Posts Tagged ‘Amateur Radio Portable Operations’

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…



Every day can be QRPTTP

April 24, 2013

First question is most likely QRPTTP???? 

What the heck is QRPTTP????

Simple… QRPTTP stands for:


QRP to the Park!!!

Not to be confused with Summits on the Air or SOTA as you might call it…  This fantastic part of our hobby needs someone like myself (overweight, old and in bad shape) usually to climb a large hill…



… and as I get older and heavier proving I am more out of shape than I thought this part of our hobby gets harder for me with every passing day…

The Islands on the Air is for the most part out of my reach as Ontario has no salt water islands to play with and the cost in time and money to travel to one that has salt water surrounding it greatly detract from my participation.  Lets see now…  do I want to buy a new KX3 or do I want to activate a SOTA Island????  My budget is limited so I’ll invest in the radio thank you…

maple island

there is the CISA (Canadian Islands Awards Program) and I have activated Maple Island and Bate Island but its just not the same…


But every day can be QRPTTP day….


Set up at the Softball Diamond “Dugout” at Hutton Park Ottawa when there was no game going on.

All you need to do is get your sorry butt over to a neighborhood park and most of us live close to some sort of field where the City keeps the grass short and provides a few picnic tables…  These greenspaces also normally have a couple of antenna supports (the locals call them trees…) and set up your antenna along with your radio and make some contacts…


Weston Park is only a 15 minute walk from my front door and I have to pass a Starbucks to get to it… and as you can see from the below picture the park is open all year round as well


If you live in the City (like I do) I am willing to bet that you will have a lower noise floor in the park and also you will have the ability to stretch out a better antenna than the compromise vertical you normally operate with at home….  Not all of us are lucky enough to have an extra large lot that allows an 80m dipole or a 48 foot tower with a beam on it….

vincentmassey3Vincent Massey Park has lots of room to put up wire…

Now some would say the exotic DXPeditions have a “wow” factor to them and they would be right.  But speaking as an operator its just as much fun being outside in the sun… working the world with a wire antenna…  and to be honest the DX does not really care where you are operating from… They just want you in the log…


My daughter Erika and myself enjoying the sunshine and warmth at Britannia Park with the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club


And Mooneys Bay Beach before it opens is a peaceful and quiet location…

Nov12bobatmooneys2.jpgThe views can be as great as the operating…

So the next time you have a chance take your radio outside for some fresh air…  Guaranteed you will not regret it


Some comments and getting OQP plans finished….

April 18, 2013

Lets get the easy things done first…

VA3QV WILL BE operating in the Ontario QSO Party from Ottawa. 

Fair weather plans are to operate from a greenspace area fairly close to my home QTH.  I will be operating on Saturday PM on 2m to 40m SSB QRP and on Sunday 2m to 80m SSB QRP

Bad weather back up plans are to operate from home (QRP SSB) on 2 to 80m depending on band conditons at the time.


As I am still down to one radio for HF… My FT817 will be the radio of choice for the event…

Antennas will be as follows:

Saturday Day- Par End Fed and dual band (2m-6m) wire dipole

Saturday Evening and foul wx setup– S9 43 foot vertical along with 6m delta loop

Sunday Day– W3EDP end fed and dual band wire dipole or foul wx setup (see above)

As you can see I am planning to give out some contacts but as its QRP you have to have a decent RCV to hear my 5w signal…  Lets see how many of you can hear it…

Now on to the coments…

Arthur…. the soggy ground would be better if it was salt marsh but…  soggy is most likely better than dry…  however with some ailments that seem to have stricken me as I increase in age my joints (knees and ankles) just to name a few prefer dry….  and a warm dry is even better…


Martin: (the RaDAR one… not the SOTA one)  Hope your RaDAR event went well…  I tried participating in the past but did not have prop conditions to South Africa (who were the only ones participating at the time).  I am looking forward to the November event when the ground is dry (cold but dry) and the leaves are off the trees making it easier to string the end fed up…

RAC in General:  Back in Jan 2013 I decided to let my membership lapse.  The only way I felt I could protest things was to hit them where it hurts (the wallet).  I have long stated that if you are not a member then you don’t have the right to bitch about how things are being done.  As I am not a member that should explain my lack of comments on the topic.  There is another blogger out there ( check my blogroll) who is taking them to task and I do agree with 99% of what he has been saying on the topic…


As a “Non Member” I did look through the RAC website with the hope of seeing some areas where there would be improvements in policy and attitudes… which might be a sign that it would be worth renewing my membership.  I am sorry to say that I am still a “Non Member”…

Getting back to “Fun Radio Stuff”….


The weekend after the OQP we also have the QRP to the field event.  You can follow the link to their website…  It would be a fun way to spend a Saturday (EDST) afternoon either as a participant or just giving out QRO contacts for the QRP operators to copy…

Check back on sometime on Monday for my expected Bragging or Excuses on the Ontario QSO Party results…


Giving the FT817 some fresh air

January 15, 2013

Its been 2 months since my Yaesu FT817 was last out for some fresh air.  My last portable log entry was on November 12th 2012 .  I was actually shocked a bit as it did not seem that long since I was out in Weston Park…  but… according to logs it was that long…


So this afternoon with the temps sitting around 0 deg C (32 deg F) with no snow… no rain… and no excuses …  VA3PCJ and myself decided to take his KX3 and my FT 817 over to the Mer Bleu Swamp outdoor walking trail and play some QRP Portable Amateur Radio.



