After about a week of using the Comet Toybox antenna along with my Xeigu X5105 QRP radio I can honestly say its working better than I expected.
Most of my testing has been on 20m and 40m SSB so far and I find the QRP station able to contact most of the same stations I work from the home station of course with slightly lower signal levels.
I found my best results (so far) using a single 1/4 wave (for my band of choice) elevated counterpoise (radial)… I now have a single Radial for 20m, 40m, 60m and 80m
Over the weekend contacts from my backyard to close in stations (Kemptville Ontario) to longer distance contacts (PA, MD and VA) proves it does work. I did work stations that I normally work and so their reports honestly reflected the lower antenna and the much lower power levels.
The next level of testing with the Xiegu and then comparing my 3 different QRP antennas to see which one functions the best. That should be coming in a couple of weeks…
Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon I took the Xiegu and the Toy Box out to a POTA site here in Kingston Ontario. The gear and I took Kingston Transit and ended up at the POTA site VE4877 (Murney Tower) which is paired up (as a 2 fer) with the site VE4872 (Kingston Fortifications).
As stated at the beginning the X5105 and the Comet Toy Box was the gear for my second test…. This time I brought a change of counterpoises. The random lenght wires of yesterday were replaced with the 1/4 wave lenght for 20/40/60/80m. I only used a single counterpoise for each band as recommended by the “Page of words” for the antenna.
As usual the bands were pure crap (at least for a QRP signal trying to test a new antenna) but I was hearing lots. In addition I did manage to get checked into the Nickel Belt Net on 7.252 with Rolly VA3CRE being the Net Control Station in Copper Cliff Ontario (about 270 miles from Kingston – outside of Sudbury in Northern Ontario). The 5 X 1 signal report was encouraging as I had set up the audio to match up with my voice and the “1” part of the report was expected as its QRP and a compromise antenna.
It was just as hard trying to break a pile up with the Xiegu as it was to try it with my old FT817 so many years ago.
But for the second time I proved that I can make a contact across Ontario using the “Toy” and the X5105
The third test will be coming up next week when I try using an elevated counterpoise as recommended by the page of words…. After the third test I will be doing a comparision between the EFHW and the Toy.
More on this next week after I get thru the weekend.
Well…. its almost 6pm and I picked up my parcel at the Post Office at 1pm…. I brought it home and got it installed on the Tripod….
Then there was some fiddling around with the MFJ Antenna analyzer and then it was time to start playing…
I had it hooked up to my Xiegu X5105 and operated from the dining room table and as you can see the antenna was placed on my deck. The location was decided by the lenght of coax I could find on short notice and the radials were decided by the available amount of white wire that I knew where to find quickly.
With careful adjustment I was able to tune the antenna but it was easier just to find the close enough spot on the bands I wanted to operate on and then just use the built in auto tuner on the 5105. The finals survived and I was hearing plenty…. Unfortunately not many were hearing me…. The problem was solved by adding a 45 foot lenght of wire to my radial pattern and then the signal reports pleased me…
Jumping back to radials the page of words for the antenna suggest that in effect you use a single counterpoise that’s a 1/4 wave lenght for each band you operate on…. I now have counterpoises for 20/40/80m and if I was able clip them together the 160m coil could be used as well…
In the short time today that I could spare for the antenna I managed to make a QRP to QRP contact with Bill VE3FI on 40m. Bill was camping at the Rideau River Provincial Park in Kemptville Ontario. My second 40m contact was with Barry VE3ISX in Hamilton Ontario. Barry was the Net Control Station for the Trans Provincial Net and was able to pull out my QRP SSB signals through his noise level.
So today it worked… and I am pleased…
Over the next few days I will re work the radials and actually set up in a Park and see what I can scare up… (Weather and Band conditions depending)
But remember this “Toy Box” is one of 3 antennas I will be using during portable ops. Its not the best one but it sure is the easiest to set up
I originally going to make the title “Upgrades to the Portable Station” the realized that the title could be up for debate….
So to bring you up to speed…. My portable station consists of:
XIEGU X5105 QRP Transmitter
Antenna #1 is a homebrewed 10-40m EFHW Wire Antenna with 49:1 unun
Antenna #2 is a SOTABeams Bandspringer Wire antenna (20-40-60-80m using built in tuner in the XIEGU)
Both these antennas need cooperating trees or another support device. I do have a 33 foot MFJ Telescopic pole to help support if the trees are not an asset
Realizing that there might be a (good ) chance that on an outing the trees might not be in the right places and the pole could draw unwanted attention to my Portable Operation I purchased the following gear today…
COMET HFJ-350M TOY BOX, 1.8-50 MHZ PORTABLE TELESCOPING ANTENNA
This antenna along with a 13 Dollar Camera Tripod from Princess Auto will complete the backup antenna system.
