Sunday, 31 March 2013


Another great contest is now over, perhaps not under the finest of band conditions, but it was a blast.  The 'K' and 'A' index were both through the roof on Friday evening, and really didn't get better until just as the contest was over on Sunday evening.

I managed to put a couple of new ones in the log, HP1/IZ6BRN in Panama was first up, followed by H27A in Cyprus.  Lots of contest regulars on the bands, and it was nice to hear many "Happy Easters" as signal reports and serial numbers were handed out.

Once again I'm very happy to report the absense of LIDS and Band Cops.  I didn't hear a single act of bad behaviour on the bands this weekend, everyone was in such  good spirits......spring must have sprung!

Main workhorses this weekend were 10m and 15m, and considering the SFI numbers that was a huge surprise.

Next major contest for me will be the Ontario QSO Party on 20/21 April, but I haven't decided where I'm going to do it from.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Ground Waves

Interesting morning today, it was the first Emcomm deployment practice and exercise of 2013 for Frontenac Emcomm Group, and it was almost perfect weather for it. 
Homebrewed 80m Coil on 31' vertical
We set up four HF stations, all about 20 to 30 Kms from Net Control, and each other.  The object was to establish contact on 80m and successfully pass traffic using HF ground wave.   We also checked the 2m repeater coverage between us and tried to establish contact using 146.520 simplex. 

I drove to Piccadilly, just north of Verona on Hwy 38 and setup in the parking lot of the North Frontenac Rec Centre.  A busy hockey "hot spot" this morning.  Larissa VE3KGC and myself got more than our fair share of funny  looks from the crowd as we got ready and laid out the cables and wires.

The HF antenna system used today was the homebrewed 31' vertical on a collapsible MFJ mast with four 16' radials and a 4:1 Balun.  Also used today, for the first time, was the 80m homebrewed coil.   The coil is made from 15 turns of No. 10 wire wound around a 3" PVC coupler.  The coil must be removed to work any other band. 
FT-857D in action
I was really pleased and surprised at just how well this worked.  I at least anticipated some issues and had my toolbox standing by...but it wasn't needed.  The antenna tuned up perfectly using the LDG tuner on the FT-857D with no issues at all.

I'm sure there are some good losses using the coil, but for Emcomm work and passing traffic around Frontenac County it works just great. 

The repeater check went well, but the simplex check....not so good.  We could hear Net Control but the others were really too weak to work.  It might be interesting to try this on 2m SSB in the future. 

The topography of Frontenac County is that of rolling hills and valleys.  You're OK if you're on top of the hill, but the valleys are terrible for getting a signal out....which is why we practice HF ground wave comms. 

It was nice to get out and let the winter cobwebs get blown away this morning.......I now feel that spring must really be just around the corner.  A lot was accomlished and a lot of "lessons learned" filed away for future use. 

The next two monthly exercises will see us checking out the new digital network we are in the process of building up in the County.   So far we have two Nodes - VE3KER-7 in South Kingston and VE3FPN-7 in Sydenham, and a WinLink Gateway on VE3FRG-10 in North Kingston.  Future plans call for at least another two Nodes in the North part of the County. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Portable Activators Blog

Once again I must plug the Portable Activators Blog for the upcoming 2013 season of island and lighthouse activations.  This blog fills a much needed gap in that it's announcements are timely, not done after the fact.

The blog can be found at  It's brought up-to-date as the Blogmaster receives the information, and sometimes that isn't until late on a Friday afternoon, but the information is made public as soon as they can, and always before the event.

I make it a habit of checking it on a Friday afternoon to see if there is anything new to look for on the bands for the weekend.

So, all you island, lighthouse and SOTA activators send in your information and let's make 2013 a good year for activators and chasers.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Gong Show.......

I have been sitting here for a number of weeks now reading emails, letters, and other material on the recent RAC fiasco, getting more and more disgusted as the days have gone by.  I have refrained from posting anything about it on my Blog as I felt it was important that individuals do their own research on the matter and come up with their own conclusion.

