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!!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Canada Day Contest

It's that time of year again.....the Canada Day Contest is just about upon us.   This year the timings are: 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC July 1, 2018.

This year I plan to operate from home, and I'm thinking of entering as QRP, but I'm not sure the bands will support that power level right now........I guess it will be a last minute decision depending on the propagation.......which hopefully will be half decent.

Rules for this years event can be found HERE.

Hope to work you all on the bands !!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Field Day 2018

As usual I made the trek out to VE3MNE's property on Hay Bay, about 48 kms west of Collins Bay for the annual ARRL Field Day event, and once again I was not disappointed.

The weather forecast was not looking too good.......we were expecting rain and wind all weekend.  In fact we had very little rain and the wind was just enough that we had far fewer mosquitoes than fact we hardly saw was great.   The rain didn't hit until after all the tents and tarps were taken down and stored away on Sunday afternoon. For most of the weekend the temperatures hovered about 16C.

For antennas we had the usual 80m and 160m OCF dipoles, both up at 80 feet.  We use a No. 19 set radio mast, made in 1942, for 40m and 15m and we laid down ten 16 foot ground radials for that antenna.  Our digital station used an 80m EFHW in a "sort of" inverted L configuration.  We also had to erect a 40 foot tower with a two element tri-bander, which worked fantastically.

Our wire antennas were all rebuilt over the spring and pre-tested before we strung them up.  Everyone of them had excellent swr, and a tuner seemed to be optional.

We did have some bleeding over on various bands, especially with our cw station, but we worked around it and it ended up not really being a problem for the site.

The bleeding over was an issue for me personally.  I have known for a while, thanks to my air force service and flying Chinooks, that my hearing is going.  This year it must have got much worse.  It was particularly hard for me to pick out calls through the hash and other interference you get during a large contest like event.   It's at the point I will probably go to field day as "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer", and hand the 40m station over to a younger ham.......the joys of getting older !!

Speaking of noise.....has anyone else noticed that most of the stations using the onboard voice recorders are S9 +20 when the recorder is calling CQ....but when you answer and the person at the other end responds to you they are -3db under the noise floor ??   What gives with that ??

So another field day ends and we start planning for next year.....

The 20m station with Mike, VE3MJD.
The 80m and 160m station of Don, VE3MNE.
Across the road from the property the wheat is starting to grow.
Last year Rick VE3ORY got flooded out.....this year he's fully prepared !!!!!

Jim VE3ULC working in the workshop.
Working on the beam.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

2018 Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour

This years edition of the Ottawa Bicycle Club's Rideau lakes Cycle Tour, the 47th year, was a great success.  We had no major incidents at all this year, which makes a pleasant change from some of the previous years.

The scene at Perth Road Village
This year the Ottawa Bike Club had 1800 riders registered for the tour, a bit down from past years.  The riders this year had absolutely perfect weather, we had blue skies and warm temperatures.  It was good to see many old friends providing support in the SAG and Repair vehicles, many we have known for 13 years now.

We had 10 communications posts in the Frontenac Region this weekend looking after two separate routes, and our initial call for volunteers was almost immediately over subscribed by our members.  

Plans are already being made for next years tour.

One of the many "Bikes" that stopped at Perth Road Village.

Friday, 8 June 2018

East Bound - Day 6

We're back to blue skies this morning and a 9C temperature.

This is the last day on the road, it's been a long trip.   I made a single 2m contact today with Bob, VE3YX, on the Point Alexander repeater.  We had a long QSO on my way down the valley, in fact all the way to Pembroke.

I had light traffic all day through the Ottawa, Madawaska, and Bonnechere Valleys.  In fact it was the most relaxing drive of the whole trip.

Over all it was a great trip.  I made many more 2m contacts than I did on the last trip 4 years ago.  My number of HF contacts was also higher, and I only had my FT-817ND with you just never know what is going to happen.

The final mileage for the completed trop was 10,202 km.

Next time I'm taking the train !!

East Bound - Day 5

The day started with rain and a temperature of 6C.......feels like -6C !!

Driving between Ignace and Upsala this morning a huge moose, the biggest one I've ever seen, calmly walked across the highway as everyone came to a screeching halt.

In my five trips across the country I have never seen so many deer, elk and moose on the highways as I did this trip.  They where everywhere.

The Thunder Bay 2m repeater was the only one on my route today, and no contacts were made on it.

Todays drive was through miles and miles of trees covering rolling hills, between the curves in the road and the animals you had to stay alert.

