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 me.....so 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 bad....at 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 night....you 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 highway....in 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 issue......it 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.  However.......as 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 good......in 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:  https://www.sota.org.uk/Association/VE3   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:

EN96
EN78
DN99
DO50
DO11
DN19
DO42
DN89
EN09
EN49
EN86
CN78

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 !!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

ARRL International DX Contest - SSB

Not a bad weekend on the bands, even if the propagation numbers were not the best.  We started off Friday night very slowly, contacts on 40m and 80m could be heard, but they where way down in the mud.  In fact it took about an hour before things got better, but for most of the weekend I had a S7 to S9 background noise.  They recently built two new houses across the road from me, and boy are they RF dirty!!

Saturday morning we awoke to SFI = 66, SN = 11, A Index = 6 and the K Index = 1, no different from the night before at 0000 UTC.

Given the late date in the current solar cycle there was lots of good DX to be had out there.  Both Saturday and Sunday the go-to bands where 15m and 20m.  The majority of my contacts where on 15m....I had a great run there.  Lots of EU and Russian stations in there as well as most of the Caribbean islands.   The EU stations where in there early in the morning and late in the afternoon, the remainder of the day it was the Caribbean and South Americans who kept me busy.  No new countries in the log this weekend though.

As usual, the downside was the usual large crop of "tuner-uppers" doing their business right on top of the DX - I guess these LIDS just don't know enough to move off frequency a couple of Kc and do it there.   On the plus side I didn't hear any band police out and about - how refreshing.

All-in-all a great weekend, over 200 contacts in the log, and now we wait for the last weekend of the month when we have the CQ WW WPX DX SSB Contest, and get to do it all over again.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Spring Plans.....

Well it's time to start planning another radio adventure!!!   In the planning stage is a trip out to the west coast following basically the same route as my last trip out in 2014.  That is, crossing the prairies using the Red Coat Trail.

It's a 1,300-Kiolometre (810 Mile) route that approximates the path taken in 1874 by the North-West Mounted Police across southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, in their quest to bring law and order to the Canadian West.

It's a very scenic and relaxing route that I think is far superior than the Trans-Canada Highway....mainly because of the lack of big trucks and the slow speeds on this route.  No rushing here.

Due to the early time of year I'm planning on travelling, none of the provincial parks or commercial campgrounds are open.  So, I have been having fun trying to find places to Boondock at along the way....not very easy let me tell you !!  Hopefully the RCMP know the difference between "Resting" and "Camping".

I'll be taking my portable HF radio gear with me, both QRO and QRP variants, and I'm looking forward to making some great contacts along the way, as well as some SOTA activations out in BC.....I'm also planning on setting up at a beach campsite, probably Jordon River on Vancouver Island, for a few days and working as much South Asian DX as I can get.   On the actual trip, both ways, I will be operating at night and handing out some very rare grid squares for those taking part in this years ARRL International Grid Chase.

Stay tuned for more details!!



Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Winter Field Day Wrap Up...

Overall it wasn't a bad weekend....it was just that the propagation Gods never came out to play.   At 1330 UTC on Saturday, the propagation numbers were:   SFI = 69, SN = 0, A Index = 8, and the K Index = 2.

What the numbers didn't tell us about was the very deep QSB and the extreme noise levels on the bands.  I had a constant S8+ on 40m all weekend for example.

It was extremely frustrating hearing the typical morning American "hemorrhoid nets" on 40m coming in at S9 +30db, while most of the stations calling CQ WFD where way below the noise floor, very hard to pull out, and all dealing with massive QSB.

My antenna for the weekend was a 31' vertical with two 31' elevated radials, and two 16' elevated radials, all into a 4:1 Balun.   This was mounted on the back deck of the cottage we where at.  On the Friday evening before the event kicked off I did manage to work an Italian - IK2BCP, and two Belgium stations,  OP2A and OP4U...all of whom had lovely signals.....then it all went to hell  for the Field Day.

Saturday morning started off poorly as I couldn't get the antenna to tune up very well...it was taking ages for the ATU to work and sort out the SWR.   It turned out that the collapsible mast had in fact collapsed overnight in the wind and I was working with a compromised antenna.  It took five minutes to fix that issue and we were back on the air.

It was very interesting to listen to the difference of WFD this year compared to WFD nine years ago. This year a good number of stations had large pileups, nine years ago you where lucky to hear anyone calling CQ WFD.

One thing that did get my blood boiling over was a W9 station calling for relays as he couldn't get the information off of some stations trying to work him.  Relays??  In a contest ?? Really ?? Hmmmm !!!

I heard very few Canadian stations on this weekend, it could have just been the conditions, as the event was well advertised.

So, a good weekend.....lots of good food, friends and a decent bottle of Scotch.  Thanks to Dennis VA3DOY for coming out and paying us a visit, and finding us a supper venue on Friday evening.  Who knew "uptown metropolitan Westport" was so up market ??

