Posts Tagged ‘Amateur Radio DXPedition’

Lets give them something to talk about…

October 6, 2015

Yesterday I got a comment in my posting “Slow times in Radioland” which asked the following question:

“Howdy from Bill K7MT in Helena, Mt. Good on your APRS. I got to set up a APRS Igate at McMurdo Station Antarctica when I was there for two summer seasons. My family and friends watch me drive to the airfield over the Ice. I was stationed at CFS Masset while in the U.S. Navy 65 – 85. Never got to Alert but heard a story or two from canadian co-workers. Are there any plans/thoughts on a 2017 150 years celebration to activate VE8 at Alert ??? Cheers from Montana.”

Well I fired off an email to  Ken Halcrow who is the trustee of the VE8RCS call and asked:

Hi Ken,

I had a reader (from my blog) ask me if there was going to be an activation from Alert of VE8RCS as part of the Canada 150 celebration in 2017….

“Howdy from Bill K7MT in Helena, Mt. Good on your APRS. I got to set up a APRS Igate at McMurdo Station Antarctica when I was there for two summer seasons. My family and friends watch me drive to the airfield over the Ice. I was stationed at CFS Masset while in the U.S. Navy 65 – 85. Never got to Alert but heard a story or two from canadian co-workers. Are there any plans/thoughts on a 2017 150 years celebration to activate VE8 at Alert ??? Cheers from Montana.”

Anything in the works?

To which Ken quickly replied:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for passing on this inquiry.  The short answer is “Yes”, however there is a lot of paperwork and approvals to go through before anything can be finalized.  I don’t expect to see a definitive answer till mid to late 2016.

As you can imagine this is a very expensive expedition but well worth it should it go forward.

Keep an eye out for further details.

Please pass my best regards to Bill and tell him I spent 5 years stationed at CFS Masset and a few trips to CFS Alert.





cfsalertAbove is a copy of the QSL Design they used on the last DXPedition to Alert.  Its one that I don’t have in my collection as last time I heard them but they did not hear me…  My operating skills have improved (I think) in the last 7 years and I know my equipment has improved as well.

So there you have it…  There is a chance that VE8RCS/VY0 will be on the air sometime in 2017.


But for now stay tuned and see what happens along with keeping your fingers crossed…

If you need some background info on their last activation…. You can still find a lot of info from Google although there are some broken links…  But this one is the best I have found so far…


ps….  and Bill…. theres your answer…

Urban DXPedition Report ON 297 Rideau Island

September 18, 2015

Just got back from Rideau Island after approx 4 hours of operating QRPSSB.

RideauIslandrigyaesu hat.


The rig used today was my Yaesu FT817.



The antenna of the day was my Par End Fed QRP antenna which was helically wound  around my MFJ 33 foot telescopic mast. 


As the Par is 40 feet long and the masting was 33 foot high there was a need to design this as a helically wound vertical antenna.

I operated on 17m, 20m and 40m and managed to make contacts on 20m and 40m… I heard some stations on 17m but I guess it was not a QRP Day for that band…


Anyway after 4 hours of operating I had managed 13 contacts in 3 DXCC entities… (Canada, United States and the US Virgin Islands.  Canadian contacts were Ontario and  New Brunswick.  American contacts were Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

It was a good great afternoon.  The weather was great and considering I was operating with 5w and a wire on a day the bands were not really cooperating I was pleased with the stations logged.

In addition to my efforts (as VA3QV) Jose VA3PCJ/VE3DTI was operating QRPCW from a location about 500 feet east of me.


Picture courtesy VA3PCJ

This is what Jose saw of me…

It worked out great as we were just far enough away not to interfere with each other.  I never heard “dit” from him all afternoon.  From what he told me (but don’t take my word for it… check his blog) he made contacts in Europe which is great as I never even heard any SSB signals coming our way from there.

As I said the weather was great and the rest was good to…  The contacts have been logged and now I am planning my next Urban DXPedition which should be on Friday September 25th which will be a return to Maple Island ON 277.

maple islandLast time I was there was 10 years ago when Martin VA3SIE and myself did the first activation (new activation new Island) of Maple Island. 

I have talked with Martin and asked him to join me next Friday….  Returning to the scene of the crime so to speak….  Back to where it first started… First (of many) DXPedition…  They say you never forget your first…. 

Well not sure if we will be there but I know (WX permitting) I’ll be there!


