Is it time for a change?

September 23, 2016

Recently I am seeing the totals in my log book not increasing as much as I would like.  I can blame that mostly on the fact that as the band conditions get worse I am making less contacts than before.  I have tried to compensate for that by trying the following:

I started operating CW…

and when the bands dropped more…

I started operating PSK 31…

and when they deteriorated again…

 I started operating JT 65…

However there is only so much you can (I can ) do with 5w and a wire in an area that is not really antenna friendly…  I am fortunate that I can put up antennas but as they have to stay within the confines of “my space” … efficiency is not their best quality.

In the past I have stated many times that I would rather be on the air with a poor antenna than not be on the air…  

That holds true today but recent results have me questioning how I can improve on my station….

I can improve on the feed line-  better coax has less line loss…

This would give me a little more punch… but…  seeing that my feedline is less than 50 feet long… how much more punch???  but when I operate QRP every MW gained helps…

I can improve on the antenna (slightly) Adding some radials might help

This would be an improvement… but as I use my small backyard whenever we are home in the spring, summer and fall…  is tripping over more radials the way to go???

I can raise the power levels…. (perhaps its time to QRO again?)

Is it time to put the Flex away (GASP) and replace it with a 100w rig? (BIGGER GASP)  In the spring when Liz and I resume our camping expeditions with the new camper having 100w while on the road would not be a bad thing...

I understand the limitations of 5w and a poor antenna.  When I take the FT 817 out to the parks I am able to make contacts as there is less noise along with the fact that I can stretch out a decent wire antenna which gets my QRP signal out more efficiently.  

wfd_va3qv_13However with winter coming soon and as I get older my love for operating outdoors drops as the temps drop ….  I gotta do something…

picnictablesnow

so…I have some decisions to make in the next month or so…

73bob

 

 

Amateur Radio Event in Ottawa Saturday

September 16, 2016

News from the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club:

oarchttp://www.oarc.net

http://www.oarc.net/blog/2016/jul/13/portable-station-demonstration-2016-is-a-go/

The 2016 version of the annual Portable Station Demonstration is happening this Saturday at Andrew Haydon Park in the west end of Ottawa…

As this event conflicts with “Chillycon” I have not visited it in a few years but I have participated in the past.  If you want to see what everyone else is using for toys for the great outdoors its a great place to be…

CU Saturday am (weather permitting)

73bob

Here are some random pics from the times I attended their event:

Quiet but busy

September 9, 2016

There has been lots on the go this week which unfortunately has cut into the RF time quite a bit…  Some limited (3 JT65) QSO’s made it into the log but no new ones in my quest for the Digital WAS which would complete my Triple Play WAS Awards…

However…  The hunt has started for the replacement of the VA3QV/m unit.  The insurance company finally acted like a “good neighbor” and we have come to terms.  There should be a new (to me) unit in the near future, but I doubt I can get everything done in time for the annual Chillycon weekend of September 16, 17 and 18th.

camper2

The above pic was taken at Chillycon in 2013 by Ying VA3YH


Its also pretty much a given that I won’t be at the OARC Hamfest in Carp this coming weekend.  (Saturday Sept 10th)…  Just way too much stuff on my plate right now…

OARC_fleamarket_2016

Hope that you have a good time and pick up lots of radio toys…


In the meantime when time permits…  I’ll be in the shack looking to get you in the log…

73bob

Monday morning looking back

September 5, 2016

Well this has been a great long weekend although my log book might disagree…  So far I have managed a couple of JT65 QRP (2w into the long wire) contacts each day over the weekend…

Longweekendmap

As usual according to PSK Reporter my meager signals are getting spotted across North America with a few in Europe but also as usual… more spots than contacts…

As of time of posting this my totals are (still) as follows:

DXCC (Mixed) 127

DXCC (SSB-Some QRO) 114

DXCC (CW- all QRP) 67

DXCC (Digital- all QRP) 19

WAS (Digital- all QRP)  42

QRP DXCC, WAS SSB (QRP), WAS CW (QRP) have already been confirmed with LoTW

However, the WX here in Ottawa (Eastern Ontario) was fantastic and 4 BBQs in a 3 day period (Fri, Sat and Sunday) (and there should be at least 1 today) with the family around more than compensates for the lack of contacts… and I still have most of Monday to improve on the logbook…