Thanks go out to the many stations who struggled to work us, as we struggled to work them.  See you back at it next year!!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

VE3 SOTA Update...

There's another update on the VE3 SOTA Association just been posted on their Blog.  It's available to read HERE.

By the look of things it seems we are getting very close to the first VE3 Activation Day which is fantastic news.

Some amateurs in VE3 land have been working for about 10 years to bring SOTA to our province, and it's thanks to the current crop that they were able to persuade the SOTA Management Committee to drop the 150m prominence requirement down to 100m.  If we were restricted to the p150, just about every available summit would have been located in Ontario North, and completely off the beaten track.  In other words it would have taken just about a whole two week vacation to do a simple activation.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Radio Amateur Society of Australia

Congratulations go out to the newly formed “Radio Amateur Society of Australia” (RASA).   
Their website (Click HERE) states that the organisation is made up of
active radio amateurs who want to see progress in their hobby, and that 
their primary efforts will be focused on improved education and 
awareness in the areas of regulation and administration, as well as
strong evidence based representation with their national
telecommunications regulator.

It’s great to see individuals standing up and making things right after years of abysmal performance by 
the Australian equivalent of RAC, the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA).  From articles available on 
the web it’s clear to see that many clubs feel disenfranchised with the WIA and feel there is a great need 
for change.

Much like here in Canada, many clubs also feel very disenfranchised with RAC.  We have questions too, 
what is RAC actually doing for clubs and club members?  Other than the public liability insurance, what 
value does a club (or its members) receive by being a member of an affiliated club?  Why don’t the 
membership have the pleasure of personally being able to cast a vote the RAC presidents position?

I’m sorry, but I expect a hell of a lot more for my annual membership subscription, especially at its 
current price, than what is on offer.

But, the big issue is the fact that RAC refuses to represent ALL amateurs in Canada.  They insist that if 
you’re not a paid up RAC member they do not represent you at any level.  There needs to be a lot more 
openness, accountability and leadership at the Executive level than what we see these days.

So, perhaps we need to take a leaf out go the RASA play book and form a new national Canadian amateur 
radio society, one that is not an old boys clique, or one filled with cronyism, and one that truly represents 
ALL Canadian amateurs, paid members or not.


Saturday, 13 January 2018

WFD 2018 - Getting Ready

I spent quite a bit of the afternoon sorting through portable radio gear getting things sorted out for this years Winter Field Day (WFD).......I didn't realize I have so much "stuff" !!

I have three antennas packed up and ready to go, a 31' vertical with a 4:1 Balun and two 31' radials, a 65' long wire with a 9:1 Balun, and a 17' collapsible whip, tripod mount and three 33' radials.  Those should cover all of my needs for the weekend.  I've used them all before on various outings and they all work very well, and have lots of great DX to their credit.  No need to change what works at this late date.

Two radios will make the trip with me, my FT-817ND and my FT-897D.  I received a BX-8x7 Dynamic Compressor kit V2.0 for Christmas.  This piece of gear works on the 817, 857, and the 897.  So far on the tests I have done this has lived up to its promise of pumping out an extra S Unit on transmit.  So hopefully the extra punch will help on the WFD weekend.

Two portable masts will be going with me, my MFJ 33' collapsible mast, and a 22' painter pole, along with a bag of rope and another one of bungy cords to make sure they stay up.

My shack, at the moment, has piles of gear scattered all over the floor, all waiting to be either stacked ready to go or to be put away, awaiting another suitable adventure.

There are four of us going to a cottage on Burridge Lake, near Westport, Ontario, for the event.  Hopefully the road will have been plowed before we attempt the journey.  I believe we will be using the VE3UCC callsign that belongs to the Upper Canada QRP Club, so give a listen for us.

Burridge Lake, north of Kingston.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Plans for 2018

Here we are in 2018 and wondering what surprises this year will bring.  I'm making my amateur radio plans for this year such as continuing my QRP operating, regardless of our place in the current solar cycle and continuing my portable antenna experimentation.

I'm continuing with the "do my own thing" agenda that I started back in October 2017.  I'm doing what I want to, when I want to do it....on my time and my space.  It's a healthy "no stress" way of living, and I feel a lot better for it.

The Sunday morning QRP group activities will continue as soon as the temperatures come out of the single digits and the snow disappears from the operating location at Lake Ontario Park.  This is an extremely relaxing time, lots of radio talk, lots of building portable antennas and lots of operating.  Just a great way to spend a Sunday....you guys should try it.

I still have a pile of islands that I want to activate and will definitely be taking part in Winter Field Day, the ILLW and the W/VE Island QSO Party.

I'm also leaning towards another long road trip home to the West Coast again this year if I can fit it in amongst everything else that needs to be done.

And as usual this year, I look forward to writing about my adventures....or lack thereof !!