The “Urban” DXPediton

September 17, 2015

Now this might take a bit of explaining so lets just go with this one… :

I consider an Urban DXPedition to be an Amateur Radio activity that can be done close to where you live.  This could be a SOTA, Lighthouse, an Island Activation or a VHF Gridsquare activation…. or anything else that interests Amateur Radio Operators (you understand what I mean…) but I will add the stipulation that its also close to where you live and so its easy for you to get there and on the air…

Using myself as the example:

As you know I live in Ottawa and in close proximity to my home QTH I have

1 Lighthouse


4 Ontario Islands (Maple, Bate, Rideau and Green)


The above locations are easily acessable via Public Transit (City Bus) or Bike paths… A couple of them (the Lighthouse and Rideau Island) are within walking distance of my house.  Bate Island is a little further west but is also accessable via OC Transpo and about a 10 minute walk after I get off the bus.

Now I’m willing to bet that there are sites in your local area that are begging to be activated if you take the time to find them….  Google Maps can be your friend…  Take a close look at the “Earth View” and see what you can come up with…

In the meantime before the cold sets in and I hibernate in the shack for the rest of the winter I do plan to activate the islands I have mentioned above…  It will be a QRP Operation…  FT 817 and my Par End Fed QRP antenna ….  All will start on 40m SSB and then move up to 20m SSB as the day progresses….  As 80m (daytime) ssb is not the best choice for a QRP Operation best I can offer you will be 20 and 40m….

twitterHowever the best way to find out where I am and what frequency I will be on is easier to predict.  As all these locations are local to me I can easily update my status via Twitter and let you know what time and what island and what frequency I am currently operating from….


I have an excellent data plan for my Tablet so…. why not?

If you click on the Twitter Icon (on your left) you will be able to access my “Tweets” from my Twitter Home Page…  also if you are reading this right now….  look on the right side of the page and you will see the “Bob said on twitter” column (top right) and that will let you know where I am and what I am up to…

If you follow me on Twitter please RETWEET any of my Island/Lighthouse self spotting.

I will also be sending activation alerts to the Canadian Island Activators Website so please take a look at their site as well!!!

These Mini DXPeditions will be spur of the moment stuff….  Mention it in the morning….


Pack the gear in my old red backpack…. double check the propagation from home and then walk over to the bus stop…. Less than 90 minutes later I should be flooding the airwaves with CQs….


I have enough battery power to last the day…. and as I can operate for a couple of hours then switch islands or just take a break for a coffee as in Canada (especially in Ottawa) we seem to have a Tim Hortons on every corner…


I spend so much time there I even have my own coffee cup…

If you happen to work me….PLEASE spot me on the cluster….  EQSL and LoTW will be updated daily... NO BUREAU please….

maple island

If you need a paper QSL for some sort of Island Award then email me and I get something out to you via the post..


So thats my outdoor radio plans till the snow falls….  Hope to get you in the log…









Upcoming Amateur Radio Event

August 3, 2015

I got this in my email inbox from fellow blogger Bill VE3CLQ…. 

Its speaks for itself and its worth a read…

Greetings all, coming up on August 29th is the W/VE Island QSO Party.  
Traditionally this event has been held in late October, and our club has activated a number of islands that day.  Due to the cold weather last year and the very poor participation numbers from Canadians, the US Island Award event sponsors have agreed to a permanent move of the event date into the warm weather of late August.
Over the past 7 years there has been less and less Canadian participation in the event, some due to the weather of late October, and some do to the issues related to lack of advertising by the management of the old, now cancelled, Canadian Islands Award program.  Hopefully this change of date and a lot more advertising can change this.
This email is being sent to hams coast to coast, and a few in the middle, in the hope that we can get the word out and start rebuilding this event in Canada.  If you write a blog, please write about and push this event, mention it on your club’s repeater, and most of all pick and island and get out there and take part.
We have had our first Canadian activation notice from the guys who live around Grimsby, Ontario, and they plan on being active both Saturday and Sunday (but the actual event is only on the Saturday).
Have a look at:  Details of who’s activating what will be posted there.

Speaking from experience this Island activation can be fun….  You get to take your portable gear out into the field and play radio in whats hopefully good weather for a few hours…. If the “Propagation Ghods” are co operating you should find out what its like to be controlling a pile up…  If not you will still make a few contacts and still have fun….

Here are a couple of hints for operating from an island:

Remember the locals-  Looking for rare DX is fine and dandy but…. working an hour on 40m and/or on 80m can give the close in operators a chance to get an island in the log as well.  The same could be said for making a couple of calls on your local 2m fm frequency.

maple island

Whatever battery you would take out to the field….  Double it.… I normally use a 7ah battery in the field with my ft 817 but after calling CQ for 4 hours non stop I did need to put in the 2nd battery to continue on with the activation of Maple Island back in 2005.

