Field Day 2019 – Emergency Communications Test

As I type this our hobby’s biggest annual test is underway.  Amateur Radio Clubs and Individual Amateur Radio Operators are working hard to prove that we can communicate when (if) we are called upon.

For more info on Field Day please follow these links and then don’t forget to come back and finish reading this post

ARRL Field Day 

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RAC Field Day

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So welcome back…

This year due to staffing issues at work I was unable to join any of the local clubs in their serious participations.  Instead I decided to test out the equipment (in between sleeping and work)  I will be installing in our new trailer that we are finally going to purchase in the off season and should be on the road starting in late April or early May of 2020.

There will be more about that in a future post … but for now back to radio

The gear I used for Field Day (this year) was my Yaesu FT 450 along with my SGC 237 auto tuner and it worked flawlessly for the time I had to operate

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Just finished working K2AA with the above radio.  Will fit on the small desk I will have in the trailer and along with the S9 43 foot vertical antenna will get the most out of the 100w output of the FT 450

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Heres a pic of the S9 on my old Class C camper. To my long term readers…. that the one that burnt on our first attempt of the PEI Trip and below is what it looks like on my current pickup truck in its un extended position.

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On the new trailer the S9 will be mounted on the rear bumper beside the spare tire carrier.

Anyway back to Field Day….  For me it was a success.  Contacts were made on 2m FM, and 10m, 20m, 40m and 80m Single sideband.  I heard a couple of guys ragchewing on 15m ssb but they were not interested in the event.  They were just a couple of friends chatting on a Sunday morning.

I know the gear works and thats all I can ask for…

Thanks for reading and there will a post coming soon with more info on the new trailer and the new tow vehicle for it .

73bob

 

Its a small world after all

Interesting evening….

Got a phone call from the local repeater operators telling me that they were testing the Wires X Fusion Node on a simplex frequency before switching it over to their repeater….

I switch over there and the first person I hear is VE1AS (Terry) ex VE3KLT who I have known for ever…. and when we both lived in Ottawa lived about 3 km away….

UPDATED:  Should of given a bit more info.  Terry now lives in Pugwash NS and according to QRZ.com thats a bit over 625 miles from Kingston.  Now Wires X/Fusion does use a form of internet linking so its not really DX  but I still think its neat that my first Fusion contact from home in Kingston would be with an old friend who I knew in Ottawa who now lived in Nova Scotia

I knew he moved but this is the first time we have talked since I moved into Kingston Ontario a year ago…

No rare DX but it was nice to talk to an old friend and neighbor

The hobby never ceases to amaze me

73bob

A great “Stationary Use” antenna for your #hamradio mobile use

As mentioned from a previous post…

If you’ve ever worked a large public service event (Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour or the Canadian Ski Marathon as examples) that are in areas that are not always “Radio Friendly” where you have to reach the repeater then here is a suggestion for you.  

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And here’s how I put it together… with next to no tools and with parts that mostly would be found in your radio equipment junk box

Parts list:

Hurricane style 3 or 4 magnet mount

Length of threaded rod-  I used a 3 foot long 3/8 inch threaded rod that I picked up at Princess Auto here in Kingston along with 3 nuts and washers

Home made copper J Pole antenna from my junk box that I built about 25 years ago as part of a club build project

Couple of small hose clamps

10 foot (or so ) run of coax

Step 1– Remove whatever antenna mounting hardware is currently on the Mag mount

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Step 2– Using Nuts and washers attach treaded rod where the antenna mount used to be

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Step 3–  Attach J Pole to the threaded rod  using hose clamps if needed at a length that you feel comfortable with or come up with a suitable way to secure the antenna to the rod (your choice)  In my case I just inserted the threaded rod inside the end of JPole

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Step 4 –  Attach coax

In my case this gave me a  copper J pole 2 feet above the 6 foot high roof of the truck then you add in the length of the J Pole itself and I have a the top of a 1/2 wave antenna approx 14 feet above ground (6(truck)+2(rod)+6(length of Jpole) firmly attached by 3 large magnets to the rood of the truck.  According to Ontario Law its too tall to have on the roof while driving but if you are stationary (at a checkpoint) it will do you fine…


WARNING

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Whenever you are doing any sort of antenna work watch for and avoid all overhead wires.