Same picnic table without the snow…

The antennas for the day was my Par 10-20-40 QRP end Fed and his Alex Loop 10-40m portable loop antenna set up on a camera tripod…




We arrived at the parking lot about 1300 and it only took a few minutes to dig out a picnic table to operate from.  I then set up my Par Antenna as a almost vertical (slight slope to the south) and Jose set up the AlexLoop beside the other end of the picnic table and we started…

My first contact was on 20m on 14.300 with KC5AGO Rex in Stonewall Texas.  Thats north of San Antonio and an approximate distance of  1625 miles (3740 kms) from my park bench to his ranch.  Rex was nice enough to relay me into the Maritime Mobile Service Net and its always easier to make your first contact of the day on an established net frequency as everyone is listening for weak stations checking in.  This first contact proved that everything was working fine after 2 months packed away…


The second contact was also on 20m on 14.280 with Steven KD0ETC  operating Portable in Duluth Minnesota.  He was using a FT 857 and a vertical in the park and this is the third time that our radios have managed contacts in the last two years.  This was a distance of just under 800 miles or 1300 kms for our portable to portable contact…  It was good to get Steven in the log again…

My third contact was made on 10m on 28.445 with KD5TXE, Frank in Odessa Texas.  Frank was using a dedicated 10m rig with 25w and a vertical and he sounded great to my 817.  The contact was approx 1700 miles or 2750 kms…

The fourth contact was a dx contact made on 10m.  I heard LU8EEM Ruben in Argentina calling CQ and was very suprised when he answered me…  This contact was a bit further at 5617 miles or 9000 kms.  He sounded a bit suprised when I told him I was QRP…  Once I got home and checked I found out that the contact with LU8EEM turned out to be a new QRPDXCC for me and so DXCC number 34 is now in the QRP Log



My final contact of the day happened on 40m when I checked into the Trans Provincal Net on 7.055 with VA3CWM which is located at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton Ontario.  You can check out their website using THIS LINK.

Today was a 817 day as the KX3 seemed to be hearing everyone but was having issues making any contacts…  Loop VS End fed I guess and the End Fed won or…  Murphy was visiting the KX3 today…  We will be looking at this again as we know the loop works but something … dunno what was not working properly as the KX3 could not make a contact and last weekend I made lots of contacts with the same radio…

So all in all I managed 5 contacts in 3 countries and 2 continents in just over 2 hours.  It was about as much fun as I could have without hypothermia setting in and so we decided to pack up our gear and head to the local Starbucks for a warm up coffee…

So all in all it was a good afternoon…  No one got frostbite and I tested out the same gear that will be used in the SPAR Winter Field Day and the FYBO so now I have confirmed that everything works fine.  Now if I don’t make contacts then I will nave no excuses…


Some upcoming Portable events

January 9, 2013

Coming soon to an outdoor location hopefully close to you….


Saturday Jan 26-


This event can be a fun event if you plan things right…  I normally operate this event and I bring a larger than normal battery (usually about 10ah) to keep the FT 817 pumping out its massive 5w  of power into the atmosphere.


The radio does not need that much as most likely I will run out of warmth before the battery runs low on amps but its easier to carry a slightly larger battery than run home if the bands are open for a 2nd battery…


Remember as you are operating portable its often easier to carry more than run back…  So far there is a few operators thinking of joining me so it should be fun as it has been lots of fun in previous years.


Now remember the WFD is not a QRP event but I chose to operate QRP because I don’t see me dragging a sled with my FT450 and a 100ah marine battery to the park and back…


Its much easier to carry my QRP Station in my backpack especially as I don’t know how long I can operate for depending on the WX conditions


Saturday Feb 2

The ” FYBO”

This event is much the same as the WFD except that this event is QRP (mostly CW but they do tolerate SSB).  If you follow the links to the rules you will also notice that your operating temps are part as your multipliers.  This mean that the colder temps you have the highter multi you get…


So when I can only sit on the parkbench for two hours while freezing here in Ottawa I can make as many points as someone basking in the sun in Florida on the beach for 5 or 6 hours.  Its make things a bit more interesting…


However I would prefer to be warm for the 6 hours….


Both events can be lots of fun in you prepare for it…  Dress warm….  Dress in layers and remember if you think you are starting to feel the cold…  you are …. and its time to find someplace warm BEFORE Hypothermia sets in….


There will be more on these events in the near future….


DISCLAIMER–  If you chose to operate in either of these events remember that it can get cold out there and hypothermia can set in very easily.  Dress for the conditions and then add a couple extra layers….  USE COMMON SENSE…. and operate within your comfort zone.    Most of the  pictures I have shown you (above) were taken in a few different City Parks and all were within either a 5 minute walk to a Starbucks or a Tim Hortons so we could all warm up very quickly.  Please be careful out there and with all outdoor activities you participate at your own risk… 



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,338 other followers