Wednesday afternoon at the Nepean Sailing Club

September 3, 2015

This afternoon I accompanied VA3PCJ over to the Nepean Sailing Club.

sassyatanchorAbove Pic of the Sassy Gaffer courtesy VA3PCJ

 

The purpose of the trip was to put some gear back in the “Sassy Gaffer” and once that was done my FT817 and Jose’s KX3 played some radio beside the Sailing Club in what is known as Dick Bell Park…

elecraft_kx3

Above the Rig I want to get if the most dependable rig I have ever owned (below) ever fails…

 

FT817atMerBlueSept2013

I found a picnic table that had a bit of shade along with a tree branch that was cooperating to become an antenna support for the Par end Fedz QRP Triband antenna….

PAR_outofthebox-475x475

I heard strong signals despite the poor band conditions on 15m, 17m, 20m and 40m but only managed contacts on 20m SSB

I managed contacts with K5O, K5H and W4BKI and I managed to check into the YL Systems net on 14,332 but I must of messed up the NCS Callsign as I could not find anything close to the call on QRZ.com… So if you know who the Net Relay station was… who brought me into the net at 1920utc let me know what her call was please…

K5O and K5H were special event stations honouring Hurricane Katrina operators…   I also heard K5P while in the park but could not break the pileups…  It was a good thing I got them in the log on August 27th from home with the Flex 1500.

John W4BKI in Florida had a great signal and was able to check me into the TEN TEC Net on 14.325.  They take checkins from all stations even QRP Yaesu ones….  Nice bunch of fellows …

It seemed I had a pipeline south today…. after checking the map….  Florida, Alabama and two contacts in LA are all in the same neck of the woods and almost due south of me…  Well at least the band was open somewhere for me….  earlier in the day all I heard was static on 20 when operating from home.

Actually there were lots I did not contact as they could not hear me or I could not break the pileups…  Austria, Italy, Canary Islands and Spain all eluded me today…  Not sure if it would of made a difference but my antenna was in a sloper configuration aimed south and seeing that all my contacts were south of me…. and everyone I could not contact was east of me….  Its the best excuse I could come up with…

All in all a great day… Spent some time at the sailing club…. played radio and made a few contacts as well…  The cold beer at the end of the day in the Mess of the Sailing Club was not bad either…

Hope your day was a great as mine was

73bob

Electronic QSO Confirmations- its your choice

September 2, 2015

 

As most of you in the Amateur Radio Community know we have a few players in Electronic Confirmations with more joining in the fray….  Although it would be nicer if we could all agree on 1 system after looking though my logs it seems there is not that much of a difference….

Here is how I do things here….  It may vary from your way of doing things… but it works for me…


DISCLAIMER-  THE FOLLOWING METHODS ONLY WORK IF BOTH PARTIES SUBSCRIBE TO THE SERVICES.  IF I SEND A QSL CARD TO YOU VIA THE BURO AND YOU DON’T USE THE BURO THEN YOU WILL NEVER GET THE CARD.  THE SAME APPLIES TO THE ELECTRONIC FORMS OF QSL…  IF YOU DON’T USE THEM….  YOU CAN’T GET THEM


eQSL

After every QSO is made an EQSL is sent out by my logging program…. If you have an account with EQSL you should get it the next time you check in with them and if you don’t…  well you won’t get it…. 

hrdlognet

At the same time the QSO is listed on HRDLog.net and if you use HRDLog then the QSO will automatically be confirmed once we both enter the QSO into our respective logs…  if not…

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Finally at the end of every day I upload my log to Logbook of The World.  If you subscibe to that free service (its free to DX Stations but US Stations have to be ARRL Members) outside of jumping though a couple of hoops when you apply its pretty painless.  The benefit to this setup is that  the ARRL accepts LoTW confirmations for the ARRL Awards which makes it much easier to obtain your DXCC or WAS awards…

Now for me I find these 3 ways fairly painless….

