Posts Tagged ‘Amateur Radio Portable Operations’

Is it time for a change?

September 23, 2016

Recently I am seeing the totals in my log book not increasing as much as I would like.  I can blame that mostly on the fact that as the band conditions get worse I am making less contacts than before.  I have tried to compensate for that by trying the following:

I started operating CW…

and when the bands dropped more…

I started operating PSK 31…

and when they deteriorated again…

 I started operating JT 65…

However there is only so much you can (I can ) do with 5w and a wire in an area that is not really antenna friendly…  I am fortunate that I can put up antennas but as they have to stay within the confines of “my space” … efficiency is not their best quality.

In the past I have stated many times that I would rather be on the air with a poor antenna than not be on the air…  

That holds true today but recent results have me questioning how I can improve on my station….

I can improve on the feed line-  better coax has less line loss…

This would give me a little more punch… but…  seeing that my feedline is less than 50 feet long… how much more punch???  but when I operate QRP every MW gained helps…

I can improve on the antenna (slightly) Adding some radials might help

This would be an improvement… but as I use my small backyard whenever we are home in the spring, summer and fall…  is tripping over more radials the way to go???

I can raise the power levels…. (perhaps its time to QRO again?)

Is it time to put the Flex away (GASP) and replace it with a 100w rig? (BIGGER GASP)  In the spring when Liz and I resume our camping expeditions with the new camper having 100w while on the road would not be a bad thing...

I understand the limitations of 5w and a poor antenna.  When I take the FT 817 out to the parks I am able to make contacts as there is less noise along with the fact that I can stretch out a decent wire antenna which gets my QRP signal out more efficiently.  

wfd_va3qv_13However with winter coming soon and as I get older my love for operating outdoors drops as the temps drop ….  I gotta do something…

picnictablesnow

so…I have some decisions to make in the next month or so…

73bob

 

 

Amateur Radio Event in Ottawa Saturday

September 16, 2016

News from the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club:

oarchttp://www.oarc.net

http://www.oarc.net/blog/2016/jul/13/portable-station-demonstration-2016-is-a-go/

The 2016 version of the annual Portable Station Demonstration is happening this Saturday at Andrew Haydon Park in the west end of Ottawa…

As this event conflicts with “Chillycon” I have not visited it in a few years but I have participated in the past.  If you want to see what everyone else is using for toys for the great outdoors its a great place to be…

CU Saturday am (weather permitting)

73bob

Here are some random pics from the times I attended their event:

Canadian DXPediton underway

August 19, 2016

TGIF

Forgot to mention this to you earlier…  I was too busy trying to get them in the log… anyway don’t forget the CY9C DXPediton to St Paul Island.

CY9C-Logo

You can visit their website (http://cy9dxpedition.com) for more information

Good Luck

73bob

 

 

Well I gotta re charge the battery

May 20, 2016

This morning I headed over to the Nepean Sailing Club in the west end of Ottawa with VA3PCJ who was working on the “Sassy Gaffer” to get her ready for the sailing season.  He did all the work and I got to play radio for about 3 hours in a very nice location…

2016QRP1

Today I used my FT 817/LDG QRP auto tuner combo with my home brewed W3EDP antenna.  I also brought my NUE PSK Modem as well.

w3edp

The W3EDP was stretched out between two trees in an inverted L configuration…

smallsolar1In addition I did bring the small solar panel with me (as I mentioned in a previous post) to try and extend the battery life a bit.

This seemed to work as I made 3 contacts and called lots more than that and my voltage was right at 12v when I tore down at the end…

Contacts were made in Texas (20m PSK31), Florida (20m PSK31) and Western PA (40m SSB).  In addition according to PSK Reporter my signals were spotted in South Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.  Considering my antenna was about 10 feet above the ground I have nothing to complain about.


camper8

VA3QV/m

The Canadian Flag proudly at the top of the 43 foot vertical


More importantly than making a few contacts….  It proved that everything is still working as it should be and as I am planning to take VA3QV/m out next weekend for a shakedown cruise its good to know that the radio gear I plan to use is working fine…

Enjoy your weekend and it you made it to Dayton I hope you are having fun…

73bob

First #QRP #PORTABLE #hamradio contact of the year

May 13, 2016

If you read my last post ….  You know I was thinking of trying to find the time to take my FT 817 along with my LDG QRP Autotuner and NUE Psk modem out to a local park to play some radio. The antenna of the day was my PAR Endz Fedz QRP Tribander

PAR_outofthebox-475x475

2016QRP1

The primary purpose was to have fun with the secondary purpose to test out the gear in advance of my May 28th trip with my daughter Erika…

Both objectives were accomplished as the gear worked fine and I had a pleasant 2 hours remembering how the gear works in the great outdoors.

