The summer that wasn’t

How can I describe it better?

We had a great summer…. fantastic would be a better description but there was absolutely nothing to blog about…. We made the best of COVID and stayed put.

One June 26th I picked up our new camper and towed it to our seasonal campsite at Varty Lake Ontario. We figured it was the safest way to enjoy the summer as Cedar Crest Campground is a small friendly place that is seasonal only with no transients so we were isolating in our own bubble of 55 camping units. When we signed up there were 3 sites left open but by July 1st every site was taken

We spent all of July, August and most of September (so far)there. Relaxing, enjoying the quiet life…. but …. nothing really to report on the RV side of things or the ham radio side of things.

I was wishing we could tell you about all the great things we saw while on the road but the trailer was parked on June 26th and has not turned a wheel since.

I made a few contacts operating portable from the camper with my new (er) FT 450 and my S9 43 foot vertical but no rare DX or any DX at all for that matter.

Really rather boring to be honest but Liz and I had a great summer and stayed safe at the same time. We have committed to keeping the site for the 2021 camping season and then we will rethink our priorities and see if a bit of a tour is even doable. Can we beat COVID 19 by then?

Our camping season closes on Thanksgiving Monday (October 12th here in Canada so that weekend will be spent cleaning, dumping all the tanks and putting antifreeze in the water system as needed. Then we wait for the opening around Mid May

Thats it for now but if anything remotely exciting happens…. I promise to let you know

Safe Travels and 73

Bob

Best contact for VA3QV/m so far

A few days ago I found myself listening and checking into the CAN-AM Net which is on 7.153 lsb.  Some of you old Pharts (like myself) might remember it as the Communications Ontario (COMSONT for short) Net

As the needs of the Ontario Goverment changed as far as Amateur Radio went the net carried on and thats how my Wolf River Coil ended up on 40m….  I checked in to talk to a few old friends and actually never bothered changed frequencies  after

So lets fast forward to today and I decide to try and check into the Trans Provincial Net on 7.100 LSB ( and before the flames start lets remember that the Canadian Bandplan allows voice there…..

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VE2OL Ray from SAINT-BRUNO-DE-GUIGUES, QC (about 425 kms North North West of Kingston) was the NCS and gave me a really nice 5/9 report from my mobile.  I gave he a 5/9 +10 back and we had a great QSO without any QSB.  It was armchair copy….

When we cleared I noticed that Woody VE3JJA from North Western Ontario checked in and I could actually hear him.

I broke back into the net and asked Ray if I could give Woody a call and as it turned out we could hear each other just fine….  This was a 1500 kms QSO from Sioux Narrows Ontario to my mobile in Kingston….

I was more than pleased…..

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come with the propagation Deity smiling down on us which will allow more great contacts…..

On to other topics for a few seconds….  We will be taking possession of our new trailer at the end of the month and will be spending a few weeks there getting things set up as we would like them….  However we have no WIFI there and my internet will be limited to cellular 4G connects till I run out of bandwidth.  Our provider assures us our plan is actually unlimited and I guess this is where we find out what their defination of unlimited is….

However if you are looking for me…..  try the following

Daytime – 3.755 Which is the Ontars Net between 7 am and noon

Daytime 7.153 Which is the Can-AM Net between 930 am and 11 am

Evenings- 3.733 Which is the Sandbox Net between 630 pm and 730

Evenings- 3.730 Which is the 3730 net which starts at 730pm

In addition I will be listening on the C4FM Repeater VE3FRG 146.805 also connected to the System Fusion Network (look up VE3UCC)

Not sure how radio active I will be as Liz and I have lots to do getting our trailer to resemble how we want it to be

Hope to hear you on the air during that time

73bob

VA3QV/m (UHF/VHF/HF)

The result of having way too much time on my hands but as of right now VA3QV/m is as good as I see it being….

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VHF/UHF communications provided by my Yaesu FTM7250D which along with being dual band its also dual mode (FM/C4FM) with output power being up to 50w.  If the repeater I am on at the time is part of the Wires X network I can also access that network as well

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HF Communications (15m/17m/20m/40m/60m/80m) with my Yaesu FT450d along with a Wolf River coil.  The FT 450 has a built in Auto Tuner which I plan to use to extend the bandwidth of the antenna system but so far it has not been needed

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In addition I have a hotspot that I tether to my cell phone that interfaces the 7250 with the System Fusion system for Wires X style linkingIMG_0728

But getting back to HF Mobile operating…

In anticipation of next year being better than this year is turning out I decided to outfit my truck with a good selection of communications gear so that if we are allowed to travel unrestricted next year communications “home” from wherever we were visiting would be possible

It did take a few remakes but the Wolf River 10-80m coil along with a 90 inch stainless steel whip is working better than expected.  I am making contacts (on a daily basis) with stations across Ontario/Quebec and the Maritimes on 40m and 80m ssb. I have also make contacts into Canada’s western provinces using 20m and 40m ssb.  In eastern Ontario the guys say that my mobile is almost as strong as my fixed station setup seeing that I have to use a stealth antenna here at home to keep the condo board guessing.

