Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Happy New Year

Just a short note to wish you all a very Happy, and a Healthy, New Year for 2015.

2014 is a year I'm glad in many ways to put behind me, especially after being made redundant from a job that I really loved to do.  It was an extremely stressful time.

Of course throughout this trying time I could not have got through it without the support of my wife.  She was a solid rock of support, and still is, and for that I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

Let's hope 2015 is a far better year to us all........Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Winter Contest - it's over


Not a bad day on the radio.  At time there seemed to be more foreign stations calling "CQ Canada Winter Contest" than Canadian stations....and it was great to see the international participation !!

I managed to work everywhere but Nova Scotia, Nunavut, and the North West Territories.  Not a peep out of those guys at all which really surprised me......well, no Nova Scotia stations surprised me, the other guys I know are laying on a beach in Florida like they were last year when I didn't work them either.  Once again I did not manage to work Bob, VA3QV, but I do know he was on the air as I heard him working a station at 1700 UTC on 10m, we just never managed to meet up.

The new Heil Pro Set Elite headset worked very well, it's a bit tight on the head so I'm hoping it will loosen up with a bit of use and get use to my large head.

Radio of the day was the FT-950 and the antennas were the 80m OCF Dipole and the 15m Hamstick mounted on an 11' high painter pole........worked like a charm.

Band conditions were not too bad.  A bit of QSB here and there.  We started the contest with SFI = 143, SN = 100, "A" Index = 15, and "K" Index = 4.

And so ends the 2014 Contest Year........

Marcel Joseph Benjamin "Benny" Lemarbre

Benny Lemarbre
Benny was my Squadron Warrant Officer when I was posted to 450 Squadron, flying on Chinooks as a Loadmaster.  He was a gentleman I looked up to immensely, and I must confess that Ben hauled my ass out of more crap than I care to remember, but he always laughed about it.  “His Boys” as he called us always came first.

I well remember stealing his pace stick from its place of honour in his office, and replacing it with a hockey stick.  He knew who did it right away, and simply waggled his finger under my nose……I had it back by coffee.


Benny was a man of integrity and showed that to us by his actions, over and over again every day.  He went out of his way to protect us all from a bad Commanding Officer, almost to the detriment of his own career.  But that didn’t matter, we were his boys and we came first, and we can never repay him for what he did for us. 
Anyone who knew Benny knows that they have met loyalty in its true form. He sanctifies the word; he was loyal to his wife Christa, to his family, to his many friends, to 450 Squadron, and his original love, the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps.

Marcel Joseph Benjamin "Benny" Lemarbre... one of a kind. A loyal man with a heart of gold, someone stubborn I am sure, as most of us guys are. But, true to his calling, true to his brothers, and true to his beliefs (which many of us share), and true to his family. It’s a terrible thing to have to say goodbye.
Benny’s funeral is tomorrow, and I will not be able to make it.  But tonight I will raise a glass of good German beer, Warsteiner….his favourite, and say goodbye to one hell of a good man.
 Marcel Joseph Benjamin "Benny" Lemarbre
1940 – 2014

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Winter Contest 2014


The Winter Contest is one of the few things, along with the Canada Day Contest that RAC does correctly......in my opinion.  It's always a very friendly contest, where friends take time to chat for a few minutes and pass along news and season's greetings to each other.

This year the contest runs from 0000 to 2359 UTC on December 27th, and the rules can be found HERE.

A new Heil Pro Set Elite headset found its way under my Christmas Tree this year, so I'm looking forward to trying them out in this contest.  So far I like them, and the few audio reports I've had on them all seem to be on the positive side.

They are extremely comfortable and the ear pieces really do block out 90% of the background noise around the house. 

Maybe VA3QV will magically appear on 40m tonight, or he may be taking Liz out dancing now that the new knee has been successfully installed......you just never know with him.......

Hope to work some of you on the bands during the contest.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas!!

 

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.
 
I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

There's lots more adventures planned for next year.  Several first time island activations, and others will be on the air that haven't been activated for many years, are all on the cards, as well as a few surprises.
 
Have a safe holiday everyone, and see you on the RAC Winter Contest.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Geoff is worried !!!!!

A letter arrived today from Geoff, the RAC Great Leader !!!!   Apparently he has just found out that my RAC membership expired on November 21st, and he wrote to tell me he's very worried !!!!!

This is actually the fourth letter I've had from Geoff on the same subject, and those four letters have now cost RAC a total of $3.00.  Must be nice Geoff to have money to burn these days!!

