Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Saturday, 26 December 2015

More WSPR

Yesterday was a good day to hide and stay the heck out of the kitchen.  So I decided it would be a good time to go and do a couple of hours on WSPR.

The propagation conditions seems to be pretty good on 20m, so here's a look at what 500mW got me around 1700 UTC.


Here's the shot into Europe




Here's the shot into North America......not too many Canadian stations about....


Radio used was the IC-718 into my 148' Inverted L long wire antenna.



Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas

May peace, happiness and goodwill be with you and your family not only on Christmas, 
but throughout the year and beyond. 
From my house, to your house, 
here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a
Happy New Year for 2016.


Saturday, 19 December 2015

RAC Winter Contest

Not a bad weekend on the bands for this years RAC Winter Contest.  For once the stars aligned and all my equipment and the propagation worked as advertised.

I should let you all know that my new 148' Inverted L long wire antenna worked exactly as advertised.  It also seems to give me a very strong signal into the heart of Europe on 15m and 20m.

The bands were very noisy on Friday night as the contest started, I had a noise floor of S7 here....which is very unusual for me.  This settled  down on Saturday and levelled out at about an S4.

Contacts were made on every band from 2m to 160m.  The only places I did not manage to get a single contact with was the NWT and Nova Scotia.   I also listened for Bob, VA3QV, but never heard a peep from him........Liz must have him in chains again....

The propagation numbers to start the weekend were: SFI=116.  SN=52.  A Index=5.  K Index=1.  These numbers stayed that way for just about the whole weekend, late Saturday saw the SN go down to 44, but that was the only change.

The big surprise for me this year was the large number of DX stations taking part.  I worked stations in Bermuda, Netherlands, Germany, Belize, Colombia, Italy, Spain, USA, and France, all of whom are giving out contact serial numbers.  It's nice to see this contest spread out around the world.

That's it for this year, no more contests and only two more club nets till next year......when we start it all over again.  Where does the time go??

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

WSPR

Over the last few weeks I have been dabbling in the digital modes and have been active on PSK31 and WSPR.   WSPR (which is pronounced "whisper") stands for "Weak Signal Propagation Reporter".

WSPR has been around since 2008, and is a computer program used for weak-signal radio communication between hams.  The program was initially written by Joe, K1JT.  The program is designed for sending and receiving low-power transmissions to test propagation paths on the MF and HF bands.

WSPR implements a protocol designed for probing potential propagation paths with low-power transmissions. Transmissions carry a station's callsign, four figure Maidenhead Grid locator, and transmitter power in dBm. The program can decode signals with S/N as low as -28 dB in a 2500 Hz bandwidth.

Stations with internet access can automatically upload their reception reports to a central database called WSPRnet, which includes a mapping facility, which is great as you can visually see where your signals are being heard, or what signals you are hearing.

While watching WSPR is about as exciting as watching paint dry, and it's definitely not for everyone, it is still very interesting to leave it running for a few hours and come back and see where your 5 watts have been heard.

The evening of Monday, December 7th, saw the following stations heard from this QTH, using my VE3FCT callsign:

And here's the European stations that I was hearing:


Not too bad for 5 watts and a 148' long wire antenna.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

A New Antenna...

While I've been very happy with my 80m OCF Dipole I have here at the QTH, I have long thought that a second HF antenna would be a good thing to have as a back up.  After messing about with several designs, including a 31' vertical, a 66' vertical, and a copy of the same antenna that VA3QV has, it was interestingly that none of them would work very well.

My FT-950 wouldn't tune any of them at all, on any band.  My IC-718 and the IT-100 Tuner worked OK, but on receive it was down 3 or 4 S units from the 80m OCF Dipole.  I was not sure what was going on there.

Tim, VA3TIC, came over to the QTH and we decided to put up a 148' inverted L antenna.  Tim has this same antenna and it works very well for him.  It didn't work at all for me as it would not tune on any band anywhere.  So, we started to investigate.  Eventually we discovered that the 100' of coax I had on the antenna had a bad connector.  Once the connectors were re-soldered things worked just fine.  No doubt bad coax was the issue with the other antennas I put up as well.

