The day after

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….

More News

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


Another addition to the Station

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.
Weight10.7 lbs
Item NameHeavy 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


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


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…


Changes in the #hamradio shack

Its not really spring cleaning or adding to the collection but more aiming my Amateur Radio gear towards a goal….

That goal is to prepare for the eventual move that we are planning in about a years time. We are not sure where we will end up but…. We need a place that is “Senior Friendly” which loosely translates to no stairs… The Condo Garden home we are renting is the right size (in sq feet) but that is shared between 4 floors and the stairs are killing us… Also having to be a bit “stealthy and creative” in my antenna systems here is making me believe a move would mostly be a good thing… With any luck we will find a small bungalow that has a yard that’s antenna friendly at a price that’s pension friendly. Failing that then I guess it will be Seniors Apartment (top floor please) with balcony antennas.

VHF/UHF on the left with the loop in the center

I was thinking that Mag Loop for the HF bands and the existing Arrow GP would be acceptable if I had some altitude…

So getting back to the big change… Where the Yaesu FT950 and the FT7250d used to sit on my desk has been now given over to my new Yaesu FT991A.

My Yaesu FT991a

It has a much smaller footprint and the radio can operate on 70CM, 2M ,6m and the full HF bands of 10m to 160m including 60m. Its modes are FM,C4FM,SSB and CW with provisions for the various Digital Modes

So far its working fine with the SGC237 autotuner I have mounted outside on my fence. I do have an Arrow dual band (70cm/2m) groundplane outside as well but I would prefer at least a couple of horizontal loops for 2m and 6m SSB but they will have to wait for now.

Its really a radio that you should read the manual for so for now its working fine for me and once I actually RTFM it will be even better. So far my received signal reports are almost identical to those I received when using the FT950 so I am more than pleased.

I am still active on HF and C4FM (PiStar Hotspot) so its all good…

A much better review of the FT991a will be posted once I RTFM and figure out what I am doing


ps…. and IF I have the urge to activate a POTA Park or just work the world from my neighborhood park I do have my XIEGU X5105 along with my choices of the EFHW antenna or the SOTA Beams 6-60m antenna

Wrapping up the RAC Canada Day Contest #RACCD

Well its over and I am pleased with my results:

My normal way to gauge my efforts in the RAC Canada Day Contest or the RAC Canada Winter Contest is by the following :

1> Have fun….

If its not fun why am I doing it? Well I did have fun and lots of it…

2> Work all the Provinces and Territories…

Almost…. I made contacts in our 10 provinces but I was unable to make contacts with (or even hear someone working) VY0, VY1 or VE8

But on the bright side I did work VO2, VY2, VE1, VE9, VE2, VE3, VE4, VE5, VE6 and VE7. I did not work VO1 but as they are in the same Province as VO2, I can say that I did make contacts in all 10 Provinces.

3> When the final results are posted my score should be in the top 50%…

This is just a thing with me…. Operating from Ontario as we have (I believe) the most amateurs of any Canadian Province its very hard unless you have a “Contest Quality” station to ever finish in the top 10 in your province without even thinking of the Country,

To prove a point (kind of) in 2017 I operated the contest as VA3QV/VY2 in the QRP Catagory as were were on Holidays in Prince Edward Island at the time. My score was almost laughable (so low) but as there are less Amateurs residing in PEI my score of 2124 points operating from the Picnic Table was enough to win PEI QRP. It was the one and only time I got a top score (in any catagory) in the RAC contests since I got licenced in 1992 .


So (after some rambling) I just want to find my score from the top down rather from the bottom up. After checking the results for the last few years I feel that my estimated score of 18,840 should keep me in the top 50% of the Single Operator Low Power group. Not by much but should be there.

So by my own standards the Contest was a success. It would of been nicer to have more Canadian stations out there. I got 87 Canadian stations in my log and 40 US/DX stations.

I look forward to the RAC Canada Winter Contest in December… but till then its back to chasing POTA


Weekend radioactive

Its been a while but here what happened this weekend in my world of radio…

On Friday (Apr 16) I chased a lot of POTA and managed to up my park hunting substantually .