Geoff, I'm quite touched that you worry so much about my expired membership, but personally I'd be a lot more happy if you and the rest of the clowns (no insult intended to real circus clowns past, present, or future) who run RAC resign in disgrace, or simply just walk away..... and hand the organization over to more competent individuals who believe in the democratic process.  You see Geoff, you don't really have a mandate to run RAC as its President.  You were appointed to that position by seven individuals, most of whom had been "elected" by acclamation.  Hardly a democratic process is it ??

Obviously you didn't read my other rant on RAC (HERE) written on October 11th before you mailed this letter to me.  Save your money Geoff, don't send me any more letters, I won't be re-joining RAC until it becomes a proper democratic organization, and I can't see that happening on your watch.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

ARRL 10m Contest

Took part for a little bit of the weekend in the ARRL 10m Contest.  Friday night was a total bust, the SFI numbers were off the scale......nothing but silence across the band here.  That's silence because of no signals, the background noise was a steady S8.

Saturday morning the band was hopping with lots of European stations all over the place.  Most could be got on the first call.......and then about three hours into it disaster struck.  My Heil headset quit working.  Not sure why but I was sure mad.  There's another set of Heil Pro Set Elite being ordered tomorrow, I can't operate the FT-950 with anything other than a Heil headset....it's a rule in my shack!

Next up on the contest scene will be the RAC Winter Contest.  Being held this year on December 27th.  Hopefully Santa will have brought the new headset with him when he pays his annual visit to the shack a few days before!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Alligators are out and about

Great morning on the bands today, 10m and 17m are just hopping, and 20m isn't too shabby either but there is some QSB there.

I managed to work with great ease Finland, Latvia, UK, Iceland, Greece, and Germany in about 20 minutes after the ham club coffee today.  In fact I had a long QSO with Manfred, DK2OY, in Gelting, it's always nice to talk to a part of the world you know well.

Of course with all the activity on the band the 'Alligators' and the 'Band police' are all out and about, shouting "up 5" and "up 10" as if anyone listens to them anyway.  The 'Alligators' on the other hand are those amateurs who are transmitting several megawatts into a sub-standard antenna and can't hear a damn thing, and as my good friend Don says, "They're all mouth and no ears"....and how right he is! 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Get Well Soon - - - VA3QV

Most of you who read my blog know of the good natured ribbing that I give Bob, VA3QV, and likewise he gives me.

Bob was admitted to hospital last Tuesday, 25th November, to have his right knee, which was pretty much shot, replaced with a Titanium version.  This is the second knee he has had replaced.....so he's half way to becoming the real $6 Million man!

I have just had an email from him this afternoon to let me know he's back home, the new knee is safely installed, and the bugger is already climbing stairs!!!!  Ain't modern medicine great ??   I've told him to behave and follow his XYL's instructions.

So, from all of us here in Kingston, hurry up and get 100% Bob, there's too many QRP activities coming up that you can't afford to miss!!  Get better soon my friend, we're all pulling for you!

Bob VA3QV

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

New 15m Antenna

For the past 18 months I've been using a vertical 15m dipole taped to a 31' collapsible mast with great results.  I was using this antenna as my 80m OCF Dipole will not tune 15m at all.....it tunes everything else, just not 15m.

The original 15m vertical dipole came down the other day as it was having some issues.  Perhaps some water in the balun, but I need to investigate some more before I can make a good diagnosis.  Anyway, with the start of the contesting season upon us I needed a 15m option, especially as were getting close to the ARRL Sweepstakes.

With the weather starting to turn bad......yes, I know, it's the perfect antenna maintenance time of year, I put something up quickly.

So, I decided to put up a 15m hamstick antenna using a single truck mirror mount that cost me $5 at the last ham flea market.  The mounting stud was $3.95 at Durham Radio, and I reused the coax from the original vertical dipole.  The antenna mount was bolted onto an old painter pole I use for portable work, and raised up to 11'. 

I also added two 11' elevated radials, these were done along the North-South axis, and I'll probably add another one, perhaps two this week.

It was up and ready to go for the ARRL Sweepstakes but not tested, so I was a bit apprehensive about how it would do.  Not to worry, first contact on it was to John, VE8EV, in Inuvik, NWT, and second up was Gus, VO1MP, in Portugal Cove, NL.  So there you have it, coast to coast, and I have about $30 into it. 

Now we'll have to see how it does on Trans-Atlantic DX.....

The antenna in action

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sweepstakes - the result.

My finished 2014 section map - no clean sweep.
Saturday afternoon at 1600 local arrived and this years ARRL Sweepstakes kicked off, and it was straight to 10m I went.  The band was hopping and kept me going strong for the next two and a half hours.  Most of the signals were coming from out west and the California sections filled up pretty quickly.  No sign of Hawaii though, and no sign of any Quebec station for the whole weekend.

