Some updates before the weekend

May 22, 2015

Its been rather busy here and some of it concerns amateur radio and the rest just is life in general….

On the Radio side of things VA3PCJ and myself managed to head over to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (here in Ottawa) and visit with the Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club (OVMRC) for their monthly general meeting.

The speakers topic for the evening was the addition to the Solar Power System for the Clubs Communication Trailer VE3RAM (Radio Amateur Mobile).

trailer1

lighthouse-trailerAbove Pics from older field days… The trailer at the Lighthouse at the Science Museum in Ottawa

I forget the exact specs but if I remember correctly the trailer is a 18 foot older model travel trailer that had been renovated as a club project spearheaded by Ken VE3SRS/VE8RCS.  The trailer has operating positions for 3 operators and at the time used a gas generator to charge a bank of batteries for radio operating.  After a couple of years the club traded in the generator for 3 solar panels and now have decided to add 3 more panels and a fancier charge controller to enable the trailer to be completely off the grid.  I believe last night at the meeting some club members were also planning a VHF DXPedition to a rare grid square and the trailer would be used for that as well…

2015 Field Day Logo Red Design 1

If you are in Ottawa for Field Day you will be able to see the trailer in operation at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum as thats where the OVMRC Field Day entry will be located.  For more info on the OVMRC visit their website.

In an “almost” radio event I went over to the Ministry of Transportation office here in Ottawa and finally broke down and ordered my VA3QV licence plates for my RV.  In Ontario there is no extra charge for the Callsign plates…  The same $29.00 they charge for regular plates as compared to the larger amount they charge for what they call “Vanity Plates”.  In about 4 to 6 weeks I will be returning to the Licence Bureau to get the Validation tag removed from my current lic plates and transferred over to the VA3QV Plates and then I can put the new plates on the camper.  That means (yes Bill… if you are reading this) that my camper is now officially on the road.  The insurance was put on last week and the temp plates (waiting 4-6 weeks for the VA3QV Plates… remember?) went on yesterday.

camper2

Pic from Chilly Con 2014.  Tested the camper with a dealer plate the first weekend I got it.  After that it was retired to the garage for some serious renovations and re wiring

From a camping point of view its ready to go… but from a radio point of view I have a few more little wiring things to do before I head out.  I want to add an isolated 70ah battery that will run the interior lites and the FT 817 (or any other radio I choose) while we are out in the great outdoors.  Nothing like finding yourself out in the wilderness with a camper that won’t start for the return trip so…. Everything that requires 12v while we are parked (with the engine off) will be drawing power from the isolated battery.  I currently have 1 solar panel on the roof (15w 1 amp max) and will be adding its twin to the roof which will give me 30w of power to keep the storage battery fairly strong.

smallsolar4I will be using two of the ones on the left (roof mounted)for the isolated battery.  The one in the center will charge the vehicles battery and the one on the right will maintain the FT 817s battery when I am out operating from the picnic table.  These are not new purchases…  I have been using them for years…  just not at the same time… now everything comes together …

I also have a smaller solar panel (7w 1/2 amp) that sits on the dashboard of the camper and maintains the vehicles battery while we are parked with the engine off just incase something gets left on…

At a campground with 120v AC power a small trickle charger will be maintaining the storage battery whenever I am connected to the mains for power.  The plan is for Liz and myself to be comfortable whenever we head out for parts unknown.  Check APRS.fi for VA3QV-10 to see if we are on our “Excellent Adventures”… Spoiler alert…. if it shows us in Ottawa then its most likely in storage or at my house getting something worked on….

