A new arrival for the mobile

Even though the HF bands would have to improve about 99% to be considered bad…  I had a chance to pick up (locally) some gear that I had been looking at on line and at a cheaper price (as it was used) so for me it was a win-win situation.

Here is the most important part of my new mobile antenna:

Its a Wolf River Silver Bullet Mini.  Its a 10-40m coil that works quite nicely with a standard 102 inch stainless steel whip.  For way more info please visit the Wolf River Website and check out all their info.

Basically you slide the collar up and down the coil for maximum noise for the frequency you wish to operate on and (in my case) hit the auto tune button on the FT 450 and we will be good to go.  If you are a purist then slightly adjust the collar after that for the lowest SWR.  I have heard lots of good things from people who have used this line of equipment and if I get 1/2 the results of what I have heard then I will be a very happy person.  The timeline is to get the 10-40m version mounted on my pickup along with the FT450 installed and then try things out.  If it performs as I have heard it should I will buy the Silver Bullet 1000 (10-80) and keep the mini as a backup.

I really just want multi band coverage (and really don’t want to be swapping out hamsticks)  when travelling around the Country when Liz tells me its time to replace the trailer we recently sold.  I figure on 40m and 80m will be the two money bands but if we make the anticipated trip out to VE7Land then suddenly 15 and 20 become a lot more important.

I got all the pieces (mount, coil, whip and coax) now all I got to do is put them all together on the truck and then install the radio.

I’m looking foreward to the challenge.

73bob

 

 

A few changes here

Nothing too earth shattering but there have been a couple of changes here both in the RF Department and the RV side of things….

First of all my Yaesu Fusion Node is off the air….  Windows did an automatic update and now the Node software is not functioning.  I’m guessing that a re install is needed but at this time I just don’t feel like jumping through the hoops a 2nd time.  I’m hoping that re installing the drivers will make it all work again…  It does however make me wonder IF there might be a more stable operating system to do this on….  I am the first to admit I use computers in my hobby but they are far from being my hobby.  ….  It will be back sometime (and I hope soon) but there is lots going on in my life at this time (all good) but time management is starting to be an issue…..

And the last change is that on Saturday evening I sold (after consulting with my daughter Erika) our trailer.  It has left on the next great adventure in its life to become part of a hunting camp along with being a portable ham radio shack as yes….  I did sell it to a ham radio operator from Ottawa.  I have no doubts that I will be seeing it again at a field day site as it was at field day 2016 that the new owner  saw it for the first time and I still enjoy playing radio with that field day group so…..  I do look forward to seeing the modifications he has planned for it.

Now I am not giving up on the RV Lifestyle but rather just getting ready for a newer rig.  It might be in the spring or the late summer depending on how much time I can recover as this weird thing we call “Life” progresses.  Not much point in getting the new(er) rig if we don’t (can’t) find the time to enjoy it….

More on all of this later

Safe Travels and best 73

Bob

Operating with a “Stealthy” #HF #hamradio Antenna

Antenna Restrictions-  The ability of a Condo Board, HOA agreement, Landlord or Property Owner to limit the ways we can enjoy our hobby.  Sometimes even local goverments will try and interfere as well…. Normally these restrictions tell us as the resident what we can do with the outside of our living space.  However normally there are ways to circumvent the restriction although we might have to think outside of the box.  In most cases these are just rules that you can’t attach anything to the outside of the residence or to any of the “common ground” areas of the property

Stealth Antenna– My defination of a Stealth Antenna is an antenna that is up 24/7 and is very disguised (hidden) in such a way that you can operate when you want to.  I will give you some examples later.

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Portable Antennas- Antennas that can be used as they are not attached to the property.  Buddipoles or any other antenna which could be tripod mounted are the best and easiest examples although they may not be the best they do get you on the air…  Put the tripod on your deck or in the back yard….  Erect the antenna….  Play radio…. then take down and put away till the next time you want to play radio…

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The examples are various but…. the intent is the same..

