The Orca DXCC holds regular meetings in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver, B.C. area).
All regular club meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month, at the RiverHouse Restaurant, 5825 - 60th Ave. in Delta, BC.
Catch up on previous meetings with The Orca Report -- prepared by Rebecca VA7BEC:
Orca Report 71 May 8, 2018 Orca Report 70 Mar. 13, 2018 Orca Report 69 Feb. 13, 2018 Orca Report 68 Jan. 9, 2018 Orca Report 67 Dec. 12, 2017 Orca Report 66 Oct. 10, 2017 Orca Report 65 May 9, 2017 Orca Report 64 Apr. 13, 2017 Orca Report 63 Mar. 14, 2017 Orca Report 62 Feb. 15, 2017 Orca Report 61 Jan. 10, 2017 Older Orca Reports...
The first-ever club meeting was held Oct. 15, 2010.
The Orca Report (No. 71) May 8, 2018
March 11, 2018 -- Avid readers of The Orca Report may have wondered why there wasn’t an April edition. Simply, it wasn’t written. Your reporter was out of town. You can assume, however, that a lovely time was had by all who attended. Because we always have a nice time when we get together. And now I’m back.
For the May meeting, we were a group of 18 this month, mainly due to a large number of regulars being out of town. Membership currently stands at 85, of which about 40% are beyond reasonable commuting distance for a meeting. Hopefully, we’ll see many of these people at the PNW DX Convention in August.
PNW DX Convention
The event website has everything you need to know about the program and who’s attending, as well as details on the hotel. This year’s agenda looks great. Please visit the convention website at http://pacificnwdxconvention.com to register and peruse agenda details.
This site will also provide you with accommodation info. Note that if you go to the hotel site to make a reservation, you might see that there aren’t any rooms available. But that’s because a big block of rooms has been set aside people attending the convention. Also, the regular accommodation rates look atrociously expenses. But rates have been discounted for convention attendees. Don’t use the hotel’s online booking page. Instead, phone or email the reservations desk, and mention that you’re attending the DX convention so that you get the discounted rate.
If you’re still not sure about whether the convention is worthwhile or not, consider…. 1) the PNW DX Convention is a fabulous time to meet and/or catch up with people you might not get a chance to see on a regular basis; 2) the venue is beautiful, situated right on the Fraser River; 3) presentations are interesting – and the one by Scott Tilley VA7LF on “Lost NASA satellite discovered” is a do-not-miss opportunity, according to people who have heard the presentation; and 4) this convention is in our (Canadian) neck of the woods, so there won’t be any exchange rate surprises on the credit card statement.
Preparations for the official announcement are in progress. Expect details in June.
Main Presentation: FT8 Teaser
FT8 is a digital mode. It is named after its developers: Steven Franke K9AN and Joe Taylor K1JT. The “8” designates the mode’s 8-frequency shift keying format. Tones are spaced at 6.25 Hz, and an FT8 signal occupies just 50 Hz.
It’s a new mode, debuting on July 15, 2017, and is taking the amateur radio world by storm. FT8 is flavor du jour, not only in the digital world but, apparently, increasingly popular with operators who have favored phone and CW.
For operators who like JT65, a “weak-signal” mode—FT8 is about four times faster, which really isn’t saying much because it’s still slow, compared with CW and voice. But still, its 15-second transmit/receive cycle is four times faster than JT65. For people who like other modes but find it frustratingly difficult to complete DX QSOs because vital exchange information coincides infuriatingly perfectly with regularly recurring noise or openings are short or signals are weak and fading or there’s a language issue, then, FT8 is great. QSOs are essentially automated, with macros, and content is very specific. Just set up and click. Operators are logging thousands of QSOs with DX stations around the world rather effortlessly despite -1 sunspots.
Each QSO consists of callsign, grid location, signal strength and “73” to end. All done by software.
Setup isn’t too difficult, and there are lots of tutorials on how to install and configure the software, hook stuff up, etc. Here is the link for WSJT-X. The most recent version is 1.8, and there are releases for several operating systems, including Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. This operating guide by Gary Hinson ZL2IFB might be helpful to anyone who is unsure of how to proceed.
Currently, because of the standard messaging format, FT8 is not a contesting mode. For that reason, despite it being the HF flavor du jour, FT8 was not an accepted digital mode for BCQP. Contests require different exchanges than the standard FT8 message sends out.
FT8 has the potential to attract newcomers to our hobby and enable small pistol operators to enjoy DXing. But will this be enough to sustain current popularity? We’ll see.
This is VA7BEC. QRT.
The Orca Report (No. 70) Mar. 13, 2018
March 13, 2018 -- We were a slightly larger group than last month, reaching 21, with the return of a few regulars who had been out of town. We were again in the smaller enclosed room, which is nice a cozy but rather noisy when there are lots of conversations going on and a tight squeeze when the screen goes up for presentations. Seems the restaurant is getting busy on Tuesday evenings and the main room was fairly full. If we are to be allocated that more open space, we’ll need our meeting numbers to get back into the 30+ range.
Time to pay up for 2018, if you haven’t done so already. Just $24 for the year. You have several options: PayPal, cheque/check payable to Orca DX and Contest Club, or Interac email money transfer for anyone in Canada who use online banking. Go to the membership page of the Orca website for further details.
