Still making contacts

I started back on October 3 with the new stealth antenna.  Its a twisted Zig Zagged almost vertical wire about 50 feet in length with 3 random length radial.  Its fed by a 4:1 balun and I use a buddipole 40m coil at the bottom of the wire (after the balun) so its kind of base loaded.  By pass the coil and I can operate on 10-12-15-17-20-30 and 40m.  Using the coil I can get 60 and 80m.

The SWR on all band is low enough (under 3:1) that I can get the internal tuner in the FT 450 to bring everything down to a decent match (1:1)

All this is stealth mounted in a large pine tree just on the other side of my fence line.  The balun and the radials are on my side of the fence and the wire runs up into the tree.  Stealth being the key words as there are some antenna restrictions I would rather not debate with the Condo Board.

So how does it work???? Well its better than not being on the air…  So far this month I have made 206 contacts.  A few were voice and most were FT8 with a couple of CW thrown in for good measure.

Contacts were made in North America, South America and Europe.

Now before October the last time I played radio was in the spring of 2018 so I don’t really know if this is good or bad for band conditions.  Either way….  It does not matter…  I got to spend some quality time in the shack and realized how much i missed it.  Right now I just try to spend a couple of hours in the shack each day and also try to upload my logs to LoTW and on a regular basis.

I need 5 more states for the WAS-FT8 and after those 206 contacts I still need those hard to find 5.  As far as the DXCC Digital go one of those 206 brought me up from 48 to 49 so I still have 51 to go …  It will take a while.

But as the camper is off the road for the season… (if you read my earlier post) I do have time on my hands now so why not.

In the mean time…. I am proving that you can make contacts in Amateur Radio with less than fantastic antennas if you want to take the time to work at it…

Hope to hear you on the air


Parked for the winter

Tanks are dumped…..lines drained and anti freeze added…..  Parked in its space at the storage yard and the front end is lowered to allow for run off….


I will drop in every now again (stored 5 min walk from home) to check on things but the next time a wheel is turned should be in the late spring…  Earlier I hope but being realistic…. Late spring

For those of you out there fortunate enough to have a decent healthcare plan that allows you to leave the country….  Enjoy the snowbird season

Safe Travels

Amateur Radio and the RV community

If you ever watch some of the Youtube Videos on Full Time Camping you always notice how so many of them are commenting that they have issues in getting Cell/Data service while in some of the more remote areas.  Now although I know many Hams who are RV’ers I don’t know many RV’ers who are also hams.

This might be a way to get some “New Blood” into our hobby….

I have always defined my most important part of Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) being the ability of talking to home.  By home I mean contacting someone who lived close to my home city and would call home for me and reassure my wife that I was still doing well well on my trip and inturn could assure me that all was well at home.  This was in the days before cell phones were popular but the premise still works today.  There have been a few camping trips where the cell service was spotty and the radio has been needed to update friends and family on our progress while on the road.

If you are a RV’er who wants more info just GOOGLE (your town) Amateur Radio and you should find a local radio club that would be more than happy to explain the basics of how Ham Radio can be a tool to assist you in your RV.

Lots of Sailors have Amateur Radio in their Yachts so why not get your Amateur Radio License and then install an Amateur Radio in your Land Yacht?


To the hams out there….  If you do get contacted by someone who RV’s and shows interest in our hobby…. Try and gear your reply towards how your hobby can assist them in their hobby and that way we both win.

73 & Safe Travels


Time to winterize

The time of the year I dread….  The local campgrounds are closing and the temps are dropping….

We had hoped to get one more trip in before we did this but …  Needless to say with the way the temps are looking if we don’t winterize soon we will be doing some major plumbing repairs come the spring…

For us (for me) its fairly easy….  Make sure that all three tanks are drained (empty)… The fresh tank, the grey tank and the dreaded black tank…  After that I pick up about 12 litres of plumbing antifreeze (that the pink stuff you don’t put in your cars radiator)….


I close the valve on the fresh tank (remember we opened it to drain the fresh tank) and I pour the 12 litres into the fresh tank.  I also double check that I closed the grey and black as well…  Then I turn on the 12 volt water pump and charge the system.  I then turn on the cold water taps and run them until the pink anti freeze runs out if them.  I then keep on flushing the toilet till the pink anti freeze runs through the system as well.

This ensures that :

There is antifreeze in the fresh tank,  There is antifreeze in the water lines, There is antifreeze in the pump and all the holding tanks….  After that all I have to do is double check that the fridge is empty and all the food stuffs have been removed…  After leaving some moth balls around the various hideyholes in the camper and leaving a couple of mouse traps out in case they don’t mind the mothballs the last step is to remove the 12v storage batter and bringing it home.  I maintain it here and it always helps to have a booster battery here just in case the truck needs a boost and also a battery back up for the hams toys.