Some basic suggestions for Stealth Antennas – Hiding it in plain sight is usually the best.  If you are living in an older neighborhood you might get away with using RG59 which we know as cheap 75 ohm coax as a long wire.  Where I used to live the cablevision companys solution for fixing problems was to re run a new feed line to the house.  They would just string the line from the pole to the house whatever way they could so….  We got used to seeing lots of people in Orange vests and a white hardhat tossing wire into trees and along fence lines.  Get one of your ham friends to wear a vest and run wire from you home into a tree and see what happens.  Just short the ends of the coax and treat it as a long wire….  This will be non resonant longwire so a good tuner will be needed along with a few radials on the ground where they will not be seen.

If that will not work for you try loading up the rain gutters.  It does work…. yes you do need metal gutters or perhaps a wire running down the plastic eves and gutters but use your imagination and see what you can use.

remember that you don’t listen to any ham who says it won’t work.  You try it and show him it works…

Over the years I have had the best luck using a tree that was in my back yard….  Tossed a thin insulated wire over the higher branch I could and used a 4:1 balun along with radials inside my fence and I stayed on the air in Ottawa for 20 years with acceptable results (DXCC, WAS, Triple Play)  When doing this I suggest you use insulated wire the same colour as your surroundings…  Using a Fir tree use green wire…. Regular tree try a brown wire….   Non Insulated copper wire tends to stand out for a while till the shine comes off….

None of these suggestions are guaranteed winners….  Your results will vary depending on many factors….  Think outside the box and see what you can do to stay on the air….

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Game on….

73bob

Getting the #RV ready for winter

As you should be able to tell by the #RV hashtag in the title this posting will be more about RV’s than radios…


Well after much delaying it….  We finally did it….  The first (and most important) steps were taking to prepare Erika’s trailer for the winter.

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Yes I did say Erika’s trailer…. 

Liz and I decided that we needed a slightly larger (newer) trailer for the start of our retirement and so rather than trade in the old one we gave it to Erika.

She is planning to reno it more for “Glamping”than Camping so lets see how far this one gets.  One has to remember that her Sonic will not pull it….So stay tuned for what we/she has planned for it.

But on the weekend we did get the Fresh water tank drained,  The Gray and Black Tanks dumped.  All non perishable food items were removed along with some of the electronics.  The trailer is being winter stored in its usual spot so we can easily get to it in the next few weeks to remove the bedding and kitchen items as well as take the steps to keep rodents away.

Now that the tanks are drained I still have to add the RV antifreeze to the system and that also will be done in the near future.

Back to the plans for the new mobile abode…. We are not really sure about the details other than we want one.  I would guess something under 28 feet that can legally be towed by our current pick up truck.

We both want more room but are trying to find the find line between something we can travel with without feeling cramped and something we can live in for the summer but can’t tow it.  I’m not really ready for a permanent campsite yet so I would prefer to travel a bit but stay for a while once we get there…

Lets see what we end up with….

Safe travels

Bob

Saturday AM #hamradio musings

This was created on Saturday morning  but I got distracted and it got posted a bit later the same day….


Its a Saturday morning and as I’m still on holidays I get to spend some quality time in the shack…..

I heard a few guys chatting on HF and they were talking about call sign designations( such as VA3QV/m) and how they should be used…. It was a great debate and I could not comment as they were starting to fade so….. Here is the  way I see it

At home I would sign as VA3QV  by at home I mean the address that Industry Canada has on file for me,

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In the mobile I would sign as VA3QV/m.  Rather common sense.  If I was travelling across Canada (I don’t travel in the states due to no private healthcare) I would be VA3QV/m VE2, VE4 etc depending on what Province I would be driving thru at the time.

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Operating from a place other than my residence or my vehicle I would be VA3QV/p, but if the location was outside my home province then I would be VA3QV/p VE4 or whatever province I was in at the time.

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Why you ask????

In my humble opinion as Canada is not normally rare DX…. calling CQ de VA3QV will not cause much excitement.

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But if I happened to be up north at the time VA3QV/VY0 or /VE8 or /VY1 could make it more interesting for the chasers.

