able to do the same from Canada".  ;-)  I worked WC7V and 
W6ZKH in CW on an AO-7 pass from CO60 for my only QSOs in that mode 
during this trip.  

Grids... I was able to operate from the 4 grids on Vancouver Island 
I intended to make the biggest effort - CN78, CN79, CO60, and CO70. 
I ended up working some passes from CN88 in and around Victoria on 7
July before returning to Vancouver, which included some operating 
from the western end of the Trans-Canada Highway (a place with a good 
view of the sky, even with the steady stream of tourists around there).
On the Lower Mainland, I operated from CN89 during parts of 2 days, as 
well as 3 other grids - CN99, CO80, and CO90.  The breakout by grid:

CN78:      56 (from Ucluelet on the Pacific side of Vancouver Island,
               5 July)
CN79:      21 (from Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, 6 and 7 July - 
               not including QSOs made at CN79/CO70 boundary)
CN79/CO70: 85 (all made from Campbell River, 4 and 6 July)
CN88:      25 (3 locations in/near Victoria, plus 2 QSOs made from a
               ferry sailing toward Vancouver - all on 7 July)
CN89:      59 (24 @ Burnaby on 3 July, 19 @ Surrey on 8 July, 16 @
               Canada/USA border on 8 July)
CN99:      12 (3 passes on evening of 9 July)
CO60:      60 (Port Hardy, on 5 July)
CO80:      53 (3 locations in/around Whistler on 9 and 10 July, plus 
               another location NE of Pemberton on 9 July)
CO90:      20 (one AO-51 pass on 9 July)

I was able to attempt operating SSB from all grids except for CN88, 
CO80, and CO90.  CN89 was not a priority for me, although I ended up 
working a few passes shortly after my arrival in Vancouver on 3 July 
and some on 8 July as I drove down toward the Canada/USA border.  I 
had not mentioned my plans to attempt QSOs on the international 
border publicly, since I had no idea if the authorities on either 
side would attempt to stop me from doing this.  I took the "try it, 
and ask for forgiveness later" approach - which worked.  In fact, 2
US Customs officers walked by me and only said "hello" - no questions
about my radio gear or what I was doing at one of the border markers
in the park that runs between the Customs buildings on each side of 
the border.  Same thing with operating atop Whistler Mountain, where I 
worked 4 passes on 10 July - probably the best location in all of CO80 
for satellite work - and the impromptu effort during a western AO-27 
pass from the ferry sailing between Vancouver Island (Swartz Bay 
terminal) and Metro Vancouver (Tsawwassen terminal).  If I had worked 
an AO-51 or SO-50 pass instead of the AO-27 pass, I may have had better 
luck.  There's not much of the 7-minute AO-27 repeater time available 
to satellite operators that far north on the best passes.  

When it comes to shipborne operating, I am a novice at that.  This was
my first, and only, time trying that form of satellite operating.  I 
have a new appreciation of the efforts guys like Allen N5AFV and Andy 
W5ACM (among others) make when trying to get on the satellites from a 
ship.  I may have been able to use my log periodic for that AO-27 pass, 
but did not want to attract undue attention with that antenna as opposed 
to the telescoping whip on my HT.  

When I post photos to my web page shortly, some of those photos will 
include the carry-on bag which contained my station excluding my Elk 
log periodic, some telescoping whips for my HT, and other accessories 
that were packed in a checked bag to avoid issues with airport security 
checks in Phoenix and Vancouver.  I packed my two FT-817NDs, IC-2820H 
dual-band FM mobile radio, IC-T7H HT, Heil Traveler headset/mic I use 
with the FT-817NDs, along with cables, diplexer, GPS receiver, spare AA 
batteries, and my digital recorder into that bag.  I also have some 
photos of the small duffel bag that I used to carry my HT, log 
periodic, and other accessories up to Whistler Mountain - and too bad 
I didn't make more time to work from up there, in SSB and FM.  An
observation deck on the building atop Whistler Mountain was a great
operating location.  Maybe on another trip, or maybe someone who lives 
up there will try that in the future (I still don't have CO80 in my

After this trip, coupled with my Dayton trip in May when I also took 
my all-mode satellite station, I think I will do this on future trips 
even if I am flying. I am already looking at future destinations for 
trips where I can enjoy the sights and enjoy working the radio as I 
did up in British Columbia - and not just Canadian destinations.  I
now know I can get on FM and SSB satellites from wherever I go, and 
being away from home isn't a problem for that.  

Thanks to everyone who made QSOs with VA7EWK during that week.  And
special thanks to John K8YSE for his web site complete with MP3 audio
from selected FM satellite passes and posting some messages to the 
-BB on my behalf while I was up there.  It was very interesting to 
hear some of those passes from his perspective, along with my own 
recordings, throughout the week.  Now, back to working on the QSL 



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