Thursday, 29 December 2011

New Toy

Well I hope Santa was as good to you all as he was to me!  One of the new toys I picked up over the holiday, used for $20, is a MFJ-16010 long wire tuner.  I've been after one of these for quite some time.

This tuner is a variable L-network random wire antenna tuner and is designed to match the low output impedance of your transmitter to the high impedance of a random wire (or vice versa). It will match almost any random length of wire to any transmitter from 160 thru 10 meters. The transmitter may have an output RF power up to 200 watts.

Now the fun starts - experimenting with it, after all they do say winter is the best time to work on your antennas!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

VA3QV.......not so elusive!

Got him!!!  After searching for Bob-VA3QV for the past three or four contests with no luck at all, I can finally report that he was found skulking around 7.080 at 1657Z........and he's now in the log!!

The RAC Winter Contest is now over, and rigs and power supplies are starting to cool down after a frantic 24 hours of go-go-go.  It was a good contest, I had a great time, and managed to work all provinces and territories except Yukon and New Brunswick.  Yukon is hardly ever heard, but the absence of any VE9's really surprised me.

The contest started with a noise floor around S8 which continued until 2045Z when it fell to S3.  No idea what was causing it, and as nothing was turned off at 2045Z in my house, I can only assume that it was something next door.

As you can see from the Solar Data Banner on the left, the SFI and other numbers were not the best on the 17th December.  We've all seen a lot worse of course, but after the past few months of great DXing, it's hard to see it sink back to these levels again.

I had a couple of good catches today (besides Bob!).  Osvaldo-LU2QC in Argentina, Norman-V31NB in Belize, and Bob-G3ORY in the UK.  All three of these stations were calling "CQ RAC Contest", it's nice to see other countries taking part in the Winter Contest.

All in all I'm very pleased with my new 40m OCF Dipole.  It works extremely well, even to the point of tuning up on 80m and allowing me to make contacts in Newfoundland and BC.  I took the design from the Buxcom website.  For more information on this antenna, and others like it, click HERE.

Hope to see everyone back on the bands for the NA QSO Party on January 21 and 22.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

ARES Intergalactic Leadership

Over the past year or two I have written, rather infrequently, about RAC, and most of it has not been very complementary. I make no secret of my hate for those unelected individuals who have driven RAC into the ground, nor do I have any time for those unelected and appointed “Empire Builders” and “Control Freaks” who have been trying to turn the ARES organization into a clone of the Canadian Army Communications Branch.

So tonight I thought that rather sit here and bitch about what is going on in RAC ARES, I would give some constructive ideas, and see if anyone pays attention.

I have said many times before that ARES in Canada needs to be completely revamped if it is to survive. Is that a hard job? No, it can be accomplished in about 18 months if the powers that be really want to.

How to do it.....

For a start the VPFS should begin by sending a letter to each authorized ARES group, and ask for an annual report on everything they have done in the past 12 months. This would include meetings, deployments, training, other activities etc. Groups who fail to do this should be told that they would no longer be a recognised ARES group and lose the right to use "ARES" name.

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re not holding regular ARES meetings, if you’re not conducting regular, and ongoing training, or if you do not practice deploying to the field on a very regular basis, you’re not much of an ARES group anyway.

A basic and simple ARES course needs to be put together and made mandatory for all ARES members. RAC needs to provide a formal certificate that EC’s can present to their members, when they have completed this course. The course needs to have the following subjects covered:

a. What is ARES?
b. Personal Safety.
c. NTS training.
d. How we deploy.
e. Portable antennas.
f. Personal readiness.
g. Operator and logger duties.
h. NVIS antennas.
i. Digital operations.

Remember, this is a basic course, designed to get an operator up to speed so that they can fill a position in the team. We’re not looking for professional high speed CW Ops, but we are looking for a competent operator, who with some more “on the job training” will be an asset to their team.

The VPFS needs to then look at the current RAC rules on how an EC is appointed. According to RAC an EC is appointed for a period of two years, but can be extended for a further two year period. This has not been enforced and currently I know of at least two EC's who have been in place for over 12 years. The two year term for an EC should be rigidly enforced. The same goes for the DEC's as well. Too many of them have been around for far too long. This is not a way of attracting new members. New membership means new blood and new blood means new ideas and an invigorated organisation which is what we need.

The VPFS needs to highly encourage participation in both summer and winter field days, these are outstanding training opportunities that are under utilized by many groups. How many groups only train in the warm months?  Do we only expect to get called out when we can wear shorts and t-shirts?

Participation in both District and Provincial SET's should be mandatory, and Groups should be strongly encouraged to undertake monthly refresher training.  And how many groups never send in a monthly activity report that should be sent to the SEC?

An advanced course for DEC's and EC's needs to be developed.....keeping in mind that these guys are volunteers and not professional radio operators. They need to have family time as well! A well supported, well laid out resource website that is kept up-to-date is desperately needed.

This is not rocket science!! One of the biggest problems ARES has is the "over engineering" that goes on as people continue to build their empires. This too must stop. We need to stop being governed by committee, and we certainly do not need several layers of management above the local groups.

For Gods sake people, remember the KISS principle!!

ARES has a good role to play in their local communities, it also has a great role to play in the PR role for ham radio as a whole.  But if we continue to deploy untrained, or half trained, operators we will get no respect, and sooner, rather than later, our clients will stop using ARES and find another way to communicate.

If you agree with this, let Doug Mercer the VPFS know. His email is: vo1dtm@hotmail.com   I’m sure he would be interested in your thoughts on ARES. If you don’t agree with my ideas, just spin the VFO and keep moving along.

Monday, 12 December 2011

ARRL 10m Contest

Another good weekend on the contesting scene is now behind us. This years ARRL 10m Contest was a pretty good time, with lots of activity on the band during the day.

I decided to do this contest strictly as an SSB QRP station, and I used my IC-703. The receiver on the 703 is pretty good, and basically if I could hear them, I could work them. It was amazing what I managed to work. The furthest east I managed to work was LZ5R in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The furthest south was LP1H in Cordoba, Argentina, and to the west I worked a pile of Californians.

By the time the band died here around 1700L on Sunday I had managed to work 100 stations with 43 multipliers, giving me a total of 8600 points. Not too sure how that will stack up to the rest of the entries, but I had fun doing it.

The lack of Canadian stations was noteworthy, and several DX stations commented on that fact. No idea why, except it may be have been due to Christmas shopping, and everyone was out buying their XYL an expensive gift…..like a new FT-950.

Behavior on the band was pretty good for the most part, but I did hear a couple of altercations over “who owns the frequency”…..some people just never learn it seems.