Heading for Sault Ste. Marie tonight.

Hwy 17 through North-West Ontario

Thursday, 7 June 2018

East Bound - Day 4

A different start to the day today, it was 17C but the sky was an angry black colour threatening rain....which it did for most of the day.

The drive saw me leave the prairies and enter the huge forests of north-western Ontario, which along with the massive rock formations made it a very interesting and scenic drive.

Only made one 2m contact today, that was with Gerry, VE4GCV, on the VE4WPG repeater in Winnipeg.  All the other repeaters were very quiet and I didn't hear a thing on them, in fact I'm sure a number of them are actually no longer on the air, but the repeater book still shows them as being active.

Today's final destination was Ignace, Ontario.  There's not much free camping around Ignace so hopefully I'll get there while there is still some light left so I can find a good spot to sleep.

Tomorrow I'm off to Salt Ste. Marie........getting closer to home!!

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

East Bound - Day 3

Today started at 13C and once again under beautiful clear blue skies.

So last night I won a piglet.......yeah, a real, live. piglet at a 4H Club raffle.  What does one do with a live piglet when you live in a city almost 4000 kms away?   Well, you donate it back to the club so somebody who can't afford one can finally have one to raise and look after.....which is, after all, one of the roles of the 4H Clubs.

I did ask that the piglet be named "Derek", in memory of Derek, VE3HRW, a member of our radio club who died of cancer shortly before I started on my trip.  Derek would have had a good laugh over that, and at the same time would be thrilled that in his memory we were helping a youngster out learning how to raise and take care of the piglet.

No 2m contacts were made today, but I only had repeaters in Arcola, Assiniboia, and Weyburn to give calls on.   There are not very many repeaters in southern Saskatchewan.

The final destination today was Brandon, Manitoba, where I will spend the night in a hotel...on a real bed....and visit with an old air force buddy.

Tomorrow it's off to Ignace, Ontario.

East Bound - Day 2

The day started at 5C under a nice blue sky......kinda cool this morning, but we are in the mountains.  There were very few people in Yahk Provincial Park last night, it's a fantastic little place, no showers and only pit toilets, but for $18 a night it isn't too least it was quiet.  It's right on the Movie River.

Moyie River a bit after sunrise.
The scenery was absolutely fantastic during the drive today, I seem to be buried in the mountains and have to look high up to see the peaks of the mountains around me.  Once again there are lots of deer on the highway, and you really need to keep a good lookout for them.

I made no 2m FM contacts in BC on the way home - the same as the last time I made this trip, but today I did make a contact on the Lethbridge repeater with Bruce, VE6ATY, and another with Kelly, VE6KRK in Medicine Hat.  Kelly and I had a QSO on the way to the coast, so it was nice to touch base with him again on the way home.

The destination tonight is Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, where I plan on staying at their municipal campsite.  I've been there before, it's a great site, clean hot showers and free wifi.  Oh yeah, it costs $15 a can't beat that!

Gull Lake, Saskatchewan.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

East Bound - Day 1

It's time to leave and head home.......always a difficult thing to do after a week with family.  It was 22C today under brilliant blue skies.

Elk on Highway 3
Final stop for today is Yahk Provincial Park, a little gem along the Moyie River.   There was very heavy traffic along Hwy 3 today with lots of Deer and Elk on the fact, more than I ever remember seeing before.  You needed 4 sets of eyes looking out today.

Highlight of the day was seeing 12 feet of snow at the top of the Salmo Summit at Kootenay Pass.  At  5,823 feet it was still pretty cool up there.

Calls were put out on the Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope, Oliver, and Creston repeaters along the way, but no contacts were made at all.

Tomorrow it's off to Gull Lake, Saskatchewan.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Island Activation....

I managed a single island activation during my time on the west coast, Barnston Island - BC055, was the lucky destination.

Barnston sits in the middle of the Fraser River between Pitt Meadows and Surrey.  Accessible only via a short, free, five minute ferry ride, it's a beautiful spot to spend a day.  I was there over six hours and never saw another person.

The final destination was Robert Point, a small park area at the western tip of the island.  Parking is almost non-existent, in fact I don't think there is supposed to be any parking at all, but I managed to find a small spot that I could squeeze in the van.

The radio of the day was my FT-817ND and I used my 17' collapsible MFJ whip antenna with two elevated counterpoises set for 20m.  It worked exactly as I practiced with in Kingston before I left, definitely a keeper.