I look at it as more of a courtesy….  I chased a KH6 station for about an hour and when I finally got him confirmed in Logbook of the World …. I found out that he was visiting friends in California so I got another west coast station (/W6)in the log rather than the Hawaii contact I was hoping for.  The same thing happened with a Alaskan resident calling CQ from his parents house in the lower 48 who neglected to add the /p to his call….

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And thats the view from the cheap seats this morning

73bob

 

 

 

 

Over the Air #OTA TV antenna

So seeing that I had some time on my hands today…. well not going camping…. I decided I needed a project to work on for a bit….  The antenna idea for Sunday worked like a charm and yesterdays antenna build was a bust so….

Today would be deciding project…  Would I be at 2-1 or 1-2 as far as successful projects went?  Read on and find out….

Recently we have been having some issues with our TV at home as our Android Box content providers (we subscribe to 3) have had issues due to that crackdown in Europe.  Two of the three content providers we use just vanished…. The last one is still active but we don’t get the same quality of programming we got with other two.

We “Cut the cord” about 2 years ago when we cancelled our Bell Fibe account and switched over to a combination of OTA TV and streaming services like Netflix and Crave with some YouTube thrown in for variety.

When we lived in Ottawa our OTA content consistted of CBC, CTV 1, CTV 2, City TV, Global, Omni 1, Omni 2 and TV Ontario along with about 5 French Language stations which as I found later was exceptional for Canadian Content.  As Ottawa was too far north of the Border I was unable to receive any of the American Networks….

Fast forward a year later and we had moved to Kingston.  Still streaming but now had the choices of the Android Box and all the stations one could imagine.  However with certain Condo Antenna restrictions (you have heard me mention them before) our OTA reception was limited to Global Kingston using an inside antenna…IMG_0438

Taking my camper to various locations including Lake Ontario Park ( 4 km south of here) on a day trip we managed 18 different OTA stations using the antenna on the trailers roof.  However 4 km north and on the wrong side of a hill all I could get was Global Kingston.

However on a later trip just west of Bath Ontario I managed to receive 9 different stations OTA

Fast forward to today and a bored Bob heads over to Princess Auto in Kingston to look for a project and finds…

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This little dream was $45.00 plus tax and came with a built in Rotor with wireless control, built in signal amplifier with power supply with all parts included….  I brought it home and had it built (assembled) in about an hour….

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And after some playing with it the following was noted and I share with you

The good points

1> It does work.  The instructions were fairly easy to follow.

2>The instructions also made sense to my knowledge of antennas.

3>In addition to Global Kingston (local station) I was able to watch quite clearly the CBS Station and the Fox Station both in Watertown New York.

The bad points

4> The rotor did not work

5> Although its design is excellent along with its performance, the antenna itself is very flimsy and I doubt it would stand up to a strong wind let along a Canadian Winter especially an ice storm.

6> No matter which way I swung the antenna (by hand) I could not receive the PBS Station or the ABC Station in the vicinity of Watertown

The set up

I attached a 4 foot length fibreglass mast to the stand for my patio umbrella.  I then attached a 5 foot length of small diameter aluminun tubing to the fibreglass mast which fit into the bottom of the rotor.  The beam was fed by some (supplied) lightweight coax (RG59???)to the amplifier and then to the TV set.  The amplifier was powered by a (supplied) 15v wall wart.

My opinion

If I was living in an apartment this would be my first choice for a balcony antenna.  A fairly small foot print and lightweight enough to be installed on a Camera Tripod.  The balcony would protect it from most of the elements and also provide the altitude needed to get the further out station especially if the built in rotor was working.  

I could also see it working great as an indoor antenna (aiming it out a window) and easily out performing a set of rabbit ears or other styles of indoor antennas in the $45.00 price range.

I also think this antenna would work great for RV Portable style uses especially if your expensive RV TV antenna got damaged when you forgot to lower it before you left the Campground.  (Been there…. done that)

Disclaimer

Receiving any signals over the airwaves is dependent in being in a good location (usually high ground) to receive them.  What let me watch 3 channels at a whopping 15 feet above ground might give me much better reception if the antenna was on top of our roof at 40 feet or so above ground.  The phrases “Height is might” and “Location, Location, Location” are both especially true when it comes to receiving antennas for any band.

