Saturday, 11 September 2021

Lemoine Point...

Friday was a quiet day around here, and the weather was absolutely perfect.   With nothing on the "Honey-Do" list, I decided to drive to Lemoine Point and do a POTA activation.  Now that most people are back at work, and the kids in school, the place would be nice and quiet.

I checked the propagation numbers before I left and was pleased to see they were:  SFI=101, SN=124, A Index=6, and the K Index=1.  Absolutely the best numbers I have seen in years.  It's a 10 minute drive to Lemoine Point, I'm sure I did it in 5.  

What an activation!  Normally you will get 4 or 5 stations calling you after your spot has been sent, and then you will have a lull before it picks up again.  Not that day!  In 15 minutes using 10w and a 40m Hamstick, I put 24 stations in the log. The bands were in great shape, and it showed by how active they were.

I imagine that this great improvement in the propagation is just a slight "blip" in the universe, and things will go back to the slow days we have suffered through over the past while.  However, I'm hopeful propagation will continue to improve as cycle 25 gains its legs.

I also managed to work some non-POTA stations in the UK, France and Spain before calling it a day.  I'm hoping these conditions last for another few days at least.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Bands are Improving...

Nice to see the bands getting better as the propagation improves.  We're perhaps not where we want to be, but we're definitely on the way!

Over the past few months all of my POTA activations have been done with Hamsticks, mounted to the roof of my van with a 5" mag-mount.  I have noticed that the roof of the van is starting to get scratched by the magnet, so I have had to do something about this.

I had a camera tripod that wasn't being used, and I have decided to try and use it to mount my Hamsticks.  The radials/counterpoises will be attached to the plate with alligator clips.

Here's some pictures of what I threw together:

I'll write a full report of how well.....or how not so well, it wrks after I have used it a few times.

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Bad Propagation = Great Weekend...

The propagation Saturday was not very encouraging, SFI = 92, SN = 73, A Index = 19, and the K Index = 3.  It was super noisy and the QSB was incredibly deep, one second they were S9 and the next they were S0.   We also had large thunderstorms in the area, which didn't help matters at all.

So it with all this in mind I set off to the Ann Baillie Building National Historic Site, at Kingston General Hospital, VE-5293, with the idea of doing an activation.  I wasn't sure I could pull it off, but it was worth the try I thought.

The first issue I faced was trying to find a suitable spot to park.  There's not much of it around the site, but eventually I found one and set up my gear.  I used my 40m Hamstick on a 5" magmount on the roof of my van.  There is no space at all there for stringing antennas up, in fact I was waiting the whole time for the Hospital Security guys to show up and ask me to leave....but they didn't.

To recap, bad propagation, thunderstorms in the area, compromised antenna, and the KX3 at 10w....what could go wrong?  Well, surprisingly nothing.  I managed to get 22 contacts in 35 minutes, all on 40m.  Thanks to my "pilots", VA3AMX and VE3ULC for re-spotting me on the POTA site for people to find me.  

About half way through the activation, a husband and wife stuck their heads into my van to see what I was doing sitting there talking to myself.  The husband realized I was a ham, and immediately asked if I knew their neighbour, Dave, from Newark, New Jersey, who is also a ham.  Unfortunately I don't know Dave, but if any of you do know him, please let him know his neighbours are having a great time and say Hi!

Below is a map of the contacts I made from the Hospital site, not too bad for 10w and a hamstick!!

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Bad Propagation?...

 I hear the bands are bad these days....well,  here's what 10w into a 20m Hamstick can do these days. 😁

I'm really pleased with this contact, Hawaii to Ontario.   I had just cleared with Peter, G7VKK in the east of England, when I made this contact with Mark.  Definitely a good night!!

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Parrott's Bay POTA Activation...

It was an absolutely beautiful day here in Kingston..but, we had high humidity which made things just a little bit uncomfortable. It was also 29C before the humidity was added on.

The propagation wasn't very good, again.  It's like a broken record these days, bad QRM and very noisy bands.  Todays propagation was: SFI=77, SN=14, A Index=5, and the K Index=1.  Hopefully the propagation Gods will wake up soon and let Cycle 25 start to take off.

