Sunday, 21 September 2014


What a fantastic QRP weekend!!  Most of the usual crowd assembled for this years Chillycon at the beautiful Rideau River Provincial Park, a 30 minute drive south of Ottawa.  This was the last weekend the park is open this year, so it was very quiet there, not too many people there at all.

The weather Friday night was cold, it went down to about 4C.  Saturday night it rained a bit and the temperature hovered around 17C.  However, Michael VE3WMB, and Ying VA3YH, both arrived on Thursday and told us that Thursday night was terribly cold, and that we had the warm nights!

VA3QV's mobile Shack
The highlight of course was that Bob VA3QV did in fact arrive safely in his new "Mobile Love Palace".   Not much room in it, but it's fine for what he want's to do with it......and it will give him another project to work on.  Bob had an exciting weekend, he spent a few moments trying to teach his FT-817 to fly.......but perhaps we could entice him to post a blog entry on his own Blog to describe what happened with the airborne 817!!  It was really good seeing him and Liz there.

The radio in use this weekend, keeping with the QRP theme, was my Icom 703.  I used a 31' wire erected in an inverted 'L' as my antenna.  The antenna went up only 20' and then 11' over to a tree.  Not the best of antennas, but I had some success with the DX over the weekend using it.

The 10 screaming watts of the IC-703 netted me HK3C, John in Bogota, Columbia; 9A9RR, Petar on Pucisca Island (EU-016), Croatia; SV3AQR, John in Patra, Greece; HA3NU, Laszlo in Szekszard, Hungary; and OP2A, Ivo in Boortmeerbeek, Belgium.  These stations as well as a dozen North American stations made it a successful weekend.

VA3ORP's portable bar
As usual Dave VA3ORP, and his valet Chris VE3CBK, erected their bell tent, complete with Persian carpet, cots, and all sorts of other creature comforts....including a portable bar!  You just never know what these QRP guys will get up to next!

Saturday was a great day weather wise.  Very comfortable temperature, the only downside was the fact that the mosquitoes were all in full force, which made things just a little itchy.

The annual DX completion started as soon as Eric VA3AMX arrived on Friday, at 1911 local that evening we thought Eric had won the contest with an early CW contact with a Mongolian station, a tie ensued an hour later when Michael VE3WMB also had a CW contact with the same Mongolian station.  BUT, in a surprising development, on Saturday evening, Chris VE3CBK, has a SSB QSO using his FT-817, with a VK3 station.  Five watts to Australia on a 70 year old Radio Set No. 19 antenna ain't too shabby any day!!  Congratulations to Chris on winning this years honour.

The Chillycon Survival Kit:  Analyzer, spare parts box,
and a mug for the Scotch!
Details of VA3VDP's radial plate.
We held our traditional Pizza supper on Saturday evening, and managed to get it over before the rain started.  Numerous bottle of single malt were in attendance, and all of it was mighty fine stuff.

Sunday morning nine of us trooped off to the New Rideau Restaurant, just down the road from the Provincial park for a great breakfast.  It's under new management since we were there last year (It was called "Charlie's Place" then).  The food was excellent and a decent price. 

So it's all over for another year.  It was a great shame that more of the local QRPers didn't get out this year, even the number of Saturday afternoon visitors was down.  I saw only Bob VE3MPG and Chris VE3CME.  I say it every year, Chillycon is a great educational weekend, and this year was no different.

It was really great to see everyone again, and as usual the sense of fraternity was outstanding.  Hopefully next year we will see a lot more of the QRP fraternity out at this event.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


VA3QV & VA3ORP arrive at Chillycon 2014
Yet another Ottawa Valley QRP Society Fall Camping Weekend, known as Chillycon, is upon us. 

This coming weekend, starting Friday afternoon, QRP fanatics from all over Eastern Ontario descend upon Rideau River Provincial Park for this annual gathering.  The park is just across the Rideau River from Kemptville.

Always a great time, this will be my sixth year attending this event.  Not once have I ever returned home without learning something about radios or antennas.  It's a really great time, educational, and the company is fantastic.  It really is a fixed event on our calendar these days.

A lot of the participants come for the whole weekend, others just come for Saturday afternoon as well as the single malt whiskey and traditional pizza supper we hold.  If you're planning on bringing any whiskey to the blended stuff !!

Four of us from Kingston, VE3MNE, VA3ORP, VA3VDP and myself, will be attending this year. 

