Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone!! 

Mary and I hope you all have much happiness and a fantastic 2013.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Great RAC Winter Contest!

The RAC Winter Contest is over for another year, and once again it was a real blast.  I managed to work every RAC station, including VE8RAC in Yellowknife.  In fact I got some RAC stations on three bands,

The only spot in Canada I did not make a contact with was Nunavut (their only local ham had gone south for the winter!).

The band conditions were excellent for nearly the whole 24 hour period, and many good contacts were made with VE7's.  I even managed to make a number of VE7 and VE6 contacts on 10m during the afternoon. 

Not many VE9, VY2, or VE2 stations were heard, but I managed to make at least two contacts in each of those provinces, it took a lot of time to do that though.  The other interesting thing was the number of non-Canadian stations taking part.  I heard many Europeans in there looking for points.

It always amazes me what a different type of contest the Winter Contest is.  It's very nice to hear operators taking time out, in the middle of a pile up, to say a few nice words with an old friend, and even new friends.

The highlight of the contest, for me, was having my very first QSO with a station in Yukon.  I've never heard a VY1 station before.  I'm not sure if it was the propagation of the day, or my new antenna doing the work for me.  Whatever it was I'm a happy camper!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

RAC Winter Contest - 2012

Coming up on us pretty fast is the RAC Winter Contest.  Contest starts December 29th, 2012, from 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC.

This is always a good contest to enter, it's not as fast paced as others, and everyone seems to stop and have a good QSO instead of just a quick "59 Ontario".  It's also a very good way of collecting all the provinces and territories in a single day.

The contest rules can be found HERE.  Hope to work you all during the contest.

And......the snow came

The view from our front door.
It's -17C here in Kingston this morning with the wind factored in, lots of snow too!  The wind is 30 gusting to 50 KPH.

We had an inpromptu net this morning while everyone "attempted" to get to work.  None of the roads here in Kingston had been plowed, and the commute to work was a nightmare for some.

The prize for the most determined to get to work goes to Don-VE3MNE, who walked four Kms through knee high snow to get there, he was sure blowing into his HT mic by the time he got there.

I can't imagine what Bob VA3QV in Ottawa has got over the last 14 hours, I can't wait to read his Blog report on the storm. I'm sure they got hammered more than we did.

It looks like it's going to be an indoor radio day.....chasing DX.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Light Activations

The weather may be getting bad in some parts of the country, and just to make Bob VA3QV feel better, it's snowing in Kingston today.

However, as bad as the weather may be some hams are still planning island and lighthouse activations, and there are a couple of activations coming up soon.  Please check out:  and see who is activating what, and where.

These guys are taking all the risks by being out there in all weather, so let's get on the air and support these guys, it's the least we can do for them.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Box after Box after Box !!

Well the unpacking continues here at the new QTH.....and isn't it amazing what you find in boxes!!  So far I've found a small 4 channel Motorolla 2m radio I didn't know I had, and I found a set of keys that I lost 6 years ago, of course now I can't find the locks they fit!

The new antennas are working very well.  My signal reports from stations I talk to on a regular basis are amazed at the difference from the old antenna to this new one.  I can't wait to give it a really good workout during the RAC winter contest on December 29th.

The weather here in Kingston has been rain, followed by more rain, and believe it or not....there's more rain in the forecast.  Not a drop of snow has far.  We do have snow in the forecast for this Saturday, but it's still too warm, and I don't think that will drop enough by this weekend to give us any snow.

Christmas preparations are underway, the tree is up, and the Christmas baking are making the QTH smell spectacular.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

ARRL 10m Contest

The bands are not in the best of shape this weekend, but the ARRL 10m Contest is on so I thought I'd try and catch a few contacts to see how the new HF antenna is working....and it seems to be working well.  I do know that I'm going to have to put up a dedicated 15m dipole as the 80m OCF will not tune 15m at all, it just doesn't like it.

So far I'm working a lot of mid-west and west coast stations as well as many South Americans. BUT.....I did manage to snatch 5T0SP out of thin air last night on 20m, after many days of trying, and got him on the first call...which made my evening.

There does not seem to be very many European stations on the air at the moment, at least if they are I'm not hearing them. 

The next big test will be the RAC Winter Contest on December 29th.  Hopefully all the bugs will be out of the station and antennas by then.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Move Update

The "new" temporary shack
Well, the antennas are up in the air, the VHF rig is in the house and I've already ran some radio checks with it......but the furniture doesn't arrive till early tomorrow morning. 

Thanks to Don VE3MNE, Tim VA3TIC and Derek VE3HRW for coming out and getting the antennas up. 

I have my HF rigs stored at Don VE3MNE's QTH in order to protect them from being thrown around by the movers.  They'll be back home with me by tomorrow evening, and I'll be on the air 10 minutes after I arrive get home with them.

It's been an interesting few days living out of a suitcase while waiting for things to come together, but I will be really glad to get back into my own bed and get life back to normal.

I guess over the next few weeks we'll see how the new antennas perform, stay tuned for the reports.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The New Antenna Farm

Plans are well under way for the new antenna farm at the new QTH, in fact the first antenna will be up in the air before noon next Saturday, and we should be back on the air no later than Monday, December 3rd, at noon.

