Monday, 30 March 2020

The Weekend's Results...

Let me start by saying I've had better contest results....   It was a very tough go for the most part, with very deep QSB on the bands here, especially on 15m and 20m.

Propagation wasn't the best, in fact the numbers never changed all weekend.  They were:  SFI=68, SN=0, A Index=5, and the K Index=2.  Those numbers, coupled with the deep QSB issue, made life pretty miserable.....especially for we QRP operators.

Looking back on the weekend it was probably a bad decision to opt to run QRP, but you know, somebody has to do it 😀

Once again, as with the big ARRL DX contest two weeks ago, the "Tuner Uppers" were out in force - making it even more difficult to complete an exchange under the marginal conditions we had.  I just don't get why people need to tune up right on frequency instead of moving off 5 or 10 kc.  It's just ignorant to be honest.

One other thing, I didn't hear anyone working split this weekend, and I can't figure out why.

I managed to make contacts on 80m, 40m, 20m, and 15m on Saturday, but on Sunday 15m was dead and not a sound was heard on it here.  20m became the 'go to' band on Sunday.

There seemed to be very few European stations on this weekend.  I heard no Scandinavian, Baltic, or UK fact there were a lot of stations I normally work in big contests that where missing.    I'm hoping it was the lousy propagation and not the current pandemic that was the cause of that.

I have to say how amazed I am to have heard so many operators, in the middle of a big contest, take the time to wish us well and to stay safe.  It was so nice to hear.

Hopefully life will get back to normal shortly, but until then....stay safe and take no chances!!

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Thursday, 26 March 2020

This Weekends BIG Contest...

In many locations around the world we're all stuck indoors these days, and for those of you looking for something to do - other than looking at four walls, lucky for us this weekend is the CQ WW WPX Contest, SSB.

One of the years biggest contesting events, it's always a great way to collect those rare DX stations in the log.

Rules can be found HERE.

The contest runs from 0000 UTC March 28th to 2359 UTC March 29th.

Hope to work some of you on the air.

Have fun....and stay safe!

Saturday, 21 March 2020

March QRP Sprint

Tonight was the second in a series of QRP sprints being run by the Upper Canada QRP Club.  They are 2 hours in length, and are held every 2 months, with the score being accumulative over the year.

Once again I used my KX3, it performed very well, I'm so glad I bought it.

I used both of my antennas during this Sprint.  It's very nice to have the option of switching between them as needed.  The majority of tonights contacts were done on the 80m OCF Dipole, which is now up at 50' since John, VE3JPW, put up a new support line for it.  Both antennas did a great job tonight.

The main workhorse tonight was 40m, it was crammed with stations called CQ for the Russian DX Contest.  As the Grey Line went through the propagation was fantastic, if I could hear them, I could work them with no issues.  It was near the end of a long day and they were hungry for contacts.

Propagation tonight was:  SFI=70, SN=0, A Index=6, and the K Index=1.  Almost identical to the last sprint in January.

So with 10 watts coming out of the KX3, I put the following stations in the log:

J42L in Greece
S53MM in Slovenia
HB9NE in Switzerland
HI8RD in the Dominican Republic
LZ5K in Bulgaria
VE3MNE in Ontario
4O4T in Montenegro
ED5N in Spain
CM6RK in Cuba
F5USK in France
N4PD in Virginia

Over all it was a great evening, and I'm really pleased with the contacts I made.

Friday, 20 March 2020

DXpedition Cancellations...

Due to the current world-wide situation, the following DXpeditions have been cancelled……for obvious reasons....everyone needs to stay safe.

Hopefully, we will see them relaunched when the world gets back to normal.

Stay safe out there....and wash your hands !!!

PZ5G - Papegaaien Island, SA-092

FK/Chesterfield - Chesterfield Island, OC-176

VU4R - Neil Island, Andamans Group, AS-001

TU2R - Ivory Coast

PJ2/DK5ON - Curacao Island, SA-099

DU2/SP5APW - Calayan Island, OC-092

ZC4MK - Cyprus, AS-044

V6ZP - Polap Atoll, OC-155

V62S - Satawal Atoll, OC-299

ZA/HG2DX - Albania

T30ET - Tarawa Atoll, OC-017

9K2F - Failaka Island, AS-118

ZD7VJ - St Helena Island, AF-022

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Trans-Atlantic S2S QSO Party

To coincide with this years annual QRP To The Field event, the next Trans-Atlantic S2S QSO Party will be on Saturday 18th April 2020 between 1300z and 1700z. 