As usual Bob, VA3QV will be there.  This year Bob will be bringing, on it's inaugural trip, his new (to him) RV......we've christened it "Bob's Mobile Love Palace"'s will follow!!

Hopefully the weather and propagation will behave themselves.  I'm going full out this year to beat Eric, my arch rival, for the "Upper Canada Cup for QRP DX Excellence at Chillycon" if we could just afford to buy the trophy things would be really great!!

Stay tuned for the post-event wrap-up.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

September ARRL VHF Contest & SOTA Weekend....

The September ARRL VHF Contest is coming up this weekend, September 13 - 15. 

I'm going to try and take part in it, not sure for how long, but we will give it a try.  The Rules can be found HERE.

The problem we have here in Kingston is that we have very few clear high points that we can operate from, and for a VHF contest, you need some height.
Also this weekend is the annual North American SOTA Weekend.   This event is a casual event involving portable battery-powered radios on mountain summits. It is not a contest but is intended to introduce “Summits on the Air” to newcomers with home stations who try to work summit operators during one or two days. There are no rules regarding power levels, modes or number of bands worked, but please be courteous when more than one station is trying to talk to a SOTA operator on a summit.

The SOTA operators can be found on the usual QRP frequencies.

Hopefully the weather and propagation will be on our side for these events.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Seven

The Bonnechere Valley
I was on the road by 0730 this morning under....wait for it......brilliant blue skies!!!  Well, it would be a nice day, it's my last one on the road for this trip!!

Highway 17 was a real pain today, lots of construction and widening of the highway.  It was stop and go for quite a while.  Eventually the construction disappeared and the road became a scenic ride.

First stop today was CFB Petawawa to visit a number of friends.  First up was a group of women that I used to work with in Kingston that have all been posted to "downtown" Petawawa.  It was great getting to catch up with them.  Then it was off too see my old Sergeant Major to drop off a package to him.  Had a great visit with everyone, and a new project handed to me.....all is good.

From Petawawa I drove down Highway 17 to Highway 41, turned south, and enjoyed the drive down through the Bonnechere Valley.  What a great drive, over 150 km of freshly paved road that was as smooth as a babies bum!  This had to be the best day's drive of the trip.

Just south of Kaladar I finally switched to the VE3FRG repeater and gave a call.  Lots of the guys in there calling me, Richard VA3VDP, Tim VA3TIC, Mark VE3EOG, and a few others.  It was nice to be back on the home repeater, at least here you know somebody will answer you on it.

Grand total of km's driven was 12,653 - I haven't tallied up how much I spent on gas....I'm almost afraid to!  2m repeater contacts were made in every province, and the portable HF gear worked as expected.

All in all, a great to start planning that trip to the east coast.......

Eastbound - Day Six.....

Hey, it's raining....are you surprised???   It was a very long day today, 11 hours driving, Terrace Bay to North Bay - 913 Km.  There was lots of construction on the road today, I think every bridge is being rebuilt or improved.

Stopped for coffee and breakfast in White River this morning and met a very interesting gentleman.  Jack was an airline pilot for over 40 years and has retired to White River.  He recognized my ham plates and wanted to know how he can get his license.  A big package will be mailed off to Jack with study material soon.

Of course White River is a pretty famous town in Canadian history.  It was here that in 1914 Captain Harry Colebourn stepped off his troop train as it stopped for coal, and purchased an orphaned bear cub........and that bear came to be known as Winnie the Pooh. 

The drive today was through miles and miles of rolling hills covered with forest. 

White River
Not sure what was going on around Massey and Espanola but there were no campsites or motel rooms available.  So, I kept driving towards Sudbury, and eventually pulled into North Bay around 2030 hrs.  A really long day on the road.

There are very few 2m repeaters on the north shore of Lake Superior and as usual no contacts were made today on the radio. 

Tomorrow I'm heading to Petawawa to meet up with some people, should be an interesting day.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Five.....

Lake Superior at Terrace Bay
Another rain free driving day, looks like I've left the wet stuff far behind.

This morning I left Aaron Provincial Park after a pretty wet night.  The tent is soaked, but all the other gear is fine.  The rain stopped around 0400.

The goal for tonight is Terrace Bay, about 540 Km away.  I drove through miles of forest today, and the road was in excellent condition.

Just outside of Ignace a small car passed me, and as it went by I noticed it had ham plates on.  I put out a call on the Ignace repeater but had no luck.  Then about five minutes later Glenn-VE3CJG called me on 146.52 simplex.  He was driving home from a visit to BC with his wife, Sandra-VE3HON.  The funny thing is Glenn and Sandra live in Belleville, about 80 Km from me.

