Sunday, 18 June 2017

WSPR

Just had my ham radio computer fixed, and I'm back up on WSPR and PSK-31.   Lots of fun today on WSPR, the bands weren't too bad, but nothing was getting into Europe on any band.

Here's 20m today at 1430 UTC, June 18th.


Field Day Preparations

The preparations continue for Field Day.  This year we have to travel 90 minutes to Grafton, Ontario, to a new site, due to our normal site being still underwater.

My garage currently looks like a cross between a Radio Shack Warehouse and a Camping Store.  There is gear everywhere!!  I hadn't realized that our Club owned so mush equipment.  With some luck I may be able to cram it all into my van.

We're all hoping for little to no rain, and that the propagation Gods smile upon us both days.

Don VE3MNE, Jim VE3ULC and I are heading out on Wednesday morning to have a good look at the property and to try and figure out where we can site and hang our antennas.  As usual we plan on operating as a 5A station, made up of three SSB stations, a CW, and a digital Station.

We are going to have to change up the antenna list this year.  The line-up is now three 80m OCF dipoles, a 40m and 20m fan dipole, a 20m beam, two 31' verticals, a four element 6m Yagi, and a ten element 2m beam.  All day Friday and Saturday morning will be spent getting these antennas in the air.  




Sunday, 4 June 2017

Field Day 2017

Well, we had hoped the water level was going to go down and allow us access to our normal field day site on Hay Bay...........but apparently the Gods had other ideas.  At the moment, the water is continuing to rise, it's currently 3.2 metres above last years level, and at a 100 year high for the region.  Right now there's no sign it is going to start going down much before July.

It's very depressing to see our usual field day property in its current state, it's 60% under water, and you can fish for large Carp on what was the front lawn.  Its owner, Don VE3MNE, has spent 20+ years working on the property - improving it, maintaining it, cutting grass, and all the things you do at a cottage.  The really sad part for us all is that Don retired in March and was looking forward to spending this summer out on the property......and that's not going to happen this year.

This will be a big change for the VE3FRG Group, instead of field day at Hay Bay, we will now be forced to operate from a piece of property near Grafton, Ontario, about one hour and twenty minutes west of Kingston.  Thanks to Jim VE3ULC, for arranging this for us.

With this move comes a number of issues, the biggest one being how to sort out antenna layout and interference in a place we have never operated before.  All good challenges for us and I'm sure we will do fine.

So, a weekend with tarps, tents, radios, and a new location.......it's going to be fun !!

Our 2017 Field Day site location

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Sunday on the bands....

Beautiful day here in Kingston, blues skies and a outdoor temperature of about 21C.  It seems summer has arrived.

It was an interesting day on the bands......we have had some enhanced geomagnetic activity, with very strong G3 storming observed at the higher latitudes early Sunday.  We ended up with a "K Index" of 1 and an "A Index" of 51!!


As a result most of the bands were pretty quiet, but 6m was wide open into the Southern States for most of the day and I managed to make a good number of contacts into LA, AL, FL, GA, and KY.....as well as a few of the local nefarious characters here in VE3 land.  I should also point out that I don't have a real 6m antenna.....I simply tuned up my 80m OCF Dipole and used that.....

Attention now turns to providing the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour with communications in 13 days time, and of course the highlight of the year.....the ARRL Field Day at the end of June.......big news about Field Day on this site next week.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Portable Ops Day....

Next Sunday the long range weather forecast looks pretty good, so plans are under way to spend a few hours - for no reason -  out at a local spot operating portable.

We have had a lot of rain here in Kingston, the water levels are the highest ever recorded in the past 100 years, and currently our regular Field Day site is under a foot of water.   Luckily we have an alternative site sorted out just in case we can't get into the normal one.

Not much radio work going on around here, and from what I've been hearing about the conditions of the bands it doesn't sound like I'm missing out on any good DX.

I am expecting a surprise visitor this week, but more on that later in the week.

New toy in the shack, a West Mountain Radio powered speaker.....to help those of us who are going deaf....I'll do a write up and review on it after I've used it for a while.