The band conditions were not the best but while trying to make a few contacts I did remember how things were supposed to work…

PSKMODEM

Note to self:  Next time remember to bring the manual for the NUE PSK Modem with me in the backpack…  It would of made things a bit easier…

However I did finally get it all together and manage to contact George KN3PAT in the log on 20m PSK 31.  Although George has a vanity “3” call he does live in Florida and it was a contact of just over 1100 miles from Ottawa to Earleton Florida.  Without making you check the map Earleton is North West of Daytona Beach…

I did hear other stations on 20m but was unable to contact any of them.  George has a great receiver in his rig…  He had to…  He heard me…

Just after I set up at the Museum….  Oh ya…  I set up at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology which is a short walk from my place.  The Museum is currently closed for major renovations but they are nice enough to keep the picnic table out for those  who like to visit and so it make for a very nice operating location and if you follow my blog you know I have operated from there many time in the past…

2016VA3PCJ_11.png

Anyway getting back to my story…  Just after I set up at the museum I had a visitor… Jose VA3PCJ/VE3DTI/CX7RT rode up on his bike along with his KX3 and a buddipole antenna. 

2016VA3PCJ_12.png

2016VA3PCJ_13.png

He set up at the next picnic table over and he managed a couple of 20m CW contacts as well…  As 20 seemed to be the only band open for us we took turns making contacts…  He made the first…  I made the 2nd and I believe he made the third one…

Suddenly the time seemed to slip away and we both had to return to our respective homes for family matters…  In my case I had to fire up the bbq and cook supper for Liz, Trisha and myself…

It was a great way to end the day…

73bob

 

 

 

 

Where has the time gone?

March 30, 2016

Happy Hump Day….

Its all downhill from here…

I started yard work in the backyard today…  95% (or so) of the snow in my backyard has melted and I can now walk without slipping.  After having received 2 knee replacements… slipping is not a good thing…

Broken branches are being removed and I also checked my coax lines and found they had survived with little damage…  Some antenna upgrades are planned but not for a few weeks yet… I have a 6m to 20m windom antenna I would like to try and get hidden in my maple tree…

The patio has to be set up again before I can work on antennas…. I don’t think that the way I should be doing it but…  It keeps her happy so…  Lets do it that way…

merblue2

After I finished the work for the day I came back into the shack and had to look for some stuff I was needing…  This stuff was in my backpack and while looking for the stuff I came upon my portable logbook…  The last entry in the log was on September 23rd when I contacted KC7KPG on 20m ssb.

Aug23_westonpark1

The antenna of the day was my 88 foot doublet with version 1.0 of my home brewed 4:1 balun.  Funny story about that balun….

I followed the plans but just twisted the wires together rather than solder them

^^^^^^For the plans follow the above link…^^^^^^

It was just a test to see if the internet plans actually worked… It worked great and then version 1.1 was created looking a lot neater and everything was sealed and soldered….  It was a piece of crap… never did work right… but the tossed together balun version 1.0 is still working (or was as of Sept 23 2015) fine for me… Go figure!!!

So really the bottom line is that its been 6 months since my FT817 has been out in the parks…  Where has the time gone?

Well slowly but surely the parks are changing from:

picnictablesnow

to something a bit more civilized like :

Mont_Morissette_VA3QV_Operating

and then afternoons will be spent sitting in the sun flooding the airwaves with RF and making lots of contacts as well as swatting lots of insects… Mosquitoes like me but I’m not really a fan of them…

Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)Also this year I do have the NUE PSK Modem to test out from the parks as well…  it will be a great summer to be a portable operator.

I am really enjoying PSK 31 from home using my Flex 1500 and I am looking forward to using the NUE PSK modem in a portable environment using my faithful FT 817.

This year the 817 will be doing double duty for me both as my portable rig but also will be the main radio in the Camper when Liz and I take off for another summer of camping…

We are still planning for Canada’s east coast this summer along with Chilicon in the fall…

This will be a busy summer season which will make up for my 6 months of non portable operating done over the winter…

73bob

 

 

More shack time

February 11, 2016

With the weather being a bit colder than I prefer,  time has been spent indoors in the shack rather than in the great outdoors…

tongue_stuck99

The log book counts are increasing and I noticed today that I made my 100th Digital QSO this afternoon.  It took me 25 days in total to make those 100 QSOs and there were some CW contacts and SSB contacts made in the same time frame….

