Sunday, 24 July 2016

Colorado 14er Weekend

Each year I try to take part in the event, some years I have been successful, others not so much.  Hopefully this year I'll have more luck than last year when I got skunked !!

Amateur Radio operators from around Colorado will be climbing many of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains and Summits On The Air (SOTA) peaks to set up amateur radio stations in an effort to communicate with other radio amateurs across the state and around the world.

Join in on the fun this year during the 25th annual event and see how many of the mountaintop stations you can contact. This year the event is expanded to include the entire weekend, August 6 & 7. However, many mountaintop activators will hit the trail early with the goal of being off the summits by noon due to lightning safety concerns.

Activity can occur on any amateur band including HF and VHF.  Some of the frequencies that will be in use are:

For CW:


For SSB:


You can check the SOTA Watch spotting site HERE for updated frequencies and active callsigns.

Here's a couple of shots of the event from recent years........

Friday, 22 July 2016

Incredible !!

Wow......just saw the stats for my Blog.  As of today I'm at 100,026 views!!   Thanks to everyone who reads my rantings, I really appreciate it.

Hopefully over the past few years somebody may have learned something useful from reading this site.

Well, let's crack on with getting the second 100,000 views !!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Comings and goings.....

Not much going on in the VE3FCT shack at the moment.....summer seems to be getting in the way!!

However, this coming Sunday the Frontenac Radio Group will be activating Amherst Island, ON-021.  Amherst hasn't been activated in a good number of years so we;'re hoping it will attract a bit of attention.

We will be on from 1500 UTC till 1900 UTC, unless propagation is in the toilet again and then we'll call it quits early.

Callsign will be VE3FRG, and the frequencies will be:

14.250 - 14.260

I have been doing a bit of WSPR with not much success.  Here's the map from last night at 2230 UTC showing the slim pickings on 20m.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Canada Day Contest

Not a very exciting contest for me.  I had to use my IC-718 due to my FT-950 being put out of action in my post Field Day "accident".

The IC-718 is definitely not a contest radio, in fact it was horrible as the DSP was next to useless, and the front end of the radio gets overloaded very easily.  The unfortunate thing is the radio is very well laid out and is super easy to use, and you do not have to go digging through layers of menu settings to make changes on the fly.

I guess if I'm going to keep this rig, I'm going to have to add the INRAD 2.1 Kz SSB filter, which I hear makes all the difference to the radio.

I have submitted my log to RAC for scoring, but I don't think my 50 QRP contacts will win this year.

It's off to Radioworld in Toronto on Tuesday so the "radio doctor" can look at the FT-950 and give me a diagnoses.  Hopefully, fingers and toes crossed, it isn't something too bad that needs fixing.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Field Day.......the aftermath

VE3MNE hard at work on 80m SSB.
(All pictures by Rick-VE3ORY)
What a great weekend......or in my case what a week!!

Most of the week was spent playing radio or repairing and building the off-centre-fed (OCF) dipoles we used on the weekend.  Our original 160m OCF and the 80m OCF were both damaged in the winter and spring storms we had, and more radials had to be made for the 40m vertical to improve its performance.

Most of the guys arrived Friday morning and we were soon busy putting up sleeping and operating tents, as well as shooting lines over the very tall trees on the property to get the antennas high up in the air.   Eventually we had the 160m OCF up at 90' and two 80m OCF's up at 80'.  Tim VA3TIC arrived with his trailer mounted tri-band beam and that was also soon put together and ready to go. By the time this was all done it was time for a shower and we were all off to the Picton Golf Course for a fantastic dinner.......and a couple of cold ones.

Saturday was spent making sure all the gear worked and doing radio checks to make sure our sets of notch filters were doing the job as designed.  This year we had very little interference between stations, so our rebuild of the notch filter system earlier in the spring did the job for us.

Field Day kicked off for us with some ridiculously deep QSB.  One moment the station was 59+ and then it was completely gone.....never to be heard from again.  All I could hear on 40m was a wall of muffled sound, all calling CQ, and I couldn't pick out any individual calls. Eventually things started to settle down and I started to make contacts, but it was very hard going on 40m, in fact the whole weekend I only managed a total of 100 contacts.

Our starting propagation numbers were:  SFI=76.  SN=0.  A Index=12, and the K Index=1.

A dead 160m OCF
About two hours into the event we had a total 160m OCF failure, and we had to down our pics and bring down the 160 for a rebuild.  The balun failed under the stress of hauling it up the tree, so it was fixed, the 160 was hauled back up 80' and we were back in action.

Our setup this year was a bit different than in years past.  We had three SSB stations on 80m, 40m, and 20m, as well as an all band Digi station and an all band CW station.  This setup worked very well for us and we will continue with this setup next year as well.

We also had a 31' multi band vertical for the digi station as well an another 80m OCF dipole, and a portable, trailer mounted, three element beam for 20m SSB. The 40m SSB station used a WW2 No 19 Radio Set's 73 years old this year and works extremely well on both 40m and 15m.

Apart for some much needed stops to fuel up on food it was go-go-go for us. While I haven't seen our final score yet, I do know we beat last years QSO total so I'm expecting good news on that front.

Of course sometimes there has to be a down side to a story......and there is.  Once I had returned home I was putting my FT-950 back on the bench when it suddenly left the Pelican case and hit the floor....after dropping four feet.  So, it's off to Toronto and Radioworld to see what they can do to get it working again properly.......sick to my stomach?  You betcha!

VE3MNE & VA3VDP fixing the 160m OCF

Shooting lines up into the trees

VA3TIC hard at work on 20m SSB

Breakfast - VA3VDP, VE3MNE, & VE3GO

VE3HRW - doing what he does best :-)

The final results on the map......not very many empty locations