Friday, 5 May 2017

XM3CARF Special Event Station

The Frontenac Amateur Radio Club will be sponsoring the special event call sign XM3CARF to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Canadian Amateur Radio Federation (CARF), which was founded in 1967 in Kingston, Ontario.

CARF was Canada's first successful national amateur radio society and existed between 1967 and 1993, when it was unfortunately amalgamated with the Canadian Radio Relay League to form the Radio Amateurs of Canada.

CARF was founded by Art Blick VE3AHU, Doug Burrill VE3CDC, and Ken Rollison VE3CRL.  These three fine gentlemen are all now Silent Keys.  

XM3CARF will be active on SSB, CW and various Digital Modes throughout the month of June, and will sign off shortly after the RAC Canada Day Contest on July 1st.

A QRZ.com page for XM3CARF has been set up, and the Frontenac Amateur Radio Club are looking forward to working as many stations as possible during this event. 


Thursday, 4 May 2017

Operating Portable...

VE3FI Operating Position
Great day yesterday in Grafton.  The weather was fantastic...19C most of the day under beautiful blue skies.  We couldn't, in fact, have asked for a better day.

The bands on the other hand were not so good.  20m and 40m were the only bands we heard stations on, but while we could loudly hear Moldovan and Kuwaiti stations they couldn't hear us, and mainly worked Europeans.  There was a lot of very deep QSB on the bands.

I did manage to make three contacts, one in Ohio, another in New Jersey, and the third in Indiana.  While they were not DX, they did help prove my system works.

Antennas of the day were a Chillycon 31' vertical and a W3EDP.  There was also an 80m OCF dipole permanently up at the location next to the little operating shack they have there.  We put the analyzer on the antennas before we used them and they all checked out fine.

Radio in use was my FT-897D which I was using for the second time since I bought it.  A nice little radio that works as advertised.

Looking forward to more of this type of operating.

The VE3FI set-up

Don VE3MNE, Jim VE3ULC, and Don VE3UNA.

Portable digital station of VE3ULC



Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Off to Grafton....

Off to a wood lot near Grafton, Ontario, tomorrow for a day of portable operating with VE3MNE & VE3ULC.  Hopefully the rain will hold off long enough for us to get a tarp ready and get the equipment set up.

The FT-897D will be the radio is use tomorrow as well as the 31' "Chillycon Special" vertical antenna.

Photo's of the day to follow...





Saturday, 15 April 2017

Ontario QSO Party

Getting set up here for the Ontario QSO Party, operating from the ever elusive Frontenac County.  It starts at 1800Z on Saturday, April 15th.

Rules can be found HERE.

Hopefully we will have better participation than we have had in the last few years.  This should be a pretty popular contest, especially for Rovers....even if the weather is forecasting rain for the weekend.

I did a little bit of 20m WSPR this morning, just warming up to see how the propagation was doing.  Not too bad in fact, a lot better than the last few days!!

This screen shot was taken at 1615 UTC, April 15th.


20m WSPR screen shot



Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A wasted weekend.....

There was a bit of SSB operating going on around here this weekend. The bands were not very good from my QTH. Noise levels were just high enough to be very frustrating and I never did manage to work any stations other than on 20 and 17 meters. Twenty was the best band of the day.

Sunday, I worked 20 and 30 … but PSK31 this time. There was a good mix of stations on, but primarily from the east coast and midwest. I worked them until the band petered out and then I just shut it all down, no use getting frustrated.

All in all, it was a good weekend, and it was a lot of fun. There are times it’s nice to have an indoor hobby, since this weekend was wet and even more wet.  But, it was better than the couple of feet of snow we had a couple of weeks ago! Oh, well … summer is just around the corner they tell me…..

Sunday, 26 March 2017

New Island Activations....

It looks like this years crop of Canadian Island Activations may end up being a rather good one. Every one on the list so far, will be a first time activation.

Here's a link to the Canadian Island Activators page (HERE), that shows what's been put on the table so far......and I haven't even submitted my list yet!!