The new 80m OCF Dipole was cut and made last Thursday evening with help from Don VE3MNE and Tim VA3TIC, and will be up in the air about 50 feet when we finish with it.  The 31 foot vertical is currently in pieces, but ready to go up as well, and the new radials are cut and rolled up waiting for the big day.

The VHF farm will have an Arrow dual band J-pole, a four element Yagi, and a 5/8 wave ground plane. 

So, God willing, we will be back on the air from 440 to 160 in a few short if only the snow will stay away for a few days longer !!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

VE3CLQ's Shack

It's a sad day at the QTH today, after the Remembrance Day parade the HF and VHF/UHF antennas came down, one after another, and VE3CLQ is QRT for about two weeks while the move takes place.

It's very strange to look into the back yard and see no antennas there, after seven years here they have become a fixture.

The new shack is in the planning stages, and the new antenna farm will actually be up and in the air before the first stick of furniture arrives in the house.

The new back yard is 160 feet x 120 feet so there is lots of room to hang them....oh, I should also mention that the back yard has four 60 foot maple trees and a 50 foot fir tree, so lots of options.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Remembrance Day

In Loving Memory of the
Officers, NCO's, and Men
2816 Squadron, RAF Regiment

1941 - 1946


Monday, 29 October 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Quite the blustery day here in Kingston as Hurricane Sandy starts to come through the region.  We are expecting the winds to gain in strength over the evening and late into the night. 

It will be an interesting drive into work tomorrow morning, and I'm fully expecting trees to be down on the roads, and the power to be off.

Frontenac Emcomm started a listening watch at 0800 Local this morning (Monday) on both local Kingston repeaters, as well as the US 7.268 Hurricane Watch Net.

The County CEMC emailed at 1030 this morning inquiring what the groups standby status is, so things are starting to get stepped up around here.

For those interested there is a lot of available information on the US Hurricane Watch website at:

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Simcoe Island - ON-022

It was a great day to be out operating portable today.  The weather here in Kingston was mainly cloudy and windy, but still warm enough not to have to wear a jacket outside.

Right after coffee this morning I took the ferry to Wolfe Island, which surprisingly is already using the alternative winter dock on Wolfe Island due to really low water levels.   After a short 8 Km drive I arrived at the small two car cable ferry to Simcoe Island, which was also having some major issues due to low water.

Simcoe Ferry in smoother water than today!
The ride over to Simcoe Island was really rough and I'm pleased to report that my Ford Ranger received a free car wash on the way over with all the heavy spray coming over the bow.

After a 10 minute drive I was at the very far end of the island, very near the Nine Mile Lighthouse.  I parked right at the end of the road and set up my 31' vertical and more radials than ever before.  Radio of the day was my IC-703 with its 10 "screaming" watts.

The bands were really busy today and the SFI numbers were excellent.  We had the Worked all Germany contest, JOTA, the W / VE Island QSO Party, and the NY QSO Party on the bands all at the same time, so lots of action to be had.

First station in the log was DL0TS, a club station in Lierderbach, Germany, this was at 1500 utc, and after that the contacts just kept coming.  I was impressed with the IC-703, it really gets the signal out, and more often than not I got the DX station on the very first call. 

After two hours in the chair I had this feeling I was being watched, but there is nobody around there at all, the site is extremely quiet and peaceful.  In fact I didn't see another person there all day.  Looking over my shoulder I was greeted by a line of about 20 brown cows all looking at me.......wondering what the hell all the noise was I suppose!

After a quick bite to eat and a drink it was back at it.  By 1830 utc there were 30 QRP contacts in the log and it was time to head home. It was a really good day, and a welcome break from the house buying that's been going on around here lately.

The only downside to the whole day was the number of LIDS who chose to tune up right on top of either a QSO in progress, or a station calling CQ.  Why do people do that???!!!

And lastly, it was nice to hear all the youngsters on the air today with their JOTA stations.  Let's hope more than a few of them catch the ham bug!!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Activations this weekend

This weekend, 20th & 21st October is shaping up to be a pretty busy one for Island and Lighthouse activations here in Eastern Ontario.  It is the W / VE Island QSO Party weekend and many hams will be heading out to take part.

So far we have the following anouncements....

Dave VE3FOI will be activating Tintern Island - ON 254.

Tim VA3TIC and Derek VE3HRW will be activating Howe Island - ON 023.

Doug VE3GJ will be activating Henley Island - ON 007.

Bill VE3FCT will be activating Wolfe Island - ON 009 and Simcoe Island - ON 022.

Jerry N1Qll will be doing a first time activation of Mistake Island, Maine.

Also, John VE3ISE will be activating both of the Port Dalhousie Lights - CAN 540 and CAN 541.

On top of these activations we also the Jamboree On The Air this weekend.  We have two local stations going on the air for this event.  We have VE3SFD operating from Otter Lake Scout Camp, and VE3SIQ operating from Whispering Pines Scout Camp.

So a busy weekend, let's all hope the SFI Gods are in a good mood and cooperate so we can all have a good time!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Jamboree on the Air 2012

Frontenac Radio Group will be hosting Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts from the Perth and Ottawa area on Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21, at Whispering Pines Scout Camp, starting at about 0900L.

Call sign in use for the weekend will be VE3SIQ. 

