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

Three months later….

3 months ago Liz and I almost bought the RV Trailer of our dreams but that nasty old COVID came calling and everything was closed and put on hold….

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The following YouTube clip is from a different dealer but it shows the finer points of the trailer without the normal BUY NOW….BUY NOW….BUY NOW that most RV dealers put on their YouTube postings

2 weeks ago I headed back to the dealer and found that it was still available and we started to talk…


Before I go any further I must mention that Quinte RV did not ask me to write this or did they offer me any thing to write this.  What you see here is an personal endorsement  which honestly describes my purchase experience…


The salesman let us visit with our old friend with no pressure.   I took a long visit and it was everything I remembered it as.  Big…. but light enough that my Pickup (VA3QV/m) could easily tow it….

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So now that the trailer remains how I remembered it ….  Just for $h!ts and Giggles lets put in an offer to purchase…..

 

 

The Salesman passed me over to the Financial Wizard and he started to do his magic.

 

And the Wizards magic was strong as he was able to get me the price I wanted, at the terms I wanted and  at a much better interest rate than I expected.

And to make matters even better (yes it does get better….) we were able to grab one of last two permanent campsites at a private campground just a short 45 minute drive from Kingston.  At this time I expect that Liz and I will spend most of our time there from when we move in on June 26th till the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend in Mid October.

Our summer is now spoken for….  Time to enjoy life a bit when not working…  

 

For those of my followers who are more into RF than RV there will be a C4FM station set up along with my new(er) FT 450 set up there with what I expect to be an Inverted “L” which will cover 10-80m and maybe even 160m when I feed it with my SGC237 auto tuner which will relocate from the home station to the trailer for the season.

 

 

I plan to operate from the campsite as soon as I am able to which means a limited Field Day station but a strong attempt at the RAC Canada Day Contest a few days later.

 

I still have more to share with you especially on how great the new HF antenna system on VA3QV/m is working out but that will be for another post after I get everything moved into the trailer.

73 and safe travels

bob

 

 

 

 

A return to Digital HF Modes

It was about 8 months ago when I decided that when Liz and I were going to be RV’ing on a full time basis it was also obivious that some gear would not make it into the trailer for the trip.  My desktop computer was on its last legs but my laptop was fine so…. that fit in with reducing the clutter for the trailer.  However some of the accessories would not be needed so…. At the Carp Hamfest they were sent on their way to their new owners….

Now fast forward to the present time and the COVID Crap and we are not on the road and we are not in our new trailer and I was getting bored so…..IMG_0710

One of the items sold has been replaced… and as you can see I am back on the digital modes using a SignaLink sound card device.

Its taking a while to get back into the modes as I have to remember how to set things back up but so far I have gotten a few FT8 QSOs in the log and so…..  Its another distraction to keep me going when I am in the shack trying to unwind after work.  The real reason the item was sold was I thought I would not have the time to operate as much and so now that I have the time….  why not get back to it?


va3qvcoffeeThis morning (Thursday morning) on our local Kingston Coffee (C4FM) Net I was mentioning that I was thinking of getting a new SignaLink and shortly after that one of the participants mentioned that he had a spare he was thinking of getting rid of….  A couple of hours later we had met up and I was heading home to set up the latest addition.

Its the same bunch of operators that used to meet at the local coffee shop to compare rare DX contacts and complain about stuff but due to the COVID restrictions we now do it on the air from our shacks.

Its still as exciting as watching paint dry but at least in these times of unstable conditons along with my antenna restrictions it is a way to at least make some contacts.

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According to my LoTW files I need 49 more DXCC entities for my Digital DXCC and I need 8 more states for my Digital WAS from Kingston.  When I operated from Ottawa I did complete my Triple Play WAS so now the quest starts again from Kingston.

I’m not sure how many new ones I’ll get in the log during this time of self containment when not working …but I know it will be fun trying

73bob

 

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 2)

Its hard to say but there might be a part 3 to this one…..

Early this afternoon I hooked up my 102 inch stainless steel whip to the coil previously mounted on my truck and then brought out the tape measure and my MFJ antenna analizer.

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And the reason for the tape measure was to see how high off the ground the mount was …. which enabled me to calculate how tall the top of the whip was…..  If you take the height of the end of the coil (from the ground) being 61 inches then add the 103 inch lenght of the whip brings you very close to 13.4 feet which is too close (for my liking) to my maximum height allowance of 13 feet 6 inches here in Ontario.

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However according to the MFJ magic box I was able to adjust the coil to get the SWR low on all the bands between 10m and 40m.  Setting the centerpoint to 7.150, 14.200 the built in tuner could easily tune things up in most of the 40m and all of the 20m band.

Before you say anything I do realize once the cutter removes 12 inches from the whip I will have to go through all the tuning processes again but the cost of having an over height vehicle far outweighs the time spent to retune.

Although the poor power connection I had (using alligator clips on the battery) I was able to make a local contact with Bill VE3FI which proves everything works.  Next time I attach the wires PROPERLY to the battery then should have no problems running the full 100w.  Receive wise we heard lots (including ignition noise and alternator whine) so there will be a bit more work to be done.

On the RV side of things I did visit my lending institution this morning in my travels before the antenna work started and they would like a bit more info on the RV before they start the paperwork process.  But seeing that I’m not sure what campgrounds will be open this year (that damn coronavid 19) I will hold off on the paperwork for a while.  But its good to know they are interested in my business.

Coming in part 3….  ordering the 10-80m wolf river coil, trimming the antenna and making a strong (very strong) 12v power connection for the FT 450

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