I did go to 40m after supper.....but there was no sign of the ever elusive VA3QV, even though he did email to tell me he would be on.  He was probably outside washing and waxing the RV.......

At about 2030 local the bands took a bit of a nose dive.  The SFI was at 159, the SN at 117, the A Index was 17, and the K Index was at 4.  Not the numbers we really wanted, but it was what we had to work with.

Most of the evening was spent on 10m, with the odd foray to 40m and 80m to check things out there.

By 0900 local on Sunday the bands had settled down and were jumping once again.  10m and 15m were the go to bands, but 20m was excellent as well.  But, by 1300 local the bands were starting to lose their magic as the A and K Index numbers went up again and the bands got very noisy.

I like this contest, the exchange is just difficult enough, and only being able to work a station once, regardless of band, also makes it interesting.

No band police were heard this weekend, but I did hear a US ham have a totally childish meltdown on 20m.  Apparently a fellow amateur had the audacity to trespass on this guys personal frequency.........messing up his AM signal with an interloping SSB signal.  I must confess that I had been sitting on the frequency for good 10 minutes while I fixed my log and had not heard a peep until the SSB station started to call CQ.

I always have a quiet chuckle when I hear a US station lecturing a DX station about the band plan.  Somehow they think that everyone must follow the ARRL or FCC one....well, here's a news flash......we don't, we have our own.

All in all a good weekend on the band. No QRP this year, I went QRO.  I'm nowhere near winning like I did last year, even if I did beat last years score by 5500 points.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

2014 Field Day Results

YES!!!......this years Field Day results are in !!!

Frontenac Emcomm Group, operating as VE3FRG, came first in Canada and first in North America in the 5A (Commercial) category.

Well done to VE3MNE, VE3CLQ, VA3VDP, VA3TIC, VE3DZE, and VE3HRW for this great result!!  The team finished the weekend with 3556 points

In second place was W9CQ, the Wisconsin Amateur Radio Club of Germantown, Wisconsin.  They finished with 1970 points.  In third place was K5NEA, the Northeast Arkansas Radio Club of Truman, Arkansas, who finished with 1812 points.

Our group overcame some significant antenna issues that slowed things down for the first hour and a half until they were sorted out.  Lots of hard work to get us to this point, and we're really looking forward to Field Day 2015 to see if we can give our competition another good run for their money.

ARRL November Sweepstakes


Coming up this Saturday afternoon.....this years ARRL Sweepstakes starts !!  After my result last year I'll have to try and defend my QRP  title....but the decision to go QRP will not be made until later tomorrow after I analyse the forecasted propagation.

The link to the Rules are
HERE.

Propagation wise we could be in for an interesting time.  One of the sites I frequent has this to say about the next few days:

"Solar activity is likely to be moderate with a slight chance for an X-class flare on day one (14 Nov) and likely to be moderate with a chance for X-class flares on days two and three (15 Nov, 16 Nov)." 


Hopefully everything will go smoothly......but ya just never know.....

Good Luck to everyone!

Monday, 10 November 2014

In Remembrance......

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

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Great Day !!

Quite the surprise today after lunch when a FedEx truck delivered a large parcel to the house. 

I knew I had done well in the 2013 ARRL Sweepstakes, but little did I know that I had come first in Canada in the QRP category.....and if that wasn't enough later that day the Postman dropped off an envelope, also from the ARRL, containing a certificate for First Place in Ontario East for the same contest.

 
 
I'd better start working on a strategy for this years Sweepstakes......

Monday, 27 October 2014

A good weekend on the bands....

 
 

It would be very had to pick out the best part of the weekend, most of it was a blur of "CQ DX",  I was late getting on the air Friday evening, I felt it more important to watch the arrival of Cpl Cirillo, and his family, at the Funeral Home in Hamilton, and watch the outpouring of respect from the thousands of Canadians who lined his route home.  It was quite humbling to watch.

It was 0040 UTC before I turned on the rig and made my first contact.  Friday evening contacts were on a mixture of 20m and 40m.  But there was a problem, it seemed that many of the stations calling CQ were running too much power, and were transmitting far beyond what their antennas could actually hear.    It was quite funny really to sit back and listen to many stations answering these guys, and have these big guns just call "CQ Contest" over and over again.....if they only knew how many stations were actually lined up to talk to them.

Saturday morning was a 10m feast!!  The SSB on 10m started at 28.250 and continued, wall-to-wall non-stop to 29.190.  It was so good on 10m that I did not get to 20m until very late in the day, and I did not get to 15m until Sunday morning.    I shut things down at 2200 UTC on Sunday with 701 QSO's in the log, my ears just couldn't take any more noise.