The new antenna is on average about 2 S Units down from the 80 OCF Dipole, which is strange as the new antenna is higher than the OCF.   Other than that it works very well and I've been very successful getting into Europe and South America with it.  It was also responsible for my many west coast contacts on 15m during last weekends ARRL Sweepstakes Contest.

I'm pretty happy with it.









Monday, 23 November 2015

Not quite a "Clean Sweep"......

Another contest is over, and what a weekend it was!!  Overall the bands were not in bad shape, and the propagation numbers stayed pretty stable for most of the weekend.  We started off with: SFI=121, SN=52, K Index=4 and the A Index=1, and ended up with pretty much the same.

No band police were heard at all, which is a nice change from the profane language and screams of "UP!! UP!! UP!!".  However, the "Tuner Upper" Lids were out in force again tuning up right over on-going QSO's.

It really was very nice having the second HF antenna ready for this contest, it meant I had 15m available.  However, it wasn't all smooth sailing this year.  For some reason both antennas gave me really bad RF in the shack on 80m.  All the other bands, on both antennas, were fine.  I've never had this happen before, so I'm not quite sure where to start looking for an answer.  I put extra beads on the coax, but they have done nothing at all.

Saturday afternoon was a feast of the west coast, and in short order I have all of the California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii sections in the log....all on 10m.   It wasn't until after dark and 40m came alive that I started getting the "close in" sections.  Sunday was a great day, all the bands seem to have been open, at least I made contacts on them all.  The workhorse band was 15m for me, it was open to just about everywhere.

I managed to get 76 Sections of the available 83, the missing ones I never heard at all, on any band.  Now the wait till December 19th, when the RAC Winter Contest is starts.  Hopefully the bands will behave for that contest as well.

2015 Sweepstakes Worked Sections Map

Sunday, 15 November 2015

November Sweepstakes

Coming up next weekend is the 2015 ARRL Sweepstakes SSB Contest, and I'm in a quandary whether to do it as a QRP station....or a QRO Station.  No doubt I'll make my mind up at the very last minute after checking the propagation.

This year the contest runs from 2100 UTC on November 21st till 0259 UTC on November 23rd.  The rules can be found on the ARRL website....HERE.

I'm looking forward to this contest so I can try out my brand new addition to my antenna arsenal, a 148' inverted L which runs across my backyard approximately South-West to North-East.  It's about 60' off of the ground up in my trees.  Over the past two months I have been experimenting with various wire antenna designs, and none of them have come close to my 80m OCF Dipole up at 50' from the ground.  Most signals have been 3 to 4 S units down from my dipole.  We will see how this antenna does and do a full report after the contest.






Thursday, 12 November 2015

Get Ready..............

Get Ready, Winter Field Day is coming !!!!   January 30th & 31st, 1700Z to 1700Z.  
Don't be late !!

Check out the new Winter Field Day Association Website.....HERE.


Monday, 9 November 2015

In Remembrance


In Loving Memory of the
Officers, NCO's, and Men
of
2816 Squadron RAF Regiment
1941 - 1946

"PER ARDUA"



In Memory of
WO Derek Pilkington, BEM
Cpl Dave Crombe

United Kingdom Mobile Air Movements Squadron

"SWIFT TO MOVE"




Monday, 26 October 2015

CQ WW SSB Contest

What an outstanding weekend on the bands!!!!!  I think all the bands were full of DX signals, I know 20m, 15m, and 10m were rocking practically the whole contest, and 40m was hot at night.  It was really nice to have 10m wide open, I spent a lot of time there.

I managed to work 158 countries in a little over 12 hours operating.  All the usual suspects were on the bands, but I did get to work a new country, 4L0A from the Republic of Georgia, heard him on 20m and snagged him on the second call.  That's the first time I've ever heard Georgia on the air.

I also worked VU2CPL in Bangalore, India, on 20m Sunday afternoon on 20m.  How I broke that pileup I will never know, it was frightening!!

