More news from RAC

May 26, 2016

Today in my email I received the following from the RAC Bulletin Service:


At the Dayton Hamvention, Radio Amateurs of Canada announced that it has secured permission for all Canadian Radio Amateurs to use special call sign prefixes to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.

National, regional and local events will take place throughout 2017 to celebrate the anniversary and Canadian Amateurs will let their counterparts around the world know of our celebration by using the following special prefixes:

·         Amateurs and clubs whose regular call signs start with VA will be able to use the CF prefix instead of VA (for example, VA3RAC will be authorized to use the CF3RAC call sign).

·         Amateurs and clubs whose regular call signs start with VE will be able to use the CG prefix instead of VE (e.g., VE4RAC will be authorized to use CG4RAC).

·         Amateurs and clubs whose regular call signs start with VO will be able to use the CH prefix instead of VO (e.g., VO1RAC will be authorized to use CH1RAC).

·         Amateurs and clubs whose regular call signs start with VY will be able to use the CI prefix instead of VY (e.g., VY2RAC will be authorized to use CI2RAC).

These special prefixes are optional and Amateurs can choose if and when to use the special prefix vs their normal prefix at any time during the year. Stay tuned to the RAC website ( for additional information

For more information on Canada150 visit

Now this was announced at Dayton (according to the bulletin) but its the first I had heard of it so I’ll share it with you now.  I guess the bloggers at Dayton were busy with reporting new equipment…

For those of you who heard it at Dayton sorry about the late breaking story….

But just to remind you—- this is for the 2017 celebrations… not before

Now on to some other stuff….

This week was fairly busy but in a non radio way…  As most of you know it was a Canadian Long Weekend as Victoria Day (named in honour of Queen Victoria) (no not me…) was on the Monday.  Its a great holiday and is considered the unofficial start of summer and the camping season…


Above pic was from the 2015 RAC Canada Day contest

The rest of the week will be (has been) spent getting VA3QV/m ready for its first trip of the season when my daughter Erika and myself head out on Friday to spend a few days camping  at a campground along the St Lawrence River just east of Morrisburg Ontario.  We have been getting all the gear out of storage and the mechanic has been getting it all ready… (Tune up and an oil change for the highway.)  We load the gear in it tomorrow and head out on Friday

The FT 817 and my NUE PSK Modem along with the W3EDP antenna will be given a good testing in anticipation of my trip to VE9 and VY2 for Field Day and the RAC Canada Day Contest.  Give a listen this weekend on the usual QRP/PSK frequencies and I should be on whatever band I can hear activity on…  Hope to get you in the log…  It will be paper logging and once I get home I’ll transcribe the notes to my log and upload to all the usual places…

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll know I’ll be enjoying mine…


Well I gotta re charge the battery

May 20, 2016

This morning I headed over to the Nepean Sailing Club in the west end of Ottawa with VA3PCJ who was working on the “Sassy Gaffer” to get her ready for the sailing season.  He did all the work and I got to play radio for about 3 hours in a very nice location…


Today I used my FT 817/LDG QRP auto tuner combo with my home brewed W3EDP antenna.  I also brought my NUE PSK Modem as well.


The W3EDP was stretched out between two trees in an inverted L configuration…

smallsolar1In addition I did bring the small solar panel with me (as I mentioned in a previous post) to try and extend the battery life a bit.

This seemed to work as I made 3 contacts and called lots more than that and my voltage was right at 12v when I tore down at the end…

Contacts were made in Texas (20m PSK31), Florida (20m PSK31) and Western PA (40m SSB).  In addition according to PSK Reporter my signals were spotted in South Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.  Considering my antenna was about 10 feet above the ground I have nothing to complain about.



The Canadian Flag proudly at the top of the 43 foot vertical

More importantly than making a few contacts….  It proved that everything is still working as it should be and as I am planning to take VA3QV/m out next weekend for a shakedown cruise its good to know that the radio gear I plan to use is working fine…

Enjoy your weekend and it you made it to Dayton I hope you are having fun…


After the fact…

May 13, 2016

Well after yesterdays outing the battery pack is now re charged and waiting for its next adventure…

Here are some observations about the day after looking at some different issues….

Starting off with the battery…. I’m not sure if the P-BOX battery pack is starting to feel its age ( I know I do…) or if I am just stressing it out a bit running the FT 817 , LDG QRP Auto tuner and the NUE PSK Modem all off the same battery.  I know that transmitting in PSK draws more current than transmitting in SSB does….  This could be a problem if I was heading out for a SOTA DAY.


On the far left is my par end fed held to the picnic table with a small bungee cord and attached to the tuner with a 6 inch RG58 patchcord.  Next is the FT 817 on top of the LDG QRP Autotuner   The NUE modem is propped up by the P-BOX 12.5 ah battery pack.  As mentioned above right now the P-BOX is powering everything and might be feeling tired.

