Sunday, 30 December 2018

RAC Winter Contest

Had a great day yesterday taking part in the RAC Winter Contest.  It was a good warm up for Winter Field Day.

I managed to work everywhere except VY1, VE8, and VY0.  Strangely, there was no sign of any station out of the north this year.  There was quite a bit of European traffic on the bands, and I did manage to put France and the Netherlands in the log as well.

The score from last year was beaten by a big margin, many more multipliers jumped into the log this year compared to last year.  Yet the propagation was a lot worse.

Contacts were made on all bands except 160m and 10m.  Lots of traffic on 160m, just didn't hear anyone calling CQ Contest, and nobody responded to my CQ's.  And, as usual nothing at all was heard on 10m.  However 6m was very active and I managed a good number of contacts there.

At 1800 UTC on Saturday, the propagation numbers here were: SFI = 68, SN = 0, A Index = 24, and the K Index = 3.  Not the best set of numbers, but the actual activity on the band was out of all proportion to what we should have had given those figures.  So there you have it, get on the air and call CQ.

As a side note, this is my 500th Blog entry.  I never anticipated reaching this number, but now I'm here.........I think we'll keep going 😎

2019 will see some changes, some new radios are coming, and I'm planning a total rebuild of my antenna system.  The current antennas have been up  for six years and it's time for some major maintenance and changes to them.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Merry Christmas

They say the best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas surrounded by your precious family, and many great blessings for the coming year. 


I hope to work you all during the RAC Winter Contest
December 29th, 0001 - 2400 UTC

See You On The Bands!!

Thursday, 20 December 2018

New Handheld...

The new radio arrived today, just in time for the empty box to go under the tree 😆.  I ordered a new dual band Yaesu FT-2DR, C4FM and analog handheld.

From what I've seen of it in the short time I played with it before the battery had to be put on charge, I'm going to enjoy this radio.

Over the past few years I've only owned Baofengs, so this is a real step up in the radio department and a huge learning curve.

This radio also has a built in GPS unit and does APRS, something I've not really been into again, I'm looking forward to experimenting and messing around with it.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Ontario Island activations coming up....

I received the following information this morning and thought it may be of interest to a few readers of this Blog....

John, VE3ISE,  will be activating Lakecourt Island. ON-303. & Lighthouse CAN 1417 on Dec 15, 2018 at 1500Z on or about 7270 +/- QRM switching to 20m at 1630Z on or about 14270 +/- QRM.  Grid Reference for this is FN03fe38. 


He will be activating Forans Island, ON-293, & Lighthouse CAN 1417 on Saturday  Dec. 22, 2018 at  1500Z  on or about 7270 +/- QRM switching to 20m at 1630Z on or about 14270 +/- QRM....This area has heavy electric static but he will do his best. 
Grid Reference for this is also at FN03fe38. 


He will be activating Haywood Island, ON-292, & Lighthouse's CAN-540 & 541  On Dec. 29, 2018 at 1500Z on or about 7270 +/- QRM switching to 20m at 1630Z on or about 14270 +/- QRM.  Grid reference for this is at FN03ie. 

These activations are in conjunction with the ARLHS Christmas Lights QSO Party, and all of the above is dependent on weather.  

It looks like John has a few busy weekends coming up !!

Wednesday, 5 December 2018


It's been a long time since I was on WSPR, but I thought I would try it tonight to see how the propagation was doing.

Here's 40m at 2105 Local on December 5th:

And, here's the 80m map for 2117 Local on December 5th:

Nothing too spectacular tonight.  This was 5w into my 148' long wire inverted L, up at 50'.

I also made several contacts today with what has to be the world's most boring mode....FT8.  If that's the future of ham radio, I'll be turning off my radios and taking up knitting really soon.  Yeah, it's nothing I want to get into, I'll stick with WSPR and PSK-31.   

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Interesting.....even if a little late

I was on the Ontario QSO Party website today, looking for some QRP stats......and came across this:

This is the first I knew I had won this certificate, even though I no longer have that call sign.....better late than never !!  It was a pretty poor score, but I recall that the bands where absolute crap that weekend and I fought for every contact.   Hopefully 2019 will better.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Winter Field Day 2019

Get Ready, Winter Field Day is coming !!!!   January 26th & 27th, 1900Z to 1900Z.  
Don't be late !!

Check out the Winter Field Day Association Website.....HERE

Want to find out where the nearest WFD site to you is?  
Want to post your location so other hams can find you?   Click HERE.

Monday, 12 November 2018

ARRL Sweepstakes

Coming up this weekend, November 17-19, for stations in the United States and Canada (including territories and possessions) is this years November Sweepstakes.  

The object is to exchange QSO information with as many other US and Canadian stations as possible on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands.

Rules can be found HERE.

I'll be entering as a QRP station again, perhaps this year I can equal my 2013 score when I won the plaque for the top Canadian QRP station.

Hope to work you guys on the bands.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Remembrance Day 2018

In Loving Memory of the
Officers, NCO's, and Men
2816 Squadron, RAF Regiment

December 1941 -  June 1946


Wednesday, 31 October 2018

CQ Contest - VE9FI

Don, VE3MNE, grounding coax.
Well, its nice to be home after 7 days away operating with the Hampton Amateur Radio Club.   The first few days where spent getting set up and acquainted with the shack equipment.   We also discovered that we had to ground the coax for the six element yagi to bring the noise floor down...but that was an easy fix.

We had a few issues - fortunately not very many - with the antennas, but quickly got them sorted out.  Mainly it was to to people operating on antennas that where too close together, or with similar polarities.

Friday night, for the second year in a row, we could not get a run on 80m or 40m, the stations just where not there.  One or two would pop up to work us..with difficulty..and then disappear.  It was very frustrating.  However, 20m was open into the Europe until very late, so we did well there.  We also managed a few contacts on 160m, all of them into the USA.

The propagation numbers for Friday night where:  SFI-69, SN-0, 'A' Index 6, and 'K' Index-3....not the best of conditions either.
Waterfall on the Flex, Saturday afternoon

On Saturday morning 20m didn't open up until 1200 UTC.  Before then we managed to work the odd strong station, most of whom I am certain were operating with more than legal power levels to reach out and work us.  After it opened it just went crazy, it was wall-to-wall signals right across the band, I've never seen it so crowded.

Our second station had a good day working 15m where a lot of contacts where made during the day.  It also made a few 10m contacts as well during the afternoon which was a surprise.  In the evening and overnight it was on 40m and 80m where business was slow.

On Sunday the bands opened up pretty much the same time as Saturday, and the day went pretty much the same with 20m being the crazy band again.  The 'A' Index had dropped to 4 and the 'K' Index dropped to 1, so that helped a bit with improving what little propagation we had.

Some of the more exotic stations we worked where in Malawi, Oman, UAE, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, and Senegal.  I even managed to work Malc, 2W0SEU, and surprised him by speaking a little Welsh to him.....not something he expected from a VE9 station!!!

Our total score was about 75 QSO's down from last year, but given where we are in the solar cycle we are very pleased with our performance.  Now we wait to see the posted results, and hope we did as well as last year.

Many, many thanks go out to Russ, VE9FI and his XYL Pat, VE9DZ for their great hospitality during our time at their QTH.  They take us feel so at home.

Here's a few more pictures.....

Operating station No. 1

Operating Station No. 2

Russ VE9FI in his shack

The lovely view of the snow on the way home at Riviere du Loup.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Trip to Hampton, New Brunswick

The trip started off under blue skies and continued just like that through Quebec.   Traffic was very light, flowed well, and construction was only in a few places and it didn't impede traffic at all.   The night stop was in Saint Basile, just south of Edmundston...and again the weather was great.

Then came the trip from Saint Basile to Hampton.   As the song goes "What a difference a day makes" !!