At 10 MPG I don’t plan to drive it to the store for a quart of milk and a loaf of bread…

On final thing to mention… Totally non radio…. Remember back in Feb when I was talking about the great people at the Montfort Hospital here in Ottawa?  Well I found out that after me blogging about them…. They blogged about me…. you can read their blog here…

montfort1

Yesterday I stopped in at the Hospital and was interviewed for a piece the Hospital’s Communications Dept  that will be presented at the Hospital’s Annual General Meeting.  I talked about my stays at the Hospital and they asked about Amateur Radio and the blog…  I also got to meet (and thank) members of the Hospital Staff that had looked after Liz and myself during our times there.  (Lots of details about this if you re-read my Feb posting…)  They promise to give me a link that I can share after their AGM…  But I am wondering how much will end up on the cutting room floor… 

No matter what it was great to see my old friends from the FIZZIO depts (Orthopedic and Cardio) again…

So whats coming up????

First off I have to find more time to actually play radio… This works even better if the Band Conditions would finally settle down and the Solar Storms quit interfering with my radio plans…  Last time my log was looking this stale I was recovering from my knee replacement surgery at the Montfort…

Next I have to finish the camper off….  get the wiring finished and the extra solar panels installed.  I talked about this earler…

I also have to hide a few $$$$ under the mattress so I can replenish the radio fund.  The little stuff that kept on building up while doing the camper renovations depleted my radio fund.  No FT 450 in my immediate future but hopefully I can find one before the fall…

va3qvandtiggyfieldday2012The first (Next) trip with the camper will be for Field Day.  My logger (daughter Trisha) and my self will be leaving Ottawa on Thursday evening or Friday morning and heading out to a Field Day location near you.  (Liz decided that participating in Field Day would be too exciting for her) .

We are just going to pick a location in Ontario that’s on the ARRL Field Day Locator and just drop in un anounced and help set up and operate.  After Field Day is finished then Trisha and myself will be heading for a campground for a few days of R & R along with more radio before we head back to Ottawa…

Thats it for now….  Thanks for reading…. CU Later

73bob

Everythings OK

May 14, 2015

Sorry not to have posted anything recently but it seems that due to family things and poor band conditions I just have not had anything to post about….

But here are some updates

DaytonHamvention(Click on above graphic to go to the Hamvention Website)

This year marks another year I AM NOT going to Dayton.  This year marks another year that I am trying to go to the Hamcation in Florida this coming winter.  I figure I have a better chance of getting Liz to agree to a trip to Florida in February rather than a trip to Ohio in May…

ft450I am still looking for a 100w radio to put in the camper once it gets on the road.  That is getting closer….  Insurance is on it now and it will be getting its safety check next week…  After that a little bit of interior work and it will be on the road…

ft7800Back to the radios system…  I already have the FT 7800 (VHF/UHF FM only) dual bander for the repeaters while travelling.  I will be using a 1/4 wave “shorty” dual band antenna on the roof luggage rack.

I have the SGC 237 auto tuner for the S9 43 foot vertical which will be mounted on the rear ladder on the camper.  It will be extended to its full length when parked and fully compacted when the vehicle is in motion.  All thats missing is the (hopefully) FT 450 to go with the 70 ah sla battery that will power it…

2015 Field Day Logo Red Design 1(Click on the above graphic for more info from the ARRL)

It will be on the road in time for Field Day and my daughter Trisha and myself might be visiting your Field Day Site…  You never know where we might turn up announced…

canadacallmap

Just as a reminder….  The RAC Canada Day Contest will be taking place on July 1st from 0000 utc to 2359 utc.  Its a friendly and fun contest to participate in.  Check the RAC website (www.rac.ca) for more info

lotw-logo-c

and finally… the LoTW confirmations continue to trickle in…  The QRP CW DXCC count is now up to 48.  I think it should actually be around 60 or so but ….  It seems harder to confirm the QSO than actually make the QSO…

Thats it for now…  Enjoy your summer and I’ll check back with you once I have something to talk about…

73bob

First Trip to Brewer Park in 2015

May 8, 2015

Yesterday Jose (VA3PCJ) and myself decided to let my FT 817 and his KX3 get some fresh air at Brewer Park in Ottawa.  Readers of this blog will remember that its one of our fav locations for operating inside the City itself.

