In an effort to make the Northern Territories less rare in ARRL November Sweepstakes and other events for which it counts as a multiplier, a group of US hams is working to make the station of Jay Allen, VY1JA, near Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, remotely accessible — and potentially more available.
“VY1JA is being slowly rebuilt as a primarily remotely operable station,” Allen told ARRL. “For the foreseeable future, VY1JA operation is going to be handled mainly by guest operators.” Some health issues have kept Allen from being able to operate during contests, so he’s outsourcing the task.
The project group includes Gerry Hull, W1VE/VE1RM, a former ARRL staffer who is handling the technical end; Hall Offutt, W1NN, the manager of operations, and Andy McLellan, VE9DX, the digital-modes leader. Although the enterprise is a work in progress at this point, W1NN did operate VY1JA in February for the 2015 ARRL International DX CW — while he was in Tokyo!
The biggest problem for Offutt during that trial run was unacceptable latency. “A severe delay made running very challenging,” he said in a post to the 3830 contest scores website. He said that by the time he stopped transmitting, responding stations were already well into their call signs, making multiple repeats necessary. “Hopefully in time and with some work, the delay can be overcome or at least shortened, and this remote arrangement will be a lot easier to use in the future,” he said.
Work to make that happen more smoothly is ongoing. “Right now, I’m working daily with Jay,” said Hull, who has been calling on friends to donate antennas, equipment, and technical expertise. “There is great potential at the station. My plan of attack on the technical side is to get a method of remote operation working that is a no-cost solution for the remote op. He also wants to get the system working with RemoteRig.
“There will be some compromises,” he said, “but after talking more with Mike, W0YK, about the remotely controlled K4VV setup, it should not be too bad. Hull said he will ship Allen the “radio side” of a RemoteRig box, plus he’s working on the VY1JA network infrastructure to make it more robust.
During the ARRL November Sweepstakes in November, W1NN hopes to operate VY1JA for the CW weekend, while W1VE plans to take the reins for the phone weekend. The group is looking for other skilled contesters to keep VY1JA on the air, especially in CW contests, but also for non-contest band modes to make Yukon available for any who need it, Allen said.
At present the only antennas currently at the station are an 80 meter dipole and a 40 meter ground plane. A remotely controllable rotator is in development for the Yagi that’s on its way, though, and a linear amp already is on site.
Once VY1JA has been successfully remoted, operators may submit requests to operate the station or to put in on the air in contests and operating events. Allen will take requests for individual skeds. All VY1JA logs are automatically sent to LoTW and ClubLog, as well as to VY1JA’s QSL managers.
“I want other operators who can do it much better than I can to operate, while I do the maintenance and building,” Allen told ARRL. “I have great people on board to help. The Amateur Radio community has done a lot to help me, and making my station available in this manner is my way of returning those favors.”