Sunday, 22 November 2020

A Good Night...

It was a dark and stormy night......well, it was dark and cold, the storm arrived this afternoon. During last nights ARRL Sweepstakes I was up on Fort Henry Hill...enjoying myself in the cold.

No, I wasn't there to take part in the Sweepstakes, I was there to take part in my local clubs QRP Sprint. This was the last Sprint to be held this year, and as the score is accumulative over the year, an important one to take part in.

It's a little bit creepy up there at night, although the view of the city, all lit up, is spectacular. The Fort has been a haven for ghost hunters for years as was the subject on one of the TAPS TV shows.

I was set up ready to operate on Fort Henry Hill by 1900 local.  My 9.5' whip and Wolf River Coils Mini were ready for any 40m action that came my way.....and come it did, although it was a very hard slog with the thousands of other hams screaming "CQ Sweepstakes" with 1500w and stacked Yagi's.  

Propagation was not the best either, SFI=85, SN=11, A Index=12, and the K Index=3.  There was some pretty heavy QSB going on as well.

It was interesting working in the back of the van, with little light.  It did prove that you need to know where all your gear is so you don't spend hours searching for it. I must also remember to bring a hat and some hand-warmers next's hard to paper log when your hands are shaking with the cold 😃

My KX3 was in top form though, I made contacts in TN, NC, TX, MN, ON, IA, MO, FL, NE, and SD.  At 2100 I closed down with only 13 contacts in the log.  I was happy with that, most contesters ignore weak signals, so a huge thank-you to those who pulled me out of the mud and worked me.

I am really impressed with the Wolf River Coils Mini, it works so well with the 9.5' whip.  On average I was making 2000 km SSB contacts with 10w, you can't complain about that.  

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Another POTA...

Today was one of those beautiful sunny fall days, +7C under a deep blue, it was perfect for another Parks On The Air activation.

I chose to go to Fort Henry Hill National Historic Site, VE-4864, and operate from the parking lot.  Now that they have broke all of the plasma TV's they had set up in their information building it, once again, has a S0 noise floor....let's hope stays that way.

The Fort is actually closed for the season but the parking lot is still open.  I was surprised that there were so many people walking around the site trying to get some exercise, while still trying to stay safe with social distancing.  

The propagation today wasn't too bad:  SFI=82, SN=24, A Index=3, and the K Index=1 at 1600 UTC.

A new antenna was in use today.  I recently took possession of a Wolf River Coils Mini, and I had found in my garage an old AT-271 whip antenna for the AN/PRC-25 radio.  It's 113.5 inches long and is a perfect match for the coil.  I have it all mounted on a 6 inch mag-mount on the roof of my van (for stationary ops only), and it certainly worked well today.

I had the site officially activated in about 10 minutes after I arrived there, and I had 52 contacts in my log when I wrapped things up after 45 minutes.  Radio of the day, as usual, was my KX3 with a screaming 10 watts.  Stations were worked from New Brunswick to Kansas, and all done on 40m.  

We have a bit of heavy weather coming in for the next few days, but I'm hoping things will have settled down enough to get back out on Thursday and try out the same antenna setup on 20m.  

Thanks to all my chasers today!

The coil and whip mounted on the roof of my van.

The AT-271 whip antenna.

Monday, 9 November 2020

In Remembrance...

In Loving Memory

of the 

Officers, NCO's, and Men


2816 Squadron, RAF Regiment

December 1941 - June 1946

Per Ardua

Sunday, 8 November 2020

POTA Activation...

What a beautiful November day it was here.  Not a cloud in the deep blue sky, and the temperature was an unbelievable 15C...almost unheard of in mid-November.

It was still early when I headed off down the highway to Lower Brewers Mill Locks on the Rideau Canal. This is site VE-4882, the Rideau Canal National Historic Site.  It's not a rare one, it's been activated several times...but given the large crowds out enjoying this good weather, it was my only choice to avoid the crowds.

I used some very simple antennas today, just a MFJ-1979 17' telescopic whip mounted on a Buddipole Versa-Tee about 7' off of the ground with a single 17' elevated counterpoise for 20m.  I also borrowed a 40m Ham Stick, mounted on large mag-mount thrown on the roof of my van.

Surprisingly, both antennas worked very well.....way better than I thought they would.  Contacts were made in ON, FL, AL, KY, LA, IN, PA, NJ, WV, and MI.   Most of my signal reports were 55 to 59 and I'm really pleased with that.   I managed to put four P2P contacts in the log today and had the site activated within the first 30 minutes.

Radio used today was my KX3, powered by a 1212a Bioenno Battery, and it worked flawlessly.   I'm really looking forward to doing many more POTA activations over the winter months from several locations around Kingston.  

Today's propagation numbers!

The Lock at Lower Brewers Mill

Rideau River

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Great Propagation!!!!

Well, have you guys seen the propagation numbers tonight?  They are outstanding, I haven't seen numbers like this is 4 years!!

Hopefully this is a sign of even better propagation to come!

Thursday, 29 October 2020

NA SSB Sprint...

Looking for something to do this weekend?  The North American SSB Sprint takes place on November 1st, from 0000 UTC to 0359 UTC.  I'm hoping to have more success doing the Sprint than I did last weekend doing the CQ WW DX Contest. 

The Rules can be found HERE.

I have decided that in future I will stay away from the BIG contests, and stick to the smaller know the ones, the type the big guns don't bother with.  I, and others, have quickly reached the conclusion that individuals who play within the set rules of a contest will never win.  There seems to be too many people running power levels far above the legally allowed limit, and who openly brag about it on the air without fear of any repercussions from the authorities, whether that's the FCC or Industry Canada. 

When you hear hams, on the air, complaining that even though they are running 3k and in one case, 5k of power in order to make contacts, something is wrong.  Yes, I know propagation was bad last weekend for the contest, but that's the cards you play with.  It doesn't mean you can continue to turn up the power until somebody hears you.  The rules are there for a reason, it's time people followed them.

Monday, 19 October 2020

CQ WW DX SSB Contest

This weekend see this years CQ WW DX SSB Contest kick off.  I will not be operating from the VE9FI contest station this year....for obvious reasons, which is a shame as I was really looking forward to it this year.  

Luckily for me my home antennas and other gear are in good shape and I will be able to take part from the VE3FI shack.   The FT-950 is warming up after being neglected as the KX3 has been the radio of choice for the past while.

I was going to activate a local POTA Park this weekend, but I'm beginning to think that would be a waste of time given how busy the bands will be with the contest.  The POTA activation will have to wait for the weekend after....hopefully the weather will still be good and warm enough to do it, that's always a risk this time of year.  I hate putting up portable antennas in the cold and snow.

This past week I have spent chasing POTA activations and having some fun on the HF bands now that they are starting to improve.  I read that over the winter activations from the Northern States and Canada start to drop off due to the cold weather, and the stations in the Southern States take up the slack to keep things ticking over.  I have plans for at least 6 local activations over the winter, and depending on the snow conditions, perhaps a few more.

I hope you're all staying safe out there!!

Sunday, 11 October 2020