The downside of the weekend is that on Saturday afternoon, in the middle of a huge pileup, my antenna decided it would be a good time to come down.  Outside I went, man it was cold in the wind, I managed to get it back in the air and also put up a 31' vertical and some radials down as a spare in case I needed it during the night.  We had winds of 60 kph gusting to 75 kph all afternoon and over night.  So two hours of valuable operating time was lost.

Once again the "tuner uppers" were out in force, tuning up on top of active QSO's, and a few band police were heard, but not as many as usual.  There were tons of European stations between 7.040 and 7.124, and very few of them working split for a change.

Overall  the propagation wasn't bad, it certainly wasn't as bad as the numbers would have led us to believe.    We started with SFI=115, SN=91, A Index at 7, and the K Index at 1, and finished on Sunday with the SFI=106, SN=74, A Index at 11, and the K Index at 2.  The bands did get a bit noisy, but there was so many signals on them it was hard to tell what real affect the SFI had on them.

It's all over except submitting the log, and then it's getting things tuned up and sorted for the ARRL Sweepstakes on November 21st & 22nd.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Winter Field Day 2016

On January 13th & 14th, 2007, the airwaves came alive with the QSO’s of the very first ever SPAR Winter Field Day.

Winter Field Day came about because many hams realized that we needed a method of testing ourselves for winter emergencies.  It’s not only during the warm months that disasters and emergencies happen, so why don’t we practice in the cold months…….frigid winds, icy limbs and bitter cold simply replace the thunderstorms and blistering heat of summer.

Over the past four years SPAR has actually accomplished very little, the five members of the Board of Directors are all getting up there in age, and have admitted that they are not in the best of health.  The silly thing here is that when the SPAR Bylaws were first written they do not allow for new Board members to be elected, the current five members are it, and are “there for life”.

Just before Winter Field Day 2015, Walt, W5ALT, who had actually been doing all of the work and was the “face” of SPAR suffered a very big stroke.  Of course nobody in SPAR knew this until people started trying to upload their logs and the website wouldn't let them do it.

Around the end of February, Charlie, KY5U, another board member appeared on the website for the first time in a very long time, and advised everyone that Walt had had a major stroke, and asked everyone to re-submit their logs to him for scoring.  Well, the re-submitted logs have never been seen again and no results have ever been posted.  Most of us figured this was going to happen as SPAR has been operating by accident for a long time.

Several individuals decided that Winter Field Day just had to be saved, and given the current state of the SPAR Board members health wise, it would be prudent to form a new association to take over the running of Winter Field Day, and they have done just that.The new Winter Field Day Association website can be found HERE. And you can all pencil in January 30th & 31st 2016........that’s the next Winter Field Day.

There is also a Facebook page, available HERE.

JOTA

What a great weekend for JOTA!!  While the bands were not in the best of shape, I did manage to have nearly 100 QSO's with JOTA stations around the world......some more easily that others.

The propagation numbers at 1843 UTC Saturday were SFI=115, SN=68, A Index=8, and K Index=2.  One can really feel that the bands are now slipping away to the bottom of this cycle, and I wonder what the numbers will be for next years Field Day.

I did learn something this weekend, from a seven year old Brownie in Tennessee, she told me that she knew all about Canada because we all worked in Santa's Workshop making the toys for the Children, and she was very happy we all did that............who was I to argue !!

It was great to hear so many youth on the air, perhaps there's hope for this hobby after all.

 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Jamboree on the Air

It's that time of year again.........next weekend, October 17th & 18th, the HF bands should come alive with the voices of youth.  

Jamboree on the Air, which is more commonly known by its acronym JOTA, is an international Scouting and Guiding activity held annually on the third full weekend in October. 

The event was first held in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of Scouting in 1957, and was devised by a radio amateur with the callsign G3BHK. It is now considered the largest event in Scouting.

Amateur radio operators from all over the world will participate with over 500,000 Scouts and Guides to teach them about radio and to assist them to contact their fellow Scouts and Guides by means of amateur radio.  

Since JOTA isn't a contest, there is no designated start time.  Get on the air when you're ready!

