Need Zone 2 on 40/80m, a Rare DX Contest Multiplier, or IOTA? VY0ERC Can Help!

It’s now October and throughout the northern hemisphere days are getting shorter, nights longer and the temperature is dropping. Consider then that as go you further north this happens in an ever more dramatic fashion. At the North Pole, the first and only sunset of the year happened on 21 September at the autumnal equinox. A scarce 1000 km south of that at 80 degrees north, there is still some daylight as the Sun reaches about 6 degrees above the horizon. That provides enough light to view the pristine environs of Ellesmere Island, around the Eureka Weather Station and the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL). The PEARL Site Manager and I made our first trip to Eureka in the Fall of 1994 and have repeated the long journey many, many times. Alexey Tikhomirov VE1RUS made his first visit to Eureka and PEARL in 2013, and has returned twice per year since.

Ellesmere is a large, mostly uninhabited island found just west of Greenland in the Canadian Arctic archipelago. It has one small community, Grise Fjord, at its southern tip, and two other notable locations, Eureka and Alert. Eureka is remote by any definition. It is accessible only by chartered aircraft and accommodation is limited and only available through the Eureka Weather Station by prior arrangement. It is an untamed landscape, that some might describe as bleak. It’s located on the northern shore of Slidre Fjord on the bank of Station Creek which is also the source of fresh water.

Looking out from there you see a hilly landscape devoid of trees, with a large ridge both to the east and west. Other than the weather station, humans have never established year round habitation this far north, although the Thule people did spend summers in the area. Remains of their camps are still visible many hundreds of years later. This part of the world does not give up its scars easily, it takes decades for vehicle tracks to fade away.

The vegetation consists of low willow shrubs and grasses and a surprising number of flowers in the summer time. By definition, this is an Arctic semi-desert with less than 30cm of precipitation per year. Many are surprised to hear that Eureka gets relatively little snow. However, as I like to say, “we see every snow flake that falls in the Arctic, and it’s usually going sideways!” Bad weather tends to take the form of high winds resulting in severe drifting in places. Winter time temperatures are typically well into the mid negative 40’s C January through into April, with -50C and lower always a possibility. At 80N, the Sun goes down for good on 20 October and is not seen again until 20 February. From mid April to mid September it is above the horizon for 24 hours a day. In addition to the Arctic weather, Eureka also is impacted by the Earth’s geomagnetic field. The geomagnetic pole is located something like 80 to 100 km east of Eureka, putting it pretty much dead centre in the auroral oval. This has the perhaps unexpected consequence that aurora are not usually visible from Eureka!

Both Eureka and Alert were established as part of the Joint Arctic Weather Stations (JAWS) through a partnership between Canada and the United States of America, in 1947 and 1950 respectively. In the early years, radio was the only means of communication and amateur radio was the means of handling personal communications between station personnel and their families in the south. John Gilbert, VE3CXL, among others served as radio operator arriving in 1956 for a two year stint. The story of those early years can be found in: “70th Anniversary of Amateur Radio at Eureka Part1: The original Station VE8MA” published in “The Canadian Amateur” the journal of the Radio Amateurs of Canada.

Consistent radio operations ended in Eureka sometime in the 1990s, and it was not until VE3KTB operated portable VY0 in 2014 that they resumed in a somewhat consistent fashion. In 2014 VE1RUS also operated as /VY0 and later met VE3CXL to talk about Eureka and the three agreed that it was time to re-establish amateur radio in Eureka in a more established fashion and so the Eureka Amateur Radio Club was formed with VE1RUS as the trustee of the station call, VY0ERC. The story of VY0ERC is described in “70th Anniversary of Amateur Radio at Eureka Part2: The VY0ERC Club Station” .

