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?
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 …..
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….
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
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…
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:
Its getting hot…. Temps (counting the humidex) are getting close to tilt… Liz was saying that according to the local TV station were were over 100 deg F yesterday and its not looking much better for today
And just as I’m finishing this post I get this notification:
1:14 PM EDT Friday 05 August 2022 Heat Warning in effect for:
Kingston – Odessa – Frontenac Islands
Napanee – Consecon
Picton – Sandbanks Park
A two day heat event is expected Saturday and Sunday.
Maximum temperatures are expected to be in the high twenties or low thirties with minimum temperatures in the low twenties, bringing little relief from the heat.
Humidex values are expected to reach the high thirties to low forties.
Cooler temperatures are expected on Monday.
Hot and humid air can also bring deteriorating air quality and can result in the Air Quality Health Index approaching the high risk category.
The risks are greater for young children, pregnant women, older adults, people with chronic illnesses and people working or exercising outdoors.
Drink plenty of water even before you feel thirsty and stay in a cool place.
Check on older family, friends and neighbours. Make sure they are cool and drinking water
Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle.
Outdoor workers should take regularly scheduled breaks in a cool place.
Heat warnings are issued when very high temperature or humidity conditions are expected to pose an elevated risk of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada. To report severe weather, send an email to ONstorm@ec.gc.ca or tweet reports using #ONStorm.
I’m on blood thinners and I hate the cold but I’m finding the current heat wave “quite unpleasant” and that description is about the only way I describe it and keep my blog suitable for all audiences.
If there was a good side to this its that its still cooler (almost comfortable) in the shack (basement of our home) and so… Its too darn hot to do much else than sit in the shack and use the FT991a and make lots of contacts.
Well so far since I got the new rig back on July 19th I have logged 340 contacts resulting in 110 new unique parks in 3 dxcc entities.
Nothing “new” in my DXCC list but I did manage a couple of new states in CW working towards my ARRL Triple Play award from Kingston. I had previously completed my “Triple Play -Worked all states in SSB/CW/Digital ” from Ottawa and so far I am at 50 states in SSB, 46 states in Digital and 26 states in CW.
Need: Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada and Wyoming in Digital. As I no longer operate FT8 I am hoping to fill in the missing digital states using PSK31 or RTTY . I have a PSK/RTTY interface which worked quite well with my earlier Yaesu Radios and I just want to confirm that it will work with my 991a before I plug it in and start.
Need mostly the central states and the western states along with Hawaii. I have not confirmed Alaska yet but I did contact the K7K DXPedition on 17m cw so that should be confirmed soon.
Not sure if I can do it or not but I would like to complete Triple Play from here (Kingston) before we move at the end of May 2023. Time will tell…
So in the meantime as the basement is cooler the “Shack Cat Trio of Mouse, Sassy and Willow” and myself are staying as cool as we can in a non AC house… and I continue to spin the dial and make contacts.
Its not really spring cleaning or adding to the collection but more aiming my Amateur Radio gear towards a goal….
That goal is to prepare for the eventual move that we are planning in about a years time. We are not sure where we will end up but…. We need a place that is “Senior Friendly” which loosely translates to no stairs… The Condo Garden home we are renting is the right size (in sq feet) but that is shared between 4 floors and the stairs are killing us… Also having to be a bit “stealthy and creative” in my antenna systems here is making me believe a move would mostly be a good thing… With any luck we will find a small bungalow that has a yard that’s antenna friendly at a price that’s pension friendly. Failing that then I guess it will be Seniors Apartment (top floor please) with balcony antennas.
I was thinking that Mag Loop for the HF bands and the existing Arrow GP would be acceptable if I had some altitude…
So getting back to the big change… Where the Yaesu FT950 and the FT7250d used to sit on my desk has been now given over to my new Yaesu FT991A.
It has a much smaller footprint and the radio can operate on 70CM, 2M ,6m and the full HF bands of 10m to 160m including 60m. Its modes are FM,C4FM,SSB and CW with provisions for the various Digital Modes
So far its working fine with the SGC237 autotuner I have mounted outside on my fence. I do have an Arrow dual band (70cm/2m) groundplane outside as well but I would prefer at least a couple of horizontal loops for 2m and 6m SSB but they will have to wait for now.
Its really a radio that you should read the manual for so for now its working fine for me and once I actually RTFM it will be even better. So far my received signal reports are almost identical to those I received when using the FT950 so I am more than pleased.
I am still active on HF and C4FM (PiStar Hotspot) so its all good…
A much better review of the FT991a will be posted once I RTFM and figure out what I am doing
ps…. and IF I have the urge to activate a POTA Park or just work the world from my neighborhood park I do have my XIEGU X5105 along with my choices of the EFHW antenna or the SOTA Beams 6-60m antenna
It started during the RAC Canada Day Contest on July 1st when I started answering CQ’s on 40m from a station with a call of K2D. During the contest K2B and K2L also made it into my log.
On July 2nd while I was hunting some POTA K2M also made it into my log for a total of 4 of the Special Event Stations in the bag
On July 3rd once again hunting POTA I also managed to get K2K, K2A, K2G and K2F for a total of 8 of the 13 now in my log.