Of those 100 Digital Contacts 63 were already confirmed on EQSL and 43 of those 100 Digital Contacts were Confirmed on Logbook of The World (LoTW). 

This came as a bit of a shock to me as in my SSB logs and my CW logs normally LoTW is used more.  However my confirmation rate for LoTW is close to what it normally is for the other modes.  I did notice (it would be hard not to) that my EQSL confirmation rate at 63% was more than double what it was on the other modes.

My only explanation for this is that most of the operators I have contacted are using the Ham Radio Deluxe Suite and with that comes the DM780 Digital program.  HRD works quite well with its other programs and the end result is that I can transfer data from my Digital Program to my Logbook.  When the QSO is finished my entering it in the log also immediately enters the information in my EQSL account and sends out an EQSL.  For this to work you have to configure your EQSL Account to work with Ham Radio Deluxe but once that’s done the rest if really painless.  I think more Digital ops are using EQSL because after the initial setup there is no other work to be done.

The only problem is that as LoTW and EQSL do not play nicely you can not use EQSL confirmation for LoTW (ARRL) awards and vice versa. So sometimes it does take longer to achieve your goals but….  even then its faster than the QSL Bureau and still cheaper than QSL Direct.

Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)Going back a bit to catch up on “stuff”….  I decided to put the CW Decoder/keyer combo on hold till I can get some better information.  Although it seems like a great idea a few who I have run it past have give me somethings to think about.

For now I’ll just work on getting the NUE PSK Modem up and running.  I was able to scrounge an old ps/2 keyboard and I had it receiving and decoding PSK 31 signals with no trouble.  All that left to do now is RTFM and figure out how to get the macros programmed and then I can give it a test drive and see how easy it is to make contacts with…

That is my next quest….  to take some time away from making contacts with the Flex 1500 and get the FT 817/NUE Combo up and running. 

procrastinate

Given the way I have been known to procrastinate I should have it done by the time the snow melts…

For those of you who are still “wage slaves” today is also “Hump Day”…  The middle of the week and its all downhill from here….  For us retired old pharts…. its just another day to play radio…

Check back before the weekend and I’ll have the weekend update posted sometime on Friday…

73bob

 

 

 

It continues…

February 4, 2016

Well here we are and its Thursday already…  I lose track of the time when I’m just sitting in the shack making contacts…  That’s been my week so far….  How has yours been?

I did mention to you that the NUE PSK Modem had arrived but I had not taken it much further.  I can report now that the Modem has been hooked up to my FT 817, powered up and with the help of my Buddistick on a tripod in the kitchen has easily decoded PSK 31 signals with great ease.

Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)I now have the keyboard adapter for it and next on my list of things to do is get the macros programmed and then give it an actual test.  Things might seem to be coming along slowly but…  I’m not in that much of a rush.  I am adding to my portable station and to be honest its about 20 degrees too cold to be thinking of playing in the park.  I’ve got time to get it set up the way I want…

I also have seen a little “gizmo” that has caught my attention and I have to do a little more research but there is a very good chance that something resembling the MFJ 464 Keyboard Keyer and Decoder could also be finding a spot in my Portable Stations Bag.

decoder


 

This in effect would allow me do do CW (at a speed that is respectable) and decode it while operating portable.  Yes thats the same way I do it here in the shack with the Flex and its worked for me so far.  Now the 817 can work with me in the field the same way.  Good for giving out points in contests and grabbing that rare DX when the opportunity arises.

VE3SOTA_1I can power it off the FT 817 battery pack and the same keyboard that the NUE PSK Modem uses will plug into the MFJ.   I can squeeze the MFJ into the radio bag with room to spare.  Imagine sitting at a picnic table in the park and having the option to switch between SSB/CW/PSK….  It does add something to an afternoon outing.  How many Islands or SOTA events can offer that many modes ?


UPDATE-(Feb 5th)  I just found out that the MFJ unit uses an “AT” style keyboard which has a different plug than the PS/2 Plug on the NUE modem.  I don’t really want to bring two keyboards with me in the backpack so my plans could change.  More on this when I get the information needed to make my decision.

