1st Road trip

It was decided that the new VA3QV mobile would head out and look for trouble….  We did about a 220km circle (actually more like a square)as shown below:

So far we are pleased and the fuel economy is not too bad for driving without the trailer behind.  That will happen in the near future travelling from Kingston to …… wherever the road takes us

Safe Travels


A new (to me) Tow vehicle

Well it had to happen….  The oil spots in my driveway and wherever I parked the Dodge was telling me that the end was near… IMG_0497

This was also confirmed by the guys at the local “Oil Changers” who advised me that the oil pan gasket was leaking and the oil pan was also rusting and was approaching critical.  The same was found to be happening on the Transmission Gasket as well but not as bad as the oil pan.


This post is not about The Oil Changers franchise operator but I do appreciate the honesty of their staff….  Their opinion greatly influenced the rest of this post….

So what was supposed to be search starting in the spring suddenly became a search that started about two weeks ago and finished today with the arrival of :



And I took possession of it this afternoon… and the Ham Gear is starting to get installed

Its a bit newer….. lots less KMS….. with a larger engine…..  more than enough b@lls to tow the existing trailer (and the planned new trailer) and the Air Conditioning works fantastic….

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I will be taking the trailer out for a test pull and adjust the trailer brakes as needed…. Its first trip could be early in September and we do have plans for a two week trip in October….  In October the temps are great during the day… The bugs are scarce and in the evening an extra blanket makes the evenings just fantastic….

More on how the new truck handles this thing we call life in the next post…






#HamRadio #Lighthouse August 17th

The following has been cut and pasted from the ILLW website


International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend – ILLW

3rd Full Weekend in August since 1998

00.01 UTC 17th August to 2400 UTC 18th August 2019 (48 hours)

00.01 UTC 15th August to 2400 UTC 16th August 2020 (48 hours)

For some reason or other August seems to have become the international weekend for lighthouses. Countries all over the world have become involved in one for or another of lighthouse activity. Some years ago the United States Congress declared August 7th as their National Lighthouse Day and during that first week in August amateur radio operators in America set up portable stations at lighthouses and endeavour to make contact with each other. This event is known as the US National Lighthouse Week.

In Britain the Association of Lighthouse Keepers, ALK, conducts International Lighthouse Heritage Weekend on the 3rd full weekend in August. Their objective is to encourage Lighthouse managers, keepers and owners to open their lighthouse or lightstation and related visitors centres to the public with a view to raising the profile of lighthouses, lightvessels and other navigational aids, and preserving our maritime heritage.

akmanrags latvia

Akmenrags Lighthouse, Latvia.

However, the major event which takes place in August is the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend, ILLW, which came into being in 1998 as the Scottish Northern Lights Award run by the Ayr Amateur Radio Group. The history of this event can be found elsewhere on this site. The ILLW takes place on the 3rd full weekend in August each year and attracts over 500 lighthouse entries located in over 40 countries. It is one of the most popular international amateur radio events in existence probably because there are very few rules and it is not the usual contest type event. It is also free and there are no prizes for contacting large numbers of other stations. There is little doubt that the month of August has become “Lighthouse Month” due largely to the popularity and growth of the ILLW.

Now according to my personal records the last time I operated this event was in 2015 when I operated from the National Museum of Science and Techology in Ottawa Ontario operating CA0016

 Cape North (Old), ON  (Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa) VE NA Museum CA0016


My old camper (the orignal VA3QV/M) August 2015 operating from the Museum Lighthouse


Some local Kingston Hams will be operating from 9 mile Point Lighthouse on Simcoe Island.  Check out :


for more info

Now I find myself with some time on my hands on the Saturday in question in an area that has lots of lighthouses as Kingston Ontario is on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the St Lawrence River.

The big question is will I be giving out contacts from a Lighthouse or will I be hunting lighthouses from home?

Only time will tell


“Murphy” goes #Boondocking

For those of you who follow the blog

—>  This is a non amateur radio post <—

Boondocking is not really a good term, but has somehow come into common use. Dry Camping (parking anywhere without or with limited amenities) is more accurate. Independent Parking is the preferred term. It means that you are prepared to dry camp but, make use of amenities when they’re available.

For those of you who don’t know “Murphy’s Law:

Murphy’s Law basically reads that…”If it can go wrong…. IT WILL!!!!!!

So given the above statement you can see where this post is going…..

The planning for this trip started 2 weeks ago….  I knew the area that I wanted to camp at and first did a Google Map Satellite view search and found a few choice locations….  All of these locations were west of Kingston Ontario on CR 33 or HWY 33 which is also known if you are heading west from Kingston as the Bath Road.

I found the following locations and decided to check them out when Trisha (youngest daughter) and my self were driving back from Picton Ontario.

