Field Day 2019 – Emergency Communications Test

As I type this our hobby’s biggest annual test is underway.  Amateur Radio Clubs and Individual Amateur Radio Operators are working hard to prove that we can communicate when (if) we are called upon.

For more info on Field Day please follow these links and then don’t forget to come back and finish reading this post

ARRL Field Day 

ARRL-logo

RAC Field Day

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So welcome back…

This year due to staffing issues at work I was unable to join any of the local clubs in their serious participations.  Instead I decided to test out the equipment (in between sleeping and work)  I will be installing in our new trailer that we are finally going to purchase in the off season and should be on the road starting in late April or early May of 2020.

There will be more about that in a future post … but for now back to radio

The gear I used for Field Day (this year) was my Yaesu FT 450 along with my SGC 237 auto tuner and it worked flawlessly for the time I had to operate

ft450_JetStream25wps

Just finished working K2AA with the above radio.  Will fit on the small desk I will have in the trailer and along with the S9 43 foot vertical antenna will get the most out of the 100w output of the FT 450

camperatlighthouse

Heres a pic of the S9 on my old Class C camper. To my long term readers…. that the one that burnt on our first attempt of the PEI Trip and below is what it looks like on my current pickup truck in its un extended position.

s9ontruck

On the new trailer the S9 will be mounted on the rear bumper beside the spare tire carrier.

Anyway back to Field Day….  For me it was a success.  Contacts were made on 2m FM, and 10m, 20m, 40m and 80m Single sideband.  I heard a couple of guys ragchewing on 15m ssb but they were not interested in the event.  They were just a couple of friends chatting on a Sunday morning.

I know the gear works and thats all I can ask for…

Thanks for reading and there will a post coming soon with more info on the new trailer and the new tow vehicle for it .

73bob

 

The adventure continues Part 3

Saturday evening was a great night and Erika remains the “Fire Queen”  She has the ability to start a campfire no matter how wet the wood is…..  Sitting by the fire at the end of the day with a cold one is a great way to finish off that day….

Sunday after breakfast it was decided (she decided) that we would head to the Cornwall Walmart for supplies.  Actually she was going to get me to drop her off at a Starbucks so she could visit with an old friend and I was heading to Walmart for supplies….  Anyway the drive took about 45 minutes each way as we drove a bit slow and checked some things out on the trip…  About 60 minutes after I dropped her off at Starbucks I was on my way back after getting food and other supplies for the next two days…

The after supper the evening started to get a bit chilly (!@#$%$#@ cold actually) and we broke out the electric heater for a while to get the chill out of the air….  Then it also started to get slightly damp…. Supper was great however…

Monday was a bit of a damp start and although we said we would not do it….  a good deal of cellular data got blown through as we streamed some stuff just to keep us occupied in the rain….  No overages but came also close to our monthly cap way before we should of….  Later in the day the clean up started as we were hitting the road on Tuesday morning….

Tuesday we had planned to take HWY 2 from Cedars to Kingston so we could check out a couple of boondocking sites I had found on I Overlander.  We also wanted to visit the St Lawrence Seaway lock station at Iroquois and after that we could check out the two sites.  The first was in Prescott Ontario and the next was in Gananoque Ontario

The site in Prescott was all they claimed it was but during the day time the parking lot was too crowded to get our rig in their.  Unfortunately I found this out after we had entered the lot and so it was a stressful time getting things turned around before we could leave….  We finally made it and then after fuel we continued on throughout Brockville and then on to Gananoque….  Unfortunately I zigged when I should of zagged as we approached Gan and so we missed that site all together.  It was decided (she decided and is getting more like her mother every day) that I could head back there another day to check it out…

 

So anyway we ended up in Kingston on Tuesday afternoon with the rig being put back into storage and for now the adventure is paused.  Erika and I had a fantastic time and looking forward to our next Daughter-Dad camping trip.I   to rest up a bit before the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour (see previous post) and some minor gremlins were fixed in the trailer that will make life easier for Liz and myself when we take our first planned trip towards the end of June….

