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



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:/

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:

14.285 and

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:

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:

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