We all stopped for coffee together in Upsala, where the price of gas today was an eye opening $1.69.9 !!

Terrace Bay has its very own Lighthouse in the middle of the town, needless to say it was on the air tonight even though it's a fake one and has no number.

Terrace Bay Lighthouse
Tomorrow I'm off to Massey, Ontario, for the night.  Hopefully the rain will continue to go else where.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Four.....

It was a very strange day didn't rain!!  Brandon was already far in the rear view mirror by 0730 as I wanted to make the best of the good weather.

The roads today were the best I have driven on all trip.  The scenery was great, I went from the grass lands to the north woods, and 580 Km later I arrived in downtown Dryden, Ontario. 

The final destination was Aaron Provincial Park, 18 km east of Dryden.  It's a nice and clean park, but there's no cell phone service, so back into Dryden I went to Tim Horton's to text home that I had arrived safely.

I'm hoping that the rain is behind me now and I'll have great camping weather ahead of me.

Today I put calls out on the Brandon, Austin, Portage, Elie, Headingley, Hadashville, Falcon Lake, Kenora, and Dryden repeaters......and no contact was made on any of them....Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Three.....

The Cypress Hills on a dry day
Anyone want to guess what the weather was today?  It rained.....all day, all 768 Km of it.  It was a cool 8C when I loaded up the truck this morning.

It was a fairly routine trip down the highway until we got to Waldeck, SK, where a large CP Rail train derailed.  There must have been 50 cars laying on their sides in the slough that runs along the track....or what was left of the track.

I was in Moose Jaw for lunch and met up with an old friend of mine, who although we email on a regular basis, we haven't seen each other for 10 years.  I got the grand tour of the town, it's quite the place really.  Bit disappointing though as the weather kept the aircraft from CFB Moose Jaw grounded today.

On the way through Regina I managed a long QSO with Summer, VE5SDH, and she was my only contact all day on 2m.  No response was had on the Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Wolseley, or Moosomin repeaters.  Perhaps better luck tomorrow in Brandon.

Tonight's stop is Virden, MB.  A nice little town spread out along Hwy 1.  No HF happened tonight as I had to drive past the sched time, but I will be on tomorrow night from Brandon.  We'll see if 17m does the job.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Eastbound - Day Two......

The Roger's Pass on a nice day
Today dawned glorious......and raining!!  Yet another rainy day on the road.  I left Golden, BC, at 0800 local, after having a bite to eat at the Tim Horton's.

Even though it was raining and the low clouds ruined the views, the scenery through the Roger's Pass was still spectacular.  Once through Roger's Pass a short time later you enter the Kicking Horse Pass, another high mountain pass with totally spectacular scenery.

I stopped for lunch and a bit of fuel in Banff.  It's still a pretty little town, even if Parks Canada are a pain in the ass there.

No 2m traffic was heard in Golden, Lake Louise, Banff, or Canmore.  BUT, a contact was made in Calgary.  VE6CCL, Rob, answered by CQ, and we talked for quite some time.  It's always nice to be talking to a local when driving through a strange town.

I made the second 2m contact of the day in Bassano, Earl, VA6RF, kept me company on the repeater for a while.  Earl tells me that the Bassano repeater is really underused.  Well, I can point to him a pile of other repeaters that don't seem to have any traffic on them as well.

Going to attempt an HF contact with some of the Kingston stations tonight at 2000 local Kingston time.  I'll see who I can talk to, or who I can hear.

Tomorrow the night stop will be Moose Jaw.

Eastbound - Day One....

Coquihalla Highway north of Merritt
Left Abbotsford this morning after saying goodbye to the family.  It was great to see everyone, and kinda hard to leave.

Weather, as usual when I'm on the road, was RAIN!!  In fact it rained, and rained heavily, all day.

I did actually make a contact on the VE7RVA repeater in Abbotsford, just after I left.  Unfortunately I did not write down the callsign or name of the gentleman who answered my call.  But that short QSO gives me at least one 2m QSO in every province I've been through.

The trip took me over the Coquihalla Highway, where the weather was pretty bad and cold.  Lunch was in Kamloops and dinner in Golden, BC.  The accommodation's were first class tonight, the gear crowed back of the truck in a Tim Horton's parking stars and not recommended!!

Apart from the contact on the Abbotsford Repeater, no other contacts were made all day.  The repeaters were very quiet, as was 146.52 simplex.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and make it to Medicine Hat, AB.