The ferry stops around 2300 hrs local so I was able to work late into the evening and put over 30 contacts in my log, mainly communist China and Japan with the odd Canadian and US station.  Not too shabby for a QRP operation.

Overall it was a very relaxing day and I really enjoyed myself.  I'll definitely be back there on my next trip out west.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Day Eight......

The day starts out at 9C under a very cloudy sky.......rain on the way!!

Had to do a route change on the fly today as the flooding in south-central BC is quite bad.  I left Revelstoke and headed to Vernon and points south, eventually arriving at Highway 3 at the small town of Keremeos.

Flooding in Keremeos.
Lots of flooding of communities on the way down the Okanagan Valley.  The roads were good and mostly dry, but lots of municipal vehicles on the roads checking various flooding sites....and the army was out in force.

Gas was an expensive $1.55.9 per litre.

Made three 2m FM contacts today... Walter VE7BJB, and an old friend from Kingston, Tom VE7XTA surprised me on the Chilliwack repeater.  I was not expecting to hear Tom, but he was mobile and heading out of town for the long weekend.  I also made a contact with Bruce VE7TV in Abbotsford.

And so with 5005 km on the clock, we shut down the main engine for a week.

Day Seven....

The Three Sisters in Canmore
It was 15C under brilliant blue skies this morning.

Worked two stations on 2m FM today, Kelly VE6KRK who was driving around Medicine Hat in his work truck, and Rob VE6CCL in Calgary.  The repeaters in Canmore and Banff where both silent, as was the Lake Louise repeater.

There were spectacular views through the Canmore - Banff corridor, the Yoho Valley, and the Rogers and Kicking Horse passes.  Just a fantastic day.....just what I needed, mountain therapy.

Drove through lots of road construction today with lots of stopping for blasting as they widen the highway.

On to Day Six...

Today was not a good day.  It started out out OK, but things went a bit wonky.....

One 2m FM contact was made with Mike KM4OOC in Lignite, North Dakota, 129 km away.  Mike was monitoring the Arcola, SK, repeater.

About an hour into the trip I noticed that the van was pulling very hard to the right, and it was getting hard on the hands to keep it on the road.  I pulled over and checked the tires for a flat to see if that was the wasn't.

Eventually I had to make the decision to head to Moose Jaw and have the front end looked at.  A former army Commanding Officer of mine who lives in Moose Jaw, arranged an appointment with Kal Tire there, and off I went.

It turns out that my directional tires had been installed, two weeks earlier, backwards!!!!!  So, with 3300 km on them that mistake was discovered.  I also needed to get a front alignment done.  Needless to say I am still not a happy camper....but we're back on the road.

Onward to Day Five....

Started the day with 12C.....getting better each day...and once again no rain.  Lots to see today, I went from never ending evergreen trees to wide open prairies in a few hours.  There are so many huge farm vehicles on the road, I have never seen tractors that big before.

Passed the geographical centre of the country today.....a new milestone.

I made a couple of 2m contacts today coming through Dryden, Scott VE3EXT was mobile heading north to Sioux Lookout, and Woody VE3JJA down in Sioux Narrows.  Both these contacts were made on the VE3DRY repeater.  The guys in Dryden really have a great repeater system with a large covered area thanks to linked repeaters.

It seems that the Hadashville and Falcon Lake repeaters are now off the air.

The weather is holding up great this trip, none of the non-stop rain I had the last time I made a trip out west.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Day Four is Done...

It was another brisk -3C morning when I got on the road today, but the skies where a nice shade of blue.  Another day was spent travelling through miles of wheat fields, most of which were being plowed ready for the fall harvest.

No contacts were made today on the 2m repeaters along the route, even Winnipeg was quiet.

I did however pass a milestone, about 11:00 am local time I passed the geographic centre of the country, so I'm officially in Western Canada.

Tonight I'm camping at the Deleau-Sifton Centennial Campground in "Downtown" Deleau.  This is a very small village of three houses and 50,000 head of cattle.  The campground is free, but donations are welcomed, and is on the former ground of the village school which was demolished in 1965.

Off to Gull Lake Saskatchewan tomorrow, hopefully the repeaters will be a bit more active.

Deleau School before it was demolished.

The official sign in the middle of the country.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Day Three is done....

No contacts were made today at all.  I had no response on the Thunder Bay, Upsala, and Ignace repeaters.  Hopefully that will change tomorrow when I go through Dryden.

It was -3C in Wawa this morning when I woke up, in fact the local lake was still frozen!

