[amsat-bb] Lake Superior Grid Expedition Wrapup

John Papay john at papays.com
Fri Sep 10 09:31:52 PDT 2010

Our month long excursion around Lake Superior and points
north came to an end on September 8th.  We left on August
3d.  The distance traveled was slightly over 5000 miles,
working in 32 grids on 168 satellite passes.

Northwest Ontario is really beautiful but it was difficult
to find places to operate at times.  The back roads are cut
through forests of tall trees and it makes working the birds
difficult to impossible.  We tried to find lakes where the road
was on the north side so we could see to the south.  Usually there
was some place to set up but not always.  EO20 and EO31 were not
planned but it worked out that we could operate from those grids.
I doubt that EO20 has ever been activated on the birds.

The equipment worked well however the 5 element two meter beam
had a lot of vibration, especially on the dirt and gravel roads
which caused two elements to break off.  They were repaired with
copper wire and later brass rod found at the Home Depot in Thunder
Bay.  The LVB tracker worked flawlessly and never lost its calibration.
This was quite surprising considering that the rotor was running
on a 500w inverter which was turned on and off hundreds of times.
A serial port connection was used rather than the USB since I had an
Edgeport 8 port serial to USB converter running the TS2000 and the
Garmin V GPS.

The antenna setup created conversation wherever we stopped.  The locals
wanted to know what it was for.  Some guessed tracking bear, wolf, moose,
etc.  Others thought we were storm chasers.  Another guessed we were
doing Google street view mapping.  Several hundred people were introduced
to amateur radio satellite technology, and we got to chat with everyone
and talk about what to see and where to camp.  We spent most every night
in a tent except for the very end of the trip when the weather turned
very rainy.  We had a great time in Isle Royale National Park backpacking
in a true wilderness setting.  There is a longer story about how we
operated satellites there that will be published at a later date.  Isle
Royale is a very large island in Lake Superior where Moose and Wolves have
priority over everybody else. We spent 5 days on the island.  The
Kenwood V7A, 7AH battery and ArrowII antenna were used for this
portable operation.

The plan is to enter all of the qso's into a spreadsheet and print labels.
Several different qsl cards will be printed to represent the different
states, Canada and perhaps Brockway Mountain and Isle Royale.  There is
no need to send your cards to me although an SASE would be fine.  Everyone
that worked me will receive cards for every contact whether requested or
not.  Documentation will be provided for any grid line boundary operation
if there are any requests from VUCC card checkers.  APRS data is available
on www.aprs.fi in areas where there were digi's.  I have gps track logs of
the entire trip showing date/time/lat/long.  I have recordings of most passes
and also have recordings of AO-27 and AO-51 made from my home station which
operated automatically during the trip.  This speaks to the reliability of
SatPC32, and the rotor interface and audio recorder designed by my 
son, KD8CAO.

Thanks to everyone who worked me and provided encouragement during the
trip.  The TS2000 and antenna setup allowed me to work many more stations
that could have been worked with an HT and an Arrow.  There were many
times where it was raining or dark which would have prevented operating
outside.  Once the antennas were pointed north, it didn't matter as we
were inside the truck out of the elements.

Finally, special thanks to the control teams of all of the satellites that
kept things running smoothly, and to Alan Kung for having HO-68 on during
the central North America daylight passes.

If you are planning a vacation, consider taking some satellite
equipment along.  You'll enjoy being sought after and you'll have
a new perspective on what it takes to do it. Thanks to all of those
that are already operating away from home so that all of us can add
to our VUCC totals.

John K8YSE

John Papay
john at papays.com

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list