The summer that wasn’t

How can I describe it better?

We had a great summer…. fantastic would be a better description but there was absolutely nothing to blog about…. We made the best of COVID and stayed put.

One June 26th I picked up our new camper and towed it to our seasonal campsite at Varty Lake Ontario. We figured it was the safest way to enjoy the summer as Cedar Crest Campground is a small friendly place that is seasonal only with no transients so we were isolating in our own bubble of 55 camping units. When we signed up there were 3 sites left open but by July 1st every site was taken

We spent all of July, August and most of September (so far)there. Relaxing, enjoying the quiet life…. but …. nothing really to report on the RV side of things or the ham radio side of things.

I was wishing we could tell you about all the great things we saw while on the road but the trailer was parked on June 26th and has not turned a wheel since.

I made a few contacts operating portable from the camper with my new (er) FT 450 and my S9 43 foot vertical but no rare DX or any DX at all for that matter.

Really rather boring to be honest but Liz and I had a great summer and stayed safe at the same time. We have committed to keeping the site for the 2021 camping season and then we will rethink our priorities and see if a bit of a tour is even doable. Can we beat COVID 19 by then?

Our camping season closes on Thanksgiving Monday (October 12th here in Canada so that weekend will be spent cleaning, dumping all the tanks and putting antifreeze in the water system as needed. Then we wait for the opening around Mid May

Thats it for now but if anything remotely exciting happens…. I promise to let you know

Safe Travels and 73

Bob

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

 

 

 

 

Its bigger than I thought…

… and it works great

Back on May 8th I posted that I had finally ordered the Wolf River 10-80m mobile coil for VA3QV/m.

Well today it showed up and I am pleased…. very pleased…

Its a little bigger than the 10-40 Wolf River coil that I already was using:

10-40 on the left and 10-80 on the right

With the coil mounted on the rear of the truck, add in the length of the coil and then the 102 inch stainless steel whip we come out to 14 feet 3 inches which is a bit over the Provincial limit of 13 feet 6 inches.

This was expected but I wanted to play with the new toy ASAP so I headed out to Lake Ontario Park in Kingston with everything laying in the box of the truck…  I found a shady place to park and then set up the coil for 80m using my MFJ antenna analyzer.

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I was able to determine that my SWR was acceptable on 80m between 3.720 and 3.775.   Anything over/under that would be easily corrected by the built in auto tuner on the Yaesu FT 450

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But the proof is not in what the computer says but more in what the station says when I contact them….

As the sweet spot on 80m was already set I aimed for 3.755 and heard the NCS for the ONTARS Net (Rob VA3WDK  south of North Bay Ontario) who heard me and gave me a 5/7 to 5/9 report during our 3-5 minute conversation. That was a distance of approx 180 miles north west of Kingston with daytime conditions on 80m

I am more than pleased with the results so far and over the next few days I will be removing the top 12 inches of the whip which should bring it down to a legal 13 feet 3 inches (total height) and then I will set the sweet spots on the coil for 15m, 20m, 40m, 60m and 80m which are the primary bands I would be using when Liz and I are out (eventually) pulling our new trailer.  Not sure when that will happen but when it does….  The truck will be radio active to say the least….

The blog will be updated in the near future once I get the whip trimmed with my final comments on what I consider (at this time) to be a superior product at a great price….

More to follow

73bob

 

Has it been 2 months already?

Well look back….  On March 14th 2020 Liz and myself drove to Oshawa, bought my 2nd Yaesu FT 450 from VE3FJC….  Looked at a new trailer , but did not sign on the line and had supper at the Belleville Casino….

A day later it all hit the fan….  Pandemic City and the worst two months in our lives…. Fortunately we kept our health and financial security (many lost both) but its changed life as we know it…. and two months later its not getting much better….

As things pertain to Ontario (VE3) the public parks are just starting to open up but right now  its only for day use…..  Don’t make any plans for Field Day yet…..

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I am still planning to operate Field Day but most likely as a 1A station.

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Yaseu FT 450, 43 foot vertical, 25 amp power supply and my Champion 1.5k Gas Generator.

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Overnight won’t happen but will (should)operate for both days but will be operating under Day Use restrictions.

Now as plans were made to be broken… I will be fairly flexible if the parks suddenly open for general use

However as of today’s date the private campgrounds that cater to the permanent campers will be allowed to start their season…  In addition many more businesses are going to able to open up but with some restrictions….

A biggie for me is that the Provincal Parks remaining day use only….  We were still strongly debating the new trailer but we also want to travel with it so……  Hard to travel if there are no Provincal Parks to travel to….  Not really wanting to make the payments with no where to go with it….