Left pic shows the mount that failed and the one that is stronger is on the right

Now if you decide to go this route for your mobile I do recommend going with a very strong mount on your vehicle.  My first mount failed due to the flexing issue with the 102 inch whip (I later cut it down to 90 inches due to height restrictions) and a 16 inch coil driving around the streets of Kingston.  Before then the coil was working fine and then the mount failed.  After replacing the mount with one more robust it is working just fantastic.  I still have some filtering to add to my ignition and charging systems as there is some alternator whine and ignition noise there but I’ve got time before 2021 to get that figured out

The next part of the package will now to get the trailer set up and then make it “Radio Active” in time for Field Day and the RAC Canada Day Contest.  The next 2 weeks are going to be a busy time.

73bob

Three months later….

3 months ago Liz and I almost bought the RV Trailer of our dreams but that nasty old COVID came calling and everything was closed and put on hold….

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The following YouTube clip is from a different dealer but it shows the finer points of the trailer without the normal BUY NOW….BUY NOW….BUY NOW that most RV dealers put on their YouTube postings

2 weeks ago I headed back to the dealer and found that it was still available and we started to talk…


Before I go any further I must mention that Quinte RV did not ask me to write this or did they offer me any thing to write this.  What you see here is an personal endorsement  which honestly describes my purchase experience…


The salesman let us visit with our old friend with no pressure.   I took a long visit and it was everything I remembered it as.  Big…. but light enough that my Pickup (VA3QV/m) could easily tow it….

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So now that the trailer remains how I remembered it ….  Just for $h!ts and Giggles lets put in an offer to purchase…..

 

 

The Salesman passed me over to the Financial Wizard and he started to do his magic.

 

And the Wizards magic was strong as he was able to get me the price I wanted, at the terms I wanted and  at a much better interest rate than I expected.

And to make matters even better (yes it does get better….) we were able to grab one of last two permanent campsites at a private campground just a short 45 minute drive from Kingston.  At this time I expect that Liz and I will spend most of our time there from when we move in on June 26th till the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend in Mid October.

Our summer is now spoken for….  Time to enjoy life a bit when not working…  

 

For those of my followers who are more into RF than RV there will be a C4FM station set up along with my new(er) FT 450 set up there with what I expect to be an Inverted “L” which will cover 10-80m and maybe even 160m when I feed it with my SGC237 auto tuner which will relocate from the home station to the trailer for the season.

 

 

I plan to operate from the campsite as soon as I am able to which means a limited Field Day station but a strong attempt at the RAC Canada Day Contest a few days later.

 

I still have more to share with you especially on how great the new HF antenna system on VA3QV/m is working out but that will be for another post after I get everything moved into the trailer.

73 and safe travels

bob

 

 

 

 

Its bigger than I thought…

… and it works great

Back on May 8th I posted that I had finally ordered the Wolf River 10-80m mobile coil for VA3QV/m.

Well today it showed up and I am pleased…. very pleased…

Its a little bigger than the 10-40 Wolf River coil that I already was using:

10-40 on the left and 10-80 on the right

With the coil mounted on the rear of the truck, add in the length of the coil and then the 102 inch stainless steel whip we come out to 14 feet 3 inches which is a bit over the Provincial limit of 13 feet 6 inches.

This was expected but I wanted to play with the new toy ASAP so I headed out to Lake Ontario Park in Kingston with everything laying in the box of the truck…  I found a shady place to park and then set up the coil for 80m using my MFJ antenna analyzer.

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I was able to determine that my SWR was acceptable on 80m between 3.720 and 3.775.   Anything over/under that would be easily corrected by the built in auto tuner on the Yaesu FT 450

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But the proof is not in what the computer says but more in what the station says when I contact them….

As the sweet spot on 80m was already set I aimed for 3.755 and heard the NCS for the ONTARS Net (Rob VA3WDK  south of North Bay Ontario) who heard me and gave me a 5/7 to 5/9 report during our 3-5 minute conversation. That was a distance of approx 180 miles north west of Kingston with daytime conditions on 80m

I am more than pleased with the results so far and over the next few days I will be removing the top 12 inches of the whip which should bring it down to a legal 13 feet 3 inches (total height) and then I will set the sweet spots on the coil for 15m, 20m, 40m, 60m and 80m which are the primary bands I would be using when Liz and I are out (eventually) pulling our new trailer.  Not sure when that will happen but when it does….  The truck will be radio active to say the least….

The blog will be updated in the near future once I get the whip trimmed with my final comments on what I consider (at this time) to be a superior product at a great price….

More to follow

73bob

 

A new addition to the shack

There is a benefit to working after retirement.  The ability to jump fast on deals when you hear about them.