My computer automatically sends out to EQSL and HRDLog an electronic notice that I think we made a QSO…  In the case of EQSL if I was mistaken the contact is rejected by the other station and I get a notice…  With HRDLog and LoTW the QSO is just never confirmed…

Now heres a bit of useless stats for you to ponder over:

According to my actual log which has been submitted to LoTW and EQSL along with HRDLog.net I have made (as of this posting) 2986 entries in my log…

By my logging program I have made contacts in 155 distinct DXCC entities (unconfirmed)

I currently have 120 DXCC confirmed via LoTW

I currently have 86 DXCC confirmed by EQSL (I have 3 DXCC confirmed on EQSL that are not confirmed on paper or on LoTW)

I currently have 3 DXCC Confirmed via paper cards (that are not already confirmed electronicly)

There are some of my contact who I know only QSL Direct or via the Buro… so far that would account for a good percentage of those 30 or so who have not confirmed electronicly.

frustration1

Along with that fact that…

I might of got some callsigns messed up when I entered the data into my computer logging program  (too many fingers on keyboard error) it has been known to happen in the past.

 


In addition….  My complete log is backed up at 3 different locations.  So if my computer should ever have a fatal crash… the data in my logs can be recovered…  all is not lost as long I continue to faithfully upload my logs as I am supposed to…


We also have the traditional ways of non electronic confirmations…. Direct and the Buro….  With the cost of postage these days Direct is becoming too darn expensive and there is a chance that the other station will not get your card along with the fact you might not get his in return….  If they QSL Direct at all.   Sending though the QSL Bureau (BURO for short) takes a long time and then again you have no knowledge of when they got your card and if they subscribe to the buro so they can return a card to you….

Guessing that in the 21st century….  everyone who is reading this must have some sort of Internet access….  so why not sign up to one of the services….  I’m not going to debate whose is better as I like all 3 and they all serve a purpose for me…  If you are a DXer or want to be a DXer…. Its something you should be looking at if you have not already done so…

73bob


 

Another Disclaimer-  There are more services out there than what I have talked about today…  I am letting you know the ones  I use to control my logbook and my QSLs…  This works for me but it might not work for you.  Do your homework and come up with a solution that works best for you.


 

A “Chilly Con” Reminder

September 1, 2015

A reminder about ChillyCon from my earlier Blog Post:


Well its official….

Chillycon 2015 will be held on Friday September 11th, Saturday September 12th and Sunday September 13th at the Rideau River Provincial Park in Kemptville Ontario.

Before I forget…. Campsite fees or daily access fees do apply and you must regester at the park front gate

Chillycon is the annual meeting of the Ottawa Valley QRP Society and is a QRP- Portable op camping style event that lets you participate up to the level that you feel comfortable at….  Some spend a few hours….  Others spend the whole weekend and others spend a few extra days and just relax…  The choice is yours….

There are some friendly competitions such as the furthest contact….I think that last year is was contact from Kemptville to VK Land…  I know I did not make it….

Along with the traditional Pizza supper on the Saturday evening….  Nothing says camping like having Pizza delivered to your campsite….  The first year the Pizzeria said… “you want HOW MANY pizzas???? and delivered to where????  Now they look forward to Chillycon almost as much as we do….

The pizza dinner is a pre pay deal…. you tell the organiser how many slices you want and he puts the order in and you pay for what you order….  Its suggested that before you arrive at the park you pick up enough soft drinks to get you through the day from a store you will pass en route to Chillycon

oarc

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As an added bonus this year Chillycon is the same weekend as the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club Hamfest in Carp Ontario so you can buy some goodies on the Saturday morning then come out to Chillycon in the afternoon to test them out.

