Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Field Day 2011

Field Day is nearly upon us again and we have had to change our plans for this year.  Instead of going to Whispering Pines Scout Camp near Perth, we will be going to Hay Bay to the cottage of Don-VE3MNE.

This year we will operate as a 6A operation covering all bands with SSB, CW stations, as well as an all band Digital station.  This will be the first time in a number of years that we have had that many stations operating on the property.

Antenna wise we will have a 160m OCF, a 80m OCF, a 40m-15m vertical as well as dipoles for 20m, 15m, 10m, and 6m.

Hopefully the SFI will improve so we can get into places we have not been able to over the past few years.  We're also praying for good weather given all the rain we have had this month!

So far we have 8 amateurs lined up to attend so it should be a good time.

A Different Antenna

Early Monday morning saw Tim-VA3TIC and myself back up on Fort Henry Hill......rumour has it that we're up there so often that the Fort is about to issue us both scarlet tunics!!  The weather was great, but the wind was up and gusting to about 40KPH.

It was a disappointing morning for myself as I chose to operate 2m SSB and did not hear a thing anywhere on the band.  I even tried 2m CW and still didn't get a response to my CQ's.  In the end I went back to the FM portion and checked into local and distant morning nets.  It's amazing just where you can get into from that location.

Tim, on the other hand, was trying out his new "sputnik antenna".   He has homebrewed a magnetic mount that enables him to have a 102" whip for 10m as well as hamsticks for 15m, 17m, 20m, and 80m.  It tunes up nicely on all bands, and he managed to make a solid contact into central Kansas, about 1600Km away.  So not to shabby. 

We all know hamsticks are a comprimise antenna and will never replace dipoles or other portable antennas, but in an emergency we'll take what we can get.

Hopefully the bands will start to pick up again before too long. It's not nice being back down with an SFI of 84 after what we have had in the last month.  Let's hope it improves a great deal before Field Day.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Fort Henry Hill

For the past couple of weeks a group of us have spent "very early" Saturday morning up Fort Henry Hill, set up in the parking lot, playing radio.   For the past two Saturdays I have used my Buddipole as a 20m vertical.  I use the versatee with two 22" arms and a 12' military whip with a single 17' counterpoise.   In this configuration it has a great match right across the SSB portion of the band, and I do not need to use a tuner with it at all.

Old Fort Henry
Last Saturday I worked a pile of caribbean stations as well as a couple of Portugese.  The weather was great and the sunrise spectacular.  In fact things went so well we decided to do it again this weekend.

So this Saturday, instead of lying in bed enjoying the sleep in as I would have like to, it was up at 0500 hrs and drive back to the hill.  Once again the sunrise was spectacular, but the damn mayflies were out in full force. 

The SFI was down a bit from last week and the activity on the band showed it.  Tim-VA3TIC, worked 17m and made some good contacts, he also made a couple on 20m as well.  I stayed on 20m and spun the VFO up and down the band trying to work the odd piece of DX that popped up. 

Finally at 1200Z I heard a loud station and went after it.  It was JA2FJP, Ken, in Tokoname, Japan.  He had a very loud and solid signal into Kingston, a good 59 +20.  I didn't think I had much of a chance to work him as I was only running 50w into the Buddipole.  But.....at 1217Z I managed to work him. 
10,400 Kms on 50w and a Buddipole............not too shabby!!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

VE3FRG Repeater Install

Sunday the 1st of May was brilliant day, the weather was great - blue skies and no wind or rain. Perfect for getting the VE3FRG repeater installed in the John Orr Tower here in Kingston. This is the end of a lot of hard work and testing to get us to this point, and it's all thanks to Don-VE3MNE.

Eleven hams showed up at 1330 hours and by 1530 it was all installed and operational. The John Orr Tower is near the intersection of Union Street and Sir John A. MacDonald. The tower is 16 stories high with another two floors of mechanical rooms above that.

The repeater is in the electrical room on the roof with the antenna mounted 30 feet above that. So the antenna is about 230 feet above ground.

It seems to have a large footprint - Belleville and Trenton in the west to Brockville in the east and south to Watertown. We haven't figured out how far north it will go yet, but we plan on a few road trips over the next few weekends to see how far we can get.

Bill VE3CLQ and George VE3SIQ
Put the pieces back together again
after they had been transported to the site
 Over the past two years we have had IRLP Node 2088 set up on 146.205 with a 151.4 hertz tone.  We had a lot of problem with interference from the N2HLT Bath, NY, repeater, which is on the same frequency, and is amazing when you realize that it is over 250 kms from Kingston, Ontario to Bath, NY in a straight line. We have had to change the PL tone to 203.5 hertz, but due to the interference issuses with the repeater in Bath.

VE3FRG will be able to operate as a 2m repeater, and will also be able to operate crossband from 70 cm to 6m at the same time without interfering with the 2m operation. Or, alternately you will be able to link the 2m, 6m, and 70cm radios together and operate as a crossband repeater on all frequencies.

Tim VA3TIC getting ready
to install the 70cm antenna
This repeater now has IRLP Node 2088 operating on it, which will be available on all the repeater frequencies. The frequency and tone details are as follows:

The 2m frequency is 146.805 (-) with a 203.5 hertz tone;
The 6m Frequency is 53.130 (-) with a 203.5 hertz tone; and
The 70 cm frequency is 434.800 simplex with a 203.5 hertz tone.

The codes to turn the crossband capabilities on and off will be made available over the next few days.

Thanks to VE3SIQ, VE3MNE, VE3DZE, VE3DNR, VA3AKY, VE3GO, VE3OCC, VE3ZDG, VA3TIC and VE3VJF for coming out and getting the job done.

Thanks to Martin VA3AKY for taking the photo's used on this article.

Footprint of VE3FRG