Actually it was a pretty good drive today, except for gas being at $149.9 at most places.  The scenery around the top of Lake Superior is fantastic, the large rock formations really have to be seen.  Lots of ice still out on the big lake.

It's a quiet night here in Ignace, and tomorrow we're off to Deleau, Manitoba.

Day Two is done...

What a day !!!

Only one contact was made today, that was with Dave VE3EGC, in Echo Bay.  I reached him on the VE3SJI repeater on St. Joseph's Island.  I actually called in to see him and Jackie his XYL, and was treated to great coffee and fresh home made muffins.  For those of you who do not know Dave, he's the regular net controller on the 40m Trans-Provincial Net on Monday and Tuesday, between 10 and 11 am, on 7.100.

After that visit the day went to hell.  I continued down Hwy 17 and went through Sault Ste Marie and eventually reached Batchawana Bay where the traffic was at a complete stop, and had been for about 12 hours at that point.  Apparently a very large road culvert had collapsed and a huge sinkhole had opened up and completely closed the highway in both directions between Wawa and Batchawana Bay.  The local police did not expect the highway to open again for at least 24 and perhaps 48 hours.

What to do?  Well, after about another hour of waiting to hear something the large trucks started to be turned around to head back to Sault Ste Marie to a large truck stop. I was standing on the side of the highway wondering if I should just turn around and go home, and truck pulled up alongside me and the driver asked where I was going, so I told him.  He said "follow me, I know a detour"......and we were off!!

What followed was a 5.5 hour, 490 km mystery tour of the Northern Ontario bush.   I followed the truck back down the highway to Thessalon, and the followed him north on Highway 129 to Chapleau.  Highway 129 may officially be called a highway, but the term "Goat track" actually comes to mind.  Once we reached Chapleau we turned west on Highway 101 and eventually reached Wawa via the back way.   Along the way several of Ontario's largest inhabitants were seen (we actually saw 6 of them along the way).....lucky for me the truck was leading the way as I didn't want to hit one if it came onto the highway.

A family of Moose crossing the highway.

It was nice to find a spot to sleep that night, it was a really long day.

The detour route we took.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Day One Is Done.....

Let me start by saying.....not a drop of rain was to seen today !!!  It wasn't very warm, in fact it was only 5C when I started and didn't get much higher than that for most of the day. BUT.....the skies where a beautiful shade of blue.

I was also fortunate to have had very light traffic through the Madawaska and Ottawa Valley's, it wasn't until I neared Sudbury that the traffic increased.

2m activity today was also pretty fact a 400% improvement from four years ago when I did this trip.  Four contacts today, 2 made on the VE3FRG repeater in South Frontenac when I was north of Napanee.  Don VE3MNE and John VE3WTN both answered my call.  I put another call out on the VE3UCR repeater at Foymount, and was rewarded by a call from Irv, VA3IRV.  The last contact of the day was with Rusty VE3WVA on the VE3RMI repeater on Manitoulin Island.  Thanks for helping me pass some time on the trip guys !!

It was a 750 km day today, done in 8.5 hours, and I ended up in Blind River for the night.  Tomorrow it's off to Terrace Bay, so a shorter day on the road.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Two days to go........

It was a well spent afternoon today, two hours and 110 repeater frequencies inputted later, the 2m rig in the van is now programmed and ready to go.  It's interesting that I'm following exactly the same route as I did four years ago, and it was 137 repeaters then.....somewhere we seem to have lost 27 repeaters.

Bunk installed
The van is serviced and ready to roll.  I have the same bunk in there that I had in the back of my old pickup truck.  It fits perfectly, in fact I have a lot more room in the van than I had in the truck.

I think part of the reason I have so much room in the van is that I'm taking about a quarter of what I took last time.  The camping equipment has been cut to the bone, and the radio gear has been cut back and put in three small ammo cans.

Antenna wise I'm taking my Buddipole system, my 31' multi-band vertical, and my SOTA Bandspringer, as well as a 2m roll up J-pole.  I figure they will cover any thing I want to do.

Last Sunday was spent checking out the radio gear and antennas.  Everything looks good, so hopefully a lot of contacts will be made this year,......well, we will if the propagation improves!!

Tomorrow we will get the rest of the gear loaded into the van, and make sure there's enough room to live back there with the gear loaded.

Jim VE3ULC & Rick VE3ORY working on my radio gear
and antennas to make sure everything works.

Friday, 27 April 2018

The 2018 Western DXpedition…..preparations continue

There are fifteen days left till I leave on this years version of the great western adventure and I've been pretty busy getting the van, radios, and camping equipment sorted out and ready to go.