AND.....once again the ever elusive VA3QV managed to elude me on the bands, I even searched for him!!  I did hear however that he was out and about on his "chick magnet" scooter as the weather was so good.  Maybe this coming Friday night Bob, during the RAC Winter Contest.....up on 40m????

Thursday, 8 December 2011

RAC and the little Dutch Boy

It never ceases to amaze me, the garbage that is spewed from non-elected officials with grandiose sounding titles.  It seems that the lunatics are now running the asylum.  Has anyone read the RAC Bulletin - 2011-043E - issued on the 7th December?

Do these individuals who have made this decision, outlined in that RAC Bulletin, really think that this will stop the idiots and trouble makers from showing up at a disaster site?  Let's face it, anyone can buy a safety vest and buy the black letters to iron on "Emergency Communications" across the back.  Well pilgrims, here's a news flash: Nothing is ever going to stop that!  I'm sorry, but the real bottom line to this issue is all about who is in charge - it's a control issue, and it's about who can  build their empire first!

Of course I could be wrong, and this could simply be a case of "small penis syndrome", you know, the condition which compels some men to overcompensate their lack of manhood by trying to overachieve in other areas..........well pilgrims, it isn't working!

How about instead of empire building over who gets to wear what piece of ARES branded clothing, RAC officials should be working hard to develop a simple and basic ARES course that can be taught at the local level?  In fact you would think that would be a pretty high priority wouldn't you?  Apparently not.

How about having the RAC officials stop worrying about who is RAC affiliated and who is not.  ARES or EmComm, we're all out there doing the same job!  Do RAC officials really think that governments, at any level, will  worry about whether the person working the radio is affiliated to RAC or not?  Most of them don't know what RAC is, and more to the point they don't give a damn!

Let's stop kidding ourselves here, the RAC system is broke and is way beyond fixing.  The officials who run RAC are constantly complaining that they cannot get enough volunteers to run the organization.  I wonder why that is?  Could it be that everyone else has recognized the fact that RAC has tipped too far and is beyond saving and therefore won't waste their time with it, or could it be that they simply don't want to work with the current board?

RAC needs to put a stop to ARES groups that exist in name only, or local clubs that have an authorized ARES group and an appointed EC, but who hold no meetings or regular training, and who have no, or very few, trained ARES members to back them up.  I'm all for RAC sorting that mess out!  These are the groups and individuals who give ARES a bad rap!

Does RAC even know how many ARES groups are actually out there and have been authorized over the years?  Do they know which groups have never conducted training?  Which groups have never taken part in a SET?  How many never submitt a monthly report?  If not they should, but I think the truthful answer would be that they have no clue.

The story of RAC ARES is like that of the little Dutch boy sticking his finger in the hole in the dyke, and that is too little......too late.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Changes at Fort Henry

Most of the readers of this Blog will know that I spend many hours operating portable from the parking lot of Fort Henry.  It's the perfect site, low RF noise, the highest spot in the area, and a large open area for antennas.  It seems that this will change shortly.

Recently construction started on a new large Visitors Interpretive Center.  This is being built on the right hand side of the parking lot, as per the picture on the left. 

Last year the Fort started charging $5 to park in the lot, and tightly controlled access to and from it.  It will be interesting to see how all this pans out for the local hams, many of whom use this site as I do. 

Stay tuned, we may be looking for a new "secret site" in Kingston.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Saturday on the bands

Another great day on the HF Bands.  I spent the day cruising up and down 10m making many QRP SSB contacts.  It wasn't the best of days as I'm currently suffering trying to pass a kidney stone.  Not a good time at all.

Anyway, first up this morning was Les - SP9LJD in Zabrze, Poland.  Les had an outstanding signal, S9+40.  I was pleased to get a true 59 report from him, not too bad for 10w into an Off-Center Fed Dipole.

As the day progressed 10m got busier and busier and I managed to work stations in Cuba, Germany, the Azores, Ecuador, Italy, Spain, UK, and the USA. 

In the late afternoon I heard VK7ZE calling from Tasmania.  I attempted to work him but the pile up was just too great.  On top of this, the foul and abusive language that was being transmitted on top of the VK7's signal had to be heard to be believed.  I guess some people think that the DX station should answer their calls first!  Some people need to chill out and learn how to behave properly in a pile up, because if they don't they won't be too happy when other DX stations refuse to answer them as well. 

At 2201Z my day was made when I managed to work Toru - JA7MSQ in Aomori City, Japan, and almost right away I worked Masanobu - JR5JAQ in Ehime, Japan.  Both of these contacts were done on 15m with 10w.

Just a great day on the bands, and I can't wait to see what Sunday brings.  I'm extremely pleased with my new IC-703, if I can hear the station I have been able to work them.

Happy QRP'ing!!

Friday, 11 November 2011

In Remembrance


In Loving Memory of the
Officers, NCO's, and Men
of
2816 Squadron, RAF Regiment
1941 - 1946

LEST WE FORGET



Sunday, 6 November 2011

Great Sunday on 10m QRP

Once again 10m is just hopping here in Kingston.  Lots of EU stations up and down the band, some very loud, 59++.  There was a bit of QSB but nothing we couldn't handle.

Of course the good weather has brought out the LIDS.  Why do people insist on tuning up right on frequency?  Why would you spend five minutes whistling into your microphone, when you know you're right on top of a 59++ QSO?  Is there now a law I don't know about, that stops you from moving up or down the band 10 Kc and tuning up there?  I just don't understand these idiots!

This afternoon I managed to get 40 minutes on the rig before "She Who Must Be Obeyed" arrived home.  I fired up the IC-703, and with a whopping ten watts managed to work:

SV3DCX - Panos in Greece
S52OT - Rado in Slovenia
MM0AMW - David in Scotland
F9IE - Bernard in France
G0UWK - Ian in the UK

Ian-G0UWK had an awesome signal, 40 over at the worst of the QSB.  When I originally heard him he was beaming into the South Pacific, looking for ZL and VK's amongst others.  Ian very kindly took the time to turn off his amp and reduce power to 10 watts.  My first trans-Atlantic QRP QSO !!

Many thanks to all the stations who heard me call QRP and asked everyone to stand by while they worked the QRP station.  Your kindness in helping make the QSOs is deeply appreciated!

Monday, 31 October 2011

CQ WW SSB Contest 2011

Wow!!  What a weekend!!  The conditions for this years CQ WW SSB Contest were outstanding as most of us will know.  This had to have been the best weekend we have had for DX chasing in many, many, years!  The bands were packed - wall to wall with strong signals.

