Michel VE3EMB, Tom VA2EPR and I drove up the the parking lot at the base of Mont Morissette, VE2/OU-014 in Quebec. We climbed 150m to the summit on a paved road, steep in places, carrying our gear and beaconing on APRS from a fishing pole supported roll up J-pole attached to my backpack (see out track here). When I got the the summit, I attached the J-pole to a fence to beacon our position during the activation.
When we got to the summit, Tom set up a 6m dipole and a 2m arrow beam antenna and proceeded to complete a QSO with Bob, VA3QV in Ottawa (read his account here) using 5W from his FT-817. Tom also called CQ on 2m and 6m SSB for a while but was unable to raise any stations. Bob was using a couple of loop antennas at roof height and 50W on 2m, 100W on 6m.
I tossed a couple of strings into a pair of tall trees and put up an 88′ doublet (EDZ on 20m) at around 40′ and Michel hooked up his Flex 1500 SDR radio and ASUS Notebook computer powered by 3 duct taped lantern batteries. I also helped Tom to get his W3EDP antenna up high into the trees elsewhere on the summit.
Video courtesy of Tom, VA3EPR
At the start of the activation (1300Z), the bands were in bad shape, there was a G3 (Strong) solar flare the previous evening (Aug 5th 2200Z) and it was still affecting the bands in the morning (K index = 4). At the start of the activation, signals on 20m were very very week and subject to persistent fading. I could not hear a single station on 40m. Michel was unable to work any PSK stations, so we decided to hook up my KX1 and try CW – I was sure that the chasers would be listening for us and that once we were spotted, the ball would start rolling.
Indeed, after calling CQ on 20m for a while, we were found by chaser NS7P and he was kind enough to spot us on sotawatch as RST 559 into Oregon. Thereafter, we had the pleasure of working a string of chaser stations, many of whom spotted us on sotawatch. I would start the QSO, ask the chaser to stand by and then hand over the KX1 to Michel who would make another exchange for this chaser points. Michel soon got used to the KX1 paddles. We reached our activation minimum pretty quickly and then we sat back to relax and enjoy the rest of the day at a more relaxed pace. One memorable QSO was Mike VA6FUN, his signal just went QRT. We later discovered that he had thunder & lightning and he had to yank the antenna cord out in a hurry 😎
Meanwhile, Tom was working polar bears on 40m He worked Blackjack Bear (Ken, WA8REI) and Dapper Bear (Micheal, VA2NB). Ken and Micheal apparently share a psychic connection which means that they’re always on the same band at the same time… HI. Tom was also working chaser stations who were too close for 20m skip on 40m.
We received a couple of calls on the repeater we were monitoring. Mike VA3MPM called us up as he was driving home to his cottage near Mont Laurier and we arranged a cross-mode QSO on 20m, Mike was using SSB and we were using CW. Jim, VE3XJ and Gord VE3XGD also called us and sent us APRS messages.
A little later in the afternoon, 20m was sounding stronger so we hooked up the PSK station and Michel was able to complete a PSK contact. Then I heard Ed Breneisner WA3WSJ, author of the “Amateur Radio Pedestrian Mobile Handbook“. He was pedestrian mobile (of course! 😀 ) on the beach in Cape Henlopen (the Dover Beached in Delaware). We’ve vacationed in that park with Ed before. In fact in the past I was pedestrian mobile on that beach while Ed was set up portable some meters away. So I could very well picture Ed’s precise operating conditions.
Finally, we got a call from Chuck K4QS who confirmed that he could not hear us on 20m at the start of the activation but now we were coming in RST 559 into Virginia.
Thanks(!) to all the chasers who gave us such a fun day out hiking and participating in Summits on the Air.