After morning coffee I decided to drive to Parrott's Bay Conservation Area, about 15 minutes from my home QTH. It was fairly busy there with many trail walkers coming and going.  It is right on Lake Ontario, and therefore it get's a pretty good breeze, so it was a good place to operate from today in the heat.

The 40m band was the band of choice as it seemed to be operating better than the others.  It took me a little over 20 minutes to get 14 contacts in my log, which was good, because by then I needed another shower and some dry clothes.  The heat was incredible, and not at all comfortable.

All of my contacts were from the east today,  but given the fact I was using a 40m hamstick on the roof of my van with a 5" mag-mount, and 10w from my KX3, I'm pretty happy with the result.

I had 5 good Park to Park contacts which made things more interesting.  

These days I notice I have to make sure to read back the other stations callsign to them.  After all the years I spent flying Chinook helicopters in the Air Force, my hearing has suffered a great deal. So I have to make sure I have the correct call in my log.

I think I'm going to have to start wearing a headset all the time now, I hate to log an incorrect call, and I just refuse to do digital modes....I detest them.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I'm off to activate a local light house for the ILLW.  Let's hope the bands are in much better shape.

Stay safe out there!!

Thursday, 19 August 2021

New Paddles...

My new set of paddles arrived today.  They look very well made, and I'm looking forward to learning how to use them so I can send correct CW, and not something that comes out as Klingon.

These are made by CWMorse.US in Bon Wier, Texas.

I've only ever used a straight key before, so this will be a new adventure for me to explore. I'm sure learning how to use them will set my CW standard back several years, but it's great to learn new skills.

Of course now I have to dig out the manuals for my FT-950, and the Elecraft KX3, so I can figure out how to change the menu settings to allow paddles instead of a key to be used.

It's going to be interesting!!

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Lemoine Point Conservation Area...

It was a nice day today, the forecasted rain didn't arrive until well after supper tonight.  The propagation numbers didn't look too good though, and I thought I might pass on the chance to do a POTA activation, but loaded up the van anyway and drove to Lemoine Point Conservation Area.

This mornings propagation numbers were:  SFI=74, SN=0, A Index=7, and K Index=3.  As well as these poor numbers, we also had some extremely bad be honest, the bad QSB has been around constantly for about 2 weeks!!

I did expect the place to be crowded this morning, but the parking lot was empty when I arrived.   

First in the log was a CW contact with Bill, K4NYM, in Florida.  The QSB took him out so fast I didn't get a chance to give him my park number.  The rest of my 13 contacts were all SSB, and took a bit of doing given the deep QSB.

It was difficult enough making contacts given the QSB we had, but on top of that I had several cases today of stations repeatedly shouting their callsigns over the station I was in a QSO with.  Some operators seem to have no patience at all these days. Needless to say, if you were calling over other stations I didn't work you.

Radio today, as usual, was my KX3, and the antenna was a 20m Hamstick mounted on the roof of the van with a 6" mag-mount.  


Thursday, 29 July 2021

New EndFed Antenna...

The bands have not been the best for the past week.  Lots of QRM very deep QSB across every band I wanted to operate on.

So I decide to have a look through my junk drawer and see if I had the parts to build a new Endfed for portable use in the field...for those times I need something better than a hamstick.   I came across a small 49:1 unun, made by LnR Precision Inc.  The label on it states it's good for 10/20/40m, and it originally came with 41' wire.

Now, when I bought this, several years ago, I could never get a decent SWR with it anywhere on the bands it was advertised for.  In the end I just stripped off the wire and put the unun in my junk drawer and forgot it.  

I had a look at it again, and thought I would give it another chance.  I cut a 66' piece of wire, attached it to the unun, and added a few SOTA Beams insulators.  Up it went on my 33' mast and I put the analyzer on it.  It wasn't too bad, and after I had removed about 3' of wire  - it was just about perfect.  

I made several good solid contacts with it, and it is now usable on 40m through 6m, far more than it was supposed to have when it was new.  Best of all the SWR is 1.5:1 to 1.8:1 everywhere it will tune.

I'm glad I looked through the junk drawer now!

The finished antenna, ready to go

Map of my contacts the first time it was used.