On to some other stuff:

http://www.oarc.net  and  http://carpfarmersmarket.ca/

This coming Saturday (September 10th) would be the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club Hamfest in Carp (Ottawa West)… and while you are shopping for Ham Toys your XYL can check out the fantastic Carp Farmers Market also at the Fairgrounds…


If you check http://ve3clq.blogspot.ca  you will see that Bill has grabbed a 2 letter call and is now also VE3FI.  (Good Luck with the catchy phonetics on that one ) but congrats on the new call Bill…  

chiliconIf you are heading over to Chillycon  after visiting the OARC Hamfest you can see Bill in person…  So far it looks like I will be passing on this years Chillycon… It will be a race to see if I can get the new camper on the road in time and so far its looks to be a (very) long shot… 

So that’s about all the news I have for you on a Labour Day Monday morning…  More time left today for BBQs and RF…

73bob

A good start to the Long Weekend

September 2, 2016

Well…

This morning I had the urge to wake up early…. not sure why…. found myself awake around 6am edst and decided I might as well get up and after a cup of coffee sat down in the shack… and played radio…


Managed 2 80m JT65 contacts (VE9DX Andy in NB) (W8EIR Dave in MI)… also made a 40m JT65 contact with VE9ZZ (Fidal in NB)

So far today (last 6 hours) my signals have been spotted by PSK Reporter in 3 Provinces (NB, NS and ON) and in  20 States between 30m, 40m and 80m


On to some other stuff:

http://www.oarc.net  and  http://carpfarmersmarket.ca/

Next weekend would be the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club Hamfest in Carp (Ottawa West)… and while you are shopping for Ham Toys your XYL can check out the fantastic Carp Farmers Market also at the Fairgrounds…


As I am still looking for some states in Digital to finish off my WAS Digital (and my WAS Triple Play) I will be spending lots of time in the shack over this Long Weekend hoping to find some amateurs (who use LoTW )in the following states ( Hawaii, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Vermont) who might be on the air on the weekends as I have not been able to find them during the week…

Enjoy your weekend

73bob

 

 

Cutting the cord

August 31, 2016

Now although this is not necessarily an Amateur Radio Post…

 It is the result of knowledge I have obtained over the years as an Amateur Radio Operator…

I have the resources… so why not use them???


Liz and I were chatting about the amount we pay on a monthly level for our “Cable/Fibre” TV service….  Its getting up there and shows no downward spiral anytime in the near future…

I mentioned that we did have all the necessary “stuff” sitting around to do a quick test on what we could receive over the air.

4bayantennaSitting in the basement was a 4 bay HDTV antenna which last saw use attached to my 30 foot Park Model Trailer which we sold more than a few years ago. 

 

I also had a 50 foot run of RG6 which I bought for something way back in the day…  Add to that my 30 foot long telescopic Wireless 19 set mast and a few clamps to finish off the process and we were in business…

In about 60 minutes I had the antenna up just above roof height and had it aimed South West.  In Ottawa we have one Transmitter site North of Ottawa (Camp Fortune QC )and a 2nd site South West of Ottawa (Osgoode ON).  I aimed South West (furthest from my QTH) as I knew we would be able to receive signals from the North site off the back of the antenna.

The results were outstanding…. CBC, CTV and CTV2, Global, Omni 1 and Omni 2, CHCH, TV Ontario and City TV with no issues.  As its Digital TV all the Video was clear with excellent audio.

From an earlier experiment with the antenna at 10 feet and aimed South East I know I can receive the English stations from Montreal (120 miles away) (CBC, CTV and Global) and with a bit of inversion (ham radio talk) the PBS stations in Vermont…

So the plan is to improve of the test setup… A new 8 bay antenna that allows me to aim 4 bays South East and 4 bays South West.  The antenna array will be feeding a 15 db signal amplifier which will then feed my TV in the shack and the new smart 55 inch TV that my daughter bought for her old man for fathers day…

Now as an unknown factor there is a chance the amplifier will allow us to receive some American Broadcast stations that are just on the fringe of our capabilities now.  The stations are located in Watertown NY (120miles away) (south west) and Plattsburg NY along with Burlington VT (150 miles away) (south east)

The cost for this new gear will be approx. $200.00 and if I have to buy a new mast it still will be under $300.00.  The savings of cutting the cable will pay for the new kit in less than 4 months…

After that we will see savings of approximately $100.00 a month (that could (should/might) get spent on radio toys...)