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts all over the world will be participating in the Jamboree on the Air.

Look for the Scouts on SSB (phone)
80 m 3.690 & 3.940 MHz
40 m 7.090 & 7.190 MHz
20 m 14.290 MHz
17 m 18.140 MHz
15 m 21.360 MHz
12 m 24.960 MHz
10 m 28.390 MHz
6 m 50.160 MHz

This is a great opportunity to showcase ham radio to our younger generation, so if you hear a station calling "CQ JOTA" give them a shout!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Sunday at the Lighthouse

On a positive didn't rain!  It was very cool though, the high was only +8C and there was a pretty good breeze down by the water to make it feel real cold.  Shades of winter days to come!  After the summer we have had it is very hard to start thinking of how to dress for the cooler weather. 

Rig of the day was the IC-703 and the antenna was the "Chilicon Special Mk 2".  Once again this setup did a great job.  We made a good number of contacts, from N6O in Santa Barbara, California, to DL/PS3LPG in Weeze, Germany, and a ton of others in between them.

What is amazing is that I was kind if lazy today and I only put out two 33' radials, not the usual small forest of wire that is usually strewn about the ground, and to be honest I didn't notice any difference in antenna performance. 

Today Larissa-VE3KGC came along with us.  Larissa is a fairly new ham, and today we had her on the air with her "new" Ten-Tec Scout.  It's a really nice little rig and it performed very well today.  This was the first time I have seen this rig in action and I was impressed with it. 

The numbers were not very impressive today, we had: SFI-98; A Index-6; K Index-1; and the SN-39.  We certainly seen a lot better over the past few weeks. 

Oh well, hopefully it will get better for next Sunday when I'm going to give George-VE3SIQ a hand attempting to activate, for the second time, Brewer's Mill Island.  Hopefuly this time we will get the required 26 QSO's.  I'm starting to like this moving houses, it gives me another excuse to get out, decompress and play radio.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Nicholson's Point Light

I'm in the process of taking down all the HF and VHF antennas at my current QTH due to the upcoming move to a new and much bigger QTH.  So postings on the Blog have had to take a back seat for a while....and probably will do for a few more weeks. 

However this coming Sunday I, and several others, will be out at the Nicholson's Point Light for a day of portable operating.  This will be the very first activation for this light, CAN-1425 after we had it approved and the ARLHS assigned it an official number last year.

The light is in a small lakeside park, and because of the popularity of this park we can only activate the light in the cooler weather, in order to stay clear of the crowds that normally swarm the place.

Three HF stations will be on the air operating as VE3FRG. Frequencies will be:

14.250 - 14.260

There will also be a 2m SSB and 6m SSB station on the air.  They will operate on 50.125, and 144.200.

We are all praying to the weather God for a sunny, dry, but cool day with excellent prop!   Here's hoping!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sunday Radio

Something broke the local Internet this morning after our ham breakfast, and with no new books loaded in the Kobo I was forced to play radio to fight off the boredom. 

Up to the shack I went, turned on the FT-950, and was nearly blown out of my seat by the signals coming in on 10m, 12m and 15m.  I spent a great couple of hours cruising the bands and managed eight solid QRP SSB contacts.....

10m HA0NAR - Hungary
10m 9A208DX - Croatia
10m 9A4WY - Croatia
10m GW4BLE - Wales
10m IT9PQJ - Italy
10m TU5KG - Ivory Coast
15m EG5INT - Spain
12m SV3AQR - Greece

SFI was at 126; A Index at 4;  K Index at 1; and the SN at 46.  Not the best numbers we have seen but they did the job today.

So, whoever the kind soul was who ran into the telephone pole and cut the internet connection.......thank you for a most enjoyable morning!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A New Blog

A few days ago a new blog made its debut, the Portable Activations Blog.  Most of my readers will know of the problem a lot of activators seem to have getting the details of their upcoming activations posted on certain websites.

Of course a lack of publicity causes a lack of awarness of the activity, and ultimately, a lack of traffic to the activation site.  Hopefully this new blog will be able to generate more traffic to the activators and help make their day a lot more successful than they have had in the past.

The new blog will post any activation, Lighthouse, Island, or's a non-discriminatory blog.  The only goal is to get a bit more awareness to our portable activities out there so other hams can see what we're up to.

The URL for the blog is:  Please pass it on to any known activators, it will only work if as many hams as possible know about it, and use it.

Monday, 17 September 2012

A Superb Weekend

Another year has past and Chilicon 2012 is now behind us.  What an outstanding weekend of ham radio, not because of the operating we managed to fit in, but because of the learning experience of it.  Many hours were spent discussing the finer points of radios, feedline, and antennas, and it was a delight walking around the sites checking out the amazing array of antennas that the guys were using.

Don VE3MNE and I arrived at the campground at about 1430L and were met by Michael VE3WMB and Jim VA3KV who had already arrived and had set up their camps.  Chris VA3CME was there as well, he had arrived on Wednesday.....obviously in a hurry for the Chilicon experience, and I know Ying VA3YH was there, but I'm not sure if he arrived before us or not.

The afternoon sky did not look too promising, so Don and I hurried and began to set up the site.......and really, we finished not a moment too soon as the rain hit us and continued to come down for the next seven hours.  Luckily the wind never came up and rain just came down straight, not sideways. I'm pleased to report we didn't get wet!