In North America the following frequencies are used:

3.690 and 3.940
7.090 to 7.190
14.290
18.140
21.360
24.960
28.390

JOTA is a worldwide event, and JOTA stations in Europe will be looking for contacts as well.  To avoid conflict with the Worked All Germany Contest, European JOTA Stations will be active on the following frequencies:

3.650 to 3.700
7.080 to 7.140
14.100 to 14.125 and 14.280 to 14.350
21.350 to 21.450
28.225 to 28.400

Get on the air and work the kids !!!!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Antenna issues....

We have had a heck of a gale blowing here in Kingston for the past 24 hours and it is expected to continue into tomorrow.  Winds are gusting to 50 kph and are expected to die down over-night.

Well, after three years up 50' in a maple tree my centre support line for my 80m OCF Dipole finally broke.  The antenna is still up the tree, either the balun or the coax has found a branch to hang on to, but I could pull it all the way down using the coax.

Oh well, I can't complain after having to do little to no maintenance to it over the past 3 years.  I'll have to get one of the guys to shoot a new line over the same tree with their compressed air cannon and I'll be back in action in no time.

The plan is to replace the current rope with UV resistant and to also use a piece of aircraft cable attached to the balun for extra strength.

The fun of amateur radio!!


Island Activating

Most of my readers know I like to take part in island activations, and many time I have wondered how this part of the hobby started.  Well, today Jose, VA3PCJ, sent me a picture from the very first, the original island activation........so now we all know the truth.


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Hurricane Watch for Joaquin

The Hurricane Watch HF Net was activated at 1500 UTC yesterday (September 30) on 14.325 MHz during the day and 7.268 during the night for Hurricane Joaquin.   Please keep these frequencies clear for Hurricane Traffic.  

There is already a lot of active traffic being passed on this net, especially from Bermuda, and the Bahamas.  Stations on the US Eastern Seaboard who are now getting prepared and are checking in.  

For your information the current track of this Hurricane is scheduled to come ashore near Atlantic City and is now shown heading straight for Kingston, and according to the current track it should hit us starting sometime early Tuesday, although it may hit on late Monday.  

We may just get the tail end of it, but lets be ready.  This would be a good time to secure any loose items laying around outside of the house to minimize damage from flying objects. 

Dave - VE3DZE, our Canwarn Controller, will be bringing up a weather watch net well before it hits us.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Saturday on the Bands

What a great day on the bands today.  This had to be the best day in about six weeks for working DX.   Today 20m and 17m were the main bands, but I did hear weak signals on 15m as well, although I did not manage to work any of them.

The SFI today was: SFI=100, SN=66, A Index=5, and K Index=2.  Not the best of numbers, but better than I've seen in a while!

First up today was HV0A, Francesco operating from the Vatican.   This was my first ever contact with a HV0 station, and I'm pleased to finally get it in my log.

After that it was:

TF2MSN, Odinn in Iceland
OZ90IARU, Benny in Denmark
FG5DH in Chris in Guadeloupe
EI4HDB, Mark in Ireland
M0KEB, Kevin in England
EU7A, Andy in Belarus
R2015SM, Club station in Russia
HK3C, John in Colombia

Not too shabby for 5w and a wire antenna, I'm hoping Sunday's propagation holds up and I get a repeat of today!!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Soggycon 2015

A soggy day at Chillicon 2015
Well, Chillycon, or as we're calling it this year "Soggycon", is now over.

From 1400 local Friday to 11:00 local Sunday, we had 72mm (3 inches) of rain fall on us at the camp.  Needless to say attendance was way down, but not only did we have the weather to contend with we also had the Carp Flea Market on the Saturday as well.

The Big Bobster, VA3QV, was there.  Soaked to the skin at times, we had to come up with a new nickname for him.  He's now known as "SpongeBob".  I have a shocking story to report on Bob this year.  I have to tell you all that the first antenna he got in the air was his TV antenna on the RV, ham radio antennas came second!!  I couldn't believe it when he told us that, totally shocked we all were!

