Monday, 6 July 2020

IARU HF Championship

Coming up this weekend, July 11 - 12, is the IARU HF World Championship.  The contest runs from 1200 UTC Saturday and ends at 1159 UTC on Sunday.

Rules for this contest can be found HERE, and I would suggest you read them before you start the contest.

Always lots of good DX available during this event, let's hope the propagation picks up before Saturday.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Another Good Day on the Bands...

Another Canada Day Contest is over.  I particularly like this contest, it is a lot more relaxed than other ones.

It did start off slow, but I think that as it was held mid-week this year, that certainly didn't help.  20m was the 'go-to' band for most of the weekend.  Contacts were made on all bands, 80m through 2m, in fact the only band I didn't manage a contact on was 160m.

Propagation was the now 'normal' low numbers.  As of 0030 UTC on Wednesday, the numbers were SFI = 69, Sn = 0, A Index = 4, and the K Index = 1.  Those numbers didn't improve all contest.

I did managed to work all Provinces, and the North West Territories.  I can't remember the last time I worked a VE8 station, so that was a real bonus.  

As usual the RAC HQ Stations were the centre of activity, with huge pileups every time they popped up on the bands.   Only the VE2, VE3, and VY2 RAC Stations never made it into the log, and it wasn't for the lack of searching for them. 

Once again I operated QRP using the KX3 and the EFHW antenna.  60 contacts are in the log, and that means last years score was beaten, as was the number of mults, so I'm pretty pleased with that.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Canada Day 2020

Coming hot on the heels of Field Day is the RAC Canada Day Contest.  This contest runs from 0000 UTC  to 2359 UTC on Wednesday, July 1st.

The Rules can be found HERE.

This is one of my favourite contests, it is not a fast paced fact most of the ops will take time out to chat with old friends they haven't talked to since last year.  

Once again I'll be operating QRP with the KX3 and the EFHW.

Have fun, and stay safe!!

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Field Day 2020 - the outcome...

It was just not the same operating on my own rather than with the guys in the club.  It was thoroughly enjoyable and a tough slog, but, we have to stay safe - especially as we have had another outbreak of the covid-19 here in Kingston this week.

This year I entered the event as 1B, QRP, and SSB only.  This is the first time I have entered Field Day as QRP since we formed the QRP Club.  It certainly was a learning experience.

The starting propagation at 1801 UTC on Saturday was:  SFI = 67, SN = 0, A Index = 4, and the K Index = 1.   As is becoming usual around here, these numbers were not the best.  We have operated Field Day QRO a few years ago with numbers very similar to these and still did a good job, so there was hope.

Coupled with the poor propagation numbers was some extremely deep QSB on all bands.  A station would be S8 and a second later they would be totally gone.  Very tough conditions to work.

The ARRLs decision to temporarily modify the rules was, in my opinion, an absolute disaster. I'm sure the ARRL will scream that this year was the "Largest Field Day Turnout in History!" within the next couple weeks as the logs begin to roll in, and of course the numbers look good for their amateur radio publicity, but Field Day should not be a numbers game. It might just well have been any other contest weekend. 


The people who actually participated in the real SPIRIT of Field Day had absolutely no chance at all. They were getting completely blown away by the D and E stations running large antennas and amplifiers. That's all you heard. I'm just guessing right now without looking at my log, but I would say easily 95% of the contacts I made were Class D and E. 


Radio used was the KX3, and the antennas were my 80m OCF Dipole and the 80m-10m EFHW.  Thankfully, I had no issues with any of my equipment at all, it all worked perfectly.

I mainly used the EFHW as I wanted to give it a really good workout this weekend, and a good workout it got.  I managed to work stations from Southern California to Northern Ireland, all with very little problems.  If I could hear them, I always managed to work them.  

On Saturday 20m was operating very short, and it was very noisy no matter which antenna I used.  Of course we had thunder storms all over the place and I actually had to shut down for 1.5 hours while one raged over me before it slowly moved away to the east.  

My main band on Saturday was 40m as 20m was a nightmare.  There were many high power 1D and 1E stations calling and splattering all over.  There were not so many 1B's though, which is a great shame.  In fact 40m kept me so busy, even into the late night, that I forgot to go down to 80m and have a listen around to see who was there to work.

Sunday morning came very early, and the propagation was the same, except for the SFI which had risen to 68.  Not much of a difference I know, but it seemed to help.

