Finally… Getting to operate #POTA portable! #hamradio

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…

Thanks to Elections Canada for the above Graphic

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 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…

QSL info

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 Sorry folks but no Direct or Buro QSL’s

Hope to see you on the air and in my log


Temps rising and so are the #hamradio Log Totals

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

Its hot!!!!

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 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.


Still reading the manual

Well two weeks later and 100 new POTA parks in my log and I am still learning “new stuff”….

The FT991a is living up to all its hype and is a dream to operate… If you use it right out of the box with the default settings its a good radio…

A dream to operate

If you RTFM and customize your Transmit audio settings and your Receive filter settings its a FANTASTIC radio to use.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post…

So far I have added 100 unique parks to my Parks list… A few in CW but most of them in SSB.

This would also include the K7K DXPedition to Kiska Island in SSB (95w ssb and CW (40w). Both contacts were made on 17m

Above from their website…

No digital at this time but until I’m sure that my NUE PSK Modem that works well my my older Yaesu Radios will also work well with the 991a I am not going to take a chance on bricking the rig…

As I mentioned above I have even made a few CW contacts. The 991a has a very good built in Contest Keyer and when I use it with my IPAD and the HotPawz Decoding app I can “5nn TU” with the best of them. My contacts have all been Search and Pounce and I use an app to fill in the blanks but… Its still a contact…

Now before the flames start let me remind you of my post back in December where I described the Pro’s and Con’s of the setup. It can’t decode a bad fist but as most of the people I am contacting are also using keyers… It works for me… And for the record (full disclosure here) my XIEGU X5105 has a contest keyer built in along with a fairly good decoder also built in…. Still nothing but S&P but still much better than nothing.

For now I am still very pleased with my purchase and looking forward to more DXPeditions and POTA contacts. It will be the perfect way to finish the summer along with starting of the fall season…


Is it DX if….we can’t confirm?

Todays RANT (you don’t see that many of them) is about the multitude of station out there (any you know who you are) who will not “E”confirm their QSOs on the numerous QSL platforms…

These would be the stations that must have some sort of internet access as their QRZ page shows really nice new, shiny and expensive ham toys but still refuse to confirm without a QSL card sent with a few green stamps for return postage.

QRZ’s logbook is free and as your QRZ page is being used you must know about the log… EQSL is also free and if I can figure out how to use it then its easy to use. I mention these two first as these are normally the ones that the new operators use and getting some sort of confirmation for one of their first QSO’s could go a long way to keeping them in the hobby. Kind of a positive enforcement thing…. You make the contacts… They get confirmed… you get a warm fuzzy feeling and then make more contacts….

Now if you decide this DXing is for you then you might want to jump through the hoops and sign up for logbook of the world. If you are NOT an American Amateur it is free to use and it gives you an excellent record of your confirmed contacts… ( I believe its also free to use for American Hams but they can’t get the ARRL awards without paying… Don’t quote me on this one… its been a while since I looked into it)

Even as someone who has no desire to do it 21st century style in most cases you already have to use a computer to submit your logs to CQWW or ARRL and many more contest organizations so why not take the extra couple of minutes and at least (for the good of the hobby and the new hams) submit your logs to one of the Electronic QSL services named above.

For the record I (on a daily basis) upload my logs to LoTW, EQSL and with the later 2 for the benefit of other hams…. I do collect the ARRL awards such as DXCC, WAS and TRIPLE PLAY so the LoTW upload is for me…


#QRP ….Whats that?

Recently I have seen a “boatload” of operators trying to break pileups and make contacts by adding /QRP to their calls. After careful listening after the fact I hear them telling the other station…. QRP 10 watts , QRP 20 watts and yesterday I heard on operator calling then claiming he was QRP 40 watts.

In reality most of them were trying for POTA Contacts where the power levels don’t matter so…. It was just a ploy to try and break the pile up but….

It did get me thinking about what the common opinion of QRP is and so here is what my research found:

According to State QSO Party .com ( ) and their list of QSO Parties :

47 Approved Contests

7th Call Area QSO Party
Alabama QSO Party
Arizona QSO Party
Arkansas QSO Party
British Columbia QSO Party
California QSO Party

Canadian Prairies QSO Party
Colorado QSO Party
Delaware QSO Party
Florida QSO Party
Georgia QSO Party
Hawaii QSO Party
Idaho QSO Party
Illinois QSO Party
Indiana QSO Party
Iowa QSO Party
Kansas QSO Party
Kentucky QSO Party
Louisiana QSO Party
Maryland/DC QSO Party
Michigan QSO Party
Minnesota QSO Party
Mississippi QSO Party
Missouri QSO Party
Nebraska QSO Party
Nevada QSO Party
New England QSO Party
New Hampshire QSO Party
New Jersey QSO Party
New Mexico QSO Party
New York QSO Party
North Carolina QSO Party
North Dakota QSO Party
Ohio QSO Party
Oklahoma QSO Party
Ontario QSO Party
Pennsylvania QSO Party

Quebec QSO Party
South Carolina QSO Party
South Dakota QSO Party
Tennessee QSO Party
Texas QSO Party
Vermont QSO Party
Virginia QSO Party
Washington State Salmon Run
West Virginia QSO Party
Wisconsin QSO Party

That all the States/Provinces/Territories/ contests listed above (with the exception of Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia) consider QRP to be 5watts or less in any mode.

Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia consider QRP as 5w CW and 10w ssb

The ARRL, RAC and CQWW contests also consider 5w or less QRP for their respective contests.

Now where does this come into play that might affect some operators?

If a new operator believes the hype of his new Xiegu 6100 rig and decides to contest with it and suddenly they are competing with 10w output instead of the 5w of the other

The Xiegu G90 at its booming 20w output would fall into that catagory as well. Kind of an unfair advantage even though some dealers are marketing Xiegu as a QRP Line of radios.

The same of course could be said of those operators using the KX3 or IC 705 but I will assume (correctly I hope) that anyone who shells out the amt of cash needed for the KX3 or the IC705 already understands what the contest they are entering requires and would adjust their power levels accordingly.

Now before the flames come in…. I am not saying anything bad about the Xiegu (or any other ) line of radios. I know quite a few operators who are saying really nice things about the G90 and the X5105 (which strangely is an actual QRP 5W output radio). As soon as I can liquidate a couple of rigs here I plan to get either the X5105 or the 6100 for portable use. They are both great radios especially at their price point.

After many years of operating with the Yaesu FT817 and the Flex 1500 both of which were QRP radios (5w) I do have a good idea of what 5w will do as compared to even 100w.

To be honest there is not much of a difference. Operating with both radios I was able to qualify for my ARRL Triple Play and QRP DXCC awards. The proof is in the logs…


A sign of good #hamradio things to come

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


First impression of the Morse Decoder by Hot Paw productions

This was written 1 day (16 hours) after we bought the app from the Apple App store. It seems to be very basic but good. If anything changes I’ll do a follow up post.

This is a app for Apple IPhone and Apple IPad. When you go to the app store it will tell you if the app will work with the device you are currently using to connect with the app store.

Searching the app store for Hot Paw Productions should bring you to the app if its still available.

So here we go…

I downloaded the app from the Apple App store and away we went. It worked right out of the box (or right after installing) on my I Pad. The cost was about $15.00 Cdn after taxes…

Just to remind you this is a CW Decoding app ONLY (no FT8/PSK or any other sound card modes) and you will need some sort of device for transmitting CW. Straight Key or Keyer the choices are yours.

Right off the bat lets say that if you are looking for a decoder to see what the group on the weekly slow speed CW roundtable net are talking about you will most likely disapointed.

Remember the old “Garbage in = Garbage out” saying? Well if the person sending the code has a bad fist then…. The app can’t fix bad sending…

However if you want to use it to pick up the occasional rare DX station or a few extra multipliers in contesting or copy the ARRL Bulletins then this is about the best $15.00 you can spend (in my opinion)… It reads good code, normally that means contest quality computer keyer generated code and its good as what it does.

As an example last night there was the ARRL 160m cw contest. I started reading the screen and even though things were crowded I was able to make out complete contest exchanges. Just for $h!ts and Giggles I opened up the book of words for my Yaesu FT950 and figured out how to use the built in contest keyer and also how to program the keyers memories .

Memory 1 was: VA3QV (my callsign)

Memory 2 was : 5nn ONE (the contest exchange I had to send)

Memory 3 was : 73 TU (thanks)

Memorys 4 and 5 were not used

And heres how it worked:

I found a station calling CQ Test with his callsign and tuned the dial on to him…

I replied with Memory 1.

He replied by giving my call and then his exchange 5nn CT

I replied with Memory 2 then Memory 3

He acknowledged and then went to calling again.

I made 5 more contacts just to prove the 1st one was not a fluke and as a result contesting stations in the following RAC/ARRL sections got the rare “Ontario East (ONE) multi. They were GTA, MDC, CT, MN, WPA and OH.

Some comments and suggestions:

I suggest that if you buy the app, get used to it by copying the ARRL code practice on HF. Check the ARRL website for times and freqs. They send computer generated code and so its about as perfect CW as you can get. Read the manual that comes with your radio for the fine tuning on receiving CW signals or just tune by ear for the proper pitch. It worked for me fairly easily as I was used to the tuning aspect from using other decoding software

Don’t get discouraged it you don’t get it right the first time. Unfortunately its not the software…. Its either the poor cw being sent (remember the local roundtable comment) or you just have to make a very tiny adjustment to the VFO to change the pitch ever so slightly.

It has been suggested that you connect from your receivers audio output to the audio input on your apple device. I chose not to as just putting the IPad on top of my radio (see Pic) worked well enough for me. It may not for you though especially if your shack tends to be noisy.

IPad is right beside the radio speaker

As an added bonus I can use it on my other Apple Device so in the shack I have it on my IPad and its already been installed on my IPhone so its ready for portable ops (POTA) with my FT 450 and the Wolf River coil on a Tripod when the weather warms up

This is not the only app out there but its one of the few I have tried that really worked well for me. I have and still use CW Get which is software that runs on my laptop. The DM780 part of Ham Radio Deluxe also works good but HRD is more expensive than this app and its all I need. Not all the other stuff that HRD offers.

