Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Great Day !!

Quite the surprise today after lunch when a FedEx truck delivered a large parcel to the house. 

I knew I had done well in the 2013 ARRL Sweepstakes, but little did I know that I had come first in Canada in the QRP category.....and if that wasn't enough later that day the Postman dropped off an envelope, also from the ARRL, containing a certificate for First Place in Ontario East for the same contest.

I'd better start working on a strategy for this years Sweepstakes......

Monday, 27 October 2014

A good weekend on the bands....


It would be very had to pick out the best part of the weekend, most of it was a blur of "CQ DX",  I was late getting on the air Friday evening, I felt it more important to watch the arrival of Cpl Cirillo, and his family, at the Funeral Home in Hamilton, and watch the outpouring of respect from the thousands of Canadians who lined his route home.  It was quite humbling to watch.

It was 0040 UTC before I turned on the rig and made my first contact.  Friday evening contacts were on a mixture of 20m and 40m.  But there was a problem, it seemed that many of the stations calling CQ were running too much power, and were transmitting far beyond what their antennas could actually hear.    It was quite funny really to sit back and listen to many stations answering these guys, and have these big guns just call "CQ Contest" over and over again.....if they only knew how many stations were actually lined up to talk to them.

Saturday morning was a 10m feast!!  The SSB on 10m started at 28.250 and continued, wall-to-wall non-stop to 29.190.  It was so good on 10m that I did not get to 20m until very late in the day, and I did not get to 15m until Sunday morning.    I shut things down at 2200 UTC on Sunday with 701 QSO's in the log, my ears just couldn't take any more noise.

I did not hear any band police over the weekend, but the idiots who like to tune up right over a QSO were out in force.

The worst behaviour I heard over the weekend was the pileup over A73A, the contest team from Qatar.  I felt very sorry for the operator as the jerks trying to call him would not listen to his instructions, and continued to scream their call signs at him over top of his QSO's.  Nearly all the offenders were, unfortunately, stations from the USA.

And finally, some operators still have not learned the most basic of rules when dealing with DX.  Use the standard list of phonetics, not everyone understands English well.  I listened in total amusement an exchange that went on 10 minutes between an American and a Latvian station.  Instead of using "Whiskey Delta Bravo", the American was using "Willoughby Divorce Beans".  In return WDB got back "BCN", and around and around they went.  In the end the QSO wasn't completed, the Latvian gave up in frustration.

The radio in action this weekend was the FT-950 and the 80m OCF dipole.  I did use the 15m vertical dipole as the 80m will not tune up on 15m.  Very pleased with the equipment, everything seems to be working well.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Julian G4ILO - SK

Julian G4ILO
Over the past few years I have been following the journey of Julian, G4ILO.  Julian is the founder of "Wainwrights On The Air", which is a program very similar to SOTA, but on smaller hills.

Julian has been a great inspiration to me, and many other hams, with his portable operations.

Unfortunately he was diagnosed with an un-operable brain tumour three years ago.  He never gave up, always positive in his outlook towards life and his future.  He lived life to the fullest as long as he could, and he fought it as long as he could as well.

We lost Julian this past Friday, October 14th 2014.  A true gentleman, he will be missed by me, and a great number of fellow hams around the world.

RIP Julian.  SK.

Friday, 24 October 2014

CQ WW SSB DX Contest

Tonight is the start of this years CQ World-Wide SSB DX Contest.  This kicks off at 0000Z and runs till 2359Z on Sunday. 

The bands are terrible right now (at 1530L).   Currently the SFI is at 227.  The SC is 126.  The 'A' Index is 10, and the 'K' Index is 4. 

Hopefully the bands will pick up soon, with the solar flux index above 200, and no geomagnetic storms in the forecast, band conditions should be excellent.

Rules for this years contest can be found HERE.

I'm going for a may be a long night J

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

2014 W/VE Island QSO Party from ON-022

10m Buddipole Dipole
It was a grand weekend for the Island QSO Party, the weather was good for the most part (not as nice as years past), but the wind cutting across the island was a bit too sharp on Sunday afternoon to be really comfortable.  Sunday was 7C with a 35 kph wind blowing in our faces.

I managed to work stations on 10m, 20m, 40m and 80m, but the vast majority was done on 10m.  Band conditions were pretty good really, the SFI was 160, SN was 60, the 'A' Index was 15, and the 'K' Index was 3.  We've all worked in better conditions, but we've all worked in far worse.

Don VE3MNE and Mark VE3EOG and myself worked on Simcoe Island, ON-022.  Don operated his own station under his callsign, as did I.  Mark had never done an island activation before, so he came along to see how things are done, and I think we have a convert.  Operating from Simcoe Island is great as there is no RF noise at all, and you can hear many more signals than from the home QTH. 
The Go-Box in action, out of the wind.
Don used his 31' vertical and I used my Buddipole as a dipole.  Both Don and myself used our go-boxes with FT-857D's in them.  Lots of DX to be had, thanks to the stations that spotted me on the cluster, and a BIG thanks to Stephan, ZS6SKY, for calling me from Johannesburg, South Africa, he called me on 10m at 1547Z on Sunday.  It was a Five-Six contact each way, with me using the Buddipole mounted on a 16' painter pole.  Yahoo!!