I have always enjoyed operating Field Day on Sunday morning.  It seems to me that the band quiets down as many of the American operators shut down and go to church.  That allows we pagan QRP'ers to get some good contacts in the log.   Stations I could not get near for the large pileups on Saturday were answering me on the first call Sunday morning.  It was great.  In fact my rate went up to 16 contacts an hour......not bad for QRP!!

On Sunday I managed to work stations on 20m, 15m, and a big surprise....on 10m as well.  The QSB was not as bad as Saturday, but it was still there.  It was great to hear 10m open....However......some of the worse behaviour of the weekend was heard there.  It seems to me that some operators, note I did not call them hams, like to go out of their way to cause trouble.  I just don't get it.

At 1800 UTC I shut down with 111 QRP SSB contacts in the log.  I'm very happy with that, in fact it's many more than I thought I would make.

The map below, from the N3FJP logging program, shows the Provinces and States worked, and it shows the reach of the new EFHW antenna.  I'm sure you will agree that it's working pretty well.

My contact breakdown is:

40m = 60
20m = 23
15m = 21
10m = 7

Overall it was a great weekend, different from the usual Field Day, but hopefully we can all get safely back to normal times, or as normal as it can get, next summer. 

I hope you are all staying safe!!

Monday, 22 June 2020

A Good Night...

It was an excellent night on 20m tonight.  After dinner I went to the shack and set up the KX3 as I wanted to use it for the local 80m QRP net our club holds on Monday evenings.

After the net I decided to go to 20m and try my luck.  I didn't hold out much hope of making many contacts, but I thought I'd make a few North American QSO's and see how the EFHW is working.

The propagation tonight was: SFI = 67, SN = 0, A Index = 5, and the K Index = 1.

So you can imagine my surprise when I worked in a pretty short time:

EI9HX, Patrick in Ireland,
DG7LAL, Rainer in Northern Germany, and
S51DX, Janez in Slovenia.

These QSO's were all done with 10w SSB.  

I'm very pleased with this evenings QSO's, obviously the EFHW antenna is doing a fine job for me.  Made of 132' of No.16 insulated wire, and is set up as an inverted 'L'.  It's vertical about 50' and the rest is horizontal to a 70' fir tree in the north-east corner of my garden.  It seems to work like a charm.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Field Day 2020...

Next weekend is Field Day, and for the first time in almost 20 years I'll be doing it on my own due to the current covid-19 restrictions.

My plan is to set up and operate at the far end of my very large back garden, using my small screen tent for protection against the millions of bugs flying around that area.  

The station will be operating QRP, and will be totally on battery power, the charging process for my 3 batteries has already began....I'd hate to run out of power half way through the event. 

Radio will be the KX3.  For antennas I will be using my new EFHW and a 20m vertical mounted 8' off the ground, made from some Buddipole parts and a MFJ 17' telescopic whip.  If time and weather permits I may also put up my PackTenna Mini using one of my 33' collapsable masts as a backup.

I have been using the N3FJP logging software, but it doesn't work on Linux or Mac.  If anyone has any recommendations for a good Linux capable logging program, I'd love to hear from you.

This years Rules, including the amendments for this year, can be found HERE.

Have fun and stay safe!!

Monday, 15 June 2020

80m - 10m EFHW Antenna...update

The new antenna has been up in the air for about 2 days now and I have had a chance to make a few QSO's on it, both local and DX.

So far contacts have been made to:

Mexico on 20m
Slovenia on 20m
Guadaloupe on 20m
North Carolina on 40m
Alabama on 10m
Ohio on 40m
Ontario on 40m and 80m.

Reports have all been very good.  I have explained it's a new antenna and asked for a true signal report, not a canned '59'.  So far I'm pretty pleased with it.

Of course the first 'true' test will be in a couple of weeks during Field Day.  I think I will give it a try out during that event, but I haven't decided what other antennas to put up for Field doubt it will be a last minute decision as usual 😎.

Would I recommend this antenna?  Yes, I think it's a good one, and I plan on keeping up in the trees to use.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

EFHW Antenna...

I've been looking at replacing my 80m OCF Dipole for quite some time now, and the time has finally come.  Don, VE3MNE, made me a home brewed, double core, 49:1 balun for use with an End Fed Half Wave Antenna or EFHW.  

Many of the hams in my club already use them, right down to QRP power levels, with great success.  Many of them have a second one they use for portable operating.

So in the race to prepare for this years Field Day, which I will be operating from home this year, I need to get this antenna built and up in the trees pretty soon.

Once it's up in the air, and in use, I'll post a report on how it does.