Slow times in “Radioland”

October 5, 2015

I never thought I would say this… but there is just not that much happening so far this much in the VA3QV shack

aprsI did manage to get my APRS home station up and running but I am having issues remembering how I configure it as a Digi…  The I gate function is working but the old netbook WIFI seems to be a bit flaky so …

On the HF side of things I am not doing much…  The bands do not seem to be that strong right now.  I did see some reports from the weekend from Operators who participated in the California QSO Party and it seems the 15m band was open and the big guns were making some contacts …

Unfortunately as most of the QSO Parties/contests are on the weekends and as I have commitments every weekend my contesting is not going as well as I would like…

cq_logoThis includes the upcoming CQ WW SSB Contest later this month but I am hoping to get some of the big guns in the log the week before the contest when they are testing out the superstations…

Outside of the APRS stuff the VHF operating is about the same as it always is…  a few repeater contacts but not much else.  As I mentioned a couple of posts back the Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club is doing their best to revive their vhf nets and I did check in to the 2nd net (missed the 1st one) and hope to continue with the rest…  Been a long time since I was active above 10m…

There will be some gear leaving the shack this month and some replacement gear arriving shortly after…  More on this once the funds arrive and I can ship out…  Then I can send the funds out and await the arrival of the new toys…

Hopefully the arrival of the new toys will jump start things and get me back on the air…

If I don’t get back before the weekend….

canada-thanksgiving-turkeyHave a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving



APRS will be back soon

October 1, 2015

Actually it never left…

You might remember that over the years I have “dabbled” in APRS.  I have used it in the Amateur Balloon Events way back in 2008 and before then with CASARA (Search and Rescue)back in 2005/2006.

The rig of choice back then was a laptop that was running Windows XP along with UI View APRS Software and the AGWPE Packet engine.



This along with a Yaesu FT 2400 2m mobile radio and a rigblaster NOMIC interface did the trick.

Along with a power supply and a copper J pole this was the APRS setup that I used for years whenever a balloon flight needed to be tracked or CASARA had an exercise….

VX8GRLater on after I got my Yaesu VX8GR I started carrying it with me on SOTA events and on occasional road trips so Liz could track me while I was away…  It also functioned as an APRS I Gate when there was a need for a fill in in the APRS network locally.Well over the years the need for APRS declined.  My knees were not strong enough for SOTA anymore, the Amateur Balloon Group were no longer active and CASARA had chosen to follow a different communications path….  The VX8GR was sold at a hamfest and the collection of wires, and components that made up my home APRS station along with my FT 2400 got shuffled off to a box in the basement.

Now a few operators are starting to use APRS for their Canadian Island Activating and so my interest has once again been growing…  I looked through the basement and found the whole station sitting in the box in the basement….  That is the whole station without the XP Laptop which died a noble death a few years ago…

However I did have a Netbook that runs XP still kicking around and so after downloading the software (AGWPE and UI View) and trying to remember how I configured it so many years ago….


VA3QV re appeared on the APRS Network over RF…

Its not up full time yet as I have to get a dedicated antenna outside for it.  I have the antenna and the coax…  Its just doing the install.  Right now it shares the antenna with my Yaesu FT 7800 which I use for the local repeaters…


So whats with the sudden APRS Revival?

You might remember that recently I mentioned about the new Yaesu Fusion Repeaters that are springing up all over the place?


Well all those Fusion handheld and mobile units also do APRS right out of the box.  Built in software and built in GPS.  I am expecting that these new radios will add to the interest in not only Digital Voice but also APRS.

Its in my best interest to show the APRS Network in  a positive light and add to the beacons a newbie can see when they are looking at getting their new gear on the air.

As I replace my current 2m/70cm FM only rigs I will be doing it with the new Yaesu Fusion radios.  Not rushing out to do it… but when my Handheld FT60 needs replacing it will be replaced by the Yaesu FT1DR handheld and when I buy a mobile rig for the new camper it will be the Yaesu FTM100DR.  Till then my FT7800 will serve me fine.

Thanks to Radioworld for the links to show you the gear.  Over the years I have been a happy customer and don’t mind saying nice things about them.  As long as I stay happy… I keep saying nice things….


This will be a relearning process for me… stay tuned to see how much or how little I can remember



A little more from the OVMRC

October 1, 2015

If you remember a few posts back I had mentioned that I was feeling confident about the new year coming for the Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club….

ovmrclogoTonight I was able to check into the renewed OVMRC Net on the club repeater VE3TWO (147.300 +).  Its been a while since I have heard activity on the repeater and I still am confident on what I am hearing.  New Amateurs taking over and we are pleased to let them do it…

New Blood and new ideas (with some mentoring from some of us older pharts) is looking really good to me...