Next would be the antenna systems.  The Par end fed in a sloper configuration is very easy to set up as long as I can find 1 tree branch that wants to cooperate.  I can also use it as a vertical with my MFJ 31 (used to be 33) foot long telescopic mast.  In both cases I try to set up right at the base of the antenna so I am using either no feed line or a very short feed line to keep the line loss to a minimum.  I am thinking of trying a 6m to 20m windom which I have in stock here but needing 2 or 3 supports makes getting the antenna up where I need it…. time consuming and I always like  to spend more time on the air rather than getting ready to get on the air…

Now after checking PSK Reporter this morning I found out that yesterday my QRP PSK31 signals made it to:

Metcalfe Ontario at a distance of 54kms away (not bad for 20m groundwave)

Alabama USA at a distance of  986 miles

Mississippi USA at a distance of 1214 miles

Florida USA at a distance of 1214 miles

Florida USA at a distance of 1237 miles

California USA at a distance of 2472 miles

I think the Par is working well enough for me to keep with it unless I need something for 10-80m in a contest or DXPedition Hunting…

So what’s in the future for the portable station?

smallsolar1First it has to be the battery issue.  Before rushing out and spending big bucks on a new battery pack I am going to try to extend the field life of the battery pack by using a small solar panel that I have in stock 

The panel fits easily in my backpack and hopefully will replace a bit of the power that I consume giving me a few more hours in the field…


Next would be logging…  I have been putting the pieces together to allow me to log using an Android Tablet.  I recently purchased an app (817 companion)_ that will allow me to control my radio and its features via the tablet and will also let me log and upload my logs to LoTW and EQSL (the two I use) as soon as I make the contact as long as I am in range of a wifi internet source.

You might remember that if I am staying in Ottawa I take a Wind Mobile WIFI hotspot with me so having mobile data is not a problem.    The only thing holding me back on this is that I am having trouble finding the right interface between my older Samsung tablet and my FT 817.  I have a USB to 817 cable but I also need a Samsung to usb cable.  The new Samsungs have a different cable than the old ones…  Looks like it will be easier to get a new tablet than try to find an older interface cable..

No matter how I do it….  I do want to make it happen this summer…

More on how things actually turn out in future posts







First #QRP #PORTABLE #hamradio contact of the year

May 13, 2016

If you read my last post ….  You know I was thinking of trying to find the time to take my FT 817 along with my LDG QRP Autotuner and NUE Psk modem out to a local park to play some radio. The antenna of the day was my PAR Endz Fedz QRP Tribander



The primary purpose was to have fun with the secondary purpose to test out the gear in advance of my May 28th trip with my daughter Erika…

Both objectives were accomplished as the gear worked fine and I had a pleasant 2 hours remembering how the gear works in the great outdoors.

The band conditions were not the best but while trying to make a few contacts I did remember how things were supposed to work…


Note to self:  Next time remember to bring the manual for the NUE PSK Modem with me in the backpack…  It would of made things a bit easier…

However I did finally get it all together and manage to contact George KN3PAT in the log on 20m PSK 31.  Although George has a vanity “3” call he does live in Florida and it was a contact of just over 1100 miles from Ottawa to Earleton Florida.  Without making you check the map Earleton is North West of Daytona Beach…

I did hear other stations on 20m but was unable to contact any of them.  George has a great receiver in his rig…  He had to…  He heard me…

Just after I set up at the Museum….  Oh ya…  I set up at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology which is a short walk from my place.  The Museum is currently closed for major renovations but they are nice enough to keep the picnic table out for those  who like to visit and so it make for a very nice operating location and if you follow my blog you know I have operated from there many time in the past…


Anyway getting back to my story…  Just after I set up at the museum I had a visitor… Jose VA3PCJ/VE3DTI/CX7RT rode up on his bike along with his KX3 and a buddipole antenna. 



He set up at the next picnic table over and he managed a couple of 20m CW contacts as well…  As 20 seemed to be the only band open for us we took turns making contacts…  He made the first…  I made the 2nd and I believe he made the third one…

Suddenly the time seemed to slip away and we both had to return to our respective homes for family matters…  In my case I had to fire up the bbq and cook supper for Liz, Trisha and myself…

It was a great way to end the day…






Congrats to UT1FG/mm

May 12, 2016

Why???  You might ask…

Its because he heard me….