Spend more time on the air than getting on the air…. A simple multi band antenna that you can install quickly will usually get you more contacts that the more complex antennas.  You most likely will be time challenged  so keep it simple and use your time wisely


Test your station then pack it and leave it packed till your event.  Once you know everything works… pack it in its bag and DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING till you take it to the island.


If you pack it away complete then you can’t forget anything at home (coax, microphones and power cords come to mind speaking from experience)

Don’t forget the logbook and extra pens….  Know your operating location… Do you need to bring a folding table and camp chair or are their picnic tables???


If you do cause a pile up… and you feel overwhelmed don’t hesitate to slow things down to your speed…  They want you in the log more than you want them… and remember in 99% they have more power than you and most likely a better antenna so don’t get upset if you can’t work everyone you can hear…. but try and work everyone who can hear you…


Finally don’t forget to have fun….  It has to be fun because if its not… Why did you do it?


Trying to work the guy down the street….

July 21, 2015

Well its not as easy as it looks….

Craig VE3OP is on holidays in KP2 (US Virgin Islands)….

I heard him on Sunday evening on 20m SSB and he was working lots of Canadian Stations as well of the rest of the world…

But could not hear me!!!!

I heard him on Monday afternoon on 15m CW and he was working the world… If his statements on Sunday were correct he was using his KX3 and a Buddipole on the beach today….



But could not hear me..

The funny thing is that Craig lives across town from me…  Under 10 miles (16km) according to….

I don’t need KP2 in ssb or cw but I thought it would be a neat thing to make a contact with an Ottawa based station while he was on holidays….  I still think it would be neat…. and I have one more week to make it happen….

Hopefully the propagation Ghods will smile on me by then…


After the Ontario QSO Party

April 20, 2015

Well it was fun…

I had very limited time to participate in the event due to some non radio commitments…  I was able to get about 2 hours in on the Saturday evening and never made it back into the shack for the Sunday portion…  I did manage 14 contacts total between SSB and CW split almost evenly on 40m and 80m…


I was operating with the Flex 1500 (Elecraft T1 Auto tuner, 4:1 balun and 55 foot end fed longwire with 4 radials) which as you know has been the same setup I have used here for about 18 months now… 


Operating strictly in the Search and Pounce mode  was my choice of operating styles so….  If I heard you…. I called you but I was only looking for OQP stations just so I could give out the “OTT” (Ottawa) multiplier…  The score was nothing to write home about but it was a fun way to spend a few hours…  With the noise levels on 80m I was shocked that so many actually heard me well enough to copy the exchange (59 OTT or 5nn OTT)

I seem to have lots of time to play radio but it seems the weekends are all shot till the summer holidays….  Monday to Friday loads of time for DX’ing but Saturday and Sunday always seem to be booked….  My summer break will see the camper heading out for  Field Day in Eastern Ontario then heading to a location in Western Quebec for the RAC Canada Day Contest… Its going to be 2 weeks of camping with a couple of Radio Events splitting up the time…

After that Liz and I will be doing some short camping trips (within 200km of home) and the radio gear will be going along but the operating time will not be as much as I would like, but it will be more than she wanted it to be…

There are some plans in the works for the CQ WW SSB Contest in late October but for now its still just me thinking out loud…  Nothing carved in stone yet…  It depends on how well the camper behaves itself over the summer camping trips….

My ongoing quest for my QRP CW DXCC is going fairly well.  43 confirmed so far and I am awaiting LoTW Confirmations for another 15.  A few of those will not be confirmed and a couple more might get confirmed on EQSL but this is something that is not going to happen overnight.  I am impressed however how far my CW Signal has made it using  “5w and a wire”…  Although I am still not a CW Fanatic I have to admit that the mode does get a signal through…  This winter i hope to start into working for my Triple Play award which means I finally will have to figure out the digital modes…

In the meantime have fun playing radio…


Upcoming QRP CW DXPedition

November 27, 2013

It seems there will be a QRP CW DXPedition early in 2014…


Ulrich Steinberg, N2DE, will be active QRP for about 5 weeks from three DXCC entities in southern Africa, beginning in mid-January. In order, he plans to be on the air as A25US in Botswana, 3DAØUS in Swaziland, and as 7P8US from Lesotho. Steinberg said the exact dates and times will be determined according to his schedule “and on short notice.” He’ll be using an Elecraft KX3 running 10 W, CW only, on 20, 17, 15, and possibly 10 meters, if conditions permit. He may also get on 40 meters. As with his early 2013, 7P8US operation, he’ll operate 31 kHz above the lower band edge, targeting 14.031, 18.099, 21.031, and possibly 28.031 MHz. QSL via N2DE. — Thanks to The Daily DX

According to what we read above he will actually not be QRP as the release says that he will be running 10w with a KX3 and by normal standards QRP is considered 5w or less whatever mode.  But I have heard people taking liberties of the 5w defination in the past.


