Saturday, 15 January 2022

A Cold Activation...

This weekend the Winter Support Your Parks event is taking place, and it coincided with probably the coldest weekend we have had yet this year.  It was -37C with the wind chill when I left for Lemoine Point, VE-5141.  Absolutely bone chilling.

The propagation, as I reported earlier in another post, was not forecasted to be very good, but it did improve enough for me to think I could squeeze in an activation.   The propagation numbers were:  SFI=83, SN=39, A Index=9, and the K Index=2.

Before I left home I checked both 20m and 40m which were very busy, with very little room between the big signals.  By the time I got to my site, 20 minutes later, the signals on 17m and 15m had totally gone, and those on 40m were quickly disappearing. So I set up on 20m and hoped for the best.

Once again it was my KX3 being used with a 20m Hamstick.  I used the Hamstick today for the simple reason it was the fastest option to get on the air, and get me out of the cold.

Now activating using QRP levels does have a disadvantage, and I knew that going in to this, but the killer today was not the power level, but the extremely deep QSB.  One minute a signal was S9 and the next it had disappeared completely never to be heard again.  

I must admit that when I set out this morning I thought, given the amount of POTA traffic on the bands that it wouldn't take too long to do this, but in the end it took me 30 minutes to make 21 contacts. That's pretty slow for me, even operating QRP.

Todays activation map is below.

Stay warm and safe out there!

Friday, 14 January 2022

Weekend Propagation...

This weekend, January 15th & 16th is the annual POTA Winter Support Your Parks event, and my clubs QRP HF Sprint on Saturday evening.

Well......I think from the forecasted propagation we can just about forget those events....and here is that forecast:

Tomorrow may be a quiet radio day.  Weather wise it's going down to -32C (-25F) tonight and Monday we're expecting over 35 cm of snow (that's over 12" for my American friends).  

This weekend is shaping up to be a golden opportunity to work on some maintenance to my portable wire antennas and get the gear ready for my spring activations.  I need to go over what I have and see if I have to order any new or replacement items.

Stay warm and safe out there!

NOTE:  Updated Saturday Morning, January 15th.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

2022 Plans....

Being ever the optimist, I have started making some radio plans for this year.  Although I'm sure the Covid Wizards may have other plans.  To be quite honest, my main plan this year is to simply survive the year without catching anything!

Things have actually been pretty quiet around this QTH apart from activating parks for POTA, yesterday was -38C with the wind, so not much got done around here.  Today it's +4C, you just never know, day to day, what you're going to get weather wise.

Plans are currently being made for some POTA "micro-DXpeditions".  There are a couple of areas of the province that I would like to get on the air this year.  The first one I have planned is down to Chatham in South-West Ontario, and return home along the lakes, activating the many POTA locations as I pass them.  That one will be a 5 day trip with each night at a different park.

Anther will be up to Penetanguishene and around the Georgian Bay POTA parks.  A lovely part of the province and only a days drive from Kingston.  That one will be a 4 day trip, and once again each night will be at a different park.

My trans-Canada trip is planned, and has been approved by the XYL, but I can't see that trip happening this year.  My gut feeling is that there is still far too many covid risks to do that trip yet.  Maybe next year.

The "pre-pre-planning" for both Field Days, winter & summer, has already started.  I'm not sure if the club is planning anything, I doubt it given the covid situation here in Ontario.  So I have decided to push ahead and make my own plans and go from there.

This year Winter Field Day is being held on January 29/30.  I'll post more about that closer to the date.   Their website can be found HERE.

Stay safe out there!!

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Good Days on the Bands...

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Years.....and is staying safe from the latest round of Covid.

The last two days I have managed to pull off successful activations of local parks for POTA.   Both days I activated on 40m, and had no issue with making contacts.  

For comparison, the propagation for the two days was:

Thursday: SFI=84, SN=24, A Index=3, K Index=0

Friday: SFI=102, SN=35, A Index=2, K Index=0

Both maps look pretty much the same, which is what you would expect given the similar propagation numbers we had.

The weather here has been cold and we have had some blowing snow, so I have not been straying too far from home, so these have been local activations.  I don't see this changing until much later in the season.  We are lucky that the parks are still open around here, given the government covid regulations we now live under....and I can't see those changing until late spring at the earliest.

Thursday's QSO 40m Plot

Friday's QSO 40m Plot

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Year End Wrap Up....

Well, it's been a bit of a roller coaster at times, but yet another year of the Covid Plague is coming to a this year two or year three?  I've lost count.  

