It was a VERY busy weekend (Part 3 Mt Ste Marie Microwave Contest)

Continued from Part 2…

Made it home by about 1015pm and then tried to get some sleep because the Mount Ste Marie Microwave DXPedition started early (way too early) on Sunday Morning but thats for Part 3…

The alarm on my phone woke me up at 6am BC (Before Coffee) and I stumbled around getting ready.  On the bright side the kit bag was still packed from yesterday’s use at Britannia (see part 1) and Kemptville (see part 2) so I knew it was all good to go…

I made a coffee and turned the handheld on the VE2CRA Repeater and waited for the call from VE3XRA Glenn telling me that he was getting close and I should head out to the parking lot…  I had already heard from Dave VE3TLY who was going to meet us in Wakefield (at the Timmies) and Martin VA3SIE who was going to pick up Tom VA2EPR (you might remember Tom from my last Foymount DXPedition back in April 2012) and also meet us at Wakefield…

Just before 7am I heard from Glenn and by 7am we were on our way to Mt. Ste Marie QC to participate in the ARRL Microwave Contest.

The map does not show everything…  The roads from Ottawa to the ski hill are great….  The road from the bottom of the ski hill to the top of the mountain are less than stellar…  I would describe it as a “Rough Trail that is covered with rocks (to avoid washouts in the rain) and those rocks are roughly between the size of golf balls and softballs… If you happen to spin your wheels on the road you will just dig in and although its easy to get unstuck and go backwards down the hill its very hard to get moving forward again unless you are driving a 4 X 4.

Above Photo courtesy VA3SIE/VA2EPR– This pic shows Martin on the hike down but pay attention to the path/road.  This was about AS GOOD AS IT GOT…  The rest is in much worse shape…

Glenn’s station wagon made it about 3/4 of the way up the hill before we had to park it on the side of the trail but thank goodness that Dave owned a Jeep and it made it the rest of the way with the gear although I had to hike up the last km with my gear…

Above Photo Courtesy VA3SIE/VA2EPR-  Shows who/what we share the summit with… 

There was some 2m intermod issues even though the towers were behind the beam but it was not that bad

The only reason I can see for the road is so the Techs that service the massive amount of electrical gear on the towers at the top so I guess they all drive 4 Wheel Drive vehicles of some sort…

Anyway it did take us a bit longer than expected to get up and to get set up but finally we were setting up the gear at the GAZEBO (how did they lug the wood up there?) at the summit…

Above Photo- VA3QV- Showing the marker at the summit… (First time I have ever seen one close and personal)

For those of you who are interested in Summits of the Air (SOTA) Stuff this peak was VE2-OU-001 if I remember correctly from working them in a previous DXPedition

Above Photo – VA3QV- Shows the the antennas at the Gazebo-  Orange Pole (far left) 88 foot doublet for HF, then the 24 GHZ Dish, then the 10 GHZ Dish and then if you look very carefully on the rt hand side you might see the 2m beam we used to arrange contacts.  More on that later…

It did not take that long to get the 10 GHZ and the 24 GHZ stations up and running although it seems we did have a problem with the 10 GHZ station which had to be fixed.  Fortunately it was corrected in time that we could make our only contact of the day.

The Operators

VE3TLY (L) and VE3XRA (R)  (photo VA3SIE/VA2EPR)

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VA3SIE (photo VA2EPR)

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VA3QV (photo VA3SIE/VA2EPR)

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VA2EPR (photo VA3SIE)

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So now let me try and explain how this thing works… remember this is from a Newbie’s eyes….