Above- The KX3 of VA3PCJ just for visual effect.  This one will not be going to Africa in Jan 2014

Is that 5w leaving the radio or is that 5w entering the antenna?

In most cases anyone operating QRP would be using a shortest feedline to the most efficient antenna they could find anyway so its really a moot point…


Above my FT 817 showing the Par attached to the LDG Auto Tuner with no coax in the line whatsoever

In my own case although I do need all 3 entities for my QRPDXCC and two of the Entities would be new ones for my DXCC the fact that its a CW DXpediton greatly narrows my chances of getting anything new in the log.  For anything new I would need to get the Flex running 5w CW to break what should be a really crowded pileup and then for me to correctly hear the confirmation that Ulrich heard me…  I might give it a try but not feeling overly confident in the outcome…

But in the meantime I am getting trying to get  FLDIGI set up on the laptop to run with the Flex so you never know…  If I manage a contact in the RAC Canada Winter Contest then perhaps I give it a try early in Jan when the DXPedition is supposed to start…

No matter what, I will be watching the DX Cluster very carefully…


A couple of interesting EQSLs arrived today

December 11, 2012

After supper I snuck downstairs and checked my email….  I noticed a notification from EQSL and so I headed over to their site to see what goodies had arrived for me…

Two cards stuck out (from the rest) each for their own reasons….

The first one was from a DXPedition I contacted on 20m back in July…  According to their page they were not doing the Electric QSLs of any variety (no eqsl or LoTW) but as HRD sends out a EQSL every time I hit enter in my logging program there was no way really to easily not send one out…

TO2D eqsl

Today this came in …

Which was a bonus…  Hopefully this also means that the DXPedition has decided also to upload to Logbook of The World as this would be a new one for me…

The second card was from a SWL.  I appreciate all the EQSL’s but the ones from a SWL are really special…  Its nice to get a signal report especially not from the area I was talking to and also there is a chance that the SWL will one day join our ranks as an Amateur.


ab4ug eqsl

I got my start with an old tube receiver listening to the BBC and Radio South Africa close to 50 years ago now….  There really was a magic of radio back then as computers (let alone the internet) were not around…  This even was before the madness called CB Radio had arrived…  Its always a treat to confirm a SWL Report…  and as this time I also had the EQSL from the party I was talking to at the time…  Its the first time that ever happened for me… Lots of QSLs and lots of SWL Reports but this the first that I got both…

An interesting way to end the day….


Got them 4 times so far…

December 6, 2012

Decided to strike while the iron was hot (so to speak)…  Although conditions have not been the best I have been able to grab the

5T0SP DXPedition on 4 bands so far…


Havn’t heard them on 20 yet and I am hoping for 10m…. Heard them on 80m (just) but I am hoping for slightly better conditions in the near future…

When they confirm on LoTW it will add to my DXCC count as it was a new one for me…


The evening is going GREAT as well

November 26, 2012

Talk about quick responses….

I’m sitting in the shack and listening on 17 m where I am supposed to be hearing the 5T0SP DXPedition in Mauritania Africa.  The cluster said they should be on 18.140 (listening up 10) and I have every thing set but hearing nothing.

Suddenly after about 10 minutes of static I hear ” 5T0SP listening up 10…”

I listen and instead of giving a report he calls again….

” 5T0SP listening up 10…”

This time I fire out my callsign and I hear back:

VA3QV 5/9…. 

Still shocked (its not supposed to be that easy is it?)…  I reply VA3QV 5/9 thank you and he goes on calling …  I am not hearing anyone else calling right now…

Just for a laff I decide to go to his  Club Log Site  and check out the details.  I type my call into the log search and find the following:

Less than 30 minutes from contact to confirmation…. 

It takes me longer to get a Pizza delivered…

I might have to wait a while for the LoTW upload but I have proof I got him and I can be patient…

Whatta day!



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