Wednesday, 18 September 2019

It's Come & Gone...

The Campsite.
Well, another Chillycon is over, and what a weekend it was!  Weather wise it was fine, except for Friday night when the winds got up and torrential rain fell for most of the night.  Luckily we all stayed dry and survived.

Attendance was down a bit this year, there seemed to be only a few from Ottawa.  The guys from Kingston and Montreal made up for it though.

Dave, VA3ORP, once again brought the portable bar, and the single malt flowed as usual, and the Pizza supper on Saturday evening was as good as ever.

The propagation for the weekend was: SFI=68, SN=0, A Index=5, K Index=1.  Those numbers did not change all weekend.

Over the weekend a European DX Contest was on, and Saturday afternoon saw us working into Europe at QRP levels with no problem.   I managed to work DL0HN, a club station near Stuttgart, and OM2VL near Bratislava with my FT-817D with 5w on SSB.  The antenna was a 66' wire into a 9:1 unun, and four 16' ground radials.   I also managed to put another 20 North Amercans in the log, including Rick, W6KH from Vista, California, another nice QRP contact.

Don, VE3MNE, won the DX Contest this year with a QRP SSB contact into Saudi Arabia.  He used an FT-857D, dialed back to 5w, with a 20m hamstick mounted on his truck.

Those who didn't make it missed a great weekend, and I'm sure Eric and Stuart will tell the guys in Ottawa just what they missed.  Of course Eric was not pleased that he, once again, did not win the DX Trophy, and is plotting to change some of the rules for next year in his favour.  We did, however, insist that he present the trophy to Don so he could say that at least he got to hold it this year.

Some more pictures of the weekend.......

The VE3FI FT-817ND


If you're going to drink Scotch, drink the good stuff!


VE3AMX presenting the DX Trophy to VE3MNE, this years winner.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Chillycon

Coming up on the weekend of September 14th & 15th, is this years edition of Chillycon.  This is the annual gathering of QRP'ers in Eastern Ontario, sponsored and hosted by the Ottawa QRP Club.

It's held each year at Rideau River Provincial Park, just across the river from the town of Kemptville. It's a small and clean park, and who cater for we amateur radio operators.

As usual a good group will be attending from Kingston again this year......if only to see what single malt scotch Dave, VA3ORP, brings with him.

VA3QV enroute!!
 The weather this year looks very different from last year, when we were
  hit with a heat wave.  This year it looks like we will be back down to the
  usual temperatures and with a bit of rain in the forecast.  We'll go fully
  prepared for whatever Mother Nature can throw at us and see what
  happens.

 Bob, VA3QV, will be making an appearance for a few days, and he will
 be available to sign autographs on Friday night.

 Don't forget if you're going to enter the Chillycon QRP DX
 Contest.....somebody has to beat Eric.

 If you can't make it for the weekend, try and get out and join us for the Saturday, and our traditional Pizza Supper.  Bring your radio, there's lots of operating locations if you join us for the day.


Saturday, 31 August 2019

Using 2m...

I was sitting here in the shack today thinking about the international kerfuffle we have just gone through for the past month over 2m, and the possibility of losing it for amateur use.

In several places I have read that if we don’t use 2m we will lose it, in fact that can be said about any of our amateur bands these days, given the level of corporate greed out there.  But, thinking about 2m, when was the last time you heard any traffic on a simplex frequency?  It was probably 3 years ago for me.

Over the past few months I’ve been following a few ham blogs run by UK amateurs, and I’m amazed at the amount of traffic they seem to generate on 2m simplex.    

They have hams that collect Trig Points using 2m to follow the activators.  You never hear of that activity here in Canada.

Some hams collect Grid Squares, we have that in North America as well, but it seems only during contests, and primarily on 6m it seems.

Then there is SOTA. We have SOTA in North America also, but not much is done on 2m simplex, especially here in Ontario.  It’s nowhere near as popular here as it is in Europe.

The UK, and several other countries, also have HEMA, an organization that is similar to SOTA, but for smaller summits.  It’s very popular, but it doesn’t appear to be operating in North America.

