VA3QV/m (UHF/VHF/HF)

The result of having way too much time on my hands but as of right now VA3QV/m is as good as I see it being….

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VHF/UHF communications provided by my Yaesu FTM7250D which along with being dual band its also dual mode (FM/C4FM) with output power being up to 50w.  If the repeater I am on at the time is part of the Wires X network I can also access that network as well

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HF Communications (15m/17m/20m/40m/60m/80m) with my Yaesu FT450d along with a Wolf River coil.  The FT 450 has a built in Auto Tuner which I plan to use to extend the bandwidth of the antenna system but so far it has not been needed

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In addition I have a hotspot that I tether to my cell phone that interfaces the 7250 with the System Fusion system for Wires X style linkingIMG_0728

But getting back to HF Mobile operating…

In anticipation of next year being better than this year is turning out I decided to outfit my truck with a good selection of communications gear so that if we are allowed to travel unrestricted next year communications “home” from wherever we were visiting would be possible

It did take a few remakes but the Wolf River 10-80m coil along with a 90 inch stainless steel whip is working better than expected.  I am making contacts (on a daily basis) with stations across Ontario/Quebec and the Maritimes on 40m and 80m ssb. I have also make contacts into Canada’s western provinces using 20m and 40m ssb.  In eastern Ontario the guys say that my mobile is almost as strong as my fixed station setup seeing that I have to use a stealth antenna here at home to keep the condo board guessing.

Left pic shows the mount that failed and the one that is stronger is on the right

Now if you decide to go this route for your mobile I do recommend going with a very strong mount on your vehicle.  My first mount failed due to the flexing issue with the 102 inch whip (I later cut it down to 90 inches due to height restrictions) and a 16 inch coil driving around the streets of Kingston.  Before then the coil was working fine and then the mount failed.  After replacing the mount with one more robust it is working just fantastic.  I still have some filtering to add to my ignition and charging systems as there is some alternator whine and ignition noise there but I’ve got time before 2021 to get that figured out

The next part of the package will now to get the trailer set up and then make it “Radio Active” in time for Field Day and the RAC Canada Day Contest.  The next 2 weeks are going to be a busy time.

73bob

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

 

Higher than usual Radio activity

If there is a positive side effect to this COVID19 crap it would have to be that a lot of hams have suddenly remembered where their shack is….  The ONTARS Net ( 3.755 lsb)  which runs 7 days a week  between 7 am and 6 pm is having a fantastic level or participation.  It reminds me of the good old days.

If would be even better if some of the newer/returning participants would remember not to tune up their amps/antennas on the net frequency before they check in.

Recently on a road trip to Ottawa I managed a couple of 2m FM contacts on the way there and a good ragchew on C4FM on the way back….  I guess the repeater crowd is trying getting into the shack in the non drive time periods.

On the topic of VA3QV/m….  I have not gotten any further with the installation of the FT 450 in the truck.

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I do have the antenna (Wolf River 10m-40m coil and 102 inch whip) installed and it does work but still no time to get the power cable run into the truck neatly (which will keep Liz happy)   All the other parts are sitting here so its only my inability to find a neat way to run wires from the battery to the radio which is holding things up

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I also am planning to get some sort of C4FM hot spot for the truck.  The ability to tether the hot spot to my I phone (internet access) could make the miles pass easier when the HF bands are not cooperating and the local repeaters are not active.  This would give me a mobile version of my home PDN (Local Node/Personal Digital Node) although it would be much lower power on the output. 

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More on this on later as I am still just shopping around now.

The Hamradio events cancellation list continues to grow….  It actually would be a shorter list to mention the events still happening.

Field Day will be happening but I am guessing a multitude of Single Operator home stations participating unlike years when it was a social event as well as an operating event.  This year we will be forced to operate only.  We should try and get a grip on the thought that this could be the new normal for our hobby

Thats it for now folks….  Try and stay safe and sane

73bob

 

HF antenna work on VA3QV/m (Part 1)

Today I started working on the mobile installation on my pickup. 

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Its going to take a few days to get everything done but the first step was getting the mount installed on the truck and that was accomplished today.

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The mount itself fits in one of the stake holes in the box of my pickup.  Once you figure out the little trick of getting it to attach its fairly easy.  The hardest part was getting a good ground with the body of the truck as I have a spray on box liner on my truck and so it took a few tries before a good ground was found

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The next step was fairly easy which was just attaching the Wolf River Coil to the mount…..  After screwing it to the mount a few minute drive around the neighborhood and its bumpy road proved that the mount was securely attached.

I ran the coax from the mount and to the inside of the truck leaving the power cable and mount for the FT 450 for another day.  I also have to move some stuff in the garage to get the 102 inch whip from its hiding place so I can get it screwed into the coil. 

After that’s done I will have to do a quick measure to make sure that I do not exceed 13 feet in height as the maximum vehicle height allowed in Ontario is 13 feet 6 inches.  I might have to trim a few inches off the top of the whip as I can’t lower the mount.  