VY0ERC is currently located within the PEARL Ridge Laboratory (RidgeLab). PEARL is a comprehensive atmospheric observatory sampling various atmospheric parameters from the surface to over 100 km. It is operated by the Canadian Network for Detection of Atmospheric Change (CANDAC) a coalition of scientists from Canadian universities and government departments. PEARL has 3 facilities, the RidgeLab, the Zero Altitude PEARL Auxiliary Laboratory (0PAL) and the Surface Atmospheric Flux and Irradiance Extension (SAFIRE). Instruments located at the 3 PEARL sites include Fourier Transform Spectrometers to measure infrared radiance for determining trace gas amounts in the atmosphere, “Lidars” used to measure ozone and atmospheric particles, radars to measure cloud properties, air temperatures and air turbulence. There are also particle counters, UV spectrometers, a flux tower, and optical instruments that monitor the mesosphere. A more in depth description can be found at the CANDAC web-page, Being associated with a working and well equipped laboratory is very useful as many tools and supplies necessary for science tend also to be useful for amateur radio. Additionally, PEARL depends upon the most northerly situated geo-stationary satellite link for internet communications.

When VE1RUS and I are on-site, amateur radio activity at VY0ERC spans a wide range. HF SSB contacts can be made most days that the combination of time, weather, and propagation allow. Both are working on improving their CW and so we expect there to be more and more CW contacts. Digital modes, specifically RTTY and FT-8 are also both used. In February/March of 2018, the pair also put a number of grids on the air via FM satellite with contacts across the US and Europe via AO-91 and AO-92. This was made possible through a fund-raising campaign organized by Gabe AL6D and with the guidance of Patrick WD9EWK and encouragement of George MI6GTY. Gabe also offered the use of his TH-72 to make things easier.

One or both of VE1RUS and VE3KTB are on station for about 3-4 months of the year. Their operating schedule is driven mostly by the work schedule. It generally works out that the station is manned for many of the major contests such as CQWW SSB, CQWPX, ARRL DX, WAE RTTY, and usually one of either the IARU HF championship or the IOTA contest. Basically, any reason to get on and give out some contacts is considered a good reason! We are generally open for skeds if you drop us an email at [email protected]. Our non-contesting operating is always proceeded by a spot or two on the clusters.

The VY0ERC station consists of a TS-480HX, a Vectronix single 3-500Z amplifier (donated by Peter VE3AD) , a selection of antenna tuners and a wide range of antennas. The best band for contacts has generally been 20m, where a home-brew Aluminum tube Moxon rectangle is used, rotated by a HAM IV. A Cushcraft R5 vertical is also used on 20m-10m. It also makes for a good receive antenna on 40 and 80m! A variety of wire antennas have been installed and used with limited success on 40m and 80m. These include slopers, inverted V’s and flat-top dipoles, as well as a few other designs such as a full-size wire Moxon for 40m (not very successful) and a 40m half-square. The main challenge with these antennas is the lack of easily attainable height above ground. There are no usable structures other than the roof of the RidgeLab to use in supporting the wires. We hang the wires from a collection of PVC conduit strapped to the railings using bungee-cords. While very low-tech, this attachment method provides enough “give” in the system to allow the antennas to survive much longer than rigid systems in high-wind, heavy frosting and icing conditions. The weather has routinely destroyed each and every antenna put into service at the RidgeLab, despite our best efforts to remove them when we know there will be challenging conditions.

The inability to install low-band antennas at a sufficient height has led us to pursue a strategy of phased verticals for 40m and 80m. These verticals will either be telescoping, or mounted on tilting bases so that they can be quickly lowered –well quickly is relative in the cold of the High Arctic winter– when needed. As we all know, building an antenna farm is never inexpensive, but it is definitely rather more expensive when you factor in the transportation costs to the far north. In an effort to get a stronger signal on 40m and 80m, VY0ERC has initiated a campaign to raise funds to install a phase vertical array for both. You can read about it at

VE1RUS, VE3CXL, and VE3KTB invite any interested amateurs to join VY0ERC and participate in this Arctic Amateur Radio experience. Membership is free!

