During the last full weekend of July, the Radio Society of Great Britain organizes a unique contest known as IOTA. The mission: contact as many island stations in as many different areas as possible in a 24 hour period. If one works from an approved island location defined by RSGB rules as being “suitably” offshore then that station becomes a very sought-after multiplier station and the target of pile-ups! Land stations that work island stations with unique number groups count as a three-time multiplier over a land station. Island to island stations counts even more.
With that mission in mind and those who chose to accept it were five members of the Halifax Amateur Radio Club along with an amateur from PEI. John VE1CDD, Barry VE1TRI, Fraser VE1WO, Alan V A1MM, Sheldon VE1GPY, and Greg VY2MP. The team operated from Little Tancook Island a 45-minute ferry ride from Chester (suitably off-shore) as a multi-op Dxpedition. That allowed us to enter our desired category and operate from NA-81. For the contest duration, we used a special call VC1X. Al chose the last letter so that it would be distinguishable in morse code and not go missing as a single dit.
All members of the group had fun and worked hard to place well in our category. Two hex beam antennas were erected. Pictures were taken of these antennas when birds used them to perch. They were unique and drew a lot of inquisitive glances from the few island residents walking by. Hex beams look like upside-down umbrellas as mentioned by island residents.
Terry VE1TRL. Other antennas were an 80-meter loop, and two 40 meters inverted V-beams one facing east and the other S-SW. It was mentioned more than once that he would be happy if we decided to donate one of the hex beams.
The radios were three flex radios each with an LCD screen. One Flex was used only as a receive monitor station. Two of the other stations had new solid-state Elkraft 500 watt and Auto tuners with ICE filters. Flex radios al- low the user to see strong signals along with the band on the screen. The VFO can be tuned to the signal immediately with a mouse click. The Elkaft amps were superb considering all the challenges we had last year with the older tube linears used on Pictou Island as VC1Z, 2011.
We were concerned that the rare DX station operating from ST Paul’s would be running in the IOTA contest and drown everyone out. Since they were operating for a longer period of time they kindly decided to operate the WARC bands during IOTA.
Compared to last year we had close to two hundred more contacts and about 15 more multipliers giving us almost half a million more points. As of this report, we don’t know how we placed in our category but significantly better on the bands.
The team ate and drank well. Each member had two meal preparations to add to the order of Good Cheer! It was a pleasure to hear some VE1, VO1 and other maritime callsigns in the hunt for us, many thanks.