About 25 km south the roads took on a strange white appearance, and there was this strange white stuff flying around in the air as well.   The temperature went down to 0C, and it went downhill from there.

Trans-Canada Highway, Oct 24, 2018
By the time we got to Fredericton the road was covered in about 6 inches of fresh wet and sloppy snow, and the roads were truly awful.  South of Oromocto the snow turned to rain and by the time we arrived in Hampton the roads were clear.

Not much 2m activity on the 1200 km trip.  Worked the trans-Canada IRLP Net on the Fredericton repeater, and after the net I worked VE9MTB on the same repeater.

The last two days we have been testing antennas and the amps and so far everything is working as advertised.   It's a big learning curve switching from my FT-950 to the Flex 6700 that's at my operating position.

Hopefully on Monday the snow will have melted and temperatures will be more around normal for this time of year........and the trip home will be fine.

Near Woodstock, NB.  Oct 23, 2018

Friday, 19 October 2018

JOTA 2018

Hey!!!  This weekend is the Boy Scouts annual Jamboree on the Air (JOTA). JOTA is a worldwide event, and Scouting stations in Europe will be looking for contacts as well. 

In North America keep an ear on the following frequencies:

3.690 and 3.940
7.090 to 7.190

Get on the air and work the kids !!!!

Friday, 12 October 2018

Trouble Commenting

Several people have told me that they are unable to post comments on my blog these days.   I am also having issues answering those who can post comments.  I have no idea why things have changed as I have not done anything to the page settings in over a year.

Emails have been sent off to Blogspot outlining the issue so I will just have to wait and see what they can do.

In the meantime, if you cannot post a comment I apologize.....but it's out of my control at the moment, hopefully things will change in a day or two.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Coming up......

October.  That means fall colours and.......CQ WW DX SSB Contest, as well as a road trip to Hampton, New Brunswick to the big contest station of VE9FI.

Since last years contest VE9FI has added several new antennas, we now have quarter wave verticals on 80m and 40m, and another big amplifier for the second operating position.   So we should be in excellent shape for this year.....hopefully we will get a bit of good propagation to help us along.

The Rules for this years event can be found HERE.

I'll do a complete write up after the event on the trip down and back as well as the contest itself.  Hopefully it will be as good a time as we had last year there.

Not far from Hampton is the village of St. Martins.  We go there for great clam chowder and fish and chips.....but they also have a lighthouse. So if we get time we might spend an afternoon at the light activating it....stay tuned.

St Martins Lighthouse.  CAN-944

Sunday, 30 September 2018

CW.....the adventure begins again

In 1971 my Dad passed his exam and became VE7BUX.   From that moment the house was filled daily with the sound of CW as soon as he was home from work.   He did have a mic, but I rarely ever saw him use it.

In 1974, due to a mistake by the then Department of Communications, Dad was issued a new call, VE7CVQ....which I now hold.  Apparently the DOC had already issued Dad's first call and for two years both he and a station in Northern BC (Smithers, I believe) both operated as VE7BUX.

Every day at 1630 local, Pacific time, he and his cronies: Steve VE7OF, Rusty VE7OM, Bill VE7ATR, and another ham in Kelowna who's name is now lost to the mists of time, fired up their rigs and spent the next hour holding court on CW.    Supper would arrive at the table, the rig would be turned off, we would eat, and then after supper on went the rig and he and I searched the bands for rare and strange CW signals.  It was quite the treat for me to be in charge of the VFO in those days.

Slowly my CW skills started to improve.....even though I didn't have a license....I started to be able to read the signals that arrived at our antenna.   In 1973 and 1974 I went to night school both winters to try and learn enough to get my ticket, but it never happened.  It was way over my head at the time.  In fact it wan't until a good number of years after Dad passed away that I finally got serious, got my ticket and became the proud owner of his old callsign - even managing to get the CW qualification.  However, I didn't use CW and it's always bugged me as I know how much it would have meant to him if I had been into CW.