Pierre VE3KTB

Pierre Fogal, VE3KTB, is a special contributor to

Monday’s ‘NRN’ CW Fun

My homebrew Ameco AC-1 clone

A weekly CW operating activity that seems to be growing in popularity is the Monday “NRN”.

The NRN get-togethers are an offshoot of the annual “NRR” or Novice Rig Roundup. Monday’s “Novice Rig Night” gradually grew from those that wanted to see the NRR fun continue, in one form or another, without waiting an entire year for the event to roll around again.

Operating times run from sunup on the east coast to midnight on the west coast ... but basically, people just get on the air whenever they can on Monday and call “CQ NRN”. I suspect that most of the activity takes place between late afternoon and bedtime, with 40m probably seeing the most action. As winter arrives, we may see more activity on 80m but these are only my personal observations from the west coast.

Most folks are using typical Novice-era transmitters and / or receivers, with the Drake 2NT, early Heathkits, Eicos, homebrews and Hammarlunds being popular. The previous Monday I was active with my homebrew Ameco AC-1 clone, a 6V6 crystal power oscillator, at about 6 watts out. Good contacts were had with several eastern stations. There are several AC-1s around and there has been at least one suggestion of an 'AC-1 Night' ... what fun that would be as well!

For last night’s NRN, I brought out my homebrew Paraset.

Once again, good contacts were had with the easterners on 40m: W9BRD in NJ, W3NP in WV,  KD2E in NJ and VE3LYX using his No.19 tank radio ... two WWII radios talking to each other in 2018, one real and one a reproduction!

VE3LYX's No.19 set operating position
The Paraset uses a two-tube regenerative receiver and, like the AC-1, a single 6V6 crystal controlled power oscillator. It's always difficult to judge propagation conditions when listening with a regen ... are conditions as bad as they seem or is it just my simple receiver making the band sound poorer than usual? Such was the case for me last night so next week I will spark-up the Paraset once again for another round of NRN fun. As promised on the NRR Facebook page (now at 1600+ members!), all Paraset contacts will be confirmed with my mid-30s styled QSL and these will be going out this week. 

Here is the formal announcement for the Monday events, with a few additional details. Hopefully you can join the fun (any rig is fair game!), next week.

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

AmateurLogic 122: ALTV’s 13th Anniversary

AmateurLogic.TV Episode 122 is now available for download.

As one of the first video podcasts period, AmateurLogic.TV celebrates 13 years this month. Tommy builds the SDR Pi. Emile discusses the Internet of Cheap Old Things. George exposes Harmonic Distortion. Jim joins the party and shows us the interesting projects he’s been working on.

We announce the winner of our 13th Anniversary Sweepstakes. Sarah Clark, K4EMT will be receiving an Icom IC-7300 HF Transceiver, MFJ-4230DMP power supply, Heil Sound iCM microphone and BM-17 headset, MFJ ‘Big Stick’ antenna and RG8X coax, Gordon West amateur license study guide, and a pair of AmateurLogic Faux Gold PL-259 connectors. Thanks to Icom, MFJ, Heil Sound & Gordon West Radio School for making this possible.



George Thomas, W5JDX, is co-host of AmateurLogic.TV, an original amateur radio video program hosted by George Thomas (W5JDX), Tommy Martin (N5ZNO), Peter Berrett (VK3PB), and Emile Diodene (KE5QKR). Contact him at [email protected].

ICQ Podcast Episode 278 – Hamfest 2018

In this episode, Martin M1MRB is joined by Matthew Nassau M0NJX and Bill Barnes N3JIX to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief, and this episode’s feature is - Hamfest 2018


We would like to thank Avi Solomon, Danny Robson (GM6CMQ), Brett Stalbaum, Gair Matthews (G1VWC) and our monthly and annual subscription donors for keeping the podcast advert free. To donate, please visit -

  • The Chill of Solar Minimum
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  • ARRL and FCC Discuss Uncertified Imported VHF/UHF Transceivers
  • FUNcube Operations Update
  • RSGB Past President GI3KYP SK
  • EchoLink Now Connected to Irish DMR Network

Colin Butler, M6BOY, is the host of the ICQ Podcast, a weekly radio show about Amateur Radio. Contact him at [email protected].

LHS Episode #252: The Weekender XVII

Welcome to the latest Weekender edition of Linux in the Ham Shack. This is the 17th installment, episode 252. In this episode, we talk about interesting contests coming up, like the Oceania DX Contest, Worked All Germany and more. We also talk about upcoming special event stations, JOTA, open source conferences like OLF and more. We also give you challenges to keep you on your toes, Linux distributions to get familiar with and some great hedonistic topics like food, beer and liquor. Thank you for listening and hope you have a great couple of weekends upcoming!

73 de The LHS Crew

Russ Woodman, K5TUX, co-hosts the Linux in the Ham Shack podcast which is available for download in both MP3 and OGG audio format. Contact him at [email protected].

LHS Episode #251: Party Like It’s 1499

Welcome to the latest installment of Linux in the Ham Shack. You've tuned into Episode 251 in which we take on topics from ARRL elections to the latest hurricane heading for the Florida panhandle to expanded privileges at 50MHz for IARU Region 1. We also look at Microsoft's Infer.NET open AI framework, the latest Ansible, changes to FT8Call and much more. Thank you for listening!

73 de The LHS Crew

Russ Woodman, K5TUX, co-hosts the Linux in the Ham Shack podcast which is available for download in both MP3 and OGG audio format. Contact him at [email protected].

Weekly Propagation Summary – 2018 Oct 08 16:10 UTC

Weekly Propagation Summary (2018 Oct 08 16:10 UTC)

Here is this week’s space weather and geophysical report, issued 2018 Oct 08 0135 UTC.

Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 01 – 07 October 2018

Solar activity was very low this period. Region 2723 (S08, L=357, class/area=Dso/30 on 01 Oct) was the only active region with sunspots, but was quiet throughout the period. No Earth-directed CMEs were observed during the summary period.

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit was at moderate levels throughout the period.

Geomagnetic field activity reached G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm levels on 07 Oct due to the influence of a positive polarity CH HSS. Active conditions were observed on 01-02 Oct and quiet to unsettled levels were observed on 03, and 05-06 Oct. Quiet conditions prevailed on 04 Oct.

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 08 October – 03 November 2018

Solar activity is expected to be very low throughout the outlook period.

No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to reach high levels on 08-25 Oct with moderate flux levels expected throughout the remainder of the outlook period.

Geomagnetic field activity is expected to reach G1-G2 (Minor-Moderate) geomagnetic storm levels on 08 Oct and 03 Nov due to the influence of a positive polarity CH HSS. G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm levels are expected on 19 Oct and active levels are expected on 09-10, 18, 20, and 22 Oct, due to the influence of multiple, recurrent CH HSSs.

Don’t forget to visit our live space weather and radio propagation web site, at:

Live Aurora mapping is at

If you are on Twitter, please follow these two users: 1. 2.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Be sure to subscribe to our space weather and propagation email group, on

Spread the word!

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Links of interest:

+ Amazon space weather books:

Space Weather and Ham Radio YouTube Channel News:

I am working on launching a YouTube channel overhaul, that includes series of videos about space weather, radio signal propagation, and more.

Additionally, I am working on improving the educational efforts via the email, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and other activities.

You can help!

Please consider becoming a Patron of these space weather and radio communications services, beginning with the YouTube channel:

The YouTube channel:


Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to and writes from Nebraska, USA. Tomas is the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Contributing Editor to 'CQ Amateur Radio Magazine', 'The Spectrum Monitor', and 'RadioUser UK Magazine'.

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