What I thought worked well for me might not work at all for you…. 

Or it could work better than expected….

Your mileage may or will vary and if you choose to purchase one you do so at your own risk and expense.

However due to the non functioning Rotor and the flimsy materials used in the construction I will be returning the antenna tomorrow for a refund.  Don’t feel like running outside in the winter time to hand rotate the antenna or to pick up the pieces after freezing rain hits.  I have no issues with its cost or performance…. Just in its quality and quality control.

So at the end of the day I would call todays project a success.  I learned some stuff…. I got to watch some TV not normally accessable from home and I also proved a point (that it could be done) as well as realizing that even though it works today it might not survive the harsh elements.  Lets come back with a new plan for OTA

Safe Travels/73bob

Some things work first time then others….

…..Don’t

Right on the heels of my Sunday Portable HF operations I decided to try something I had read about years ago ….  It was a 40/80m NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave) antenna that used the body of my truck as the ground….

The basic idea that if you attach a 66 foot long wire to the stud mount that holds your mobile vertical HF antenna (just above roof height of the vehicle) you in effect would have an 80m NVIS antenna.  By folding it back on itself and shorting the ends of the wire together you would now have a 33 foot long antenna giving you the 40m NVIS effect as well.

For a good description of NVIS go to: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_vertical_incidence_skywave

or click on this link: NVIS

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I had all the pieces necessary in my junk box and headed back to Lake Ontario Park to build and do the basic testing.  For me the basic testing meant stringing it out and then testing using my MFJ Antenna Analyzer and it it worked return later with the FT 450 and see if it likes RF.

As I do not have a 3/8 stud mount on the new pickup (yet) I improvised with a single magnetic mag mount that had a stud mount attached.

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I set up at the park and proceeded to check things out and to my shock it worked on the first try.  SWR was excellent and all appeared well.  I then packed everything up and headed to meet a couple of local hams for a coffee then head back to the park with the FT 450.

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On my return to the park I re strung the antenna up and hooked up the FT 450 and found that the antenna would not load up…  On 80 or on 40….  I seem to remember from many years ago when I mounted a Hustler 80m mobile antenna on the luggage rack of a mini van the same thing happening.  That problem was cured by running a ground strap from the frame of the vehicle to the mount on the luggage rack but today I did not have any way to ground a magnetic mount so…..

Looks like I will have to wait till I install the mobile 3/8 mount on the truck.

Now on to “Other Stuff”….

I re installed the HF gear back in the shack as I realized that it is much better to be on the air with a poor antenna than not be on the air.  Its also better to be listening to anything on HF while waiting for some one to to call on a Local Repeater or one of the Wires X or for that matter than just to sit waiting.

The VA3QV  Wires X Node is working fine.  Along with East-West coverage I have also found that I go as far south as Lake Ontario (about 4km from my site) and still hear and use the node and that takes me to the end of the boat ramp and I can’t go any further south without getting wet.

Due to the ongoing overheating issues I now keep the node at its 5w setting  when its operating.  I have a cooling fan I have to install and then the power level issue will be looked at again after the install.

Tuesday night (last night) I listened to the VE3ORF/3730 Digital Net which was held on Yaesu Wires X Room 40505.  It operated for just under 1 hour and had 21 check ins from VE1, VE2, VE3, VE6 and the States of Mass, Virginia, Rhode Island along with a VK station.

The Net runs every Tuesday night at 8pm Eastern and is found on most of the digital platforms (C4FM, DMR) and for more information go to the VE3ORF Website.

The trailer still has to be winterized although the final camping trip of the year might be cancelled as there was a frost alert for the area we were planning to go to and also a family member (was not Liz) had to spend the night in the hospital (she was released the next day) so all is well but….

Liz and I are thinking if we tried to get away Murphy’s Law might  see us having to break camp and rush back,  so why not stay close to home as its better to be safe than sorry….?

So as usual its much more RF than RV in the blog post.  I think that Erika has spent more time in the trailer than Liz and I have this year….  Don’t see that changing till next spring…

For now Safe Travels and…

73bob