On Friday I decided to go back to Princess Auto… On my last trip there I picked up a Heavy Duty Camera Tripod to add to my Portable Station…
The Tripod gave me the option of using my ToyBox portable antenna or finding some trees that would work with my EFHW. The End Fed Half Wave is far the better antenna but the ToyBox has its good points especially as all I have to do is open up the Tripod and add a counterpoise to match whatever band I have decided to operate.
Liz hates it when I go there… Princess Auto has so much stuff I don’t need until I see it there on Sale….
That brings us to my latest purchase…
While walking around in their Surplus Section I found the following:
Its a heavy duty Tripod…. thats what they call it anyway
Attributes and Specifications
Package (L x W x H)
22.3 x 9.3 x 9.3 in.
Heavy Duty Telescopic Tripod
So seeing that there was no one there to talk me out of it…. It followed me home… the $30.00 price tag will not break the bank…. and over the last couple of days I have tested it….
It easily supports my dual band VHF/UHF Arrow Ground Plane antenna at 20 feet above ground. Even though I would use Guys in the real world it was not needed for the quick test in my backyard…
I should add that for masting I was using 4 sections of Surplus Military masting at a lenght of 4.5 feet per section. Adding to the 18 feet of masting the Tripod also opens up to 3 feet bringing it to a 21 feet lenght in total
It also supported my Shakespear 20 foot wonderpole with no issues. This would be the support for my EFHW or an inverted Vee Portable antenna that I use occasionally…
I can actually see myself trying to buy one more… as of now the Kingston store has 6 left in stock… They started with 7 and I bought mine… I can’t get there again before Tuesday but I think that having two of those Tripods would be a great asset for my Planned Transportable Station… I would love to activate a POTA Park for a weekend and use the tripods to get a few antennas in the air… My Portable station fits in a backpack…
The planned Transportable station will be a bit heavier but…. will have more (and better) toys as well
More on the Dream Station later if I can swing some of the details
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
Well its still hot…. and I’m still hiding inside as much as I can… The current band conditions are not the best but I am managing to contact about 10 POTA Parks a day and so the totals are still climbing, but a bit slower than I would like.
I decided to clean out the shack…. Its cooler inside and found lots of neat “stuff”…. I think I found the complete radial system for my old vertical that I had in the air back in Ottawa…. Lots of connectors along with about 100+ feet of coax.
I also as I was finding “stuff” I decided to do some antenna “stuff”… For a while I have been putting off creating an antenna for 60m.
Early tests show the antenna having a very respectable SWR on the (5) 60m Channels we are allowed now. I did not need the built in tuner on the FT991A.
The band conditions at the time were not strong (very weak) so no one was able to give me signal report, but as it loads up fine I am sure it will work for me.
I will not be using the new allocation that Canadian Amateurs are allowed until Yaesu comes out with a new firmware upgrade that unlocks that part of the band for us.
The other bit of antenna “stuff” I did today was re-wire my 40M End Fed Half Wave (the one from my portable station) with small gauge wire. It was made of 18 gauge and the smaller 25 gauge wire is much lighter and easier to work with and anything that lowers the weight of my backpack is appreciated by my back. Although all I did was replace 65 feet of wire I will test this out later at a local park if (and when) it cools off a bit.
Its been a while since I had to get a portable station running…. Gone is the FT817/LDG Tuner combo and here is the Xiegu X5105 with the built in auto tuner.
Also gone is the Buddipole Deluxe, W3EDP antenna and the PAR Endz Fed QRP Tribander and…
Here is my homebrewed 40m EFHW 49:1 and a Sotabeams 10-60m inverted VEE antenna (pic below)
But with the new toys come new issues and its been a challenge getting them all fixed up…
So far the EFHW antenna is doing whats expected of it and more. The “more ” part being letting some stray RF get into the transmitter which is causing havoc with my audio…
The transmitter is getting good signal reports on 20m and 4om which are the two bands that use for the most part until the RF finds its way into the transmitter.
At first I thought that I just had the audio running hot…. and that was causing the audio to distort… I tuned things down and then hooked up to my home antenna and…. the results were fantastic…. using a remote SDR Receiver in PA (thanks K3FEF) I was able to listen to myself and proclaim the problem solved….
And it was solved till I went out to the park for my next test…
Back in the park I found that the noise had returned…. and my audio was a crappy as ever (using the EFHW). After talking to a local ham who swears by (not swears at) the EFHW for portable use it was suggested that I try adding a ground from the coax connector at the balun end…. It might be a bit of overkill as the only clamps I had were from a battery project so I have a pretty good ground connections now… Take a close look at the pic.
Anyway it worked today… although the band conditions were not too good I did manage a 40ssb local contact. The report was not strong but he commented that the audio was fine with no distortion. I also was able to check into the 20m Salvation Army SATERN net and was heard by the NCS who commented that for 5w the signal was ok and the audio clear and chrisp…
Back to the pic for a minute and you might notice that I am using the 66 foot EFHW antenna in the sloper configuration with the end of wire up near the top of a 33 foot MFJ mast that I have leaning back into a tree. The set up works fairly well for me and the masting sways with the wind and requires no guying. The test worked fairly well for me… I fought the static and QSB and managed to get heard. So at this time I guess the extra ground is working… I want to go out a set up a few more times and make sure that the gremlins are gone before I attempt a POTA Activation. This weekend is a POTA Support your local parks weekend so I would like to Activate during the day…. come home and hunt in the evening… Lets see how that works for me…
In the meantime I am the “POTA Hunter”… but with any luck could be the “Hunted” soon.