DISCLAIMER: It worked for me, It might work for you, BUT IT MIGHT NOT work for you, so you Buy at your own risk. You pays your money and takes your chances.


PS…. Thanks to Rich VE3MHY who had left a review for the app at the app store and answered a couple of questions I had quickly and honestly. His opinions confirmed what I had been thinking

Compromise HF antennas

I think I have to change the terminology that I normally use to describe my normal Home HF antenna….

They have to be stealthy but I can no longer think of them as “compromise”. Its working great for the operating conditions here….

If you are putting up the best darn antenna you can that keeps you on the air and fits in with your local operating conditions, its a great antenna and not really a compromise antenna.

Remember using a 10-160 OCF dipole in an inverted V (rather than in a flat top) is not a compromise…. Its just getting the antenna to fit in your yard or operating location. Running a 43 foot vertical with lots of radials (instead of a 10-40 OCF due to yard size or lack of trees) is not a compromise. A 48 foot tower is not a compromise (because the local municipal restricts the height of towers so you can’t put up that 100 foot self supporting one in your city lot)

Now there are little things like municipal bylaws, HOA restrictions, Condo restrictions, Rental restrictions, cranky neighbors and of course family opinions (to name a few) might come into play when trying to install your antenna.

Its not a restriction…. it becomes a challenge….. it challenges you to put up the most effective antenna you can while trying to make everyone else happy. If you are successful in completing your challenge it should make you happy as well.

The antenna of choice here is an end fed random (about 50 feet or so) length wire being fed by my SGC237 auto tuner. It is in an “inverted Vee” configuration with the wire leaving the tuner and thrown over a tree branch then it terminates at my back fence. I also have some random length radials (counterpoises) running north/south and east/west along the fence perimeter. Using the magic in the SGC 237 I am able to make contacts on all Amateur Bands between 6m and 160m. This antenna is not fancy…. its actually cheap…. (How much does 100 feet of automotive wire cost at Princess Auto???). Its fairly (75%) stealthy. So far no one is complaining about it and the “Condo Cops” has not been knocking at my door (yet).


Is it the best antenna? NO…

Does it work? YES…

Is it stealthy? YES..

Am I making contacts? YES (Including a VK on 40SSB)

Could I do better? NO… (Not here at least)

There you have it… although I could do better, its the best I can do while living where we do. So I no longer feel I have a “compromise antenna”…. Its actually a “pretty good antenna”.


PS…. This is just a reminder to those of us who operate in an “antenna challenged” environment that HF contacts are actually possiable.

So far 46 states confirmed from here in Digital and 31 states confirmed in SSB and nothing yet in CW….Sooner or perhaps later I will finally work on my CW log again.


#hamradio Contest Weekend (again)

Last weekend we had the ARRL SSB Sweepstakes and it seemed to go well. I had no complaints… and as with all contests… I plan to( expect to) :

a Have fun (I did)

bGive out the “Rare ONE (Ontario East) ” Multi so those who are actually taking contesting seriously have a chance to get bragging rights for their accomplishments (I managed to give out “ONE” out to 50 stations)

Clean Sweep if you contact all 84 sections

c– Either increase my State totals or my DXCC totals depending on what the actual contest of the day leans towards. (I did- increased my confirmed SSB WAS totals up to 30 from 20 and if everyone left that I contacted confirms on LoTW I should be up to 37 confirmed)

Now this weekend is the CQ WW CW contest ( and its a popular one…

I’ve only participated in this contest once (2015) and managed to successfully obtain my regular goals and so I was pleased. My best (and only) showing was with a Flex 1500 (QRP) and between the decoding program CW Get and the built in computer keyer in the software needed to run the Flex (remember its a SDR) I also managed some wallpaper.

I have to admit for this one my computer did 99% of the heavy lifting

But following the line of selling then regreting it I did (in September 2019) at the OARC Hamfest in Carp sell my Winkeyer USB Computer Keyer.

Another case of I don’t need it so why not sell it… I can always find another one later. Well no luck finding one so now I won’t be operating any CW (or very little) until I can replace that now badly needed piece of kit… As always hindsight is always 20/20.

Once I find one it will take the place of the Keyer Programming in the Flex (which I also sold) and then I can try and regain what little CW skills I had (or thought I had) in the past.

If you have the skills to participate then enjoy the contest….

Other than that enjoy your weekend


ps ….. and don’t forget the RAC Canada Winter Contest is coming up in 3 weeks. Listen for me there

Catching up on some paperwork

Well I still hate computers but… I was able to get my logging program talking to Logbook of the world and so….

Any contacts (I logged) that happened before September 2021 have been uploaded to LoTW. This includes POTA contacts in the same time frame.

My 2 DX contacts from October have been uploaded and VJ4K (Australia) has already been confirmed.

All of my POTA for September and early have been uploaded..

All remaining contacts will be entered then uploaded.

Still lots to catch up on. Next on the list is getting computer talking to the Sound Card for better use of the Digital modes after I get the POTA logs completed