Saturday, 18 May 2019

New Portable Antenna....

There's a new antenna in the radio "weapons locker" these days.   I have just received the PackTenna Mini Random Wire Antenna.  One thing I must say right up front is how outstanding the service was from George, the guy behind Packtenna, he went way above and beyond to get this to me.

This antenna combines a 9:1 UNUN, winder and antenna wire in a compact unit that is quick and really easy to set up and take down.

I can't wait to get out and use this at the local park....of course, I also have to wait for some decent propagation and weather to arrive.  

I'll let you know how it performs when I get it up in a tree.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Monk Apollo

Sad news received tonight.  Monk Apollo, SV2ASP, has become Silent Key.  He was 64 when he died on May 5th. 

Monk Apollo was the lone DX voice from Mount Athos, in fact, I believe he was the only radio amateur there. He operated from the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Docheiariou.

Mount Athos is the 20th most-wanted DXCC entity.  

Αναπαύσου εν ειρήνη

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Smiths Falls Flea Market

Coming up this weekend is the annual Smiths Falls Flea-Market........always a great time, both for picking up bits and bobs for the shack and for the social scene that swirls around the place.

There should be a good group going up from Kingston, as usual, this year, it's an early start so we'll be looking for hot coffee on the way to help with the hour and a half drive.

I'm not looking for much this year, perhaps another RF Choke - but that's about it.

Lots of people going there looking for coax I hear - sounds like some shack re-building going on.

As usual, it's being held at the Curling Club in Smiths Falls.  The address is: 13 Old Sly's Road, and here's a map.......

Thursday, 25 April 2019

A Visitor....

We had a visitor in Kingston last weekend.......

Nice to see Russ and Pat, and to have coffee with them on their way home to New Brunswick.  See you guys in October !!

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Activating Canadian Islands

It's that time of year when the ice is coming off the rivers and lakes, and when certain hams start to plan their island activations for the summer and fall.

Last year I activated Wolfe and Simcoe islands, ON-009 and ON-022 respectively.  Given the current location we are in the solar cycle I did pretty well on both activations.  The problem was that both of these islands have been activated multiple times over the last few years, and not everyone needs them in the log.

This year I've been hunting through the records for islands that have not been activated in a long time, and have come up with Big Island, ON-090, and Amherst Island, ON-021.  

There is no available record for Big Island anywhere I can find, and nobody around this area can ever remember it being on the air.  

Amherst Island hasn't been activated for 6 years, and we only made ten contacts that day due to really lousy propagation.  Hopefully, we'll do better this summer.

If you're looking for more information on activating Canadian Islands, have a look HERE.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Sunday Portable

Spent three hours last Sunday, April 7th, out at the local park with Jim VE3ULC, and Rick VE3ORY, operating portable QRP.  This was our first "Portable Sunday" of the year.

The weather, while dry and no snow, was pretty cold and damp, which didn't sit too well with Rick as he hasn't been back from wintering in sunny tropical Florida all that long.

I spent some time playing around with APRS, which is all new to me, as is the rig.  Slowly we're figuring out things, and more to the point I actually have the radio sending out beacons now.  By the way, if you get an FT2D - get rid of the stock antenna and get an after-market one.  The stock whip is not good at all.

The other thing I got to do was 2m CW.  I suppose as are most areas, 2m is pretty quiet these days, so I wanted to see what I could do.  In this location, I've never heard of anyone doing either CW or SSB on I had to try.

It took about 10 minutes of calling CQ, but I did get a response from Ron VE3GO, who was a very long 3 km from my location.......However, I'm sure that CW contact was actually long path !! 😆

The bad thing of the day was the fact that I had forgotten my 22-foot painter pole and only had an 8-foot version with me.  I used my short Buddipole whips to make a 2m dipole and made the contact on that. Worked great !!

I was so excited at finally getting back out to the park that I forgot to write down the SFI of the day.........I do know that it wasn't very good.

Looking forward to many more of these events in the local parks and on the local islands.  It's a great way to spend a Sunday.

The operating location - the back of the van.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

2018 CQ WW DX Contest - SSB

Results are in........looks like we did OK 😎

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

New Radios...

It's been a busy four weeks here in the VE3FI shack, three new radios have appeared and when I'm not on HF I've been playing around on C4FM digital VHF and UHF.  We don't have a digital repeater here in Kingston, but in my travels, I come across them on a regular basis.

First to appear was a new FT2D.  It's a great little handheld, and it really showed me the benefits of operating digital voice modes.  In simplex, using digital narrow, my signal goes about half as far again as it does in FM.   It's very easy to use and the programming software is pretty intuitive to use.  It also has GPS and APRS built into it.

Second up was an FTM-100DR mobile rig, this is now about to be installed in my vehicle.  It is a dual band with built-in GPS and APRS capability.  The learning curve to use it was steep, especially as I had no experience with digital radios before.  Once you get used to it it's a nice radio, and I suggest that you get the programming software as it just makes life so much easier.

The last radio (my wife will be very happy to read that...) is an FTM-7250D mobile rig that will live on the bench in the shack.  This radio was up and running within ten minutes of arriving at the house.  I bought the programming software with it, as I did with the other two, and it certainly makes things easier.  The RX audio is fantastic. This rig does not have GPS or APRS, which is why I will use it in the shack.

Overall I have been really happy with the audio reports I have had using these three rigs.  All of them have great built-in speakers, you do not need an external speaker to hear things clearly.  Using them locally in simplex I have been really impressed with their range, it's far better than plain FM.

Many people have asked me why I chose to go with C4FM instead of DMR or DStar.  That's an easy answer.  I like Yaesu, and having read all about the hacking and jamming of the DStar and DMR repeaters in Toronto by one individual, and the fact that the one individual managed to have all the DMR & DStar repeaters shut down because of his constant malicious interference, I simply chose to stay away from those modes.  Another great feature is that I can use these rigs on analog repeaters as well.

I also looked at the list of C4FM repeaters in Ontario listed on RepeaterBook, and was pleased to see that the current list of C4FM repeaters is twice as large as the other two modes combined.

It was a big learning curve, but I'm looking forward to moving forward with C4FM.