I did not hear any band police over the weekend, but the idiots who like to tune up right over a QSO were out in force.

The worst behaviour I heard over the weekend was the pileup over A73A, the contest team from Qatar.  I felt very sorry for the operator as the jerks trying to call him would not listen to his instructions, and continued to scream their call signs at him over top of his QSO's.  Nearly all the offenders were, unfortunately, stations from the USA.

And finally, some operators still have not learned the most basic of rules when dealing with DX.  Use the standard list of phonetics, not everyone understands English well.  I listened in total amusement an exchange that went on 10 minutes between an American and a Latvian station.  Instead of using "Whiskey Delta Bravo", the American was using "Willoughby Divorce Beans".  In return WDB got back "BCN", and around and around they went.  In the end the QSO wasn't completed, the Latvian gave up in frustration.

The radio in action this weekend was the FT-950 and the 80m OCF dipole.  I did use the 15m vertical dipole as the 80m will not tune up on 15m.  Very pleased with the equipment, everything seems to be working well.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Julian G4ILO - SK

Julian G4ILO
Over the past few years I have been following the journey of Julian, G4ILO.  Julian is the founder of "Wainwrights On The Air", which is a program very similar to SOTA, but on smaller hills.

Julian has been a great inspiration to me, and many other hams, with his portable operations.

Unfortunately he was diagnosed with an un-operable brain tumour three years ago.  He never gave up, always positive in his outlook towards life and his future.  He lived life to the fullest as long as he could, and he fought it as long as he could as well.

We lost Julian this past Friday, October 14th 2014.  A true gentleman, he will be missed by me, and a great number of fellow hams around the world.

RIP Julian.  SK.

Friday, 24 October 2014

CQ WW SSB DX Contest

Tonight is the start of this years CQ World-Wide SSB DX Contest.  This kicks off at 0000Z and runs till 2359Z on Sunday. 

The bands are terrible right now (at 1530L).   Currently the SFI is at 227.  The SC is 126.  The 'A' Index is 10, and the 'K' Index is 4. 

Hopefully the bands will pick up soon, with the solar flux index above 200, and no geomagnetic storms in the forecast, band conditions should be excellent.

Rules for this years contest can be found HERE.

I'm going for a nap.......it may be a long night J

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

2014 W/VE Island QSO Party from ON-022

10m Buddipole Dipole
It was a grand weekend for the Island QSO Party, the weather was good for the most part (not as nice as years past), but the wind cutting across the island was a bit too sharp on Sunday afternoon to be really comfortable.  Sunday was 7C with a 35 kph wind blowing in our faces.

I managed to work stations on 10m, 20m, 40m and 80m, but the vast majority was done on 10m.  Band conditions were pretty good really, the SFI was 160, SN was 60, the 'A' Index was 15, and the 'K' Index was 3.  We've all worked in better conditions, but we've all worked in far worse.

Don VE3MNE and Mark VE3EOG and myself worked on Simcoe Island, ON-022.  Don operated his own station under his callsign, as did I.  Mark had never done an island activation before, so he came along to see how things are done, and I think we have a convert.  Operating from Simcoe Island is great as there is no RF noise at all, and you can hear many more signals than from the home QTH. 
 
The Go-Box in action, out of the wind.
Don used his 31' vertical and I used my Buddipole as a dipole.  Both Don and myself used our go-boxes with FT-857D's in them.  Lots of DX to be had, thanks to the stations that spotted me on the cluster, and a BIG thanks to Stephan, ZS6SKY, for calling me from Johannesburg, South Africa, he called me on 10m at 1547Z on Sunday.  It was a Five-Six contact each way, with me using the Buddipole mounted on a 16' painter pole.  Yahoo!!

There were lots of JOTA stations on the air over the weekend, and it was great to talk to the Scouts and Cubs on the radio.  As well as JOTA we also had the New York, Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois QSO Parties on the air, so there was no shortage of stations to talk to.  But, as well as all that, there was also lots of great European DX rolling in on 10m and that kept me busy.

As you can see from the picture on the right, I operated beside my truck, semi sheltered from the cold wind, but I wish I had taken a pair of gloves with me, my hands froze and it was difficult to log.  Don worked out of the cab of his truck so he could stay sheltered as well.

All in all, a great weekend.  It's a shame that more Canadian stations do not take part as it's lots of fun, and always a good time.

Here's a few more photo's from Simcoe Island, ON-022.


Don VE3MNE operating his station out of the wind.


