Posts Tagged ‘Amateur Radio Portable Operations’

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…


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.


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:


to something a bit more civilized like :


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…




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…


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. 


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…





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.



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…


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…


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…


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…


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.


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…





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:


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.


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… 


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,,,


Chillycon 2015 (Mark your calenders)

July 22, 2015

Well its official….

Chillycon 2015 will be held on Friday September 11th, Saturday September 12th and Sunday September 13th at the Rideau River Provincial Park in Kemptville Ontario.

Before I forget…. Campsite fees or daily access fees do apply and you must regester at the park front gate

Chillycon is the annual meeting of the Ottawa Valley QRP Society and is a QRP- Portable op camping style event that lets you participate up to the level that you feel comfortable at….  Some spend a few hours….  Others spend the whole weekend and others spend a few extra days and just relax…  The choice is yours….

There are some friendly competitions such as the furthest contact….I think that last year is was contact from Kemptville to VK Land…  I know I did not make it….

Along with the traditional Pizza supper on the Saturday evening….  Nothing says camping like having Pizza delivered to your campsite….  The first year the Pizzeria said… “you want HOW MANY pizzas???? and delivered to where????  Now they look forward to Chillycon almost as much as we do….

The pizza dinner is a pre pay deal…. you tell the organiser how many slices you want and he puts the order in and you pay for what you order….  Its suggested that before you arrive at the park you pick up enough soft drinks to get you through the day from a store you will pass en route to Chillycon



As an added bonus this year Chillycon is the same weekend as the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club Hamfest in Carp Ontario so you can buy some goodies on the Saturday morning then come out to Chillycon in the afternoon to test them out.


Here is a map from the Hamfest to Chillycon just in case you need it…

All in all its a great time for however long you can participate for and yes….  Its a rain or shine event so dress accordingly…. and bringing some bug spray would not be a bad thing…


There is a covered area by the beach which we can operate from if the weather is not cooperating and a few of the experienced ones bring a couple of tarps as well….A few lawnchairs are not a bad idea either…



 FT 817 with an arrow dual band beam on the tripod working some VHF SSB


As a reminder the Chillycon weekend is also the weekend for the ARRL September VHF contest so there will be lots to do and see…

Follows is part of my blog post from 2012 as it pertains to VHF Operating from Chillycon:

Now back to radio…

I started out by setting up at a picnic table by the beach…  The antenna was my Arrow Satellite antenna (without all the 70cm stuff) on a camera tripod and the tripod was set up at one end of my picnic table.  This was a vhf contest weekend and I was hoping to give out a few FN25 grid squares from the park.  I aimed the beam North East and North West trying to talk to some of the locals (Ottawa Area) who I figured would be on the air.  No Luck….  I then swung the beam straight south and did not hear much…


I then swung the beam South West and heard K2OS calling CQ on 144.195.  It was hard copy but he was there and more importantly he was able to hear my signal and then FN25 was in his log and FN12 was in mine.


As you can see by the map this was a contact of 185 miles which for a VHF QRP SSB contact was about my longest ever contact.  I have talked further but not at 5w.


If you have looked at the webpage for Frank K2OS after looking at his station setup its easy to see he was doing 99% of the work but I was able to get out enough of a “Popgun signal” for the “Big Gun” to hear… (how many times have I said that in the past???


I also managed (almost) work VE2HAY Vittio in Laval QC…  That would be about 100 miles east of where I was operating from.  I got his callsign and his grid square FN35 and he got my grid square FN25 but I don’t think he got my callsign correctly so in my log its an almost…

With 1.5 contacts in the log after 1 hour of CQing I decided to take the 2m stuff down and switch over to the 6m dipole I always keep in the backpack.  I managed to get it about 20 feet AGL and aimed south…  I first swung the dial from 50.100 up to 50.250 and only heard one beacon.  That was the West Carleton Amateur Radio Club beacon which would of been local (more or less) to me…  I then tried for the next hour calling CQ on 50.125 and up about every 5 but had no luck…

At that point I figured my attempts to give out the rare FN25 square were finished and so I took down the 6m dipole and put the W3EDP antenna up in a sloper configuration with the high end up at about 40 feet (lucky with the weighted line) and the lower end south west of the high point on a picnic table near the water…

See you can work QRPSSB and make a difference to someones score…

Hope to see you there…


Canadian Island Activators

October 17, 2013

A new website has been put up to provide support to those who either chase Canadian Islands or activate Canadian Islands.

maple island

Not sure what (if any) their affiliations are with the CISA but anything that gets the info out to those who needed it in a timely manner is greatly appreciated and needed…


Please welcome the Canadian Island Activators to the WWW


Their website can be found here: and can also be found on the right hand side of this page under the interesting sites banner…


Wishing them good luck in their attempts to help out the Amateur Radio Community…


Thursday afternoon at Mer Bleue

September 27, 2013

Around noon today I got a phone call from VA3PCJ inquiring if my FT817 would like to head out to play with his KX3 over at Mer Bleue.


