Yesterday (December 27 2022) on a HF Net I heard an operator stating that he was operating QRP when he checked in with the NCS (and no it was not me)
The NCS asked what power level he was using and he proudly replied “10w”. The NCS commented that he thought QRP was 5W and a short gruff debate followed with the NCS saying it was not worth arguing over and he then continued the net.
You might remember that I covered this before in a blog post:
Well here we are in December and in the POTA “Park a day Challenge” there are still 24 of us in the running. 20 American stations , 3 Canadian stations (and I’m one of them) and 1 DX station
The streak continues on and as of December 8th I have managed at least one Park (confirmed) every day. 23 days (by my math) to go…. Almost there…
However in the last couple of weeks the Propagation GHODS have not always been smiling…. My daily totals are down and a couple of days I have considered myself luck to make that one or two contacts and then to get them confirmed.
Thanks have to go out to the Activators who are hanging in there giving us the chance to get them in our logs…
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
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
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…
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
Package (L x W x H)
22.3 x 9.3 x 9.3 in.
Heavy 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
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.
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…
If you took a look on my QRZ page over the weekend you would of seen this in your face…
If you follow me on Twitter you might of noticed my last tweet. Before you ask… I’m fine and the family is fine…. I’m just getting tired of the amount of crap from all sources that do not relate to ham radio. You all have the right to speak your minds on any topic… But recent tweets coming from Canada and the USA about stuff that scares me or just plain sickens me have me figuring that perhaps its time to walk away from the more interactive side of Social Media
I will be suspending my Twitter account and if I don’t reactivate it in 30 days it will be deleted.
I will still blog a bit at VA3QV.WORDPRESS.COM and I will stay an active amateur… I became a ham to talk to people on the radio… I can do that without social media. Feel free to email me (its on this page) with happy ham radio style news
That just about covers it…. The radio part of twitter was great but as it seems more and more political, doom and gloom, racist and non radio related tweets were taking over my timeline I just figured it would be better for my sanity if I just cut the whole damn thing out rather than spend a good part of my online time editing, blocking and muting those what I consider to be offensive tweets….
So just like that…. No more Twitter…. The bird is dead (at least to me)
Now back to Radio…. On the weekend I snuck a 6m dipole (horizontal) into the back yard and tried to give out some points on 2m/70cm and 6m SSB to those who take contesting more serious than I do…
Well 100w from my FT991a on 6m along with 50w on 2m into a dipole aprox 10 feet above the ground did not do very well…. I listened between the bands and also tried calling CQ but no luck… Its not my loss as I was wanting to give out contacts to others….
However if I was a new ham wanting to experience their new multimode vhf radio …. I would not of been impressed.
Kingston being in between several VHF hotspots (Ottawa/Montreal/Syracuse NY/Rochester NY) should of been heard and hopefully would of heard my reply…. In previous contests a few years ago I was able make local contacts from Ottawa (my old QTH) into Vermont, Rochester and Syracuse. The rig at the time was a FT 847 using a 6m loop and a 2m loop about 20 feet above ground. Not sure if it was a wrong place/wrong time issue or if the bands were just that bad but I did expect a Groundwave contact at the very least.
POTA on and HAMHARDER….
Over the weekend I did see a K6 station operating /KH6 on Potaspots. He was on 20m and shockingly I could hear him. I fired out my Call after his QRZ and thought I heard VA???? and then everyone on the west coast of the USA and a few more just jammed up everything by just rapid firing their callsign out… It was a real blood in the water moment. I understand excitement but still firing out your callsign 30+ seconds after the QRZ is just stupid…. Sorry guys…. I will admit to understanding my 100w will not break the original calls and I might wait a couple of seconds to sneak my call in after the first wave…. but never 30 seconds after…. I gave up and just spun the dial…
Outside of that I was able to make lots of contacts over the weekend along with a few new parks so my totals for Unique Parks have risen to 1777 as of the date of this post. I feel pretty confident of topping 1800 by the end of September and finishing up 2022 with over 2000 unique parks
It was on July 19th that I passed over the 1500 mark… So I do think that I have a good chance of meeting my goals…
If you have voice privs (Amateur Stations operating in the USA do not have voice privs down on 7.100 lsb) you are more that welcome to drop down and visit me….
I am the Net Control Station for the 11 am-12noon hour on the Trans Provincial Net. That would be 1500-1600 utc.