There was a lot of the regular attendees there, Ying VA3YH, Eric VA3AMX, Chris VE3CBK, Don VE3MNE, Bob VA3QV, and Richard VA3VDP.  We also had Matt VA3OZI attend this year as well. Both Tim VA3TIC and Derek VE3HRW dropped in on the their way home to Kingston from the ham flea market in Carp.  We also had a group of five hams from VE2-Land, but I must apologize as I did not manage to write down the callsigns.   They had attended the Carp Flea Market and brought the items they had bought to the Park to try them out. They stayed for the traditional Pizza Supper and we all had a great chat with them.
VE3MNE's operating spot

The bands sort of cooperated.  The ARRL VHF Contest, and the North America SOTA Day were also taking place as were a number of State QSO Parties, so the bands were busy but not in the best of shape.

The winner of this years Annual Chillycon DX Contest, and the winner of the Upper Canada Cup for DX Excellence, was Eric, VA3AMX, with a contact to Argentina.

Despite the very heavy downpour, we all managed to stay mostly dry for the two nights we were there - thanks to good tents and large tarps.  However, with all the tarps and tent parts hanging and drying in my garage, it's starting to look like a refugee camp out there.  I'll have to spend a few hours tomorrow cleaning all the cooking equipment and other gear.

Hopefully next year will see it a bit warmer and a lot dryer.  Once again Chillycon was a great, and a good time was had by all.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Chillycon

Bob-VA3QV suited up for Chillycon.
Chillycon is coming up next weekend, September 12th & 13th, and looking at the long range weather forecast it looks like we're in for some great weather that weekend.  In fact, this looks to be the warmest one in a long time.

For those that don't know, Chillycon is a gathering of QRP operators from Eastern Ontario, and is sponsored by the Ottawa Valley QRP Society, and held at the Rideau River Provincial Park just across the river from Kemptville.

This will be my sixth year attending the event, and every year it gets better and I learn something new to take home.

This year I'm taking my old FT-857D and the new IC-718 with me which will give me an opportunity to compare them against each other on the air.  I've been meaning to do this for some time, in fact ever since the FT-857D came back to life.  Antennas going with me will be the Buddipole, the 31' vertical, and the 84' longwire.

So this coming week will be spent getting all the camping gear together, checking it over, getting it packed into the Rubbermaid containers, and getting ready to roll next Friday morning.

The weekend also gives us all a chance to catch up with old friends, and make new ones, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

September....ALREADY !!!!!!

I cannot believe that today is the September 1st........where has the year gone??  Mind you September is going to be a busy month from what I see written on my calendar!

Coming up on the 12th & 13th is Chillycon, the annual gathering of QRP'ers in Eastern Ontario.  Held at Rideau River Provincial Park which is about half way between Smith's Falls and Ottawa.  If you can't make it for the full weekend, come on out for Saturday.  VA3QV will be there, in person, signing autographs from the back of the "mobile love shack".....don't miss that!!

That same weekend is also SOTA Weekend in North America.  So I would imagine the guys at Chillycon will be chasing the SOTA guys up and down the mountains.

The 19th is QRP Afield, the details for this years event have still not been published on line, but I imagine they will be shortly.  Details will be found HERE.

And lastly on the monthly calendar is the 2015 Boy Scout Brotherhood Event.  Held this year at Morrisburg, Ontario.  Details HERE.   Our club has been asked to go along and provide an radio display and an operating shack for the Scouts to visit.

It's going to be interesting trying to fit this lot in with the amount of gardening still to be done at this QTH !!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Island Activations

I'm always looking for a good island to activate and I was very surprised to find four of them near Kingston that have never been activated before at all.

They are:

Nut Island at grid FN14eo
Waupoos Island at grid FN14md
White Island at grid FN14do
Ram Island at grid FN14 ld

All four of these islands are located in Hay Bay, 20 Km south of the town of Napanee.  Right now we're trying to figure out good dates and who is available, and work shifts.....and of course the weather.   Hopefully we will get to them soon.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

W/VE Island QSO Party

This years W/VE Island QSO Party is this coming Saturday, August 29th.  The rules for this event can be found HERE.