There were lots of JOTA stations on the air over the weekend, and it was great to talk to the Scouts and Cubs on the radio.  As well as JOTA we also had the New York, Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois QSO Parties on the air, so there was no shortage of stations to talk to.  But, as well as all that, there was also lots of great European DX rolling in on 10m and that kept me busy.

As you can see from the picture on the right, I operated beside my truck, semi sheltered from the cold wind, but I wish I had taken a pair of gloves with me, my hands froze and it was difficult to log.  Don worked out of the cab of his truck so he could stay sheltered as well.

All in all, a great weekend.  It's a shame that more Canadian stations do not take part as it's lots of fun, and always a good time.

Here's a few more photo's from Simcoe Island, ON-022.

Don VE3MNE operating his station out of the wind.

The set-up on Simcoe Island.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

New Toys.....

The new look at the Shack
It was a great trip into Toronto yesterday, Don VE3MNE, Mark VE3EOG, and myself drove to Radioworld and Durham Radio for our annual candy feast...It was a successful trip.

Two bits of Yaesu gear jumped into my basket, a new desk mic, the MD-100A8X, and the matching speaker for the FT-950, the SP-2000.  Both of these items work as advertised and do great job.  I'm really enjoying the desk mic, and I'm getting some very good reports on it.

The speaker has built in audio filters that really do clear up the hash behind the voices.  Normally I use my Heil Pro-6 headset, but there are times that I like to use a speaker, and this one will do very nicely.

We also made a side trip to the Bass Pro Shop in Vaughan, a couple of Km north of Radioworld.

If you're an outdoorsman it's heaven!!  I cannot imagine even one piece of outdoor gear that you could not buy there.  They even have an indoor archery range right in the store, the place is HUGE!!  ......and yes, I did buy a couple of non-radio related items there.....

I have a suspicion that this place will be one of the regular places we stop at in the future.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

W/VE Island QSO Party - 2014

This coming weekend, October 18th & 19th, is the W / VE Island QSO Party.  Held each year this is the perfect opportunity to get out and do some portable operating from
one of your local islands.

If you can't get out....operate and work them from home.

This years Rules are HERE. And, don't forget to submit your logs!

This year from the Kingston area you'll hear VE3FCT operating from Simcoe Island, ON-22, and Dave, VE3DZE, operating from Wolfe Island, ON-009.  It looks like it will be a cool day, with temps around 9C, but at least there's no rain in the forecast.


Late addition, Tim, VA3TIC, and Derek, VE3HRW, will be activating Washburn Island, ON-289 on Sunday. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

RAC membership and the Great Leader

Deciding whether or not to renew my RAC membership was an easy decision this year…..I didn’t, and let me explain why.

Last year I chose to get the electronic version of the TCA as it was a few bucks cheaper than the standard paper version.  Over the course of the past 12 months I have managed to download and read the grand total of one copy of the electronic version of the TCA, the rest wouldn’t even download, or they stopped half way through the download process and crashed.  I should point out at this time that I do have a new computer, not an old clunker that might have some issue downloading. 

Several times during the year I have contacted the RAC office and complained about not being able to download and read my electronic version of the TCA.  And of course in true RAC fashion, nothing was done about it, and no help was given at all….ever!!  I have heard from many other hams that they too have had issues downloading the electronic TCA, so it's not like this was just my issue.  I know RAC likes to keep their members in the dark, but this is ridiculous!!

Over the past four weeks I have received four emails from the RAC office, all of them informing me that my valued membership is about to expire and they hope I will continue to support them…..REALLY ?????   What about their support to ME ????    

At the same time I have been receiving these emails I have also received three renewal letters from the Great Leader, Comrade Bawden, the current appointed Grand Pooh-Bah of the RAC organization.  Each of these letters has cost RAC 75 Cents to mail out……why do I need three of them ??  I guess Comrade Bawden really does need my $$ to help pay for his junkets around the country shaking hands and kissing babies.

So the question is, just what tangible product did I receive last year for my $54.25 RAC annual membership fee??  Because from my point of view, and regardless of the bullshit propaganda in Comrade Bawden’s letters to me, my answer would have to be a loud and hearty SWEET FUCK ALL!!!

John Quincy Adams is quoted as saying "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader".    Comrade Bawden has inspired me to take a out a two year membership with the ARRL.   Thank you Great Leader for showing me the way.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Section Manager Resigns!

It came as a bit of a shock on the morning of October 1st to read that George Duffield, VE3WKJ, had resigned his RAC appointed position as the Section Manager of the GTA. 

It’s no secret amongst those who closely follow the ARES goings on that George Duffield was the only one of the three current Ontario Section Managers who seemed to have his head screwed on properly, and he certainly wasn’t full of some are.

I’ve spoken with George many times on the phone, and he always struck me as intelligent, full of knowledge and common sense, and an absolute gentleman.  He is exactly the type of ham we need as one of our Section Managers.

George was proactive in his leadership style, and certainly didn’t seem to have any issues with getting people to do the jobs he needed doing….I would have worked for him in a heartbeat if I lived in the GTA and had been asked to help.

This is yet another abject failure of the RAC senior leadership team to step in and get things sorted out before it reached this result, and they wonder why RAC is imploding.

Thank you very much for your dedicated service George, you'll be greatly missed.