Monday, 26 June 2017

Field Day 2017.....or Noah comes to Grafton?

The 2m and 6m beams
mounted on a 32' ladder.
It was an interesting field day weekend we had, everything from high, humid heat, to torrential rains and flooding.

Our normal field day site is located on Hay Bay and has been our "home" for this event for 12 years.  However, this year we were, and still are, flooded out of the site due to the high water levels in Lake Ontario.  This necessitated a move or a cancelled field day.  Cancelling this event was never a real option to us, therefore we moved it to a piece of available property in Grafton.

Several of our club members went in to the site on Wednesday morning to check it out and walk the property to decide where we could put up our various antennas to cause the least interference for our operating.

All was well for Wednesday and Thursday, people started to arrive and get things set up and the camp established.........and then the rains hit.  Overnight we had 3 inches of rain in 12 hours and the creek, which runs through the property, rose 3.5 feet in 8 hours.  This was the highest recorded rainfall in 100 years.

Rick's set up, before the rain.
Rick, VE3ORY, found himself and his equipment in the middle of flooded area, while myself and Don, VE3MNE, found the roof of our operating shelter collapsed under the weight of the water and our equipment soaked.  Not a good thing!!

Friday was spent drying out equipment and gear, moving camps and setting up new antennas away from the water.

Thankfully by Friday evening we were set up and could relax.  Don, VE3UNA, had made reservations for us at the Buttermilk Cafe in Coburg, 15 minutes the road.  We had a great dinner with some new ham friends there, and the food was fantastic.

Rick's set up AFTER the rain !!
By 1400 local on Saturday we were primed to go, and things went well.  The propagation for Saturday was:  SFI = 72. SN = 22.  A Index = 5 and the K Index = 2.  The band seemed to be in good shape.  On Sunday the numbers were better.  Given our current position in the current Solar Cycle, the numbers weren't too bad.....we've had worse.

Operating wise we did pretty good, our final QSO count was 1,498, which beat last years score by 150 QSO's.

One item that stands out this year was the use on the air of the most stupid phonetics possible.  Some people using these had to repeat themselves several times because the receiving station just couldn't understand them.  It pays to use the standard ones.

Very few west coast stations were worked this year, we just didn't hear them at all.  In fact, none of our five stations worked any callsign on the west coast or the prairies.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the great lemon cookies Rick's wife, Sonya, sent with him.....they were a great hit!  Also mention should go to Mark, VE3EOG. who's tea making skills improved over the weekend to the point it was actually drinkable!

And lastly, many thanks to the May family, Steve, Joann, Kelsie and Sydney for allowing us the use of their property, and to Don and Richard who also came out to help and keep things under control.

VE3EOG at work on the 40m station

The 40m and 80m operating shelter and the "Bunkie"

The CW station with Rick, VE3ORY in control

Sunday, 18 June 2017


Just had my ham radio computer fixed, and I'm back up on WSPR and PSK-31.   Lots of fun today on WSPR, the bands weren't too bad, but nothing was getting into Europe on any band.

Here's 20m today at 1430 UTC, June 18th.

Field Day Preparations

The preparations continue for Field Day.  This year we have to travel 90 minutes to Grafton, Ontario, to a new site, due to our normal site being still underwater.

My garage currently looks like a cross between a Radio Shack Warehouse and a Camping Store.  There is gear everywhere!!  I hadn't realized that our Club owned so mush equipment.  With some luck I may be able to cram it all into my van.

We're all hoping for little to no rain, and that the propagation Gods smile upon us both days.

Don VE3MNE, Jim VE3ULC and I are heading out on Wednesday morning to have a good look at the property and to try and figure out where we can site and hang our antennas.  As usual we plan on operating as a 5A station, made up of three SSB stations, a CW, and a digital Station.

We are going to have to change up the antenna list this year.  The line-up is now three 80m OCF dipoles, a 40m and 20m fan dipole, a 20m beam, two 31' verticals, a four element 6m Yagi, and a ten element 2m beam.  All day Friday and Saturday morning will be spent getting these antennas in the air.  

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Field Day 2017

Well, we had hoped the water level was going to go down and allow us access to our normal field day site on Hay Bay...........but apparently the Gods had other ideas.  At the moment, the water is continuing to rise, it's currently 3.2 metres above last years level, and at a 100 year high for the region.  Right now there's no sign it is going to start going down much before July.