If you have paid and don’t see you name on the roster, contact Treasurer Dave VA7AM and he’ll check his records. Sometimes people think they’ve paid – cheque by snail mail, PayPal or Interac (for Canadians) – but it was for the previous year. Time flies when you’re having fun! Or perhaps it’s just taking time from receipt of payment by Treasurer Dave to updating the list by Webmaster Bud VA7ST.
PNW DX Convention 2018
Presentation details are being worked out. If you have ideas for a presentation (and maybe, could make the presentation?), please contact President Dave.
The website is up and you can register with just a few clicks. Go to the website.
The log deadline has passed. Here are some early details:
Number of logs received: 107 (BC: 33, outside BC: 74) Of outside-BC logs, 16 came from other provinces, bring cross-Canada participation in BCQP to 47.1% of all logs received. Log-submitting participants from outside North American? JA, DL and OM Number of districts activated: 26 (out of 42), mostly in Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island Number of BC stations on the air: 63 Number of BC operators involved: 81, including one BC ticketholder operating in the US with US callsign *Difference in number of stations and number of BC operators reflects team participation. There were six teams 22 logs had 50 or more Qs, of which 13 logs had 100 or more Qs, and a few of these logs had upwards of 500 or more
Plan is to have the detailed report and official results ready for announcing by June. Stay tuned for further updates.
Evening Program: Botswana revisited
Back in 1972, Dave VE7VR’s father’s company won a contract to build a coal-fired power station and transmission line in Botswana. Dave’s father was foreman for the power line construction. The family spent seven months in Selebi-Phikwe, and during this time, Dave was active as A2CEW. With an FTDX-400 and Hy-gain 2-el triband yagi, he made more than 2,000 Qs. What a fabulous experience in a totally different setting than his old VE4 surroundings. Instead of VE/Ws, the bands were full of VUs.
Fast forward to 2018. Dave is going to go for a visit. He and XYL Marcie will fly to Johannesburg, South Africa, and then drive north. He’ll be on the air May 25-27 from Selebi-Phikwe. A detailed recap of this adventure and stops along the way will be provided in a special presentation at the PNW Convention in August.
Remember that the Orca Lunch takes place every fourth Wednesday of the month. Ken VE7BC sends out emails to everyone, just in case out-of-towners happen to be in town on an Orca Lunch day, so if you’re not getting the info, please let me or Ken know so that you get on the appropriate list.
QRT de VA7BEC
The Orca Report (No. 69) Feb. 13, 2018
February 13, 2018 -- We were a group of 17 and relegated to the smaller room. We covered a lot of topics, from an abbreviated annual general meeting to 3Y0Z.
AGM Your executive is, for the moment, the same as it has been. Some existing members of the executive have indicated that they would like to shift out of their director roles, but no one else has volunteered to step into the position(s). President is VE7VR. Vice-President is VE7CT. Treasurer is VA7AM. Secretary is VA7BEC.
If you haven’t paid your membership dues, you have several options: PayPal, cheque/check payable to Orca DX and Contest Club, or Interac email money transfer for anyone in Canada who use online banking. Go to the membership page of the Orca website for further details.
If you aren’t sure if you’ve paid for 2018, you can email President Dave VE7VR or Treasurer Dave VA7AM for confirmation.
PNW DX Convention 2018 in New Westminster
The date is set — August 3-5, 2018. This is the BC Day long weekend. The agenda is being formalized. You can register now for the convention and make reservations at the hotel — Inn at the Quay — as well. The website has all the necessary links.
Remember, if you plan to stay at the convention site hotel, tell the reservation desk that you’re part of the DX Convention. There is a block of rooms set aside for attendees.
BCQP 2018 took place over the Feb 3-4 weekend, for a total of 20 hours under a new two-segment structure. It appears that the addition of Sunday hours was well-received.
While other same-weekend events, particularly MNQP, put out-of-province operators at the radio where they might become accidental participants in BCQP, a growing number of out-of-province operators already put BCQP on their calendars and got right into the hunt for VE7/VA7s. In fact, there was a bit of friendly competition for Top US spot. Sunday hours were a nice option for returning and new participants to make Qs with BC stations. We’ll see how scores unfold as I check submitted logs.
As of February 13, 2018, a total of 90 logs have been received: 24 from BC stations and 66 from outside BC. I expect a few more logs will come in over the next couple of weeks. The deadline is March 4, 2018.
The propagation gods did not favor us with a sufficient number of sunspots, but we all muddled through somehow. 20m was probably the go-to band for all modes on both days, but 40m was pretty good and 15m was, at times, OK, particularly on Sunday. Overall, participants seem to have had fun.
In previous years, the biggest complaint came from CW-only operators who found the going too frustrating to continue once NA Sprint CW started — last four hours of Saturday segment — but with Sunday hours, CW operators were able to enjoy QSO opportunities without having to hold their own against the QSY requirement of NA Sprint CW. Instead, the complaint from inside and outside the province this year was that there weren’t enough CW stations to contact. That, I’m afraid, is not a problem I have a workable solution for.
On SSB, a good number of VE7/VA7s were calling CQ. Unfortunately, with propagation as it was, these stations were not necessarily heard throughout the province and beyond. Location, antenna direction and operator ears also impact workability.
The sponsor station log doesn’t have a huge number of VE7/VA7s — we heard some that other BC stations didn’t hear and are missing some that other BC stations did hear — but we have a considerable increase in QSOs with stations all across Canada and nearly every U.S. state, including Hawaii and Alaska. DX is sorely lacking, compared with other years.