My plan is to activate Washburn Island, ON-289, starting about 1330 UTC and continue on until 1730 UTC.

I would like to be on the air for a lot longer, but that day is my mother-in-laws surprise 80th birthday party, and it's more than my life is worth to miss it.......if you know what I mean !!

This is only the second activation of Washburn Island so it's still pretty rare with the island collectors.

Radio will be the FT-857D with a vertical Buddipole on various bands, depending on the days propagation.

This is a busy place during the summer with boats coming and going and herds of kids fishing from the docks.  I know I will have no room to put up a dipole without somebody complaining, so the Buddipole on an 8' mast will have to do.  I'll probably start on 20m and give 40m a chance later on.

At the moment they're forecasting rain for the day, so hopefully the weather Gods will decide to smile on us and give us some sunshine instead.






Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sunday on the bands.......

Loading the ferry just after dawn.
I was up before the crack of dawn today and with the truck loaded last night, it was off to Prince Edward County to activate Point Petre Lighthouse (CAN-026) for the ILLW.

To get to Point Petre we had to travel about 60 Km west to the Glenora Ferry, where I met up with Don-VE3MNE, and the ferry over the narrows to the town of Picton.  If you've never been to Picton you have to go, it's a beautiful and busy little town.

Once in Picton we had arranged to meet Bill- VA3WOW, from Belleville, for breakfast at the Lighthouse Restaurant.  We hadn't seen Bill since the Bicycle Tour last June, so it was good to catch up on things.

What a great day!!  It was horizon to horizon blue sky and the temperature in Prince Edward County was close to 29C by 1000 local.  However......isn't there always a "however"?  The propagation numbers today were terrible.  At 0600 the numbers were SFI=88,  SN=46, A Index=44, and K Index=5.  Twelve hours later those numbers have not improved very much at all, and in fact we have had a moderate (G2) to strong (G3) geomagnetic storm.

So given the above propagation news, I'm delighted to say that I managed to work a grand total of seven stations, including three lighthouses, all on 20m, and they were:

VO1OK at CAN-040, Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland.
W4LX at US-004, Port Boca Grande Lighthouse in Florida.
T41C at CU-009, Cayo Jutias Lighthouse, Cuba.
KF5WCP, John in Van Buren, AR.
K5YLJ, Terry in Trumann, AR.
VY2DAC, Dave in Charlottetown, PEI.
WY5I, Don in Port St. Lucie, FL.

While I worked 20m, Don-VE3MNE, tried the other bands starting with 40m and working his way down to 10m.  Nothing was open at all, only 20m.  There was very deep QSB on 20m, signals would be an S9+ one second and a S1- the very next.  It was an extremely hard time copying some of these stations.

Antenna of the day was a 20m Buddipole vertical up at 12', and the radio was my FT-857D which after extensive bench work, has decided to return to life and live another day!

I should also mention that if you ever decide to activate CAN-026 on a very sunny day......take a shade tent, as there is no shade and no big trees nearby to operate under.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Bob - VA3QV

Pssst.........have you been following Bob?  He's been pretty quiet lately, his XYL has a very tight grip on him.  This grip is so tight I'm convinced he's been up to no good and Liz has finally caught up with him!! J 

Want to know what he's getting up to these days? here's a new link on his up-coming QRP Mini-DXpedition...HERE.

A lot of the islands he's planning on activating have not been activated in a long time according to the records we can find, so let's get on the air and support him on this mini-dxpedition.

Hopefully we can get him out to another island for the W/VE Island QSO Party on August 29th.


NAQP and ILLW

Coming up next weekend is the North American QSO Party and the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend, and the local plans are already well under way for those two events.  Luckily this year they basically overlap, so we get "two for the price of one".

The local club here, Frontenac Radio Group, will be activating Nine Mile Lighthouse, CAN-031 on Simcoe Island, ON-022, on Saturday using their VE3UDO callsign.  On Sunday the Club will be activating Point Petre Lighthouse, CAN-026, in southern Prince Edward County, and will use the clubs VE3FRG callsign there.