You follow the above directions and use the information at your own risk.  The fact that it worked for me does not mean it will work for you.

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If you have any doubts about the safe use of the information do not attempt this..  

Check your SWR before transmitting.  Finals can be expensive

Safety+–+Antenna+Mast+Deployment

I hope you have fun with this setup but please be careful…. Don’t be “THAT” Ham…


Hopefully this setup should (could, might) give your the extra oomph to your signal to get into the repeaters when needed.

73bob

 

 

 

The adventure continues Part 3

Saturday evening was a great night and Erika remains the “Fire Queen”  She has the ability to start a campfire no matter how wet the wood is…..  Sitting by the fire at the end of the day with a cold one is a great way to finish off that day….

Sunday after breakfast it was decided (she decided) that we would head to the Cornwall Walmart for supplies.  Actually she was going to get me to drop her off at a Starbucks so she could visit with an old friend and I was heading to Walmart for supplies….  Anyway the drive took about 45 minutes each way as we drove a bit slow and checked some things out on the trip…  About 60 minutes after I dropped her off at Starbucks I was on my way back after getting food and other supplies for the next two days…

The after supper the evening started to get a bit chilly (!@#$%$#@ cold actually) and we broke out the electric heater for a while to get the chill out of the air….  Then it also started to get slightly damp…. Supper was great however…

Monday was a bit of a damp start and although we said we would not do it….  a good deal of cellular data got blown through as we streamed some stuff just to keep us occupied in the rain….  No overages but came also close to our monthly cap way before we should of….  Later in the day the clean up started as we were hitting the road on Tuesday morning….

Tuesday we had planned to take HWY 2 from Cedars to Kingston so we could check out a couple of boondocking sites I had found on I Overlander.  We also wanted to visit the St Lawrence Seaway lock station at Iroquois and after that we could check out the two sites.  The first was in Prescott Ontario and the next was in Gananoque Ontario

The site in Prescott was all they claimed it was but during the day time the parking lot was too crowded to get our rig in their.  Unfortunately I found this out after we had entered the lot and so it was a stressful time getting things turned around before we could leave….  We finally made it and then after fuel we continued on throughout Brockville and then on to Gananoque….  Unfortunately I zigged when I should of zagged as we approached Gan and so we missed that site all together.  It was decided (she decided and is getting more like her mother every day) that I could head back there another day to check it out…

 

So anyway we ended up in Kingston on Tuesday afternoon with the rig being put back into storage and for now the adventure is paused.  Erika and I had a fantastic time and looking forward to our next Daughter-Dad camping trip.I   to rest up a bit before the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour (see previous post) and some minor gremlins were fixed in the trailer that will make life easier for Liz and myself when we take our first planned trip towards the end of June….

Safe Travels   Bob

The Rideau Lake Cycle Tour… Hams giving back to the commuity

Back in the shack after a hectic two days…. tired but it was fun and an honour to give back to our communities….

The Rideau Lake Cycle Tour is sponsored by the Ottawa Bicycle Club and on Saturday runs from Ottawa to Kingston and from Kingston to Ottawa on the Sunday.  They have a couple of routes but I’ll just show you the area on the following map and you can see the distances involved.

Communications for this is provided by three Amateur Radio ARES (EMCOM) Groups.

As the route starts in Ottawa the Ottawa ARES Group (Emergency Measures Radio Group) take the start of the event.  They provide communications to a location just east of Perth Ontario from the start in Ottawa.  The Lanark group takes over from east of Perth to a location west of Elgin Ontario.  From Elgin through to Kingston is the area of the Frontenac County Emcom Group

On the Sunday (as they had so much fun on the Saturday) they go from Kingston back to Ottawa.  

The logistics for this are mind blowing as there are checkpoints (manned by radio operators) along with repair wagons, SAG wagons, Administration and operational vehicles and a fully manned Net Control Station active for each part of the net.

