Sunday, 15 July 2018

Not a bad day...

This years IARU HF Championship is over.  I didn't work at it too hard as I really wasn't feeling too well yesterday, but I had fun.

The day started with some pretty quiet bands, there seemed to be very few stations calling CQ, and I worked those fairly quickly putting all of the North American and Caribbean zones in the log.  Propagation was not good, just ok.  At 1300 UTC on the 14th July the SFI = 73, SN = 0, A Index = 6, and the K Index = 2.  Those figures stayed pretty much stable for most of the next 24 hours.

There was some deep QSB on the bands on Saturday, which of course always struck at the wrong time.  Stations being received at S9+ would just disappear in an instant.  And then there was my all time favourites causing issues....the tuner uppers !!!  Why these jerks haven't learned to move slightly off frequency to tune up is beyond me....and why do they take 5 minutes to tune ???

It was about 1500 UTC when the first European stations started to be heard on 20m, and only the guys running "too much power" could work them at first...which is a good thing because they were then out of the way for we low power mortals to get in there and work them.   This opening to the EU lasted about an hour and a half, and I managed to work a good number of EU stations with no trouble using my 80m OCF Dipole. The good news is that the EU stations came back with a vengeance starting at around 2300 UTC and lasted until I shut down around 0300 UTC.

Although I managed to work less stations than last year, I still managed to put 42 countries in my log, and I'm quite happy with that.  My antennas worked as expected and as advertised.  I mainly used the 80m OCF Dipole, but did use the vertical every now and then.  Stations were worked on 40m, 20m, and 15m.  I didn't hear a soul on 10m or 80m all contest.

Surprisingly this year I heard no African stations.  Normally Morocco and Cape Verde are in there with a number of stations, but I didn't hear them at all.

My only real complaint..besides the tuner for operators to slow down.  You need to leave some space in your endless CQ calls.  If you don't leave a space we can't get in there to answer you....and then we both miss a contact....oh yeah, and please us standard phonetics.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

2018 IARU HF Championship

Coming up this weekend, what should be one of the best DX contests of the year, the IARU HF Championships.  Hopefully the propagation will be decent and the bands will work as they should.  

The idea of the contest is to contact as many other amateurs, especially IARU member society HQ stations, around the world as possible using the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands......I doubt 10m will have much action this weekend, but you never know, stranger things have happened.

Dates for the event are from 1200 UTC 14th July to 1200 UTC on 15th July.

Rules for the event can be found HERE.

Plans here at the QTH are underway to get my 31' vertical up in the air, and my ground radials laid by Friday at the latest.  This will give me a 80m OCF dipole up at 40', a 148' inverted L longwire up at 50', and a multi band (40m through 10m) 31' vertical for the contest.  

Good luck to everyone taking part!!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Canada Day Contest

It's that time of year again.....the Canada Day Contest is just about upon us.   This year the timings are: 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC July 1, 2018.

This year I plan to operate from home, and I'm thinking of entering as QRP, but I'm not sure the bands will support that power level right now........I guess it will be a last minute decision depending on the propagation.......which hopefully will be half decent.

Rules for this years event can be found HERE.

Hope to work you all on the bands !!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Field Day 2018

As usual I made the trek out to VE3MNE's property on Hay Bay, about 48 kms west of Collins Bay for the annual ARRL Field Day event, and once again I was not disappointed.

The weather forecast was not looking too good.......we were expecting rain and wind all weekend.  In fact we had very little rain and the wind was just enough that we had far fewer mosquitoes than fact we hardly saw was great.   The rain didn't hit until after all the tents and tarps were taken down and stored away on Sunday afternoon. For most of the weekend the temperatures hovered about 16C.

For antennas we had the usual 80m and 160m OCF dipoles, both up at 80 feet.  We use a No. 19 set radio mast, made in 1942, for 40m and 15m and we laid down ten 16 foot ground radials for that antenna.  Our digital station used an 80m EFHW in a "sort of" inverted L configuration.  We also had to erect a 40 foot tower with a two element tri-bander, which worked fantastically.

