Sunday, 13 July 2014

IARU Contest - The Follow Up........

VE3MNE taking a break
Let me start off by stating that I've had far worse contest fact some have been so bad they became "non-contests".  This contest was not one of my better ones.  Only 71 contacts in the log from 34 countries, not very happy with that, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

Saturday morning started off with the SFI at 166, SN also at 166, A Index at 6, and the K Index at 2.   The only bands we could hear anything on at all were 20m and 15m, the other bands were just silent, the S needle never moved on them.  It was a very strange day for propagation, there were many European stations booming in at S9 +20, but they could not hear me, or the other station, VE3MNE, operating from the same site.  

I started off on 20m and worked US station after US station, but could not work a European despite them still booming in.  Eventually I managed to work GR2HQ, the RSGB HQ Station, but the band stayed at short skip distance for most of the day.  The other thing we had to contend with was some very deep QSB which just made things even more difficult.

I had two antennas to play with, a homebrew 80m OCF Dipole and a homebrew 31' vertical.  Both worked very well and tuned great on all bands.  The radio in use was my FT-857D with the YT-100 Tuner.  Looking back now I think using the FT-857 was probably my biggest mistake, but it was convienient and I was too lazy to take the shack apart to bring out the FT-950 again.

It was not until about 2300 UTC that the bands really came alive and DX could hear us.  Most of my contacts were made on 15m, the rest on 20m, and the very last four contacts were made on 40m. 

While disappointing radio wise, it was still a great weekend to be out playing radio. 

The next radio activity on the horizon will be the Sunday, July 27th, Brewer’s Mill Island activation. This is our clubs third attempt at getting this island activated. I'll post more details of this closer  to the never know.......VA3QV may just try and help us out with a contact!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

IARU HF World Championships - 2014

This weekend, the IARU HF World Championships takes place.  This contest is always a great one for rare and strange DX, and I try to never miss it.

This year I'll be operating portable back out at our Field Day site on Hay Bay.  We purposely left the dipole antennas up for this contest as they are up in the air at about 100'. 

So far the propagation for the weekend doesn't look like it's going to be very good for us, but hey, it's a radio weekend so it can't be all that bad.....right ??

Not sure which radio I'm going to use, I might try and just use the new Go-Box, and the FT-857D for this contest, that way I don't have to rip  the shack apart again as I did for Field Day.

Stay tuned for the results!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Field Day - 2014

Richard- VA3VDP  in the "Digital Shack"

What a weekend we had!  The weather was just about perfect, and the rain stayed away…what more could we ask for?

Many thanks go out to Don, VE3MNE, for once again hosting the team at his property on Hay Bay.  I’m not sure what we would do if we didn’t have access to the “Ranch”.

Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday was spent cleaning up, mowing the huge lawn, and pulling out various pieces of equipment and old antennas to see what we needed to fix and repair. The big job we did first – fixing the 160m OCF Dipole that had come down over the winter.

Thursday evening we worked some good DX while testing out the dipoles.  I managed to work V63YM, Silvio in Yap, Micronesia, and VK3QD, Aubrey in Melbourne, Australia.  Not too bad with a 100w into a wire antenna.

Sunset on Hay Bay Friday evening
By Friday afternoon most of the team had arrived and had set themselves and their equipment up in various locations around the property.  Tim, VA3TIC’s set-up had to be seen to be believed….there’s not too many mobile 30 foot towers with three element beams about……but Tim has one.

Friday evening we all left for Wellington, and the Sandbank’s Grill at 1700 hours for our traditional supper out.  The beer was cold, the food was good, the stories flowed......and we all had a great time.

Saturday morning was spent doing antenna and interference checks between the five stations, and after a few tweaks and at least one total antenna change we were ready at last.  1400 hrs came and the bands erupted in near total chaos as Field Day kicked off.  It truly was, as Dave, VA3ORP, would put it, a very high electronic warfare environment.  It took me about 30 minutes to get my ears adjusted to the noise and the rhythm of the bands. 

Saturday afternoon the bands were all very short and we were not getting any distance out of them.  The 40m station was only getting out about 200 Kms, and the other stations were much the same.  By about 2000 hrs the bands started to get a bit normal and we started to see the movement out west. 

Richard, VA3VDP, our resident digital mode guru did very well this year, just about doubling last years score.  He must have been helped by the fact he had the "coolest" position of the weekend....and the view wasn't too bade either.

