Sunday, 29 January 2012

Winter Field Day - The Sunday Report

It was a dark and windy morning…….so goes the tale! Well, at 0600L at Lamoine Point on Sunday morning it was very dark and very windy; thankfully the snow never really arrived in force.

Jim - VE3ULC
We set up five HF stations with only headlamps and flashlights bobbing around in the dark. The surprising thing was that it didn’t take us much longer to set up than it does during the summer, and nobody got hurt.  Granted the weather wasn’t that bad…..and it could have been a lot worse, but still, I believe that the many island and lighthouse activations we do over the summer really are helping us get our act together.

The Motley Crew on Sunday Morning
We had VE3MNE, VE3HRW, VA3TBZ, VA3ORP, VE3ULC, VA3VDP, and VE3CLQ in attendance. Thanks must go to Dave-VE3DZE who arrived around 0800L to do a coffee and bathroom run for those that needed it, and a very welcome sight he was to!

Thanks also must go out to Les-VE3KFS and Tim-VA3TIC, these guys couldn’t be on site but they were on the air making sure we made a few contacts.

Special mention must also go out to Bob-VA3QV in Ottawa, who also came looking for us on 40m. It’s always good to chat with Bob on, or off, the air, unfortunately I was on the 20m radio when he called in, but his message was passed to me via 2m simplex.
We made contact with 11 countries: Canada, USA, France, Poland, Ukraine, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Russia, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Iceland. We had 43 HF contacts, 2 VHF contacts, and 2 PSK31 contacts. All contacts were done on battery power.

Overall it was a good time; everyone was cheery and seemed to have a good time at the park.  Winter Field Day next year? You bet, the plan is to find a cabin or cottage like we did in 2011 and make it a weekend event.

Until next year………stay warm!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Winter Field Day - The Saturday Report

A slow day on the bands, and I could hear a lot more than I could work.  I did hear quite a number of stations calling CQ Winter Field Day, and I managed to work three of them.

First up was KB3BHL in Georgetown, Delaware on 40m.  Then it was Joe WA4VAG in Walton, Kentucky on 20m.  Joe was using an ex-military PRC-70 putting out 45 watts, and then it was back on 40m to work K8UO in Mt. Clemens, Minnesota.

Only DX for the day was Anderson CT2IUK in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, on 17m.

SFI today was 115.  The A index was 7, the K index was 1, and the sunspot number was 39.  Nothing really to get excited about, maybe tomorrow will be better? 

Weather today was not nice, -3C in winds gusting up to 70 KPH, and driving snow.

I've an early morning start on Sunday.  Frontenac ARES group are meeting at Lamoine Point Conservation Area at 0600L, and plan on working the HF bands until about 1030L when we will break things down and go to breakfast.

Hope to work a few early birds.......hey, maybe VA3QV will be waiting for us to come up on 40m !  Listen out for VE3FCT.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Coldest Event of the Year???

Get your winter gear ready!! The FYBO (Freeze Your Butt Off) Winter QRP Sprint, sponsored by the Arizona ScQRPions, is being held Saturday, February 4, 2012, from 1400Z-2400Z.

Apart from Winter Field Day this is one of the coldest events of the year… just don’t want to miss it!!

Rules can be found here

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Winter Deployment Training

You don't need to be a genius to figure out that emergencies can happen at any time of the year, and that holding practice deployments only during the warmer months isn't going to help you when you get called out at midnight on a sub-zero, and very snowy mid-February night!  
One only has to remember back 14 years ago today, January 8th, 1998, when the people of Frontenac County awoke to the biggest ice storm in a century, to know that as a member of an ARES group, one never knows when the call will come.  One hopes a callout will never come, but you must be prepared....just in case.  There is a lot of truth to the phrase "practice makes perfect".

So it felt very strange this morning, with the temperature at -5C, no wind, no snow on the ground and a brilliant blue sky, to be heading off to Rotary Park with nine other members for a winter deployment training session with the Frontenac County ARES group.  

Dave VA3ORP, our training officer, took us through several subjects including how to dress in layers, and the best type of boots.  Dave also went over the use of the buddy system, and checking each other over periodically for frostbite.  We were reminded that it doesn't take long for hypothermia, or frostbite, to set in and those items need to be looked after immediately.

Other topics included the effect of cold on our equipment, the danger that abrupt changes in temperature (from outside to inside) could have on the equipment with condensation.  The effect of freezing temperatures have on coax, and ways of keeping things dry.  We also talked about how easy it is in the snow to lose bits of kit......normally the important bits go first!

We ended the session by putting up and guying a portable mast system, designed to hold a VHF antenna and a HF dipole.  It was interesting to see it go up, and who had to take their gloves off to make it happen.

All in all it was a great training session, for those members who are ex-military it was a good refresher, and it'll probably bring back a few nightmares of sleeping naked in a sleeping bag, in a snow hole, at -45C....I get cold just remembering it!

This morning was a good lead up for Winter Field Day, an event every ARES and EmComm group should support.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Winter Field Day

Coming up at the end of the month is Winter Field Day.  From their website:

"The 2012 Winter Field Day will be held from 1700 UTC (12:00 noon EST) Saturday January 28, 2011 through 1700 UTC (12:00 noon EST) Sunday January 29, 2012. The object of the event is familiar to most Amateur Radio operators: set up emergency-style communications and make as many contacts as possible during the 24 hour period. The rules encourage as many contacts on as many bands and modes as possible, because during a real emergency, the most important factor is the ability to communicate, regardless of band, mode or distance".

The official rules can be found at the SPAR web site. This event is open to all amateurs.  Frontenac ARES will be setting up at Rotary Park in the west end of Kingston, and taking part for the fourth year in a row.  It's great practice deploying and setting up in inclement weather, as SPAR likes to state, not all emergencies happen in the good weather.

Give a listen for VE3FRG, you'll know it's us by the chattering teeth!