Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Chillycon 2017

What a difference a year makes !!!   This Chillycon was anything but chilly, in fact I doubt it got below 23C all weekend.  We had beautiful blue skies and not a drop of rain in sight.  The only downside was the 14 gazillion mosquitoes we had to dodge all day, they were relentless.

It was different this year being at Murphy's Point Provincial Park instead of at Rideau River.  Some of the campsites left a lot to be desired, and yet others were large and very usable.   Also, these sites were not as private as at Rideau River, but hopefully we will be able to go back to Rideau River next year after they fix the flood damage.

We had about 14 camping, 6 from Kingston, 6 from Ottawa, and 2 from Montreal.  Many others dropped in for the day on Saturday and stayed for the Pizza supper that night.   It was great sitting around after the supper talking to everyone, in fact the last guy left the campsite at around midnight, so a good time was had by one and all.

Lots of different radios and antennas to see and talk about this year, most of us have come away from it with a few ideas for winter projects.

Bob VA3QV was supposed to come for the Saturday, but was a no-show.....I will talk sternly to him over this issue later.   It was great to see Martin, VA3SIE, and his XYL for the first time in about 6 years.......he had the Polar Bear QRP Club flag flying proudly over his site all weekend.

Due to the lousy propagation not many QSO's were made, however, Eric VA3AMX won the Annual DX Contest with a QRP CW QSO with a Brazilian station.  

363 days to go till the next Chillycon!!

Jim VE3ULC operating his portable Digital gobox.
The camp Kitchen.
Somebody has to guard the Scotch and Rum!!!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Wow, September already!

VA3QV heading to Chillycon
As we enter September I really wonder where this year has gone.  It seems with all the rain we had that we have gone right from spring to falling about 3 weeks!!

There's not really a lot planned for this month except for the annual Chillycon weekend which is being held at Murphys Point Provincial Park this year due to flood damage at our usual location at Rideau River Provincial Park.   This year it will not be the same, it seems a bit more crowded at Murphys Point and not as open......but it will have to do for one year.

On a good note, the long-range weather forecast for the Chillycon weekend, September 16/17 is looking mighty dry and warm.....what a change from the past three years that will be!!!

Later on in the month, September 24th to be exact, a group of us are planning to activate the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour Light for the very first time.  It already has a number, CAN-815, and we are looking, and hoping, for good weather for that event as well.

It's starting to cool off at night these days as well, that means here in Canada we start our annual antenna maintenance programs to make sure they will stand up to our five months of crappy winter weather.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

2017 Island QSO Party

VE3ULC hiding under his umbrella
A great time was had by one and all!!!

This year Jim VE3ULC and I decided to go over to Simcoe Island, ON-022.  Simcoe is a relatively small island and has no RF noise at all, our meters showed S0 on the noise floor.

Lots of signals were heard on the bands, although we were mainly on 20m and 40m.   That weekend, besides the Island QSO Party was also the weekend for the Kansas and Ohio QSO Parties, so lots of traffic out there for us.........lots of LIDS and people tuning up on top of ongoing QSO's as well.

Jim operated PSK31 and I operated SSB, which worked out quite well for us.  Jim's rig was an FT-817ND into a multi-band sloper antenna held up by my 33' MFJ mast at one end.   I operated my FT-897D into a MFJ 17' collapsible whip antenna up at 8' off the ground, with two 16.5' elevated radials.  Both systems worked as advertised.
VE3FI's antenna

The WX was great, hot and sunny with just enough of a breeze to keep the worst of the bugs at bay.

Between us we managed to work 10 islands, including a couple of local ones, and another 40 contacts from people hunting the islands.

All in all it was a great day, and we're going to have to do this again before the snow flies....maybe in late October if the bands behave.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Be Careful Out There!!

They say that ham radio is basically a safe hobby.  There has also been considerable discussion and concern about the possible hazards of electromagnetic radiation, including both RF energy and power-frequency (50-60 Hz) electromagnetic fields.

BUT…..did anyone think of those simple dangers, like rocks falling out of trees?

