Parks on the Air 2022 Update now on Line

Well its official. POTA year end review….

Enjoy

And pause it when you get to the 3:42 marker on the video because thats where they acknowledge the 24 operators who successfully completed the “Bailey-Sprott Challenge.

Proud to say that I was on of the 24 who finished what we started.

And a big thanks… To the activators who were out there for me to contact which made this all happen

73bob

Playing “catch up”

Well that’s a good start…. 5 days into the New Year and I’m already falling behind so…

LETS GET STARTED

2022 was a great year for me at least ham radio wise. Thanks to the Parks on the Air (POTA) program I was able to make over 5000 confirmed QSO’s this year.

I also managed to contact and get confirmed with a Park every Day to successfully complete the “Bailey- Sprott Challenge”.

This was a lot harder than expected and I would like to thank my family for being understanding….

At the end of November there was 24 of us still in the running and although my logs show I have completed the challenge we all are still awaiting official results from the POTA Team.

Not sure at this time what 2023 will bring…. I do know it will be fun…. As Liz and I get older the thoughts of moving to an apartment (top floor with a balcony please)

are gaining favour with us. The stairs are become more and more of a chore…. With the band conditions getting better I could make do with a portable antenna (thinking a Magnetic Loop) on the balcony so I would not have to give up the hobby or be banished to the local repeaters on VHF/UHF. I guess a lot of its depends on how high the top floor is…

If I was to say that this year I want to operate more portable I would be telling the truth… But if I said that this year I will be operating more portable I might be misleading you.

No matter how light they make the equipment the weight of a QRP station combined with a lawnchair and a small camping table make it it a bit much to entice me to operate outdoors….

For now its going to be from the relative comfort of the shack (wherever that might be) till we get life figured out

Hoping you had a Merry Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year with logs of Rare DX.

73bob

Antenna (jury rigged) Repair

If you reading this from Ontario, Quebec, most of the Maritimes or most of the North Eastern States then you know we had one hellluva storm pass through the area.

I have heard reports of some amateurs having major antenna damage and a lot more having minor damage to dipoles and other wire antennas… My “Stealthy” inverted “L” damage was more of the minor kind

Overnight on Christmas Eve the winds (80 knts off Lake Ontario) managed to un attach the end of my antenna from the post it was attached to… As I am using very small gauge wire I could not find where it had ended up. All I knew that the antenna (the parts I could still see) was very slack as if it had a broken wire in the 40-60 foot area of the antenna. It was still in the tree but was not as high as it used to be …

What happened (best guess) is that the end of the antenna detached itself from the post it was attached to due to the fierce wind. This allowed the wire to be blown about with the wind and eventually the wire was no longer taught…

After shovelling my way across my backyard I was able to see where the end of the antenna was snagged in a tree. Using a 20 foot telescopic I was able to untangle the snag and then rehook the wire to the post again. Although the antenna seems not to be as high as it used to be (might of slipped off a branch when the antenna was slack) its good enough for now. When its a bit warmer I’ll spend more time figuring out what to do but for now…. Its too cold to try anything new

On the bright side I managed to stay “Stealthy” and on the air

73bob

ps……… more on this later

Its the CQ WW CW Contest

This one of my favorite contests…. All The hardcore contesters along with those who think they could do it are filling the CW Portions of the different banks with CQ Contest at speeds that are faster than they can usually send at and also at speeds they could never copy on their best day….

How do I know???? Because back in 2015 I joined them….

A Flex 1500 along with a 43 foot vertical….A Elecraft T1 QRP auto tuner along with some software acheived this:

The software needed was the Software to run the Flex which included a really good contest style keyer….

The receiving software (decoding) was the FREE program CW GET

I started out by just coping the contest and then figured out what was needed in the Macros for the keyer to try and give some points out to those who were taking much more seriously than I was

F1 was my callsign (VA3QV)

F2 was the necessary contest exhange (5nn o4)

F3 was thanks and good bye (73TU)

This bit of magic resulted in 85 contacts made in 49 countries and 28 CQ Zones

Isn’t technology wonderful?

73bob

ps…. And before you ask it was a one time special. I will use a decoding app and the contest keyer in my FT991a if the need arises to make the contact (DX or POTA) but CW contesting is just too fast for me to participate in. To those who can…. You are my heroes …..

The day after

Well its Sunday am and I’ve finally thawed out…. Strange thing this Canadian Weather…..

I got on the bus at 130pm Eastern and the weather was nice and sunny….. Got off the bus close to the Murney Tower at 230 pm eastern and the weather was nice and sunny…..

Walked from the bus stop to the Murney Tower and the weather was nice and sunny….Started to set up and the weather was starting to cloud over…. Called CQ POTA and the sun gave up and hid beside the clouds and the wind from Lake Ontario picked up….

The working conditions was my Xiegu X5101 with a Sota Beams Bandspringer antenna. My Shakesphere 20 foot Wonder Pole was being supported by the Heavy Duty Tripod I mentioned a few posts back….

