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 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
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
After about a week of using the Comet Toybox antenna along with my Xeigu X5105 QRP radio I can honestly say its working better than I expected.
Most of my testing has been on 20m and 40m SSB so far and I find the QRP station able to contact most of the same stations I work from the home station of course with slightly lower signal levels.
I found my best results (so far) using a single 1/4 wave (for my band of choice) elevated counterpoise (radial)… I now have a single Radial for 20m, 40m, 60m and 80m
Over the weekend contacts from my backyard to close in stations (Kemptville Ontario) to longer distance contacts (PA, MD and VA) proves it does work. I did work stations that I normally work and so their reports honestly reflected the lower antenna and the much lower power levels.
The next level of testing with the Xiegu and then comparing my 3 different QRP antennas to see which one functions the best. That should be coming in a couple of weeks…
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…
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…
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 YOU HAPPEN TO HEAR US PLEASE RE SPOT US ON POTA SPOTS
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…
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 QRZ.com. Sorry folks but no Direct or Buro QSL’s
If you remember from my last post that I had constructed an antenna to work on the 60 meter (5mhz) band. It consisted of a single 43 foot driven element and a single 43 foot counterpoise/radial fed my a 1:1 balun.
As mentioned before the above graphic is for my SotaBeams Bandspringer Antenna but my homebrewed 60m antenna (in the configuration I use) looks alot like the above.
In reality its a 60m dipole but in reality as I don’t have enough real estate to stretch out almost 90 feet of wire I use it as an End Fed inverted VEE with an elevated 43 foot counterpoise attached to my fence at about 3 feet above the ground. The SWR is good to where I don’t even need the built in tuner on my Yaesu FTR991a and so far the signal reports are fairly strong considering the very poor band conditions (darn solar storms) that we are going though right now. With the help of the built in tuner I can get it to load up on some of the higher bands but I like the long wire better….
So with the addition of the new antenna I can now operate on:
Well its still hot…. and I’m still hiding inside as much as I can… The current band conditions are not the best but I am managing to contact about 10 POTA Parks a day and so the totals are still climbing, but a bit slower than I would like.
I decided to clean out the shack…. Its cooler inside and found lots of neat “stuff”…. I think I found the complete radial system for my old vertical that I had in the air back in Ottawa…. Lots of connectors along with about 100+ feet of coax.
I also as I was finding “stuff” I decided to do some antenna “stuff”… For a while I have been putting off creating an antenna for 60m.
Early tests show the antenna having a very respectable SWR on the (5) 60m Channels we are allowed now. I did not need the built in tuner on the FT991A.
The band conditions at the time were not strong (very weak) so no one was able to give me signal report, but as it loads up fine I am sure it will work for me.
I will not be using the new allocation that Canadian Amateurs are allowed until Yaesu comes out with a new firmware upgrade that unlocks that part of the band for us.
The other bit of antenna “stuff” I did today was re-wire my 40M End Fed Half Wave (the one from my portable station) with small gauge wire. It was made of 18 gauge and the smaller 25 gauge wire is much lighter and easier to work with and anything that lowers the weight of my backpack is appreciated by my back. Although all I did was replace 65 feet of wire I will test this out later at a local park if (and when) it cools off a bit.