Posts Tagged ‘SPAR Winter Field Day’

Spar Winter Field Day 2014 #hamradio

December 31, 2013

sparlogo(The following is from the SPAR Website but the added winter operating pictures are from previous winter blog posts )

Society for the Preservation of Amateur Radio

SPAR Announces Winter Field Day 2014


Not only during Field Day in June, do the bands come alive with improvised signals proving the ability to respond to emergencies. Since emergencies and natural disasters don’t always happen in the summer, during Winter Field Day, frigid winds, icy limbs and bitter cold replace the thunderstorms and blistering heat of summer.


In 2007 SPAR established a Winter Field Day event and invited all AmateurRadio operators to participate. The event was repeated in 2008 and was considered a success, so it was then designated an annual event to be held the last full weekend each January. In 2007 – 2013 the event was enjoyed by many, but it is time to issue the invitation for the Sixth Annual SPAR Winter Field Day!


The 2014 Winter Field Day will be held from 1700 UTC (12:00 noon EST) Saturday January 25, 2014 through 1700 UTC (12:00 noon EST) Sunday January 26, 2014. The object of the event is familiar to most Amateur Radio operators: set up emergency-style communications and make as many contacts as possible during the 24 hour period.


The rules encourage as many contacts on as many bands and modes as possible, because during a real emergency, the most important factor is the ability to communicate, regardless of band, mode or distance.


The official rules can be found at the SPAR web site. The event is open to all amateurs, although we encourage everyone to join in the discussions and other activities sponsored by SPAR. Information about SPAR can be found on the SPAR Home Page.


Membership is free and open to all amateurs who want to encourage technical and operating skills. You can register by going to the SPAR Forum and registering, using your amateur callsign as your user name.


Please join with SPAR in promoting amateur radio and keeping our bands alive!


I will be operating for for the daytime hours of the event… Not fussy about freezing and since my Doctor has me on blood thinners (has something to do with the NO CHEST PAINS tweets I make now and again) I really feel the cold more than I used to…


And one year I even froze my radio so I have to watch the minimum temps of the day


Looking back at Field Day 2013

December 20, 2013

Its almost Christmas so it must be time to talk about Field Day… Actually it would be more in season to talk about Winter Field Day which will be coming up sooner but…  Once you read my offering you will see what I am talking about…


It seems that every time I talk to a non QRP’er about an event or a result I seem to hear the same old line…

“Lifes too short for QRP” and normally used in the same sentence is “Go big or go home”…

So rather than argue about it I just thought I would let some very well documented facts speak for themselves in this matter…  They are not being presented to argue about… They are just being presented to prove a point….


All data presented here comes from the ARRL Results Database for Field Day 2013


Canadian Results

VO1/VO2- Newfoundland and Labrador-  3 stations- 1 QRP- QRP Station came in 2nd overall in section

VA1/VE1/VE9/VY2- Maritimes- 5 stations- 0 QRP

VA2/VE2 Quebec- 23 stations- 3 QRP- QRP station came in 7th overall in section


VA3/VE3 Ontario East (ONE) 16 stations- 4 QRP stations- QRP stations came in 1st and 2nd overall in section

VA3/VE3 Ontario North (ONN) 3 stations – 2 QRP stations- QRP stations came in 2nd and 3rd overall in section

VA3/VE3 Ontario South (ONS) 21 stations- 4 QRP stations- QRP Station came in 9th overall in section

VA3/VE3 Ontario (GTA ) 8 stations- 2 QRP stations- QRP Stations came in 3rd and 6th overall in section


VA4/VE4 Manitoba- 3 Stations – 0 QRP

VA5/VE5 Saskatchewan- 4 stations – 1 QRP- QRP Station finished 4th overall in section

VA6/VE6 Alberta- 9 stations- 2 QRP - QRP Stations finished 1st and 6th overall in section

VA7/VE7 British Columbia- 29 stations- 3 QRP- QRP Station finished 9th overall in section

According to the Results Database there were no entries received from the Northern Territories this year (VY1/VE8/VY0)  I know there were some participating but for whatever reason their Logs were not in the database…  The same could be said for the rest of the Sections that a group did not submit their logs which could change what I am trying to say here… But here goes….


With the information that we have at hand you have to agree that the QRP Stations (5w maximum output) seemed to hold their own against the 100w and higher power stations…


And in a few sections actually showed that “Size did not matter”….

