Martha's Vineyard mini DX-Expedition


Marian Juskuv, KE1LJ & Roland Daignault, N1JOY


On the local 146.76 Rhode Island 2M repeater, I had been hearing some discussions about a group of Amateur Radio operators going to nearby Martha's Vineyard, which is just South of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, for the Massachusetts QSO Party. As new Ham, I joined this group with my 14-year-old son, Zdenko, KB1DOY. The sole organizer, Roland, N1JOY, gave all the participants the needed detailed information: who, what, when and where.


In Westport, MA, Friday, 30 April 1999 at 8:00 a.m., we all assembled at N1JOY's QTH and drove our cars packed with radio and camping equipment toward Woods Hole, MA to catch the ferry to Martha's Vineyard Island. At the most remote part of the island, we set up our campsite adjacent to the Gay Head lighthouse in Aquinah, MA. Our site consisted of one camper as our headquarters, four tents, and a number of minivans as our accommodations. Our host, Walter Delaney, the senior selectman in Aquinah, paid his obligatory visits throughout the weekend. Our group was nicely diversified, with old radio contesters from the Fall River ARC, and newly licensed people such as myself, KE1LJ, my son, and Dawn, N1RZD. We all originally became acquainted around the '76' Rhode Island 2M repeater. We had four children present, ages 10-14. Two were licensed, and one has his 5 wpm code. All together, 20 operators during the weekend were present.


By Friday afternoon, our HF and VHF antennas were erected. We had an Outbacker on an Alpha Delta tripod, R7 vertical, Hustler vertical, several mobile HF antennas, a 500' long wire, and I put up my new Barker & Williamson folded dipole for HF. We also used a 14-element KLM Yagi and TM-255A and 170-watt amplifier for 2 Meters, and a 5-element Yagi for 6M. We had plenty of radios — an Icom IC-756, two Yaesu 847's, Kenwood TS-690S, Kenwood TS-430 and my Kenwood TS-570D(G). We ran everything off a very fuel-efficient 2,200W Honda generator, and had two 4kW units as backup. We established a simplex frequency, 144.34 MHz as an intercom between the group, and reliable 146.760 North Scituate, RI repeater for contacting the folks back home. I was able to speak with my wife Maria, KB1DRM, by radio and my son to my daughter Catherine, age 11, KB1EAQ.


The more experienced Hams were first to start filling the log sheets. As evening came, along with the cold temperatures, we appreciated the warm camper converted to a radio operations room. My son enjoyed the hot meals and soon after took to the microphone. Surprisingly he learned rather quickly. This is what it is about. We need young people in our hobby, too. At midnight we went to bed, our sleeping bags and tents under clear sky with millions of stars. Weather was fine, no wind, a little cold, but far from the strong winds and rain that this group experienced a year ago. We were in a large open area above the beautiful clay cliffs of Aquinah. Three sides are facing the Atlantic Ocean, and we were unprotected. This is an excellent radio location.


Saturday May 1st, we had been working contacts all day. Some other operators came and relieved us from the radios for a while. I took advantage of this and had a walk with my son and Dawn, the YL from Warwick, RI. It was nice day. We were really lucky with sunshine, a light breeze, many tourists, and a wedding party to take some scenic pictures at the cliffs and lighthouse. After a short walk on the Atlantic Ocean shore, we dove into the radio waves again for the remainder of the day, and a good part of night. We were already becoming more skillful in the pile-ups. During a pause in the MASS QSO Party, we continued as IOTA NA046 (Island On The Air) station. W1ACT was our call sign, belonging to the Fall River Amateur Radio Club, MA. After the last ferry to the mainland, during the night we were on our own with nice weather and a quiet, twinkling sky. Before my bedtime, I had a walk to absorb the atmosphere.


Sunday morning, 02 May, Bill, WA1RI, flew from Rhode Island in a Cessna 172 with his young son, Justin, as his pilot. This turned to be a good decision. Bill is not only a good radio operator, but a good cook as well. He prepared us fresh, hot blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup — I loved them! Bill is a member of the Blackstone Valley Radio Club, MA, as I am, too. We did not stay on the radios for a long time that day. By 5 p.m. we planned to leave the area to head home. We planned some buffer time for any emergencies, as not to miss the last ferry to Woods Hole. It was a good thing because one vehicle's engine refused to restart in the middle of the trip across the island. My Ford Taurus was equipped with a trailer hitch and the disabled car was towed safely to port. On the ferry we had a farewell meeting and celebrated a job well done.