After Friday supper of steak and veggies everyone descended on our site as we had it almost completely tarped off with two 15 by 20 tarps and everyone could stay dry under them.  The single malt arrived with Dave VA3ORP and the radio talk began.  It was a good evening with everyone getting to know each other or catch up with old friends.

Saturday dawned with a good sign - a blue sky!  After a good breakfast of sausage and eggs it was antenna erecting time.  We put up two antennas, the now famous 31' vertical "Chilicon Special" and a 44' doublet, and started to play radio.  The bands were excellent with 15m, 17m, and 20m just hopping with signals.  Just after lunch a good number of the Ottawa area hams arrived including VE3EMB, VE3CBK, VE3EUR, VE3MPG, VA3AMX, VE3GTC, and the star of the show: VA3QV.  It was a Who's Who of QRP.

During the afternoon Chris VE3CBK and Dave VA3ORP changed into WW2 battledress and fired up their No. 19 Radio Sets and a No. 48 Radio Set.  In due course a 1953 Willy's jeep arrived, including uniformed driver, and both Dave and Chris began their No. 19 Set mobile fun.  They managed to work Bob VA3QV on AM, Bobs very frst AM contact.  Both Dave and Chris spent the night in a 1942 army bell tent, and it didn't leak!

The bands were pretty crowded and occasionally we had a bit of interference from the large number of radios on the air at the same time.  However, with a little bit of juggling and changing bands we managed to all have fun.  I'll tell you though, that No. 19 Radio Set has a pretty wide signal.

Just before supper the sky started to turn a bit dark and it did manage to rain for about 10 minutes.  We had all decided to order pizza from Capilano Pizza in Kemptville before hand so Michael collected the money and sorted things out.  It was decided because of the weather and our large tarps everyone came and ate and spent the evening socializing on our site again.  Once again VA3ORP's portable bar arrived with the single malt.

Saturday was September 15th, Battle of Britain Day, and the 72nd anniversary of it as well.  As VA3ORP is ex-RCAF, and I'm ex-RAF and RCAF, we toasted the occasion with a good British Beer, and an appropriate one as well, Thwaites "Lancaster Bomber" brewed in Lancashire.

Yes I know Lancaster's didn't take part in the Battle of Britain, but I did look for Spitfire or Hurricane Beer and couldn't find it had to do!  I'm sure the few of "The Few" who are still alive really wouldn't mind.

Saturday night was pretty cold and it did get down to +2C, and I for one had to get out of my sleeping bag around 0230L to add a pair of sweatpants and a fleece top in order to get warm.  I've already asked for a new sleeping bag for Christmas as the one I have is just a bit too old, but we survived.

It rained again for a few minutes Sunday morning, just before we started to take down the camp.  Of course that meant that the tarps got wet again and had to be packed away in that state.  Soon the radios were packed away, antennas dropped and rolled up, and the vehicles packed.  About 1130L we departed for a restaurant in Kemptville for a really good brunch, but I didn't write it's name down so I can't share it.  Then it was back onto Hwy 15 for the long drive back to Kingston.

This year's winner of the long distance award went to Eric VA3AMX who had a good CW QSO with a VK7 in Tasmania with 5 watts into a G5RV Junior. 

Chris VA3CME with his new KX3

The center piece of Ying VA3YH's 20m Spider Beam

The homebrewed 20m Spider Beam by Ying

The inside of Dave VA3ORP's WW2 Bell Tent - complete with
Persian carpet !!

The Magnetic Loop built by Michael VE3WMB

It was a fantastic weekend, even with the rain. Many, many, thanks to the Ottawa Valley QRP Society who sponsor this event.  Those of you who do not attend it don't know what you're missing. Only 363 days till the next Chilicon!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

CAN-788 Activation

What a difference 24 hours makes!  Today was fantastic, mainly blue skies and a very comfortable temperature, and best of all no rain - either falling or in the forecast.

After breakfast at the Star Diner we left for Prince Edward Point Light, it's about an hour and a half drive from Kingston, including the 15 minute ferry ride at Glenora.  While it was a nice trip, it will be even better in a couple of weeks when the leaves start turning. 

The lighthouse itself is well within the boundaries of the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area.  This national wildlife area is nearly 1400 square acres, and hosts many thousands of migratory birds each year.  Since the mid-1960s, this section of the Long Point Peninsula has been recognized as an important area for migratory birds and in 1996 was designated an important bird area.

The area is full of birds and the very few other people that we actually saw there all had $1000 cameras with huge lenses attached. 

When we arrived at the parking lot we were the only people there and we had a great view out over the small harbour.  Because of the low water level most of the boats were high and dry.  The water was extremely shallow.

We set up two HF stations.  The rigs of choice were FT-857D's running 100w from batteries.  One station used a "Chilicon Special Mk2 Vertical", and the other a "Crappie Doublet" fed with 300 ohm twin lead.  Both antennas worked great and pulled in some good European DX.  Both stations were on the air by 1115L.