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Here is a map from the Hamfest to Chillycon just in case you need it…

All in all its a great time for however long you can participate for and yes….  Its a rain or shine event so dress accordingly…. and bringing some bug spray would not be a bad thing…

chiliconradio2

There is a covered area by the beach which we can operate from if the weather is not cooperating and a few of the experienced ones bring a couple of tarps as well….A few lawnchairs are not a bad idea either…

chilicon

chilycon2013_2

 FT 817 with an arrow dual band beam on the tripod working some VHF SSB

ARRL-logo

As a reminder the Chillycon weekend is also the weekend for the ARRL September VHF contest so there will be lots to do and see…


We (Liz and myself) are changing our plans slightly….

We first expected to get there on Thursday and enjoy the park for a day before the excitement of Chillycon took over…  However Liz has a Drs appointment at the Montfort Hospital on Friday early afternoon so we will be taking the camper to the appointment and as soon as its over we will be leaving for Kemptville…  We will be seeing you there around supper time…

camper8

Should be on the air in time for the evening rag chew nets on 80m if you can hear 5w and a wire…

73bob

The “Milestone” I did not expect to hit

August 31, 2015

Sometime just before I posted this… The “Blog” as we call it in my house passed the ½ million visitor mark. (500,000 hits).

Now I don’t know how many individuals have visited but having that many hits is bringing a smile to my face…
I have been trying to keep you entertained and informed since Feb 2008 and the fact that the hits keep on climbing is proving that I must be doing something right. Recently its been hard to keep the content fresh without RAC bashing but I try…

rac-125x125joinAs I write this (August 31st) today is the last day for ballots in the Ontario South Directors Election for RAC. Yes… an election and not an acclimation or an appointment. This is the first time in recent memory this is happening and is what I believe to be a sign of great things to come…  If the news from RAC continues on a positive note I might even finally re join …

morsekey1

You have heard (probally more than you want to know) about QRP Operating and not having to know CW to operate CW and win some awards in the process.

WASLogo

Despite what you think… and I know this when some of you “think out loud”… the Blog is not usually my bragging platform. I believe it to be my inspirational outlet. As far as I’m concerned if I can achieve my DXCC or my WAS with 5w and a stealth wire…. Why can’t you??? No big rigs…. Amps… Towers or beams… here…

FT817atMerBlueSept2013
It’s a QRP Transceiver (FT 817 or Flex 1500) with various lengths of wire (55 foot at home, W3EDP (84 foot) or a Par end Fed (40 foot) in the park…

PAR_outofthebox-475x475

Granted in the beginning I did run up to 100w (FT 857, FT 897, FT 847 and FT 450) but I really don’t notice the difference between 5w and 100w. My neighbors stereo however does notice the difference and everyone smiles at me again…

From comments I have received over the years I have encouraged a few of you to “Do more with less”… but then also the newer QRP rigs make it so pleasurable to operate that the features of the rigs themselves encourage you to take the challenge… I’m glad some of you tried though…

Whats next for “the Blog”???

Well the first thing is to keep on with what works… after all 500,000 visitors can’t be wrong and so I must be doing something right… I plan to continue keeping you informed and encouraged as best as I can…

camperatlighthouse
Also Liz and I are planning to travel a bit more… At first with our well used RV but also with a slightly larger one that will be joining us by the springtime (we hope)… On these trips we hope to give real examples of why Amateur Radio is still relevant in the 21st century… as we travel across the landscape…

A few of you will be viewing Amateur Radio on the road through our eyes this coming summer…
Either way… thanks for riding along and hope you stay around for the next part of our “Excellent Adventures…”

73bob

Doing some work in my “Antenna Patch”

August 28, 2015

When my backyard is 20 square I can’t really call it an “Antenna Farm” so “patch” it is…

Two years ago I experimented with a Cushcraft MH5V vertical antenna…  This antenna covers 10-12-15-17 and 20m and has a very small foot print…

MA-5VAgr

I decided to get some antenna work done before the nasty weather we call winter sets in so…  This afternoon was a good as any time to start and so the Cushcraft vertical was the first to get installed…

20130924_120337

As I had done two years ago I installed the vertical on a short mast thats on the inside of my maple tree…  The tree hides part of the shiny aluminum from the people walking by as I prefer to keep my antennas fairly stealthy and so does my landlord.