These are not IOTA islands, these have their own unique Canadian number.  The link to the main page is HERE, it's well worth going over and seeing what has, and has not been, activated in your local area.  Many a warm summers day has been spent on one of the local islands answering a large pileup of operators all calling for you......there's been a few cold, wet, fall days as well!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

London 22 March 2017

Normally I don't do politics....BUT......


Monday, 13 March 2017

CQ WW WPX Contest

Coming up on March 25th & 26th, the CQ WW WPX Contest.   Always good for putting ton on DX in your logbook.   I'm hope to put a few more in my log after my disappointing time on the ARRL International DX Contest this year.

Hopefully the SFI will improve for that weekend and we have better conditions than the last contest.

Rules can be found HERE.

See you on the bands!!




Saturday, 4 March 2017

ARRL International DX Contest

Excellent day on the HF bands today as the ARRL International DX Contest got under way.  The propagation numbers didn't look too good, but to be honest the issued numbers didn't match the band performance.  There was a good amount of atmospheric noise, but no QSB on any of the bands.

15m which shows as being "poor", was actually the wide open and I managed to work half of Europe on it.  Over all I made 85 contacts...so far...and of them 38 were on 15m.

20m had great propagation into the Caribbean and South America.  I actually worked Bolivia and Peru today...two brand new ones for me out of the 39 countries I put into today's log.

I even managed to work Aruba and Bonaire on 10m this afternoon.  Both stations were pounding into this QTH at about 20 over 9.

The only band that didn't seem to be performing as advertised was 40m.  Both evenings it has not produced any real good DX, and I've managed only 8 QSO's on the band.

We will have to see what tomorrow brings and see how many more countries I can get in the log.




Monday, 27 February 2017

Family Stuff


The Dwyer girls.

Rest in Peace Aunty Pat......you're all together again now.

God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be.  So He put His arms around you and whispered “come to me.”  With tearful eyes we watched you, and saw you pass away. Although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay.  A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.  God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best.




Wednesday, 22 February 2017

And......more good WSPR

How about this for a good evenings WSPRing on 30m?   This was last night at 2300 UTC on February 21.  Australia and South Africa....not too shabby for 500 Mw in the inverted L long wire.



Sunday, 19 February 2017

Amazing contacts....

Just back from our weekly ham radio breakfast and decided to put WSPR on for an hour or two, and the map below show's my first half hour on 30m.  It's not often I get into Africa and Australia in the same hour.

I am surprised at the lack of trans-Atlantic traffic though.  Normally Europe is booming in here at this time of day.

These contacts were made on my 148' inverted L long wire antenna up at 60', and using 500 mW.


30m, 1520 UTC on 19 February 2017.

And, here's the propagation for this hour:



Friday, 17 February 2017

WSPR.....again

During these "quiet" times I have been continuing my propagation experiments using WSPR.   The following maps show the results of 500 mW into a 148' inverted L longwire antenna up ay 60'.

I'm hoping to get a 200 mW transmitter using a Raspberry Pi shortly, and then we will see what we can really do.



20m, 1423 UTC on 17 February 2017


17m, 1527 UTC on 12 February 2017


40m, 2154 UTC on 14 February 2017


40m, 2214 UTC on 14 February 2017

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Very Quiet Times......

Not much going on around the shack to report.   The weather and propagation have both been pretty bad so not much radio work has been going on.

Hopefully this will change in another month as we get out to activate a few islands and maybe a new lighthouse.

My best buddy, VE3MNE, is retiring at the end of March, so who knows what trouble and adventures we will get up to together.   We are planning a mini-DXpedition to visit VE9FI in Hampton, NB, at the end of October, so we can take part in the CQ WW DX Contest from that QTH.  That will be worth several posts on here alone.

Other planned weekend activities, so far, include the International Lighthouse Weekend in late August, the W/VE Island QSO Party, Field Day, and the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour in early June.

 




Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Weekend and Sunday WSPR

Well, I managed to pull 128 contacts out of a hat for the NAQP on Saturday, January 21st, which triples my score from last year........so I'm pleased.   It was kind of disappointing though, the only Canadian stations heard and worked were from Ontario and Manitoba, the rest of the country had a cone of silence over it.

