Prince Edward Island 2005 - VY2/W1OH

The BeachHouse
This is the house we stayed in for the final week of vacation
this year - wonderful location!

Click on the images to see larger size.



This summer, as in most summers since the late 80's, we travelled to Prince Edward Island for vacation. Over the years, we have "graduated" from camping, through a mix of camping and cottages, to staying exclusively in cottages for 2 or 3 weeks each summer. Our favorite areas of the island are its eastern side, both on the north shore and the south shore. Last year, summer 2004, marked the first time I had brought my ham gear along to PEI since becoming active again in 2001. I operated a bit in the 2004 IOTA Contest, plus did a bit of casual operating, using my FT-897 and a zipcord doublet up about 30 feet on an MFJ mast outside the farmhouse we were renting.

In 2005, we spent our first week near PEI National Park, in a cottage we'd stayed in several times before on Tracadie Bay. However, I only operated from that location during the NAQCC QRP Sprint on July 20th as the station set up was fairly inconvenient. We spent the remaining 2 weeks in 2 different cottages on the south shore a bit east of the capital city of Charlottetown. After the first week, with no good spot to set up a station, I went to Wal-Mart in Charlottetown and bought a small card table. This proved to be a good idea, as neither of the remaining cottages had any extra flat surfaces to set up on. The cottage during the second week, though not obviously near any RF noise sources, was plagued 24 hours a day by some odd S1-S2 level noise bursts across all the HF bands. Though I did a fair bit of listening, I only made a handful of contacts from this location.

The final week, only a few miles away from the cottage of the previous week, turned out to be the best of all (and not just for ham radio reasons)! In fact, the cottage is owned by the son and daughter-in-law of the person we'd rented the farmhouse from in 2004, so we had gotten a look at it last summer on their Saturday change-over day and knew it looked like a good bet! Upon arrival on Saturday, July 30, I looked things over and saw that I could lash my MFJ mast to the upstairs balcony rail and run the twinlead feedline from my 80M doublet through the door jamb. I had hoped to get set up in time to work some IOTA Contest contacts, but it was Sunday, mid-morning, before I got things set up and running. But what a great radio location! The antenna ended up over 50 feet off the ground, in a shallow Vee configuration since I could run the ends pretty far out on either side. And the RF environment? Wow! Is my reciever working? The cottage is about 100 yards from salt water. The nearest house is probably 200 yards away, and the power line to the cottage ends about 50 feet from the house and runs underground. Maybe it's the antenna? Once I determined the tuner settings for 80M through 15M, I was ready to see if everything worked or not.

As FOBB (Flight of the BumbleBees) contest time came along on Sunday afternoon, and many US and a few Canadian QRP stations started to appear, it became clear that there was nothing wrong at all with the antenna or the rig! The bands sounded "funny" because the RF environment was so quiet. No power line noise, no neighbors' appliances and home electronic gear, nothing to generate local RF noise! And I'm certain the proximity to the saltwater as well as the 50+ foot antenna center height didn't hurt either. Even signals that didn't move the S-meter were easy to copy and contact with 5 watts out! I made 2-way QRP contacts all over the US and Canada. The following day, the August ARS (QRP) Sprint in the evening resulted in contacts as far as California on 20 meters at local midnight - N6RO, S9 + 30db at 10 PM local time in PEI, was still S7 at 11:50 PM! At the same time, down the 20 meter band a few kHz, a ZL was coming in about an S5 while working a VE7 station. A couple of days later, I made 2-way QRP contacts to Italy on 20 meters and a long chat to W2LJ in NJ on 40 meters.

So, since it's not only a great ham radio location, but also a great vacation spot, we've already reserved 2 weeks for next summer! And next time, we won't be moving to a new cottage on IOTA Contest weekend, so maybe I can be a bit more serious about that contest for 2006. I can't wait!



The View - South The View - SouthWest The View - West
This is a panorama looking out the window of the upstairs balcony door.
Note the base of the antenna mast lashed to the rail in the left-hand (south) view.



The Antenna Mast
This is the mast lashed to the upstairs balcony rail
- tip of mast is 50+ feet above ground



Operating Position The Rig
This is the operating position on a card table.
It's located just inside the upstairs balcony doorway.



The View - West at Sunset
This is another view to the west at sunset after a few showers.