For me this was not the first time I had participated but it was the first time I participated from the Kingston area.  In the past I would get up early on Saturday AM and assist them going to Perth and then back again on late Sunday afternoon to assist them on the final leg home to Ottawa.  This year was different as I started mid morning on the Saturday then finished late Saturday afternoon… Really nice hours….

My Saturday location was at a speck of land 11km west of Battersea Ontario with the name of “High Point”

It was a good high location (great for amateur radio) and I no problems joining the Lanark or the Frontenac communications networks as required….  However not much around to see other than blackflies.

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Using my homebrewed mobile mount the 2m JPole worked well.  The actual design and parts list for this will be coming in a upcoming blog post AFTER I get caught up with the camping trip posts

Sundays location was in Inverary Ontario at the local park and it was a good location with lots of activity as it also has the local ball diamonds…

But on Sunday Morning getting up at ZERO Dark Thirty to head out of town for catch up with the riders who had already departed Kingston was a treat….  I got to my checkpoint so early the black flies and mosquitoes were still sleeping… 

However making it home before noon made up for it….  As far as I know there were no major injuries during the event although I did hear of one rider with a “Pre existing  Medical Issue that forced him to come off the tour on Sunday late morning.  An ambulance was not required and his bike and himself were SAG’ed to the site at Perth Ontario where further transport would of been provided.

We used 3 different Amateur repeaters and I believe that over 40 amateurs played a part in making the event a success.  It was great to give back to our neighbors and friends …

73bob

The adventure continues – Part 2

When we last left you Erika and I had arrived at Riverside-Cedar Campground which is just east of Morrisburg Ontario on Hwy 2

We arrived on Friday afternoon and set up our campsite… After we got set up I asked Erika to take the truck over to the washrooms and fill up a couple of water jugs.  Not one of my smarter moves as there seemed to be a picnic table in front of the truck that somehow was not in her line of sight…

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and my truck said “OUCH”

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But at the end of the day…. she was fine… the damage to the grill was easily repaired… Gorilla Tape and Duct Tape can fix anything and the Park employees did not seemed overly concerned once they realized it was one of the old tables...

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So as no one was upset… (outside of Erika) the “no harm—–no foul ” rule was envoked and life quickly got back to normal

At the end of the day if that is the worst thing that happens to my daughter when she is driving I will be a happy man…  She now knows to look in front of her vehicle before she moves it from a parking spot and this is a lesson well learned… Also why I let her learn to drive using an old Pick up truck…. in 99% of the time she would win no matter who made the mistake…  no harm… no foul…. and everyone went home at the end of the day…

Works for me….

On the radio side of things….  Everyone who know me well knows that I feel the most important use of Amateur Radio is the ability to talk to “HOME” and on Saturday this happened on two bands.

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Saturday morning John VA3CAK was the net control of the ONTARS Net and his station was able to hear 5 watts and a wire from my Yaesu FT 817….

And the antenna I used was my homebrewed W3EDP

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Later in the day I was able to contact Bill VE3FI via the Landsowne Repeater…. As Bill and John are both in Kingston I was able to call home…  making the Hamradio part of the camping trip a success.

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We had a great evening and all was forgiven (forgotten)

The weather was not the best but we managed to stay warm and dry in the trailer.  Blew the data budget all to hell when we streamed a couple of movies but it was all good fun.  OTA Tv was kind of a bust but we were able to get 4 different PBS Stations but unfortunately none of the major networks…

I also made quite a few contacts on the C4FM mode using the VE3ORF Linked repeater systems which was something new for me and very interesting.  Nothing there is like rare dx as in effect its like Skype on a radio but it was nice making some longer distance contacts that was armchair copy rather than trying to pick out the occasional words on HF.

This Fusion stuff with all the bells and whistles including these new fangled hotspots are starting to have a life all on their own.  That weekend was my first encounter with the e Wires X linking and I was impressed.  I think its safe to say that there will be more linking in my near future.