As usual, some may prefer to start a little earlier and others continue after 1700z when propagation has been known to improve.

This is also the same weekend as the Ontario QSO Party, so there will be lots of contacts out there to make.

The QRP To The Field event runs from 0800 local to 1800 local.  The Ontario QSO Party is split into two parts.  The first runs from 1800 UTC on April 18th to 0500 UTC on April 19th, and the second part runs from 1200 UTC to 1800 UTC on April 19th.

I'm already looking for a good operating location.....

Monday, 9 March 2020

A Great Weekend...

The ARRL International DX Contest is one I enjoy doing every year, to me it's the start of the contesting year.   Clearly, while the bands where not exactly in top form this year, we are I believe, out of the bottom of cycle 24 and coming up into cycle 25.

And yes, the "Lids" and "tuner uppers" where out in force all weekend doing what they do best.

40m was hopping on Friday night with wall-to-wall signals.  80m was busy with contest signals in-between the constant "let's talk about our medical issues" know the type, they use 1500w to talk across town about their hemorrhoid problems, all the while splattering 15 kc either side of their signal!

Still, I managed to put 8 stations from the EU in the log as well as the UK and Northern Ireland on 80m, something that hasn't happened here in a number of years.

Friday night the propagation numbers were:  SFI=69, SN=0, A Index=7, and the A Index=0 at 0130 UTC.

Saturday morning 15m opened into South America and the Caribbean.  I managed to work most of the islands and all of South America with the exception of Bolivia.  I have never managed to work Bolivia, but I guess there are not too many hams there.

We also saw a very short opening on 10m as well, and I managed to put Brazil and Argentina in the log before the opening disappeared.

The Saturday propagation numbers were:  SFI=69, SN=0, A Index=4, and the A Index=2 at 1533 UTC.

Both of my antennas worked as advertised.  The 35.5' wire vertical did very well on 15m and allowed me to work that band without any issues.  I will have to add a few more radials in the spring though. The 80m OCF Dipole, now that it has been raised another 20' (it sits at 50' above the ground), also worked extremely well, and surprisingly also now works on 15m, something it has never done before.  I wonder if the new height has something to do with that?

Most of Saturday was spent working 15m with the odd expedition to 20m and 10m.  I found 20m to be an absolute zoo with multiple stations micro-kc's apart from one end of the band to the other.  I worked the loudest signals and went back to 15m.

The Sunday propagation numbers were:  SFI=70, SN=0, A Index=4, and the A Index=2 at 1100 UTC.

I had no intention of even trying to score millions this weekend as I wasn't sure how well the antennas would perform, so Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, only at a slower pace. I went from band to band and worked the loudest signals, and looking for those few I don't already have in my log book.

There was some very deep QSB on the bands on Sunday, nothing we couldn't deal with if you took your time and had some patience.

I shut down early with 100 contacts and 49 countries in the log.  Overall it was a very good weekend.  I had a lot of fun and plan on doing it all over again for the CQ WW WPX Contest at the end of the month.

Thursday, 5 March 2020


I had quite the fruitful evening, my 80m OCF Dipole is back up in the twice the height it was before.  Thanks to John, VE3JPW, it's now sitting up at 50' in the large pine tree at the back of the garden.

Between John and I, it took us about 20 minutes to get it back up into the tree thanks to a compound bow and a modified arrow.  That's going to be one useful tool at Field Day this June!

I tested it out with a quick check in with Mike, VE3CMM, the net controller for that hour on the ONTARS Net on 3.755.  Mike gave me a solid true 59 after I told him I was after a signal report after putting the antenna back up.  It was only after I had signed off that I realized that my FT-950 was set at 5w output, so it was a true QRP contact, even though it was unintended.  So I was very pleased with the 59 report.

Later I had a sched with Don, VE3MNE, who informed me I had bad RF on my 80m signal.  After playing around with the settings, and changing a piece of coax, it turned out to simply be my mic gain was turned up too high.  It was thankfully a cheap and simply fix.

It looks like I'm all set for the weekend, it will certainly be nice to be back on the air.  Even though I don't plan on a serious effort on this weekends contest, I'm looking forward to putting a good number of DX stations in the log.