Then we have Island and Lighthouse activations, popular all over Europe and the USA, but they don’t seem to attract much attention in Canada.  

It looks like there are plenty of activities to do on 2m, it would seem, however, the real issue is getting people out of their shacks, and getting involved in some of these activities to make sure we don’t lose our frequencies.

Remember, the Europeans only have 144 to 146 and do all of the above activites.  Here in North America we have twice that amount of frequency, 144 to 148, and apart from a pile of dead repeaters that get used once a week for a poorly attended net, not much else goes on.  

Time for a change in the way we do things here I think.  

Friday, 30 August 2019

Good News....

Looks like the issue over Ham Radio losing 2m may now be over.

Have a look HERE.

We will wait for the official announcement in a few days, but it looks good!!

I guess Thales will now  have to find another pile of frequencies to use and leave ours alone.  BUT......we need to remember, if we don't use it, we will lose it.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

A Pretty Good Day...

The day didn't start that well.  We missed the first ferry to Wolfe Island, ON-009, by about 10 minutes, so we had an hour to kill before the next one.

Our operating spot for the day was at Canal Dock Park on Wolfe Island.  It's a very peaceful and quiet spot, there's also a good number of high trees to throw your antenna up into.

Propagation numbers for the day were: SFI=66, SN=0, A Index=4, and the K Index=2.   There didn't seem to be too many islands on the air given it was the Island QSO Party weekend, but the Ohio and Kansas QSO Parties sure made up for it and we had lots of contacts with stations taking part in those contests.

Contacts were made in Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Maine, and Ontario.   Radio in use was my FT-897D with the LDG Tuner, maximum output was 50 watts.  The antenna of the day was this ONE.  We're still working on this antenna to get all the kinks out of it, but for the most part it did the job.  I had it up in the air almost as a 'Inverted V', and my suspicion is that it would work a lot better as a vertical.  Time, and more experimentation, will tell.

Overall is was a very relaxing and enjoyable day, even the bugs took the day off.

The view from the operating position.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Portable Antenna...

Over the past two months Don, VE3MNE, and myself have been looking for, and working on, a portable antenna for our island and lighthouse activations.

When we started we had a few "must haves", such as it must be small, light in weight, and portable, it had to cover 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m, and 10m as a minimum, and it had to be easy to deploy.  After today's outing it looks like we have successfully met all those targets.  In fact it even tuned up on 17m and 30m.

Here's a diagram of the antenna:

Click to Expand Diagram

The propagation numbers for today at 1400 UTC were:  SFI=66, SN=0, A Index=4 and the K Index=1. We also had some very deep QSB, especially on 40m.

Even with those numbers we were getting a true solid 59 into the southern states and New Brunswick.

Next weekend we will have it on the air again for the W / VE Island QSO Party.  Hopefully the propagation numbers will be better than today, and we will have a better idea of what this antenna can really do.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Squirrels........

A few years ago I put up a 148 foot long wire antenna.  It was a great antenna, it worked very well and was my "go-to" antenna for Europe on 20m.   Recently I started to have some issues with it and then it stopped working altogether.   I finally decided yesterday to investigate what was wrong.

I was using RG8X coax for the antenna and had it running under my back deck, so I disconnected the coax and pulled it out into the open. You can see why I was having issues by looking at the pictures below ☺  


We're going squirrel hunting tomorrow.






Sunday, 4 August 2019

W / VE Island QSO Party

Coming up on August 24 & 25 is this year's W/VE Island QSO Party.  This event is designed to showcase the U.S. (USI) and Canadian (CIA) islands programs.

The Canadian website is HERE, and the US website with the rules is HERE.


This is NOT the IOTA program run by the RSGB, these are separate national island programs that include both fresh and saltwater islands.

Contacts are allowed on 160m to 6m, excluding the WARC bands and 60m.  No repeater, Internet-sourced, MCW, VHF/UHF simplex or cross mode contacts allowed.

I'm planning on activating Wolfe Island, ON-009 under the Island Expedition Class, for as long as my batteries last.  

Start planning for it, we need more Canadian stations active for this event.