In addition to the Fusion stuff there were lots of FM repeaters around to play on but unfortunately there was a lot of dead air after the repeaters CW id finished.  We have the toys but people need to play with them….I also managed to check into the 3.730 net on HF SSB but it was hard work with the QRP Rig.

This seems a good spot to stop for the nite…. Next time Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

73bob

 

 

FS. Yaesu FT817 and accessories

The FT 817 combo has been sold as of 2000z on June 7th

thanks for all the interest



 

To my non ham followers this might not seem like much…. but….

After lots of soul searching I have decided to put my favorite but most unused radio in my collection up for sale.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

FT-817

The Yaesu FT-817 is one of the smallest MF/HF/VHF/UHF multimode general-coverage amateur radio transceivers. The set is built by the Japanese Vertex Standard Corporation and is sold under the Yaesu brand.[1][2] With internal battery pack, on board keyer, its all mode/all band capability and flexible antenna, the set is particularly well suited for portable use. The FT-817 is based on the same main circuit board as Yaesu’s FT-857 and FT-897, so it is a compromise transceiver and incorporates its features to its low price ($670.- at its 2001 release).[3]


 

My Yaesu FT 817 along with lots of accessories

 

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Above front view… Below rear view showing connections for balun to be directly attached to radio eliminating line losses in coax

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My Yaesu FT 817 and LDG QRP autotuner combo with the NUE PSK/RTTY modem along with a keyboard. 

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What you see is what you get (in the above pictures) and I’ll even toss in a 10-20-40 end fed QRP wire antenna which if you use the tuner will load up quite well on all bands between 10m and 80m.  I will also include my homebrewed 6m dipole which works really good for portable VHF Contesting as it loads up fine on 2m and 6m

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I have had this radio forever…. I operated my first DXPediton with this rig back in 2005 and I used it before then….  I bought the radio from Radioworld and then bought the Tuner from a local ham.  Its been well used…  but still works fine. 

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It has a history….Island activations, SOTA activations, Field Days and Public Service events including SAR Exercises…. and in 2017 It won 1st place in the RAC Canada Contest (SOAB QRP ) for VY2 (It was not a high score but it was “the winning score”)

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Now comes the question…  Why am I selling it????  

Mostly because I am not using it….  I’ve hit the age that I no longer want to (or easily) operate portable any more.  After 2 knee replacements I can walk fine but climbing up a hill for a SOTA or hiking through the woods not so much…. 

Rather than leaving it in the bag or on the shelf I figure that there might be a ham out there who would like to try a different part of our hobby without breaking the bank to do so.  or…  A ham out there who really does not want to break his new KX3 or KX2 when the rig falls off the picnic table while he is away from the radio for a minute.  

So there you have it:

YAESU Ft 817 (original – no 60m) Stock mic, Tri Band Rubber Duck antenna and power cord-  NO BOX manuals available on line

LDG QRP Antenna tuner with power cord- No manual but easy to operate

PAR End Fedz QRP 10-20-40m (End FED wire ) antenna that will load up fine on 10-80m using the above mentioned auto tuner. 

Home Brewed 6m wire dipole that will also work great on 2m.  Remember that a 1/4w on 6m is a 5/8w on 2m

NUE PSK/RTTY Modem with power cord and keyboard.  Check out their website at https://www.nue-psk.com/

All you need to operate with the above equipment is a 12v battery.  Your choice of battery depends on your operating style.

All for a non negotiable price of $500.00 Canadian.  Shipping not included.  Feel free to price these items out on line to see the deal I am offering.  

Please read the following:  The items listed above are “Field Used” items and although they work as intended their appearance is not pristine.  My firm and fair price ( in my opinion ) has taken their age, overall appearance and their excellent performance as a portable station into consideration.  I would prefer to sell it locally (100 miles radius) to Kingston Ontario so I can show you its working but I will consider shipping out at your cost after payment has been received.  


WARNING

As with any used electronic device I will not take back after shipping as I don’t know what you did to it when you tried it at your QTH.  It will be working as it should when it leaves….


If you are interested or have any questions please send me an email to  va3rcs@yahoo.ca and we can start the process.

Thanks for reading this

73bob