We agreed to meet at 1400 EDST and we then headed out to the Conservation Area…


The map above shows my home (VA3QV-4) and where we were set up (VA3QV-7).  As the “Crow flies” its just under 4 miles to there.


We arrived shortly after and got the rigs set up.  My Ft 817 was using my Par End Fed QRP antenna in a mostly vertical configuration and Jose had his KX3 set up with his AlexLoop and was making contacts before I had the antenna set up.


Seeing his results the last few times we have been out… I am really starting to become a fan of mag loops… I don’t have one (YET) but I can see one in my future…


… and it looks like this…


arrl-ntsBut as for me… The log shows me making a 40m contact with  KW1U who was the NCS of the Eastern Area Net.  This is a formal NTS Net that meets several times daily on various frequencies depending on the Band conditons.  According to we were just under 300 miles away and although she was booming in to the Ottawa Area my popgun signal was testing her ears in the state of Massachusetts (west of Boston).

I then tried spinning the dial on the higher frequencies and heard really strong stations on 17m and 15m and also heard ZS3Y in South Africa on 20m.  His station was so strong…   The big problem for a QRP/Portable station operating SSB when the stations are so strong is that everyone else is hearing them as well so… Pile up city and when its my 5w vs the multitude of stations trying to work the DX… You know I am not going to win…

However on 17m E77DX managed to hear me over some other big guns… Proving that once again a popgun can win sometimes,  I last worked Braco was on September 15th when I was first testing the 65 foot end fed long wire that I use here at home.  He heard me then and he heard me now…  If you check out his QRZ page you will see that he was doing most of the work.

I also checked into the Trans Provincial Net on 7.055 and had a chat with Rick VE3HVA who was the NCS.  This is a very local contact as Rick lives about 4 miles from where I was set up… but its a contact with a friend so its all good…  I also managed to talk to Brent VA3YG.  Brent lives about 300 miles away from here on the shores of Lake Huron.  Brent does do some portable work (today he was at home) but in the field he has a FT 817 and a KX3 with a Buddipole as his preferred antenna…


Good choice in radios and antenna…  I think we have worked a 2way portable QRP QSO in the past but can’t find it in the log…  Well that means its time for another…

Now I do know that Jose made a contact with Braco as well and also made several contacts on 10 to 20m… I even got a short video of one of the contacts on 17m and once I get it off my tablet and uploaded to Youtube I will share it with you…

Around 1630edst or so we decided to pack up and head over  for a coffee and discussion… It was a great way to spend an afternoon…


Operating from the park

August 24, 2013

This afternoon I took a break from the “Honey Do” list to head over to the local shopping plaza to pick up some cat food…  Not a biggie on my list but the cats thought it was important…   I figured that I would take the extra 5 minutes and walk past the shopping center and check out Weston Park…  The last time I was there it was filled with kids but seeing as the Kiddie Pools have closed for the year I thought why not see how crowded it was…


In the backpack way my FT 817/LDG QRP AutoTuner and the antenna of choice for today was the Buddistick vertical.  Its been a while since the Buddistick has been outside so I figured it was due for some RF…


In the above picture the coil is not tapped so its set up for 40m operating

I got set up fairly quickly and started listening around to see how the bands were…


As you can see from the above picture the park was next to empty… Without the draw of the Kiddie Pool most of the neighborhood has gone back to video games I guess

The Buddistick is good from 6m to 40m but today 20m seemed to be the band for me…

So I found the strongest signal on 20m I could hear.  it was Ken AC0ML located in  Marshfield Missouri which was a distance of just over 1050 miles from my location in Ottawa.  Now he has a great signal with the FT 950 but he was able to hear me (just) with as you can see from the pictures a very small setup and antenna…

My report to him was an honest 5/7 (check the following video) and I was pleased to get the 4/1 report back…  I mentioned the video…  Before I worked Ken I listened along as he was the NCS for the Maritime Mobile Service Net on 14.300 for a couple of minutes and I recorded about a minute so you could hear how good his signal was into Ottawa and at the same time you could see my rig in action.