Last Friday, in preparation for the weekends Island QSO Party, Jim VE3ULC, and I decided to test out some equipment on my driveway to make sure it was working well for the weekend event.  A portable antenna needed to be checked out, so up went a line attached to a large rock…which was placed inside a cloth bag.

My Head after being cleaned up.
Well…this was fine until the rock and line went over the wrong branch, and Jim pulled on the line to bring it down so he could try again.  It came down all right, right onto my head.  

While Jim yelled a warning I couldn’t see a thing as the midday sun was in my eyes.  The first thing I knew was a tremendous pain in my head and copious amounts of blood running down my face. 

So please keep in mind that you never know when something is going to happen and it pays to play safe.

No real damage done, but when Jim is around I’m wearing my old army helmet…it’s safer!!

My new operating helmet!!!

Friday, 25 August 2017

Island QSO Party

Don't forget, tomorrow is the W / VE Island QSO Party !!

You can find the rules HERE.

Jim-VE3ULC and I will be heading over to Simcoe Island early tomorrow morning.  We plan on operating a Digital station and a SSB station, and will be on 40m through 6m.

The propagation numbers for tomorrow are not looking too bad as of today, but lets see what happens in the morning, if nothing else it will be a nice day out on the island.

Stay tuned for the full report.....

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Not the day I had hoped for......

The 20m Antenna
Well, we had high hopes for a good day of activating and chasing lighthouses......that was not too be.  At 1020 UTC the propagation numbers were:

SFI= 80, SN= 41, A Index= 21, and the K Index= 5......not the numbers you want to see on a big event day.

We also had a S5 to S7 noise floor at the operating site.  It rained heavily for about 20 minutes while we set up our gear.......just what we needed !

Once we were up and running the bands were in a disgusting state, between the high noise floor and the very deep QSB we had it was very difficult to work anyone.   In fact we had two SSB stations and a Digital station on the air and made a grand total of 4 contacts all day.....including one, solitary, lighthouse station in Florida, K4PIL.

However, having said all that, we did have a good time out there - but then again, any day outside playing radio is better than being home with a large "honey-do" list.......

My antenna for the day was my MFJ 17' collapsible whip, up at 8' with a 17' counterpoise.  Radio was my FT-897D, with my FT-817 being used for VHF work.

I hope the propagation...and weather... improve a great deal for next weekends W/VE Island QSO Party.  I'll be out for that event as well.  Details will be posted here later in the week.

The 20m station using an FT-897D

VE3ULC operating the digital station

Friday, 18 August 2017

ILLW coming up

Coming up this weekend in the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend.   This event is sponsored by the AYR Amateur Radio Group in Scotland, and they have been running it since 1993.

This year I will be activating Pig Point Lighthouse on Amherst Island, a light which has never been activated before, so hopefully the propagation and weather Gods will cooperate with each other and allow us to have a great day on Saturday at the light.

I'll be using the usual Lighthouse frequencies and using the VE3FI callsign.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sunday QRP'ing

Jim VE3ULC in todays operating tent.
It was a beautiful day here in Eastern Ontario, in fact it was warm enough to go on out to our Field Day site.....which is now no longer under water, but still real soggy in some spots.....and play some portable QRP radio.

The bands were not in too bad a condition.  The propagation numbers as of 1757 UTC, 13 August were:   SFI=70, SN=11, A Index=11, and the K Index=2.

The was the usual stuff going on, tuning up over QSO's and LIDS a plenty.  Lots of European stations were on 20m, I tried to work 9A3ON in Croatia, and SV9NNK in Crete.  Both stations copied VE3Fox......but couldn't get the "Italy" at the end of the callsign no matter what phonetic I used....so they're not in the log.

I did manage to have solid QSO's with EI8BLB in Ireland, and EG8HKT in the Canary Islands, both of which made my day.   Not too shabby for 5 watts into an MFJ 17' collapsible whip antenna with one 17' elevated counterpoise.

Next weekend we're off to activate the Pig Point Lighthouse on Amherst Island for the ILLW weekend.  We'll be QRO for that event with the FT-897D.