Safe Travels   Bob

The adventure continues – Part 2

When we last left you Erika and I had arrived at Riverside-Cedar Campground which is just east of Morrisburg Ontario on Hwy 2

We arrived on Friday afternoon and set up our campsite… After we got set up I asked Erika to take the truck over to the washrooms and fill up a couple of water jugs.  Not one of my smarter moves as there seemed to be a picnic table in front of the truck that somehow was not in her line of sight…

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and my truck said “OUCH”

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But at the end of the day…. she was fine… the damage to the grill was easily repaired… Gorilla Tape and Duct Tape can fix anything and the Park employees did not seemed overly concerned once they realized it was one of the old tables...

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So as no one was upset… (outside of Erika) the “no harm—–no foul ” rule was envoked and life quickly got back to normal

At the end of the day if that is the worst thing that happens to my daughter when she is driving I will be a happy man…  She now knows to look in front of her vehicle before she moves it from a parking spot and this is a lesson well learned… Also why I let her learn to drive using an old Pick up truck…. in 99% of the time she would win no matter who made the mistake…  no harm… no foul…. and everyone went home at the end of the day…

Works for me….

On the radio side of things….  Everyone who know me well knows that I feel the most important use of Amateur Radio is the ability to talk to “HOME” and on Saturday this happened on two bands.

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Saturday morning John VA3CAK was the net control of the ONTARS Net and his station was able to hear 5 watts and a wire from my Yaesu FT 817….

And the antenna I used was my homebrewed W3EDP

NEWW3EDP

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Later in the day I was able to contact Bill VE3FI via the Landsowne Repeater…. As Bill and John are both in Kingston I was able to call home…  making the Hamradio part of the camping trip a success.

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We had a great evening and all was forgiven (forgotten)

The weather was not the best but we managed to stay warm and dry in the trailer.  Blew the data budget all to hell when we streamed a couple of movies but it was all good fun.  OTA Tv was kind of a bust but we were able to get 4 different PBS Stations but unfortunately none of the major networks…

I also made quite a few contacts on the C4FM mode using the VE3ORF Linked repeater systems which was something new for me and very interesting.  Nothing there is like rare dx as in effect its like Skype on a radio but it was nice making some longer distance contacts that was armchair copy rather than trying to pick out the occasional words on HF.

This Fusion stuff with all the bells and whistles including these new fangled hotspots are starting to have a life all on their own.  That weekend was my first encounter with the e Wires X linking and I was impressed.  I think its safe to say that there will be more linking in my near future.

In addition to the Fusion stuff there were lots of FM repeaters around to play on but unfortunately there was a lot of dead air after the repeaters CW id finished.  We have the toys but people need to play with them….I also managed to check into the 3.730 net on HF SSB but it was hard work with the QRP Rig.

This seems a good spot to stop for the nite…. Next time Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

73bob

 

 

The adventure continues- Part 1

Just got back into Kingston….  Tuesday late afternoon…..The trailer was unloaded then put back into storage till the next time and there is lots to be done but….  

Here is what we did:

Wednesday evening we (Daughter Erika and myself) staged all that was needed for the trip in our garage so on Thursday morning we could pull up to the end of our driveway to load and go

Thursday mid morning I drove over to the storage facility hooked on to the trailer and drove home.  Parking in the end of the driveway the truck and trailer was loaded in record time.  We then headed out to Ottawa which was the first nights destination. 

We arrived Thursday afternoon and parked at the Walmart Center at Train Yards (Ottawa) for the night.

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This location was chosen as it was the closest to my daughter’s Doctors office as her appointment was on Friday am.  Thursday evening after a visit from Jose VA3PCJ in the afternoon I settled down in the camper while Erika was out visiting friends and played some radio.  On 147.300 FM (+ offset)  (VE3TWO Repeater) I checked into the Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club (OVMRC) weekly 2m net.  Some C4FM contacts were made as well on the VE3ORF Digital Radio Network.  I had no trouble accessing their Ottawa UHF Repeater. It was good to catch up with old friends on both repeaters.  Erika arrived back and we shut down for the night.