The NAQP runs from 1800Z on the 15th August to 0600Z on the 16th August, and the ILLW runs from 0001Z on the 15th August to 0001Z on the 17th August.  I'll be using my IC-718 running on a 12v 120 ah battery.  Not sure what antenna I'll be using, but I'll more than likely take three with me, the Buddipole, the 31' vertical, and a 40m OCF Dipole.

The long range weather forecast looks good for next weekend, and if the propagation improves a bit we should have a great time.

Make some plans and get outside, enjoy the weather, and operate a radio!


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Contesting and Cheating!!!

I just came across this article on another website.  Cheating during a ham radio contest......REALLY??  You have to win that certificate for your wall so badly you have to pad out your log book??  

Those of us who contest on a regular basis know just how hard it can be at times, especially when the propagation is not so good and that much needed multiplier just does't hear you, but hears everyone around you.  

Yep, it's frustrating, and it's difficult to compete when you can't have a beam and only have wires up in the air.  But I can't imagine padding out my logbook with fake calls just for the thrill of "winning"......what the hell have you won??    Read on, there wasn't just one of them......there was over 50 (!!!!) of them that got caught, and more importantly, which isn't discussed, how long has this been going on??!!

Well done to CQ Magazine for making this public.  I only hope that they name and shame these idiots!!  Here's the article from CQ Magazine:

CQ WW Contest Committee to Review Past Entries for Evidence of Cheating

“The CQ World Wide DX Contest Committee is making a concerted effort to crack down on cheating. 

After disqualifying more than 50 logs from the 2014 contest and banning one station from competing for the next five years due to alleged “log padding” – or adding contacts that were never made – the committee said it would test new software designed to detect the practice by running it on all logs submitted in the past four years. 

Any logs that show evidence of adding unverifiable QSOs will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, according to a post on the CQWW blog by Contest Director Randy Thompson, K5ZD. See August CQ‘s “Contesting” column for an in-depth discussion of honesty and cheating in contesting.”

Hopefully this will now get the ARRL to start checking their past log entries a lot closer. Because you know if they have been cheating on CQ Contests and getting away with it, they have to be cheating on ARRL contests!!

I guess the question is will CQ give the ARRL the names and callsigns so the ARRL can check them out as well, and if found to have cheated......will the ARRL ban them as well ??

The bottom line here is that there are hams out there who worked hard, won a contest fair and square, and have been denied their moment in the spotlight.  I hope the results in the affected contests are being recalculated to correct this.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Sunday on the air

Beautiful Hay Bay
It was a beautiful day here in Eastern Ontario yesterday, the temps got up to 29C under a brilliant blue sky.  Don, VE3MNE, and I drove out to Hay Bay, our Field Day site which is 50 km west of Kingston, and used the antennas we keep set up out there.  I used the 160m OCF Dipole which is sitting up at about 90' with a north - south orientation.  Radio in use yesterday was my IC-718, which performed very well considering I'm still figuring things out on it.

As suspected the propagation wasn't the best for the Colorado 14er event and the only SOTA contact I made all day was in Utah !!  Ryan, K7ODX, was activating W7U/SU-019, which in English is Monroe Peak in South Utah,  a 3422m high peak and worth 10 points to we chasers.  It was a rough contact as Ryan was only a 41 at very best.

Next up was Earnest, J69Z/p in St. Lucia, judging by the background noise he was operating from the beach, but was a very solid S9 into Hay Bay.  There were many US and Canadian stations in the log over the course of the day, and it was amazing how many of them commented on the poor band conditions they were having.......I was having a blast making the contacts I got.  Many of the US stations were running kilowatts, and given the very sad state of their signals I presume they were operating into less than optimal antenna systems. In fact there was one US station, a K0, that was running so much power he was splattering over half the 17m band, and didn't take too kindly to being told that.

Whatever happened to the days when hams cared about what their signals sounded like?  A number of stations told the K0 what their panadaptors were seeing with his signal, and all they received in return was a "yeah, so what, it's the way I run my rig".  Oh well..........you can't fix stupid.