In the spring time a day will be spent draining the tanks and flushing out the fresh water system….  Install the battery and away we go…  I don’t see us going south this winter as between the Low Canadian Dollar and the high (next to impossible cost of travel insurance) is just a bit hard to handle this year.


This spring some time will also be spent installing a 600w solar system along with adding a 2nd storage battery as we plan to spend some time off the beaten path this coming summer but really want to keep our comfort level where we like it.

Safe Travels


#hamradio Antenna mods worked

Even though I had changed locations (Ottawa to Kingston) some things never change and I found myself in a location with a bigger yard but stronger antenna restrictions. (Before you say anything about a ham knowing better…. )

My wife and I moved in  with our eldest daughter and our situation suits both parties…

However with the assistance of a large pine tree and some shrubs to hide wire….  I am back on the air from FN14 with better results and less equipment than I had before

The new antenna is an approximate 45 foot wire in a mostly vertical configuration with 2 25 foot radial and 1 approx 40 foot radial.  The radials are along the fence line and under our deck in the back yard.   

This with the assistance of a 4:1 balun (using the internal tuner on my FT450 gave me great (great means it loaded up) results on 6-10-12-15-17-20 and 40m .  Hovever nothing on 80m or 160m.

Tonight I had a crazy idea and the part in stock.  I added a Buddipole 40m coil into the antenna close to the balun.  Taking the tap out I now have 80m using the internal tuner.  With the tap in at its shortest position I kept 6m to 20m… found 30m and kept 40m.  No luck on 60m with either setup but as I never used it before no big deal but I will check on what I might need to do to get something there that fits in my yard.

Not pretty, definately not technical… but it works…

At times there are people telling you it wont’t work…. (Ya can’t argue with the laws of electronics)….

Fortunately I never studied law…..   🙂

Sometimes its better to be lucky than smart….



ps…. for those RV’ers out there…. some amateur radio info for you and some solar plans for you rig will be coming soon.

Safe travels as well




It’s been a while… How ya been?

After 14 months I finally remembered my password for “the blog” and so here we are again.  In reality every now and again life gets in the way of hobbies and in the last year that basically happened to me.

What have you missed???  For a start the family no longer lives in Ottawa.  We moved to the City of Kingston Ontario on June 1st.  We are happy with our new digs but most likely will finally get unpacked and organized in time for our next move.

The retirement thing lasted about 4 months before I started going stir crazy and really annoying Liz so there also is a new employer or as I prefer to call it a new source of funding for the toy account.


On the topic of toys we still have the same truck and camper as we took to PEI last year but with all that happened to us starting in late April with the getting ready for the move….  With the move in June…. and then the unpacking and all that goes with it….  2018 has not been a good year for camping or radio for that matter….

On the camping side Liz and I did get one trip in where we visited with old friends at Chillycon in early September and then Erika and I spent a great week at Sandbanks Provincial Park just south of Picton Ontario on the shore of Lake Ontario.  I have the camper in a storage facility close to our new home and I am hoping for one more trip before I winterize….

On the radio side of things….  Early in 2018 I did start to dabble in those new digital modes, mostly FT8 and had lots of fun.  Late in April the shack was packed up and just recently (late September) antenna wire is hiding in the trees at the new QTH.  Still using the same gear mostly….  The Yeasu FT 450 dialed down to 30w (gotta get a stronger power supply)for HF all modes and my FT 817 for the local VHF repeaters.

Still using HRD (but it did take a while to remember how to config it) along with my WinKeyer USB for CW and the SignaLink USB for the rest of the digital modes.  I still have to get my log talking to LoTW and EQSL as well as getting both of them to acknowledge the new address.  This means that if you have worked me after September 1st you might have to wait for a bit for the confirmation.  Not sure what hoops I have to jump through to open up an account for VA3QV in Kingston so it could (will) take some time.