Friday morning Rikki left for her doctors appt and I cleaned up the trailer a bit then met Don VA3GFD for coffee at the Timmies across from the Train Yards plaza.  The plan was that Rikki was going to her doctors then take public transit to the South Keys Plaza where she was going to have lunch with her friends. I was to park there and then I would meet my oldest (known him forever) friend Dave for a quick brew(s) and a trip down memory lane. Then meet Erika at the trailer (she wanted to take a power nap) and we would then head south to our campsite just a couple miles east of Morrisburg Ontario at the Riverside-Cedar Campground.  

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We arrived after a short drive and got set up fairly quickly….

This seems like a good place to stop for a while so in a few days from now the Saturday and Sunday will posted in part 2

Safe Travels and 73 bob

Antenna plans for the trailer

Well this is right in the middle of the Canadian May 2-4 long weekend.  Its date changes slightly as we determine the actual holiday as the 3rd Monday of the month of May.  Its the unofficial beginning of the summer camping season.

You might be wondering where the May 2-4 weekend gots its name from….  Well as the third Monday in May is somewhere close to the 24th so its a good start but according to tradition….  It is the “unofficial ” start of the camping season and by strange coincidence there are also 24 bottles or cans or beer in a case which we just shorten to picking up a “2-4” when we go camping.

The actual name of the holiday is “Victoria Day” in honour of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.


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  • Victoria Day
  • Fête de la Reine
Victoria édifice fédéral canada.jpg

Official name Victoria Day
French: Fête de la Reine
Also called May Long Weekend, May Long, May Two-Four, May Run, Firecracker Day
Observed by Canadians
Type Historical, cultural, nationalist
Celebrations Fireworks, parades
Date Last Monday preceding May 25
2018 date May 21, 2018
2019 date May 20, 2019
2020 date May 18, 2020
2021 date May 24, 2021
Frequency annual
Related to Birthday of Queen Victoria

Victoria Day (FrenchFête de la Reine, [lit. “Celebration of the Queen”]) is a federal Canadian public holiday celebrated on the last Monday preceding May 25, in honour of Queen Victoria‘s birthday. As such, it is the Monday between the 18th to the 24th inclusive, and thus is always the penultimate Monday of May. The date is simultaneously that on which the current Canadian sovereign‘s official birthday is recognized.[1] It is sometimes informally considered the beginning of the summer season in Canada.

The holiday has been observed in Canada since at least 1845, originally falling on Victoria’s actual birthday (May 24, 1819). It continues to be celebrated in various fashions across the country; the holiday has always been a distinctly Canadian observance.[2][3] Victoria Day is a federal statutory holiday, as well as a holiday in six of Canada’s ten provinces and all three of its territories. In Quebec, before 2003, the Monday preceding 25 May of each year was unofficially the Fête de Dollard, a commemoration of Adam Dollard des Ormeauxinitiated in the 1920s to coincide with Victoria Day. In 2003, provincial legislation officially created National Patriots’ Day on the same

 


So I had big plans for this weekend and it involved the trailer and if ” Murphy ” had not gotten involved (Murphys Law states that if it can go wrong… it will) I would be loading up the trailer for a few day shakedown cruise instead of sitting at my desk nursing a very sore back….

But when life gives you lemons you make lemonade so I will be working on a couple of antennas that I plan to use with the camper this year…. No lifting needed as I will just be measuring and cutting wire to the correct lengths.

The first length will be 41 feet long and it will be my 6-80m vertical being supported by my S9 43 foot vertical mast

camperatlighthouse

The second length will be 84 feet long and will be deployed in the inverted “L” configuration and also will be supported by the S9 Mast

Although we no longer own the RV shown in the above picture the same masting will be deployed using my pickup truck. (See below pic) using a trailer hitch style mount

s9ontruck

Both the wires will be fed using my SGC 237 auto tuner which will be mounted at the base of the mast  They say this tuner can tune wet string and so far I have seen nothing to argue with that claim.  I plan to use the truck body, the trailer body along with a few wire counterpoises to act as a groundplane should (might) get my 100w signal heard.

sgctuner

So actually I will be operating with a better antenna system from the trailer than I do from home here in Kingston.  Hopefully all this will come together before the first trip of the season which will be at the end of May ( 2 weeks from now)

So for now its time to trim wire and rest up a tired and sore back

73bob

Escaped from the Storage Facility

Even though it sure don’t feel like the nice weather is finally here ….  But this morning I heard a faint call of “Get me out of here…..Pleeeezzzzzeeee” coming from the Martins Peoples Storage Yard  which is only 850 meters from my front door here in Kingston.