I am really confident in what the new executive is up to this year….


Still making contacts with “5w and a wire”

September 30, 2015

twitterIf you follow me on twitter you might notice that my tweets about DX have slowed down quite a bit as the band conditions have seemed to take a downwards slide….  But I am still posting about some of my contacts.


Now I’m not sure if its the band conditons or hams looking at the Flux levels and thinking that its going to be bad so not even trying…

But in the last 10 days along with the expected and usual contacts in Canada and the States I have also managed to get Iceland, Cuba and Belgium in the log. 


All of these were QRP CW contacts made from my Flex 1500 using my 55 foot long wire (Elecraft T1 QRP Tuner, 4:1 balun) with a 4 radials (2- 20 feet and 2 -40 feet approx)  The wire is in a inverted V configuration and 30 feet above the ground at its highest point.new_wire_antenna

As you can tell… The gain of my antenna and the massive 5w QRP signals coming out of the Flex is not making the difference… 

The contacts are being made because I’m trying to make them…  and because the station at the other end has a good station that can hear a QRP signal….

So if you can’t hear my signal……before you knock QRP operators….


Whats ” Rare ” in Canadian Amateur Radio

September 24, 2015

If you thinking of making a DXPedition in your own country then you might want to concider the location and the number of Amateur Radios Operators in that geographic location.

The following figures were taken from the Industry Canada Amateur Database September 24th 2015:


VY0 (Nunuvut Territory) has 26 calls issued

VY1 (Yukon Territory) has 191 calls issued

VY2 (Prince Edward Island (has 279 calls issued

VO1/VO2(Newfoundland/Labrador)  has 1446 calls issued

VA1/VE1 (Nova Scotia) has 2561 calls issued

VA2/VE2 (Quebec) has 18,020 calls issued

VA3/VE3 (Ontario)has 22054 calls issued

VA4/VE4 (Manitoba) has 1952 calls issued

VA5/VE5 (Saskatchewan) has 1458 calls issued

VA6/VE6 (Alberta) has 6933 calls issued

VA7/VE7 (British Columbia)has 16451 calls issued

VE8 (Northwest Territories) has 87 calls issued

VE9 (New Brunswick) has 1561 calls issued

VE0 (Canadian Ships in International Waters) has 647 calls issued

Now for the record these are the number of callsigns issued.  Not the number or Amateurs,  As an example I hold 2 Ontario callsigns.  VA3QV and VA3RCS (which is my initials.) and many Amateur Radio Clubs also hold more than one callsign.

So whats the rarest?

Not taking Sable Island (CY0) and St Pauls Island (CY9) into consideration as they are not permently populated and also taking VY9CC (Ottawa ON) and VY9CCS (Sherbrooke QC)  out of the picture as they are operated by Industry Canada.   I have been licensed since 1991 and lived in Ottawa all that time and only have heard VY9CC on the air once.

Anyone remember when the “Minister” of Communications Canada (before they changed the name to Industry Canada) addressed the Amateur Community over HF and VHF (IPARN) System? from VY9CC in Ottawa?

I would have to say the  rarest would have to be VY0 (Nunavut Territory).   With 26 callsigns issued you really have to listen to hear them on the air.  Also as there is no road access to Nunavut from the rest of Canada the only way in is by air (or boat in the summertime).  That greatly increases the cost of any DXPedition as all the gear would have to be flown in.  Best chance to hear VY0 would be in a contest.

Watch for VY0RAC in either of the RAC Canada Contests..

Next on the list but more accesable would have to be VE8 (Northwest Territories)  With  87 callsigns issued it still is hard to get,  but you can drive or fly to and operate from there.   Although one of those 87 calls belongs to a really good contester (hi John) it might not be as rare as you might expect but… percentage wise I still consider it rare…

I normally hear (and occasionally work) VE8RAC in the RAC Canada Contests

Now of course as I live in Ontario (VA3/VE3) the calls furthest away from me seem to be also the rarest… VY0, VE8, VY1 which is fairly funny because I have no problems talking to British Columbia (VA7/VE7) which is just as far west with my 5w and I also have worked Alaska (KL6)(which is just as north ) more times than I have worked any of the Northern Canada call groups…  go figure…

I have heard VY1RAC in the Canada Contests but also worked a VY1 Station in the ARRL Sweeps before.

