A new arrival for the mobile

Even though the HF bands would have to improve about 99% to be considered bad…  I had a chance to pick up (locally) some gear that I had been looking at on line and at a cheaper price (as it was used) so for me it was a win-win situation.

Here is the most important part of my new mobile antenna:

Its a Wolf River Silver Bullet Mini.  Its a 10-40m coil that works quite nicely with a standard 102 inch stainless steel whip.  For way more info please visit the Wolf River Website and check out all their info.

Basically you slide the collar up and down the coil for maximum noise for the frequency you wish to operate on and (in my case) hit the auto tune button on the FT 450 and we will be good to go.  If you are a purist then slightly adjust the collar after that for the lowest SWR.  I have heard lots of good things from people who have used this line of equipment and if I get 1/2 the results of what I have heard then I will be a very happy person.  The timeline is to get the 10-40m version mounted on my pickup along with the FT450 installed and then try things out.  If it performs as I have heard it should I will buy the Silver Bullet 1000 (10-80) and keep the mini as a backup.

I really just want multi band coverage (and really don’t want to be swapping out hamsticks)  when travelling around the Country when Liz tells me its time to replace the trailer we recently sold.  I figure on 40m and 80m will be the two money bands but if we make the anticipated trip out to VE7Land then suddenly 15 and 20 become a lot more important.

I got all the pieces (mount, coil, whip and coax) now all I got to do is put them all together on the truck and then install the radio.

I’m looking foreward to the challenge.

73bob

 

 

Getting the #RV ready for winter

As you should be able to tell by the #RV hashtag in the title this posting will be more about RV’s than radios…


Well after much delaying it….  We finally did it….  The first (and most important) steps were taking to prepare Erika’s trailer for the winter.

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Yes I did say Erika’s trailer…. 

Liz and I decided that we needed a slightly larger (newer) trailer for the start of our retirement and so rather than trade in the old one we gave it to Erika.

She is planning to reno it more for “Glamping”than Camping so lets see how far this one gets.  One has to remember that her Sonic will not pull it….So stay tuned for what we/she has planned for it.

But on the weekend we did get the Fresh water tank drained,  The Gray and Black Tanks dumped.  All non perishable food items were removed along with some of the electronics.  The trailer is being winter stored in its usual spot so we can easily get to it in the next few weeks to remove the bedding and kitchen items as well as take the steps to keep rodents away.

Now that the tanks are drained I still have to add the RV antifreeze to the system and that also will be done in the near future.

Back to the plans for the new mobile abode…. We are not really sure about the details other than we want one.  I would guess something under 28 feet that can legally be towed by our current pick up truck.

We both want more room but are trying to find the find line between something we can travel with without feeling cramped and something we can live in for the summer but can’t tow it.  I’m not really ready for a permanent campsite yet so I would prefer to travel a bit but stay for a while once we get there…

Lets see what we end up with….

Safe travels

Bob

Over the Air #OTA TV antenna

So seeing that I had some time on my hands today…. well not going camping…. I decided I needed a project to work on for a bit….  The antenna idea for Sunday worked like a charm and yesterdays antenna build was a bust so….

Today would be deciding project…  Would I be at 2-1 or 1-2 as far as successful projects went?  Read on and find out….

Recently we have been having some issues with our TV at home as our Android Box content providers (we subscribe to 3) have had issues due to that crackdown in Europe.  Two of the three content providers we use just vanished…. The last one is still active but we don’t get the same quality of programming we got with other two.

We “Cut the cord” about 2 years ago when we cancelled our Bell Fibe account and switched over to a combination of OTA TV and streaming services like Netflix and Crave with some YouTube thrown in for variety.

When we lived in Ottawa our OTA content consistted of CBC, CTV 1, CTV 2, City TV, Global, Omni 1, Omni 2 and TV Ontario along with about 5 French Language stations which as I found later was exceptional for Canadian Content.  As Ottawa was too far north of the Border I was unable to receive any of the American Networks….

Fast forward a year later and we had moved to Kingston.  Still streaming but now had the choices of the Android Box and all the stations one could imagine.  However with certain Condo Antenna restrictions (you have heard me mention them before) our OTA reception was limited to Global Kingston using an inside antenna…IMG_0438

Taking my camper to various locations including Lake Ontario Park ( 4 km south of here) on a day trip we managed 18 different OTA stations using the antenna on the trailers roof.  However 4 km north and on the wrong side of a hill all I could get was Global Kingston.