If you really need a confirmation from FN14 drop me an email and I will send you something out via snailmail but I would prefer to wait for the E Side of things to get set up

Now a bit about the new toys….  There is a new (to us) truck and trailer in our future and I am hoping  this will happen late spring /early summer 2019.  We know what we want (trailer wise) and how we want to equip it and what we want to pull it with.  Something between 26-33 feet with a separate master bedroom  It will have solar power for dry camping along with a larger (3000-4000w) invertor/generator for those days when boondocking or dry camping the solar can’t keep up the power demands or Liz really wants me to run the Air Conditioner. 

img_0219Our current Champion Generator is very dependable but at 1.2k  also too small to run anything with a heating element along with the air conditioner in our current rig

As far as the tow vehicle goes we would need a 3/4 ton pickup.  4X4 short box with 4 doors would suit us nicely.  Both truck and trailer will have Amateur Radio Gear installed.  In some of the areas we plan to visit in 2020 the cell service might be sketchy so….  the ham gear is the vehicle is not for the hobby but rather for safety.

For the next few months posts will be made when things of interest in my Radio life or our RV Life.  Things that we want to share with you…

So as we say in the radio world “73”

or in the RV world “Safe Travels”


Remembering the adventure

Liz and I have been back now for almost a week now …. and here are our collective thoughts now that things are getting for normal..

The Rig

Our truck and trailer combo behaved itself quite well on the trip there and back. The worst that happened was that the 40 amp circuit breaker that runs between the 12v storage battery and the fuse panel tripped a couple of times.

As we had no issues using shore power, generator or when attached to the trucks 12v power this was a minor issue.

I knew that the problem had to be a fuse or master link etc as everything worked outside of the storage battery so when we were stopping for fuel in Moncton NB I noticed a Leisure Days RV centre across the street. After fueling, We headed over and talked to the service manager. I explained the problem and asked if they could identify the faulty part… order one in and then we would stop in on our return trip and they could install it. Outside came a tech and he found the circuit breaker… reset the breaker and wished us safe travels…

A BIG SHOUTOUT TO LEISURE DAYS IN MONCTON FOR HELPING US ON OUR WAY….. If (when) we decide to replace our trailer you know where we are going to look first…

As it turned out the breaker tripped again and this time would not reset even with the power disconnected so now that I know where the breaker is… I will be replacing it before our next trip…

Other than that the truck got better than anticipated fuel economy and behaved itself in all that was asked of it..

The trip down

We made better time than anticipated…. I had planned to spend the first night in Edmunston NB and we made it as far as the Walmart in Woodstock NB before we decided to call it a night…. Even after the unexpected stop in Moncton NB for repairs we made it into Summerside PEI and was parked at the Walmart before supper. I ran the generator till it got dark to keep the fridge cold and then switched over to propane after that. In the morning after filling the cold fridge and freezer with provisions we headed out for Cabot Beach Provincial Park

On the Island

We arrived at Cabot and got checked in. The staff were fantastic and eager to help. We had planned to stay at Cabot for the duration and just take Day trips out when playing tourist… Our first trip was to Kensington PEI which was the closest town that we could re-stock our necessities of life. As it also was the location of the closest Liquor Store we visited it often.. Seafood tastes better when cooked in wine sauce ….

We also visited Summerside PEI for their Lobster Festival ( read a few entries back for that experience) along with a day trip to Charlottetown to play tourist.

We then decided to stay at the campsite for a while and just relax and partake in some local cuisine…

Liz got to enjoy fresh mussels and we both enjoyed very fresh deep fried fish and chips made over the Coleman stove.

It was decided that once again we would head out to the National Park in Cavendish PEI.

It was an excellent place to visit that was very popular but the crowds were worth it to see the scenery. We also found out that the park has a Day parking area for RV's that's big enough to let you drive in and out with ease.

After the day visit we headed into the Village of Cavendish and had a fantastic supper (Liz had lobster) and then we headed back to Cabot for more leisure time…

Amateur Radio on the trip

In the truck I had my old FT 2400 2m Radio programmed with repeater frequencies for the trip. I also monitored 146.520 as well. Once we left Ottawa NO CONTACTS were made until we arrived in PEI. I easily made contacts on the Summerside repeater and the Charlottetown repeaters for the duration of our holidays. Unfortunately the same was true for the return trip. Making calls on repeaters but no replies…

HF wise I was operating my FT 817 from the open site close to mine. I found lots of ssb contacts on 80m in the mornings and evenings. A few daytime 20m PSK31 contacts were made but for DX it was not a time to be operating QRP

The trip home

We left Cabot early in the morning and stopped at the gift shop in Borden Carleton and then after spending some $$$$ left PEI and headed home. The traffic was light and we were making better time than expected. Fuel stops in Oromocto NB, Edmunston NB (supper break) and west of Quebec City and then suddenly we were pulling into Ottawa at 2am. I had not planned for the long day drive but I was feeling good and everyone else was sleeping so I kept on rolling….

30 days after we left… we were back home… happy but tired…but We are planning our next adventure…. stay tuned