The set-up on Simcoe Island.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

New Toys.....

The new look at the Shack
It was a great trip into Toronto yesterday, Don VE3MNE, Mark VE3EOG, and myself drove to Radioworld and Durham Radio for our annual candy feast...It was a successful trip.

Two bits of Yaesu gear jumped into my basket, a new desk mic, the MD-100A8X, and the matching speaker for the FT-950, the SP-2000.  Both of these items work as advertised and do great job.  I'm really enjoying the desk mic, and I'm getting some very good reports on it.

The speaker has built in audio filters that really do clear up the hash behind the voices.  Normally I use my Heil Pro-6 headset, but there are times that I like to use a speaker, and this one will do very nicely.

We also made a side trip to the Bass Pro Shop in Vaughan, a couple of Km north of Radioworld.

If you're an outdoorsman it's heaven!!  I cannot imagine even one piece of outdoor gear that you could not buy there.  They even have an indoor archery range right in the store, the place is HUGE!!  ......and yes, I did buy a couple of non-radio related items there.....

I have a suspicion that this place will be one of the regular places we stop at in the future.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

W/VE Island QSO Party - 2014

This coming weekend, October 18th & 19th, is the W / VE Island QSO Party.  Held each year this is the perfect opportunity to get out and do some portable operating from
one of your local islands.

If you can't get out....operate and work them from home.

This years Rules are HERE. And, don't forget to submit your logs!

This year from the Kingston area you'll hear VE3FCT operating from Simcoe Island, ON-22, and Dave, VE3DZE, operating from Wolfe Island, ON-009.  It looks like it will be a cool day, with temps around 9C, but at least there's no rain in the forecast.

EDIT:.....

Late addition, Tim, VA3TIC, and Derek, VE3HRW, will be activating Washburn Island, ON-289 on Sunday. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

RAC membership and the Great Leader

Deciding whether or not to renew my RAC membership was an easy decision this year…..I didn’t, and let me explain why.

Last year I chose to get the electronic version of the TCA as it was a few bucks cheaper than the standard paper version.  Over the course of the past 12 months I have managed to download and read the grand total of one copy of the electronic version of the TCA, the rest wouldn’t even download, or they stopped half way through the download process and crashed.  I should point out at this time that I do have a new computer, not an old clunker that might have some issue downloading. 

Several times during the year I have contacted the RAC office and complained about not being able to download and read my electronic version of the TCA.  And of course in true RAC fashion, nothing was done about it, and no help was given at all….ever!!  I have heard from many other hams that they too have had issues downloading the electronic TCA, so it's not like this was just my issue.  I know RAC likes to keep their members in the dark, but this is ridiculous!!

Over the past four weeks I have received four emails from the RAC office, all of them informing me that my valued membership is about to expire and they hope I will continue to support them…..REALLY ?????   What about their support to ME ????    


At the same time I have been receiving these emails I have also received three renewal letters from the Great Leader, Comrade Bawden, the current appointed Grand Pooh-Bah of the RAC organization.  Each of these letters has cost RAC 75 Cents to mail out……why do I need three of them ??  I guess Comrade Bawden really does need my $$ to help pay for his junkets around the country shaking hands and kissing babies.

So the question is, just what tangible product did I receive last year for my $54.25 RAC annual membership fee??  Because from my point of view, and regardless of the bullshit propaganda in Comrade Bawden’s letters to me, my answer would have to be a loud and hearty SWEET FUCK ALL!!!


John Quincy Adams is quoted as saying "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader".    Comrade Bawden has inspired me to take a out a two year membership with the ARRL.   Thank you Great Leader for showing me the way.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Section Manager Resigns!

It came as a bit of a shock on the morning of October 1st to read that George Duffield, VE3WKJ, had resigned his RAC appointed position as the Section Manager of the GTA. 

It’s no secret amongst those who closely follow the ARES goings on that George Duffield was the only one of the three current Ontario Section Managers who seemed to have his head screwed on properly, and he certainly wasn’t full of himself...as some are.

I’ve spoken with George many times on the phone, and he always struck me as intelligent, full of knowledge and common sense, and an absolute gentleman.  He is exactly the type of ham we need as one of our Section Managers.

George was proactive in his leadership style, and certainly didn’t seem to have any issues with getting people to do the jobs he needed doing….I would have worked for him in a heartbeat if I lived in the GTA and had been asked to help.

This is yet another abject failure of the RAC senior leadership team to step in and get things sorted out before it reached this result, and they wonder why RAC is imploding.