Radio wise it might be the year of the Contests or QSO Parties….  DXPeditions for the most part are not going to happen….  Just can’t see some remote area  inviting a bunch of old people from a country or countries that have had serious issues with COVID19 to welcome us with open arms…..  However I will be the first to admit that sitting in the shack in the evenings and having some chats have taken most (if not all) of the stress from my daily life  till the next day when it builds up again…

Hoping you are staying safe and sane through our search for the “new normal”

73bob

 

 

Coming soon

As you know….

VA3QV/m has been using a Wolf River 10-40m HF Coil along with my Yaesu FT 450 and I have been quite pleased with it.

The one important thing missing for me was the 80m band as many of the Nets I would check into while travelling are on 80m….

So this afternoon I emailed Wolf River Coils and ordered their 10-80m version.  It will be on its way to Kingston shortly and I hope I will be saying as many nice things about it as I do for the 10-40m version.

More later after it arrives and I get it set up and working as it should

73bob

40m VA3QV/m contacts

There is still a part 4 coming….. this is just an update of a couple of 40m contacts made earlier today


Well I still have to neaten up the installation but…..

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It seems to working just great….

There are some issues with engine noise/alternator whine on 40 SSB (and most likely all over the place) but the DSP on the Yaesu FT 450 seems to be keeping it under control.  Tomorrow the plan would be to take my antenna analyzer outside and set the swr on the coil for 15m, 20m and mark the coil according I don’t see me using much else for frequencies

Today I decided to put the rig back into the truck as I had to head out for a quick shopping trip to finalize the supper menu.

On the way there I managed to get Larry (near Dayton OH) and on the way back I got Rick (Moncton NB) on 40m SSB.  I still have to make the installation a lot neater  but I have no qualms about the performance.  I also have to get some sort of mobile logging system figured out so I can finally give you some Callsigns to go along with the names and locations.

More later

73bob

HF Antenna work on VA3QV/m (Part 3)

been just over a month since we last spoke of this topic…..  Since then….. before today nothing happened as I was busy with :

Work

The new to me FT950

Avoiding all those nasty Covid thingys

Family

Life

So this afternoon I decided to review and continue on with my mobile installation….  I installed a double fused positive wire (one at the battery end and one at the radio end) along with a single fused (at the radio end) for the ground.

The successful result of this is that the radio is getting enough power from the battery to easily operate at 100w.  The drawback to this is that I was hoping hooking direct to the battery and a ground would of filtered more of the electrical noise in the vehicle.

Vehicle turned off I have a S5 noise floor and with the vehicle running between S7 and S9 depending on the RPMs of the engine.  More revs = more noise.

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The Wolf River 10-40m coil did not need retuning and I can easily cover the complete 40m voice portion of the band.  Worst SWR I saw was 2:1 and that was easily corrected using the Yaesu FT 450’s built in Auto Tuner.  This was a succcess.

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Muprhy (you all remember my good friend Murph????) also paid a visit when I realized that I had not brought my antenna analyzer with me so I could not set and mark the coil for the other bands at this time.

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Well I have two days off coming up on this Monday and Tuesday so there is a good chance (weather permitting) to make the wiring neater along with setting the various Bands SWR on the coil.

However on 40m during my test drive I did manage a 40 ssb contact with an American Station who said he was in the State of Virginia approx 13 miles from Washington DC.  I can’t remember his call and could not log (as I was driving at the time) but I gave him an honest 55 report as he was just over the noise and he replied with the same report back and that does not shock me as…..   If he can hear me over his noise then my mobile is doing  a good job.

Now once I get that work completed then all I have to do is find somewhere to go during this lockdown and something to do when I get there….

There will be a Part 4 for this one with more technical details and the final pics….

Till then…. Stay Healthy and Stay Safe

73bob

A new addition to the shack

There is a benefit to working after retirement.  The ability to jump fast on deals when you hear about them.

Today this rig found its way into my shack:

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My new (to me) Yaesu FT 950

I had offered to buy it a month or so ago but the owner had not made up his mind yet so I ended buying the Yaesu FT 450.

The following from my March 14th blog post”

On a positive note Liz and I drove to Oshawa this afternoon where I paid for and picked a used Yaesu FT 450 from Walter VE3FJC.  Yes I do have a FT 450 already but this was a great deal and I decided that it would be easier to operate a radio that I already had a good knowledge of rather than have to learn a new radio.  The new one will be going in the shack and the previous one will be going into VA3QV/m along with that 102 inch whip and Wolf River Coil I previously purchased. Pics of the install and setup in the truck will be posted here once I get everything working as it should

Yesterday he changed his mind so now I have the 950 and my HF Stations are complete

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In the shack is the FT 950, In VA3QV/m will be the FT 450AT and the newer FT 450 will be set up in the new (to us) trailer when the world returns to normal and we replace the one we sold late last fall.

There is a bit of a leaning curve as the 950 has more buttons and features than I ever had before.  This time I really need to RTFM to get this radio operating to its full potential but for now lets call it a learning experience.

Its going to be a “Radioactive” summer….

73bob

 

 

 

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