As BCQP contest coordinator, my policy has been to support other same-weekend events in the hope that participants in those events will support BCQP. Trading Qs can be mutually beneficial. But not all same-weekend event organizers make it known that other events coincide and so some participants offer the exchange of a different event to BC operators. It can get confusing. I think BC operators, particularly those calling CQ BCQP, should be firm and get the info they need for their BCQP log before offering info for someone else’s event.
I sent in a log with traded VTQP info and, as confirmation, got a link to the received-logs list for that party. Out of curiosity, I compared the number of logs received by the VTQP sponsor for that event with the number I have received for BCQP. As of Feb 12, the organizer had received 14 in-state logs and 111 out-of-state logs. Interesting. More out-of-state than in-state participation. Just like BCQP.
Of the out-of-state stations submitting logs for VTQP, 41 of them also submitted logs for BCQP. The trend may carry through to MNQP out-of-state participants as well. Haven’t checked. But it seems that a lot of U.S. operators play in more than one same-weekend event. Maybe none of the same-weekend events offers enough activity on its own?
I think Sunday hours raised the profile of BCQP. In my promotion efforts, I send emails to clubs in BC, the rest of Canada and throughout the U.S., updates to contest calendar minders, and reminders to past participants. But there will always be people who I cannot reach. Our new Sunday hours seem to have attracted the attention of casual Sunday operators and made more people aware of BCQP. We’ll see if this translates into activity from people whose interest has been sparked for next year.
I will provide more updates as results are finalized.
First, 3Y0Z. You probably know by now that the DXpedition did not make land. The ship developed engine trouble and the captain recommended a return to civilization. The team was understandably disappointed but safety comes first.
We watched a short video featuring Mark Ludwick W8BBQ from DX Engineering and Hal Turley W8HC, a member of the 3Y0Z team, filmed in December 2017. This video, which described the use of propagation tools for working 3Y0Z, had it gotten on the air, was the first of six Bouvet Island DXpedition videos from DX Engineering. All can be view on YouTube.
We all certainly hope that the 3Y0Z team, which includes two Orca DXCC members (Keith VE7KW and Paul W7IV), get home safe and sound. Updates as they make a slow journey to Capetown can be found here.
Our second video was about INDEXA (International DX Association), the non-profit organization dedicated to working DX and making DX possible. Interestingly, many of the DXpeditions that INDEXA has supported in the last few years have included members of Orca DXCC.
And that’s it for the February meeting. Happy Valentine’s Day. QRT de VA7BEC
The Orca Report (No. 68) Jan. 9, 2018
January 9, 2018 -- At our first meeting of the new year, the room at the RiverHouse seemed unusually full… but Orca members only accounted for about half—15—at the tables. The bar side is being renovated, and guests who would have been on the bar side sat amongst us on the so-called restaurant side. This situation didn’t really cause any problems since there was no presentation and just a bare-minimum of announcements.
If you haven’t paid your membership dues, you have several options: PayPal, cheque/check payable to Orca DX and Contest Club, or Interac email money transfer for anyone in Canada who use online banking. Go to the membership renewal page of the Orca website for further details.
Less than a month to BCQP 2018 – Feb 3-4, local time. Remember, this year, the event will run in two blocks: the regular 8am – 8pm block on Saturday, Feb 3, and an extra block of eight hours on Sunday, Feb 4 that starts at 8am and goes until 4pm.
In contestese, that’s 1600z Feb 3 to 0359 Feb 4 AND 1600z to 2359 Feb 4
Work as much of the 20 hours as you like on whichever mode(s) you like. There is no required off-time, except for the gap between the two blocks (0400z and 1600z on February 4). The blocks are not mode-designated, although CW operators may find the going easier on Sunday because NA Sprint CW will not cause frustration (0000z to 0359z). RTTY operators might also like Sunday better because the XE RTTY contest will be over.
I have received some inquiries about FT8. Unfortunately, this digital mode du jour is not compatible with the BCQP exchange, so not allowed.
I am very pleased to provide an update to the plaque program. Elizabeth VE7YL is sponsoring a new plaque category: Top CW.
Many of the get-on-the-air, stay-in-the-chair operators in BCQP are Orca members. You keep the profile high and make this club-sponsored event increasingly popular and fun for operators near and far. Hope to hear you on Feb 3-4 as the VA7ODX team hands out bonus points.
And remember, Orca members who make at least 25 QSOs and submit a log will be eligible for our in-club draw for $25 gift cards. Typically, three names are drawn.
Annual General Meeting
Will take place at the February meeting.
QRT de VA7BEC
The Orca Report (No. 67) Dec. 12, 2017
December 13, 2017 -- The December meeting is always a time for Orca members and significant others to get together. Although only 20 people attended the meeting, it was great to see so many people who had been regular attendees but moved beyond reasonable commuting distance last year.
Since this was a very casual evening, there were no announcements and no presentations.
Enjoy all the holiday-inspired activities that make December special. Be well. Be warm. All the best for 2018. (It will be a busy year for us: BCQP 2018, with extended hours on Sunday; and the PNW Convention in our neck of the woods.)
QRT de VA7BEC
The Orca Report (No. 66) Oct. 10, 2017
October 10, 2017 -- We were a group of 19 at the RiverHouse. There were a few announcements, a section of a longer webinar on propagation projections, and our evening presentation (Keith VE7KW, talking about the upcoming DXpedition to Bouvet Island).
CQ WW DX SSB
Major weekend marathon contest, just 17 days away. (Oct. 28-29 weekend | Rules)
Planning for 2018 is still in start-up mode. If you have ideas, please forward to President Dave VE7VR.