It seemed everybody was having a great time, and what was most surprising was the behaviour on the bands...I didn't hear one piece of rude or obnoxious behaviour like we have heard in previous contests.  Also missing this weekend were the "Band Police", and given the size of some of the huge pileups I heard, that's just amazing.

This contest was the first big test for my new 40m OCF Dipole and boy did it pass with flying colours!  However, as expected it will not tune on 15m, but I certainly feel it way out performs my old 80-40-20 fan dipole by a long shot.  This antenna tunes on 40 - 20 - 17 - 12 - 10.

While I did work stations on 40m and 20m, the vast majority - 90% - of my contacts for the weekend were made on 10m.  It's been a long time since I have heard 10m open like that.  In fact I think my Dad was still alive and operating VE7CVQ when we last had similiar openings.

I worked 58 countries this weekend, a new record for me, and on top of that I managed to put seven new countries in the log book.  Some of the 10m highlights were:  8R1EA in Guyana; C5A in The Gambia; and ZM4T in New Zealand.  However....VA3QV eluded me all weekend!!

Just a phenomenal time on the bands!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Nicholson's Point Light

There's another local light now ready to be activated!  The Frontenac ARES Group recently "found" a local light that not many people actually knew about, and the light was not listed in the World List of Lights.....so off they wrote to the Amateur Radio Light House Society to see if it could be listed.

The location of the light will be a challenge to activate as it is a small area that is very well used by the locals.  The actual site is about two regular house lots in size, covered with some good sized trees.  I have a feeling that this site will have to be activated either early in the season, or very late in the season in order to escape the crowds that seem to hang out there on the limestone beach.

The good news is of course that Nicholson's Point Light is now also known as "Can-1425", its official World List of Lights number.

We're looking forward to next year when we can activate it.  Stay tuned for news on that.  I'm sure that on its first activation it will be well sought after by the hams who collect lighthouse numbers. We'll arrange to have it put on the DX cluster which is sure to cause a good pile up.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

JOTA - 2011

It's that time of year, the annual Jamboree on the Air, sponsored by the World Organization of the Scout Movement.  This is the 54th year that JOTA has been held, always on the third weekend of October.

This weekend I'm off with Frontenac County ARES Group to Whispering Pines Scout Camp in support of the Valley Highlands District JOTA Camp.  This is the second year we have done this, and while the weather forecast is for rain, it will still be a fun weekend.

Last year I blogged about this event and complained about the fact that RAC did not seem to support this event.  In fact the Ontario ARES organization actually scheduled their annual SET on that date, which stopped ARES groups from giving a helping hand to local Scout groups.

Why would you miss out on an opportunity to showcase our hobby to thousands of Canadian youth? 

So, here we are twelve months later, and guess what?  Ontario ARES has once again scheduled their annual SET for this weekend - Saturday, the 15th to be precise.  Once again I complained to the Ontario Section Manager, the senior ARES member in Ontario, Allan Boyd, and once again was given a pile of "waffle"......including the beaut of a line that the choice of the date is not up to him............jeez Allan, you're the boss, you're the guy in charge, how 'bout making a command decision for once and change the SET date!! 

You would think that after 54 years of an event being held on the same weekend, RAC just might have been able to get its collective head out of its ass and get its crap together on it......but apparently not.  RAC has not even issued a bulletin on the event, that's how high youth involvement in our hobby is to this current executive. 

The World Scout Bureau reported that the 2010 JOTA had just over 700,000 Scout participants from nearly 6000 amateur radio stations.   

Oh, and did I mention that the theme of this years JOTA is "Peace, Environment and Natural Disasters", and did I also mention that this years JOTA actually has an emergency communications exercise built into it?  Kind of ironic isn't it?

Here's what IARU Region 1 secretary, Denis ZS4BS has to say about this years JOTA: 

"Within this year's JOTA, an emergency communications exercise will take place on Saturday, 15 October, 2011 in the afternoon (European time zone). This simulated emergency test will include the Headquarters station, HB9S, of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), which will be operated by hams from 5 different countries. WOSM has now published the details for the event on its web site with numerous links to related documents of IARU and other sources.


This year's JOTA theme offers an excellent opportunity to raise the awareness for the role of the Amateur Radio Service in disaster situations."

So just where is the RAC Field Service in all this? Where are the individuals who run the RAC Youth Education Program?  Why, nowhere to be found it seems.  There's nothing on the RAC website about this event, not a whisper. 

So once again I ask why would you miss out on an opportunity to showcase our hobby to thousands of Canadian youth?

Am I surprised?  Nope, not at all.  This is typical of the RAC.  They have bleated on for a number of years about falling membership, and the lack of youth involvement, but what are they doing about it?  Apparently nothing!

Will the last RAC member please turn out the light!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Another "New" Rig

I bit the bullet today and purchased a used, but well looked after, IC-703.  I'm very impressed with it so far, but I plan on spending the weekend testing the hell out of it.
The receiver is great and well out performed my Kenwood 570D this afternoon.  There was lots of DX rolling in on 10m and 15m, and the IC-703 was crystal clear.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to take it on Sunday to our family Thanksgiving gathering at my brother-in-law's cottage on Lower Beverley Lake, and operate portable for a few peaceful hours.  There's no time like a family gathering to get the young nephews excited about CW !!

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The 2m Challenge - the result.

It was a beautiful day for playing radio today. Far better to operate portable radio than to stay at home and cut the grass.  It was blue sky from horizon to horizon.

Today was the first of what we hope will become an annual event, the Frontenac Radio Groups “2 Meter Challenge”.  It’s a contest with a really simple concept, try to contact as many stations as you can on 2m using any mode you have available.

We had some good inversion this morning which of course helped us, but being a new contest there was not as many stations on the air, as had been hoped, to take part. Hopefully that will change for next year.

After our club breakfast I drove up to Fort Henry Hill and immediately started to set up. Richard-VA3VDP showed up a few minutes later and stopped by to say hello on his way to RMC. After Richard left I became, almost, the sole attraction for bus loads of Japanese tourists visiting Fort Henry.

I made only 14 contacts, a few of which are excellent, the rest local. Best DX of the day goes to KK1CW in Spofford, New Hampshire, for a distance of 370 Km. I also worked VE3DC in Hamilton, 294 Km’s away. Not to bad for 40w into a four element Yagi.


My Log
Time(L)      Band    Call             Name      Mode     QTH
1005           2m         VE3DZE    Dave        SSB        Kingston
1006           2m         VA3LX       Paul         SSB       Wolfe Island
1009           2m         VE3TEF     Tom         SSB       Kingston
1010           2m         VE3DC       Club Stn  SSB       Hamilton
1022           2m         KK1CW     Walter      SSB       Spofford, NH
1037           2m         VA3TIC      Tim          SSB       Kingston
1055           2m         VE3UR       Peter        SSB       Quinte West
1108           2m         VA3ORP    Dave         FM        South Frontenac
1109           2m         VE3DZE    Dave         FM        Kingston
1110           2m         VE3TEF     Tom          FM        Kingston
1113           2m         VA3ORP    Dave         SSB       South Frontenac
1123           2m         VA3AKY   Martin       SSB       Kingston
1140           2m         VA3KAI     Al              SSB       Tay Valley (Perth)
1245           2m         VE3KKL    Gord         SSB       Ottawa

This was a good learning experience today, and I’m sure we will incorporate some changes for next year.

My big lesson of the day?  I need a bigger battery for portable ops, the one I currently have doesn't last as long as it once did.
Thanks to all who participated, and to those of you who didn’t……hope we see you on the air for the next 2m Challenge, next September.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Bill's most excellent adventure..........NOT

The day started off quite normal, up at 0445 and off to work an hour later. I felt fine during the ride into work and, as usual, took part in the early “going to work net” on the VE3FRG repeater.

However……about 20 minutes into my shift I started to get chest pains, not good I thought. Anyway, like an idiot, I stuck it out for a while….that is until my boss took one look at me and called 911. Within a few minutes two Military Policemen and an ambulance showed up, and I was off on a great adventure to Kingston General Hospital (KGH)!!

I cannot say enough about the level of care, and the way I was treated, by the staff at KGH, first class all the way……even after they realized I wasn’t having the big one. It turned out that one of my medications had stopped working. They found out that my body had built up immunity to it and it no longer works for me. The result of it not working was a very uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest, exactly like a heart attack.

After being wired for sound into a large monitor, two lots of blood work, X-rays, and the vilest tasting concoction I have ever had the displeasure to swallow….seven hours had past.

So, here’s a question for all you SOTA and portable QRP guys……considering some of the very remote spots you guys end up operating at, could you recognize the signs of a heart attack, and more to the point, would you know how to handle the situation? Most of the places we go are a long way from a hospital with a long response time, and time is precious in these situations.

The American Heart Association and other medical experts say the body likely will send one or more of these warning signals of a heart attack:


• Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes.

• Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms. The pain may be mild to intense. It may feel like pressure, tightness, burning, or heavy weight. It may be located in the chest, upper abdomen, neck, jaw, or inside the arms or shoulders.

• Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

• Anxiety, nervousness and/or cold, sweaty skin.

• Paleness or pallor.

• Increased or irregular heart rate.

• Feeling of impending doom.

Not all of these signs occur in every attack. Sometimes they go away and return. If some occur, get help fast. If you notice one or more of these signs in yourself or others, don't wait……Call emergency medical services (9-1-1) right away!

We should all know these signs, it may save a life....even yours!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

ChiliCon 2011 - OVQRP

The 2011 Ottawa Valley QRP Clubs "ChiliCon" is over.  What an outstanding weekend!!  Once again this event was held at the Rideau River Provincial Park, which is always very clean and extremely well maintained.  This was the last weekend the park was in operation for the season, so it was extra quiet for us noisy radio operators.


The drive up from Kingston takes about one and a half hours, and the drive is an easy one, Hwy 15 to Smith's Falls and then Hwy 43 to the park.  It was a great time of the year to travel, very little traffic and some great scenery.

I arrived at the park at 1345 and soon settled into my site.  Jim-VA3KV, from Rockland, already had his tent set up and was getting his antenna up when I drove by him.  It didn't take me long to get camp and the antenna set up.  I initially put up my Buddipole as a 20m vertical with two 17 foot counterpoises, and I'm glad I did as it worked out well for me.


The rest of the guys started to trickle in and by supper everyone was there.  As soon as the sun disappeared it started to get pretty cold.  In fact it went down to 2C Friday night......good job I took two sleeping bags, but I was still not that warm.  But, before I called it a night I worked some great DX.  Bob-PB5X in Breda, Netherlands, and Chris-G0UNJ in Oldham, UK, both of these contacts where made using 10 watts.
The next two contacts where just amazing.  I boosted the power to a wopping great 40w and worked Ian-VK3MO just outside of Melbourne, and then I worked Lee-VK2KRR, in The Rock, New South Wales.  Ian was a good S9+20 into the park, just an amazing signal, and he gave me a S8.  Both of these contacts were done on the 20m Buddipole vertical.  The picture on the right is what Ian-VK3MO was using!  Who says size matters???


It's a good job Michael-VE3WMB heard the contacts because I don't think anyone would have believed me otherwise!  I'm really pleased with with the Aussie contacts.  What a great night for DX.  The SFI was at 145, A Index 3, and the K Index 4.  The SSN was at 173, the highest its been for years.


Saturday dawned bright and clear with a bit of frost about, but no frozen water.  We all gathered at Michael's site and enjoyed coffee and an hour or two of "radio talk".  Then it was off to operate.  I worked a pile of local Canadian and US stations using 10w, and then turned things off to save the batteries in anticipation of more grey line propagation later that evening.


Saturday afternoon Jim-VA3KV helped me measure out a 28' length of wire and two 16' lengths.  With these I built a 28' vertical antenna using my MFJ mast and a 4:1 LDG balun.  After some experimenting I cut another two 16' radials to give me a total of 4, and I'll probably cut another four.  Great results, it tunes and works on 80m, 40m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 10m & 6m.  I checked into Ontars with it and received a good report from John-VE3OMA in Picton and had a 59 report from him.  The picture shows it before the additional two radials were installed.


Martin-VA3SIE and Bob-VA3QV arrived in the afternoon and went down to the beach to do their operating.  Martin did some pedestrian mobile operating with a 20' crappy pole attached to his backpack......first time I've ever seen that done.


Saturday evening we ordered pizza as the "Chili-master" couldn't make the event this year, and apple pie for desert, made a nice change.  The supper table also saw several different types of beer provided by Pat-VE3EUR and a nice bottle of Old Grouse Whiskey from Michael-VE3WMB.......see what y'all are missing by not coming out for ChiliCon??????  We spent the whole eveing till 2300 sitting around the fire talking radio and everything else we could think of.  Just an absolute great time was had by one and all.


Saturday night was an absolute heat wave, it only went down to 8C.  It certainly felt a hell of a lot warmer than Friday night!  I awoke very early on Sunday morning to the smell of a local skunk who had decided to visit another site and leave his calling card.  Once again we met at Michaels site for morning coffee and radio talk. 


I tried to check into the local Ottawa Sunday morning Pothole Net on 3.760, but the net controller couldn't hear me.  However, my battery wasn't in the best of shape by this time as it had been used pretty well over the weekend.


After packing up our gear and breaking camp we drove to a local cafe and had a slow and relaxing brunch.....but the heat in the place was off the scale!!


It was really nice to see everyone again and I had a great time.  Chilicon is a great event to attend if QRP is your thing.  It's also a great event to attend if you're into experimenting with longwire antennas....the experts always attend it.

See everyone next year!!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

NORTH AMERICAN SOTA ACTIVATION DAY

THIRD ANNUAL NORTH AMERICAN SOTA ACTIVATION DAY: OCT 22ND & 23RD 2011


The North American SOTA Associations (Canada and the USA) will have an operating event on Oct 22, 2011 from 1200Z to 2400Z on Oct 23, 2011. The goal is to encourage North america SOTA (Summits on the air) summit activations and expand the awareness of this unique operating program in North America. More information about SOTA can be found at http:/www.sota.org.uk.

Summit activation teams will use all the licensed bands from VHF FM/SSB to the HF frequencies for CW and SSB. Typical operating frequencies are:

146.52,
144.200,
7.040,
7.032,
10.116,
14.060,
14.062,
14.282,
14.285 and
14.342.5

Currently there are established SOTA Associations for VE1, VE2, VE7, W1, W2, W3, W4, W5, W6, W7, and W0........... with more on the way!

The British SOTA Program encourages both summit Activators and and home-QTH Chasers through an extensive Awards program. Patterned after the IOTA program, SOTA is very popular in Europe and is quickly catching on in the North America as well as other countries. This is an annual event for the NA SOTA Associations. Please visit the Yahoo Group site for more information and/or questions: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nasota/

Take the SOTA challenge, activate your nearby SOTA summit and be the DX!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

ARRL September VHF QSO Party - Part 2

This years September VHF QSO Party can be summed up in two words: pretty disappointing.  To be brutal about it, the band conditions where crap!  Lots of QRN, and some very deep QSB. 

Photo by Ron-VE3GO
We had four stations operating up on Fort Henry Hill, George VE3SIQ, Ron VE3GO, Dave VE3HFX and Bill VE3FCT.  Derek VE3HRW came out to pay us a visit as well.  I made a grand total of four.....yes four (!) contacts yesterday, two on 2m SSb and the other two on 6m SSB.

First up on 2m SSB was K2LIM, which belongs to the LIM Amateur Radio Group in Pine Valley, NY.  The second 2m SSB was with W3SO, the club call of the Wopsononock Mountaintop Operators from Altoona, PA.  These contacts were made with a four element Yagi made by Arrow Antennas.

The two 6m SSB contacts were locals, Paul VA3LX on Wolfe Island, and Don VE3MNE in Kingston.  Nothing spectacular as you can see.....but we did have fun !!

Friday, 2 September 2011

2 Meter Challenge - 2011

On the 25th September 2011, the Frontenac Radio Group will be running their 2m Challenge for the first time.  They are hoping to make this an annual event....depending on the level of participation.  This contest is based upon a very successful contest held annually in New England.

So far they have had lots of interest shown in it from clubs around the Golden Horseshoe and in Eastern Ontario. 

Details on the contest can be found at:
http://ve3frg.blogspot.com/2011/09/2-meter-challenge-2011.html

Plan on joining in and supporting VHF contesting, it should be a fun time.

Prince Edward Point Lighthouse

After work on Wednesday, Ron VE3GO and myself drove to Prince Edward Point to visit the old lighthouse there, and to see if it could be activated during the 2012 International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend.

Lighthouse in pretty sad condition
The Prince Edward Point Lighthouse, ARLHS CAN-787, was built in 1881. The 36-foot tower displayed a red light from 1881 to 1941, and was dubbed 'the red onion'. The light was changed to green in 1941.  In 1959, the light was replaced with a skeleton tower, and the lantern room removed.

What we found was not very pretty.  We had stopped in at the Rangers Office on the way in, as the light is now within the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area.   The Rangers there told Ron and I that the building was condemmed and was in really poor shape, and boy were they right! 

The steel tower added in 1959
The road has now been gated and you must walk around Long Point Harbour to the lighthouse, not a bad walk, but the mosquitoes were out in full force as there was little or no wind.  We did find thousands of Leopard Frogs on the road when we walked to the lighthouse, they were everywhere.  It was hard to walk without stepping on them.  Nice to see the frog population coming back.

What was surprising is that the light is protected as a historical building, yet nobody seems to care, or even do basic maintenance on it.

Anyway, we could activate the lighthouse for a few hours, but no overnights are permitted within the wild life refuge.  So we have another possibility for next August.

The drive home to Kingston was great, and the scenary just fantastic.  We stopped at the Black River Cheese Factory and stocked up with some great cheeses, and we also stopped at the Mariners Park Museum to have a look around.  Well worth the visits if you find yourselves in deepest, darkest Prince Edward County.


Leopard Frogs on the road

All Photos taken and Copyrighted by Ron VE3GO

Monday, 22 August 2011

ARRL September VHF QSO Party

My next "big" adventure is the ARRL September VHF QSO Party, September 10th & 11th.  The contest begins 1800 UTC Saturday and ends 0300 UTC Monday.  I won't be active for that whole time frame, but hopefully, if the weather cooperates, for a good portion of it.

I'm hoping to round up a few more operators and operate as a multi station, operating on 6m SSB, 2m SSB and 2m FM.  The location we'll operate portable from is Fort Henry Hill, the highest point in Kingston.   That will give us some clear shots in every direction.

The object of the contest is "To work as many amateur stations in as many different grid squares as possible using authorized frequencies above 50 MHz".

As an addition to this contest the Northern New York Amateur Radio Association (NNYARA) is promoting and coordinating FM simplex operations during this contest from either mountain tops or fire towers in the Adirondack Mountains.

The NNYARA have designated the 2 meter FM simplex frequency 146.550 as the primary NNY frequency for this contest. If there is a "pileup" on .55, try .58 or other simplex frequencies. The 2 meter FM simplex ranges are 146.400-146.595 and 147.405-147.585.

So there’s an option for you in case you do not have access to 2m SSB, CW, and Digital modes.

The NNYARA is composed of ham radio clubs in the Adirondack Mountains and adjacent areas of northern New York State stretching from the Canadian border to the Mohawk Valley including Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, Montgomery, St. Lawrence, Schoharie counties.

Hope to work you guys during the contest.  Rules can be found HERE.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend - The Story

The International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend is over!!  The day started early with a meet up on the highway with Don VE3MNE and Ron VE3GO at 0630 hrs.  We travelled down Hwy 33 to the Glenora Ferry and easily made the 0730 crossing....in fact we were the first three cars on the ferry.

The weather was awful, with really heavy rain, thunder and lots of lightening crashing and booming around us as we made for the ferry.  In fact it was so bad we started to think we would not be able to activate Point Petre this year.  It was still very bad when we met up with Bill VA3WOW from Belleville as well as Matthew VE3OCC and Doug VE3ZDG from Picton.  We met up, appropriately at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Picton.  The food was great!!

Point Petre Lighthouse
After breakfast it was a mad run through the rain back to our vehicles and off we set through the back roads of Prince Edward County.  It took about 20 minutes to reach Point Petre Lighthouse, and just as we arrived.....the rain stopped.

Lots of changes to the area since we where there last year.  No grass cut this year, and the keepers house is now boarded up and looking a bit neglected.  A few minutes after we arrived one of the Environment Canada guys who look after the weather station there drove up and invited us in to see the lighthouse. 

While some of the guys went off to see the lighthouse, the rest of us started setting up, keeping one eye one the sky for signs of more bad weather.  We put up a 80m OCF dipole, a Buddipole as a 20m vertical, and a 6m hamstick dipole, all with no trouble.  We were on the air by 0930L, and the SFI for the day was sitting at 102, the A index at 3, and the K index at 0.

VE3MNE, VE3CLQ, VE3ZDG,
VA3WOW, and VE3OCC
Don VE3MNE ran the 40m station, using his FT-857D, and ended up on a couple of occasions being quite busy.  It's amazing how many hams where looking for the lighthouses.  Don ended up with 28 contacts for the day.  The 20m station, also using a FT-857D only made 10 contacts, but the band was not very good, the QSB on 20m was very bad.  We did make a couple of contacts with lighthouses in California and a DX contact to Germany.  No contacts were made on 6m, but that was probably due to the height of the antenna above ground.  Ron VE3GO made a couple of contacts on 15m CW as well.  We operated a VE3FCT.

Very large log periodic antenna
The lighthouse is right across the road from the CFB Trenton HF Transmitting site.  There are nine towers on the site as well as two log periodic antennas.  This site is used to talk to RCAF aircraft around the world, but luckily it isn't in use on Sundays.



Don - VE3MNE
At about 1345L we started to hear thunder crashes coming through on our rigs and the sky was starting to get pretty black, and we could hear the thunder off in the distance, so we decided to call it quits. We quickly dropped the antennas and loaded the gear up.  We were about three-quarters of the way loaded when the rain hit, and boy did it pour, and it poured down all the way home to Kingston.

All in all a great day.  Thanks to the Prince Edward Club for the use of their 2m repeater, and to Ron VE3GO for taking the photos. 

Many thanks to the Ayr Amateur Radio Group in Scotland for sponsoring this event, we really enjoy it.

Next year will also activate, hopefully for the whole weekend, we will start looking for a suitable candidate shortly......maybe Prince Edward Point Lighthouse, at the other side of the County.

For alook at what the other half of our group did at Nine Mile Point Lighthouse, click HERE.

All Photo's by Ron-VE3GO © 2011

Friday, 19 August 2011

Royal Canadian Air Force

What a week!!  On the 16th of August my much beloved Canadian Air Force once again became the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Originally the royal honour was granted in 1924 by King George V, and removed from the title by the lunatic defence minister Paul Hellyer in 1968, much to the great disgust of its veterans and serving members.


Is Paul Hellyer really a 100% "fruit and nut bar" you ask???  Well, in 2007, the Ottawa Citizen reported that Hellyer is demanding that world governments disclose any alien technology that they have.   Yep, mad as a frickin' hatter !! 


Those of us who have served since 1968, and Paul Hellyer's disasterous and controversial integration and unification of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force into a single organization, known as the Canadian Armed Forces, know exactly what an idiot the man must be.  As an example, what other military in the world would post a naval signaller from a naval ship to an army signal squadron and expect him, or her, to be able to function 100% in a strange environment.  Indeed, one that they are not in fact trained for.  Many such strange things happened in the early days of intergration.


So it was not a surprise at all this week when Mr. Hellyer came out against the traditional names of the three armed services being restored to them.  Well, he could hardly be expected to rejoice like the rest of us could he? 


As much as one loves to hate the navy, it's even good to see them become the Royal Canadian Navy once again.   I, of course, never met the standard to join the Navy.  The impediment to my joining the RCN was the fact that my parents were married..................to each other J

The intergration of the armed forces is a failed experiment, provable by the fact that no other country in the world has carried out such drastic measures to their military like Hellyer did to ours. 

My one hope for Paul Hellyer once he passes on is that he be met at the Pearly Gates, not by St. Peter, but by the ugliest and meanest RCAF WO1 drill pig that there ever was, and that ex-Corporal Hellyer spend purgatory marching up and down God's own parade square, repenting the embarrasment, pain and suffering he caused us all over the last 43 years.

Welcome back RCAF........................Per Ardua!

Monday, 15 August 2011

International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend

This coming Sunday, the 21st of August, I'm off, with a few others from the Frontenac ARES Group, to Point Petre in Prince Edward County to activate the lighthouse there for the annual International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW).  While this is a full weekend event, we will only be able to activate this light for about 6 hours.

Radios will be two FT-857D's and a FT-817, all on battery power.  Antennas will be an 80m OCF dipole, and various Buddipole antennas.

This event is not a contest.  The objective of ILLW is stated as "to promote public awareness of lighthouses and lightships and their need for preservation and restoration, to promote amateur radio and to foster International goodwill".  The rules can be found here.

The ILLW was started by a couple of guys who were members of the Ayr Amateur Radio Group in 1995 as the "Northern Lighthouse Activity Weekend", and they activated several Scottish lighthouses.  Since then it has grown and grown, and this year there will be 429 lighthouses and lightships activated over the weekend, in 49 countries.

VE3FCT will be QRV on 7.250; 21.350; 14.250-14.260; 28.450; and 50.125, for SSB, and on CW we will be on 7.040 & 7.110; 14.060; 21.060; 28.060; and 50.070.  All frequencies will be +/- 10 Kc or so.

You should also listen out for VE3FRG operating on Simcoe Island by the other half of the Frontenac County ARES group where they will be activating Nine Mile Lighthouse.

