June 05, 2017

Canada C3 Expedition

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On June 1st, the icebreaker "Polar Prince" started on a 150-day journey from Canada's east to west coast via the infamous Arctic Northwest Passage. The expedition is named "Canada C3" and is one of the signature projects celebrating Canada's 150th birthday. The expedition is devided into 15 legs and will stop at a different location every day, including coastal towns and villages, indigenous communities, and nature parks.  And here's your chance to be part of this epic journey, by monitoring for the ship's WSPR beacon on 40, 30, or 20m!

The expedition ship in Prince Edward County, as posted on the C3 Facebook page on June 3rd. The Polar prince is a former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker and was formerly known as the CCGS Sir Humphrey Gilbert.
Under the leadership of Barrie Crampton VE3BSB, a team of radio amateurs installed a 200 mW QRP Labs U3S WSPR transmitter in the icebreaker's radioroom. Barrie reports that "the antenna is a 46 ft end fed slopping at 62 degrees from the port rail above the bridge to the midship 50 ft tower". The callsign used is CG3EXP. The U3S for the complete duration of the expedition will continuously transmit WSPR beacons, and will allow WSPR monitoring stations to track the voyage.

The Polar Prince departed Toronto on June 1st for the first leg of the expedition to Montreal, and sailed across Lake Ontario to its first stopover at Picton, Prince Edward County. On June 3rd on 40m I already managed to receive some spots from the expedition ship in Prince Edward County, grid locator FN14ka. The RAC - Radio Amateurs of Canada website writes the following about the project:
"Many of the locations to be visited by Canada C3 lie in areas where radio communication is difficult. Phenomena such as “arctic flutter” and disturbances from the aurora have traditionally been a problem in the north. Very few, if any, of these locations will have a WSPR beacon and are thus, until now, outside the worldwide WSPR network. The gathering of information on radio propagation simultaneously by several receiving stations will be of scientific interest – and it will also be fun. The WSPR network of stations meets this need comprising, as it does, a series of receiving sites and stations capable of reporting, in real time, the reception of, and location, of the beacons."

While this project is associated with the Canada C3 Expedition, results might provide “proof of concept” more generally for remote telemetry applications from Arctic regions. With the impending increase in non-commercial adventurers traversing the Northwest Passage, this low-cost technology might fill a need. Researchers following the Canada C3 “whisper” might wish to compare the experience to other ship-borne uses of WSPR as reported on several Internet sites."
I'm looking forward to seeing how far into the journey my simple wire antenna is capable of receiving the CG3EXP WSPR beacon. What a fascinating project! Wishing the Canada C3 expedition Smooth Sailing!

Another photo of the Polar Prince, as found on the official Canada C3 site
Polar Prince WSPR beacon received at PA7MDJ
Polar Prince WSPR beacon received at PA7MDJ
Polar Prince WSPR beacon received at PA7MDJ

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