Monday, 24 July 2017

A Beautiful Day.....

Rick, VE3ORY, and his portable set up
What was supposed to be a rainy day turned into an alright one, yeah it was a bit cloudy and the wind was blowing about 30 kph, but it was warm and no bugs......and no rain!

The day started off on a good footing when we showed up for the ferry, only to be waved right aboard, and it sailed within minutes of turning our engines off.  I don't think there were more than 20 cars on board.

We ended up going to a small park just down the road from the Winter Ferry Dock, it's called  "Canal Dock Park", and it's pretty small.  It does have lots of trees as well as some benches and picnic tables though....which all came in handy.

Rick, VE3ORY set up a digital and CW station using his 20m & 40m dipole and was soon on the air. I set up using my MFJ 17' telescopic antenna with a 17' counterpoise for 20m using some Buddipole parts and started to call CQ.

We spent 6 hours on the island, operated 17m, 20m, and 40m, and only made 20 contacts between SSB, CW, and Digital modes, but we had a lot of fun doing it.  Paul, VE3IKY, came over from his house on the island and paid us a visit, and Greg, VE3PJ, arrived and spent the day with us as well.

The bands were in terrible shape with some minor (G1level) geomagnetic storming going on, and I guess we were actually lucky to make the contacts we did.

The setup of VE3FI on the island.
Remember, any day out playing radio is better than mowing the lawn at home !!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Island Activation

Wolfe Island Ferry
This coming Sunday, July 23rd, the Frontenac Amateur Radio Club will be activating Wolfe Island, ON-009. Wolfe hasn't been activated since very early 2016.
The last time we activated Wolfe we made a remarkable two HF contacts, hopefully we can do better this time if the propagation Gods are all aligned correctly.
We will be on from 1500 UTC till 1900 UTC, or until the contacts stop coming our way.

Callsign will be VE3FRG, and the SSB frequencies will be:
7.250
14.250 - 14.260
144.200
Digital Frequencies will be:
7.080
14.070


Wolfe Island location





Saturday, 15 July 2017

New Radio

There's a new addition to the shack these days.  I bought a new FT-817 and Z-817 tuner from Radioworld last week....and I'm having a blast with this rig.

This is the second 817 I have owned, and I should never have sold the first one....but I did.   Anyway, it was time to get back into the QRP field, even though the solar cycle is on the downward slide to zero sunspots.

Today was the first time I've had the rig on HF.  It didn't take me long to make some good contacts.  First up was PY5QW in South Brazil (8,222 km), and IZ1UKF in Genoa, Italy (7.002 km).  Both contacts done with 5w into my 148' inverted L longwire antenna.  Feeling pretty pleased with those.

Propagation numbers today as of 1632 UTC were: SFI=91, SN=58, A Index=4, and the K Index=1.

Looking forward to next weekend when my club is doing an island activation, we'll see what I can do with it then.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Crappy Bands.....

Not a very good day yesterday on the bands for the IARU HF World Championships, they were very noisy and the QSB was also pretty bad at times.

At 1249 UTC the propagation numbers were SFI=81, SN=25, the 'A' Index=5, and the 'K' Index=1.  Not too bad numbers for this stage of the solar cycle, but they didn't translate into contacts.

There were a few surprises however.  I decided to start on 15m, which hasn't been very active for  months, but my first contact was with CR6K in Portugal and was closely followed by PP5BZ in Brazil.  Both these contacts were made using my 148' inverted L long-wire antenna.  I made a few more 15m contacts before moving to 20m.

There seemed to be a lot of EU stations running a lot of power, they had some great signals at this QTH, but they couldn't hear anyone going back to them.  People need to remember that the "power" is in your good antennas, and if you can't hear them - you can't work them.

I did manage to put a new one in the log in the late afternoon, 4U1WB, the UN World Bank station from Washington, DC....not really DX, but a new one nonetheless.

W1SYE also made it into my logbook, they were located on Nashawena Island, and were taking part in a first activation of the island for the US Islands Award, so I could resist helping them out with a contact.  The island is MA-002.

Nashawena Island

Saturday ended with 32 contacts in the log, not a very good day, but.......given the state of this solar cycle, I bet the next few years will be even worse, so enjoy it while we can....