Our wire antennas were all rebuilt over the spring and pre-tested before we strung them up.  Everyone of them had excellent swr, and a tuner seemed to be optional.

We did have some bleeding over on various bands, especially with our cw station, but we worked around it and it ended up not really being a problem for the site.

The bleeding over was an issue for me personally.  I have known for a while, thanks to my air force service and flying Chinooks, that my hearing is going.  This year it must have got much worse.  It was particularly hard for me to pick out calls through the hash and other interference you get during a large contest like event.   It's at the point I will probably go to field day as "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer", and hand the 40m station over to a younger ham.......the joys of getting older !!

Speaking of noise.....has anyone else noticed that most of the stations using the onboard voice recorders are S9 +20 when the recorder is calling CQ....but when you answer and the person at the other end responds to you they are -3db under the noise floor ??   What gives with that ??

So another field day ends and we start planning for next year.....

The 20m station with Mike, VE3MJD.
The 80m and 160m station of Don, VE3MNE.
Across the road from the property the wheat is starting to grow.
Last year Rick VE3ORY got flooded out.....this year he's fully prepared !!!!!

Jim VE3ULC working in the workshop.
Working on the beam.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

2018 Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour

This years edition of the Ottawa Bicycle Club's Rideau lakes Cycle Tour, the 47th year, was a great success.  We had no major incidents at all this year, which makes a pleasant change from some of the previous years.

The scene at Perth Road Village
This year the Ottawa Bike Club had 1800 riders registered for the tour, a bit down from past years.  The riders this year had absolutely perfect weather, we had blue skies and warm temperatures.  It was good to see many old friends providing support in the SAG and Repair vehicles, many we have known for 13 years now.

We had 10 communications posts in the Frontenac Region this weekend looking after two separate routes, and our initial call for volunteers was almost immediately over subscribed by our members.  

Plans are already being made for next years tour.

One of the many "Bikes" that stopped at Perth Road Village.

Friday, 8 June 2018

East Bound - Day 6

We're back to blue skies this morning and a 9C temperature.

This is the last day on the road, it's been a long trip.   I made a single 2m contact today with Bob, VE3YX, on the Point Alexander repeater.  We had a long QSO on my way down the valley, in fact all the way to Pembroke.

I had light traffic all day through the Ottawa, Madawaska, and Bonnechere Valleys.  In fact it was the most relaxing drive of the whole trip.

Over all it was a great trip.  I made many more 2m contacts than I did on the last trip 4 years ago.  My number of HF contacts was also higher, and I only had my FT-817ND with you just never know what is going to happen.

The final mileage for the completed trop was 10,202 km.

Next time I'm taking the train !!

East Bound - Day 5

The day started with rain and a temperature of 6C.......feels like -6C !!

Driving between Ignace and Upsala this morning a huge moose, the biggest one I've ever seen, calmly walked across the highway as everyone came to a screeching halt.

In my five trips across the country I have never seen so many deer, elk and moose on the highways as I did this trip.  They where everywhere.

The Thunder Bay 2m repeater was the only one on my route today, and no contacts were made on it.

Todays drive was through miles and miles of trees covering rolling hills, between the curves in the road and the animals you had to stay alert.

Heading for Sault Ste. Marie tonight.

Hwy 17 through North-West Ontario

Thursday, 7 June 2018

East Bound - Day 4

A different start to the day today, it was 17C but the sky was an angry black colour threatening rain....which it did for most of the day.

The drive saw me leave the prairies and enter the huge forests of north-western Ontario, which along with the massive rock formations made it a very interesting and scenic drive.

Only made one 2m contact today, that was with Gerry, VE4GCV, on the VE4WPG repeater in Winnipeg.  All the other repeaters were very quiet and I didn't hear a thing on them, in fact I'm sure a number of them are actually no longer on the air, but the repeater book still shows them as being active.

Today's final destination was Ignace, Ontario.  There's not much free camping around Ignace so hopefully I'll get there while there is still some light left so I can find a good spot to sleep.

Tomorrow I'm off to Salt Ste. Marie........getting closer to home!!