These and a few other reviews from Amateurs who know what they are talking about helped me make my choice. There were some negative reviews but mostly from newer hams who have not quite figured it out yet…
Now this antenna is not designed or intended to be my primary HF antenna… Its in the backpack because it might be the only antenna that can be used in a certain situation.
Babysitting my “Grandkits” (Sassy and Mouse )when my daughter goes away in mid January comes to mind.
I can put the Toybox/Tripod on her balcony in the evenings and make a few contacts. Her apartment is not high enough to lower the EFHW off her balcony so….
There will be more on this (much more) once it arrives and I get to play with my new Toy (Box). It was shipped today with Canada Post Expedited Parcel service and I hope to see it in the next couple of days…
If you took a look on my QRZ page over the weekend you would of seen this in your face…
If you follow me on Twitter you might of noticed my last tweet. Before you ask… I’m fine and the family is fine…. I’m just getting tired of the amount of crap from all sources that do not relate to ham radio. You all have the right to speak your minds on any topic… But recent tweets coming from Canada and the USA about stuff that scares me or just plain sickens me have me figuring that perhaps its time to walk away from the more interactive side of Social Media
I will be suspending my Twitter account and if I don’t reactivate it in 30 days it will be deleted.
I will still blog a bit at VA3QV.WORDPRESS.COM and I will stay an active amateur… I became a ham to talk to people on the radio… I can do that without social media. Feel free to email me (its on this page) with happy ham radio style news
That just about covers it…. The radio part of twitter was great but as it seems more and more political, doom and gloom, racist and non radio related tweets were taking over my timeline I just figured it would be better for my sanity if I just cut the whole damn thing out rather than spend a good part of my online time editing, blocking and muting those what I consider to be offensive tweets….
So just like that…. No more Twitter…. The bird is dead (at least to me)
Now back to Radio…. On the weekend I snuck a 6m dipole (horizontal) into the back yard and tried to give out some points on 2m/70cm and 6m SSB to those who take contesting more serious than I do…
Well 100w from my FT991a on 6m along with 50w on 2m into a dipole aprox 10 feet above the ground did not do very well…. I listened between the bands and also tried calling CQ but no luck… Its not my loss as I was wanting to give out contacts to others….
However if I was a new ham wanting to experience their new multimode vhf radio …. I would not of been impressed.
Kingston being in between several VHF hotspots (Ottawa/Montreal/Syracuse NY/Rochester NY) should of been heard and hopefully would of heard my reply…. In previous contests a few years ago I was able make local contacts from Ottawa (my old QTH) into Vermont, Rochester and Syracuse. The rig at the time was a FT 847 using a 6m loop and a 2m loop about 20 feet above ground. Not sure if it was a wrong place/wrong time issue or if the bands were just that bad but I did expect a Groundwave contact at the very least.
POTA on and HAMHARDER….
Over the weekend I did see a K6 station operating /KH6 on Potaspots. He was on 20m and shockingly I could hear him. I fired out my Call after his QRZ and thought I heard VA???? and then everyone on the west coast of the USA and a few more just jammed up everything by just rapid firing their callsign out… It was a real blood in the water moment. I understand excitement but still firing out your callsign 30+ seconds after the QRZ is just stupid…. Sorry guys…. I will admit to understanding my 100w will not break the original calls and I might wait a couple of seconds to sneak my call in after the first wave…. but never 30 seconds after…. I gave up and just spun the dial…
Outside of that I was able to make lots of contacts over the weekend along with a few new parks so my totals for Unique Parks have risen to 1777 as of the date of this post. I feel pretty confident of topping 1800 by the end of September and finishing up 2022 with over 2000 unique parks
It was on July 19th that I passed over the 1500 mark… So I do think that I have a good chance of meeting my goals…
If you have voice privs (Amateur Stations operating in the USA do not have voice privs down on 7.100 lsb) you are more that welcome to drop down and visit me….
I am the Net Control Station for the 11 am-12noon hour on the Trans Provincial Net. That would be 1500-1600 utc.