QRP… Doing more with less….


Too cold for the Winter Field Day???

January 22, 2013

Well it might be….

If you check the Weather Network Website you will see that the best guess (prediction, forecast) for Saturday Jan 26th is a high of -14c and a low of -21c with a windchill of -23c


Now if you check the owners manual for the Yaesu FT 817 you find that -10c is the low end of the operating temps so I will be taking my radio out in conditions approximately 10 deg C colder than the good people at Yaesu recommend.  Now because years ago I did go out in the cold ( look way back here )  I know what can happen….

AGAIN SORRY… I hit publish instead of preview so….  Here is the rest of the post


So seeing that I have proven once you can freeze a radio (but not the operator) I am having some concerns about trying it again.  Granted I am thinking of replacing my FT 817 with a KX3 but I’m not sure  if I want to take a chance…  I still have a use for the FT 817 so….

I will be watching the weather predictions very closely before I commit to heading out


Almost forgot…..

January 18, 2013

I’ve been talking about the North American QSO Party and the SPAR Winter Field Day and the FYBO and totally forgot about the ARRL January VHF Contest which is happening this  coming weekend (Jan 19-21 2013)


You might notice that this year the NAQP and the VHF Contest overlap a bit which means that if the HF bands are dropping off for you then you can also try some VHF contacts and have twice as much fun… 


For me (so far) the weather is looking good in Ottawa with a warm front coming in that will bring a little bit of snow but also temps just below the freezing mark.  I am thinking of spending a couple of hours out in the local park with my FT817 on Saturday afternoon and give out some contacts  in both contests.


Later in the evening I will be at home and raise up the power and give out a few more contacts at the 100w setting of my FT 450.


If the weather person is incorrect (guessed wrong) then it will be 100 w from home for both contests…

Hope you get to participate from somewhere and also have lots of fun…


Winter Field Day and FYBO thoughts

January 15, 2013

sparlogoWhile we are getting ready to participate in the SPAR Winter Field Day and the Arizona Scorpions FYBO

Why not follow this link…

…and check out a website about some people (crazy people) who are taking this to extreme levels.  I was pleased to see that they are using HF Communications  (   )as a backup as well but I’m not sure if I would want to run outside to stretch out the dipole if it was needed…


tongue_stuck99The big question would be in the FYBO where you get a multiplier for the temp at the operators position (lower the temp the bigger the multi) what sort of multi would you get for operating at -90 dec C?


Check out the website it does make for good reading


Some upcoming Portable events

January 9, 2013

Coming soon to an outdoor location hopefully close to you….


Saturday Jan 26-


This event can be a fun event if you plan things right…  I normally operate this event and I bring a larger than normal battery (usually about 10ah) to keep the FT 817 pumping out its massive 5w  of power into the atmosphere.


The radio does not need that much as most likely I will run out of warmth before the battery runs low on amps but its easier to carry a slightly larger battery than run home if the bands are open for a 2nd battery…


Remember as you are operating portable its often easier to carry more than run back…  So far there is a few operators thinking of joining me so it should be fun as it has been lots of fun in previous years.


Now remember the WFD is not a QRP event but I chose to operate QRP because I don’t see me dragging a sled with my FT450 and a 100ah marine battery to the park and back…


Its much easier to carry my QRP Station in my backpack especially as I don’t know how long I can operate for depending on the WX conditions


Saturday Feb 2

The ” FYBO”

This event is much the same as the WFD except that this event is QRP (mostly CW but they do tolerate SSB).  If you follow the links to the rules you will also notice that your operating temps are part as your multipliers.  This mean that the colder temps you have the highter multi you get…


So when I can only sit on the parkbench for two hours while freezing here in Ottawa I can make as many points as someone basking in the sun in Florida on the beach for 5 or 6 hours.  Its make things a bit more interesting…


However I would prefer to be warm for the 6 hours….


Both events can be lots of fun in you prepare for it…  Dress warm….  Dress in layers and remember if you think you are starting to feel the cold…  you are …. and its time to find someplace warm BEFORE Hypothermia sets in….


There will be more on these events in the near future….


