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October 19, 2016
All direct QSL requests have been mailed out.
October 15, 2016
QSL cards arrived today from the printing house! I will work to mail them as soon as possible.
September 18, 2016
QSL card design was finalized, and the cards will go in printing this week. Complete list of donors has been uploaded as is available in the appropriate section. Thank you for your help!
August 11, 2016
I returned back home on Monday, August 8 at 23:30 The log has just been uploaded to Club Log.
During the first four days it was pretty cold on the island. The temperature was 0 to 1C during the day, going down to -3C at night, although the 25 mph eastern wind - with gusts of up to 35 mph - made it feel more like -7 to -8 C. There were a couple of light snowfalls, not enough to stay long on the ground, but enough to be noticed in the morning. I was lucky that George had some winter clothing, otherwise I might have been in trouble. The tent I lived in had no heating. It was excellent against the wind, and definitely a few degrees warmer than the outside. However, I had to constantly keep a thick down-filling coat on my knees at night time when operating the rig.
In the first three days I didn't sleep more than 2-3 hours in each 24 hours. Not because I was busy running the pile-ups, but because I tried to desperately find any glimmer of propagation I could. Sometimes I would log 3-4 stations, then nothing for more than 30 minutes, followed by a another couple of stations, and so on. Despite spending hours on 30 and 40 m, time and time again, I never succeeded one single QSO on any of these bands. I also tried the 17 m band too, but it was solidly closed at that latitude. Worth noting, three quarters of the number of stations logged had to be pulled out of some serious noise level. This shouldn't be surprising when A index was 30-40+ at times, K hit 4 during several 3-hour intervals, and SFI was down to 75. What was surprising though were quite a few stations which had low signals but kept calling me at 35-40 wpm in CW, mostly completely out of synch.
I didn't extend the stay by a day in order to log a few more stations, but because the locals couldn't come to pick me up. The wind was too strong for their open motor canoes. To make the matters worse, during the first 12 hours of my extra day on the island I couldn't contact more than a handful of stations due to various contests in both CW and SSB portions on the bands. Again, please keep in mind that 30 m was a complete right-off.
Interestingly, this was for the first time that I went 100% solar! George didn't want to have any gas generators on the island. Instead, he is using solar panels and a small wind turbine. At the end of July he had a polar bear visiting his camp, which he succeeded to scare away. During my stay I shared the tent with Him, a good friend of his, who helped him with various fixes and assisted him with daily bird work. Among others, Jim extended the electric fence around the camp, and helped me with the solar power setup.
I logged 1889 contacts, of which 95% in CW. The log includes 1651 stations in 55 DXCCs from 6 continents. The relatively poor propagation conditions are no excuse for those stations which kep calling me endlessly. Among those who exhibited such a terrible practice were OE1WEU, PA3DOB, and IZ8FQI, who logged me numerous times and continued to keep calling again and again, every day, at different times, as well as IZ7DOO, who couldn't copy me but kept calling me with strong signals, so many times, out of synch. A few other stations would press the wrong button and instead of coming back to me with a report, they started to CQ, either on my transmitting or receiving QRG.
August 2, 2016
22 UTC: boat has been fueled and it is ready to go. Billy, my boatman is in a meeting at the wildlife research center, and I'm waiting for his meeting to finish. The wind has come down here, but it is still up on the island. I just received a message from Billy indicating that we will get in touch around 23:15 UTC. The plan to reach the island this afternoon remains in place.
18 UTC: I was told by the boatman that he will pick me up soon. Don't know what it means, but I expect to be on my way to Cooper Is. in about 1 hours or so. Keeping fingers crossed!
It is 6 UTC (10 pm local time on August 1). Instead of going down, the wind picked up this afternoon, in excess of 25 mph, with even higher gusts. The boatman considered a possible late departure, but in view of the wind conditions he abandoned this plan. The rain has stopped a couple of hours ago, and the wind forecast indicates better conditions. As such, I am keeping my hopes for a possible departure in the morning. I am truly sorry about this lost day and changes in plan, but I am not in charge of the boat logistics and I have to rely on the locals and their knowledge of the sea.
Walking around the little town, I learned today that different families have spot several polar bears during the past week just a little out of town, close to the shore, riding on ice flows. Different parts of whale skeletons adorn various places in town, from the City Hall to the Heritage Museum, and the Whale Monument. Lot of baleen carving, which appears to be a local tradition.