This morning (for me) 1227 utc while having my 2nd copy of the day I heard (and saw) a very strong PSK63 signal calling CQ on the 20m waterfall…

I answered and got Yuri on the first call.  We exchanged the usual 5/9/9 and wished each other all the best and continued on with our day.  He said that he was in the Western Atlantic (remember the /mm suffix) …

I did not ask for a more exact location and he did not offer…  Most likely for security reasons, but it was a great way to start the day.  Getting a contact before my 3rd coffee is a good thing…  Recently all I seem to be doing is calling cq and then seeing where I get spotted from on PSK reporter.  Its even better with a real QSO…  Thanks Yuri…

Now while on the digital bandwagon…  I did continue on with my JT 65 experiments yesterday.  I have the program decoding signals with no problems and also talking to the psk reporter so I could see exactly where I was getting the signals from…  However (and there had to be a however) I still have some work to do in the configuration as the software will not key up the flex in transmit mode…. so for now its rcv only till I find the time and patience to start messing around with my virtual comports…

Although I have a feeling that this will not be my favourite mode… It just takes too long to make a contact…  I would like to get the software running as it should….

It won’t be today though…


Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)Later this afternoon I will be packing up the FT 817 along with batteries, NUE PSK Modem and my Par end fed antenna and heading over to a local park to test out the gear in anticipation of my first camping trip of the year at the end of this month…

My daughter Erika is taking her old man camping as an early Fathers Day event.

It will be the first trip of the year for VA3QV/m and also a test of everything before Liz and myself head towards the Maritimes for our summer holidays…


So today if everything works out properly you might see me on the waterfall later this afternoon…

For those of you getting ready to head out to Dayton…


Have Fun…



May 9, 2016

The log finally grows…. 

I was starting to think that I was having equipment issues….  Granted I expect some difficulty in making QRP Contacts with the recent poor band conditions but the last time I went this long without making HF contacts was when I was recovering from my Knee Replacement….

Today I managed a QRP PSK 31 contact with a station in TN… 

The distance was just under 800 miles and does not qualify as rare DX but it renewed my faith in operating with 5w and a wire…

It only gets better from here…


Dayton is getting closer

May 6, 2016



(Click on the above graphic to go to the Hamvention site)

Its getting closer…

… and its only (as of the time that I posted this)  13 days away. 

Sad as it seems so far in my 25 years as an amateur I have not been able to make the pilgrimage…  In the early years it was family that kept me in Ottawa…  Then it was just financial as the Canadian Dollar is weak as compared to the American Dollar so it just costs so darn much to go there,  stay there and then return let alone even thinking of what I would spend there with all the biggest and best vendors in our hobby all being under one roof…

For those of you lucky enough to be going I hope you have a great time….   Bring back lots of new toys… and then sell me some of your old toys at a good price…


Adding to my blogroll

April 29, 2016

Happy Friday….

As the conditions have not been that good for 5w and a wire recently I have been spending more of my time in the shack “surfing” rather than playing radio. 

In my travels I found Craig’s Blog and Craig’s website and found it to be really informative and interesting

In my blogroll on the right hand side of your screen you will now see WB3GCK and I strongly suggest if you are interested in QRP and Portable Ops you take a look…

Enjoy your weekend…


News from RAC (follow up)

April 28, 2016

If you can remember back to my posting of March 22nd 2016 where I posted the following:

I draw your attention to this from the RAC Bulletin Service… RAC announcing that they are having an election for a position vacant on the Board of Directors.  Now the fact that they are having an election is not good news…The fact that its not an acclimation or an appointment is GREAT News.  There were two amateurs who cared enough about their hobby to run for the position which caused the election is FANTASTIC news.  If my memory serves me correctly this would be the 2nd Election held for board openings in recent history.  Ontario South (ONS) Director  VA3QR Phil McBride was elected in September 3rd 2015.

Back in the day….  When I was a RAC member and a RAC volunteer we used to see lots of uncontested elections followed by appointments…It appeared that things were getting stale…The fact that people are wanting volunteer for these important positions is another step in the right direction for RAC on their road to recovery.

Well here we are a little over a month later and the following comes to my email inbox courtesy of the RAC Bulletin Service:

RAC Bulletin: April 2016

New RAC Director for Alberta/NWT/NU Region

RAC would like to welcome Ernest Clintberg, VE6EC/VE6ECK, as our newly elected Director for the Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Region. Ernest was elected by the members of the region and will complete the remainder of a two-year term that started on January 1, 2016 and will end on December 31, 2017.

Ernest was born in Edmonton and grew up in Boyle, Alberta, a village on the way to Fort McMurray. He graduated from the University of Alberta (U of A) with a degree in Science (Major in Physics) in 1973 and obtained his Master’s degree in Education (1987), followed by a Doctorate in Education (2005). In 1975, he began his career as a teacher for the County of Parkland in Alberta and was appointed as an Assistant Principal (1977) and Principal (1986). He joined the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) as an Executive Staff Officer in 2000, a career that led him to assist teachers in employment matters and collective bargaining. In 2005 he was appointed as the ATA Coordinator of Teacher Welfare, and in 2008 he was promoted to the position of Associate Executive Secretary of the ATA (Deputy CEO), a position he held until his retirement in 2011. Currently, in retirement, Ernest serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta and has provided day-by-day service at the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Ernest resides in Spruce Grove, Alberta with his wife Linda. They have been married 45 years and have two children and two grandchildren.