It's very depressing to see our usual field day property in its current state, it's 60% under water, and you can fish for large Carp on what was the front lawn.  Its owner, Don VE3MNE, has spent 20+ years working on the property - improving it, maintaining it, cutting grass, and all the things you do at a cottage.  The really sad part for us all is that Don retired in March and was looking forward to spending this summer out on the property......and that's not going to happen this year.

This will be a big change for the VE3FRG Group, instead of field day at Hay Bay, we will now be forced to operate from a piece of property near Grafton, Ontario, about one hour and twenty minutes west of Kingston.  Thanks to Jim VE3ULC, for arranging this for us.

With this move comes a number of issues, the biggest one being how to sort out antenna layout and interference in a place we have never operated before.  All good challenges for us and I'm sure we will do fine.

So, a weekend with tarps, tents, radios, and a new's going to be fun !!

Our 2017 Field Day site location

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Sunday on the bands....

Beautiful day here in Kingston, blues skies and a outdoor temperature of about 21C.  It seems summer has arrived.

It was an interesting day on the bands......we have had some enhanced geomagnetic activity, with very strong G3 storming observed at the higher latitudes early Sunday.  We ended up with a "K Index" of 1 and an "A Index" of 51!!

As a result most of the bands were pretty quiet, but 6m was wide open into the Southern States for most of the day and I managed to make a good number of contacts into LA, AL, FL, GA, and well as a few of the local nefarious characters here in VE3 land.  I should also point out that I don't have a real 6m antenna.....I simply tuned up my 80m OCF Dipole and used that.....

Attention now turns to providing the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour with communications in 13 days time, and of course the highlight of the year.....the ARRL Field Day at the end of June.......big news about Field Day on this site next week.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Portable Ops Day....

Next Sunday the long range weather forecast looks pretty good, so plans are under way to spend a few hours - for no reason -  out at a local spot operating portable.

We have had a lot of rain here in Kingston, the water levels are the highest ever recorded in the past 100 years, and currently our regular Field Day site is under a foot of water.   Luckily we have an alternative site sorted out just in case we can't get into the normal one.

Not much radio work going on around here, and from what I've been hearing about the conditions of the bands it doesn't sound like I'm missing out on any good DX.

I am expecting a surprise visitor this week, but more on that later in the week.

New toy in the shack, a West Mountain Radio powered help those of us who are going deaf....I'll do a write up and review on it after I've used it for a while.

Friday, 5 May 2017

XM3CARF Special Event Station

The Frontenac Amateur Radio Club will be sponsoring the special event call sign XM3CARF to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Canadian Amateur Radio Federation (CARF), which was founded in 1967 in Kingston, Ontario.

CARF was Canada's first successful national amateur radio society and existed between 1967 and 1993, when it was unfortunately amalgamated with the Canadian Radio Relay League to form the Radio Amateurs of Canada.

CARF was founded by Art Blick VE3AHU, Doug Burrill VE3CDC, and Ken Rollison VE3CRL.  These three fine gentlemen are all now Silent Keys.  

XM3CARF will be active on SSB, CW and various Digital Modes throughout the month of June, and will sign off shortly after the RAC Canada Day Contest on July 1st.

A page for XM3CARF has been set up, and the Frontenac Amateur Radio Club are looking forward to working as many stations as possible during this event. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Operating Portable...

VE3FI Operating Position
Great day yesterday in Grafton.  The weather was fantastic...19C most of the day under beautiful blue skies.  We couldn't, in fact, have asked for a better day.

The bands on the other hand were not so good.  20m and 40m were the only bands we heard stations on, but while we could loudly hear Moldovan and Kuwaiti stations they couldn't hear us, and mainly worked Europeans.  There was a lot of very deep QSB on the bands.

I did manage to make three contacts, one in Ohio, another in New Jersey, and the third in Indiana.  While they were not DX, they did help prove my system works.

Antennas of the day were a Chillycon 31' vertical and a W3EDP.  There was also an 80m OCF dipole permanently up at the location next to the little operating shack they have there.  We put the analyzer on the antennas before we used them and they all checked out fine.

Radio in use was my FT-897D which I was using for the second time since I bought it.  A nice little radio that works as advertised.

Looking forward to more of this type of operating.

The VE3FI set-up

Don VE3MNE, Jim VE3ULC, and Don VE3UNA.

Portable digital station of VE3ULC