Once I finished recording then he called for general checkins to the net and I jumped in with my Booming 5W of RF and much to my shock he called me in.  We exchanged pleasantries (and signal reports) and then I let him get back into running this very important public service communications net.

After that contact I quickly pack up the backpack and headed back to get the Cat food for the pets and made it home before I was even missed.   It was only a half hour in the park but the WX was great and I managed to make one contact proving that everything still works…


Chillycon 2013

August 22, 2013

Its that time of year again folks…

In my email inbox this morning I found this reminder from the Ottawa Valley QRP Society…



Folks : Chiicon, our annual QRP camping weekend at Rideau River Provincial Park, is coming up on September 13th / 14th / 15th.

Now is time to clear you calendars and book your campsite if you haven’t already done so. As usual we will be in the East Campground at Rideau River Provincial Park on the loop containing sites 175 to 186 (I have #181 booked as usual). Check-in can be as early as 2:00 pm on Friday the 13th ( leave your machetes at home😉 ) Check-out time is before 2:00pm Sunday September 15th. Note that this is the last weekend that the park is open for camping so there is no option to stay overnight on Sunday. This year I am arriving a day early (Thursday) so i have more time to hang out and maybe even paddle my boat. For those of you who may not have attended before and are unsure of what to expect, here goes …

First off, like everything we do, this is a pretty low-key event. It is mostly about camping, operating a bit and socializing. This is also a great place to paddle from so you can bring your own boat or rent a canoe from the park.

Check out the excellent video that Chris VA3CME made of last years event : com/watch? v=7tBgoqlQyAM&fe ature=youtu. be

This is a “rain or shine event”. There is a hugh gazebo down by the water and we can convene there for operating and eating as a group if the weather is really bad. Last year Bill VE3CLQ, had the “mother- of-all-tarps&quo t; setup so everyone brought their chairs over to his site and we ate there.

Bring a good sleeping bag and some warm clothes and rain gear, just in case, We have had years where the temperature hit 2C overnight and we have had years where it rained pretty much the whole weekend. – Plan on preparing food for yourself for Friday evening dinner, Saturday breakfast and lunch. Note that Kemptville is close by. There are some takeout and dining options there.

Saturday night I suggest that we order pizza as we did last year. Any of you who are not camping but are planning to drop by for part of the day, are welcome to stick around for Pizza and beer. – Sunday morning, I suggest that we head out to “that Restaurant” near the entrance to the park for brunch (assuming that it has reopened) The food is always good and the prices are reasonable.

I will bring along my camping coffee maker. Anyone who wants coffee is welcome to drop by in the mornings … BYO-mug. I will supply sugar & milk for anyone who wants it.

Post-Pizza we usually convene at one campsite, site around the fire, consume some beverages and tell tall tails about the DX that got away so make sure that you bring a comfortable camp chair and some warm clothes. There are always a few extra chairs for any non-campers that want to stick around. Rideau River park does sell firewood so we usually chip in for a few bundles for Saturday night.

Bring along some cash to contribute to the Pizza and firewood funds.

Here is my blog entry from last years Chilicon :

http://www.qsl. net/ve3wmb/ VE3WMB/Blog/ Entries/2012/ 9/17_ChillyCon_ -_OV-QRP_ Camping_Weekend. html

I am looking forward to seeing many of you !

Cheers Michael VE3WMB / VA2NB

P.S. For any of you that are not camping, you can enter with a daypass. It looks like the cost is about $14 for a daypass (per car I think). Also worth mentioning that bringing your own firewood to the park is prohibited due to concerns about Emerald Ash Borer infestation.


I think that Michael covered just about everything there…  It is low key and it is fun…  I have visited there the last couple of years with my FT817 and W3EDP… Normally its Saturday afternoon and evening but this year you never know…

Here is my blog posting from Chilicon 2012

Here is a posting about Chilicon 2011

I know I went in 2010 but did not blog about it…  dunno why…


So there you have it…  I plan to be there for part of the weekend but I have the Friday, Saturday and Sunday blocked off on my day planner.  A lot of it depends on how few aches and pains the tired old joints have that weekend.  Also its hard to make plans till after I see the knee doctor next week…  According to the media the hospitals are backlogged here in Ottawa for knee replacements but if I plan something…  no doubt it would the exception to the rule so none of my plans are carved in stone till I pack up and leave for Kemptville…

But I hope to see you there at some time…




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