On Saturday (April 17) I continued to participate in the POTA “Support your local Parks” event by hunting a very crowded band for parks and then in the afternoon I actually did my first activation.

I packed up my Xiegu X5105 along with my Sota Beams lightweight 10m to 60m dipole and activated park VE-0023


As you can see from the above map it was a round trip hike of 6km there and back from my operating location.

I managed to make 21 contacts in my first activation and hopefully there will be more. The portable rig and antenna are working great. Lets hope the band conditions become a bit better


End of the year review

Well the end of 2021 is almost here. Last year (2020) we all were thinking that we were going to beat COVID…. And here we are again hoping that the New Year (2022) will be better…

Lets hope that finally is true….

For me not much happened (radio wise at least) for most of the year. I worked till the mid September when I retired for the last time. Mid October we sold the truck and the trailer as COVID was making Liz nervous and it was decided we were going to hunker down rather than travel full time. I did not know that she could see into the future but…. These decisions were made before Omnicron arrived and although we did not know it then…. We made the right choice.

In October I started to spend more time in the shack and since then have been increasing my totals as far as WAS (Worked all States) goes.

As of todays date I have 41 states confirmed in Phone, 18 confirmed in CW and 46 confirmed in Digital.

For 2022 I hope to complete my ARRL Triple Play (WAS in the 3 modes) 50-50-50 would be the desired totals

Right now I have 120 Phone, 72 CW and 55 Digital DXCC (Countries) confirmed. As we get closer to the Solar Maximum I am hoping to increase the totals significantly.

I do not see us travelling much this year so the back deck will be a major part of our summer activities but I do hope to engage in some POTA activations as I do have my portable HF station (FT450at, Wolf River 10-80m coil on a tripod) along with a soon to be purchased 20ah battery will help me pass the time on some of those summer days.

For those who think they have heard me describe this gear before you would be correct. Its the HF Station from the VA3QV/m (my old pickup truck).

I also have a complete station that came out of the trailer which I plan to sell at some time in the near future. This station consists of a Yaesu FT 450 (no AT), LDG auto Tuner and 25 amp power supply. Add coax and an antenna and you are on the air. It will be at a fair price so if you are interested drop me a comment with your email and I’ll get back to you.

Thats what I see happening… One more year of semi isolation till we beat this… We have had our two shots and the one booster. Betting that they figure out a way to give us a 2nd booster before this is all over.

We feel pretty safe but still nervous about everyone else out there. So for now it will be stay quiet, stay at home and stay safe. I don’t see much else changing (yet) but nothing is carved in stone…

So… Happy New Year and lets hope for a much better 2022


OK some things are “carved in stone”

Back again

Don’t pay the ransom ….. I escaped…..

Two years of camping just had me at the point that there was nothing to talk about in the RV Life. We just used the trailer like a cottage and outside of the 75 km that was me towing the trailer from the Dealer’s lot to Varty Lake it actually never turned a wheel until it left being towed by its new owner on its way to its new home.

It also seemed that my Ham Radio activites seemed to take a backseat to just about everything else so once again I had little to talk about….

I guess you could day that in reality “COVID won” because at the end of the two years we were not able to travel like we wanted to (and bought the trailer for) and that is a sad thing. However we did keep our sanity (for the most part) and we did keep COVID at bay and therefor still have our health.

So here I am…. trying to remember how to use the WordPress software on a new laptop so I can tell you about how I got my FT950 up and running again (if I could remember what all the buttons do) and once I get the software up and running also getting my “Node” working again so I make some YSF contacts when the HF bands are not playing nice.

This is almost like starting fresh again like I did so many years ago… Lets hope that this time I can or am able to finish what I started way back then.

Once I get things figured out I still have to work a bit on my WAS (voice/CW/Digital ) from Kingston and my DXCC totals (voice/CW/Digital) have not changed in 2 years and that is my plan for the winter months. Lots of time in the shack and get those totals to rise.

Lets hope things happen this time….

More Later


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