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Above pic taken today shows us parked on the street beside our home.  If you look back and just to the right of the roof mounted air conditioner you will see a very large Pine tree that may or may not have a long green wire in it (for my ham radio followers)

It was the sound of my 1999 Trail Lite Bantam travel trailer reminding me that the snow has melted and that some TLC is needed before our first camping trip of the year happens.  I just could not stand the sound of her suffering so I took the truck over and hooked her up and went for a ride.

The purpose of this was to take a run around Kingston to see what needed repair after the winter hibernation.  I was quite pleased to see that before we left the tires were fully inflated…. all but 1 clearance light was bright and there were no signs of any freeloading critters who might of spent the winter in my rig.  All in all its in great shape and I am pleased.

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We ran around town and our 1/2 was stopping point was at the Kingston Walmart…. Gawd knows that over the years of camping we have spent more than a couple of nights in their parking lot and I figured the Walmart lot was a natural spot to give it a 2nd walk around to check to see if anything had failed since the beginning of the trip…. (and yes I also wanted to show her off to a couple of my co-workers as I do work for the company.)

Anyways after a couple of Ohhhs and Ahhhs and you camp in that???? It was time to return her to Martins till Sunday morning when I will pick her up…. load it up here at home and then head out for a trial run till Tuesday morning to really see what need to be done before Erika and myself head out at the end of May….


Updated May 18th:

Moved the wrong way and felt a twinge in my back…..  Weekend plans changed from camper testing to a recovery style of weekend.  No point in doing more injury than necessary.


For me at least this is the start of the summer…..

Safe Travels

Bob

D’oh!!!!!!

That,s all I can say other than take the time to RTFM….  but it makes for a good story for me and a warning for the rest of you.

As you know I have been updating some (almost all) of my VHF/UHF gear recently.

The first addition was the Yaesu FTM 7250 D which is a dual band (2m/70cm) dual mode (FM/C4FM) mobile radio.  It came with some programming software which made it real easy to get all the local stuff programmed in….

ysu-ftm-7250dr_xl

Next was the addition of the Yaesu FT70DR which is a dual band and dual mode (see above) handheld radio.  It also came with programming software made by the same company as the software for the 7250…

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I got the idea to copy all the data from the FT7250 file and paste it into the newly created file for the FT70 and I thought it worked really well….. On the 7250 file I had programmed all the local repeaters in as transmitting on LOW Power correctly assuming that 5w was more than enough to work the two local repeaters here in K-Town.

Once I started making contacts on the local repeaters using the handheld I was noticing that the quality of my signal reports were not the best.  I immediately blamed the rubber duck antenna that came with the radio and changed it out for a better quality antenna but the results had not improved by much

I started looking closely at the data from the upload and suddenly had one of those Homer J Simpson moments.

homerhamradio

The data I inputted into the FT70 was instructing the radio to transmit on LOW Power and (some of you might of guessed already) the low power setting on the handheld is not 5w (like the 7250) .  The low power setting on the FT70 is only .5w so instead of transmitting at 5w I was only using half a watt so….  That explains a lot….

I will mention that since I changed the power output on the handheld to 5w everyone seems to be hearing me much better

There will be some more new toys arriving in the near future….  A new dual band antenna for the pickup truck, a new dual band antenna for the trailer and a C4FM hotspot will be on their way.  The antennas were ordered today and the search for the hotspot has been narrowed down to two brands and I am almost finished my research

More on this later

73bob