One of our Club members is on vacation in New Brunswick this week, we did hear him operating as a /VE9 on a couple of occasions.  We never did have a QSO with him, but that was due more to the shock of hearing him on SSB instead of CW !!!

Derek - VE3HRW getting the 10m position ready for launching

Making contacts got more and more difficult to do, even though the SFI numbers kept improving!!  By Sunday morning we were struggling to find contacts on fairly busy bands.  Unfortunately, the propagation God’s never really smiled upon us, but the good news is that the propagation God’s never smiled upon anyone else either.

I don’t have a definitive score yet, but it’s around 1019 before we tack on the extra points we are eligible for.  We have done very well over the past 5 years, consistantly placing in the top 4 clubs in the 5AC category.  So we are hoping to at least equal our standing of the past few years.

There were a number of visitors to the site over the weekend, Ted, VE3KEH and his XYL Margaret, VE3WIR.  It was good to finally put a face to Ted after talking to him many times on the our repeater.  Matt, VA3OZI, came out to the site twice!  The second time he brought out the whole family.  It was very nice to see everyone.

All in all it was an excellent radio weekend…….and only 364 days to go till the next one.

Our 2014 Field Day Map showing the result.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Field Day and the Canada Day Contest 2014

Not long to go until Field Day this year, that Holy of Holies on the amateur radio calendar. 

This year I'll be back out at the Hay Bay site our Club always uses.  This year we will be operating from only one site, not our normal two.  We have a number of operators on the sick and injured list so we have cut back.

The plan is to operate as a 5A station, four on SSB and the fifth on digital modes.

The antenna farm will consist of a 160m OCF Dipole, two 80m OCF Dipoles, two 31' verticals, a 20m portable beam, and a 10m dipole.  At least two Buddipole sets will be available as well.

This year's rules can be found HERE.

Hopefully the confusion over the new Ontario Sections will have been sorted out this year.  Last year many US stations did not know we had split Ontario into four separate Sections, Ontario North, Ontario South, Ontario East, and Greater Toronto.  Make sure your logging softwear has been updated!

So this year we get home from Field Day on Sunday afternoon, and start the Canada Day Contest Monday evening.  It'll be a quick turnaround and hopefully the XYL will keep her sense of humour!

The rules for this contest can be found HERE.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour - 2014

What a great weekend to be out playing radio!!   This year was 43rd Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour.  This cycle tour runs from Ottawa to Kingston on Saturday, and back to Ottawa on the Sunday.  The weather was fantastic, in fact it was almost too good.

Each year ham radio operators from Ottawa, Perth, and Kingston band together to provide a seamless communications system for the riders and support crews.  This year, 50 operators provided support to the tour, and another two rode their bicycles and operated mobile.
Don VE3MNE checking on the riders
The Frontenac EmComm Group has looked after the southern section of the tour route for the past 9 years, and it has become quite the fixture on our activity calendar.  We look after five locations, from Perth Road Village in the North, down Hwy 10 to Queen's University in the South.  There are lots of hills in our section and on Saturday we see a lot of very tired riders.  The route from Ottawa to Kingston is 170 Kms long.

On Saturday the first rider arrived at Perth Road Village at 1030 hrs, I'd love to know what time he left Ottawa!!  During the day it was a steady stream of cyclists through my check point, all looking for water or gatorade to rehydrate, and given the high temperatures we had they drank a lot,  In fact by 1600 hrs the Perth Road Village General Store was complely out of bottled water and other drinks, and that's a first as far as we can tell.  We finally shut down the Perth Road Village check point at 1715 hrs.  It was a pretty long hot and sweaty day, and we had to be up early to get back their on Sunday morning.

Sunday was a lot cooler than Saturday thanks to some sparce cloud cover and a cooler breeze.  The first rider headed out of Queen's University at 0500 hrs, and passed through Perth Road Village at 0600 hrs, he was pushing hard to get to Ottawa so he could get to work by 1100 hrs........I can't imagine doing that!!

This year we had three emergencies that had ambulances called to them.  The first accident was in the Ottawa Sector and involved a broken pelvis.  The second accident had a broken shoulder blade, and the third accident was a face plant into the gravel at high speed.  As bad as these were, we're glad that everyone will recover.

Thanks to the guys and gals who volunteered their time this weekend to make this a success.  Plans are already being made to make next years event a bigger success.

Saturday Perth Road Village set-up
Sunday Perth Road Village set-up