BCQP 2017 results were announced last month. For those of you who missed the announcement, the spreadsheets of BC and out-of-BC scores as well as the detailed report and sample photos of the plaque and certificates are available for viewing from the BCQP homepage.
Tonight, we did the draw for gift cards. All club members who submitted logs with at least 25 QSOs were eligible for this draw. There were 20 callsigns in the box, including club members who were on teams that submitted logs. Three callsigns were drawn, with $25 gift cards (Canadian Tire, Home Depot and White Spot) going to Bud VA7ST, Pete VE7CV and Brian VE7JKZ. Congratulations! Gentlemen, your cards will go out by snail mail. And thanks to everyone who got on the air!
BCQP 2018 promotion will start in November.
Of note, there will be a change for 2018: An extra eight hours will be added to the event. It will run the usual 12 hours on Saturday, Feb 3 as well as eight hours on Sunday, Feb 4 (local time). Hopefully, this will alleviate some of the frustration caused by same-weekend events that do not mesh well with the BCQP exchange on CW and digital.
Carl Luetzelschwab K9LA and Frank Donovan W3LPL conducted a webinar entitled “A Look at Propagation for the 2017 2018 Contest Season” on October 4. It was sponsored by the World Wide Radio Operators Foundation (WWROF) and offers predictions for Cycle 25 and suggestions about what we contesters and DXers might expect over the next few years in terms of HF conditions. The video runs about an hour. But if you only want to see the PowerPoint slides in PDF form, go here.
Bouvet Island DXpedition 2018: 3Y0Z
Keith VE7KW is on the Bouvet Island 2018 team and provided some background on the DXpedition and an update on preparations.
Bouvet Island—the most remote island in the world—is an uninhabited, subantarctic island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Formed by a volcanic eruption somewhere around 4000 B.C., the island lies approximately 2,700 miles east of the southern tip of South America, 1,800 miles west of South Africa, and approximately 1,000 miles north of Antarctica. It is almost completely ice-covered, with the aftermath of a landslide providing most of the very limited non-ice-covered area. Water access from ship to shore is still problematic, so helicopters are the preferred mode to transport people and things. But even then, weather can play havoc with plans. The island falls under Norwegian claim.
From an amateur radio perspective, Bouvet Island is currently No.2 on the DXCC most-wanted list. The DXpedition will be expensive, difficult and dangerous. Planning and preparation will be critical to success and to the safety and well-being of team and crew. The 20-member team is very experienced, with an operator list that reads like a who’s-who of DXpeditions. Initially, Steve VE7CT and Neil VA7DX were on the team but had to withdraw. In their stead, Orca will be represented by Keith and Paul W7IV.
The team will travel to Bouvet Island aboard the m/v Betanzos, leaving from King George Island, across the Drake Passage from Punta Arenas, Chile, on a 10-12 day “seasick express,” as Keith put it, depending on winds and sea conditions. The best scenario will be for 14-16 days of operations, based on how weather affects helicopter flights from ship to shore.
Operating-wise, there will be 12 HF stations and 2 EME stations. Sponsors have been extremely generous in providing equipment—six tons + of it! There will be four shelters: two for sleeping, one for operating and one MEG (meeting, eating and greeting).
Expenses… huge. The teams has budgeted for US$751,000, of which the ship and crew and the helicopters and pilots will account for US$625,000.
The DXpedition website is thorough and provides lots of background and details, including propagation pages for each band, news releases and sponsor info, along with the usual geographical data and team bios.
As an aside, a strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS at magnitude 6.7 hit the region on October 10. This was the second M6+ earthquake within 24 hours.
And that’s a recap of the October meeting.
Don’t forget the Orca lunches are still held every fourth Wednesday. Ken VE7BC is in charge of these get-togethers and sends out emails to the whole membership close to the meeting date.
QRT de VA7BEC
The Orca Report (No. 65) May 9, 2017
May 10, 2017 -- Attendance rebounded to 21, as many of the regulars who were away at TM100VIMY when the April meeting took place were home again and came out to the May meeting.
2017 DX Convention
The 2017 PNW DX Convention, hosted by the Spokane DX Association and the Idaho DX Association, will take place in Spokane Aug 4, 5 and 6. The convention page has all the usual links (registration, hotel reservations, program, prizes, attendees...)
2018 DX Convention
Planning has started for the event in our neck of the woods. If you have an idea for a presentation or a organization-oriented suggestion, please tell Dave VE7VR.
Field Day 2017
No one has stepped up to fill the coordinator’s shoes of Don VE7DS. And since Field Day takes place next month—June—it may be too late to get a team ready. If you would like to use the club callsign on your own or with a couple of people, please contact me (VA7BEC).
Note, I am NOT coordinating a Field Day activity nor am I able to participate. But since the callsign should not be used by more than one person on the same band and mode, someone has to be the “is the callsign available?” person. That’s me. Also, since I am the QSL manager for the club’s callsign, I need to have access to the event log for the operator(s) who get(s) on the air so that I can reply to QSL cards received.
Evening Presentation: TM100VIMY
Orca was a sponsor of this event and eight members of the TM100VIMY team are Orca members, so we have all been in the loop from early on in the planning process. Past Orca reports are full of background and details.