DISCLAIMERIf you chose to operate in either of these events remember that it can get cold out there and hypothermia can set in very easily.  Dress for the conditions and then add a couple extra layers….  USE COMMON SENSE…. and operate within your comfort zone.    Most of the  pictures I have shown you (above) were taken in a few different City Parks and all were within either a 5 minute walk to a Starbucks or a Tim Hortons so we could all warm up very quickly.  Please be careful out there and with all outdoor activities you participate at your own risk… 


KX3 testing

January 6, 2013

What a great way to start out the 2013 Portable Radio Season

Well it was sunny and warm…  Warm being the relative term…  It was around -8 deg c  in the sun if you were out of the wind…  Recently Jose VA3PCJ and myself have had to cancel our plans for an RF outing for many reasons but most of them were weather related so we figured that it would not get much better than this…

One thing we did find out is that our favourite operating location at the Mer Blue Swamp was swamped…  It seems many more people snowshoe and Cross Country Ski than just walk the nature trails…  The parking lot was packed and we ended going back into town and setting up in a public school parking lot… 


Photo courtesy VA3PCJ

This worked out fairly well with the snowbanks ( about 6 feet high approx) giving us a reasonable wind break from the south and east.  There were houses to the north of us  and we were open to the west where we got the most benefit from the sun which made the operating tolerable.


The rig of the day was the Elecraft KX3 along with the Par end fed QRP antenna.


Photo courtesy VA3PCJ

This is the 10-20-40m qrp version but it will work on 12-15-17m with the excellent auto tuner in the KX3.  The antenna today was in a vertical configuration as we were using the 43 foot telescopic pole that normally supports the S9 vertical that Jose would be using.  It supported the Par just as well…


After getting everything set up I made a contact with Shawn VE3PSV who lives in Cambridge Ontario on 7.055 ssb which is the frequency (as you know from earlier posts) for the Trans Provincial Net.    The second contact was made with Nick VE3NJG on 7.055 who lives in London Ontario.  Concidering where I was and the fact I was running 5w into a vertical I was very pleased with the reports…

I then QSY’d over to 14.342.5 usb and started calling CQ on the HF Pack calling frequency and got an immediate response from W0MNA   in Leavenworth Kansas who also was using a KX3.  Gary also had a  FT 817 and so we had a qreat QSO discussing the pros and cons of both rigs.  Discussions aside this was also a QRP to QRP ssb QSO of a distance of just over 1000 miles or 1600 kms.  Not too bad for a day with not the best band conditons…

My second contact was with a Florida station whose call I got written down wrong .  He was a solid S5 and was also a QRP Station.  I could of sworn I had the call right but… Not according to at least.  Its been a while since I have done any portable logging in the cold.  Guess I just found another thing to work on…

We also heard WB4GCF on 17m and W7KDL on 10m but the conditions were not the best and all I can give them is a SWL report as we could not make the contacts.

About an hour after we started setting up the sun started to drop and with the temps quickly dropped and so we packed up and headed back home…


So far after 3 test drives I can only say good things about the KX3.  Great Filtering and no one has complained about my audio so far…  Thinking this might become part of my shack before the summer…  I am a bit concerned about the minor issues with the quality of the audio from the internal speaker.  I am hoping this is a fixable issue.  Its not a deal breaker but it is annoying…


On another topic for a second…   It seems that LoTW is getting back up to speed again.  I now have 102 confirmed DXCC out of 147 claimed in the log.  The only missing QSOs for me are the ones I made on December 29th when I was giving out contacts in the RAC Canada Winter Contest.  Still wish my remaining 9 states (which are in the log) would confirm so I could apply for my WAS at the same time that I apply for my Mixed DXCC.


Its been a while since I had a chance to get out and play radio…  Although I almost froze…

I guess its time I got used to Winter Operating again…It  was fun and also good practice for the upcoming SPAR Winter Field Day


Don’t forget to RTFM

January 2, 2013

Thats right…


Read the manual….

Coming up in the near future we have the SPAR Winter Field Day and some of the more Hearty (or stupid types like me) Operators will be heading out into the Field to show off what they can do….