As you probally noticed the graphics above have for the most part been recycled from my library. I did have my IPhone with me but the pics for the most part did not turn out…..

I started out on 40m and had managed to contact about 5(or so) parks when Martin VA3SIE arrived and set up his KX3 along with his ALEXLOOP antenna. He started calling on 20m CW and I kept on with 40SSB.

Martin posted an excellent Video (link below) on his part of the activation so check it out….

After a while I switched over to 20ssb and managed a contact before jumping back to 40m ssb

As the sun turned into sunset it really got cold and the wind really picked up. We packed up and moved closer to the Murney Tower to escape the wind but it still was goshdarn cold…. Martin continued to operate and I decided to leave the gear packed up….

I managed to give out Murney Tower VE4877 and the Kingston Fortifications VE4872 to 14 hunters making it a successful Two Park activation day.

Just before 6pm eastern I got my bus ride home and called it a day…. Martin decided to stay (those youngsters just don’t feel the cold) and he was making SSB contacts on 40m and 20m….. I was actually impressed seeing how easy he was pulling in the stations with the KX3 and the loop…

This will most likely be my last activation for a while. The sheer pleasure of operating portable was negated by the reality of freezing (ok the coldest I have been in quite a while) and at a certain time it just is no longer fun…. I’ll keep on hunting till things change a bit….. and if we get a warm afternoon who knows…

A Bit of POTA News….

On Friday evening the Pota Gawds determined that I had been confirmed and had make contacts with 2000 individual parks. BIG THANKYOU to the activators that made this possible. This was one of my goals and it happened earlier than I had expected….

More News

As of the time of this post my attempts to complete the “Park A Day Challenge” continue and since Jan 1 2022 I have made at least 1 confirmed contact a day with a POTA Park. As of the end of October there were 24 of us still in the Challenge…

48 Days to go….Will I make it???

Thats it for now…. I’ll post more when I have something to talk about

73bob

(this)Saturday in the Park

Starting around 3pm Eastern (2000 UTC if I did the math right) a few of us hearty souls will be trying to activate the following POTA parks:

VE 4877 Murney Tower

VE4872 Kingston Fortifications

The operators will be Martin VA3SIE (KX1 or KX3) and Bob VA3QV(Xiegu X5105). It is hoped that Bill VE3FI (KX3)will be with us as well if his earlier activation allows him to make it here. The activation was also talked about on our local QRP/POTA groups (VHF and HF) weekly net so I’m not really sure how many operators will show up.

We will be spotting ourselves on POTA Spots and hope to get you in the log.

This is also fitting with the Polar Bear Moonlight Madness (PBMME) event. The event takes place on the Saturday closest to a Full Moon and is a fairly popular event for the QRP Types

This will be the first time that my XIEGU X5105 will be playing outside with other radios in close proximity. Lets hope the little rig does not get overloaded

Hope to get you in the Log

73bob

It was a “shocking” weekend

Literally….

On Saturday I accepted an offer from John VE3JPW to join him in an POTA activation of:

VE-4864 Fort Henry National Historic Site

Fort Henry (at the top of the Fort Henry Hill) is one of the highest points in the area and has a great view across Lake Ontario to the South West…

It was a windy damp morning when we set out and by the time we got to the Fort the wind at the top of the hill was quite strong… We managed to set up my 33 foot MFJ mast to the “Headache Rack” on John’s pickup truck with my homebrewed 40m EFHW at the top of the mast….

The radio of choice for the day was my XIEGU X5105 QRP Radio

The antenna was operating as a sloper going to a Picnic Table located close to the truck. Looking to the South West we could see a storm front moving north. Bill VE3FI (activating Parrots Bay VE5142) advised that at his location (west of us) was getting a heavy downpour… at our location is was windy and misty…

When all was connected and I went to turn the radio on and tune up… I got one heck of a jolt…. followed by a jolt whenever I touched the radio… or the PL259 antenna connection… It was a good thing that John had a pair of work gloves in his truck so I could disconnect the antenna… We then removed the mast from the Truck and then packed up and headed home….

After the fact I was able to receive signals once I got home (Saturday afternoon) and the auto tuner did work and was showing output on transmit but the band conditions did not help my QRP Signal so I’m still not sure if I made it out damage free….time will tell I guess…..

On a positive note…. I did check out the XIEGU by making some QRP contacts from home on Monday (this morning) and signal reports along with audio reports lets me know that all is well..

I guess I was lucky

I had heard of this in the past but those examples had longer wires (kite suspended or balloon suspended) and it shocked me (no pun intended) to find out that with only 66 feet of wire the same would happen…

Looks like I am going to have to look into a better grounding system when operating in less than stellar weather conditions… In 20 plus years of QRP/Portable operating this never happened to me but then again… I don’t normally go out and play in bad weather…

73bob

Another addition to the Station

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

SKU9093949
Package (L x W x H)22.3 x 9.3 x 9.3 in.
Weight10.7 lbs
Item NameHeavy 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

73bob

So I like it….

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…

More on that later

73bob

Second impressions

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.

73bob