Also, a pre-event article appears in the March/April 2017 edition of The Canadian Amateur, and a post-event article appears in the May/June 2017 edition of the same magazine. The latter also contains comments from some of the VE100VIMY portable operators. A very good read. In fact, I recommend it. If you don’t get a printed or digital copy of the TCA, please contact me. I will make a copy of the article for you.
So... at the recent Orca meeting, Don VE7DS focused on actual operations at TM100VIMY. Yes, the callsign IS different than the one initially promised to the team. Turns out that the area falls under French policing, even though the land was given to Canada, so the callsign took TM instead of VE.
TM100VIMY was on the air from April 1 until the official celebration ceremonies on April 9. Overall, 17 operators were in involved: 15 full-time, two part-time. The QSO count hit 9,246 and comprised 76% CW and 23% SSB. That makes 99%, so while not mentioned, I’m guessing that the remaining 1% was RTTY. The country count was 84, with Russia in top spot with 916 Qs, and the U.S. second, with 470 Qs. Canadian callsigns appear 235 times in the TM100VIMY log. There is a further breakdown of Canadian Qs in the TCA post-event article. The best band was 40m, with 2,965 Qs.
Europe was an easier catch, it seems. Over-the-pole to Canada, particularly the West Coast, was difficult given very uncooperative CONDX. What’s new?
Don saw the event in layers: history, remembering, radio and outreach. “History” was represented by replica planes that flew daily over Vimy Ridge. “Remembering” was captured in the field of boots, each with a poppy, that covered the fields as a memorial to those who had fallen there 100 years ago. “Radio” was the core—lots of effort and coordination to get the radios on the air, not without unexpected challenges. More on that below. And “outreach” was connecting with local groups.
For years, Don and other key members of the team had negotiated with various levels of government for access to a building, but... it became unavailable to the team. That revelation was made two weeks before TM100VIMY was to go QRV! Oh no! Where would the team operate?! Veterans Affairs Canada granted use of space adjacent to the building, but what about a shack? Local team member Didier F6BCW came to the rescue. He arranged for a portable shack, which was delivered and quickly installed. Antennas were then set up at the emergency shack replacement, and the station was ready to go on air 12 hours early. Two operators (wo)manned positions around the clock, even during the official VIMY ceremonies. And that was a organizational hurdle as well. Special security clearance was required for the four operators who would keep TM100VIMY on the air over the last 30 hours.
The outreach activities included a visit by team members to a local school, initiated by Sylvie F1PSH, a teacher who was herself a radio amateur and had organized an amateur radio club at her high school and had gotten her students licensed. Dave K3EL and his XYL Anne gave a presentation to a group of 150 students and veterans in Lillers, a town 50km northwest of Arras. They were joined by 11 members of the TM100VIMY team.
Another meeting opportunity was with a group of 25 local radio amateurs in Souchez. Here, Don gave a presentation. Unbeknownst to the TM100VIMY team, the French had also wanted to run a commemorative station. The Canadian team was first, though, and that might have irked the French amateurs. The lunch meeting appeared to smooth ruffled feathers, and camaraderie prevailed.
Aside from radio-related activities, an event that provided a wow moment was a sound and light show in Arras, modeled after a similar show at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
“Three Seconds of Light”, which was actually 20 minutes long, illuminated the front of renowned historical buildings in Place des Héros. The event, on the theme of what can happen in three seconds that can change a day, a life and a country, utilized lighting, images, sounds and music to explore Canada’s military history and long-standing relationship with France. Read the news release for more details.
As with any DXpedition—be it on an island off the coast of BC or a windy, frozen scrap of land in the subantarctic or a suitcase-style vacation-with-radio adventure—there are always logistical challenges, costs and lots of preparation involved. Some aspects can be controlled or mitigated. Some, like band conditions, cannot. Regardless of the difficulties, if a team works together, the effort is always worthwhile. It’s usually a learning experience, as well. And so it was for TM100VIMY.
Next Meeting: September?
The June meeting may be cancelled. Steve VE7CT and I (VA7BEC) have on occasion filled in when Dave VE7VR was unable to attend a meeting, but we are not able to do so in June. If someone else would like to “lead” the group in June, please contact Dave.
The meeting would not need to have an event or presentation. Just an opportunity for dinner and a chat among friends.
Ever since Orca assumed sponsorship of BCQP, the June meeting has been used to hand out certificates and plaques to the many members of our club who do so well in this event, and to do the in-club draw.
For various reasons, certificate and plaque production has been delayed and won’t be ready by June 13, if a meeting were to be held. So... winners will receive certificates and plaques by snail mail when printing and production is completed. The special report and detailed results will be posted to the Orca website BCQP page when ready. Email notifications will go out when the time comes.
QRT de VA7BEC
The Orca Report (No. 64) April 13, 2017
April 14, 2017 -- We were a very small group on Tuesday evening... just 12 people. Many of the regulars were out of town, most at TM100VIMY.
Operations wrapped up on April 10. Returning team members will undoubtedly have stories to tell at upcoming meetings.
No one has come forward (yet?) to put together a team using the club callsign. If it turns out that no one coordinates an effort along the lines that Don VE7DS has done the past couple of years, the callsign will be available for a single operator entry. To avoid more than one station using VA7ODX during Field Day, please let me know if you want to run with the callsign.
Membership currently stands at 85
PNW DX Convention 2018
Planning has begun.
Dave VE7VR will be attending the convention in Spokane to promote our turn as host.
It was movie night, ham style. We saw a few episodes of Ham Nation.
