Monday, 17 September 2012

A Superb Weekend

Another year has past and Chilicon 2012 is now behind us.  What an outstanding weekend of ham radio, not because of the operating we managed to fit in, but because of the learning experience of it.  Many hours were spent discussing the finer points of radios, feedline, and antennas, and it was a delight walking around the sites checking out the amazing array of antennas that the guys were using.

Don VE3MNE and I arrived at the campground at about 1430L and were met by Michael VE3WMB and Jim VA3KV who had already arrived and had set up their camps.  Chris VA3CME was there as well, he had arrived on Wednesday.....obviously in a hurry for the Chilicon experience, and I know Ying VA3YH was there, but I'm not sure if he arrived before us or not.

The afternoon sky did not look too promising, so Don and I hurried and began to set up the site.......and really, we finished not a moment too soon as the rain hit us and continued to come down for the next seven hours.  Luckily the wind never came up and rain just came down straight, not sideways. I'm pleased to report we didn't get wet!

After Friday supper of steak and veggies everyone descended on our site as we had it almost completely tarped off with two 15 by 20 tarps and everyone could stay dry under them.  The single malt arrived with Dave VA3ORP and the radio talk began.  It was a good evening with everyone getting to know each other or catch up with old friends.

Saturday dawned with a good sign - a blue sky!  After a good breakfast of sausage and eggs it was antenna erecting time.  We put up two antennas, the now famous 31' vertical "Chilicon Special" and a 44' doublet, and started to play radio.  The bands were excellent with 15m, 17m, and 20m just hopping with signals.  Just after lunch a good number of the Ottawa area hams arrived including VE3EMB, VE3CBK, VE3EUR, VE3MPG, VA3AMX, VE3GTC, and the star of the show: VA3QV.  It was a Who's Who of QRP.

During the afternoon Chris VE3CBK and Dave VA3ORP changed into WW2 battledress and fired up their No. 19 Radio Sets and a No. 48 Radio Set.  In due course a 1953 Willy's jeep arrived, including uniformed driver, and both Dave and Chris began their No. 19 Set mobile fun.  They managed to work Bob VA3QV on AM, Bobs very frst AM contact.  Both Dave and Chris spent the night in a 1942 army bell tent, and it didn't leak!

The bands were pretty crowded and occasionally we had a bit of interference from the large number of radios on the air at the same time.  However, with a little bit of juggling and changing bands we managed to all have fun.  I'll tell you though, that No. 19 Radio Set has a pretty wide signal.

Just before supper the sky started to turn a bit dark and it did manage to rain for about 10 minutes.  We had all decided to order pizza from Capilano Pizza in Kemptville before hand so Michael collected the money and sorted things out.  It was decided because of the weather and our large tarps everyone came and ate and spent the evening socializing on our site again.  Once again VA3ORP's portable bar arrived with the single malt.

Saturday was September 15th, Battle of Britain Day, and the 72nd anniversary of it as well.  As VA3ORP is ex-RCAF, and I'm ex-RAF and RCAF, we toasted the occasion with a good British Beer, and an appropriate one as well, Thwaites "Lancaster Bomber" brewed in Lancashire.

Yes I know Lancaster's didn't take part in the Battle of Britain, but I did look for Spitfire or Hurricane Beer and couldn't find it had to do!  I'm sure the few of "The Few" who are still alive really wouldn't mind.

Saturday night was pretty cold and it did get down to +2C, and I for one had to get out of my sleeping bag around 0230L to add a pair of sweatpants and a fleece top in order to get warm.  I've already asked for a new sleeping bag for Christmas as the one I have is just a bit too old, but we survived.

It rained again for a few minutes Sunday morning, just before we started to take down the camp.  Of course that meant that the tarps got wet again and had to be packed away in that state.  Soon the radios were packed away, antennas dropped and rolled up, and the vehicles packed.  About 1130L we departed for a restaurant in Kemptville for a really good brunch, but I didn't write it's name down so I can't share it.  Then it was back onto Hwy 15 for the long drive back to Kingston.

This year's winner of the long distance award went to Eric VA3AMX who had a good CW QSO with a VK7 in Tasmania with 5 watts into a G5RV Junior. 

Chris VA3CME with his new KX3

The center piece of Ying VA3YH's 20m Spider Beam

The homebrewed 20m Spider Beam by Ying

The inside of Dave VA3ORP's WW2 Bell Tent - complete with
Persian carpet !!

The Magnetic Loop built by Michael VE3WMB

It was a fantastic weekend, even with the rain. Many, many, thanks to the Ottawa Valley QRP Society who sponsor this event.  Those of you who do not attend it don't know what you're missing. Only 363 days till the next Chilicon!


  1. Good morning, looks like the weather did not affect the op time. Great job with all the tarps and it sure is worth the time to set them up just in case....and in your case it was needed. Good to read you had some good weather but yes it did get down to some frosty temps in the eve. Great shots of the event.

    1. We would have had to close up shop without the tarps. Thank God I remembered to pack them :-)

  2. Bill, it was great seeing you again. It was a superb day on Saturday topped off with that excellent all you could eat pizza. Hope next year is even better. Very nice write-up of the events as usual.

    Bob VE3MPG

    1. It was good seeing you too Bob. I'm sorry we really didn't have a chance to have a good talk. We'll see you next year for sure!!