This got me thinking back to my first SPAR Winter Field day  (Jan 2009)  when I made the following blog post after the unsuccessful event…


Now seeing that I had taken the time to get the equipment all set up for the Winter Field Day and I had taken the time to get myself all dressed up nice and warm for the Winter Field Day you think that I might of remembered to check the manual for the radio to see how much cold the radio can take…

If I had I would of seen the following:


Operating Temp. Range : -10 C to +60 C(+14 F to +140 F)


This lets me know that I was operating approximately 15 degrees Celcius below what Yaesu recommends for operating temps.  It was close to -25 deg Celicus in Hutton Park today…

That could explain why the transmit gave out and the receive gave out and to be honest nothing worked…

So in reality I got dressed up in my warmest togs and walked for 15 minutes to get to the park, to set up a 20m vertical delta loop (which seemed to work) just to be able to freeze up  my radio and then take down all the equipment and then walk back….

And to add insult to injury the two videos I recorded at the park to show you how everything was set up did not turn out.  I guess the camera has a minimum operating temp as well…  The first vid taken just as was leaving my QTH turned out and the video taken once I had unpacked everything at home turned out just the two taken at the park did not work….

Murphy wins this round!


Now I was lucky on that day as the FT817 and my video camera both defrosted with no major issues and are both still working 4 years later but….  Be careful out there with your toys as (it came as a shock to me) it can be actually too cold to play radio


Because Emergencies don’t always happen in nice weather

November 7, 2012




I found this reminder on line this am…  It gives you a little over 2 months to remember where you packed your long johns and brace yourself for operating a radio in the great (but cold) outdoors…

The 2013 Win­ter Field Day will be held from 1700 UTC (12:00 noon EST) Sat­ur­day Jan­u­ary 26, 2013 through 1700 UTC (12:00 noon EST) Sun­day Jan­u­ary 27, 2013. The object of the event is famil­iar to most Ama­teur Radio oper­a­tors: set up emergency-style com­mu­ni­ca­tions and make as many con­tacts as pos­si­ble dur­ing the 24 hour period. The rules encour­age as many con­tacts on as many bands and modes as pos­si­ble, because dur­ing a real emer­gency, the most impor­tant fac­tor is the abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate, regard­less of band, mode or distance

Not only dur­ing Field Day in June, do the bands come alive with impro­vised sig­nals prov­ing the abil­ity to respond to emer­gen­cies. Since emer­gen­cies and nat­ural dis­as­ters don’t always hap­pen in the sum­mer, dur­ing Win­ter Field Day, frigid winds, icy limbs and bit­ter cold replace the thun­der­storms and blis­ter­ing heat of sum­mer. In 2007 SPAR estab­lished a Win­ter Field Day event and invited all Ama­teur Radio oper­a­tors to par­tic­i­pate. The event was repeated in 2008 and was con­sid­ered a suc­cess, so it was then des­ig­nated an annual event to be held the last full week­end each Jan­u­ary. In 2007 — 2012 the event was enjoyed by many, but it is time to issue the invi­ta­tion for the Sixth Annual SPAR Win­ter Field Day!

For more info on the SPAR Winter Field Day please go to:

Some hardy Ottawa Area Radio Operators have been participating in the Winter Field Day for many years now…

Here are some photos from over the years…



SPAR Winter Field Day 2012 for VA3RCS and VA3QV

January 29, 2012

Its getting close to the end of the event…  but for me it was a fun day so it was a good day…

Thanks to SPAR for running the event.

Although its my traditional lousy picture…. I might have a “Smart Phone” but the operator is still me so its a lousy picture…  Shown is the Park Bench I was operating as VA3RCS from on Saturday.  The City removed the Picnic Tables for the winter so I needed to use the park bench.  The black bag is an old padded camera bag I got at a yardsale and my complete portable station fits inside it.  On top of the bag is my FT817/LDG QRP Autotuner combo and the 10ah battery was inside the camera bag in an attempt to keep it warm.  Being secured with a Bungee Cord to the park bench is one end of my Par End Fedz QRP (10-20-40m) end fed long wire.  It will work on 15m (along with 12 and 17) using the autotuner but was not used on those bands yesterday.  The purple thingy is just a padded device I use to insulate my butt from the cold wooden park bench…  its called a cushion…  The tree I mention later in the post is just out of picture range to the left of the cushion…

Anyway if you  check yesterdays posting   you know where I operated from and that I operated as VA3RCS for the event…

Heres what happened at Weston Park operating as VA3RCS ….

