Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Saturday, 26 December 2015


Yesterday was a good day to hide and stay the heck out of the kitchen.  So I decided it would be a good time to go and do a couple of hours on WSPR.

The propagation conditions seems to be pretty good on 20m, so here's a look at what 500mW got me around 1700 UTC.

Here's the shot into Europe

Here's the shot into North America......not too many Canadian stations about....

Radio used was the IC-718 into my 148' Inverted L long wire antenna.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas

May peace, happiness and goodwill be with you and your family not only on Christmas, 
but throughout the year and beyond. 
From my house, to your house, 
here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a
Happy New Year for 2016.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

RAC Winter Contest

Not a bad weekend on the bands for this years RAC Winter Contest.  For once the stars aligned and all my equipment and the propagation worked as advertised.

I should let you all know that my new 148' Inverted L long wire antenna worked exactly as advertised.  It also seems to give me a very strong signal into the heart of Europe on 15m and 20m.

The bands were very noisy on Friday night as the contest started, I had a noise floor of S7 here....which is very unusual for me.  This settled  down on Saturday and levelled out at about an S4.

Contacts were made on every band from 2m to 160m.  The only places I did not manage to get a single contact with was the NWT and Nova Scotia.   I also listened for Bob, VA3QV, but never heard a peep from him........Liz must have him in chains again....

The propagation numbers to start the weekend were: SFI=116.  SN=52.  A Index=5.  K Index=1.  These numbers stayed that way for just about the whole weekend, late Saturday saw the SN go down to 44, but that was the only change.

The big surprise for me this year was the large number of DX stations taking part.  I worked stations in Bermuda, Netherlands, Germany, Belize, Colombia, Italy, Spain, USA, and France, all of whom are giving out contact serial numbers.  It's nice to see this contest spread out around the world.

That's it for this year, no more contests and only two more club nets till next year......when we start it all over again.  Where does the time go??

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


Over the last few weeks I have been dabbling in the digital modes and have been active on PSK31 and WSPR.   WSPR (which is pronounced "whisper") stands for "Weak Signal Propagation Reporter".

WSPR has been around since 2008, and is a computer program used for weak-signal radio communication between hams.  The program was initially written by Joe, K1JT.  The program is designed for sending and receiving low-power transmissions to test propagation paths on the MF and HF bands.

WSPR implements a protocol designed for probing potential propagation paths with low-power transmissions. Transmissions carry a station's callsign, four figure Maidenhead Grid locator, and transmitter power in dBm. The program can decode signals with S/N as low as -28 dB in a 2500 Hz bandwidth.

Stations with internet access can automatically upload their reception reports to a central database called WSPRnet, which includes a mapping facility, which is great as you can visually see where your signals are being heard, or what signals you are hearing.

While watching WSPR is about as exciting as watching paint dry, and it's definitely not for everyone, it is still very interesting to leave it running for a few hours and come back and see where your 5 watts have been heard.

The evening of Monday, December 7th, saw the following stations heard from this QTH, using my VE3FCT callsign:

And here's the European stations that I was hearing:

Not too bad for 5 watts and a 148' long wire antenna.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

A New Antenna...

While I've been very happy with my 80m OCF Dipole I have here at the QTH, I have long thought that a second HF antenna would be a good thing to have as a back up.  After messing about with several designs, including a 31' vertical, a 66' vertical, and a copy of the same antenna that VA3QV has, it was interestingly that none of them would work very well.

My FT-950 wouldn't tune any of them at all, on any band.  My IC-718 and the IT-100 Tuner worked OK, but on receive it was down 3 or 4 S units from the 80m OCF Dipole.  I was not sure what was going on there.

Tim, VA3TIC, came over to the QTH and we decided to put up a 148' inverted L antenna.  Tim has this same antenna and it works very well for him.  It didn't work at all for me as it would not tune on any band anywhere.  So, we started to investigate.  Eventually we discovered that the 100' of coax I had on the antenna had a bad connector.  Once the connectors were re-soldered things worked just fine.  No doubt bad coax was the issue with the other antennas I put up as well.

The new antenna is on average about 2 S Units down from the 80 OCF Dipole, which is strange as the new antenna is higher than the OCF.   Other than that it works very well and I've been very successful getting into Europe and South America with it.  It was also responsible for my many west coast contacts on 15m during last weekends ARRL Sweepstakes Contest.

I'm pretty happy with it.