So there you have it….  Areas of Canada that I consider to be rare…  Actually I have more VK’s in my log than VY1’s….  Which is not to bad for 5w and a wire…





Canada Team prizes ready

September 24, 2015


I just found out that “Team Canada (Team EH!)” won the Team competition of the 2015 BERU



Originally posted on Commonwealth Contest :

Team Trophy 2015Here is a pic of the engraved tankards for the Canadian Team Eh! – winners of the Team competion for 2015

Many thanks to Peter G3LET/VY2GQ for organising them.

73 Bob G3PJT

View original

Looking for a great location for a repeater in the Ottawa Valley

September 24, 2015

If your Radio Club has deep pockets….  Take a look at this…

(Tnx to VA3PCJ for sending me the link)

The Canadian Broadcasting Company is  one decommissioning of their Broadcast sites. More than one actually but this site is in Foymount Ontario.  Operating from beside this tower site I have worked UHF Repeaters in Ottawa using a 5w handheld and a homebrewed 3 element hand held beam…This location is approximately 150 kms west of Ottawa

march2010_foymount5Foymount is the old Cold War Radar Base (Part of the Pinetree Line) and I have operated from there for a couple of VHF Contests and one time as a portable station in the Ontario QSO Party….  Not to menton several times of just having fun playing radio there


Above pic taken in March 2010 shows me at the parking lot that separates the repeater sites…  The CBC tower would be off to the left and the Private Commercal tower would be off on the right.  The Amateur tower would be behind the photographer.  They are well spread out at the top

If you decide to buy it you will share the summit with a commercial radio tower and a much lower tower that supports an existing Amateur Radio Repeater.  Your repeater will be much higher than the existing amateur repeater.

If you could set up something up there …. talk about your wide coverage repeater….

Well its nice to dream…




Winter Field Day 2016- Under new management

September 23, 2015


The following came in to my email inbox and as you can see by reading it they want us to share….

Dear Fellow Ham


Good news, Winter Field Day (WFD) is alive and well. We have reorganized and are now known as Winter Field Day Association.

Check out our new webpage for details on WFD 2016.

Please send your logs for 2015 to Tom WD8MBE

To insure a successful 2016 WFD we need your help, by spreading the word to other hams and your clubs.

Hope to work you in 2016


Dave Tabbutt


Glad to see we will have an organized chance to freeze again this winter…

WFD_VA3PCJ_VA3QVVA3PCJ and myself at a Winter Field Day around 2005 at Weston Park Ottawa


Urban DXPediton- Green Island ON 122

September 23, 2015

On Friday September 25th I plan to be operating from Green Island (ON 122) in the City of Ottawa.  Green Island is in the Rideau River at the Rideau Falls where the Rideau River runs into the Ottawa River…


I plan to be operating from a Park Bench using my FT 817 along with my Par End Fedz being supported by my MFJ masting in a helically wound configuration.  As this location is in a public park the end fed with no radials/counterpoises is the best fit for operating.

I will be operating from the North East side of the Island approx 100 feet or so north of the RCAF Memorial.  Kind of fitting as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britian.


Above pic is a shot of the park bench I hope to be operating from with the Memorial in the background


Above pic shows the Memorial and my operating position would be at the back of the picture on the left.


I plan to be on the air on the usual Island Frequencies starting with 40m at 1200 EDST (1600 utc).  After starting on 40 I will be moving to 20m then over to whatever bands are open (10-12-15-17) then returning to 40m before I pack up and return to home sometime after 1600 EDST. (2000 utc)


My logs for this event will be uploaded to EQSL, and Logbook of the World once I have returned home…



As I do have internet access in downtown Ottawa I will be “Tweeting the Freq” so if you follow me on Twitter you should know where I am or when I am changing frequencies.  Please feel free to spot me on the cluster if you hear me or work me….

Hope to get you in the log…

Cu on Friday


The reason for re scheduling the Maple Island DXPedition

September 23, 2015

If you were there….

you would of seen….


The large tarp that was covering the bridge I have to walk on to get to the island…

And once I continued onward to the street that leads to the bridge itself I saw…


Makes it kind of hard to access when they have the road blocked….

The bridge is being sandblasted and re painted….  I will return to the island hopefully before the snow falls …. and happily and hopefully give out lots of contacts but for this Friday I will be operating from Green Island ON 122 which is in the Rideau River just north of Maple Island…

Now I believe that if I came in from the south end of Green Island I might of been able to get onto to Maple Island but the noise from the sandblasting would of made it impossible to operate the radio…  Oh well … next time….

This Friday I plan to operate from Green Island instead



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