Amateur Radio has been an interest of Ernest’s since age 12 when he found a kit-built crystal radio in his parent’s attic along with a set of surplus magnetic headphones. Thus began his interest in electronics. His mother took him out to visit Bonar Wilt, VE6HU (SK), who became his first Elmer. Bonar demonstrated his station, talked about the hobby and encouraged Ernest to get his ticket; however, it was not until much later that Ernest realized this goal.

Ernest was first licensed as VE6ECK in 1992 and he obtained his Advanced certificate in 1995 as well as a 12 wpm Morse Code certification. Over the past 23 years in Amateur Radio, his interests have been focused on the HF spectrum and contesting. He has set up a modest HF station which can be heard, depending on conditions, during many contests. He is particularly interested in those sponsored by RAC.

Since 2003 he has acted as Director of the North Central Alberta Amateur Radio Club he has served as its Secretary since 2011. He has been a RAC member since 1995 and also holds memberships in the Northern Alberta Amateur Radio Club (NARC), the Quarter Century Amateur Radio Club (QCARC), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and Ten-Ten International. In addition to his club commitments, he has served on a number of communication teams assisting community groups in events that have included the promotion of Amateur Radio as a hobby.

Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA RAC President and Chair

720 Belfast Road, #217 Ottawa, ON K1G 0Z5

613-244-4367, 1- 877-273-8304


Wow…. more new blood coming into the Executive of RAC and what I consider to be the most important was that it was via an election. 

Not an acclimation or an appointment… but an actual election

There were two qualified amateurs who were willing to take on the job…  The membership have spoken and the new director will be taking over his position (if I read the bulletin correctly ) immediately…

Congrats to Ernest on his election and also thanks for caring about Amateur Radio in Canada… also Kudos to the management at RAC for being able to entice new blood to step up to the plate…



ps….  You can subscribe to the RAC Bulletin Service.  Follow this link to their website and look around from there or follow link for info on subscribing.


The Final results from the 2015 CQ WW CW

April 27, 2016

Just to refresh your memory ….

Let me take you back in time to right after the contest

From my Blog Posting on the Monday after the contest…

Well (for a change) lots happened here this weekend and most of it was amateur radio related…


Starting on the Friday evening (0000 UTC Saturday) until Sunday at noon (1700 UTC) I participated in the CQ WW CW Contest.  This was my first time participating in a MAJOR CW only contest and it was a learning experience to say the least.

In the last 2 years operating with the Flex 1500 ( I got it in November 2013) never before have I seen the Pan Adaper Display filled with so many signals.  I was overwhelmed to say the very least.  My decoder was overwhelmed as well and I was looking for islolated signals that I could work until the operators spread out for a while…

I previously knew that this was going to be a casual effort but I still had hopes of making lots of contacts… 

Well for me I made lots and was pleased with my results….  For a real contester they probally would look at my score and then say:

“So what did you do for the other 47 hours?”

But in the time I operated for (aprox 12 hours) I managed to make 100 contacts…. Out of those 100 contacts I worked 28 DXCC entities and out of those 28DXCC entities I managed to get 8 new ones in my quest for the QRP CW DXCC.


North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Oceanana (Hawaii) all were worked using 5w and a wire…

At the time I was not planning to submit a log (other than a check log) as I was under the impression that my poor copying of the exchange would adversely effect those who were taking the contest more seriously than I did…  After talking via email to a few serious contesters who live in Ottawa I was encouraged to submit my logs  and see where fate took me…

I did and here are the results:

After the log checking took place I managed a score of 11,473….  That consisted of 85 QSOs in 49 different DXCC entities  in 28 distinct CQ Zones



That score was good enough for 5th place in Canada (4th in Ont)in the Single Operator All Bands QRP Category

Not a record score…. but a good starting point…  I’m not sure  how much better it will get until my CW skills improve 10000% .  Most of my log errors were caused by my CW reader not copying the info sent to me correctly.  These quys were sending faster than my decoder could decode and the spectrum was fairly crowded and that can make a big difference in what CW Get (which does an excellent job for me when I’m DXing) was thinking it was hearing. 


The rest of my errors I’ll blame on the old “too many fingers on the keyboard” excuse or just not taking the time to double check that what I read on the screen was what I typed in the log….This was the first serious contest I ever participated in and I did find it overwhelming. 

The “Big Guns” play for keeps….

But as I have said many times over the years….  If it was not for the “Pop guns” out there the “Big guns ” would have no one to talk to…


And using 5w and a wire I consider myself to be a serious “Pop gun”

Hopefully see you on the bands…




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