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!!