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VA3RAC - Manitoulin Island operation, RAC Canada Day Contest 2014

In light of our intent to participate in RAC Canada Day Contest 2014, a concurrent (and admittedly annual) tie in expedition was planned to Manitoulin Island, Lake Huron, Northern Ontario.

As a token of celebration for participating in RAC Canada Day Contest, our team was awarded the privilege to operate under the call sign RAC HQ VA3RAC.

We are very grateful to the Manitoulin Island Radio Club for all of their hard work - this year's destination and sight of operation was to be the highest point of Manitoulin Island – the mountain McLean, which towers at 300 meters above sea level.

View from Mt. McLean, highest point of Manitoulin Island

Over the span of several days before the start of the competition, a team consisting of Igor VE3ZF, Igor VE3KAO and Patrick VE3HZQ, succeeded set up the antenna on mountain's highest peak.

Igor, VE3ZF

Igor, VE3KAO


What we didn't fully account for, however, is how absolutely unpredictable a mountaintop climate may be, or just how significantly bad weather can complicate the antenna preparation process.

The weather wasn’t just ‘bad’, it was downright malicious. In a single day, it wasn't uncommon to be battered with almost every single earthly element imaginable. For example, the morning may cook you for a few hours with dessert heats, then blitzkriegs the afternoon with torrential rain and thunder that eventually clears up… into dessert heat. Then, the cycle will start from the top again… and occasionally again.

Broken Spider Beam after hit of thunderstorm at the top of Mt. McLean

Now, on to the equipment! It took two of us working together, but we have managed to install: the ¼ wave verticals on 160 meters, Inverted Vee on 80 meters, G5RV, 2 elements phasing verticals at 40 meters, 3 elements Yagi Spider Beam on 20-15-10 meters and Yagi`s to 6 and 2 meters as well.

2 elements of phased verticals on 40 meters

Inverted V on 80 meters was stretched between two towers

4 elements Yagi on 6 meters was rotated manually....

Finally, about the reception we have used a 160 meter`s beverage antenna. We are operated from the tent; it was portable low power operation.

RAC Canada Day Contest, as per usual, passed by extremely quickly.

To summarize within a single breath, on Canada Day there was high level of activity amongst Canadian stations.

During the contest we even had some interesting QSO`s with VY0RAC from Ellesmere Island (broke EU pileup from first call!), VE8RAC and VE8AU from North West Territory etc….

Summer`s sporadic weather even gave us the ability to do local QSOs on 10 meters with VE4VT, VE4DXR,VE4EA – that gave our team extra 2 multipliers.

TS-590 - excellent CW machine!

The competition finally met its conclusion, with us having more than 1000 QSOs.

To wrap up, I would like to again send my gratitude to the all that helped make this possible: Manitoulin Radio Club, Smith Detection Canada and personally to Max VE3CCN, for aiding us in logistic and organizing the expedition, and everyone that had called us during the RAC Canada Day Contest 2014.

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