We plan on being there rain or shine.  Hope to see you on the bands.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

August 7th...on the bands

It was a pretty busy day today on 20m.  Once again VE3MNE and I drove out to Hay Bay, this time to work Lighthouses and the Colorado 14er stations.  The weather wasn't the greatest, overcast with rain showers.  The humidity was high and almost unbearable.......but we survived.

Considering the SFI was at 105, the A index at 27, and the K index at 1, and the two or three earthbound CME's we had last week, the bands rocked.  I was not expecting them to be in the shape they were in. 20m was alive, and from 14.260 to 14.270 it was just jammed with stations working lighthouses all over the USA.  Among others we worked John at USA-262 in New Jersey, and the South West Louisiana ARC station at USA-714 in Louisiana. 

10m was also extremely busy with the 10-10 Club International SSB Contest.  I have not heard so many stations calling on 10m like this for many years.  As I don't have a 10-10 number I stayed clear of them, but it was very nice to see the band so busy again.

However (there always has to be a "However"), speaking of 10m..........the "LID of the Day Award" goes to a N9 station.  Who was screaming over a 10m QSO between a W4 station and my friend Tim, VA3TIC, that "there's no such call as VA3, he's a pirate".  Just how do these uneducated idiots get a license???????????  Perhaps somebody rented out this guys rock for the day?

You always hear that 6m is never active, and most of the time you go there it's very quiet.  Today was no different......but on eight separate occasions today I went to 6m, called CQ and got an immediate response.  Stations worked where in Virginia, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Idaho...as well as Ontario.  But it just shows you that people are listening, and if you call CQ they will answer. 

The other reason we activated today was to work the Colorado 14er Event stations.  Unfortunately we only heard one of them, KB0SA operating from Pike's Peak - 14,115 feet high.  I worked them on 20m SSB at 1616Z.  KB0SA is Boy Scout Troop 6 from Monument, Colorado.  This Troop has 16 licensed Scouts and 16 licensed leaders and parents. 

My hat's off to these guys for bringing youth into this great hobby of ours.  I listened for quite a while to these guys and let me tell you these boys are great operators, very professional in their skills.  They must have some great elmers working with them, and it was a delight to work them and hear them in action.  Well done Troop 6!!!   We, as a hobby, need to hear more youth on the bands. 

There was no sign of WG0AT or N0B, probably the two most sort after calls in this Colorado 14er event....maybe next year.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The RAC Kerfuffle

By now most of you will have read, or heard, of the kerfuffle going on between RAC and the Emergency Communications Ontario Association (ECOA).

The birth of ECOA was brought about by the recent change to the RAC
national liability insurance policy whereby non-affiliated clubs are no longer eligible to gain access to the RAC insurance policy, and the individual members of those non-affiliated clubs are also no longer eligible to access the RAC insurance policy. So ECOA was setup in order to allow for individuals and non-affiliated groups to access the RAC insurance program by having ECOA become a RAC affiliated club.

I must point out that gaining access to RAC insurance was not the only reason ECOA was formed.  They have managed to bring together, in a remarkably short time period, many emergency organizations in Ontario, such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and the St. John Ambulance.  In fact if you look at who ECOA's Directors are you will note that they come from these organizations, including a Director appointed from the EMO.  What a great thing to see, the very people who will need our emergency communications support serving as directors.  Ever see that happen in RAC?

One must ask the question that if the restriction being enforced that a club must be a RAC affiliate to gain insurance coverage, and that an individual must belong to an affiliated club to gain insurance coverage, has been imposed by the insurer, why would RAC agree to such a stupid requirement?

Anyway, you've probably guessed by now that RAC has thrown a hissy fit and has refused to accept ECOA as an affiliate, and has refused them insurance coverage as well. Nice one eh? And here I thought RAC was supposed to be encouraging new membership!

Just think about how many clubs across this country are not incorporated
and therefore not able to be a "RAC affiliated club" and therefore are
not eligible to have club insurance? Incorporation costs money and a
lot of clubs can't afford it, nor do they have the membership base to
support it. What about them? Why are they being disenfranchised?

How many hams are members of clubs who are not RAC affiliated clubs and
are now not eligible to have RAC insurance coverage? The other side of
the coin is not every ham wishes to belong to a club, affiliated or not,
so why should they be penalized?

In my ARES District we have four ARES groups. Two of those groups are
not incorporated, and are no longer eligible to get RAC insurance either
for their group or for their individual members. Is it fair to ask ARES members to react to an emergency, yet allow RAC to deny them insurance coverage to do so? 

The big question here is does RAC have a legal duty to protect us when we are called out?  If they have already authorised the formation of an ARES group, and that group is not incorporated.....as that is not a requirement to form a new group, surely we should be grandfathered under the new rules?  Because let me tell you, if I'm called out and I get injured, the first two people I intend to sue is the President of RAC and the VP Field Services for voting to deny me RAC insurance coverage, even though I'm operating in a RAC authorized ARES group.

RAC touts itself as the "Canadian National Organization" and that it "represents Canadian amateurs".  It doesn't.  RAC actually represents ALL Canadian amateurs, RAC members or not, and if it will not do that, or accept that fact, then they cannot be the national representative for amateur radio in this country.  Think about it - you represent everyone or nobody, you can't pick or chose - does Industry Canada only ask them questions about hams who are RAC members, or are the actual issues being discussed of national interest and ones that effect every ham in this country?

RAC needs to get its collective head out of its ass and get with the program.  Because sooner or later a group of hams will get together and decide enough is enough, and form a new national association, that WILL represent ALL Canadian amateurs........what a novel thought!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

New Toy!

Last week I splurged and bought myself a new FT-817nd to play with.  It was ordered at 10:30 Tuesday, and I had it in my sweaty little hands at 11:00 Wednesday......great service from Radioworld.....and Canada  Post.

I can't believe how small it is, and it makes you wonder just how small radio can eventually go!

I'm looking forward to experimenting with it over the next few weeks and getting my CW up to speed.

Now I can take it to work and operate at lunch time daily from Fort Henry Hill using my Buddipole system.  This is going to be a good summer.

IARU Contest 2011

As per the usual for this weekend, Don-VE3MNE and myself headed out for our annual IARU HF World Championship weekend to Don's cottage on Hay Bay.  This year Tim-VA3TIC joined us for a weekend filled with the anticipation of excellent DX.