However on a later trip just west of Bath Ontario I managed to receive 9 different stations OTA

Fast forward to today and a bored Bob heads over to Princess Auto in Kingston to look for a project and finds…

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This little dream was $45.00 plus tax and came with a built in Rotor with wireless control, built in signal amplifier with power supply with all parts included….  I brought it home and had it built (assembled) in about an hour….

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And after some playing with it the following was noted and I share with you

The good points

1> It does work.  The instructions were fairly easy to follow.

2>The instructions also made sense to my knowledge of antennas.

3>In addition to Global Kingston (local station) I was able to watch quite clearly the CBS Station and the Fox Station both in Watertown New York.

The bad points

4> The rotor did not work

5> Although its design is excellent along with its performance, the antenna itself is very flimsy and I doubt it would stand up to a strong wind let along a Canadian Winter especially an ice storm.

6> No matter which way I swung the antenna (by hand) I could not receive the PBS Station or the ABC Station in the vicinity of Watertown

The set up

I attached a 4 foot length fibreglass mast to the stand for my patio umbrella.  I then attached a 5 foot length of small diameter aluminun tubing to the fibreglass mast which fit into the bottom of the rotor.  The beam was fed by some (supplied) lightweight coax (RG59???)to the amplifier and then to the TV set.  The amplifier was powered by a (supplied) 15v wall wart.

My opinion

If I was living in an apartment this would be my first choice for a balcony antenna.  A fairly small foot print and lightweight enough to be installed on a Camera Tripod.  The balcony would protect it from most of the elements and also provide the altitude needed to get the further out station especially if the built in rotor was working.  

I could also see it working great as an indoor antenna (aiming it out a window) and easily out performing a set of rabbit ears or other styles of indoor antennas in the $45.00 price range.

I also think this antenna would work great for RV Portable style uses especially if your expensive RV TV antenna got damaged when you forgot to lower it before you left the Campground.  (Been there…. done that)

Disclaimer

Receiving any signals over the airwaves is dependent in being in a good location (usually high ground) to receive them.  What let me watch 3 channels at a whopping 15 feet above ground might give me much better reception if the antenna was on top of our roof at 40 feet or so above ground.  The phrases “Height is might” and “Location, Location, Location” are both especially true when it comes to receiving antennas for any band.

What I thought worked well for me might not work at all for you…. 

Or it could work better than expected….

Your mileage may or will vary and if you choose to purchase one you do so at your own risk and expense.

However due to the non functioning Rotor and the flimsy materials used in the construction I will be returning the antenna tomorrow for a refund.  Don’t feel like running outside in the winter time to hand rotate the antenna or to pick up the pieces after freezing rain hits.  I have no issues with its cost or performance…. Just in its quality and quality control.

So at the end of the day I would call todays project a success.  I learned some stuff…. I got to watch some TV not normally accessable from home and I also proved a point (that it could be done) as well as realizing that even though it works today it might not survive the harsh elements.  Lets come back with a new plan for OTA

Safe Travels/73bob

Some upcoming #RV and #Hamradio Stuff

The first official trip of the New VA3QV Mobile along with the trailer is due to happen the weekend after Labour Day.

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I will be leaving Kingston on Friday late afternoon/early evening  and heading out to the Western outskirts of Ottawa to spend the night before I arrive on Saturday morning at the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club Hamfest in Carp Ontario.  Saturday afternoon will be spent having lunch with some friends in Ottawa and will most likely spending a night or two at a Walmart before heading back to Kingston on Sunday afternoon or Monday Morning depending on how I feel.

The above pics were taken at Chillycon a few years ago….  A restfull weekend of QRP Radio… Camping…. BBQs and lying about all the great contacts we made….  The small Class C Motorhome was the first VA3QV/m and that was actually its first trip…

Later in the week I will be again leaving town with the trailer in tow and spending Thursday night at the Kemptville Walmart before arriving at Rideau River Provincal Park on Friday Morning to partake in two of the three days of the Amateur Radio Event sponsored by the Ottawa Valley QRP Society that we call Chillycon.  I have to be back in Kingston on Sunday by noon so not sure if I am going to head out real early on Sunday morning or late Saturday night.

There will be more on both events in a future blog post….

After that its time to work on whatever issues I had on the first two trip because Liz and I will be heading out  early in October for a couple of weeks (destination not finalized yet… )  before we winterize the trailer and then hand the keys over to Erika.  We are giving her the trailer and we will be pickup up a new(er) slightly larger (24-28 footer) in the spring.

