Pleased with the new purchase

Well after the help of a few local (Kingston) hams and the computer skills of my daughter Erika its working fineimg_0725

The hotspot has found a place in VA3QV/m and I have it set up in such a way that I do not need a computer to control it ….  However I am also not using it to its full potentinal.

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But it is doing exactly what I wanted it to so…. it works for me… And heres how I am using it so far….

I use it to connect to the Canada Wide Room which is part of the VE3ORF/3730 linked Repeater system This lets me keep track with the “home town” when I am not within VHF/UHF RF range although most nites I can contact them on 80m SSB on the 3730 group.

Here in Kingston the local Fusion Group has just (in the process of)set up a hotspot on the the Fusion repeater here in town.  This (once all is finished) will let me call into my new home town when I am on the road.  Once again YES I could do this on HF but its nice to have some communications options.

Now if I was to add a tablet to the system I could use the hotspot to its full potential but for now I don’t want to introduce any more distactions to VA3QV/m and the video display would be doing that.  All I need to do is fill in a few gaps in communications (for now).  I am planning to get a 2nd hotspot to put in the trailer and that will have more computer control but for now its the KISS principal.

I’m still a newby at this but it is a great communications tool

73bob

PS…. as I write this according to the USPS tracking site my 10-80m Wolf River Coil is somewhere between Chicago and Kingston.  It passed through Chicago and so far has not be scanned anywhere since.  I am hoping it makes it to Toronto where it will clear customs and then on to me in Kingston

 

Sunday morning in the “Shack”

First off….  It has been a while since I last posted…  I will be honest and say that in my case not much has been happening in the “RV” Department as we did sell the old rig and have not replaced it yet.  We have been looking (and drooling) on line but so far have not found what we are looking for.

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Also we are not sure how much free time we will have this summer and I don’t really want to start making payments on a new (to us) rig that I am going be storing more than I am using.

On the VHF/UHF/WIRES X RF side of things…..  Not much has changed.  My WIRES X node is now up and running more than it was before.

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We changed internet providers which immediately helped connectivity and along with an external USB fan to keep the node radio running cooler gives me piece of mind.  I chose the USB fan as I keep it plugged into the laptop that is hosting the node. IMG_0645

If the laptop is turned on the fan has power and the radio is automatically cooled.  Turn off the laptop and the fan stops…  Fairly idiot (Bob) proof.

I am still a big fan of this C4FM WIRES X style of communicating.  Not for rare DX but just for having a conversation that is clear and crisp.  The other morning while driving to work I had a great 10 minute ragchew with a VE1 mobile station who also was driving to work but he was in the Halifax area.  Easy armchair copy and with the clarity of a Digital signal.

The HF RF  has not changed.  The Yaesu FT450 is doing a great job feeding the SGC237 auto tuner but there is a limit to what I can get away with (wire wise) without alerting the “Condo Cops” so for now I am still on the air with a bad antenna…. but I am on the air (at least).    Normally the weakest signal that the Net Control Station has to deal with but at least I get heard.

The family is still debating about a move from the Condo to a larger place a little further out of town so at some time I might have room to stretch out wire….  Heres hoping that happens

I have been looking for a new (to me) HF radio either for the house or VA3QV/m

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(Put the new one in the shack and move the FT 450 into the truck or just put the new one into the truck…) but so far the ones that interest me seem to interest everyone else and by the time I send out an inquiry email  the reply always seems to be sorry but it already sold.  One of these days I will be in the right place at the right time…

Thats about it for now….  Passing thru Kingston try calling me on the 146.805-  C4FM repeater.  If you have access to Wires X then you might find me in either the CQ Canada Room (40678) or the Canada Wide Room (40505).

If the band co operates I still try and check into the 3730 Group which is still running on 3.730 lsb (+ or – depending on QRM) and for now they are calling the net at 530 pm eastern.  Once the band shortens up a bit it should go back to a later evening start.  Just remember that with my poor antenna I need great conditions or I just hear static.

73bob

 

Node back on the air

You might remember about three weeks ago when I posted the following:

First of all my Yaesu Fusion Node is off the air….  Windows did an automatic update and now the Node software is not functioning.  I’m guessing that a re install is needed but at this time I just don’t feel like jumping through the hoops a 2nd time.  I’m hoping that re installing the drivers will make it all work again…  It does however make me wonder IF there might be a more stable operating system to do this on….  I am the first to admit I use computers in my hobby but they are far from being my hobby.  ….  It will be back sometime (and I hope soon) but there is lots going on in my life at this time (all good) but time management is starting to be an issue…..