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

IARU HF World Championship 2017

Coming up this weekend on the bands is the IARU HF World Championship.

Always a great weekend for gathering rare DX into your logbook, but given the lousy propagation we have had over the past few months I wonder if we will actually hear any DX?

The event runs for 24 hours, from 1200 UTC on July 8th to 1200 UTC on July 9th.

Rules can be found HERE.

Good Luck!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Canada Day Contest 2017

The bands were not in the best of shape at all.   Most of my contacts were done on 20m with a few made on 40m, 80m, 6m, and 2m SSB.  Nothing at all was heard on 10m or 15m.  

There was lots of deep QSB and the bands were quite noisy, but I managed to put 122 contacts in the log which I'm happy with considering the conditions.

I actually did hear the ever elusive Bob, VA3QV/VY2, but wasn't able to make a contact with him.  Nice to hear him as it proves he's still alive and out there "somewhere".

As usual the contest was slow and friendly, with many comments, other than the mandatory exchanges, being passed back and forth.  This must be one of my favourite contests along with the Winter Contest.

Now to get ready for next weekends HF World Championships........

Monday, 26 June 2017

Field Day 2017.....or Noah comes to Grafton?

The 2m and 6m beams
mounted on a 32' ladder.
It was an interesting field day weekend, we had everything from high, humid heat, to torrential rains and flooding.

Our normal field day site is located on Hay Bay and has been our "home" for this event for 12 years.  However, this year we were, and still are, flooded out of the site due to the high water levels in Lake Ontario.  This necessitated a move or a cancelled field day.  Cancelling this event was never a real option to us, therefore we moved it to a piece of available property in Grafton.

Several of our club members went in to the site on Wednesday morning to check it out and walk the property to decide where we could put up our various antennas to cause the least interference for our operating as a 5A station.

All was well for Wednesday and Thursday, people started to arrive and get things set up and the camp established.........and then the rains hit.  Overnight we had 3 inches of rain in 12 hours and the creek, which runs through the property, rose 3.5 feet in 8 hours.  This was the highest recorded rainfall in 100 years.

Rick's set up, before the rain.
Rick, VE3ORY, found himself and his equipment in the middle of flooded area, while myself and Don, VE3MNE, found the roof of our operating shelter collapsed under the weight of the water and our equipment soaked.  Not a good thing!!

Friday was spent drying out equipment and gear, moving camps and setting up new antennas away from the water.

Thankfully by Friday evening we were set up and could relax.  Don, VE3UNA, had made reservations for us at the Buttermilk Cafe in Coburg, 15 minutes the road.  We had a great dinner with some new ham friends there, and the food was fantastic.

Rick's set up AFTER the rain !!
By 1400 local on Saturday we were primed to go, and things went well.  The propagation for Saturday was:  SFI = 72. SN = 22.  A Index = 5 and the K Index = 2.  The band seemed to be in good shape.  On Sunday the numbers were better.  Given our current position in the current Solar Cycle, the numbers weren't too bad.....we've had worse.

Operating wise we did pretty good, our final QSO count was 1,498, which beat last years score by 150 QSO's.

One item that stands out this year was the use on the air of the most stupid phonetics possible.  Some people using these had to repeat themselves several times because the receiving station just couldn't understand them.  It pays to use the standard ones - people know them.

Very few west coast stations were worked this year, we just didn't hear them at all.  In fact, none of our five stations worked any callsign on the west coast or the prairies.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the great lemon cookies Rick's wife, Sonya, sent with him.....they were a great hit!  Also mention should go to Mark, VE3EOG. who's tea making skills improved over the weekend to the point it was actually drinkable!

And lastly, many thanks to the May family, Steve, Joann, Kelsie and Sydney for allowing us the use of their property, and to Don and Richard who also came out to help and keep things under control.

VE3EOG at work on the 40m station


The 40m and 80m operating shelter and the "Bunkie"


The CW station with Rick, VE3ORY in control

Sunday, 18 June 2017

WSPR

Just had my ham radio computer fixed, and I'm back up on WSPR and PSK-31.   Lots of fun today on WSPR, the bands weren't too bad, but nothing was getting into Europe on any band.

Here's 20m today at 1430 UTC, June 18th.