August 1, 2016
It is 17 UTC now and it is raining steadily, but it's not a big deal. We checked with George, and the wind on the island is 10-15 mph, which is pretty good. Unfortunately, the wind on the sea right here in Barrow is reported at up to 25 mph, which is a problem. Billy, the boatman, told me that he will keep checking and will be in touch with me in 3-4 hours.
July 31, 2016
I arrived in Barrow as scheduled, and all luggage came along, intact. The temperature is 1C and hardly any wind. When we came in at landing I could see from the air that there are a lot of ice packs close to the shoreline.
July 30, 2016
It is almost 14 UTC and I will be shortly starting my trip to the NW corner of Alaska. I will drive from home to Syracuse, NY, from where I will fly to Chicago, then Anchorage, and finally to Barrow, where I am scheduled to arrive tomorrow (July 31) around 19 UTC.
After the testing carried out with the multiband verticals last weekend, George (VE3GHK) generously offered to put the necessary time in order to bring the antennas to their original design. He was successful and the antennas and back within their original parameters. Nevertheless, I am taking the 20 m monoband vertical with me too.
I would like to thank very much to all of you who supported this project. Much obliged to everyone, including those who didn't need NA-172 for a new IOTA, such as Frank (VE7DP), Johan (PA3EXX), Luis (CT4NH), Ken (W1NG), and Tony (W4FOA), but wanted to be part of this adventure.
July 25, 2016
With only a few days left before hearing up north, I spent the weekend checked all the equipment. After returning from the Antipodes Is. (ZL9A) in mid-January, I worked to alter the design of how the radials of the multi-band wire verticals were connected to the feeder line, in order improve the robustness of the overall antenna construction. The result is a definite improvement in the strength on the antenna wires. Unfortunately, this led, however, to a slight increase of the SWR, particularly on 20 m. As such, I spent time on Saturday to improve it, with mostly positive results. I have also checked the propagation forecast with various regions of the world, which allowed me to conclude firmly that the 20 and 30 m will be the bands of interest for this expedition. In view of this, with help from George (VE3GHK), I have now a 20 m monoband wire vertical with exceptionally low SWR on this band.
July 1, 2016
Based on the tracking numbers shown on the bottom of the homepage, there has been relatively low traffic to this website. Despite this, I am very pleased to acknowledge the core group of IOTA enthusiasts who generously offered support for this difficult operation. Worth mentioning, chasers from 6 continents have joined in, which I appreciate to be a milestone. Please join in the effort!
I have recently corresponded with George, who has been on Cooper Is. since early June. He mentioned that he is having a great time there with the birds. The weather has generally been nice but cold, except last week when he experienced a serious storm with winds of 40 knots. He is waiting for my arrival in early August.
June 7, 2016
Cooper Is. is located at approximately 71.24 N and 155.71 W, and is part of NA-172, the northernmost island group belonging to the United States. This IOTA group has been confirmed by 7.4% of the total IOTA members, and thus falls into the "rare" IOTA category. This will be the second operation from this island group. Please consider supporting this project to assist in defraying some of the costs associated with it.
May 10, 2016
Logistics are in place for a radio operation from Cooper Is.! I will arrive in Barrow in the late morning of Jul 31, and - weather permitting - will attempt to reach Cooper Island on August 1. I plan to be on the island for 4 days, depending on the weather conditions.
April 27, 2016
A little over a week ago I inquired through Qaiyaan Harcharek in Barrow, Alaska, about possible assistance with the necessary logistics for a short radio operation from the Plover Islands IOTA group (NA-172). Qaiyaan understood immediately what I needed, and put me in touch with Dr. George Divoky. For over 40 years, George spent about three months every year on Cooper Is., which is located about 40 km from Barrow and part of this island group, where he discovered and studied a Black Guillemot colony. Fate wanted that George and I meet today here in Kingston, Ontario! He visited Queen's University in relation to some collaborative work, and gave a presentation on his research up north. George knew all about amateur radio and IOTA. It was him who hosted Larry, K5MK/KL7 on Cooper Is., during the first and operation from NA-172 about 24 years back. He was enthusiastic about a re-activation project, and offered his logistical support through Friends of Cooper Island.