Ham Nation is a show about ham radio. It premiered on May 24, 2011 and as of April 12, 2017, was on episode 295. The show airs live on Wednesdays at 6pm on the West Coast, and content is quite varied, from projects to people. If you miss a live broadcast, you can watch an episode later. Take a look at the list of episodes. There are actually many websites from which you can find episodes to watch, including the link above as well as http://wiki.twit.tv/wiki/Ham_Nation or just go to YouTube and type in Ham Nation.
A very short Orca Report.
The Orca Report (No. 63) March 14, 2017
March 15, 2017 -- We returned to our usual second Tuesday of the month meeting schedule. The commute was relatively nice, and the setting sun shone brightly into the dining area of the RiverHouse. We were a group of 23 members and guests.
There were a few updates—VIMY, PNW Traveling Trophy, Field Day 2017, PNW Convention 2018 and BCQP 2017—and then two presentations, one by Fred VE7IO on VE100VIMY/VE7 operations from his station and the other by Adam VA7OJ/AB4OJ on SDR vs. legacy radios. Said and Heard
Portable operations are now in Yukon territory. During the VE7 week, a solid crew of operators spent a lot of hours calling CQ VE100VIMY/VE7, and the composite log shows Qs with stations all over the world.
It was tough—CONDX was awful—and “VE100VIMY/VE7” in CW is quite a fistful to send and probably caused a few moments of “VE1? No, VE7? Ahh... which way do I point the beam?”
Fred VE7IO did an awesome job coordinating the VE7 effort. Keith VE7KW had the onerous task of dealing with logs from VE7 volunteers.
BTW, have you seen the cover of the latest TCA? Orca member Brian VE7JKZ is one of the featured VIMY portable operators.
Since the slideshow by Fred relates to VIMY portable operations, let me describe it in this section. During the VE7 week, Fred did some night-time operation and also filled in when scheduled operators had radio issues that prevented them from getting on the air. The slideshow, with audio, featured some of the CW contacts in a very nicely produced format. VY FB Fred.
Note that portable operations are like appetizers, and the main entrée will be served at 0000z April 1 when TM100VIMY goes QRV from the Canadian Vimy war memorial site in France. The callsign takes the French prefix because the site is governed by French law. TM100VIMY will be heard on CW, SSB and RTTY from April 1 through April 10, with 17 operators working two stations on 160m to 10m as band conditions allow.
PNW Travelling Trophy
Jim VE7FO, minder of the spreadsheet of scores, provided an update on leader status. As amazing as this sounds after several years in top spot... Orca DXCC is lagging behind Willamette Valley DXC. If you have participated in one or more of the eligible contests but have not posted your score to 3830 or did not select “Orca DX and Contest Club” as your club, Jim will not have included your score in the calculations.
Very soon, Jim will provide numbers to Bud for posting on the Orca website. Please check there to see if your results are in spreadsheet. If not, you can contact Jim.
PNW Convention 2018
The next convention is actually in Spokane, Aug 4-6, 2017, but Orca will play host in 2018, so planning will begin soon. Dave VE7VR has already booked the hotel—same QTH as the last time Orca hosted the convention—since weddings and business meetings tend to fill the hotel’s schedule very quickly.
Field Day 2017
Don VE7DS is still looking for someone to take over as coordinator, as he is not available this year. He will provide all the necessary background information and the hows, whos and wherefores regarding site access, setup, log-submission, etc. Please contact him if you are able to fill in.
The log submission deadline has passed, so now it’s time to analyze results. The usual detailed report will be written but in the meantime, here are some highlights:
Total of 89 logs received, up from : 30 from BC and 59 from outside BC. 27 districts activated, down from 29. Number of BC stations on the air dropped to 70, from 80, but number of BC operators involved in BCQP 2017 rose slightly, to 104, reflecting an increase in the number of teams.
As I mentioned in February’s Orca Report, I am considering a change that might benefit CW and RTTY operators.
One of the most common suggestions I receive—more like a desperate plea, perhaps—is from CW operators who want BCQP to be held on a different date, mainly because NA Sprint CW causes too much frustration, even with alternate suggested frequencies. For various reasons, that is not an option. One reason is that the CW pool is very shallow to begin with and there’s no guarantee that a different date would be ideal for these few BC participants and/or attract more CW and RTTY operators overall. In addition, a change in date might cause a drop in mainstay PH support.
What’s the next best thing to a date change? Extending the hours of BCQP.
In addition to the existing 12 hours on Saturday, BCQP will run for eight hours on Sunday. This won’t necessarily be a mode split, with SSB on Saturday and CW/RTTY on Sunday, but it’s possible that CW operators, particularly CW-only participants, will choose to focus on Sunday when there is no FOC or NA Sprint CW to cause headaches.
All participants would be able to work all 20 hours on whatever mode(s) they choose, if they so wish.
As with everything, extended hours will be applauded by some and booed by others. I’ve already heard comments for and against. What do you think? Do you like the idea of extended hours? Let me know.
Main Presentation: “SDR vs. Legacy Radio — which is better?”
Using materials from a presentation he gave at APDXC 2016, Adam VA7OJ/AB4OJ described the differences between a software defined radio and a legacy radio. The presentation is available in PDF format here if you missed the meeting and/or just need to review all the information. I admit, I got lost. Lots of acronyms and lots of technical details. Not my forte. LOL
Adam’s website also contains volumes of test reports and tons of information. Since the IC-7300 is attracting a great deal of attention recently, you might be interested in Adam’s user evaluation and test report for this radio.