In my last post I made a small reference on how Field Day 2022 was not a positive experience for me… I did not want to elaborate on the topic mainly because I was having trouble expressing my thoughts in a manner that would not be considered to be “B!tching” in a non constructive way…
However another ham KD9NJJ did a short video on you tube which covers all of my concerns and he did it nicely… So rather than listen to me rant….
Despite my best plans Field Day 2022 was not a good time…. I did operate 1B (Battery) but the bugs won out and I did not get that many in the log….
So now that FD is behind me its time to get ready for the 2022 RAC Canada Day contest which starts at 0000 hrs UTC on July 1st and runs for 24 hours finishing at 2359 UTC on July 1st.
The rules for the contest can be found here:
The exchange is simple….
For Canadian Stations its signal report followed by Province
and for non Canadian Stations its signal report followed by a Serial #
Nothing fancy this time…. I will be operating from the comfort of my shack operating at QRP Levels with the Yaesu FT950.
If the bands are not cooperating then it will be raised to the full 100w . I expect that I will be active between 6m and 160m
My expectations for the contest are as follows:
Have Fun and give out as many of the 5/9 Ontario multiplier that I can to all who wants to participate. In addition I would hope to work from VE0 across to VE7 and if I’m really lucky perhaps a VE8,VY1 or VY0 or two thrown into the mix
Traditionally held on “The Last Rainy Weekend” in June but for the sticklers for the rules its actual date is the 4th weekend in June…
This year it would be on June 25th and ending on June 26th
So what will VA3QV be doing???? Its safe to say that my Field Day Station will look a bit like this:
or like this from back in 2017….
So I plan to be operating as a 1B Battery Station from the RAC Ontario East Section (ONE)
The actual location has not been determined yet but there is a good chance the location could be one of the Parks on the Air location in the City of Kingston.
That’s the plan for good weather… and so far the long range forecast is calling for nice (dry). If the weather is not dry then the plan is to operate as a home station in the 1D catagory just to give out points to the participants
Years ago Field Day was considered a test of our emergency operating skills specifically to set up and operate a station for 24 hours and somehow it has morphed into more of contest with groups of operators putting up equipment that would not be used in a real emergency at power levels that could not be maintained unless you had a generator and an endless supply of gasoline.
I’m a little more primitive by setting up my QRP (5w of power) radio with a wire antenna and using a solar panel to top up the battery as needed.
I will have the option of being under cover (see above pic) as protection from the sun and/or rain most likely be needed at some time . Not sure how long I will be operating but it won’t be for the full 24 hours.
Overnight all I would be doing is listening to static and feeding the mosquitoes…
No egos to stroke…. Just operate and make some contacts with the emphasis of having fun and not taking myself too seriously.
Hope to hear you and be heard by you during the event
Well recently I have been shuffling gear around to take into consideration my new interests in our Amateur Radio hobby along with the retirees budget….
Yesterday this rig made it into my shack:
The Yaesu FT2DR is a dual band (2m and 70cm) dual mode (FM and C4FM) 5 watt handheld radio.
I bought it used from a ham in Ottawa and so far I am more than pleased with my purchase. It also has a built in GPS and an AX25 modem so eventually I will figure out how to access the APRS Network.
For now I have been able to program the memories with the limited frequencies needed for Kingston and as I also have the programming software and cable (not needed yet) eventually I will have it working to its full potential.
I still have my FT70D handheld and my FTDM7250 and plan to keep them both doing duty in the shack. The “70D” is currently monitoring my NNMDM Hot spot and the “7250” is connected to my 1/4 wave dual band groundplane giving me local VHF/UHF coverage
So for now I will be using the FT2DR for my daily use rig when not in the shack. Walks around the block or out to some POTA Activations should make use of the APRS Features and the ability to send SMS and APRS Text messages from areas where the cell service is limited could be important. Hopefully the GPS stuff along with the APRS stuff will be just as easy to set up as the memories were.
If you want to track the progress of this check out APRS.FI on line and search for VA3QV. Once I get it functioning the SSID for the FT2DR will be VA3QV-7
There will be a few more changes coming… I am looking for another portable hf rig (FT817 or 818 or even a KX3)to keep the XIEGU X5105 company and I will be sending one of my 100W HF rigs (FT950 or the FT450) on to a new home (but not quite ready to say goodbye yet)
Other stuff— Still hunting lots of POTA with just over 1200 Parks confirmed so far. Only done 2 activations so far but once the bands get stable then the Xiegu will be getting lots of fresh air
Now I haven’t really been blogging much, mostly because I have been spending much of my radio time just hunting the elusive pota stations. Its been going quite well and so far I have worked just over 1100 individual parks in 6 different DXCC entities all from the comfort of my shack.
But you remember me mentioning the arrival of my new QRP rig and today I decided to take it out for its second trip. I also brought out my SotaBeams wire antenna and used my MFJ 33 foot long mast to use the antenna in the vertical configuration
We went to Lemoines Point in Kingston and activated VE5141 and did it with “5W and a wire…”
The band conditions seemed much better before I left but I did manage to get the necessary 10 contacts to complete the activation…
The weather was good but the bands were rough and I honestly wonder how those activators manage to give me all the parks I have been hunting… Its much easier to hunt…. more comfortable as well…