NR3X – NC Contesters

Welcome to the NR3X site for its IOTA expeditions as N4A. The rotating(on refresh) heading photos are pulled from expeditions over the past few years. Enjoy, and thanks for the QSO's!

2008 Cape Lookout Expedition: July 25-28th

N4A 2008 Extended Soapbox  
2008 N4A Photographs

Updated August 1st 2008

The 2008 N4A operation was a huge success. We were able to improve upon 2007’s results, and learned quite a bit in the course of the operation.  he weather was far better this year, which was also a big boost for the operators stamina. The temperatures during station set up on Friday afternoon were mild by North Carolina standards for July. The lower humidity levels made the sea breeze pleasant. K4CZ joined the expedition this year, and the extra set of hands made the work much easier.

The accomodations are somewhat spartan, but much better than merely camping in the sand. We rented a small cabin from the National Park Service. The cabins there are equipped to be powered by generator, as there is no elecricity service to the island. The cabin luxuries include both running water and a gas stove and water heater, so hot showers were available – and needed!

Access to the island is by private ferry service now seperate from the park accomodations. Reservations for each are made seperately. Ice is also no longer available on the island, but it can be ordered from the vendor running the ferry service, for dockside pickup. The ferry has a capacity for four vehicles, but four wheel drive is recommended. There are no paved roads on the island, only sand trails and the beachfront.

After arriving on site the first order of business was to set up the mast for the main station antennas. Those were a 40m dipole favoring the direction of Europe, and an 80 meter dipole at right angles to the 40. Both dipoles were really vees, and we fed them with 450 ohm ladder line. In the shack, the feedlines were tuned by two MFJ tuners. This allowed us to use the the antennas as doublets on all bands.

The main station was an Elecraft K2, set up with a laptop running Writelog, a LogiKey CMOS 4 keyer, and a set of Kent paddles. The backup radio was a TenTec Delta, and it was used with a Butternut vertical for a mult station during the IOTA contest. The second radio was also used for most of the Qso’s logged outside of the contest period.

Conditions Friday evening were good, and several hundred Qso’s were logged. Plans to operate 10m and 6m did not materialize as expected. We did not have a six meter rig available, and 10m was disappointingly quiet(as expected). So we turned Qso machine N4YDU loose. He and K4CZ racked up a respectable number of Q’s, proving that the Butternut, driven by the Delta, would indeed radiate with a 2:1 SWR. Everyone was tired from a long day, so we all hit the sack for some much needed rest.

Dawn brought a beautiful sunrise, and after shaking loose the cobwebs and servicing the generator, we assembled our wits for the start of the IOTA contest. The conditions seemed slightly better than those of 2007 during the morning and afternoon. Our rates were slow, but much better than the previous summer’s expedition. The rate remained steady through the daylight hours, with the bulk of the Qso’s being USA stations.

As 21:00z apporoached we were beginning to hear a few European stations on 40m at the mult station, but they were not hearing us with only 100w into a vertical. Chaos soon followed, as there was a sudden increase in rate on 20m CW – with the accompanying high speed CW. Again, it was an obvious time to turn the Qso machine loose, and N4YDU rose to meet the challenge. The biggest problem ‘YDU had was not being able to turn the keyer up to a speed above 30wpm.

20m supplied a slow but steady supply of Qso’s during the daylight hours, and accounted for most of the SSB Qso’s. 20m also popped open to Europe rather spectacularly as sunset approached(2400z) on the island. 40m was disappointing, but supplied us with a decent number of CW Qso’s. 80m was very nearly worthless. Both bands were plagued by high noise. Sunday morning brought low rates, and an imminent need to tear everything apart for a noon appointment with the ferry.

The IOTA activation was a learning experience, as are all field operations. It was also a great deal of fun. Thanks for the QSO’s.

N4A  –  2008 Krewe of Operators:

N4A will operate again in 2008 from Cape Lookout National Seashore at the end of July, over the same weekend as the RSGB IOTA contest.

  • IOTA number NA-067
  • gridsquare FM14tt
  • Carteret County, NC

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