I would like to include my observations:

  1. This was a fine blend of two distinctive groups, experienced contesters from the Fall River Amateur Radio Club, and Amateur Radio beginners, adults and children, from around Southern New England. As our leader Roland, N1JOY, mentioned, it's a great way to break in the "newbies".
  2. This was a great location for verification of HF and VHF emergency communications, and tested our skills in a typical isolated disaster area with limited help from the outside.

— Marian Juskuv, KE1LJ


Comments from N1JOY:

It was by far the best weekend I have seen on Martha's Vineyard. The weather was 65-70°, and we never saw more than a light breeze all weekend. This was the 6th consecutive year we conducted this event from the Gay Head lighthouse in Aquinah, MA. The view is incredible on a clear day, and we were sitting at an elevation of 180 feet above sea level, surrounded by water on three sides.


The operators present were: Roland Daignault, N1JOY; Paul Gosselin, N1RHS; Tom LaPointe, WA1LBK; Marian Juskuv, KE1LJ; Zdenko Juskuv, KB1DOY; Dawn Burdick, N1ZRD; Paul Rollinson, KE1LI; Joe Farrington, KB1CMD; Wayne Souza, KA1LH; his wife, Colleen; Jim Cahill, N1TZM; Wally Bonnevelle, N1SXK; Bill Whetstone, WA1RI; Ed Jalette, N1UFU; his son Kevin, age 14; Wheat Kelley, N1YCQ; his daughter, Sarah, age 10; Andrew Kelley, N1YEW, age 12; Victor Aguiar, N1TTR; Tony Perreira, N1OCY; and Bob Paquette, KB1CGH.


We operated on all bands from 160M-2M with all-mode capability. The propagation was pretty good, and interference between the various stations was minimal. The area we set up in is a public area and has high visibility to locals and tourists. It is quite large, and we are able to spread out our antennas. Paul, KE1LI, operated from inside his minivan, Marian, KE1LJ, operated from inside a large camping tent, and most everybody else was inside the 20-foot camper trailer that has been converted strictly for portable radio operating. Some operating was done from inside N1TTR 's van


Our food was a great smorgasbord. Everybody brought a special dish with plenty to share with the gang. We had two small propane BBQ grilles, and the stove in the camper for cooking. I was able to keep my secret recipe chicken wings a secret for another year.


The station setups consisted of: Icom IC-756 on an R7 vertical; Kenwood TS-690S with AT-300 tuner and a 500+ foot long wire stretched out between the crank-up tower on the trailer, a flagpole, and a street sign; a 5-element Yagi for 6 Meters; Yaesu FT-847 connected to an Outbacker Outreach 500 on an alpha Delta tripod; Kenwood TS-430 attached to a Hustler vertical; Kenwood TS-570D(G) on a Barker & Williamson folded dipole; another Yaesu FT-847 on a Yaesu HF mobile antenna in a minivan; an Icom - IC-706MKII on a Texas Bug Catcher in a minivan.


It was difficult to get the wire antennas up high because we are in an open field, and the weather is so nasty at this location that trees cannot grow more than a few feet high! Any vertical supports had to be erected by us.


We are guests of the town when we conduct this event. Every year I send a letter requesting the site to the town selectmen, and they are glad to have us out there every year. We have created such a relationship with these folks that all I have to do is get on the telephone and ask the secretary for the senior selectman, and he answers the phone with a quick "YES!", knowing who is on the line. It's a great feeling to have made such a positive impression on the officials from a community other than your own, and to be so welcome year after year.


This is a fun event for me personally, and quite challenging every year. There is a lot of equipment that needs to be tested and packed up for the weekend, and quite a bit of organizing with everybody attending. One of the hardest parts is to coordinate everybody so we can all get to the island, and return on the same ferry boat. Since there is a limited number of vehicles that are transported back and forth each day, we have to have this part coordinated months in advance with vehicle reservations, and arrival and departure times. It's gotten easier with experience, but it still challenging for everybody, and this is why we have such a consistent turnout of participants every year. We brought out a few "newbies" this year, and I'm sure they will be back for more next year. For months I was warning everybody of the treacherous weather that end of the island was famous for, but lucky for us, it never materialized. There is always next year.