Over the course of the day I managed to work stations on all bands except 10m, which was far too noisy to work anything if they were there.

Sunday morning, after our Ham Breakfast, I fired up the WSPR and started off on 20m with 500mW.   Lots of stations across NA and Europe reporting hearing me, I was quite surprised actually.

After about an hour I switched to 15m, and while I did make a cross-Atlantic contact into the Netherlands, it was mainly NA contacts.

40m wasn't too bad, but no hits were received from anywhere other than NA.  No cross Atlantic traffic at all.

Just for the record, the propagation at 2146 UTC Saturday was:  SFI-86,  SN-61, A Index-10, and K Index-3.   Sunday, at 0119 UTC was: SFI-86,  SN-61,  A Index-11, and K Index-4.

20m at 1630 UTC, 22 January


15m at 1730 UTC, 22 January


40m at 1810 UTC, 22 January






Friday, 20 January 2017

Winter Field Day

The highlight of the winter season is taking place next weekend.......Winter Field Day!!  

The event runs for 24 hours - from 1900 UTC on January 28th to 1900 UTC of January 29th.

The Rules can be found HERE.

This event was started by SPAR, who gave up running the event last year when the Winter Field Day Association took it over.

This is a chance to practice our Emcomm and deployment skills under cold weather conditions, instead of the bugs and oppressive high heat of June.  As the association states: "Not all emergencies happen in the good weather".

If you're on Facebook, have a look at the WFD Page...HERE.  There's over 1500 members to exchange notes and ideas with.




Gently Chastised......

I was very gently chastised last night for slacking off on my blog by one of the members of the Kingston amateur radio fraternity

I must admit, over the past few months I have not been too active here, and even my time on the bands has not been as much as what I would have liked.....But........sometimes life gets in the way.

Over the past few months I, and three others, have been pretty busy getting organized to run this years basic ham course.  We have redesigned it from the ground up, and this has meant producing hundreds of powerpoint slides for the lectures.    This has been my priority, and I make no apologies for that, getting new young blood into this hobby has been the priority and will remain so.

We had our first class last Wednesday evening.  The classroom, which holds 28, was full of eager and enthusiastic people, many of them from the College that is kindly hosting the course.   It was really great to see and hopefully the course can become an annual event here.

Now all I need to do is get back in the habit of posting here.......

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Basic Ham Course

I can not begin to tell you all how many "doom & gloom" articles I have read over the past 10 years on the subject that Amateur Radio is a dying hobby.  I've read it's for "old farts" only, that you must have one foot in the grave before you will be accepted into the hobby......you name it, I've read it.....all of it was total BS.

Here's an idea for all the doomsayers out there.....how about approaching your local community college about hosting a basic course?  You might be pleasantly surprised.

Here in Kingston, the Frontenac Amateur Radio Club approached St. Lawrence College about hosting a ham radio course and they couldn't do enough for us!  

Starting on the evening of January 18th, we will be running a course at St. Lawrence College, and it's full, all 28 seats in the electronics lab we have the use of have been filled........and the average age of the students is 23.  So much for being an "old farts" hobby!!

Many Thanks go out to St. Lawrence College for their great support and help in getting this course off the ground!



More WSPR

As the propagation slips away on its downward slide to the solar minimum I plan on keeping a record of my daily WSPR'ing so we can see the effect.

Power output today was 5w on all bands.   Here's todays 20m picture:


As you can see, as of 1717 UTC we had lots of activity across North America, not so much across the Atlantic.   As of 2116 UTC the propagation numbers were: SFI-74, SN-0, A Index-10, and K Index-2.

I also spent some time having a look at what 40m was producing, the following picture is of 40m as of 1817 UTC today:


No hits outside of the eastern side of the continent, and nothing trans-Atlantic at all.

If you're interested in taking part in the WSPR beacon project, their website can be found HERE.



Thursday, 5 January 2017

WSPR

Spent another good afternoon on the WSPR frequencies.  It never ceases to amaze me what you can do with a lowly half watt, a wire antenna, and crappy propagation.

Here's todays 20m map:


Not sure how that Norwegian station was hearing me, he must have one hell of an antenna farm!!