Now you might ask…  What about the stations that are not available OTA???  In Canada most of the good sporting events are shown on the Cable Specialty Channels…  Well I did mention that the TV is a smart TV… It has all the streaming services built in (or so my IT dept tells me) and as we are keeping the Hi Speed Internet… we will be (might be/should be/ supposed to be) able to watch most if not all of what we want to watch…

To those of you hams out there with towers…  Did you ever consider hanging a HDTV antenna off it and see what you could receive?  If you were to hook up a HDTV antenna along with a rotor then you could give TV DXing a try…

73bob

PS….  If we get great TV Reception with a 30 foot mast…. That justifies the thought of a 48 foot tower later on down the road…

 

 

 

Monday afternoon in the Mer Bleu Swamp

August 30, 2016

This afternoon VA3PCJ and myself returned to Mer Bleu for our first portable outing of this year (at that location)….  We have been at Rideau Island and the Nepean Sailing Club so far this year but we seem to have an issue finding common free time to play radio and so today was a treat.

I was using my FT 817 along with the LDG QRP auto tuner and for an antenna I had my Par Endz Fed QRP end fed half wave.  I also had my NUE PSK Modem with me…

2016QRP1

Heres the toys I was using… just this pic was from a different location


Jose was using his KX3 along with his newly home brewed 1/2 size W3EDP…

VA3PCJ_KX3_Station

For more info on his 1/2 size W3EDP check out his blog posting at:

https://thewakesileave.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/a-42-portable-multiband-hf-antenna-with-no-wire-on-the-ground-the-w3edp-jr/


but here is a bit on the full size version…

W3EDP_Vertical_model_ve3clq

For the version divide the dimensions by 2 and keep the 4:1 balun


I’ve been using one for years and can’t say enough good things about it…

However with Jose and myself separated by about 50 feet or so…. one of us had to yield frequency control…. Today was my day to field the questions of what we were up to….  I got to explain our hobby to a father along with his two boys…  The father had a bit of an electrical and computer background and seemed interested in my small size backpack station…

OARC_fleamarket_2016

I gave him some general info and invited him to visit the blog here and also visit the Carp Hamfest coming up in the near future.

I hope he follows up and visits…


So anyway…  I played SWL while Jose made the contacts….  The gear was working fine but everytime I tried to transmit I overloaded the KX3 Receive and he did the same to my FT 817…  Next time more separation might be a good thing…

The rest of the week should (might be ) be spent here in the shack…  Its cooler in the basement and I am still working on filling the last States needed for my Digital WAS which will also complete my ARRL Triple Play Award…

ARRL_WAS_map

As of the posting of this I need confirmations from Hawaii, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oaklahoma, Rhode Island and Vermont.  According to my logs I have worked all of the above but for whatever reasons they have not been confirmed (yet)!

So I hope you have a good week and if you are digitally inclined keep a look out for me on your screens (PSK31 and/or JT65) and give me a contact….  especially if you live in the above listed states…

73bob

 

CY9C now QRT

August 29, 2016

Well actually they were QRT a bit earlier due to WX concerns but a fantastic DXPedition (in my mind anyway) none the less….


CY9C-Logo

Log to search: CY9C
56,680 QSOs logged between 2016-07-12 00:28Z and 2016-08-27 12:08Z
Callsign to check: VA3QV
Band CW Phone Data
40

30

2

 

1

1


My booming 5w (2w on RTTY) signal got heard by them on 2 bands.  According to their logs on Club Log I got through on 40 CW and 30 RTTY and 40 RTTY. 

This gives me (once confirmed on LoTW) a new CW DXCC and a New Digital DXCC so I am very pleased.  It would be hard to ask for more considering I did have CY9 in the log on several other bands (6m, 17m, 20m and 40m all ssb) from a previous DXPeditons (CY9M).

Given the difference in band conditons from 2012 to now I am grateful that I managed the contacts that I did this time. 