You aim your 2m beam towards the area you think you might hear one of the participants.  There are not that many microwave types out there so being a small group you tend to know everyone it seems…

Once you make contact on 2m you exchange grid squares so you know exactly what heading to aim your dish at.  Both parties do this…

Station “A” then sends a long series of dashes via cw so station “B” can adjust slightly the bearing of his dish to get the best possiable signal…

Above photo (VA3SIE/VA2EPR) shows VE3TLY watching VE3XRA as he adjusts the position of the dish while trying to make a 10 GHZ contact

Station “B” then sends a long series of dashes via cw so Station “A” can adjust slightly the bearing of his dish to get the best possiable signal…

Going on the assumption the two stations have successfully heard the other stations dashes then they either have their microwave contact in either CW or SSB depending on the quality of the signal and the equipment….  The contest exchange is the qrid square  ( ours was FN25bw) the 5/9 signal report (it is a contest right?)   You also exchange some social comments as you have the time as the pileups are small…

Our one contact was with station on Mt Mansfield (FN34) which was a distance of approx 300 kms from Mt Ste Marie.  The contact was initiated on 2m ssb and then was successfully completed on 10GHZ.  We also tried on 24 GHZ but had no luck on that band.  In our defense we did work about 10 station on 2m ssb in attempts to get a 10 GHZ or a 24 GHZ contact but although we could do it on 2m …  the higher band contacts eluded us…  As in any contest a bit of luck is often needed…

And yes… You did hear me use the term “Newbie”…  Sunday was the first time in over 20 years as an Amateur that I have ever concidered operating a Microwave station.  I’m still trying to get a feel for the whole process…  I enjoyed the very low stress side of the contest…  It makes the RAC Canada Contests seem hectic in comparision…  I enjoyed being able to chat with my fellow station operators…

Above- The circle at the bottom of the picture shows the Gazebo where we operated from.  The Square shows the parking spot we had the Jeep in and the line between is the 200m approx of the trail which I mentioned below thatI really found hard going…  I guess is a sign of things to come…

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I did not enjoy the hike up (especally the last200m or so which was more of a climb than my body wanted to do.

The younger (lighter) operators were going like mountain goats and well…

I felt a bit self consious and if we had been going further I would of felt I was holding them back…

Next time I should take the elevator…

But its all a learning experience…  And I learned that I am not in as good shape as I thought I was and I also learned when to say no…  That sould of been before I started the last 200m…

However the view was worth all the pain the next day…

Above Photo- VA3SIE/VA2EPR

So sorry about all the pictures and the more rambling than usual but I did enjoy myself and the scenery (as you can tell was just fantastic).  If I could borrow a 4X4 I would love to get up there when the leaves finish turning but….  definately no climbing or hiking…

Thanks to VE3EMB, VA3SIE and VA2EPR for the photos provided in all 3 segments….

Well between Part 1 – Part 2 & Part 3 you now know more than you wanted/needed to  about my weekend…  but how was yours?

73bob

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3 Responses to “It was a VERY busy weekend (Part 3 Mt Ste Marie Microwave Contest)”

  1. VA5LF Says:

    That’s pretty nifty, Bob. I’m quite interested in microwave operation, but I can’t even raise anyone on 2m SSB around here, let alone 10GHz. Maybe someday, when I have a big dish, I’ll get on 1.3GHz and/or 10GHz EME…

    Have fun out there. :)

    73
    Sean

  2. VA3QV Says:

    Thanks for the comments Sean….

    We were using the equipment of VE3FN who was in Scotland for his daughter’s wedding and had to make a choice… Strange… but he picked the wedding over radio???

    If your interested in the microwave stuff Ray (VE3FN) is the local guru so if want someont to talk to about it… let me know and I’ll get him to contact you…

    73bob

  3. Wednesday evening is the OARC Meeting « VA3QV's Weblog Says:

    [...] As hinted at (above) Martin is a very active QRP Portable Operator.  He is very active in SOTA (Summits of the Air).  We have operated together on two CISA DXPeditions as well as on several FYBO (Freeze your B***s off) and Winter Field Day events.  Recently we activated Mt Morrisette in a SOTA Activation in mid June this year  and  we also were up on Mt Ste Marie in early September. [...]

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