Well its back and seems to be mostly stable…. it only crashes now when my internet is flakey but the driver issue has been fixed.  I found a small usb powered fan and now whenever the laptop is on my node radio and the power supply for the node radio is being cooled.  Its working so well that I have returned the power to the 25w level that I started at.  The overheating problem has been cured by the usb fan so as long as the intenet is behaving the VE3ORF system has its Kingston node running again.

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The node is running on UHF (frequency on the pic above) and it is normally connected to the VE3ORF system

Hope to hear you sometime…

73bob

Some things work first time then others….

…..Don’t

Right on the heels of my Sunday Portable HF operations I decided to try something I had read about years ago ….  It was a 40/80m NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave) antenna that used the body of my truck as the ground….

The basic idea that if you attach a 66 foot long wire to the stud mount that holds your mobile vertical HF antenna (just above roof height of the vehicle) you in effect would have an 80m NVIS antenna.  By folding it back on itself and shorting the ends of the wire together you would now have a 33 foot long antenna giving you the 40m NVIS effect as well.

For a good description of NVIS go to: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_vertical_incidence_skywave

or click on this link: NVIS

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I had all the pieces necessary in my junk box and headed back to Lake Ontario Park to build and do the basic testing.  For me the basic testing meant stringing it out and then testing using my MFJ Antenna Analyzer and it it worked return later with the FT 450 and see if it likes RF.

As I do not have a 3/8 stud mount on the new pickup (yet) I improvised with a single magnetic mag mount that had a stud mount attached.

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I set up at the park and proceeded to check things out and to my shock it worked on the first try.  SWR was excellent and all appeared well.  I then packed everything up and headed to meet a couple of local hams for a coffee then head back to the park with the FT 450.

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On my return to the park I re strung the antenna up and hooked up the FT 450 and found that the antenna would not load up…  On 80 or on 40….  I seem to remember from many years ago when I mounted a Hustler 80m mobile antenna on the luggage rack of a mini van the same thing happening.  That problem was cured by running a ground strap from the frame of the vehicle to the mount on the luggage rack but today I did not have any way to ground a magnetic mount so…..

Looks like I will have to wait till I install the mobile 3/8 mount on the truck.

Now on to “Other Stuff”….

I re installed the HF gear back in the shack as I realized that it is much better to be on the air with a poor antenna than not be on the air.  Its also better to be listening to anything on HF while waiting for some one to to call on a Local Repeater or one of the Wires X or for that matter than just to sit waiting.

The VA3QV  Wires X Node is working fine.  Along with East-West coverage I have also found that I go as far south as Lake Ontario (about 4km from my site) and still hear and use the node and that takes me to the end of the boat ramp and I can’t go any further south without getting wet.

Due to the ongoing overheating issues I now keep the node at its 5w setting  when its operating.  I have a cooling fan I have to install and then the power level issue will be looked at again after the install.

Tuesday night (last night) I listened to the VE3ORF/3730 Digital Net which was held on Yaesu Wires X Room 40505.  It operated for just under 1 hour and had 21 check ins from VE1, VE2, VE3, VE6 and the States of Mass, Virginia, Rhode Island along with a VK station.

The Net runs every Tuesday night at 8pm Eastern and is found on most of the digital platforms (C4FM, DMR) and for more information go to the VE3ORF Website.

The trailer still has to be winterized although the final camping trip of the year might be cancelled as there was a frost alert for the area we were planning to go to and also a family member (was not Liz) had to spend the night in the hospital (she was released the next day) so all is well but….

Liz and I are thinking if we tried to get away Murphy’s Law might  see us having to break camp and rush back,  so why not stay close to home as its better to be safe than sorry….?

So as usual its much more RF than RV in the blog post.  I think that Erika has spent more time in the trailer than Liz and I have this year….  Don’t see that changing till next spring…

For now Safe Travels and…

73bob

 

 

 

Updated Node coverage area

Thanks to Allan VE3AJB from Manitoulin Island who talked to me from Kingston to almost to Joyceville and also to Steve VE3AVP in Ottawa who talked to me from Kingston almost to Odessa I can now say that the nodes coverage is :

But to be honest it was a bit rough in the valleys but on the high ground it was fantastic…  The coverage between the HWY 15 exit and the Gardiners Road exit was excellent (armchair copy)

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Just to remind you that the VA3QV Node is running 70cm C4FM (Yaesu Wires X ) on 443.1625 and is located in Kingston Ontario at the Corner of John A MacDonald and John Counter.  Its output is 25w going into a 1/4w dual band Arrow Groundplane at approx 20 feet above local ground.  The node is connected to the VE3ORF Network of linked digital repeaters ( 40505 in Wires X).