The bands seemed to be very long with stations from Europe coming in at 20 over 9, but they could not hear us answering their CQ's - on any band, using any of the four available antennas.  We all thought it was going to be a very long weekend when I answered a CQ from Steve-VK6IR in Western Australia and had an almost instant response.  The bands settled down after about 30 minutes and we made lots of DX contacts.

Overall it was a great weekend, and the weather was fantastic.  However, some of the behaviour on the bands could have been a hell of a lot better.  I started to wonder if some of the clowns we heard had ever operated a HF radio before!

Sunset at Hay Bay, Ontario
The LIDS were out in full force tuning up right on top of each other and the weak signal they were all trying to work.  Twice I had to remove my headset quickly due to a LID tuning up right on top of my QSO.  They were so loud it hurt.  Obviously they have no respect at all for their fellow amateurs!

Why is is when a station calls for the "VE3 only" every "W4" or "N9" in creation decides that the calling station actually meant them and not the VE3?  Some of these guys need Elmers in the worse way!

What's with the stations calling "QRZ" over and over and over without ever giving their callsign?  In the end I started to work one of these stations just to see if I could actually get his callsign out of him.....and it took 20 minutes to do so.  Elmers anyone????

What's with these clowns who sit on a frequency and tell you that it's in use, when clearly it isn't?  This happened to me at just as lunch was called on Saturday.  I left the radio on that frequency while I ate lunch and heard nothing for the next 30 minutes.  I went back called CQ and was told the frequency was in use.  In the end I asked the guy how much he had paid for that particular frequency as I'd like to buy one as well!

And finally, what's with giving your callsign at mach 6, so a normal human being could never understand anything you had just said.  Then why do they leave a few milli-seconds in between their CQ's so that stations do not have enough time to get their callsign in?  IO4HQ was an excellent example this weekend on how "not to call CQ".

Tim-VA3TIC working DX
Last contact of the weekend?  0750L Sunday morning I heard 8N8FQ, the HQ Station for the JARL calling CQ....and got him on one call back to him.  Made my day! 

I worked just about every national HQ station I could hear, but I never heard a RAC station on the bands taking part.  Does anyone know if they did?

The IARU contest is an excellent way of working all the DX you can handle in a weekend, we never miss it, and we all had a blast!

Many thanks to the ARRL for running this event for amateurs around the world on behalf of the IARU.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

2011 Canada Day Contest

Thursday evening at 2000L I started scanning 40m for the start of the 2011 RAC Canada Day Contest.  First in the log was Greg-VA3KUG from Midland.  For the rest of the evening I bounced between 40m and 80m logging mainly Ontario stations. 

In recent past year the start of the Canada Day Contest aways yielded a feast of VE1's, VE9's, VO2' and VY2's.  Not this year.  Thursday night brought very slim pickin's.  I did manage to log Jean-Pierre-VA3SG, Polar Bear No. 121, an unusual sight on SSB.  J-P is normally on CW.....but with global warming the bears must be heading into new territory J

Saturday morning came pretty early and I drove out to the cottage of VE3MNE at Hay Bay, to use the same antennas we used for Field Day, namely the 160m and 80m OCF dipoles.  It's amazing how quiet those antennas are compared to my dipoles at home.

Both 40m and 20m started the day very long, and I had no problems getting contacts into the Maritimes and out to BC.  In fact all the provinces we had trouble making contact with on Field Day kept popping up all over the place!  How typical!

15m was a pretty big disappointment.  It never really opened all day.  I did make about 10 contacts there, but I worked hard for every one.  15m was also the only band I heard VA3RAC, and of course they never heard me answering them.

I made a good, solid, contact with Martin-JW/DG5NFF in Svalbard...which is an archipelago in the arctic, constituting the northernmost part of Norway.  Bless him, he was even calling "CQ Canada Day"!! 

Other DX for the day included the UK, Poland, Rumania and Spain.  However, the best catch of the day was Jose-KP4EIT in Ciales, Puerto Rico, who I caught on 6m mid-afternoon.

I ended up with only 75 contacts, but to make up for that I had a great day in the country, lots of sun and beautiful scenary.  Next year will be better.......right?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Field Day 2011 - The Results

Another successful field day is over!   This year Frontenac ARES operated as a 5A station, covering all bands from 160m to 6m. 

Our weekend started early Friday morning when myself, Don-VE3MNE, Tim-VA3TIC and Dave-VE3DZE met for breakfast at the Star Diner on Princess Street.  After firming up some plans we left for Don's cottage on the shore of Hay Bay, about 45 Kms west of Kingston.

The gang arrived at the cottage about 0930 hrs and first to go up were the antennas.  We erected a 160m OCF dipole, two 80m OCF dipoles, a 20m Delta Loop, a 15m vertical and a 10m / 6m fan dipole, and we also put up three screen tents, two for operating and the third for eating.   It was a long busy day and we didn't stop to have lunch, about 1900 hrs we left for Picton to have supper at the Texas Grill.  This is the fourth year we have supper there, and this has now become one of our field day traditions.

The weather was hot and sticky on Friday, cloudy and unsettled on Saturday with a little bit of rain during the night.  Sunday was a cloudy day with a little bit of sun....and of course just as we started to take everything down the rain started!

On Saturday morning the rest of the crew showed up, George-VE3SIQ and Martin-VA3AKY, and got their stations put together.  Once everyone was ready we installed our notch filters and tested for interference from each other.  Everything worked well except for the 10m notch which had to have emergency surgery performed on it, but we eventually had everyone up and running.

The SFI hovered about 96 all weekend with the 'A' index around 6 and the 'K' index at 2.  The bands where, for the most part, quiet, but not really good.

The 160m and 80m station didn't fair too well.  The 160m band never opened up at all and hardly any stations where heard on it, and the 80m band was only a little better.  The 40m station, while busy with stations on the eastern seaboard, never opened up and went long to the west coast.

The 15m and 20m stations carried the load with plenty of activity and many contacts between the two stations.  Our 10m station did very well, making over 100 contacts.  Six meters was a bust however.

I would be very remiss if I did not mention that this year was the very first field day for Tim-VA3TIC.  In fact Tim (now known as the "Duke") has only been a ham for about 6 months.  We put Tim on the 20m station, and stood back in amazement as he racked up 425 contacts!  It's great to see that his many years as a CBer were good training for him as a contester!  

Overall we did 1014 contacts on five bands, and we're happy with that score.  After all the main thing is to get out there, do the set up, fix any interference issues, operate and have fun.......and we did that.  Many thanks to Don for the use of his property and for doing the cooking.

Oh yeah, the only thing with Tim is to keep him away from the trees at all cost.  He has a really nasty habit of attracting falling tree branches when we were putting up the antennas.