Six weeks I ago I gave myself a big kick in the ass and decided it was time to knuckle down and get into CW.  So I bought a portable straight key from Palm Paddle with the thought that after spending that much money I better get to work on it......and I've been practicing since it arrived.

I found a great free CW trainer on line, it's called "Seiuchy", and you can get it HERE.  For one hour every evening I sit down in the shack with a happy ghost and copy code - slowly building up my speed - and waiting until I think I'm good enough to actually go on the air.  Hopefully that won't be too far in the distance.  SK.

Monday, 17 September 2018

What a Weekend.....

Chillycon 2018 is over.  The annual gathering of Eastern Ontario QRP'ers.

This year it should have been called "Heatcon".   The weather was fantastic, but far too hot and humid for comfort, most days it was 28C but felt like 39C with the humidity.........I know, next year we'll probably be complaining about how cold it is.  We had lots of bugs out as well making things a bit itchy at times.

The propagation was nothing to write home about, SFI = 68, SN = 0, A Index = 6, and the K Index = 2 at 1430 UTC on 15 September.  DX was a rare commodity.

I brought my new toy with me, a Palm Paddle straight key, what a lovely action it has now that I have it set up to my liking.  I'm going to enjoy this.

My FT-817ND performed very well, but I have been told I need to turn down the SSB audio level as it's a bit too high right now.  I forgot to turn it down after I started to use the DYC-8x7 external Dynamic Speech Compressor.   The chosen antenna for the weekend was one that Steve, WG0AT, put me on to.  It's a 41' radiator, a 17' counterpoise, and a 9:1 Unun.  It works great.   The parts for this antenna came from a SOTABeams Bandspringer Midi that I had purchased and regardless of what I did to it would not work very well.  I used the parts and built Steve's version and get great results now.

The good weather brought out many familiar faces and many new ones.  This year was the all-time biggest attendance for a Chillycon to date.  Twenty-Six people sat down for a pizza supper on Saturday, and for the first time in many years we had no fire as it was simply far too hot to have one.   Normally the park is fairly empty on the last open weekend, but this year was different, it was full and we had hams scattered all over the park as there just was not enough spots available on our loop to hold them all.

Michael, VE3WMB, won the Upper Canada Trophy for DX Excellence this year with a 30m CW contact into southern Australia, and was the first recipient of the brand new trophy.   Many thanks to Rick, VE3ORY, for building it for us.

Eric, VE3AMX, was in second place with CW contacts to Finland and another in Denmark, and in Third place was Rick, VE3ORY, with several CW contacts into Denmark.

It was a great weekend, and I really am looking forward to next years Chillycon.

Below are some photos of the event.....

Eric, VA3AMX, trying to win the DX contest.

Guess who actually showed up this year......YES...the elusive  Bob, VA3QV.

Speeches after our pizza supper.

My FT-817ND and new straight key.

VE3UNA, VE3ORY, and VE3ULC chatting in their site.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Chillycon is coming !!!

The 2018 version of the Ottawa Valley QRP Societies Fall Camping Weekend, known as Chillycon, is just about upon us.  

This year it's on September 15th& 16th, starting Friday afternoon - the 14th (and for some......Thursday afternoon), QRP fanatics from all over Eastern Ontario descend upon Rideau River Provincial Park for this annual gathering.  The park is just across the Rideau River from Kemptville.  We’re glad this year to be back at our usual park, as last year we had to go to Murphy’s Point due to heavy flooding at Rideau River Provincial Park.

Chillycon is always a great time, this will be my ninth year attending this event.  Not once have I ever returned home without learning something about radios or antennas.  It's educational, and the company is fantastic.  It really is a fixed event on our club calendar these days.

A lot of the participants come for the whole weekend, others just come for Saturday afternoon as well as the single malt whiskey and traditional pizza supper we hold.  If you're planning on bringing any whiskey to the blended stuff !!