Jose was using his Par End Fed QRP Antenna with his KX3 and it was being supported by his S9 43 foot antenna support which was cleverly mounted to the rear of his jeep.  Its 43 feet when fully extended not when its in motion.

IMG_20130507_105057

Pic taken at Brewer Park last year or the year before


Jose was operating 20m QRP CW and having a great time and making some contacts.  I forgot to pack my tablet so no new pics on this trip…

I was using my FT 817 along with the W3EDP antenna that I used last week at Brewer Park.  It was stretched out betwen 2 trees in an east west configuration and so there was a slight bit of gain favoring north-south.

I managed one short contact on 20ssb with the NCS of the Maritime Mobile Service Net on 14.300 .  The rest of the contacts were made on 40m ssb.  10m, 12m, 15m, 17m and 80m just did not seem that good for me in the park and as Jose was burning up 20m with his cw 40 just seemed the best place to be as not to QRM each other.

All of my 40m contacts were local (within Ontario) except one 1 with W2RME/50 .  This was a special event station run by the CHENANGO VALLEY AMATEUR RADIO ASSOCIATION celebrating their 50th anniversary.  The operator (Dan) had a great signal and audio into Ottawa and although it was just over 200 miles it was great to talk to a ham who was having fun running a pile up…

After a couple of hours of enjoying the fantastic weather we packed up and headed home…

73bob

A walk to Weston Park

April 28, 2015

Well it was a bit warmer than its been recently…  At least when the sun was not hiding behind the clouds…  I grabbed my backpack (FT 817 & LDG QRP Auto Tuner , batterypack, W3EDP antenna etc) and walked the 1 km from my door over to Weston Park.  The fizzio types at the Montfort Hospital still want me to exercise even though I have been discharged (Knees and Cardio Depts) and so I figured why not walk somewhere that fun to be at…

weston2015-1

The picnic table beside the kiddie wading pool was available so I put the backpack down and stretched out the W3EDP out between two trees and over the pool.

weston2015-2

The W3EDP ran from the tree at the bottom right to the tree at the top center of the picture.

The reason for the W3EDP rather than the Par or the Buddistick was for two main reasons.  I knew that the bands were not that great so I wanted to see how having a NVIS antenna out on 40m and 80m would work.  Also its been a while since I have tried a Horozontally Polarized antenna out on the bands.  Usually I use the Par in a vertical or sloper configuration so today I though why not?neww3edp

 

Well the W3EDP seemed to be the good choice today because as it was before I left home 10m, 12m, 15m, 17m and 20m were not that good for me.  I managed to hear the NCS for the Maritime Mobile Service Net on 14.300 usb but was not able to be heard by the NCS or heard by anyone so not even a relay was made.

On 40m I heard some VE2 Stations around 7.075 and 7.130 (remember the Canadian Bandplan does give us voice there) but as my french is not the best I did not try to jump in…  I did hear the NCS of the ECARS Net on 7.255 but I guess that today 5w and a wire was just not enough…  I love the RCVR in the 817 when the local noise is low…  I heard a NTS Net running on 7.290 lsb and the NCS station was in Missouri.  I heard everyone he heard checking in but once again I doubt they were expecting a QRP Station checking in from VA3Land so no contacts were made there.

I was liking what I was hearing though and so was not really disapointed by the lack of contacts….  The antenna was working and that was the best part…

ontars_logo

I then went down to 80m and listened on 3,755 which as some of you know if the frequency of the Ontario Amateur Radio Service Net (ONTARS Net) and heard a couple talking.  Once they had completed their QSO I heard VE3ISX call for checkins and I called and Barry (Net Manager) acknowledged my call.  255 miles on 80m SSB in the Daytime when one of the stations is QRP….  Not too shabby for 5w and a wire…

Right after that there was the sounds of loud rumblings….  Not thunder but my tummy…. I decided it was time to pack up and head home for lunch…  A 2km walk ( 1 there and 1 back) combined with 2 hours of radio work in the great outdoors made for a great start to the day…

Hope you day is going as well…

73bob

 

 

Monday Musings….