Thank you very much for your dedicated service George, you'll be greatly missed.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The UN-CHILLYcon

What a fantastic QRP weekend!!  Most of the usual crowd assembled for this years Chillycon at the beautiful Rideau River Provincial Park, a 30 minute drive south of Ottawa.  This was the last weekend the park is open this year, so it was very quiet there, not too many people there at all.

The weather Friday night was cold, it went down to about 4C.  Saturday night it rained a bit and the temperature hovered around 17C.  However, Michael VE3WMB, and Ying VA3YH, both arrived on Thursday and told us that Thursday night was terribly cold, and that we had the warm nights!

VA3QV's mobile Shack
The highlight of course was that Bob VA3QV did in fact arrive safely in his new "Mobile Love Palace".   Not much room in it, but it's fine for what he want's to do with it......and it will give him another project to work on.  Bob had an exciting weekend, he spent a few moments trying to teach his FT-817 to fly.......but perhaps we could entice him to post a blog entry on his own Blog to describe what happened with the airborne 817!!  It was really good seeing him and Liz there.

The radio in use this weekend, keeping with the QRP theme, was my Icom 703.  I used a 31' wire erected in an inverted 'L' as my antenna.  The antenna went up only 20' and then 11' over to a tree.  Not the best of antennas, but I had some success with the DX over the weekend using it.

The 10 screaming watts of the IC-703 netted me HK3C, John in Bogota, Columbia; 9A9RR, Petar on Pucisca Island (EU-016), Croatia; SV3AQR, John in Patra, Greece; HA3NU, Laszlo in Szekszard, Hungary; and OP2A, Ivo in Boortmeerbeek, Belgium.  These stations as well as a dozen North American stations made it a successful weekend.

VA3ORP's portable bar
As usual Dave VA3ORP, and his valet Chris VE3CBK, erected their bell tent, complete with Persian carpet, cots, and all sorts of other creature comforts....including a portable bar!  You just never know what these QRP guys will get up to next!

Saturday was a great day weather wise.  Very comfortable temperature, the only downside was the fact that the mosquitoes were all in full force, which made things just a little itchy.

The annual DX completion started as soon as Eric VA3AMX arrived on Friday, at 1911 local that evening we thought Eric had won the contest with an early CW contact with a Mongolian station, a tie ensued an hour later when Michael VE3WMB also had a CW contact with the same Mongolian station.  BUT, in a surprising development, on Saturday evening, Chris VE3CBK, has a SSB QSO using his FT-817, with a VK3 station.  Five watts to Australia on a 70 year old Radio Set No. 19 antenna ain't too shabby any day!!  Congratulations to Chris on winning this years honour.

The Chillycon Survival Kit:  Analyzer, spare parts box,
and a mug for the Scotch!
Details of VA3VDP's radial plate.
We held our traditional Pizza supper on Saturday evening, and managed to get it over before the rain started.  Numerous bottle of single malt were in attendance, and all of it was mighty fine stuff.

Sunday morning nine of us trooped off to the New Rideau Restaurant, just down the road from the Provincial park for a great breakfast.  It's under new management since we were there last year (It was called "Charlie's Place" then).  The food was excellent and a decent price. 

So it's all over for another year.  It was a great shame that more of the local QRPers didn't get out this year, even the number of Saturday afternoon visitors was down.  I saw only Bob VE3MPG and Chris VE3CME.  I say it every year, Chillycon is a great educational weekend, and this year was no different.

It was really great to see everyone again, and as usual the sense of fraternity was outstanding.  Hopefully next year we will see a lot more of the QRP fraternity out at this event.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Chillycon

 
VA3QV & VA3ORP arrive at Chillycon 2014
Yet another Ottawa Valley QRP Society Fall Camping Weekend, known as Chillycon, is upon us. 

This coming weekend, starting Friday afternoon, QRP fanatics from all over Eastern Ontario descend upon Rideau River Provincial Park for this annual gathering.  The park is just across the Rideau River from Kemptville.

Always a great time, this will be my sixth year attending this event.  Not once have I ever returned home without learning something about radios or antennas.  It's a really great time, educational, and the company is fantastic.  It really is a fixed event on our calendar these days.

A lot of the participants come for the whole weekend, others just come for Saturday afternoon as well as the single malt whiskey and traditional pizza supper we hold.  If you're planning on bringing any whiskey to the event.....please.....no blended stuff !!

Four of us from Kingston, VE3MNE, VA3ORP, VA3VDP and myself, will be attending this year. 

As usual Bob, VA3QV will be there.  This year Bob will be bringing, on it's inaugural trip, his new (to him) RV......we've christened it "Bob's Mobile Love Palace"....photo's will follow!!

