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…
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.
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.
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
Traditionally held on “The Last Rainy Weekend” in June but for the sticklers for the rules its actual date is the 4th weekend in June…
This year it would be on June 25th and ending on June 26th
So what will VA3QV be doing???? Its safe to say that my Field Day Station will look a bit like this:
or like this from back in 2017….
So I plan to be operating as a 1B Battery Station from the RAC Ontario East Section (ONE)
The actual location has not been determined yet but there is a good chance the location could be one of the Parks on the Air location in the City of Kingston.
That’s the plan for good weather… and so far the long range forecast is calling for nice (dry). If the weather is not dry then the plan is to operate as a home station in the 1D catagory just to give out points to the participants
Years ago Field Day was considered a test of our emergency operating skills specifically to set up and operate a station for 24 hours and somehow it has morphed into more of contest with groups of operators putting up equipment that would not be used in a real emergency at power levels that could not be maintained unless you had a generator and an endless supply of gasoline.
I’m a little more primitive by setting up my QRP (5w of power) radio with a wire antenna and using a solar panel to top up the battery as needed.
I will have the option of being under cover (see above pic) as protection from the sun and/or rain most likely be needed at some time . Not sure how long I will be operating but it won’t be for the full 24 hours.
Overnight all I would be doing is listening to static and feeding the mosquitoes…
No egos to stroke…. Just operate and make some contacts with the emphasis of having fun and not taking myself too seriously.
Hope to hear you and be heard by you during the event
The last time I helped out providing communications for a public service event was in June 2019 in the Rideau Lakes Cycle tour.
You can follow this link to see what we did back then in the good old Before Covid days
Now that we are told that COVID is behind us and we must live with it (or die from it) the event was held again this weekend just past. Rather than be at a checkpoint somewhere in the middle of somewhere I was doing dual duty as one of the Communicators at the End of Saturdays Leg and the Start of Sundays leg as I was at Queens University doing some Start/Finish line stuff as well as being one of the Net Control Operators.
Most of our local (Kingston Ontario)crew came back (after 2 years off) to operate for the event and we used the VE3FRG 2m repeater which is normally a C4FM repeater but for this event was locked in the FM mode. Even though all of our team have C4FM gear not all the other (Aux Communication Groups) have that mode so to keep everyone in our area on the same page (and same mode) we kept it FM only.
The event itself seemed to run smoothly and there was nothing worse that a few riders getting small amounts of road rash. The tour management seemed quite pleased with our services and when we were shutting down our end of the tour as the riders were safely on their way to Perth Ontario the words I heard most was “See you next year”
I think they will!!!
Sorry but to be honest I did not have the time to snap any pics so…. next year I will try harder
Well recently I have been shuffling gear around to take into consideration my new interests in our Amateur Radio hobby along with the retirees budget….
Yesterday this rig made it into my shack:
The Yaesu FT2DR is a dual band (2m and 70cm) dual mode (FM and C4FM) 5 watt handheld radio.
I bought it used from a ham in Ottawa and so far I am more than pleased with my purchase. It also has a built in GPS and an AX25 modem so eventually I will figure out how to access the APRS Network.
For now I have been able to program the memories with the limited frequencies needed for Kingston and as I also have the programming software and cable (not needed yet) eventually I will have it working to its full potential.
I still have my FT70D handheld and my FTDM7250 and plan to keep them both doing duty in the shack. The “70D” is currently monitoring my NNMDM Hot spot and the “7250” is connected to my 1/4 wave dual band groundplane giving me local VHF/UHF coverage
So for now I will be using the FT2DR for my daily use rig when not in the shack. Walks around the block or out to some POTA Activations should make use of the APRS Features and the ability to send SMS and APRS Text messages from areas where the cell service is limited could be important. Hopefully the GPS stuff along with the APRS stuff will be just as easy to set up as the memories were.
If you want to track the progress of this check out APRS.FI on line and search for VA3QV. Once I get it functioning the SSID for the FT2DR will be VA3QV-7
There will be a few more changes coming… I am looking for another portable hf rig (FT817 or 818 or even a KX3)to keep the XIEGU X5105 company and I will be sending one of my 100W HF rigs (FT950 or the FT450) on to a new home (but not quite ready to say goodbye yet)
Other stuff— Still hunting lots of POTA with just over 1200 Parks confirmed so far. Only done 2 activations so far but once the bands get stable then the Xiegu will be getting lots of fresh air
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.
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….
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
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
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 linking
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.
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….
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….
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.
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…..
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?
This 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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