I am seriously considering the purchase but there is no rush as the Radiobag won’t be getting much use till the snow melts…

Now back to current events…

My “digital quest” is ongoing…  Its easy at the beginning as everyone you work is a “new one”…   So far the totals are slowly but steadily rising:

LoTW-  WAS 13 and DXCC 7

EQSL- WAS 18 and DXCC 8

I can’t control when the operators update their logs on line so…  It is always a pleasant surprise when I log into LoTW and EQSL and hopefully see the totals higher than they were the last time I checked.

The DX Deity has been smiling on me as this morning I managed to work Belgium, England and Slovenia all for new one (Belgium confirmed already on LoTW) along with several contacts in the USA including one new WAS (KY already confirmed).  Yup there is nothing like starting with a clean slate to watch your totals rise and rise quickly…  Its good for the ego…

vermont-physical-map

On the topic of WAS (Worked all States) I should remind you that the Vermont QSO Party  is this weekend.  Here is a link to the Vermont website with all the information you need should you decide to participate on a serious note or should no need Vermont for your WAS or Triple Play.  Seeing where the State is in relation to Ottawa I will be looking for Vermont in the evenings (40m and 80m Digital) as I need them for my Triple Play award.  VT is already in the log in SSB and CW…  I’m hoping for short skip this weekend on the lower freqs…

2016_bcqp_banner.gif

And for those of you who are hoping for longer conditions…  The BC QSO Party is also this weekend…  A bit further away from Ottawa…  The link to the BCQP is here so you can check out the rules.  I have given out points in the is Contest and if 15 and 20m are open you will have a great time…

Well that’s it for now…

Hoping your having fun in our hobby…  CU on Monday…

73bob

New “Toy” on the way

January 27, 2016

Well the E-transfer of funds has been successfully completed according to my bank so next week some time (but I am thinking about the handheld that is still missing in the postal world) my new (to me) NUE PSK Modem should arrive.  I bought it with confidence from a ham I have known for more than a few years now.  He is a VE3 and also a QRP’er and a portable operator and was upgrading some of his toys and so I get the old toy.  For him it was an old toy… for me its a new toy…

PSKMODEM

For those of you not sure what I bought…  It is a modem that I can plug a keyboard into and then plug into my FT 817 so I can send and receive PSK 31 Signals (its a ham radio digital mode) without having to carry my laptop into the field.  I operate this mode from home using my Flex 1500 and software that’s installed on my desktop in the shack.

Portable%20PSK%20Station-1(300)

I can now operate the same mode from a portable location (picnic table in the summertime) and all the gear will still fit in my trusty backpack.

The modem and keyboard will fit in easily.  The Modem will draw 12v power from the same 10ah battery pack that powers the FT 817 itself and my LDG QRP Autotuner.  Under my normal portable operating conditions I never run out of power so I am not expecting the current needs of the modem to make any changes in my style of operating.

The modem itself will also plug into most of the Yaesu line of Radios that I either have used or plan to use in the camper in the near future so it will be all plug and play when Liz and myself head out for our summer trips…

And to make things even better…  I have between now and when the snow melts to actually figure out what I’m doing…

I’ll give you a report on how things work out once I get it here in the shack and set up and a big thanks to VE3FAL (Fred in Thunder Bay) for selling it to me…

73bob

 

 

 

A new rig for the Camper

July 22, 2015

I have been talking for a while about how I would like to get a 100w rig that I could use in the camper…  The idea being that I might be out of cell phone range on some of our anticipated trips and having a little more that my normal QRP 5W could be a good idea when traveling….

I’m going to do more research but so far at the top of the list is:

ic-7100_l

The IC 7100 from ICOM…. (Thanks to Radioworld for the information)

It has the 100w output along with a decent receive section.  Covers 70cm, 2m, 6m along with the 10m to 160m amateur bands and has a detachable head for mounting convience.

sgc-237

It will work with my SGC 237 tuner feeding the S9 43 foot vertical…

camper8Canadian Flag attached 6 feet below the top of the S9 43 foot vertical

and the price line is close enough to the other brands that its very competitive… 

ic7100Portable

The added bonus is that its DSTAR ready so this gives me more VHF/UHF Options to use when operating….

However its not a done deal yet….  I have not really had any experiences with ICOM over the years and will have to do my homework before I make up my mind…  Seeing that its now almost the end of July  there is no rush.  The camper will be going into storage for the winter shortly after Chillycon and there is no real reason to pick up the new radio (what ever brand and model it will be) before the springtime…

Perhaps something else new and shiny will grab my attention,,,

73bob