The furthest location was a small “Historic Plaque” location just across the 33 highway from the Greater Napanee Power Plant. It was a great location but had a small parking lot. There was a gate but there were no warning signs that restricted access or overnight parking.


The Next location was at the “Finkle Shore Park and Boat Launch. The Picnic area at the west side was a bit crowded and we did not see much hope in parking the trailer there without upsetting quite a few visitors. However on the boat launch side at the east end of the park there was a fair bit of room as boaters launch their boats and then park the tow vehicle and now empty trailers while boating. So the parking lot had room for longer rigs but as it was a busy day on the water…. we kept heading east


The site I liked the best was a two part pull off….  The west side had a private property sign but the east side had no restriction and they had some benches close to the water.  I checked this one fully and decided that we had a winner.  I would return to this location with the camper.

The private property would be on the left of your screen and the by my defination open property would be on the right of the screen

Now back to the present time….  Its now a week later and I have left Kingston heading west on the Bath Road

I stop at the closest location (private and public site) and pull down to the east side of the public side and find that I have to pull a 25 point turn with the truck/trailer so I can get facing the right direction without getting the rig stuck on what I would call “soggy ground”.  So turned around and in the right direction I find out why the ground is soggy….  The wind is fairly strong and the waves are breaking on the shoreline and the water is splashing onto the ground where I was planning to set up….  Time to move on….

The score is Murphy 1 and Bob 0

Next stop was at the Finkle Park.  The boat launch side had a few trucks with empty trailer so this would not be that quiet and so I headed over to the public park side.  Unfortunately the park was fairly busy and there was no where to put the trailer where I could easily exit after.  I wont score this one as this would be a great day use facility and they actually now have signs up to restrict overnite parking (camping)

The score remains at Murphy 1 and Bob 0

The next attempt was at the Historic Site across from the Napanee Power Facility.  The lot is empty and after about 5 minutes or moving around I get the rig safely in the North east corner without hitting any of the rocks you saw in the Google Maps shot.

I am able to put my Champion 1.5kw generator on a flat rock just behind my camper and my BBQ on a flat rock beside my camper…..








The score is now all tied up at Murphy 1 and Bob 1

The generator is now running,  The BBQ is lit and inside I am getting 9 channels OTA (Over the Air).  Global Kingston, 4 PBS stations, Fox and ABC from Watertown/Syracuse and a couple of specialty channels….  Once again proving that location is a big thing in RF reception and that Lake Ontario does a great job of reflecting signals.

Remember that the OTA antenna on the camper was state of the art back in 1999.  20 years later the amplifier has failed so now I basically have a set of rabbit ears on the roof… Old Rabbit ears at that

Supper is cooked and finished along with a couple of brews…..

Score is now Murphy 1 and Bob 2 (Sounds of crowd cheering)

And then it started to cloud over quickly and the wind picked up….

and then the sound and light started……

And look at the size of those Lightning Rods just across the street from me…..

The sound and light continued for about 30 min or so and there were a couple of real close instant Flash/Booms that did get my attention but I already had supper and the camper and I survived so eventually the storm passed on its way east

But Murphy has tied up the score at 2-2

Once the storm passed the sun peeked out from the clouds again and it was a great evening…. with some great views…..

Although my skills as a photographer do not do the area justice you can see the wind turbines on Amherst Island turning….  The visability had cleared up and you could see for miles….

The score is now Murphy 2 and Bob 3 (and the crowd goes wild…)

And as the sun sets on our hero…. we now have more “issues” to deal with.  The first one may seem minor to you but…. not to me…..  The plan was to tether my Android Box to my cell phone and watch the Football game later in the evening.  It was a CFL (Canadian Foot Ball League) Double header with the early game in Montreal and the Late game in Calgary.  As it turned out the Montreal Game was called after the 3rd quarter due to a very severe storm with lots of thunder and lightning.

Remember that storm that I had talked about earlier????  Well the storm was tracking east and Montreal is East of where I was camping…. The storm ran right up the St Lawrence River and hit them harder than it hit us here on Lake Ontario…..  Bad enough that the game was called due to dangerous weather.  Montreal has an outdoor stadium…

However by not checking my Streaming capabilities earlier to make sure all was in order I gave Murphy an easy point

And we are tied back up at 3-3

At this point I am thinking that Murphy might actually win this one…. and then….  Its dark…. no one around…. and I am hearing noises…. I grab a flashlight  and check around the site….  no one in sight…  no  eyes in the flashlites beam…. I’m all alone here….  Then it hits me….  In all my years of camping this is the first time that I’ve been camping in a non-campground  situation without family/friends/neighbors/other campers…

Many a night has been spent in Rest areas, Walmart lots, Truck stops and the like but there was always someone around….  Security at the stores, Staff at the truck stops and in Florida an armed Deputy at the rest stop just outside Orlando

So between things that go bump in the night (or could go bump in the night), thoughts about what happened a couple of weeks ago in Western Canada along with  quite a few mosquitoes that found me when I was out checking the site the decision was made to concede this trip to Murphy

In the  end the final score has  Murphy winning 4 to 3 and the crowd is hushed….