Seven of us from Kingston, VE3MNE, VA3ORP, VE3ORY, VE3ULC, VE3UNA and myself, will be attending this year…….oh yeah, the seventh guy……well that would be the world famous VA3QV who now lives in Kingston.

There will also be a VE2 contingent again from the West Island Amateur Radio Club in Montreal.  I’m looking forward to seeing Marc-Andre and the others again this year.

Hopefully the weather and propagation will behave themselves.  I'm going full out this year to beat Eric, my arch rival, for the "Upper Canada Cup for QRP DX Excellence at Chillycon.

Stay tuned for the post-event wrap-up.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

W/VE Island QSO Party, 2018

Simcoe Island Ferry
Coming up this weekend, to promote the U.S. (USI) and Canadian (CIA) islands programs to amateurs worldwide, and to promote verifiable amateur radio contacts with stations located on islands in the U.S. and Canada.

Always a relaxing time and a lot of fun, looking forward to being on Simcoe Island, ON-022, and I will also be able to hand out the Nine Mile Point Lighthouse number, as I will be set up right there.  The Lighthouse is CAN-578.

Hopefully the weather forecast for Kingston this weekend is either wrong, or it changes from what it is supposed to be, and let's hope the propagation gets a little bit better.

Rule for the event can be found HERE.

Nine Mile Point Lighthouse, CAN-578.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend

Get ready......this years edition of the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend is coming up on August 18th & 19th !!

Details of the event are HERE.

The objectives of the ILLW weekend are to promote public awareness of Lighthouses and Lightships and bring to the attention of the public the need to preserve and restore them for future generations.  In doing so we also promote amateur radio.

I'm still not sure where I'll be heading off to....choices, choices, choices!!  There is a page listing all Lake Ontario Lighthouses ( HERE ).  I'll have to spend an hour on the site and pick one before next weekend.

Let's hope the propagation improves before next Saturday otherwise it will just be another good day of suntanning !!

Monday, 6 August 2018

Saturday at the Bay...

The view from the portable shack.
While we had great weather, hot and sticky is a good description for last Saturday out at Hay Bay.   Don VE3MNE, and I, went out to his property, the one we use for Field Day, and tried to work the guys in Colorado up on the Colorado 14er's and those taking part in the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous.

At 1406 UTC the propagation numbers were, SFI = 69; SN = 0; A Index = 6; and the K Index = 2.   We also suffered most of the day with very deep QSB on all bands.

20m seemed to be the band of choice, very little heard on 40m and 15m, but 6m was pretty active.

Not only did we work the Colorado SOTA operators, I also worked a couple of other interesting stations.

N1S, a special event station in Massachusetts at the Derby Wharf Lighthouse, US-224.

WA5DTK, operating aboard the battleship, USS Texas, located at San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in Texas.

W6PNG, operating from SOTA summit W6/WH-008, located at the north end of Death Valley in Southern California.

Radio used that day was my FT-897D, and the antenna was a 80m OCF Dipole up at 90'.  

Monday, 30 July 2018

Rocky Mountain Rendezvous 2018

Coming up this weekend....August 4 & 5 is this years Rocky Mountain Rendezvous which operates alongside the Colorado 14er Event.

From their website:

"Amateur Radio operators from around Colorado will be climbing many of Colorado's 14,000-foot mountains and Summits On The Air (SOTA) peaks to set up amateur radio stations in an effort to communicate with other radio amateurs across the state and around the world. Join in on the fun during the 27th annual event and see how many of the mountaintop stations you can contact. This year the event is expanded to include the entire weekend. However, many mountaintop activators will hit the trail early with the goal of being off the summits by noon due to lightning safety concerns."

I'm hoping to get out to Hay Bay and work a few using the clubs Field Day antennas.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Hay Bay

Hay Bay
Great day today out at the property at Hay Bay doing "Radio Stuff" with Rick, VE3ORY.

