Monday, 26 October 2015

CQ WW SSB Contest

What an outstanding weekend on the bands!!!!!  I think all the bands were full of DX signals, I know 20m, 15m, and 10m were rocking practically the whole contest, and 40m was hot at night.  It was really nice to have 10m wide open, I spent a lot of time there.

I managed to work 158 countries in a little over 12 hours operating.  All the usual suspects were on the bands, but I did get to work a new country, 4L0A from the Republic of Georgia, heard him on 20m and snagged him on the second call.  That's the first time I've ever heard Georgia on the air.

I also worked VU2CPL in Bangalore, India, on 20m Sunday afternoon on 20m.  How I broke that pileup I will never know, it was frightening!!

The downside of the weekend is that on Saturday afternoon, in the middle of a huge pileup, my antenna decided it would be a good time to come down.  Outside I went, man it was cold in the wind, I managed to get it back in the air and also put up a 31' vertical and some radials down as a spare in case I needed it during the night.  We had winds of 60 kph gusting to 75 kph all afternoon and over night.  So two hours of valuable operating time was lost.

Once again the "tuner uppers" were out in force, tuning up on top of active QSO's, and a few band police were heard, but not as many as usual.  There were tons of European stations between 7.040 and 7.124, and very few of them working split for a change.

Overall  the propagation wasn't bad, it certainly wasn't as bad as the numbers would have led us to believe.    We started with SFI=115, SN=91, A Index at 7, and the K Index at 1, and finished on Sunday with the SFI=106, SN=74, A Index at 11, and the K Index at 2.  The bands did get a bit noisy, but there was so many signals on them it was hard to tell what real affect the SFI had on them.

It's all over except submitting the log, and then it's getting things tuned up and sorted for the ARRL Sweepstakes on November 21st & 22nd.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Winter Field Day 2016

On January 13th & 14th, 2007, the airwaves came alive with the QSO’s of the very first ever SPAR Winter Field Day.

Winter Field Day came about because many hams realized that we needed a method of testing ourselves for winter emergencies.  It’s not only during the warm months that disasters and emergencies happen, so why don’t we practice in the cold months…….frigid winds, icy limbs and bitter cold simply replace the thunderstorms and blistering heat of summer.

Over the past four years SPAR has actually accomplished very little, the five members of the Board of Directors are all getting up there in age, and have admitted that they are not in the best of health.  The silly thing here is that when the SPAR Bylaws were first written they do not allow for new Board members to be elected, the current five members are it, and are “there for life”.

Just before Winter Field Day 2015, Walt, W5ALT, who had actually been doing all of the work and was the “face” of SPAR suffered a very big stroke.  Of course nobody in SPAR knew this until people started trying to upload their logs and the website wouldn't let them do it.

Around the end of February, Charlie, KY5U, another board member appeared on the website for the first time in a very long time, and advised everyone that Walt had had a major stroke, and asked everyone to re-submit their logs to him for scoring.  Well, the re-submitted logs have never been seen again and no results have ever been posted.  Most of us figured this was going to happen as SPAR has been operating by accident for a long time.

Several individuals decided that Winter Field Day just had to be saved, and given the current state of the SPAR Board members health wise, it would be prudent to form a new association to take over the running of Winter Field Day, and they have done just that.The new Winter Field Day Association website can be found HERE. And you can all pencil in January 30th & 31st 2016........that’s the next Winter Field Day.

There is also a Facebook page, available HERE.


What a great weekend for JOTA!!  While the bands were not in the best of shape, I did manage to have nearly 100 QSO's with JOTA stations around the world......some more easily that others.

The propagation numbers at 1843 UTC Saturday were SFI=115, SN=68, A Index=8, and K Index=2.  One can really feel that the bands are now slipping away to the bottom of this cycle, and I wonder what the numbers will be for next years Field Day.

I did learn something this weekend, from a seven year old Brownie in Tennessee, she told me that she knew all about Canada because we all worked in Santa's Workshop making the toys for the Children, and she was very happy we all did that............who was I to argue !!

It was great to hear so many youth on the air, perhaps there's hope for this hobby after all.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Jamboree on the Air

It's that time of year weekend, October 17th & 18th, the HF bands should come alive with the voices of youth.  

Jamboree on the Air, which is more commonly known by its acronym JOTA, is an international Scouting and Guiding activity held annually on the third full weekend in October. 

The event was first held in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of Scouting in 1957, and was devised by a radio amateur with the callsign G3BHK. It is now considered the largest event in Scouting.

Amateur radio operators from all over the world will participate with over 500,000 Scouts and Guides to teach them about radio and to assist them to contact their fellow Scouts and Guides by means of amateur radio.  

Since JOTA isn't a contest, there is no designated start time.  Get on the air when you're ready!

In North America the following frequencies are used:

3.690 and 3.940
7.090 to 7.190

JOTA is a worldwide event, and JOTA stations in Europe will be looking for contacts as well.  To avoid conflict with the Worked All Germany Contest, European JOTA Stations will be active on the following frequencies:

3.650 to 3.700
7.080 to 7.140
14.100 to 14.125 and 14.280 to 14.350
21.350 to 21.450
28.225 to 28.400

Get on the air and work the kids !!!!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Antenna issues....

We have had a heck of a gale blowing here in Kingston for the past 24 hours and it is expected to continue into tomorrow.  Winds are gusting to 50 kph and are expected to die down over-night.

Well, after three years up 50' in a maple tree my centre support line for my 80m OCF Dipole finally broke.  The antenna is still up the tree, either the balun or the coax has found a branch to hang on to, but I could pull it all the way down using the coax.

Oh well, I can't complain after having to do little to no maintenance to it over the past 3 years.  I'll have to get one of the guys to shoot a new line over the same tree with their compressed air cannon and I'll be back in action in no time.

The plan is to replace the current rope with UV resistant and to also use a piece of aircraft cable attached to the balun for extra strength.

The fun of amateur radio!!

Island Activating

Most of my readers know I like to take part in island activations, and many time I have wondered how this part of the hobby started.  Well, today Jose, VA3PCJ, sent me a picture from the very first, the original island now we all know the truth.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Hurricane Watch for Joaquin

The Hurricane Watch HF Net was activated at 1500 UTC yesterday (September 30) on 14.325 MHz during the day and 7.268 during the night for Hurricane Joaquin.   Please keep these frequencies clear for Hurricane Traffic.  

There is already a lot of active traffic being passed on this net, especially from Bermuda, and the Bahamas.  Stations on the US Eastern Seaboard who are now getting prepared and are checking in.  

For your information the current track of this Hurricane is scheduled to come ashore near Atlantic City and is now shown heading straight for Kingston, and according to the current track it should hit us starting sometime early Tuesday, although it may hit on late Monday.  

We may just get the tail end of it, but lets be ready.  This would be a good time to secure any loose items laying around outside of the house to minimize damage from flying objects. 

Dave - VE3DZE, our Canwarn Controller, will be bringing up a weather watch net well before it hits us.