The long range weather forecast does not look the best, but the last time I did this trip in 2014 it rained nearly the whole way, so I expect this year to be not much different.  In fact I'm expecting snow on the first night on the road.

I have my FT-897D and my FT-817ND ready to go in their Go-Boxes, along with the LDG tuner.  Power for the radio will be provided by a 12v 82 amp deep cycle battery that will be kept topped up with a solar panel.   

The plan is to operate portable each night from my campsite, and I'm especially looking forward to seeing where I can send a signal once I get out west.

Mounted in my truck I have an FT-8800, and all the repeaters along the routes I will be taking are already programmed in it.  Once again, much like in 2014 - the last time I did this trip, finding all of those repeaters took quite a bit of research as no matter what list you find on Google or Repeater Book, you'll find another one tomorrow with different frequencies, different off-sets, and totally different PL tones.  Just like last time I had to search out each local club on line and use what their websites listed, and it’s amazing how many of those club links now lead to “Error 404” messages.

For HF antennas, I'm taking three.  The first one is my portable 31' Chillycon Special, and the second one is my Buddipole system.  I've also packed a 66' long wire and a 9:1 balun.  These antennas should do me just fine in my quest for DX.

There are a few more things to pick up this week, such as my CAA package, and some Blue Cross coverage….just in case.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Durham Radio

I have just received this sad news.....

"We regret to inform you that Durham Radio Sales & Service Inc. after nearly a 25 years in the industry - closed its doors forever at 3:00 PM on Saturday, April 14th. We would like to thank our dedicated staff, loyal customers and friends for your continued support and for many great years in this hobby. Unfortunately, times have changed and it has become impossible to remain competitive in this industry without making drastic changes to our business model. We have decided that it would be better to close the business rather than change the products we carry and reduce customer service.

If you need product support please contact the manufacturer.  If you've recently ordered something and it did not arrive, please track your shipment to make sure it's on the way. If tracking is not available please contact your credit card company for a refund.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

QRP to the Field 2018

QRP to the Field is an annual operating event to encourage QRPers and SOTA stations to get out of the house and operate portable from the field or a local summit.  Find a nice operating location for yourself, or combine it with some buddies for a day-long adventure. QRPTTF encourages participation by QRP hams of all skill levels. 

Both CW and SSB is used in this event.  CW speeds are usually in the 13-20 wpm range. 

It takes place Saturday, April 21, 0800 to 1800 EDT.

The event uses the standard QRP frequencies, and the Nebraska, Michigan, and Ontario QSO Parties are being held the same weekend, so there should be lots of traffic to work.

For more details see HERE.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Great News....CQ SOTA!!

Summits on the Air (SOTA) is coming to VE3 land !!!   Starting on the 1st April the VE3 SOTA Association becomes active.

This has been a long time coming.  The process was started 10 years ago by Martin VA3SIE, and finally we've got there.

There will be around 1000 summits available for activation, the majority of them up in North-West and North-East Ontario.  But.... there are over 100 available in Southern and Eastern Ontario.

This is the URL that will hold the VE3 Summit Date:   It will not be active until 0001 on April 1st.......and that's not an April Fool's Joke !!

Friday, 23 March 2018

The 2018 Western DXpedition...

In a previous posting I mentioned that I would be operating at night from some pretty rare grids during my trip.  This may be of interest to those of you taking part in this years ARRL International Grid Chase.

Hopefully these will be of some interest to those chasing Grids.  Some of these are in the middle of "nowhere", and probably haven't been activated in decades, if ever.  The ham population in some of these grids is zero.

I have checked the ARRL site to see if any of these grids have been activated for the Grid Chase, and most of them are shown as having zero contacts so far.  So this trip will be a good opportunity to get them on the air.

Those Grids will be:


My plan is to operate during the evening from my campsite using wire antennas and my Buddipole system.  I'll also be on battery power, so I will operate as long as the battery lasts.    I'll post a few frequencies here before the departure date in May.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

VE3FI and 60m

Just a general statement here:

I do not now, or in the past, have an antenna that will load up on 60m.  Today I received over 20 eQSL's from European stations looking for confirmation of QSO's last February.

If it was just one or two eQSL's I would write it off as honest screwups when entering the call sign in their logs......but 20+....Hmmmm!!

So, if you had a 60m QSO last February with a station using the VE3FI callsign, I can 100% guarantee that you where not talking to the real VE3FI.

Apparently Long John Silver lives !!