A few months ago I purchased a "Band Springer" portable antenna from SOTABeams in the UK......regardless of the "amazing reviews" on the SOTABeams website, I have never been able to get this antenna to work - AT ALL - so, I ended up with this wire antenna that just wouldn't tune on any band whatsoever.

A week ago I had an exchange of messages with Steve - WG0AT, about the wire antenna he uses on his SOTA activations.  It turns out that there was enough wire in the Band Springer antenna to remake it into a copy of Steve's antenna.

Rick and I got out the large tape measure and the Band Springer, and started to measure and cut it to Steve's antenna measurements.  Once it was cut and reassembled we hooked it up to analyzer and gave it a good checking over.  It works from 40m and up, and has a 3.1:1 SWR on every band, not good - but usable with a tuner.

My FT-879D was hooked up to it and we made three contacts in quick succession, K7V in Helena, MT; N4GNO in Alabaster, AL; and W9W in Oshkosh, WI.  All three gave me good signal reports after I asked for "true" reports instead of the standard "59", so I'm happy with this antenna.

For those interested in the details of the antenna, it was recut to a radiator of 41', a counterpoise of 17', and it uses a 9:1 unun.  In fact we cut two 17' counterpoises and used them both.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Not a bad day...

This years IARU HF Championship is over.  I didn't work at it too hard as I really wasn't feeling too well yesterday, but I had fun.

The day started with some pretty quiet bands, there seemed to be very few stations calling CQ, and I worked those fairly quickly putting all of the North American and Caribbean zones in the log.  Propagation was not good, just ok.  At 1300 UTC on the 14th July the SFI = 73, SN = 0, A Index = 6, and the K Index = 2.  Those figures stayed pretty much stable for most of the next 24 hours.

There was some deep QSB on the bands on Saturday, which of course always struck at the wrong time.  Stations being received at S9+ would just disappear in an instant.  And then there was my all time favourites causing issues....the tuner uppers !!!  Why these jerks haven't learned to move slightly off frequency to tune up is beyond me....and why do they take 5 minutes to tune ???

It was about 1500 UTC when the first European stations started to be heard on 20m, and only the guys running "too much power" could work them at first...which is a good thing because they were then out of the way for we low power mortals to get in there and work them.   This opening to the EU lasted about an hour and a half, and I managed to work a good number of EU stations with no trouble using my 80m OCF Dipole. The good news is that the EU stations came back with a vengeance starting at around 2300 UTC and lasted until I shut down around 0300 UTC.

Although I managed to work less stations than last year, I still managed to put 42 countries in my log, and I'm quite happy with that.  My antennas worked as expected and as advertised.  I mainly used the 80m OCF Dipole, but did use the vertical every now and then.  Stations were worked on 40m, 20m, and 15m.  I didn't hear a soul on 10m or 80m all contest.

Surprisingly this year I heard no African stations.  Normally Morocco and Cape Verde are in there with a number of stations, but I didn't hear them at all.

My only real complaint..besides the tuner for operators to slow down.  You need to leave some space in your endless CQ calls.  If you don't leave a space we can't get in there to answer you....and then we both miss a contact....oh yeah, and please us standard phonetics.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

2018 IARU HF Championship

Coming up this weekend, what should be one of the best DX contests of the year, the IARU HF Championships.  Hopefully the propagation will be decent and the bands will work as they should.  

The idea of the contest is to contact as many other amateurs, especially IARU member society HQ stations, around the world as possible using the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands......I doubt 10m will have much action this weekend, but you never know, stranger things have happened.

Dates for the event are from 1200 UTC 14th July to 1200 UTC on 15th July.

Rules for the event can be found HERE.

Plans here at the QTH are underway to get my 31' vertical up in the air, and my ground radials laid by Friday at the latest.  This will give me a 80m OCF dipole up at 40', a 148' inverted L longwire up at 50', and a multi band (40m through 10m) 31' vertical for the contest.  

Good luck to everyone taking part!!