Twenty-Six contacts were made, and here is the breakdown:

6m - 1 VE3 contact in FN14
15m - 5 USA contacts, 2 VE contacts, and 15 European contacts
40m - 1 VE3 and 2 VE2 contacts

Best contact of the day was with Charles - VE2LQ/qrp running SSB with 2.5 watts from St. Jean, Quebec.  Charles had a very weak signal, but we managed to pull him out of the mud and relay some traffic from him to Bill - VE2HG in Val d'Or, Quebec.

Overall it was a good day, bands were in so-so shape with some QSB at times.  SFI was sitting at 123; A index at 5; K index at 1; and the SN at 90.

Of course on the way home we had to stop in at the Black River Cheese Factory and spend some money on the worlds best cheese.  I bought some aged onion and garlic cheddar, and always thinking of a good survival technique......a bag of home made dark fudge for the XYL! 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Prince Edward Point Lighthouse

Prince Edward Point Lighthouse
Late notice, but a number of operators are leaving after breakfast on Sunday, September 9th, to activate the Prince Edward Point Lighthouse - CAN788.  This lighthouse has not been activated for many years and is in a very sad state of repair.

This lighthouse is also known as Travers Point Lighthouse by the locals.  It was built in 1881, and due to its poor state of repair it was replaced in 1959 by a skeleton tower which remains active today.  The old building is still there but it looks very sad, but I guess if you were 131 years old you'd be looking mighty sad as well.

We hope to have at least two HF stations on the air and a 6m station.  Best place to look for us will be 14.250 to 14.260, 7.150, and 50.125.  The stations should be up and running by 1130 local EDT.

Callsign used will be VE3FRG.

We'll be listening, hope to work some of you.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Another Activation this weekend.....

Sent to me by Tom, KC2SFU:

A group from the Adirondack Fire Tower Radio group in Chenango County, NY, will be activating the fire tower at Stamford, NY, this Saturday.

The goal of this group is to promote the idea of operating from current and former Adirondack Fire Tower locations.

The group will be on air starting around 0800L (EDT) and will be on 2M (SSB 144.205), and (FM 146.520). they will also be on HF 40M (7.186 ssb), and may even work a satellite or two.

The group hopes to hear you on the air.  For those of you with an interest in joining in, here's a great page (HERE) that lists most of the fire towers in the Adirondacks.

"A" marks their Tower

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Another Island Activation

I received an email from John VE3ISE this afternoon.  John lives in Grimsby, Ontario, and is planning an island activation in the near future. 

His email is below:

Myself and a couple of friends will be activating Byng Island ON-037 on Saturday September 8, 2012

We hope to arrive before Noon on Saturday, set up and be on the air by , no later than 12 noon. All depending on local weather conditions.  All QSL's should go to the operators home call.

Two stations will be running: 

John VE3ISE on 40 Meters 7150 ( +/- 10 kc) from 12 to 2 Pm then switching to 20 Meters 14260 ( +/- 10 kc) running 100 watts to Hustler verticals.

Doug VE3GJ on 20 Meters, HF Back Pack Frequencies running QRP.

This activation has also been listed on the US Islands Award website, and a copy of the email has also been sent to the Canadian Islands Award website.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Point Petre Lighthouse

Glenora Ferry
For a Sunday 0530L came pretty early!!  Luckily I had loaded the truck the night before so the noise was kept to a minimum,  "SWMBO" could sleep in peace, and I wouldn't be in trouble for waking her up at that unGodly hour! 

Once again the weather was just glorious, bright blue sky, with just a few clouds blowing by, and the Timmy's coffee nice and hot. 

Then it was off down Hwy 33 East to Glenora, meet up with Don-VE3MNE on the road, hop on the small ferry over to Picton and a stop for a good breakfast at the very appropriately named Lighthouse Restaurant.

The drive from the restaurant to the lighthouse takes about 30 minutes over some pretty remote country roads through farming country.  Point Petre is at the very tip of the South-West corner of Prince Edward County.  The whole area is a wildlife and bird refuge, and it streches for many miles along the shore of Lake Ontario.  This area has been left as remote as it has because it was, in an earlier life, an anti-aircraft artillery range for the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) based nearby at Camp Picton.

Camp Picton in 2012
The school provided training for anti-aircraft gunners, gunnery radar operators, technical assistants and artillery instructors. A number of operational artillery units were also located in Picton, including the 127th and 128th Medium AA Batteries, Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) and the 2nd and 3rd Light AA Batteries of the 1st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA. The RCAF also maintained a small detachment at the base to provide aircraft targets for the gunners. 

Camp Picton closed in 1969 as it was surplus to DND's requirements.  Today it is used by small private aircraft and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

We started to setup as soon as we arrived at the lighthouse, which still looks as pitiful as it did last year, with its supporting building looking shabby and all boarded up.

Don and I both brought our FT-857D's.  I put up a 6m dipole and a 2m four element yagi, and Don put up his "chilicon vertical Mk.2" with 12 radials of various lengths and operated up on the HF bands.

The bands were not in very good shape today as we quickly found out.  All bands seemed to have some very deep QSB, and the conditions were really bad. We managed a grand total of eight contacts in five hours...pretty miserable really.  We had no response to our CQ's on 2m SSB and 6m SSB at all, just empty air.