However, as Peter VE3HG has now made several outstanding postings on his Blog on this issue, I felt it was time, as a current RAC member, to publically register my complete and total disgust with the RAC board and executive

RAC has ceased to be a real national association.  It did so a couple of years ago when it decided that non-members where not good enough to bother with and shut down their RAC email address without warning, stopped their use of the outgoing QSL Bureau, and stopped sending them what little information it allows to be given out.  Perhaps this is why most RAC elections these days are now unopposed and are by acclamation.  Members are just fed up with the stupid backroom politics going on and do not wish to waste their valuable time, and more importantly, their reputations by running for RAC office.

Many years ago Charles de Gaulle wrote: "Silence is the ultimate weapon of power."  We RAC members see this all the time.  These days we get very little information from RAC except for generalities and "feel good" stories dispensed from on high.  Did the current RAC board and executive really think that the news of this fiasco would be simply swept under the carpet and everyone would keep their mouths shut?

So let me tell you why I believe Bill Gade's side of the story (HERE) vice the "feel good" story put out by RAC (HERE). If what Bill Gade originally wrote on January 15th 2013 was not true, or consisted of a list of inaccurate facts, half-truths, or outright lies, surely RAC would have the grounds to legally go after him and sue him for slander, liable or worse.  Are they?  So far it appears they have not.........which speaks volumes and also tells you something.

If RAC wishes to be a true national association it must fully represent all Canadian hams, members or not. It must be fully transparent. We must have full democracy, that is direct elections of the board, executive, and most importantly, the President. The hands of total power must be removed from the board. Only then will RAC become a real, workable, national association.

William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham and British Prime Minister from 1766 to 1778, said in a speech to the UK House of Lords in 1770: "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it."  Kind of sums things up, doesn't it?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

After the contest.....

What an excellent weekend!!  For the most part the bands behaved, even if they were pretty noisy at times.  Saturday at 0930L the SFI was sitting at 109, the SN at 88, the 'A' index at 27, and the 'K' index at 1.  Not the best numbers to start with.

I managed to work a total of 112 DX entities, including a few I had not worked before.  An interesting fact is that 98% of the calls I worked were 4 letter calls, and it's getting very difficult to compete against them and it doesn't seem like its a level playing field anymore.  Has anyone else noticed this?

The big workhorses of the weekend had to be 10m and 15m, both bands went long early and stayed open late.  Both of these bands had a great number of DX stations on them all calling CQ, but they were nicely spread out, not all bunched together.  20m was overcrowded as usual, just wall-to-wall splatter and noise everytime I went  there.  Not sure how anyone made many contacts there.

40m was good at night, as usual, but I never found it too busy, and 80m was not good to me at all, I only made two contacts all weekend down there.

Good points from the weekend?  Very few LIDS were heard, good behaviour abounded, the Police had the weekend off, and I had a great time and my new antennas have performed far beyond what I thought they would do.

Bad points from the weekend?  Too many stations on the air with bad audio...doesn't anyone check this anymore?  Several Italian stations calling "CQ Contest" on 17m, and not stopping when asked to, and in fact got down right ugly over it.  And a final point.....too many radios being overdriven and splattering all over the band.

Overall it was a great weekend.....and I can't wait for the end of the month for the CQ WW WPX SSB Contest on March 30th and 31st....hope to work you all then.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Getting ready......

This weekend is the ARRL International SSB Contest and I've spent the last few days putting the finishing touches on the shack and getting it ready for the first BIG contest of the year.

I've had an issue with the 80m OCF dipole that I have up in the air.  It works extemely well from 6m to 80m, with the exception of 15m which it just refuses to load on using the ATU on the FT-950.  So, obviously 15m will be a big player in this contest I had to do something........

All attempts to get a dedicated 15m dipole in the air this week has been sabotaged by heavy snow and freezing rain.  The only answer I could come up with was to go digging in the garage through some of the still unpacked boxes from the move, and dig out my trusty MFJ-949E manual tuner.  No sooner was it connected and I was having a 15m QSO with Elana-RC5A in Moscow and almost right away with Larry-VP2/KE2VB in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.  Things seem to be working good enough for this weekend.

Speaking of the weekend....have you seen the SFI numbers?  Currently at 2245Z the SFI is 113; the SN is 63; the 'A' Index is 28 (!!!!); and the 'K' Index is 4 (!!).  One can only hope that those numbers will improve as the contest progresses.