April 27, 2015

Well the weekend is now over and unlike all my fellow bloggers ….  I have nothing new to report…. 

Here at my place radio time is from Monday to Friday but on the weekends we usually have “stuff” planned as a family and that moves radio to the back burner…  Or to be more specific radio activities to the back burner…

This weekend Liz and I were planning a couple of trips that she would like to make this summer with our new (to us) RV…  It should be on the road and ready to go early in May ( only thing left to do is a bit of interior sprucing up )and we are already planning trips….

One thing I have to comment on though is….

After planning a trip and then looking on the internet to see if any local (to the area we were planning to visit) Amateur Radio Clubs had anything on the go we found that most of the Club Websites were not kept up to date…  Hard to plan a field day visit when the field day link on the website shows me the info from 2007…  The pictures shown did imply that everyone had a good time though…  Using the generic google search term “<your town> Amateur Radio) found your clubs website easily enough but the information was so outdated that in most cases it was useless…canadacallmap

At different time this summer and fall we would like to visit VE3 and VE2 and it would be nice to stop in and visit local amateur activities in our travels (compare operating notes ) and also get some local information at the same time.  So far this information seems to be sadly lacking in most cases.  If you get a chance please check Your Clubs website and imagine you were a stranger looking for information before a trip and then decide if your Amateur Radio Group is well represented.

This week will be mostly me chasing some DX and hopefully completing a Sked with CX7RT before he changes back into VA3PCJ when he returns to Canada next week.  So far the propagation ghods have not been nice enough to allow us a QRP to QRP contact between his KX3 and my Flex 1500 over the approximate 5700 miles between our antennas…  My QRP CW DXCC totals continue to slowly climb as I am now sitting at 46 confirmed and awaiting confirmation from another 15 (if everyone I contacted was on Logbook of the world).  In reality I believe that I stand a chance of getting about 6 more confirmed but I just keep on trying…. and it is fun trying…

Enjoy your week and I hope to get you in the log soon….

73bob

 

 

Is it #QRP?

April 24, 2015

This could be the question of the day….

If you follow me on twitter you will notice that I tend to tweet about some of my DX Contacts.  I use the hashtags #QRPCW and #QRPSSB quite a bit along with my “catch phrase” … “5w and a wire”…

FT817atMerBlueSept2013

For the most part QRP is considered to be 5w or less output from the radio in any mode but there are some who consider QRP to be 5w (CW, Digital) and 10w (SSB).

elecraft_kx3

Even the radio manufacturers seem to have different definitions as some market their product as a QRP Radio when the advertised output is greater than 5w.  In fairness they do list 5w as one of the power settings but they also mention that the power can be set higher.

icom_703_reduit

If you check the ARRL and the CQ Contest rules they seem to agree that 5w (or less)  is QRP but if you check the rules for the QRP to The Field contest (follow this link and scroll down to rules) you will see that they will allow QRP at the 10w level for SSB.

flexradio-1500

For me its an easy answer as my Yaesu FT817 which I use in portable situations and my Flex 1500 which I use at home are both 5w QRP radios.  Unless I buy an amp then all I can get out of them is 5w…

k3_big_v4

However the Elecraft K2, K3 and KX3 can go up to 10w along with the ICOM IC 703  I’m also sure that there are many more rigs out there that could fit into either catagory of 5w or 10w…

Remember I am not bashing any of the rigs… or the different brands…. they just serve as good examples for our question of the day…

What defines QRP? or Is it QRP if???