Our HF contacts included five US lighthouses.  Our small log is as follows:

W4J at Lighthouse US-0025 on 20m
WS1SM at Lighthouse US-141 on 20m
N1NC at Lighthouse US-116 on 20m
N8MR at Lighthouse US-253 on 20m
N2CMC at Lighthouse US-011 on 40m
W9IMS in Indianapolis on 17m
EA8AM in the Canary Islands on 15m
KA4WJR in Ocala, Florida on 20m

The SFI today is 97;  the A index is 11; the K index is 2; and the SN is 56.  Of the three years we have activated this light for the ILLW, this has to be our worse showing ever.  Hopefully next year we can redeem ourselves.

Setting up outside the fence at Point Petre
Thanks to Tim who posted us and our frequencies on the DX Cluster.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Nine Mile Lighthouse

Dave VE3DZE antenna
Today the Frontenac Radio Group activated the Nine Mile Lighthouse on Simcoe Island for the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend.  The lighthouse is number CA-0031, and the island is ON-022

Dave Ve3DZE and Tim VA3TIC both went over early this morning on the ferry to Wolfe Island and then onto the very small cable ferry to Simcoe Island.

They had superb weather, with beautiful blue sky and a cool breeze, and not a cloud to be seen. 

The bands however were not in the best of shape with the SFI sitting at 97, the A index at 11, the K index at 4, and the SN at 42.

The two of them hung in there and between them they made over 70 contacts on the two HF stations.  Interesting to note that all of the contacts were either Canadian or American, no DX at all.  I managed to work both of them on 20m and 40m at 0930L, and then went on to work a pile of other lighthouse who were also on the air.

Nine Mile Point Lighthouse from the road.
This is the first half of our weekend Lighthouse activations, tomorrow, Don VE3MNE and myself are leaving at 0600L to drive to the south western corner of Prince Edward County to activate Point Petre Lighthouse, CA-0026.  Hopefully we wil have the same weather, but better SFI numbers!

I'll post our report tomorrow evening.  Look for us tomorrow on 20m between 14,250 and 14.260, or on 40m at 7.250 +/- 10 Kc.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The 31' Homebrew Vertical

Several people have asked me to post the results of our field test of the homebrew 31' vertical antenna.  Here it is:

Background –

At Chilicon 2011 some of the members of the Ottawa QRP Society arrived with a homebrew vertical antenna. It had a 28’ radiator, one 16’ ground radial, one 31’ ground radial, and a 4:1 Balun, all designed by Martin-VA3SIE. It intrigued VE3CLQ with its simplicity, and its possibility as a ground-wave antenna for emcomm work.

VE3CLQ built one at Chilicon 2011 using a MFJ-1910 collapsible mast, a 28’ radiator, four 16’ ground radials, and a 4:1 Balun. This antenna was not analyzed before use, but with 40w output from a FT-857D it worked VK3MO in Victoria, Australia and VK2KRR in New South Wales, Australia from his campsite.

Further Development –

Richard-VA3VDP played with the design using the EZNEC antenna design computer program for a few weeks and came up with the result that a 31’ radiator would work best with the 16’ ground radials. A rebuild of VE3CLQ’s antenna ensued and it was soon sporting a 31’ radiator, this antenna is now known as the Chilicon Vertical Mk.2.

VA3VDP bought the commercial version of this antenna, made by LDG, and called the S9v31 and is advertised to be good for 6m through 40m.

Over the past 12 months the antenna has been used, both the commercial and the homebrew versions, with good success from a variety of locations and grounds. A great deal of DX has been worked to date with it.

The only change to the Chilicon Vertical Mk.2 has been with the number of and the length to the ground radial system. 

Testing –

In order to find out which Balun, either a 4:1 or a 1:1 was more efficient, a test was designed. The antenna was set up at Lamoine Point, in a gravel parking lot.

The antenna was set up with the 31’ radiator, six 16’ground radials, and a 4:1 Balun. Frequencies where chosen close to the centre of each band for operating SSB. With exactly the same set-up we switched to a 1:1 Balun and the same test run again. The results were:

The 4:1 Balun
Frequency        Result
3.800                6.5:1
7.150                3.5:1
14.150              2.5:1   
21.200              1.8:1   
28.500              2.1:1   
53.0                  1.1:1       

The 1:1 Balun
Frequency         Result
3.800                12.1:1
7.150                2.6:1
14.150              6.3:1
21.200              1.6:1
28.500              4.5:1
53.0                  1.3:1

The antenna was set up for a second test with the 31’ radiator, six 16’ground radials, a 4:1 Balun and the addition of two 31' ground radials. Frequencies where chosen close to the centre of each band for operating SSB. With exactly the same set-up we switched to a 1:1 Balun and the same test run again. The results were:

The 4:1 Balun
Frequency           Result
3.800                  6.1:1        
7.150                  3.1:1        
14.150                2.4:1        
21.200                2.1:1        
28.500                2.1:1        
53.0                    1.1:1        

The 1:1 Balun

Frequency          Result

3.800                 12.1:1
7.150                 2.8:1
14.150               6.3:1
21.200               2.4:1
28.500               1.3:1
53.0                   1.4:1

The results show that the addition of the two 31’ ground radials did very little to change the feedpoint impedance of the antenna.