mfj259b

This time before using the antenna I checked out its tuning with my recently acquired MFJ Antenna Analyzer.  I found the antenna was good in the CW Portion between 10m and 17m but was resonant below the 20m CW Portion.  It was resonant at 13.950 which is a bit low….  I did some adjustments  and now its resonant around 14.010 which is close enough for now… 

How did I ever tune antennas without an antenna analyzer?  It made it so easy….  If you don’t use one I recommend you get one… The brand is up to you but its the way to tune stuff up quickly and accurately…

T1_photo_b1

If I’m going to operating in the voice portions then my Elecraft T1 QRP Auto tuner will be needed anyway.

I did some A-B testing between the wire and the Cushcraft and found basically the same results I had 2 years ago…  A S7 signal on the wire was a S5 on the vertical but the noise was lower on the vertical which made for an easier copy of voice or CW signals.  I was unable to contact anyone to compare signals on transmit.

This is the first step in getting all my antenna work before November 1st….  Next on the list comes taking my dual band J pole (2m/70cm) down along with the HDTV antenna that shares the same mast.  I have  a 30 foot telescopic military mast (from a 19 set) sitting my basement and the thought is to get the J Pole at the top of the antenna for a stronger signal into the local repeaters and then have the HDTV antenna just above roof height (bout 25 feet above ground) aimed west which should give me better reception from both of the TV Towers that the local OTA Broadcasters use…  We still have a commercal provider (who we are not really happy with) but they gave us a good deal on the internet so…. if that deal ever sours…. the HDTV antenna will immediately take over…

I would like to get all the work done by November 1st as the camper will be in storage for the winter at the end of October and I plan to hibernate (hide) in the shack till mid February 2016 when Liz and I get the camper dug out… and take a trip south to W4Land.  Thats the plan at least for now but… as we know things happen… and some times they don’t… no matter what at least my antenna work will be done before the snow gets silly…

More on how everything works out later…

73bob

 

 

2 new ones via the Buro

August 27, 2015

Not that I am complaining but I received an envelope yesterday via Canada Post from the VE3 Incoming QSL Bureau.

On my QRZ.com page it does mention that I prefer not to receive from the Bureau as I can’t reply via the Buro as I am not a Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) member and as they sponsor the outgoing Buro you must be a RAC member to use the service.

I don’t get that many cards in from the Buro for that reason…  cuz I don’t send out via the bureau

lotw-logo-c

After looking though the batch I decided to compare the QSL card box against my Logbook of the World totals to see if I had missed any….

LoTW_2

To my shock….  I found that I had a few “new ones” that had replied via the bureau rather than LoTW and I had not caught them when they came in… 

C37N  OCTOBER 2011  40M SSB  Andorra

RJ3AA MAY 2012 17M SSB Russia

The shock being that…. Knowing that I had worked these DXCCs several times in the past and that I never noticed that the DXCC entities were never confirmed… According to my logs just about every major (CQWW SSB) contest I get these entities in my log and I had figured that they were confirmed by now….  well NOW they are confirmed….

I already have my QRP DXCC and my DXCC SSB along with the DXCC Mixed (according to LoTW) but these latest two confirmations will add to the Mixed DXCC totals which is now sitting at 122 confirmed. 

cq_logoIts been hard slogging for a QRP Operator recently.

I am hoping for some really good band conditions soon along with a successful week before the CQWW SSB contest in October…

Hope your day is going as well as mine is….

73bob

PS…  A BIG SHOUT OUT TO THE PEOPLE WHO MANAGE AND OPERATE THE QSL BUREAUS AROUND THE WORLD…  This posting proves that even in these days of LoTW and EQSL there are still those who prefer paper to electric…  I guess it depends on how bad you want that new one...