Hopefully the weather and propagation will behave themselves.  I'm going full out this year to beat Eric, my arch rival, for the "Upper Canada Cup for QRP DX Excellence at Chillycon"....now if we could just afford to buy the trophy things would be really great!!

Stay tuned for the post-event wrap-up.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

September ARRL VHF Contest & SOTA Weekend....

The September ARRL VHF Contest is coming up this weekend, September 13 - 15. 

I'm going to try and take part in it, not sure for how long, but we will give it a try.  The Rules can be found HERE.

The problem we have here in Kingston is that we have very few clear high points that we can operate from, and for a VHF contest, you need some height.
Also this weekend is the annual North American SOTA Weekend.   This event is a casual event involving portable battery-powered radios on mountain summits. It is not a contest but is intended to introduce “Summits on the Air” to newcomers with home stations who try to work summit operators during one or two days. There are no rules regarding power levels, modes or number of bands worked, but please be courteous when more than one station is trying to talk to a SOTA operator on a summit.

The SOTA operators can be found on the usual QRP frequencies.

Hopefully the weather and propagation will be on our side for these events.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Seven

The Bonnechere Valley
I was on the road by 0730 this morning under....wait for it......brilliant blue skies!!!  Well, it would be a nice day, it's my last one on the road for this trip!!

Highway 17 was a real pain today, lots of construction and widening of the highway.  It was stop and go for quite a while.  Eventually the construction disappeared and the road became a scenic ride.

First stop today was CFB Petawawa to visit a number of friends.  First up was a group of women that I used to work with in Kingston that have all been posted to "downtown" Petawawa.  It was great getting to catch up with them.  Then it was off too see my old Sergeant Major to drop off a package to him.  Had a great visit with everyone, and a new project handed to me.....all is good.

From Petawawa I drove down Highway 17 to Highway 41, turned south, and enjoyed the drive down through the Bonnechere Valley.  What a great drive, over 150 km of freshly paved road that was as smooth as a babies bum!  This had to be the best day's drive of the trip.

Just south of Kaladar I finally switched to the VE3FRG repeater and gave a call.  Lots of the guys in there calling me, Richard VA3VDP, Tim VA3TIC, Mark VE3EOG, and a few others.  It was nice to be back on the home repeater, at least here you know somebody will answer you on it.

Grand total of km's driven was 12,653 - I haven't tallied up how much I spent on gas....I'm almost afraid to!  2m repeater contacts were made in every province, and the portable HF gear worked as expected.

All in all, a great trip....now to start planning that trip to the east coast.......

Eastbound - Day Six.....

Hey, it's raining....are you surprised???   It was a very long day today, 11 hours driving, Terrace Bay to North Bay - 913 Km.  There was lots of construction on the road today, I think every bridge is being rebuilt or improved.

Stopped for coffee and breakfast in White River this morning and met a very interesting gentleman.  Jack was an airline pilot for over 40 years and has retired to White River.  He recognized my ham plates and wanted to know how he can get his license.  A big package will be mailed off to Jack with study material soon.

Of course White River is a pretty famous town in Canadian history.  It was here that in 1914 Captain Harry Colebourn stepped off his troop train as it stopped for coal, and purchased an orphaned bear cub........and that bear came to be known as Winnie the Pooh. 

The drive today was through miles and miles of rolling hills covered with forest. 

White River
Not sure what was going on around Massey and Espanola but there were no campsites or motel rooms available.  So, I kept driving towards Sudbury, and eventually pulled into North Bay around 2030 hrs.  A really long day on the road.

There are very few 2m repeaters on the north shore of Lake Superior and as usual no contacts were made today on the radio. 

Tomorrow I'm heading to Petawawa to meet up with some people, should be an interesting day.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Five.....

 
Lake Superior at Terrace Bay
Another rain free driving day, looks like I've left the wet stuff far behind.

This morning I left Aaron Provincial Park after a pretty wet night.  The tent is soaked, but all the other gear is fine.  The rain stopped around 0400.

The goal for tonight is Terrace Bay, about 540 Km away.  I drove through miles of forest today, and the road was in excellent condition.

Just outside of Ignace a small car passed me, and as it went by I noticed it had ham plates on.  I put out a call on the Ignace repeater but had no luck.  Then about five minutes later Glenn-VE3CJG called me on 146.52 simplex.  He was driving home from a visit to BC with his wife, Sandra-VE3HON.  The funny thing is Glenn and Sandra live in Belleville, about 80 Km from me.

We all stopped for coffee together in Upsala, where the price of gas today was an eye opening $1.69.9 !!

Terrace Bay has its very own Lighthouse in the middle of the town, needless to say it was on the air tonight even though it's a fake one and has no number.