The last 10 days have been busy ones… at least Radio wise
On the radio side of things I have continue to manage to make a few POTA contacts every day and so far I have confirmed QSOs with a POTA park since the beginning of the new year. As of the end of August thats 242 consecutive days. (I gotta get a life). I am aiming for 365 parks in 365 days if the propagation deity allows for it
As of todays date I have confirmed QSOs with 1762 unique parks. I would like to cross the 2000 unique parks level before the end of the year.
On the POTA topic (still) I have a few local locations that now that school is back in are (should be) available for activations. Always fun to operate portable without having a crowded park and at this time of the year should be less pests as well.
Also on the radio side of things I have returned to the Trans Provincial Net as a Net Control Station. The net runs Monday to Friday from 8am eastern to 5pm eastern on 7.100 lsb in the 40m band. My daily shift is the 11am to 12 noon slot. If your regulating authority gives you operating privs at that frequency and mode… please drop in and say hi.
Before the summer started I was one of the Net Control Stations for the Trans Provincial Net. The TPN operates on 7.100 lsb (its a Canadian Band Plan thing) Monday to Friday from 8am eastern to 5pm eastern. However between the poor band conditions at the time along with family stuff happening during the summer I decided to take the summer off.
Now that the Summer is almost over and things are returning to normal (whats normal???) I have asked Barry VE3ISX (net manager) if I could have my old job back…. He said “yes” so starting on Tuesday September 6th I will be returning to my 11 am to 12 noon spot on the net Monday to Friday.
If you have voice privs that low on 40m please feel free to check in with me and chat….
Today was the first time in about 4 months that I attempted to activate a Parks on the Air location.
The POTA Ghods must of been smiling as I had a successful activation of VE0023 and VE4882.
The rig of the day was my Xiegu X5105 along with a 40m EFHW that was supported by a few trees at the Upper Brewers Mills Lock Station on the Rideau Canal…
It was a learning process that went on longer than the activation did. While operating I realized that I should go slower so I can read my writing a bit easier. I was paper logging…
I also found out that its much more work to transcribe my logs into HAMRS after the fact so I should get the software on my IPad so I can do it easier at the park bench… Which might also cure the lousy handwriting thing
If I did not get you into my log and you thought you should be there… Sorry…. VE0023 and VE4882 will be activated several times before the snow comes so you will have your chance… As I was writing quickly there might of been a couple of busted calls…
Well its about time…. Its taken me way too long but…
This Saturday (August 27th) plans have been made for a couple of Parks on the Air Activations…
George VE3SIQ and myself VA3QV will be (plan to/should be) activating POTA VE0023 and POTA VE4882 along with Canadian Island ON 294 (Upper Brewers Mills Island).
We will be be participating in the W/VE Island QSO Party and as that Island ON 294 is in the Rideau Canal (POTA VE4882) and the island is also part of the Frontenac Biosphere (POTA VE0023) it gives us a chance for a POTA 2fer as well.
I will be operating QRP SSB With my Xiegu X5105 and will have antennas set up for 6 to 40m (6-60m for POTA and/or 6-40 for Island work) depending on the conditions of the day at the time
George (Ve3SIQ) will be operating with a Yaesu FT450 from the same island and his station will have antennas set up for 10 to 40m once again depending on the conditions of the day
IF YOU HAPPEN TO HEAR US PLEASE RE SPOT US ON POTA SPOTS
If things go according to plans we should have both stations on the air by approx 1500 UTC (11am EDST) and as well will be operating until the batteries die or the weather turns bad or the bugs come out and lastly if the bands die out…
My logs will be uploaded to POTA and the W/VE Island QSO party as soon as possible after the activations…
In addition I will be uploading to EQSL, Logbook of The World and QRZ.com. Sorry folks but no Direct or Buro QSL’s
If you remember from my last post that I had constructed an antenna to work on the 60 meter (5mhz) band. It consisted of a single 43 foot driven element and a single 43 foot counterpoise/radial fed my a 1:1 balun.
As mentioned before the above graphic is for my SotaBeams Bandspringer Antenna but my homebrewed 60m antenna (in the configuration I use) looks alot like the above.
In reality its a 60m dipole but in reality as I don’t have enough real estate to stretch out almost 90 feet of wire I use it as an End Fed inverted VEE with an elevated 43 foot counterpoise attached to my fence at about 3 feet above the ground. The SWR is good to where I don’t even need the built in tuner on my Yaesu FTR991a and so far the signal reports are fairly strong considering the very poor band conditions (darn solar storms) that we are going though right now. With the help of the built in tuner I can get it to load up on some of the higher bands but I like the long wire better….
So with the addition of the new antenna I can now operate on: