NIARS 2023 Campout / Work B
By VE7LSE , VA7HN, VE7XQL
Photo Gallery Below
Hello fellow radio operators!
We hope you are doing well. We had a great and adventurous trip to the North Island over Aug. 17-21. The weather was great and around 40 radio operators camped with us and attended the potluck dinner at Cluxewe Resort.
We had folks from the North Island, Salt Spring, Victoria, Cowichan, Nanaimo, Campbell River, and Courtenay/ Comox radio clubs again this year. Everyone was super nice and all the kids had a great time fishing, eating s’mores, painting seashells, and collecting driftwood toys for Popeye the Cockatoo to chew on.
A couple of families with children stayed in cabins right on the water. We enjoyed beautiful sunsets and saw orcas just offshore. Most campers booked spots together near the playground and we named it “Ham Hollow.” At Burnie VE7IAD’s campsite there was a budgie named Snowball, and at the campsite of George VE7KJA and Angie VE7TIA there were ice cream sandwiches. Saturday night was the potluck and all the food was just amazing. The highlight and highly requested pizza by Steve VE7CBH was awesome and we ate it for days.
The work parties went well. We had scheduled three days of rest and play and it’s a good thing because the work at the Shelley and Woss repeater sites took longer than expected.
Woss got solar panels and power upgrades. VA7OCC, VE7KGV, VE7BHO, VE7NAY, VE7LSE, VE7RMJ, VE7YYC, and VE7HDR assisted in the work at Woss. Three 70 watt older panels were removed from the roof and replaced with one 220 watt bifacial panel. Two flexible 175 watt panels were mounted to the side of the comshell structure. There is now a total of 570 watts!
We also installed an APRS digipeater on an exterior antenna mounted in a tree. This is equipped with a separate low-voltage cutout to give the primary power to the ITS Woss repeater when voltage drops in the fall and winter. We were plagued with intermod last year and this year. Many attempted remedies were tried, including tinfoil, ferrite, and moving cables around. All would work temporarily but we were not satisfied. After three trips to the site, eventually it was decided that the only fix for now would be to use the newly installed antenna on the tree for the voice repeater. We then put the 5 watt APRS digipeater on the comshell antenna.
After three trips to the Woss site, we were happy enough! Thankfully we had Gord VE7UY to guide us via email and Kevin VE7KGV and the team to brainstorm ways to fix it. General maintenance and installation of a power system data logger were also done at Woss. This was Stuart VE7HDR’s main project.
It took two days to replace the roof at the Shelley Mountain repeater site. VE7LSE, VE7PMD, VE7KGV, VE7RMJ, VE7CBH, VA7CBN, VE7HDR, VA7ASI, VA7DDU, VE7IAD, VA7EWG, VE7TZB, VE7PDQ, VA7LPL, VE7YYC and Douglas attended. Roofing materials were donated to us by Gary McQuillan, a friend of George VE7KJA. Other building materials were donated by Ivan VE7IVN. A big thank you to them! The old roof was stripped off and only had one rot hole in it. We re-sheeted it with new treated plywood and installed the new roofing. It’s looking great now and should last a while.
The old Woss panels that were taken down were installed in place of the oldest panel array at the Shelley site, which was only producing 12.8 volts. Road and tree maintenance was also done to keep branches away from the antennas and to keep the road passable. General maintenance, a new solar charge controller, and installation of a power system data logger were also done.
A group also went to a couple of parks to do POTA activations and they enjoyed the northern landscape. There were sure a lot of seabirds in the estuary. Lanaya VE7NAY activated her first park! We had a good group of hams join the POTA adventures. On Sunday morning Earl VA7EWG hid the fox for a fox hunt. It was a challenge! Jason VA7OCC found the fox first and it was also his first hunt. Good job Jason!
Before we left Cluxuwe, Kevin VE7KGV and Mark VE7RMJ made a quick run up the hill back to the Shelley site to install the new MPPT charge controller. On the way home a visit to the Newcastle Ridge repeater site was scheduled. On the way Jason VA7OCC came across a broken down vehicle on the highway and was able to use ham radio to help them call for a tow truck as there is no cell phone service in that area. Paul VE7XQL in Nanaimo answered Jason’s call for assistance and was able to contact BCAA and get a tow truck dispatched. This shows how versatile and useful the Island Trunk System is and why we do what we do!
VE7FAA, Linda, VE7BHO, VE7KGV, VE7NAY, VE7UY, VE7LSE, VA7HN and girls, VE7PDQ and Jenny, VA7OCC attend this work bee. Out of five trucks that started up the logging roads to the Newcastle Ridge site, only two made it to the top! The first truck, Jason VA7OCC’s, had transmission problems around 8 km up. Then Devan VE7LSE got two flat tires 13 km up the road. Thankfully Kevin VE7KGV and Lanaya VE7NAY helped put on the spare tire and we limped down the mountain at 9 psi to where they had a patch kit at the base of the mountain. We now have better tires and will get a patch kit of our own soon.
Paul VE7PDQ, his XYL Jenny, and Steve VE7BHO made it to the Newcastle site where they watered the batteries and replaced the old battery caps with water-saving caps, so at least the annual maintenance was done. We then had dinner together in Campbell River. On the way home Paul VE7PDQ also had an issue with his trailer tire, but thankfully everyone made it home ok that night. Mark VE7RMJ was the trailer shuttle vehicle. He helped get Jason’s trailer back to Campbell River after already taking his trailer that far after Jason had to make a direct run from Sayward to Campbell River for repairs.
It was a wonderful few days full of camaraderie and adventure, and we are already looking forward to the third week in August next year when we will make the trip again. We have been talking about staying at Anutz Lake as well as Cluxewe Resort since Anutz Lake is nearer to Woss and there is no charge for camping.
If you want to join us next year, please get a hold of Devan VE7LSE at firstname.lastname@example.org
Devan and Katherine