My family and I have been very lucky, none of us have been sick, and all of us have been able to get our shots and boosters on time with no issues.  Most of my friends have also been lucky and escaped the plague.  Let's hope that luck holds for all of us through next year as well.

On the amateur radio front it has been an exceptional year for me.  Since January 1st of this year I have made at least one QRP contact every day, not a day has been missed.  In fact I have put 3464 QRP contacts in my log this year, yet I still hear that "QRP doesn't work"........yeah, and I have a unicorn for sale to the highest bidder.  All my POTA activations have been done with my KX3, and I have to say that I just love that radio.  I wish I had bought it years ago.

I have activated 130 parks in the POTA program, which, if the truth be told, has managed to keep me sane during these trying wife may argue that fact though.   

Best piece of gear bought this year?  My set of Workman Hamsticks......they win hands down.  You can't beat them for ease of set-up and being so easy to use.  Every day I'm amazed at where I can talk to with them.

At the start of the year I was determined to get on the air using CW.  My Dad, VE7CVQ (SK) was a CW fanatic.  He didn't own a mic, but many keys.  I knew he would be very disappointed with me not knowing and operating CW.  So.....I'm pretty pleased to tell you that this year I have made and completed 394 CW QSO's.  I'm over the moon with that.

Plans for next year are up in the air of course, as they will depend on what the government has to say about inter-provincial travel.  I have several POTA mini-DXpeditions planned to different parts of the province, as well as a trip out west to see family.  I have my doubt the western trip will happen in 2022, the trips within Ontario I'm hoping will happen, but they depend on whether or not the parks open.

I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year, and that you all stay safe.

Here's the QSO map from today, my last POTA activation of the year, Number 130:

December 30th, 2021........17m and 40m.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Merry Christmas...


Merry Christmas everyone......let's hope 2022 is a far better year for us all.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Yet Another Good Day...

Have you guys seen the propagation numbers for today?   One word: "WOW".  These are the highest numbers yet this cycle, and I can't remember the last time I saw numbers that high.  I took one look at them and immediately decided to go and do a POTA activation.  

Lemoine's Point, VE-5141, was the destination today.  It was pretty busy with dog walkers and families doing a Walk.  I hid in the corner of the top parking lot, and set up for an activation on 17m.

It took 23 minutes and I had 23 contacts in the log, then I was deliberately QRM'ed off the frequency. This has been happening a lot lately, many POTA operators have mentioned this on the POTA Facebook site.  I don't fret about that anymore.  If I have more than the basic activation number of 10 stations, I just go QRT, and head home for a hot cup of tea and relax....which is what I did today.

There were three good contacts out west, one in Idaho, and two in California.  Not too shabby for 10w into a 17m hamstick.

My plan is to do another two parks before Christmas Day, mainly as a way to keep out of the busy XYL's way.  If I can do that, and then one everyday next week, I will end the year with 133 activations this year.  That's going to take some work to beat next year!

The question I try and sneak in a Park on Christmas my life worth it, or am I courting an untimely death by doing so?

Stay safe out there!!

Today's activation map.

Saturday, 18 December 2021

A Cold Day Operating...

What sort of a nut goes out and activates a park for POTA when it's -3C and blowing snow?  Oh, that would be me 😁

I knew it would be a cold activation, and initially plans were to activate two parks, but after finishing the first park I realized it was just too cold and needed to go and get warm before I got hypothermic.  The wind just drew what little heat you had right out of you.

Thanks goodness I had a package of hand-warmers in the van!  They really helped.

The propagation numbers were great today, not as good as yesterday.  They were: SFI=119, SN=119, A Index=3, and the K Index=1.  There was a fair bit of deep QSB, and the bands were busy with contests, including the RAC Winter Contest.

One thing that did stand out today was the fact that I suffered no deliberate QRM that we POTA activators have been suffering with for the past few months.  Apparently a number of individuals don't like the POTA program and are trying to cause enough trouble to get people to walk away from it.  Their plan isn't working, in fact POTA seems to be growing everyday to new countries.

So using my now usual routine - the KX3 with 10 screaming watts output into a 20m hamstick - I managed to work Mike CU3HY, Manuel CU3BL, and Jerry HI5YJM.   Contacts were also made in IL, CA, TN, GA, AL, LA, MO, and TX.

The wind and snow is supposed to stop late this evening, so tomorrow I can dig out and set off to another park and do it all over again 😊

Today's QSO Map