On day 3 we arrived safely at Neys Provincial Park, near Marathon, on the north shore of Lake Superior. While our home, hundreds of kilometers to the south, was basking in thirty degree Celsius heat, we were shivering from the strong, cold wind blowing in off the big lake they call Gitchee Gumee.
Neys Camp 100
Neys is a quiet park nestled on a peninsula between the Little Pic River and the bay near the small town of Marathon, Ontario to the east. It is called Neys Provincial Park now, but during the Second World War it was known as Neys Camp 100; a prisoner of war camp for senior German officers. Very little of the camp remains; new forest grows where the prisoners huts used to be. A model of the camp is on show at the visitor’s centre for history buffs to explore.
Old Man’s Beard and Sun-bleached Driftwood
The trees at Neys have a distinctive feature. They are heavily laden with “Old Man’s Beard”, a very attractive lichen that is found abundantly throughout the park. There is a long sandy beach but instead of being full of Sun worshippers, it is heavily laden with driftwood washed ashore by the lake. It is a perfect example of a naturally beautiful Northern Ontario beach.
Balloons in a Tree
I found a nice birch tree on our campsite and launched my home made arborists throw bag up about 35 feet into the tree. My throw bags are plastic balloons filled with sand, tied at the top around a small keyring. I loop a very thin, light, but immensely strong line of Atwood rope through the keyring and launch it using a dog ball thrower. The thin rope is used to pull up a length of 550 paracord which in turn is used to raise the antenna wire.
Up You Go Shorty
My chosen antenna was my “Shorty 80m End-Fed Half Wave” wire. It is also home made, as is the 49:1 transformer used to bring the very high impedance of an end-fed half wave wire down close to 50 ohms. Designing the antenna was very simple. I cut and trimmed a half wavelength of wire for the 40m band. The remainder of the antenna is a coil and a short tail about 10 feet long. There are online calculators for finding the inductance of the coil. I wound an air-core coil on about six inches of PVC pipe, measured the inductance using an inductance meter, then looked up the correct length of the tail wire to make the overall antenna resonant on the CW portion of the 80m band. By happy coincidence, the antenna is also resonant on the CW portion of the 20m and 40m bands and can be used without a tuner.
At Neys I opted for an inverted-V configuration with the antenna ends just a few feet above ground. Despite noisy conditions on 20m and 40m it got the job done and I successfully activated the park for the POTA program. Neys is POTA entity VE-0316.
So That’s What Was Wrong!
While I had the radio set up I selected the 17m band that had led to my disappointment at Pancake Bay and made a dreadful discovery. My FT-891 was not putting out any RF on 17m. I checked all the other bands – no problem there, just 17m. I cursed at the idea of having to send the radio in for repair when I got home. A repair would be expensive and could take weeks!
Then I had a thought. Perhaps the problem is software related. I performed a factory reset and thankfully the problem cleared but I had to change all the menu settings back to where I needed them. I was very tired, tense but relieved that a major disaster had been averted.
Next post: 3000km, 13 Days and 5 Activations: Would that be Gulliver?
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