Friday, 20 February 2015

February - A Quiet Month

February is one of those strange months, you know, one without any major ham radio contest in it, and I'm sure we're all getting quite fed-up with the cold winter and piles of snow about the landscape.

I'm hoping that March will be much different with two major contests during the month, the ARRL International SSB DX Contest on March 7th & 8th (Rules HERE), and the CQ World-Wide WPX SSB Contest on March 28th & 29th (Rules HERE).

I've also been looking at the calendar planning my spring, summer, and fall portable activities.  The problem is there is little new around here to do.......all of the islands have been activated, several times over the last few years, as have all the local lighthouses.  So it looks like I will have to travel further afield this year.....well, not as far as last years trip to the west coast.  My bank account is still recovering from the fuel bill!!

There are the regular annual items already on the calendar, Field Day, International Lighthouse Weekend, Chillycon, and the W/VE Island QSO Party.  These are pretty staple now, but they've all been done before.  So there needs to be a weekend mini-DXpedition on the horizon and I'm going to have to start looking for ideas so I can get planning.

Oh well, back to the maps and atlas to see what I can conjure up..........

Is spring coming soon ????????

Thursday, 19 February 2015

SPAR Winter Field Day

Many of us over the past nine years have enjoyed participating in the SPAR Winter Field Day.  It was another opportunity for us to gather our gear and head for our favourite spots to play portable if we really need an excuse to do that.....even when the temperatures where down below zero, and in some cases, way below zero.

This year, 2015, was the ninth year Winter Field Day has taken place, and it was this year that it finally seemed we had reached critical mass, and had enough operators on the bands calling "CQ Winter Field Day" to actually stay busy.  

After Winter Field Day this year reports started to appear that the electronic log submission system was bouncing and nobody could submit their logs.  Many people posted questions on the SPAR Forum about this, but there was no response from any of the SPAR team.  However, today we sadly learn that Walt, W5ALT, who was, and always has been, the driving force at SPAR behind Winter Field Day, has had a stroke and is unable to look after things and probably won't be able to for a long while.

There has been a suggestion on the SPAR website that another organization will take over the running of Winter Field Day.  Let's hope this event does continue and that another organization will take over the management of it.  It's a pretty valuable tool in the Emcomm war chest.  Yes, there are issues we overcome during the annual ARRL June Field Day, mainly bugs and heat.  But nothing proves your Emcomm group is ready for anything that can be thrown at it if you can set up and complete a Winter Field Day in sub-zero temperatures.

I wish Walt a speedy, and a full recovery from this stroke.  Hopefully we'll hear him on the bands soon.

Monday, 16 February 2015

How to Spot Made in China Food Items


With all the food and pet products now coming from China, it is best to make sure you read the label at the grocery store and especially Walmart when buying food products.

Many products no longer show where they were made, only give where the distributor is located.


It is important to read the bar code to track it's origin.  How to read Bar Codes .... interesting!

This may be useful to know when grocery shopping, if it's a concern to you.


The whole world is concerned about China-made "black hearted goods".  Can you differentiate which one is made in Taiwan or China?

If the first 3 digits of the barcode are 690 691 or 692, the product is MADE IN CHINA.

471 is Made in Taiwan.  This is our right to know, but the government and related departments never educate the public, therefore we have to RESCUE ourselves.

Nowadays, Chinese businessmen know that consumers do not prefer products "MADE IN CHINA ", so they don't show from which country it is made.

However, you may now refer to the barcode - remember if the first 3 digits are:

690-692 ... then it is MADE IN CHINA
00 - 09 ... USA & CANADA
30 - 37 FRANCE
40 - 44 GERMANY
471 ... Taiwan
49 ... JAPAN
50 ... UK

BUY USA & CANADIAN MADE by watching for "0" at the beginning of the number.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Not much radio work going on........

Been a very interesting week.  Spent a few days up at CFB Petawawa visiting my old Air Force no amateur radio.  It's been 27 years since I had last been on the squadron lines so it was quite the trip down memory lane for me.

The squadron has had new facilities built for them and the 15 brand new F Model Chinook helicopters it now operates.  The building is huge, 53,000 square metres, and it's 800m in length.  Just HUGE, and a very far cry from the facilities we had when I was flying the C Model Chinooks back in the mid-1980's at CFB Uplands in Ottawa.

As I was given the tour of the hangers and training facilities the thought came to me that the Chinook world had gone from the era of the Flintstones to that of Star Wars in the time since I had left the squadron.  The changes really were mind blowing for me.

Outwardly the machines are the same, but mechanically they are very different.  For example the engines in my day were rated for 3,700 shaft horsepower each, today the new engines are rated for 4,777 shaft horsepower each.  That's a lot more usable lift capability, especially in an emergency.

I really have to thank LCol Chris McKenna, the Commanding Officer, for allowing the visit, and the the guys and girls on the squadron who made the visit so memorable.

Getting ready to do the hook up

Friday, 6 February 2015

In the Log !!!

Yeah!!!!  K1N is in the logbook!!!!  At 0422 local this morning, and on 20m, in she went.  Done on the very first call...smooth as silk, even talking very quiet as to not wake the rest of the house up.

No LIDS, No Band Police, and No Space Cadets about at all at that time of the morning, they're all snoring away saving their energy to create havoc later in the day.  I was greeted by the operator with "VE3FCT, Good Morning, You're up very early and a solid 59+!!"

So there you have it folks, want to work them in real peace and quiet without the DQRM and the multitude of LIDS on the frequency........get up very early.

No more worries, no more chasing them, and no need for a second contact on a different band.  In the log and done with........and on to the "Honey Do" List.

Monday, 2 February 2015

K1N Navassa Island

Well, as forecast, the Band Police and LIDS are out in full force this morning.  I even learned a new swear word from one of the band police.....who knew you could use language like that on the air?

I just can't imagine how bad the DQRM will get on this DXpedition's frequencies.  Some idiots just seem to love screwing things up for the rest of us.

It's a good job my FT-950 has a large VFO to spin, I've got better things to do than listen to that mess all day!