On July 4th in between wishing any US station that was calling CQ or answered my CQ a happy 4th of July. I also managed to get K2J and K2E for a total of 8 logged with only 3 to go.
July 5th was a busy time with K2I, K2C and K2H along with the Bonus Stations WM3PEN and TM13COL logged,
And on July 7th the final Bonus Station GB13COL was captured for the Clean Sweep
So there you have it ….. 13 Colonies and 3 Bonus Stations in 7 days… And for the most part I did have fun…
For those who might be wondering about the operating conditions used….The HF RIG is a Yaesu FT 950 running at approx 95w on SSB. My antenna is a 50 foot long inverted L with approx 150 feet of radials that run along the edge of fence and small yard. I use the SGC 237 auto tuner to bring it all together and it gives me excellent results on 10-80m and tolerable results on 6m, 60m and 160m but it does work on all the above mentioned bands. This setup has to be stealthy as the CONDO Corporation or HOA group does not like antennas but I’m still on the air after 4 years here
However on the downside of things…. The just plain stupid operators who could not figure out the words “UP 5-10” or “He’s working split” while the bulk of operators were trying to get GB13COL and TM13COL in the logs…. Right behind them were the operators who could not figure out what “by the numbers” meant when the DX stations were calling for specific calling areas to try and ease the pile ups.
And as always the self proclaimed DX POLICE had to increase the frequency QRM by telling each individual several times of their mistakes
In some cases the behavior was so bad that the DX Stations were forced to shut down for a while…. People calling on top of other operators…. People calling on top of the DX Station??? (really guys if you can’t hear him then why are you even calling???) and of course the operators who insist on tuning up their AMPS and antennas on the DX Frequency…
The stations who benefit the most from the 13 Colonies event have to remember that to the DX Stations it means nothing(Ok to the British it means something but not what it does to the Americans) and the French are just being nice to try and help out. I tell you they had more patience than I would of had and I for one thank them for what they did for us.
Last night (July 7th around 0030utc) when I was getting frustrated by the lack of brains in the pile up …I Tweeted the following:
“Starting to believe that on the #hamRadio Exams for any class that includes #HF they should have to prove that they understand the words “SPLIT” and “Listening up” and know to use the function”
I feel the same today even before the joy of successfully completing the event wears off
Once again… Thanks to the various operators of the K2A to K2m stations and also the WM3PEN operators and of course the various operators of TM13COL and GB13COL.
Today was a great day…. Or at least a better day in hamradio than I usually have
For the 1st time in this Solar Cycle (and most likely the last 2 solar cycles) I managed to make at least one SSB HF contact on 10, 15, 20, 40 and 80 meters in a single afternoon.
. Being a PopGun in the DX world it was amazing to think that I was hearing stations calling CQ and I was getting them all on the first call.
Some were POTA, others were School Roundups and a few were just stations calling CQ because the bands were open. There were 2 dx stations as well. Either way it was a heck of a good day…
Sometimes its the small things in life that give the most pleasure. Hopefully in a year from now I will be commenting on how I contacted all 6 continents in an afternoon or something equally as spirit raising
The NUE PSK Modem was gifted to me by a Ottawa area amateur (thanks Bob) who no longer had the need for it. I had blogged previously about using one many years ago and the unit I had (in the past ) was last used in July 2017 when I was operating as VA3QV/vy2 while on a camping holiday in PEI.
That version would only work with PSK31 and RTTY but I did manage to make PSK contacts with relative ease using my FT817 while on the trip. Hindsight being 20/20 and the fact that it would not decode CW persuaded me to package the modem up with my old FT817 and so it was sold as a good deal.
3 years down the road and I am (finally) showing a bit of an interest in CW but to be honest can’t copy or send worth a darn. I had made some contacts using a CW Reader APP (which worked great- see previous blog posts) along with the Contest Keyer in my FT950 which I had pre programed the 5 memories to be generic exchanges for a contest , DXPedition or POTA activation.
I had been looking at a Winkeyer USB unit (which I had previously owned- I seem to be seeing a pattern here) but had not seen one being sold locally.
So now enter the latest(and last) version of the NUE PSK Modem. Covers PSK 31, RTTY and *** CW***.
The unit that was gifted to me has the latest/last version so now I can send/receive CW. Now I admit that the CW Receive features are actually almost the same as using the APP. Still need computerised sending or a fantastic fist so no big changes there but…. Rather than using the Contest Keyer in the 950 to reply (limiting me to 4 replies) I can now actually have a CW conversation if needed. I type and it sends almost instantly… There is a bit of a lag and it has a 255 character buffer but as I don’t type THAT fast I don’t see me ever overloading the buffer.
For chasing (POTA or DXPeditions) there is not much of a difference but now instead of being limited to Search and Pounce in a contest I can now actually call CQ and wait for replies. For what little I use it for it will be fantastic for me. So far I bought a very used PS2 keyboard for it at the local goodwill store to see if everything was working as it should. Next step is to order a slightly smaller one from Amazon and that will just about complete things…