Feel free to comment here and let me know what your opinion is…

73bob

 

After the Ontario QSO Party

April 20, 2015

Well it was fun…

I had very limited time to participate in the event due to some non radio commitments…  I was able to get about 2 hours in on the Saturday evening and never made it back into the shack for the Sunday portion…  I did manage 14 contacts total between SSB and CW split almost evenly on 40m and 80m…

flex_manual_cover

I was operating with the Flex 1500 (Elecraft T1 Auto tuner, 4:1 balun and 55 foot end fed longwire with 4 radials) which as you know has been the same setup I have used here for about 18 months now… 

T1_photo_b1

Operating strictly in the Search and Pounce mode  was my choice of operating styles so….  If I heard you…. I called you but I was only looking for OQP stations just so I could give out the “OTT” (Ottawa) multiplier…  The score was nothing to write home about but it was a fun way to spend a few hours…  With the noise levels on 80m I was shocked that so many actually heard me well enough to copy the exchange (59 OTT or 5nn OTT)

I seem to have lots of time to play radio but it seems the weekends are all shot till the summer holidays….  Monday to Friday loads of time for DX’ing but Saturday and Sunday always seem to be booked….  My summer break will see the camper heading out for  Field Day in Eastern Ontario then heading to a location in Western Quebec for the RAC Canada Day Contest… Its going to be 2 weeks of camping with a couple of Radio Events splitting up the time…

After that Liz and I will be doing some short camping trips (within 200km of home) and the radio gear will be going along but the operating time will not be as much as I would like, but it will be more than she wanted it to be…

There are some plans in the works for the CQ WW SSB Contest in late October but for now its still just me thinking out loud…  Nothing carved in stone yet…  It depends on how well the camper behaves itself over the summer camping trips….

My ongoing quest for my QRP CW DXCC is going fairly well.  43 confirmed so far and I am awaiting LoTW Confirmations for another 15.  A few of those will not be confirmed and a couple more might get confirmed on EQSL but this is something that is not going to happen overnight.  I am impressed however how far my CW Signal has made it using  “5w and a wire”…  Although I am still not a CW Fanatic I have to admit that the mode does get a signal through…  This winter i hope to start into working for my Triple Play award which means I finally will have to figure out the digital modes…

In the meantime have fun playing radio…

73bob

Upcoming event- The Ontario QSO Party

April 16, 2015

It figures….  This weekend ( April 18th-19th )is the weekend of the Ontario QSO Party and “Murphy” comes for a visit to the VA3QV shack.  A non radio item has snuck into my schedule and I will be busy both days of the contest.

If some of you however need the rare multi “OTT” I will be available for the looking in CW and SSB on Saturday evening from about 1930 EDST to around 2300 EDST.  Best bands would be 40m and 80m.  The tuner can also load the wire on 160m but with only 5w output its not really that efficient.

The Ontario QSO Party Website can be found here

I will not be submitting a log so this is not me trying to solicit contacts… but rather me trying to give out some contacts to help the contestants in their efforts to make a clean sweep of all the Ontario Multipliers

However I do advise all participants to submit their logs as sometimes a low score is enough to get some wallpaper for the shack (as you can see from the below image)

ve3ramOQP2006

VE3RAM ( Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club ) operated as Multi OP Station from the grounds of the Science Museum in Ottawa for the event.  We demonstrated Amateur Radio to the General Public and also had fun doing it

Good luck to all the participants

73bob

Some days the wire works…

April 15, 2015

… And yesterday was one of those days…

I managed 7 #QRPCW contacts with 7 different #DXCC entities on on 3 continents…  One contact was a new one for me, Three others were new ones for me in CW and the other three were countries that I have contacted in the past.

_J68HZ_eqsl

One was already confirmed via Logbook of The World and EQSL for a new #CWDXCC

Once again there will be some of you out there who insist on telling me that “Life is too short for QRP”…  Well you might be right but my log begs to differ….  Don’t get me wrong….  I would love to have a beam and a tower along with a KW….  Hell, even having the room to stretch out a windom would be great… But at the end of the day….  What I got is working and its working fine…

CU down the log….