We then checked the resonance of the antenna using both a 4:1 Balun and then the 1:1 Balun. The results are:

The 4:1 Balun
Frequency          Result

9.500 MHz        1.0:1
19.700 MHz      1.0:1
42.600 MHz      1.0:1
61.900 MHz      1.0:1
132.000 MHz    1.0:1

The 1:1 Balun
Frequency           Result

7.500 MHz         1.0:1
35.000 MHz       1.3:1
64.500 MHz       1.1:1

On Air Test -

The antenna was quickly reconfigured to the 31’ radiator, six 16’ground radials, two 31’ ground radials and a 4:1 Balun. The antenna was then connected to an IC-703 10w QRP transceiver and a 12v 35Ah gel cell battery.

The results of the on air test are:

1901UTC    20m   G8A           57/55    Brian, Great Sutton, UK
1907 UTC   20m   VY2TT      58/56    Ken, Bloomfield Stn, PEI
1921 UTC   15m   CM8AKD  57/56    Jose, Las Tunas, Cuba

The SFI for that time was:

SFI = 129;  A index = 5;  K index = 3; and SN = 91.

Conclusion –

In its present configuration as the Chilicon Vertical Mk.2 it works very well and is especially good when hunting DX.

Further testing is scheduled to be done with more radials of different lengths.  If there is suffient interest I'll post the results.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Brewers Mill Island

As we went to breakfast this morning Noah was putting the finishing touches on the Ark as the torrential rain fell.  It soon looked more like Bangladesh during the monsoon season than Princess Street in Kingston.....of course some people were just upset because they have not had to mow their lovely and crisp golden brown lawns in six weeks.

The rain continued during breakfast and then during the long ride up Highway 15 to Brewers Mill.  Noah must have finished the Ark on time because as we parked our vehicles the rain stopped and the sun came out from behind the black clouds.......and the rain continued on to Ottawa.

George VE3SIQ quickly set up his 20m dipole and a 15m and 10m dipole, and after sorting out a power problem he was on the air and spotted on the DX Cluster................remember George, the black wire is ground and the red is hot!!

Many thanks must go to the guys who run the US Islands Award website for very promptly posting the announcement of our island activation.  It was posted on their website within one hour of my sending the announcement to them.......and did I mention that after sending three emails, over a two week period, to the Canadian Islands Award webmaster, that we're still waiting for the announcement to make it onto their website? 

I put up my 31' vertical and numerous 16' radials on the ground, connected the FT-857D, and got stuck into 15m.  First station in the log was Tim VA3TIC, next up was John VE3OMA.    I then switched over to 6m to give John VE3ISE in Grimsby a call...with no success at all.  Unfortunately 6m did not want to play today.  Several other station went into the log in quick succession after that, but the QSB was pretty bad at times.

In the afternoon I switched to my IC-703 and made good solid contacts with Frank EA5HJV in Spain, and Rumen LZ1MS in Bulgaria.  Not too shabby for 10w SSB.

The island is a nice spot to operate from and the Lock Master was very accomodating to us. We will have to do this again!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Chilicon 2012

Plans are now well underway for this years annual Chilicon gathering of QRP enthusiasts in Eastern Ontario.

Chilicon is held at Rideau River Provincial Park, just across the river from Kemptville over the weekend of September 14th & 15th........Rain or Shine.  Group organization is minimal, so this weekend is a pretty casual QRP camping experience.....but we have fun!

Chilicon is an annual event of the Ottawa Valley QRP Society and has quickly become a fixed event on my calendar.  Lots of good discussions on radios and antennas to be had there, and if you come away from the weekend without learning a thing or two you didn't try hard enough.

Held the same weekend as the QRP Afield event which is sponsored by the New England QRP Club, we have lots of on air activity, and normally a couple of different modes on the air as well.

Come for the weekend or just come for the Saturday.........occasionally you get to meet celebrities there like Bob-VA3QV!!!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Saturday on the Bands

It was off to Hay Bay after our club's regular Sunday breakfast today to use the high dipoles we have set up out there at Don-VE3MNE's cottage.

Today was the Colorado 14er's big day, and it was for that event that I primarily wanted to use the high antennas.  However, the Gods didn't smile and I didn't make a single contact with any of the Colorado stations.  Better luck next the saying goes.

I did manage to work five stations before I closed down the station:

KD0ETC and KD0EFW who were both activating US lighthouses;
W8COD who was activating the submarine USS Cod;
XL31812, a special event station celebrating our glorious victory in the war of 1812; and
9A208DX, a special event station celebrating 20 years of the 9A callsign.

So not a wasted day on the bands.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Next two weekends.......

There's a couple of busy weekends coming up in August.  Next Sunday, the 12th August, our club will be activating Brewers Mill Island, just south of Seeley's Bay on Hwy 15.  This Island has never been activated before, and is not listed on the Canadian Islands Award Site, so it doesn't have an official number yet.  We plan on having at least three stations up and running, all on battery power.  I'm going to assume two HF and one 2m/6m stations.

We have sent emails to the Canadian Islands Award website asking for this activation to be listed but as they have already ignored three requests so far for islands this summer.....we're not holding our breath.  You will be able to read about this activation on the US Islands Award Scheme website....along with other Canadian hams who have long since realized that sending activation notices to the Canadian website is a waste of time.

The weekend after that, the 18th & 19th August sees our club taking part in the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend.  Once again we will be activating two lights, the first at Nine Mile Point on Simcoe Island, which is CA0031, and will be using the VE3FRG callsign. 