STILL looking for “The” Radio for the camper…

August 25, 2015

If you look back in the archives….  On July 22nd 2015 I wrote in a blog post    that I was looking for a new radio for the camper and just to shock most of you the radio I was looking at to fill the position was an ICOM 7100 and not one of the Yaesu Brands which I have favoured over the years…

ic-7100_l.

So far the reviews of the IC 7100 scare me a bit….  Way too many 5/5 reviews and not enough 4/5’s…  Whenever a radio seems to be perfect… I tend to doubt it….  I like the looks of it….  I love the features but…. I doubt the honesty of the reviews on QRZ.com.

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One local ham here in town admitted to buying one and his reviews were less than stellar…. He even tried to send it back to the dealer and buy a different brand of radio (from that same dealer) and was told of a 20% re stocking fee…  He decided to sell the radio privately and recovered his investment without losing 20% and that dealer has lost a customer…

As far as I know the new owner has no issues and is happy with his purchase….  Proving what does not work for some … will work for others…

Guessing it was a noise issue that was was local to his area… But my neighborhood is noisy as well…

The Flex works great here but other radios have not…

My FT 817 works great in the camper but some times 5w just does not cut it…

The reason I am having doubts and questions is that the local ham lives in a situation almost the same as mine… Limited space environmnent with limited space for antennas.

camperatlighthouse

Granted I am looking for a radio for the camper but I also would of like to use it at home when the camper is parked in storage.  If nothing else would keep it at home for security…  but…. I also might power it up when the bands were not good for QRP.

So I am still looking…  as previously stated the radio will be operated from the campers kitchen table….  It will not be in a position where the driver can operate it so…. no distracted driving in my future….

ft450

So if you have any suggestions or recomendations….  send them my way….  Earlier I was thinking of the Yaesu FT 450 and now its closer to the top of the list … right beside the ICOM as I wait for more data before making my final choice

camper4Not in a rush… but the camper is scheduled to head south to W4 Land in mid February so I gotta make up my mind soon...

73bob

Upcoming North American Islands Event

August 24, 2015

maple island

Well not sure if its all of North America but the W/VE island QSO Party for 2015 is coming up on August 29th and 30th...

bateisland2

The Rules for the event are Here

BATEISLAND

Now this Island stuff is easier than you think…. If you have a River near you there is most likely an Island that you can get to and operate from fairly easily…

Step 1-  Strongly recommend you check out the Island Activators website and read up a bit on the whole Island thing…

The above video is from my UNSUCCESSFUL ACTIVATION ATTEMPT of Pig Island from a few years ago.  I found an Island in the Rideau Canal that could be accessed in the winter time (by walking across the ice)…

FT817

It was so darn cold (HOW COLD WAS IT???) that I suffered mild hypothermia and not only froze myself,  but I froze my radio as well… The temps were about -20C and the radio and I start to freeze up at -10C

We both survived to DXPedition again another day…

Here are some basic hints from an earlier posting (Aug 3rd 2015) I made on this topic:

Remember the locals-  Looking for rare DX is fine and dandy but…. working an hour on 40m and/or on 80m can give the close in operators a chance to get an island in the log as well.  The same could be said for making a couple of calls on your local 2m fm frequency.

Whatever battery you would take out to the field….  Double it.… I normally use a 7ah battery in the field with my ft 817 but after calling CQ for 4 hours non stop I did need to put in the 2nd battery to continue on with the activation of Maple Island back in 2005.

Spend more time on the air than getting on the air…. A simple multi band antenna that you can install quickly will usually get you more contacts that the more complex antennas.  You most likely will be time challenged  so keep it simple and use your time wisely

Test your station then pack it and leave it packed till your event.  Once you know everything works… pack it in its bag and DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING till you take it to the island.

If you pack it away complete then you can’t forget anything at home (coax, microphones and power cords come to mind speaking from experience)

Don’t forget the logbook and extra pens….  Know your operating location… Do you need to bring a folding table and camp chair or are their picnic tables???