This node proves proof of concept but it is not in its final configuration.  I would hope to move it to a location with more dependable internet connections  that allows a higher antenna and that should come when we move to our new QTH .  When that happens is up to Liz with an extimated move date of the summer of 2020.

More to follow

73bob

Back again

Its been a rough couple of weeks but I’m back….  Some of you might say…. “you left????” but I was away from the hobby….

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We have one less cat now (RIP Shadow) but its time to wipe away the tears and get back to our regular activities.


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You might remember that I bought that $500.00 hat back at the Carp Hamfest well that radio they gave me is now up and running as a Personal Digital Node here in Kingston and its connected to the C4FM Canada Link (40505) which is the VE3ORF repeater system and accessable on UHF simplex at 443.1625.

As you can see from the above map the coverage is from Joyceville Ontario to West of Odessa (east of Napanee)  The VE3ORF system gives coverage from Brockville east on the 401 to past Morrisburg and then from Prescott Ontario north into Ottawa using several linked repeaters.  I give you a gateway from the Kingston area into the system and then you gain the full system as you get close to Brockville.

For more info on the system go to:  http://www.ve3orf.com

The antenna is an Arrow Dual Band Groundplane at about 20 feet above ground with the link radio at the 25w pwr setting.  For the testing I used VA3QV/m with its dual band mobile antenna and the mobile pwr setting was at 50w.  Now this is what I am getting with my setup so your results could (might vary)

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Its still in the testing mode and so far the only issue is that if my internet hiccups at the same time as the node is doing something that it needs to connect to the network ….  well at that time it will just disconnect from the network which means that someone at my house has to go into the shack and double click on the icon to restart the system again.  So far in testing that has only happened twice so here hoping the internet stays stable…

Its a learning process and it will stay up and running as long as it remains stable and dependable.  I operate it on UHF as the local repeaters here in Kingston are on VHF so there is no conflicts and I can still operate locally as needed.

If you have access to the Wires X system from your location try connecting to node 40505 and you will be connected to the ORF system which also includes my little bit of radio land here in Kingston.

73bob

 

 

Back home after the OARC (Carp) Hamfest

This is just to update you on the happenings….  I arrived in Ottawa (Stittsville) on Friday evening and parked my trailer at a business that I used to work at…..  The owners and I parted way on excellent terms and so they had no problems giving me a place to park for the night….

I drove north bound on Hwy 15 to Hwy 7 (Through Smiths Falls to Carleton Place and ended up in Stittsville.  The new truck handled the trip and the trailer with no issues…  On the RF side of things it seemed like everyone was sleeping early in anticipation of Saturdays event and no one made it in the VA3QV Mobile Log from Kingston to the parking lot in Stittsville

Saturday morning I headed over to the Carp arena to pass on some treasures and to buy one new toy from Radioworld…  By noon both goals had been accomplished with all my treasures sold and the new toy (Yaesu FTM-100/DR) in my possession.

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Saturday afternoon I headed to the east end of Ottawa and parked at the Trainyards Walmart where my oldest friend pick me up and we headed out for a few cold ones and some story swapping…

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Operating from the trailer with my FT70 handheld along with a magmount attached to the range hood in the camper I made many contacts on the VE3ORF C4FM Repeater system on the Saturday evening and Sunday Morning….

Sunday morning I left Ottawa and headed south on Hwy 416.  I remained in communications on the Ottawa ORF repeater till close to Kempville…  I then switched to the Kempville ORF repeater then finally switching to the Prescott ORF repeater.  I stopped for a few minutes at Angelo’s Truck stop on hwy 16 just north of the 401 to meet up with Mike VA3MPM.  Mike is the driving force with the VE3ORF linked repeater system.

After our chat we continued on our respective travels and were able to keep contact up on the linked repeater system till I finally ran out of repeater as I passed thru the City of Brockville on Hwy 401.

Arrived home and put the camper back in storage….  tired but happy and as I type this also trying to figure out how to operate the new toy without having to read the book of words….  not going as good as I thought…

73bob

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