Today this rig found its way into my shack:

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My new (to me) Yaesu FT 950

I had offered to buy it a month or so ago but the owner had not made up his mind yet so I ended buying the Yaesu FT 450.

The following from my March 14th blog post”

On a positive note Liz and I drove to Oshawa this afternoon where I paid for and picked a used Yaesu FT 450 from Walter VE3FJC.  Yes I do have a FT 450 already but this was a great deal and I decided that it would be easier to operate a radio that I already had a good knowledge of rather than have to learn a new radio.  The new one will be going in the shack and the previous one will be going into VA3QV/m along with that 102 inch whip and Wolf River Coil I previously purchased. Pics of the install and setup in the truck will be posted here once I get everything working as it should

Yesterday he changed his mind so now I have the 950 and my HF Stations are complete

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In the shack is the FT 950, In VA3QV/m will be the FT 450AT and the newer FT 450 will be set up in the new (to us) trailer when the world returns to normal and we replace the one we sold late last fall.

There is a bit of a leaning curve as the 950 has more buttons and features than I ever had before.  This time I really need to RTFM to get this radio operating to its full potential but for now lets call it a learning experience.

Its going to be a “Radioactive” summer….

73bob

 

 

 

Info for Snowbirds returning to Canada

IT seems that some SNOWBIRDS returning to Canada with their rigs are stopping at Walmart Stores close to the border to rest up and in the process ignoring the 14 Day Self Isolation order of the Federal Goverment.  

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/brockville-police-walmart-working-to-stop-campers/wcm/9c99fa69-9496-4cc5-879b-a1b5af655bd5/

USE SOME COMMON SENSE HERE FOLKS

 

HF antenna work on VA3QV/m (Part 2)

Its hard to say but there might be a part 3 to this one…..

Early this afternoon I hooked up my 102 inch stainless steel whip to the coil previously mounted on my truck and then brought out the tape measure and my MFJ antenna analizer.

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And the reason for the tape measure was to see how high off the ground the mount was …. which enabled me to calculate how tall the top of the whip was…..  If you take the height of the end of the coil (from the ground) being 61 inches then add the 103 inch lenght of the whip brings you very close to 13.4 feet which is too close (for my liking) to my maximum height allowance of 13 feet 6 inches here in Ontario.

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However according to the MFJ magic box I was able to adjust the coil to get the SWR low on all the bands between 10m and 40m.  Setting the centerpoint to 7.150, 14.200 the built in tuner could easily tune things up in most of the 40m and all of the 20m band.

Before you say anything I do realize once the cutter removes 12 inches from the whip I will have to go through all the tuning processes again but the cost of having an over height vehicle far outweighs the time spent to retune.

Although the poor power connection I had (using alligator clips on the battery) I was able to make a local contact with Bill VE3FI which proves everything works.  Next time I attach the wires PROPERLY to the battery then should have no problems running the full 100w.  Receive wise we heard lots (including ignition noise and alternator whine) so there will be a bit more work to be done.

On the RV side of things I did visit my lending institution this morning in my travels before the antenna work started and they would like a bit more info on the RV before they start the paperwork process.  But seeing that I’m not sure what campgrounds will be open this year (that damn coronavid 19) I will hold off on the paperwork for a while.  But its good to know they are interested in my business.

Coming in part 3….  ordering the 10-80m wolf river coil, trimming the antenna and making a strong (very strong) 12v power connection for the FT 450

73bob

 

HF antenna work on VA3QV/m (Part 1)

Today I started working on the mobile installation on my pickup. 

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Its going to take a few days to get everything done but the first step was getting the mount installed on the truck and that was accomplished today.

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The mount itself fits in one of the stake holes in the box of my pickup.  Once you figure out the little trick of getting it to attach its fairly easy.  The hardest part was getting a good ground with the body of the truck as I have a spray on box liner on my truck and so it took a few tries before a good ground was found

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The next step was fairly easy which was just attaching the Wolf River Coil to the mount…..  After screwing it to the mount a few minute drive around the neighborhood and its bumpy road proved that the mount was securely attached.

I ran the coax from the mount and to the inside of the truck leaving the power cable and mount for the FT 450 for another day.  I also have to move some stuff in the garage to get the 102 inch whip from its hiding place so I can get it screwed into the coil. 

After that’s done I will have to do a quick measure to make sure that I do not exceed 13 feet in height as the maximum vehicle height allowed in Ontario is 13 feet 6 inches.  I might have to trim a few inches off the top of the whip as I can’t lower the mount.  

After that is done it will be a bit of a drive around town to ensure that the mount and coil/whip combo are still mounted properly then its time to set the swr on the different bands ( 10-40m) then finally take the time to play some radio.

All this work is anticipation of a trip down to VE1Land  (with Erika) sometime before the summer and after that some camping if Liz and I can finish the number crunching on the trailer we were talking about earlier

More to follow in Part 2

73bob