If you do cause a pile up… and you feel overwhelmed don’t hesitate to slow things down to your speed…  They want you in the log more than you want them… and remember in 99% they have more power than you and most likely a better antenna so don’t get upset if you can’t work everyone you can hear…. but try and work everyone who can hear you…

Finally don’t forget to have fun….  It has to be fun because if its not… Why did you do it?

This year as with most other weekends I am booked up with another commitment for the event so you won’t hear my callsign but…. I have a feeling that Bill VE3CLQ and Jose VA3PCJ will both be out there doing a great job of representing Eastern Ontario in the event…  Check out their blogs (above links) and see what they have planned.

Hope you have fun in the contest…

73bob

“When all else fails…” … They finally listened…

August 20, 2015

WhenAllElseFailsFor years now ARES and EMCOMM Operators have been saying that when “it” hits the fan and all the fancy internet linked repeater system fail that Amateur Radio would step in and fill the gap…. 

Well next time there is an event that causes “it” to fail they should be ready…  Please read the following:

http://mccmag.com/News/NewsDetails/newsID/13291?RESETAPPLICATION=&CART=

As you can see they listened….  The only problem is that Rockwell Colllins listened as well.  And they are doing it right….  10 to 12 centers across the lower 48 to connect to…  Paid staff who will be trained in what they do….  No egos to stroke….  Voice and data capabilities….  YUP… Doing it right….

Now before the flames start…  Yes we can do the same stuff they are doing….  We have HF….  We can operate ALE (the HF Pack Group is doing that quite well now) but we might be lacking on the hardened sites.  However on the positive side it should be fairly easy to modify (with the proper permission) our gear to interface with their network.  CFARS in Canada and MARS is the United States are good examples of Amateur cooperation with Goverment agencies at a National level.

Heres a link some info from the ARRL on Automatic Link Establishment (ALE)

Another positive is that we still may have a hole to plug (so to speak) with our abilities to operate portable….  In a major failure (Katrina style) I doubt they will have enough equipment for all the site…  Yes the main sites but the secondary sites…  the shelters,,, the local emergency gathering locations….  will all need some form of communications and thats where we could be needed……

IC-F8100_frtSome Amateur Tranceivers are already capable of operating ALE

This is a wake up call for the leaders in our hobby who preach the EMCOMM word….

Seeing that the demo was in DC on Monday and Tuesday (Aug 17/18) we should be hearing lots about this new service in the very near future…

The powers have spoken…. its time to rework your EMCOMM Plans to include the New HF Modes….

73bob

Disclaimer:  I have no interest in Rockwell Collins, ICOM or any other company that manufactures equipment that could be used for ALE.  I do not operate ALE at this time.

The above posting is to inform you and as with everything you read on the internet you should research it carefully before making any decisions or conclusions about what you are planning to do in our hobby. 

A “Ham” of his word

August 18, 2015

More than a few years ago I was given a used HY- GAIN AV-18VS antenna

After  using it for a while I no longer had a use for it… My antenna requirements had evolved…

I decided that as I had been given it (no charge, free) it only seemed right to pass it on to a ham who would use it and then hope that he had the integrity to do the same when he no longer needed it…

ovmrclogo

I was very pleased to read the following post on the OVMRC Forum last night…

(http://ovmrc.on.ca/forum/index.php?topic=606.msg962#msg962)


HY-GAIN VERTICAL ANTENNA- FREE WITH CONDITIONS ATTACHED

Hy Gain vertical antenna model AV-18VS.  Will give to local newly-licensed amateur who can show that it will be used.  I received this antenna from Bob VA3QV on the understanding that I would pass it along free of charge to someone else when the time came.  Same pass along commitment is required from whoever gets this antenna.

For additional information, contact Joe, VE3EUS@rac.ca


I had made many contacts with that antenna and modified the feed system to make it easier to tap the coil for tuning….  No doubt over the years Joe has added a few changes of his own….

Some lucky Amateur Radio Operator is going to get a great antenna and a chance to keep a tradition going…

Thanks Joe…

73bob


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