Friday, 28 July 2017

Rumour Control.........

Hmmm.......rumour has it that the VE3FI Van will be heading to the west coast again next year in May.

I wonder how many 2m repeaters I won't get a response from in 2018???  It was pretty dismal in 2014 when I drove across, and I imagine with the growth of the digital repeaters it has become even more dismal....but we shall see.

Not sure of the route yet......but it won't be via the Trans-Canada, but I have decided to do the northern route through Ontario.  I've driven the Lake Superior route three times now so it's time for a change.

I'll post more details as I solidify my plans.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

W / VE Island QSO Party 2017

VE3DZE on Simcoe Island
Coming up is this years W / VE Island QSO Party, sponsored by the US Islands Award.

The event runs 15 hours from 1200 UTC, 26 August to 0300 UTC, 27 August, and the Rules for the event can be found HERE on the US Islands page.

Participation by Canadian amateurs has been pretty dismal over the past few years and the disappearance of the Canadian Island Award (CIsA) website did not help.  However, in case you don't know, out of the ashes has grown another group of guys who have formed Canadian Island Activators with the intent to carry on from where CIsA left off from.

The one item the organizers do ask is that you submit your event log.  Last year only three Canadian stations did so.  
I've participated on this event for the past six years and have had a blast and I'm sure you will too if you take time to take part.  This year I will be operating from Simcoe Island, ON-022, and hope to work a pile of you on the air.

Islands on the Air

One of the main purposes of the Islands on the Air (IOTA) program is to promote activity on the bands, not just on HF but on VHF and UHF.  It’s also for clubs and individual operators.  

IOTA is an outstanding program for the activator, chaser, and contester as well.

Coming up this weekend is the 2017 version of the RSGB IOTA Contest.  The contest starts at 1200 UTC on July 29th, and ends at 1200 UTC on July 30th.

This years rules can be found HERE.

Let's all hope that the propagation Gods are in a good mood and allow the bands to open and play nice for us all over the weekend.  It's about time we had some cooperation from them.

Monday, 24 July 2017

A Beautiful Day.....

Rick, VE3ORY, and his portable set up
What was supposed to be a rainy day turned into an alright one, yeah it was a bit cloudy and the wind was blowing about 30 kph, but it was warm and no bugs......and no rain!

The day started off on a good footing when we showed up for the ferry, only to be waved right aboard, and it sailed within minutes of turning our engines off.  I don't think there were more than 20 cars on board.

We ended up going to a small park just down the road from the Winter Ferry Dock, it's called  "Canal Dock Park", and it's pretty small.  It does have lots of trees as well as some benches and picnic tables though....which all came in handy.

Rick, VE3ORY set up a digital and CW station using his 20m & 40m dipole and was soon on the air. I set up using my MFJ 17' telescopic antenna with a 17' counterpoise for 20m using some Buddipole parts and started to call CQ.

We spent 6 hours on the island, operated 17m, 20m, and 40m, and only made 20 contacts between SSB, CW, and Digital modes, but we had a lot of fun doing it.  Paul, VE3IKY, came over from his house on the island and paid us a visit, and Greg, VE3PJ, arrived and spent the day with us as well.

The bands were in terrible shape with some minor (G1 level) geomagnetic storming going on, and I guess we were actually lucky to make the contacts we did.

The setup of VE3FI on the island.
Remember, any day out playing radio is better than mowing the lawn at home !!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Island Activation

Wolfe Island Ferry
This coming Sunday, July 23rd, the Frontenac Amateur Radio Club will be activating Wolfe Island, ON-009. Wolfe hasn't been activated since very early 2016.

The last time we activated Wolfe we made a remarkable two HF contacts, hopefully we can do better this time if the propagation Gods are all aligned correctly.

We will be on from 1500 UTC till 1900 UTC, or until the contacts stop coming our way.

Callsign will be VE3FRG, and the SSB frequencies will be:
14.250 - 14.260
Digital Frequencies will be:

Wolfe Island location

Saturday, 15 July 2017

New Radio

There's a new addition to the shack these days.  I bought a new FT-817 and Z-817 tuner from Radioworld last week....and I'm having a blast with this rig.

This is the second 817 I have owned, and I should never have sold the first one....but I did.   Anyway, it was time to get back into the QRP field, even though the solar cycle is on the downward slide to zero sunspots.

Today was the first time I've had the rig on HF.  It didn't take me long to make some good contacts.  First up was PY5QW in South Brazil (8,222 km), and IZ1UKF in Genoa, Italy (7.002 km).  Both contacts done with 5w into my 148' inverted L longwire antenna.  Feeling pretty pleased with those.

Propagation numbers today as of 1632 UTC were: SFI=91, SN=58, A Index=4, and the K Index=1.

Looking forward to next weekend when my club is doing an island activation, we'll see what I can do with it then.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Crappy Bands.....

Not a very good day yesterday on the bands for the IARU HF World Championships, they were very noisy and the QSB was also pretty bad at times.

At 1249 UTC the propagation numbers were SFI=81, SN=25, the 'A' Index=5, and the 'K' Index=1.  Not too bad numbers for this stage of the solar cycle, but they didn't translate into contacts.

There were a few surprises however.  I decided to start on 15m, which hasn't been very active for  months, but my first contact was with CR6K in Portugal and was closely followed by PP5BZ in Brazil.  Both these contacts were made using my 148' inverted L long-wire antenna.  I made a few more 15m contacts before moving to 20m.

There seemed to be a lot of EU stations running a lot of power, they had some great signals at this QTH, but they couldn't hear anyone going back to them.  People need to remember that the "power" is in your good antennas, and if you can't hear them - you can't work them.

I did manage to put a new one in the log in the late afternoon, 4U1WB, the UN World Bank station from Washington, DC....not really DX, but a new one nonetheless.

W1SYE also made it into my logbook, they were located on Nashawena Island, and were taking part in a first activation of the island for the US Islands Award, so I could resist helping them out with a contact.  The island is MA-002.

Nashawena Island

Saturday ended with 32 contacts in the log, not a very good day, but.......given the state of this solar cycle, I bet the next few years will be even worse, so enjoy it while we can....

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

IARU HF World Championship 2017

Coming up this weekend on the bands is the IARU HF World Championship.

Always a great weekend for gathering rare DX into your logbook, but given the lousy propagation we have had over the past few months I wonder if we will actually hear any DX?

The event runs for 24 hours, from 1200 UTC on July 8th to 1200 UTC on July 9th.

Rules can be found HERE.

Good Luck!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Canada Day Contest 2017

The bands were not in the best of shape at all.   Most of my contacts were done on 20m with a few made on 40m, 80m, 6m, and 2m SSB.  Nothing at all was heard on 10m or 15m.

There was lots of deep QSB and the bands were quite noisy, but I managed to put 122 contacts in the log which I'm happy with considering the conditions.

I actually did hear the ever elusive Bob, VA3QV/VY2, but wasn't able to make a contact with him.  Nice to hear him as it proves he's still alive and out there "somewhere".

As usual the contest was slow and friendly, with many comments, other than the mandatory exchanges, being passed back and forth.  This must be one of my favourite contests along with the Winter Contest.

Now to get ready for next weekends HF World Championships........