Terrace Bay Lighthouse
Tomorrow I'm off to Massey, Ontario, for the night.  Hopefully the rain will continue to go else where.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Four.....


It was a very strange day today.......it didn't rain!!  Brandon was already far in the rear view mirror by 0730 as I wanted to make the best of the good weather.

The roads today were the best I have driven on all trip.  The scenery was great, I went from the grass lands to the north woods, and 580 Km later I arrived in downtown Dryden, Ontario. 

The final destination was Aaron Provincial Park, 18 km east of Dryden.  It's a nice and clean park, but there's no cell phone service, so back into Dryden I went to Tim Horton's to text home that I had arrived safely.

I'm hoping that the rain is behind me now and I'll have great camping weather ahead of me.

Today I put calls out on the Brandon, Austin, Portage, Elie, Headingley, Hadashville, Falcon Lake, Kenora, and Dryden repeaters......and no contact was made on any of them....Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Three.....

The Cypress Hills on a dry day
Anyone want to guess what the weather was today?  It rained.....all day, all 768 Km of it.  It was a cool 8C when I loaded up the truck this morning.

It was a fairly routine trip down the highway until we got to Waldeck, SK, where a large CP Rail train derailed.  There must have been 50 cars laying on their sides in the slough that runs along the track....or what was left of the track.

I was in Moose Jaw for lunch and met up with an old friend of mine, who although we email on a regular basis, we haven't seen each other for 10 years.  I got the grand tour of the town, it's quite the place really.  Bit disappointing though as the weather kept the aircraft from CFB Moose Jaw grounded today.

On the way through Regina I managed a long QSO with Summer, VE5SDH, and she was my only contact all day on 2m.  No response was had on the Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Wolseley, or Moosomin repeaters.  Perhaps better luck tomorrow in Brandon.

Tonight's stop is Virden, MB.  A nice little town spread out along Hwy 1.  No HF happened tonight as I had to drive past the sched time, but I will be on tomorrow night from Brandon.  We'll see if 17m does the job.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Two......

The Roger's Pass on a nice day
Today dawned glorious......and raining!!  Yet another rainy day on the road.  I left Golden, BC, at 0800 local, after having a bite to eat at the Tim Horton's.

Even though it was raining and the low clouds ruined the views, the scenery through the Roger's Pass was still spectacular.  Once through Roger's Pass a short time later you enter the Kicking Horse Pass, another high mountain pass with totally spectacular scenery.

I stopped for lunch and a bit of fuel in Banff.  It's still a pretty little town, even if Parks Canada are a pain in the ass there.

No 2m traffic was heard in Golden, Lake Louise, Banff, or Canmore.  BUT, a contact was made in Calgary.  VE6CCL, Rob, answered by CQ, and we talked for quite some time.  It's always nice to be talking to a local when driving through a strange town.

I made the second 2m contact of the day in Bassano, Earl, VA6RF, kept me company on the repeater for a while.  Earl tells me that the Bassano repeater is really underused.  Well, I can point to him a pile of other repeaters that don't seem to have any traffic on them as well.

Going to attempt an HF contact with some of the Kingston stations tonight at 2000 local Kingston time.  I'll see who I can talk to, or who I can hear.

Tomorrow the night stop will be Moose Jaw.

Eastbound - Day One....

Coquihalla Highway north of Merritt
Left Abbotsford this morning after saying goodbye to the family.  It was great to see everyone, and kinda hard to leave.

Weather, as usual when I'm on the road, was RAIN!!  In fact it rained, and rained heavily, all day.

I did actually make a contact on the VE7RVA repeater in Abbotsford, just after I left.  Unfortunately I did not write down the callsign or name of the gentleman who answered my call.  But that short QSO gives me at least one 2m QSO in every province I've been through.

The trip took me over the Coquihalla Highway, where the weather was pretty bad and cold.  Lunch was in Kamloops and dinner in Golden, BC.  The accommodation's were first class tonight, the gear crowed back of the truck in a Tim Horton's parking lot....no stars and not recommended!!

Apart from the contact on the Abbotsford Repeater, no other contacts were made all day.  The repeaters were very quiet, as was 146.52 simplex.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and make it to Medicine Hat, AB.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Lighthouse Activation.....

Point Atkinson
Plans are underway to activate the Point Atkinson Lighthouse, CAN-400 this coming Monday, September 1st.

Timings will be 1800 UTC till 2200 UTC.

Frequencies will be 7.250 and 14.250 to 14.260 -/+

Callsign in use will be VE3FCT/VE7.

Give a listen and hope the propagation is working.....