— Roland Daignault, N1JOY




Reprinted from WORLDRADIO


Two days = two searches

Rick McCusker, WF6O


The middle of June 1998 proved to be a busy period for the Amateur Radio operators in the area of St. Helena, Montana.


On 16 June a twin-engine aircraft loaded with mail disappeared during a storm. The plane had been on an instrument approach to Helena Airport and radar contact was lost in a rugged area bordered by Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Powell counties.


The ARES net was activated at 2018 local time, and efforts to locate the missing aircraft began. Several Hams moved out with mobile RDF equipment, while others remained at home, hoping to hear a signal from the emergency locating transmitter (ELT). A brief signal was heard, and a bearing was obtained. The Hams and search and rescue units converged on the area, but no other signals were heard.


An Amateur Radio operator was requested by the search coordinator to be at the search headquarters to assist with communications and coordinate assignments with the other Hams in the field. The Hams were sent to several areas during the night where the aircraft could have crashed. RDF gear was sent to each of these areas to monitor for further ELT signals, but nothing was heard.



At 0350, 17 June, the downed aircraft was found, and the Hams were released from the case. The pilot of the aircraft did not survive the crash.


Search two

Forty-eight hours later, another aircraft was reported missing, under similar circumstances. This was also a twin-engine aircraft, and had disappeared about 30 miles northwest of Helena.

Amateurs were asked to assist in the search. Fixed stations and mobile units monitored the airwaves listening for another ELT signal. A mobile unit equipped with RDF gear and manned by Hams familiar with the area was sent into the area. Attempts to locate the aircraft at night with a ground search and RDF were unsuccessful.


As in the previous search, a Ham was utilized at search headquarters for coordination of Hams in the field. The command post was moved during the night to the top of a mountain pass in the primary search area, and another Ham, familiar with the area, was assigned to assist at the Rescue Base and to contact the ARES coordinator if more help was needed.


Unfortunately, more assistance was not needed. The search was called off at 0500 when the downed aircraft was spotted by a search plane. Again, the pilot did not survive.


A total of 179 man-hours were put in by the amateurs on these searches, with an undetermined amount of savings to the local governments by using these determined and ready volunteers.

Involved in the searches were: Bill Erhardt, KA7YAO; Dwayne McNeil, KB7SYO; Bill Kornec, KC7CIS; John Curry, KC7EBL; Bob Solomon, KC7KKM; Wes Rowe, KC7PSE; Cliff Smith, KC7QLM; Sam Sperry, KC7VWA; Virgil Roper, KC7WBL; Maureen Fisher, KC7WBO; Donna Shelby, KC7WBP; John Coppick, KC7WLK; Terry Rowe, KC7YOW; Dwight Leonard, KC7ZPK; Brian Smith, KD7BIE; Bill Craft, KF7EP; Bill McGuire, N7MSI; Sherwood Warren, N7MSL; James Haslip, Jr. W7CK; Donald Heide, W7MRI; Stephen Farrell, KC7KKG; Daniel Stinson, KC7KKH; Bill Kornec, Jr. KC7NBU; Ken Clark, KC7RVR; Sandy Durney, KC7UCD, and Richard Weddle, KC7VVZ. ( Ed. Thanks to Bob Solomon, KC7KKM, for submitting the information.)




Reprinted from WORLDRADIO







By Pete, N2PYV





The meeting was called to order by Pat at 5:45 p.m.

All present introduced themselves.



Finances continue to be in good shape.



Pat, KE2LJ

Gordon was not present tonight. Pat reported that the Bethpage Repeater still has “crackles”. The antenna is suspect even though it is quite new.



Zack, WB2PUE

The propagation was not good for the Sunday Morning 40-Meter Net. There were about 6 check-ins for the Thursday Evening 2-Meter Net.



Bob, W2ILP

There were two applicants and four VE’s present. One applicant upgraded to General and the other passed the Technician exam to become a new ham.





Bob, W2FPF

No Activity





Two new members were voted into the club as follows:

Patricia Cicchino, (No license yet), Full Member.

Christopher Bauer, K2CJB, Advanced, Sustaining Member.



Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP, gave an interesting presentation on the History of Ham Radio with some of his experiences.