73bob

Trying to work the world with “5w and a wire”…

April 8, 2015

After re reading this the first little bit might appear to be a bit of a rant….  It was not intended as such…  so if I offend anyone by the content ….  sorry ………. (In advance)


So far April has not given me a great amount of contacts but it has given me 4 new ones for the log IF they might get confirmed on Logbook of The World (LoTW)…

LoTW_2

That of course would be in a perfect world…. 

eQSLHomePageR1C1

I have those events every now and again when you see me mention that I contacted a New one and the next day I get a LoTW and/or EQSL confirmation…  Well thats what I need to hope for with my last 4 contacts as all 4 of them if confirmed would be “new ones” for me.  BUT… and there had to be a but…. according to the QRZ.com pages only one of them uses Electronic confirmations….

cqmaps_sample_twitterThanks to CQ Maps for the use of the Graphic.  If your looking for a new map for your shack… Why not deal with a ham?


So I upload my logs to LoTW and EQSL hoping that one day I get an unexpected confirmation from someone  who might of had a change of heart and join the 21st century…  Every now and again I do get confirmations from years gone by…. and they are greatly appreciated….

In retrospect I guess I am the Polar Opposite….  I know they are not on LoTW or EQSL and I sent anyway…. The eternal Optimist that I am….

QRP-DXCC-ARRL

The one nice thing about being a QRP Operator is that for the first big award (the QRP DXCC) all we have to do is submit our logs and they take us at our word…

dxcc phone

Again thats why the QRPDXCC is different than the regular DXCC….  For all the other awards they have to be confirmed by LoTW or QSLs same as you 100w + folks…

This posting also reminds me that I have enough credits to apply for a lot of paperwork….(QRPDXCC, Mixed DXCC, Phone DXCC along with CW WAS (QRP) and Phone WAS) but would they all fit on the wall in the Motorhome?   Oh Well…  One of these days…  If I ever get a nice shack that does not have concrete walls or wheels… maybe…

So why not QSL using Electronic Media?  I was looking through my logs trying to wonder why not….  In a few cases I’m guessing lack of internet or computers….  A few of my non confimred QSOs have no real data on QRZ other than their callsign so I am guessing that there is a lack of something there….  But for the most part….  When I look them up on QRZ.com I see pictures of towers…. fancy beams….  new radios…. really Big Amps…. now this  means to me that money is not a concern and also with all the uploaded web pages etc also neither is the internet….  This would be the same guy that wants me to QSL Direct with 5 greenstamps to cover the cost of his postage and the printing of the card…

canadian5dollarbill

Heck …if I thought it would do any good I’d send him the 5 bucks just to get him to confirm the gosh darn QSO on LoTW…

Well so much for my mini rant….

As you know the bands have not been that good (or at least stable) for the best part of a month since the big solar flare up and storm in Mid March…

I am hearing stations but not making that many contacts….  Stations with a s9+ signal report seem to be dropping down into the noise in mid transmission… On the bright side it makes for shorter QSOs (get the basics done before the signals fade again) but it also makes for less QSOs as if the strong signals are fading then you can only imagine what a QRP signal is going to sound like at their end…. static…

I will be staying at QRP Levels here at home with the Flex 1500 and I could improve my antenna system slightly but any changes I made would really just mean running more radials out and I have as many as I can have out in my backyard without tripping over wire when I walk already….  A few years ago when I used the FT 450(dialed back to 5w) and my FT 817  along with the S9 43 foot vertical with all the radial criscrossing the back yard the reports were great.  Not really sure if that was the extra radials or the band conditions at the time…The wire is a little longer now…. there are less radials out and I am using the same feed line from the 4:1 balun to the shack…

Hopefully before the camping season starts the bands will settle down a bit.  At this time I do plan to take a few trips to various locations in Ontario this summer and operate from different locations…  A few might be SOTA style locations and others just a nice place to sit for a day or so and play radio…  Having the band conditions cooperate would be a big bonus…

73bob


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,256 other followers