After that is done it will be a bit of a drive around town to ensure that the mount and coil/whip combo are still mounted properly then its time to set the swr on the different bands ( 10-40m) then finally take the time to play some radio.

All this work is anticipation of a trip down to VE1Land  (with Erika) sometime before the summer and after that some camping if Liz and I can finish the number crunching on the trailer we were talking about earlier

More to follow in Part 2

73bob

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

A few changes here

Nothing too earth shattering but there have been a couple of changes here both in the RF Department and the RV side of things….

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…..

And the last change is that on Saturday evening I sold (after consulting with my daughter Erika) our trailer.  It has left on the next great adventure in its life to become part of a hunting camp along with being a portable ham radio shack as yes….  I did sell it to a ham radio operator from Ottawa.  I have no doubts that I will be seeing it again at a field day site as it was at field day 2016 that the new owner  saw it for the first time and I still enjoy playing radio with that field day group so…..  I do look forward to seeing the modifications he has planned for it.

Now I am not giving up on the RV Lifestyle but rather just getting ready for a newer rig.  It might be in the spring or the late summer depending on how much time I can recover as this weird thing we call “Life” progresses.  Not much point in getting the new(er) rig if we don’t (can’t) find the time to enjoy it….

More on all of this later

Safe Travels and best 73

Bob

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

 

 

 

Putting the pieces together for a HF Morning

With all the C4FM (Wires X, VHF and UHF) stuff I have been doing recently I realized that I needed head out to a park and stretch out some wire and play radio.  I had taken my HF gear down at home as I was getting tired of everyone telling me I should put up a better antenna and me telling them that the only way my antenna could improve was if the tree the wire was hiding in would grow.

Although I have been saying for years I would rather be on the air with a bad antenna than not being on the air…..

I just got tired of telling everyone (not to get stuffed) and decided the tree might grow faster if the weight of the wire was not holding it down….

So this morning I took my FT 450…..

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and my SGC 237 auto tuner….

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along with 2 100 foot rolls of the finest (cheapest) Princess Auto wire….

and my Trailer Hitch Mast mount and 3 of my fiberglass military surplus 4 foot long sections of mast….

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I headed over to Lake Ontario Park to see what a 100w radio with one of the best tuners in the world and surplus masting and lots of wire would accomplish…

For the purpose of this test…..  I used 3 of my masting sections… 1 on the hitch, 1 to hold the SGC and 1 in the middle… So the center of my antenna was approx 14 feet above ground taking the height of the hitch into consideration

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You can see the white breadboard holding the SGC and the breadboard is clamped onto  the top of the surplus masting…

I used the SGC as the center point in my (sort of) dipole antenna with 100 feet of wire running North West and the other 100 feet of wire running South East and the ends were suspended at approx 10 feet above the ground using the existing trees in the park.

I WAS powering my radio gear using a 450 watt inverter in my truck which was powering my 25 amp power supply to breathe life into the FT450 and Tuner.

“WAS” being the best description as shortly after tuning up the radio and making a checkin with Paul VA3PC in North Bay (on the North Bay Net 3.768) my noise level suddenly jumped and then the inverter stopped working.  It did not let any magic smoke out but after I reset it and tried again I could not get rid of the new high noise level…

I then quickly found the spare parts to by pass the inverter and power supply and connect everything directly to the battery in my truck.  Problem solved and the noise dropped down to a very pleasing low of S1 to S3.   Now to some of you out in the country that might seem loud but to a city boy who thinks that anything below a S7 is low….  Today was just fantastic….

At 10am I switched over to the Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Clubs weekly 80m Net on 3.760 and suprised most of the participants by having a signal that everyone could hear.  Equally I was extremely pleased with being able to hear everyone out there.  Its amazing what one can do when the noise floor is low…

At the end of the net I spun the dial a bit and although I did not try and make any contacts the antenna system (wire and the SGC 237) was easily able to load up on 10m to 160m with a 2:1 swr on 160 which was brought down to 1:1 using the internal tuner on the 450.  That was the only band that the tuner has a slight problem with and compared to other instllations a 2:1 match is not that bad when operating portable…

In additon to HF operation I could also easily change over to VHF/UHF operations by putting my Discone antenna at the top of the mast if I was in need of reaching a repeater not easily accessable while camping or on a Public Service event

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And I could go up much higher as I do have a total of 11 sections of masting for a total height of 44 feet…

However the HF side of things is what is really interesting me right now so I do have enough wire to try several other setups.  A delta loop comes to mind along with an inverted L antenna.  Although I’m not sure how long the weather will allow me access to the best portable operating areas close to Kingston but what ever I can learn this fall will really improve my enjoyment of the hobby in the spring….

A bit of an update with the VA3QV Node here in Kingston.  I still have some issues with the internet.  If (when) my home internet hiccups while the node software is trying to access the server it just causes a crash and nothing happens till I do a reset.  However when the internet is stable the node is working fine all is good.

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Liz and I are still planning the season ending trip with the camper and it will (has to) happen as at the end of the trip we have to drain the tanks and winterize before the camper goes into storage for the winter.

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Thats all for now…  Thanks for visiting

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