Adam is very thorough in his reports and presents all the pertinent details in a concise, well-written style. Go to his website, hit the site map button, and be amazed at the list. Scroll down to User Reviews & Test Reports. Great resource! TU Adam.
That’s it for March. See you in April. GL to the VIMY team. Safe travels and hope to see you in the pileups. QRT 73 de VA7BEC
The Orca Report (No. 62) February 15, 2017
February 16, 2017 -- Because our usual second Tuesday of the month fell on Valentine’s Day, the RiverHouse asked if we’d switch to Wednesday, the 15th, and we did. The snow and slush was gone from most areas of commuting distance, replaced by copious amount of rain. Despite the weather, 27 Orca members and guests gathered at the RiverHouse.
Said and Heard
A significant donation has been made to the 3Y0Z Bouvet 2018 DXpedition, and a very nice email of appreciation was received from Bob K4UEE. Dave VE7VR is planning to send out an email to Orca members regarding the donation and the thank-you. Steve VE7CT, who happens to be a member of the 3Y0Z team, took the mic and also thanked Orca on behalf of the team. Please note that Steve was not involved in the decision to make the substantial donation.
The DXpedition to Bouvet is a truly mammoth undertaking. The team boasts many, many very experienced DXpeditioners. The project has a nice website, so you can keep tabs on how preparations are unfolding and then later when the team gets on the air. Go to https://www.bouvetdx.org
If you have ideas for presentations — or better yet, have the content and desire to do a presentation — please contact Dave VE7VR.
Despite poor CONDX and the impact of unusually heavy snow in the lucrative multiplier regions of the Lower Mainland and the Island, it seems we had a good turnout.
Some initial musings from the YL in charge... The often-heard complaint that CW was worse than grueling due to FOC and NA Sprint remained the top gripe. Digital, which I have been on the verge of dropping from BCQP for some years because of very meager participation, seems to have attracted new, active interest from BC stations, particularly RTTY. No longer on the chopping block. :) As of Feb 15, 2017, I have received 78 logs: 24 from BC, and 54 from outside BC. Q counts in logs submitted so far are down for most participants who get on the air and submit a log each year, likely a reflection of propagation-on-holiday. DX content, which is not necessarily large but is cautiously anticipated by anyone who makes a concerted effort to CQ, appears to be very, very thin in even the biggest logs. Regular attendees in our party tell me they tried valiantly to find BC stations and heard nothing, or when a VE7/VA7 was indeed heard, the op didn’t hear the DX station. :( More teams got together for BCQP. Many emails with logs from outside BC extend compliments to BC operators— nice on-air presence and good operating conduct.
Given the increasing frustration of valued CW operators caused by FOC and NA Sprint, despite the alternate suggested frequencies, I am toying with a couple ideas that would essentially allow CW operators to play in BCQP when FOC and NA Sprint are not creating mayhem.
Making any change, however, is not as simple as saying “Let’s do CW at a different time”. There are many issues to consider. Would separate events for CW (and digital, probably) cause participation in the mixed category to drop off? That is, would participants who now do both SSB and CW play on both days? Would they have the time?
Also, because CW operators in BC are like rare DX entities, would there be enough operators to sustain a separate event? The profile of BCQP has risen tremendously in recent years, but is it high enough to entice CW operators near and far on a day when there is little other activity to put them in the operator’s chair?
And then there are behind-the-scenes preparations: logging software would have to be amended and log-checking could turn into a nightmare (no, log-checking software only works when there are enough logs submitted to cross-check, and currently, that is not the case). It’s not easy-breezy.
Anyway, just wanted faithful Orca Report readers and repeat BCQP participants to know that I am thinking of possible changes that will encourage greater participation from the CW/RTTY crowd while retaining the interest of the SSB crowd. Should have something to announce by the time I release the BCQP Report, probably in June.
It’s our week to run with the VE100VIMY portable on all modes. The callsign is insanely cumbersome in CW but extremely skilled operators are tackling this with relative success. The VE* portable effort has attracted lots of attention, and operators are logging hundreds and hundreds of Qs during their respective shifts, despite challenging CONDX. Well done!
Field Day 2017
Don VE7DS is not able to coordinate a VA7ODX operation for Field Day this year. He is looking for someone to take on this responsibility. He will provide all the necessary background information and the hows, whos and wherefores regarding site access, setup, log-submission, etc. Please contact him if you are able to fill in.
There were three presentations: 1) a quick introduction on making the TX5T DXpedition to Raivavae Island a success; 2) a different kind of “weather girl”; and 3) Mike’s adventures as J3/VE7ACN, VP5/VE7ACN and PJ2/RW0CN.
Pointers for TX5T Success
Keith VE7KW is going to Raivavae Island as part of a CanAm team, with Neil VA7DX, Madison W5MJ and Bob W5RF. The DXpedition will be QRV from Feb 20 through Mar 3 and will be active on all modes, operating on 160m through 6m. Seeking to help make this holiday-style DXpedition a success for the team, Don VE7DS presented 10 slides that showcase the location and how to make the most of island features, based on his own experience there. Key features are, of course, the beaches — not just for snorkeling but for... antennas! — and church on Sunday, which is a very social time among island residents and will ensure divine band conditions.
Not your typical weather forecast. Dave VE7VR showed a video entitled “Fast Solar Wind & First Sunspot of a New Cycle: Storm Forecast” by Tamitha Skov. An amazing “weather girl” to say the least. You simply have to check this out.