I departed my home at about 1115hrs EST and walked over to the park.  Its been a while since I’ve been there and I found out that this year the City removed the picnic tables for the winter time…  Oh Well ….  they used to be there….  The Park Benches are not removable so I still had someplace to operate from… 

I got my weighted line over a tree line about 35 feet or so up.  When I swung the bottom end of the antenna over to the park bench the line was tight so all was good.  The antenna was mostly in  a vertical configuration with very slight sloper aimed south west.  The SWR was good and the tuner not needed so as the time approached 12 noon EST which was the start of the Winter Field Day all was good…

In hindsite it might of been a smarter move to start a hour or so after the contest started as most of the operators were having a bit of a problem with the exchanges (especially the honest signal report and getting the temps right as some were in F and others were using C).  It did make the pileups longer as some just had a great problem hearing the reports.  This I really find confusing as every time I operate from a park location I seem to find a very quiet location to work from…  Hearing the stations is never a problem…  getting them to hear my QRP Signal sometimes is a problem…  Can’t understand why someone setting up in a portable location would pick a noisy location to play from…  Maybe its just me…

Anyway….  I started to call CQ and my first contact was on 40m was wtih WG3J (Eric in MD) and he had a great signal.  He gave his temp as 45deg F so for him its more like a “Spring Field Day” compared to us up here…  I also managed to work Eric on 20m later that hour…  I also managed to check in with Shawn VE3PSV who was running the Trans Provincal Net and got all the details for the exchange from him.  I also managed to work N8UO (Warren in Minnesota) who at a balmy 23 deg F was even colder than my temp here in Ottawa (0 deg C)…  Along with a local contact on 2m thats about as good as it got here in the park and the reason for that was…

The last few days in Ottawa we have had a mixed bag of weather…  Freezing Rain and snow….  The branches of the trees were covered with freezing rain and now in the afternoon the sun was coming out and warming things up slightly…  Normally this would of been fantastic for a winter outing but my park bench (along with all the other park benches) seem to be underneath trees.  Something about shade for the summertime I guess….  But now the branches are warming up and the ice is melting…  Its like operating in the rain…  My log book is getting wet…  I am getting wet and I am forced to take off the outer shell of my coat to keep the radio dry…  Then the wind blows….  Its like being in an ice storm all over again…  Pieces of Ice falling all around and also on top of me and for some silly reason I have no hardhat in my go kit…

At this point I’ve been outside for about 90 minutes so far and am starting to lose my sense of humour…  I’m not really freezing yet and the batteries are still good  but …  enough is enough….  So I pack up and head home….  After stopping for a coffee at Starbucks I’m back home warm and dry just after 1400 eastern…  I put the gear away after drying it and then had to head out for some non amateur stuff.  Returned about 1600 and got back on the air under the VA3QV call.

My score (as silly as it seems )was not too bad for less than two hours…

Operating as VA3RCS  Class 1 O  operating temp 0 deg c

5 contacts on 3 bands for a total of 15 points.

1000 pt bonus for operating outdoors

1000 pt bonus for operating from a park

1000 pt bonus for operating battery power

Gave me a whopping score of 3015 points.  Which is not a bad score till you figure that if I did not make a contact I still would of made 3000 points…  Oh well it was fun till the tree leaked…

 Now its operating time for VA3QV…  After heading back home I found myself back in the shack…  I spun the dial on 40m and managed to find VE3OKV operating Winter Field Day  for the Oakville ARCI then jumped up to 20m and worked VE3JJF in KenoraJustin VE3XTI was the radio operator and they were in an Ice Fishing shack on Lake of the Woods.  It sounded like they were having a great time.  I also managed to work VE3JJF on 80m later in the evening at a distance of just under 1500kms . 

Although i don’t think they were part of the contest I did also manage to work  HK0NA  into the log on 20m.  This makes the third band for me with this DXPeditions with earlier contacts on 80m and 17m

Operating as VA3QV I was just trying to give out contacts for the Winter Field Day but it seems the bands were starting to close up…  Not hearing much on 20 and 40 was open for DX but nothing close in I decided to call it a night and shut down… 

Sunday morning I went hunting for Bill VE3CLQ who was participating in WFD with the Frontenac ARES Group.  I was able to work their station on 40m…  but missed Bill as he was operating 20m at the time and the distance between Ottawa and Kingston was a little short for a 20m contact.

So all in all (despite the ice falling on me) it was a great weekend for radio…  How was your weekend…



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