I will say fantastic stuff about how they kept us in the loop during the DXPediton.  Their use of blogging and Twitter left us no doubt on how things were progressing and what their plans were and what their plan “B” was once things changed.  It made things so much easier to get them in the log.  In my mind it made it a first rate operation… 

Of course having access to the internet from the DXPedition location did make it easier for them to keep us in the loop.

Check out their website at: http://www.cy9dxpedition.com  and also VA3QR’s blog where the updates were provided at : http://va3qr.ca 

Thanks for the new one guys…

73bob

 

 

Canadian DX

August 26, 2016

Good Friday Morning…

To those of you NOT retired its the weekend…. To me its just another few days…  However as always…. the shack will be abandoned for the weekend so we can do family stuff like normal families… (actually never thought the words normal and my family might be used in the same sentence but anyway…)

For those of you playing radio this weekend…. Remember the Hawaii QSO Party….

HQP-2

http://www.hawaiiqsoparty.org/

Normally one of the harder states to get in your log….  You have an excellent chance this weekend.  Follow the above link to go to their website and good luck.  Operating QRP I managed contacts with HI in SSB and CW.  Made a couple of PSK contacts as well but only my SSB and CW were confirmed on LoTW.


Now onto Canadian DX:

canadiancallsignmap

If you look at the above map you see the different areas of Canada and their different callsign prefixes.

Pretty much anything in Canada that starts with a “V” can be obtained fairly easily depending on the band conditions at the time… VY0, VY1 and VE8 are a bit harder as they have less amateurs living there…

The provinces are all fairly easy to contact…. (for the most part)

However we do have a couple or rare ones…  Look at CY0 (Sable Island)  and CY9 (St Paul Island) As I write this the CY9C DXPedition ( http://www.cy9dxpedition.com )is happening and lots of amateurs are getting a new band/new mode or a new DXCC thanks to them.  And yes I’m one of them…  I worked St Paul Island in ssb during a previous DXPedition (CY9M) but during this DXPediiton I was able to snag them twice on 40m CW.  My rig is waiting to find them on a Digital Mode but so far I have only seen stations working them and not seen CY9C transmitting.

(About 1 hour after posting this I worked CY9C on 40m RTTY)

CanadaFlagSunset1

Now onto what I consider the rarest Canadian DX Location:

sable-island1

Sable Island

sable-island2

As you can see…. its out there and its not very big…

In the past DXPeditions would apply to the Canadian Government to operate for a period of time…  It was operating under harsh conditions as there is not much to shelter you from the elements while there.  There are no permanent residents of the Island unless you count the wild horses…

However there is one of the Park Staff and he is also a ham so we do have a part time resident amateur to give out contacts.

Sable-CY0-VA1AXC-QSL

VA1AXC Aaron ( https://www.qrz.com/db/va1axc ) who normally signs as CY0/VA1AXC rotates in and out of Sable Island as part of his employment duties.  Playing radio in his off time is a great way to pass the time.  Causing a pile up every time he operates is giving him the experience of a lifetime…  He is a great guy…  I got him in the log ( 40m QRP SSB) one evening…

However if you check his QRZ Page (link provided above) he is only QSL’ing direct through a QSL Manager.  That means Direct only… no buro… no LoTW… no EQSL… you get the picture.

Given the fact that Sable Island (CY0) has no Amateur Radio Operators living on the Island (Full Time) would lead me to state that in my opinion it is also the rarest Canadian DX…

So what do you think?

73bob

And they got me in the log

August 25, 2016

clublog-2x

I checked the CY9C Club Log search this afternoon and had a smile on my face after reading:

lotw-logo-c

They had confirmed my two 40m CW contacts.  Once they upload their logs to LoTW this means a new CW DXCC for me.

.

CY9C-Logo



Log to search: CY9C
35,500 QSOs logged between 2016-07-12 00:28Z and 2016-08-24 14:51Z
Callsign to check:  VA3QV
Band CW Phone Data
40 2

I am hoping to get them in one of the Digital modes as well but after reading VA3QR’s blog I see that they are having some problems with two of the K3S radios so I might not get the chance. 

Check out his posting at http://va3qr.ca/cy9c-day-6/ for more info.

73bob