The second site is the light at Point Petre in South West Prince Edward County.  This is CA0026, and will be using VE3FCT as its call.  The Nine Mile Point light will be active on Sunday only, but we are hoping that the Point Petre light will be active on both days.

The event evolved from the Scottish Northern Lighthouses Award Weekend a biennial event which was first held in 1993 and became the ILLW in 1998. Over the years it has continued to grow and to date more than 450 lighthouses and Lightships in some 50 countries around the world are participating in the event each year.

The event is always held on the 3rd full weekend in August starting at 0001 UTC on Saturday and finishing at 2359 UTC on Sunday.

VE3FCT will be QRV on 7.250; 21.350; 14.250-14.260; and 50.125, for SSB depending on the band conditions.  All frequencies will be +/- 10 Kc or so.

Radios for VE3FCT, for both events, will be an FT-857D, and the antennas will be an 80m OCF Dipole and 31' homebrew vertical.  A Buddipole 6m antenna will also be used.

Monday, 30 July 2012

The Madmen of Colorado

This Sunday sees the annual "Colorado 14er" event.  This is a unique ham radio event were sane men and women hike up 14,000' peaks in order to operate their ham radios.............don't ya wish we had a few here in Eastern Ontario?!?!?!?!?! (Yes Bob, I'd carry your oxygen bottle for you!)

The goal of this event is to see how many of the mountaintop stations you can contact. The prime operating hours are from 1500 to 1800 UTC.

Last year I took part in the event as VE3FCT and had a blast, but the highlight for me was to be one of the 104 contacts made by KB0SA - Boy Scout Troop 6 from Monument, Colorado from the summit of Pikes Peak. 

What is really great about this bunch of Scouts is that everyone of them has a ham ticket, as do their leaders. 

Troop 6 will be back up in the 14,000' peaks this coming Sunday for the 2012 Colorado 14er event and I hope to make contact with them again.  It's always good to support the kids in this hobby of ours.

The website is HERE, and the suggested frequency list HERE.  This year for the first time they have agreed to combine the event with the SOTA program to encourage participation in it.

Hope to hear you all on the bands this Sunday encouraging these guys.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Islands on the Air

This weekend is the annual IOTA weekend.  Lots of great DX should be on the air for this, including CY9M from St. Paul Island...look for them on 14.185. 

The contest runs from 1200Z July 28th to 1200Z July 29th.  The rules can be found HERE.

As I can't operate from my shack this weekend I'm going to have to find somewhere local to operate portable from, and someone to come along and give me a hand.  It's going to be very nice just to have nothing to think about and to be able to just play radio.

Fort Henry Hill is no longer an option thanks to the new visitors interpretation centre recently built on the east side of the parking lot.  The new centre is equipped with 25 or so plasma information screens being used entertain the visitors and the noise floor has duly risen from S0 to S8 and S9.

Antenna of choice will be my MFJ-1910 mast with a 31 foot radiator taped to it, and six 16 foot radials and two 31 foot radials.  This antenna works very well for collecting DX with a 4:1 Balun, and it's very light weight and easy to put up.  I have a drive on mast base for it.

Hopefully the SFI Gods, and the weather Gods, will be shining on us.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

IARU - - - the aftermath

Things did not go the way I wanted them to....but when do they ever?  Selling our house, and looking for a new one got in the way of going to Hay Bay and using the high antennas.  Oh well, "She who must be obeyed" is happy at least.

So instead I stayed at home and operated in bits and pieces, closing down, and leaving the house, when we had a showing. 

On top of this I did another couple of goofs, the first one was my AF Gain was turned down and secondly I spent half of my operating time at 10w because I didn't check my power setting.  Obviously there's still more to learn with this radio.

The antennas used at home were a 40m off center fed dipole at about 30 feet, and a homebrew 31 foot vertical with 10 radials spread out on the grass.  Both antennas worked perfectly and I had great results with them.  A total of 120 contacts were made:

66 SSB on 20m
40 SSB on 10m
14 SSB on 40m

Contacts where made with stations in Europe, South America, North America, Africa, and the Middle East.

The bands were up and down with some very deep QSB at times, and the SFI, A, and K indexes were nothing to write home about fact this morning they're bloody awful:

SFI = 148
A index = 17
K index = 6
SN = 120

It was 30C here in Kingston yesterday with "a lot" of humidity, seems to be cooler today though.

All in all I'm happy with my score, considering I was only a part-time operator.

We'll see what happens next weekend for the VHF Contest.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

IARU HF Contest

This coming weekend will see the 2012 IARU HF World Championships take place.  Should be a great weekend out at Hay Bay.....if the bands cooperate!

This contest is designed to have hams contact as many other amateurs, especially IARU member society HQ stations, around the world as possible using the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands.

Timings for the contest is beginning 1200 UTC Saturday and ending 1200 UTC Sunday.

In the past few years it has been possible to work all of Europe in a few hours of the contest start time, so hopefully this year will be outstanding.

Radio being used will be the FT-950 into a 160m Off Center Fed Dipole up at 100 feet.   There will also be a 31 foot ground mounted vertical with multiple ground radials laid out. 

Here's hoping for a good weekend!