Seems like she offers a weekly weather forecast that is perfect for radio amateurs, particularly those of us in the contesting/DX realm.
VE7ACN’s Recent IOTA Adventures
Mike VE7ACN showed a lot of slides in a very short time! He covered a lot of territory, geographically and content-wise, with a great mix of local features and operating strategy.
The first stop was PJ2 (Curacao), then J3 (Carriacou Island, Grenada), and finally VP5 (Grand Turk Island, Turks and Caicos). After 28 days, 10 airports and 14 flights, Mike and assistant-par-excellence XYL Natasha returned home to snow, with the warm sunshine and lovely beaches of the Caribbean like an escape-from-winter dream.
His traveling gear was relatively compact and easy to set up and tear down. A vertical with numerous radials turned into a great 80m antenna with a sloping wire attached from the top. On VP5, he was able to set up his Spiderbeam.
Mike logged a huge number of Qs, mostly on CW, and had fun. And isn’t that the primary goal?
The next adventure... KL7 in March.
That’s it for the February meeting. Don’t forget about the Orca lunch — always the fourth Wednesday of the month.
The Orca Report (No. 61) January 10, 2017
January 10, 2017 -- Happy New Year! Hope 2017 is a year of smiles and laughter, good health and lots of fun at the radio. Given band conditions of late, not sure of the level of fun that can be achieved but… well, radio is like magic… you just never know when the bands will cooperate or where the QSOs will come from. I asked Santa for some help, especially for BCQP 2017, so we'll see what happens.
We were a group of 23. There were a few announcements and updates, and then we watched a couple of videos.
The January meeting is always our Annual General Meeting. There are very few formalities. In fact, the only agenda item was to confirm the composition of the club executive. Earlier in January, President Dave VE7VR asked standing executives if the status quo was OK, and all agreed to remain in their respective positions for another year. No one at the meeting on Jan 10 expressed any discontent with this, and so the club executive comprises
Coming up very soon!
1. Alternate suggested frequencies for CW
Alternate suggested frequencies have been announced for CW on 80M, 40M and 20M between 0000z and 0400z to mitigate some of the issues caused by NA Sprint. These frequencies are listed on the BCQP homepage. They are quite high up in the respective bands, encroaching on other mode allocations so, if necessary, move up or down a bit to avoid QRMing others.
2. Possible "net"
In past years, a couple of capable operators have tried to get a net-style situation going to help operators near and far "meet up" for a Q. This was done on 40m and/or 80m on SSB in 2016 and worked well. Last year, poor band conditions led to limited success. But listen for it, or try it yourself.
3. Lots of info on the BCQP pages of the Orca website
Whether you are a very experienced contester, a many-time participant in BCQP or need info to help someone else get prepared, please take advantage of the materials you can find on the BCQP pages of the Orca website. The schedule of same-day events and required exchanges is helpful, especially if you are asked to trade Qs.
4. Special draw for Orca members
Orca members -- dues paid as of BCQP 2017 (February 4, 2017) -- who make 25 valid QSOs and, obviously, submit a log, are eligible for a special gift card draw. At least three names drawn!
Keith VE7KW and Don VE7DS gave updates on VIMY portable operations, and Fred VE7IO provided info on the VE7 schedule.
Portable operations began earlier this month, starting on the east coast. Operations are now in Quebec. VE100VIMY/VE1 and VE100VIMY/VY2 were very successful, with more than 8,000 Qs.
Award certificates, in PDF, will reflect the number of portable operations contacted, based on Vimy Ridge attack objective lines, and a poppy will be added for contact(s) with the operation at Vimy Ridge in France in April. See example here Logs from portable operations will be uploaded to HA2NA and award status can be checked and awards requested at vimy.ha2na.hu
VE100VIMY’s QRZ page has been accessed more than 27,000 times already. The portable activity is definitely attracting attention.
Fred VE7IO is handling the schedule for BC's week -- Feb 12 00:00 UTC to Feb 18 23:59 UTC -- in the portable effort. If you'd like to take a block of time, please contact Fred at VE100VIMY-VE7@shaw.ca
DX/Contesting Presentations to Local Clubs
Dave VE7VR will be making presentations to a few local clubs, starting with North Shore ARC, to promote activity on the HF bands. If you have any ideas or approaches/incentives to encourage newcomers to our hobby to get more involved in DX hunting and contesting, send your comments Dave's way.
The email went out last week, and Dave VA7AM was taking payments tonight. Annual membership is just $24. Details on payment methods can be found here
Very easy: cheque, PayPal or Interac. If at a meeting, cash is probably OK, too.
Presentations: FT4JA 2016, DX/Contesting
A short video on the FT4JA DXpedition to Juan de Nova showcased some beautiful scenery and a great DXpedition. This island, situated between Mozambique and Madagascar, is a French possession, with a small military garrison and a weather station. Orca provided some funds to this DXpedition, and it was nice to see the club logo in the credits.
The other video was mostly guys chatting about how much fun it is to talk to people around the world. Our hobby creates a diverse community, where people of different ages, cultures, interests and social/career status come together in a unique form of friendship.
How can we get more young people into this great hobby? Let's promote BCQP, for starters!
And that's it for the January meeting.
Our February meeting has been bumped by Valentine's Day and will be held on Feb 15 -- a Wednesday.
This is VA7BEC, signing off. Hope to hear you on the air on February 4. I'll be running VA7ODX on SSB. Drop by to say hi and get some bonus points.