This is all part of the retirement master plan but remember plans were made to be changed… And Liz has been known to change my mind in the past….

Erika is planning to renovate the interior and camp with it next year….  Only problem is that her Sonic is a little small for the trailer but she does not like driving the Silverado so,,,,,Lets see how this turns out…

Thats about all for now….  more later next week ….  mostly about the trip from Kingston to Carp and how much I sold and how much I bought at the hamfest

Till then “Safe Travels” and ….

73bob

First Tow with the new(er) Truck

This morning I headed over to the storage yard and hooked up to the trailer just to test out the Silverado….

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It was a local tour as if anything was going to fail I wanted it to be closer to home to cut the towing costs if anything went south….

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I toured around Kingston for a while and parked ( took up a few spots) at the local Timmies and had coffee with VE3FI Bill and then headed over to my local Walmart and took a couple of pictures just to prove I actually went somewhere….

Anyway long story short….  We need to do a bit of work on the Trailer Brakes but other than that all is fantastic….

First trip with the trailer is to the OARC Carp Hamfest on the 7th of September and aftetr that I have 2 days to make it home to Kingston before I am scheduled to work next so Gawd knows where I will end up….

I have some goodies to sell at the hamfest (Buddistick antenna, Winkeyer USB,  Yeasu MD 100 desk mic) and lots of COAX and other such stuff….

Also plan to be heading home with an good HF(40m and 80m) mobile antenna system which will work easily while travelling along with a new FTM 100DR C4FM rig for the Silverado….

Hope to see you there

73bob

2nd Road trip with the new truck

I was planning to take the train to Ottawa for my Doctors appointment (Thurs Aug 22nd) but that was before I bought the new(er) truck….

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So at 6am I headed out and fueled up and headed east on the 401

The route took me east bound to the 416 and then northbound on the 416 exiting at North Gower and then heading east on county road 6 (skirting the southern end of Ottawa) to the village of Metcalfe then heading North into Ottawa

Ham Radio Note:  There was not that much activity on some of the repeaters along the 401 that I am guessing that it was due to the early start time of my trip.  However I was able to access the Linked VE3ORF Digital (C4FM)Network through their Prescott Ontario 2m repeater when close to Prescott and then held the repeater as I went North on the 416.  Close to Kemptville Ontario I switched over to VE3ORF (Kemptville )(uhf) and continued on with my conversation with the group untill Ottawa South when I switched over to the VE3ORF (Ottawa UHF) repeater and continued again with the morning drive in chatter.

For more info on their repeater system go to :

http://www.ve3orf.com

I made it to my Doctors office at 830 am

After the appointment and then taking care of some business …

Unfortunately due to the last minute timing of this trip I was not able to visit all who should of been visited.  Medical, business and family had priority this time but next time the trailer will be following the truck and I’ll have some time to socialize…

Ham Radio note:  While travelling west across Ottawa I did make a C4FM Wires X contact on the 146.805 repeater VE3DRE  I worked a couple of VE1 Stations as the repeater was connected to the CQ Canada Room on the Wires Network

I then grabbed lunch and headed east to Embrun Ontario to have a visit with my oldest daughter.  We don’t see each other as we would like and as an added bonus my youngest grand daughter was there and I got to catch up with her as well.

After a few hour break for supper and chats it was time to head back home to Kingston and so I headed out via the back roads as I headed south west to hopefully find the 401 wb at the Morrisburg Ontario exit.

Ham Radio Note:  leaving Embrun I was able to work the OVMRC Repeater VE3TWO (fm) on 147.300 and join in their weekly net.  The repeater has great coverage and I was able to copy from Embrun to just south of Winchester

I found it and then headed back home to Kingston.  At the end of the long day (16 hours) I had travelled just over 500 kms across various road styles.  The truck behaved itself and there were no issues.  If I did the math correctly I am getting 8.5 litres per 100km for my fuel economy.  The old Dodge used 11 litres per 100 km so that in itself is a savings.  I know that that will change once I start pulling the trailer but I am still pleased….

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Next time we meet there should be a posting about how good (or bad) the truck is as it leads the trailer around Eastern Ontario….

for now….

Safe Travels and to my hams followers….

73bob

1st Road trip

It was decided that the new VA3QV mobile would head out and look for trouble….  We did about a 220km circle (actually more like a square)as shown below:

So far we are pleased and the fuel economy is not too bad for driving without the trailer behind.  That will happen in the near future travelling from Kingston to …… wherever the road takes us

Safe Travels

Bob