60 minutes later I had arrived back in Kingston and was fortunate to find a street parking space close to the house.  I transferred all that was in the box of the pickup into the trailer for the night.  Saturday morning the trailer is safely back in the storage yard and life goes on….

But just wait till next time…. Damn you Murph!!!!

Safe Travels




Winding down a #Hamradio Weekend

Now thats something that I have not been able to say for quite a while.  But I managed a few contacts on VHF and UHF C4FM and FM along with a few HF SSB contacts and also 2 HF CW contacts.

In addition to that I also managed to find more “stuff” for the VA3QV table at the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club Hamfest on September 7th in Carp Ontario.

For more info go to:


Its really amazing when you do a “stuff” hunt what you can find when you look hard enough…  For most of the weekend my catch phrase seem to be

“I wondered where that was!!!”

Some stuff included:


My TakTenna… Its a limited space 10-40 m antenna that can be configured as a multi band or a single band antenna.  Not as efficient as a dipole but it has a small footrpint and it does work.



Also found was my Yaesu MD 100 Desk Microphone.  Its been sitting in a box in my garage for about 14 months now.  Finally found it.  Never really missed it as I prefer hand mics but it sure looks pretty on the desk.

No doubt it will find a new home after the Hamfest


A 2m mobile antenna and a 6m mobile antenna were hiding in the garage as well along with lots of COAX runs of various lenghts ….  Lots of small stuff as well…. a few small power supplies…. and gawd knows what else….

Above pic shows a much younger VA3QV at the hamfest more than a few years ago.  I’m the fat guy on the left.

And I’m still looking….

I earlier mentioned my Winkeyer USB and I am happy to report that its working fine and I managed to get CY9C (St. Pauls Island DXPedition) in the log on 30m CW and 40m CW.  I got them on Digital on the previous DXPedition so I left them alone there (that and I already sold my Digital Interface for the radio so…..)  I am still listening for them on SSB but not going to cry if I miss them.  There is only so much I can do with my compromise antenna system and I am ok with it.  As I have said many times in the past:

” I would rather be on the air with a bad antenna than not being on the air at all”

And with my setup I can get a weak signal out on 6m to 160m that hopefully a big gun station should be able to hear.

A DXPedition is not a big gun station…. 

Hell….their antennas are only marginally better than what I am using here.  Vertical and wires are better than my random short wire antenna but they mean that they are trying to get the signal out and the stations who want CY9 in the log have to work hard at it….

If you can’t make the contact its not them…..  its you!!!

The CY9C crew are spending a lot of resources to operate from that little speck of land in the Atlantic… time…. equipment….food and fuel…. so they can give out contacts….  They are trying to give out the most contacts in the time they have available and if thats SSB, CW or Digital (FT8) so be it.

After seeing some of the comments about the DXPediton on the cluster….  I think we are lucky that they don’t just shut it down.  

If you don’t like how they do things just leave them alone and let the rest of us happily make the contacts….

Sorry about the mini rant…..  Just an old Phart speaking his mind….

Thats it for now…..I think (hope) the next post has a camping twist to it….


Finding #hamradio stuff

Liz has been commenting that a few boxes are sitting in the garage (since we moved in last June) that have the words “Radio” on them that just seem to be gathering dust. To be honest I don’t know whats in them but as I have not opened them it seems that I had no need for the contents.

It has been suggested that I open them and sell the contents….  Seeing that I have already been selling some unused gear this year….  It seems like a good idea….  So an email was sent out to the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club asking that they reserve me a table at their Hamfest on September 7th in Carp Ontario. 

If they have the space available I should be there.

On the table will be: 

Buddistick Portable Vertical Antenna with some additional accessories

Hamstick Dipole Mounts

Homebrewed W3EDP HF antenna

Winkeyer USB

2m, 6m, and dual band (2m/70cm) mobile antennas

Baluns 1:1, 4:1, 4:1 unun  

Numerous runs of coax,  Some RG8, RG8X, RG58 all with PL259 connectors also some Patch Cords 

A couple of Power Supplies (low amperage)

…..  and thats all that I’ve found so far after going thru the first box……  

Seeing that “Stuff Out” = “New Stuff In”  I have already ordered a new Yaesu FTDM 100 (Fusion C4FM) radio and it will be brought to the hamfest by the Vendor which saves me the shipping and if it gives Liz some room in the garage at the same time it should be a “win-win” situation. 

Once I empty all the boxes I will post some pics of the neater stuff that I find…

Who knows????  I might even find some other stuff that I havn’t missed yet….