At 1844 UTC I heard 9K2NO on 20m at about S9+40.  He was working all sorts of Europeans but very few North Americans.  I tried for about 15 minutes, but it was a waste of time as I just could not get a signal that could be heard into Kuwait.   My last contact of the day was with GD6IA, Alex, on the Isle of Man.  I had a great rag chew with him about my memories as a small boy of the TT Motorcycle Races that take place annually on the Island.

As I cleared with Alex the dark clouds started to form up over us and we packed up, had a fast BBQ supper and then high-tailed it home.  The heavens opened just as I was unloading the truck in the garage.....perfect timing.

Propagation numbers for the day were:  SFI=101.  SN=70.  A Index=10.  K Index=2.  If anyone is looking for a reliable propagation site, have a look HERE.

It was a good day.  Great weather for the majority of it, good contacts, and good food.  I'm looking forward to the next adventure on the weekend of August 15/16, which is both the NAQP and the ILLW weekend........the batteries are on charge!






Friday, 31 July 2015

August is going to be a busy month !!

It's hard to believe that August arrives tomorrow.  I don't seem to be able to wrap my mind around that yet.  Before we know it we'll be carrying out the usual annual preventative maintenance on our antenna systems before winter hits!!

August is always a busy month for we hams, trying to fit in the many portable operating opportunities and juggle our family summer obligations.......and this August is going to be no different from years past, despite the crap propagation we seem to have been getting over the past month.  Surely it's got to end and get better sometime!

I've already posted the information about the upcoming Colorado 14er Event this Sunday, August 2nd, but the rest of the month has a number of excellent opportunities for portable operating and catching good DX.

The weekend of August 15th & 16th is a busy one with both the North America QSO Part (NAQP) and the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) taking place.  The rules for the NAQP can be found HERE, and the rules for the ILLW can be found HERE. My plan for this weekend is to operate from Nine Mile Lighthouse on Saturday, and Point Petre Lighthouse on Sunday, and take part in the NAQP at the same time.

The last weekend of the month, the 29th & 30th is the new date for the W / VE Island QSO Party.  This event has been taking place for quite a few years, but over the past seven or so the Canadian participation has slipped away to almost nothing.  Many of us believe that this is because the management team of the now defunct Canadian Islands Award Program never really advertised this event and many hams didn't know anything about it.

The new organization, Canadian Island Activators is pushing hard to advertise this event and build it up so it will be viable event.  The event used to be run near the end of October, and the US Island Award Program, the guys who actually sponsor this event moved it forward to the end of August so that we Canadian's wouldn't have to operate outdoors in the cold weather we normally get around the end of October.

Last year it sure wasn't any fun at all sitting out on Simcoe island with the winds 25 gusting 45 kph, and the temperature, before the wind chill factored in, sitting at 7C.  So go and select an island and get involved!   Late August is a beautiful time of year to be operating portable from a local island and as a bonus, the bugs should be gone by then!

I'm off to get the "Honey Do" list finished so I will have time to take part in everything this month!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Colorado 14er Event

This Sunday, August 2nd, is this years Colorado 14er event.  This is were the hams in Colorado climb the states many 14,000' peaks and spend three hours operating their rigs.  Since 2012 this has also been a SOTA event, and allows the chasers the chance to grab a few good peaks and points.

Last year the propagation was not the best, and I have an idea that it may be the same this year, but I'll give it a try anyway.  I figure if those guys can carry their gear and batteries up a 14,000' mountain, the least I can do is drive to our Field Day site, set up, and hunt for them.  Keep your eye on SOTA Watch for these guys, this is their version of "DX Summit".

The event only runs for three hours, from 1500 UTC till 1800 UTC.  This allows the climbers to be off the mountains by early afternoon in case of thunder storms and lightning, which frequently happen at this time of year.

The suggested HF frequencies for the event are:

CW Frequencies -

28.060;
21.060;
18.092;
14.060.

SSB Frequencies -

28.350;
21.330;
18.158;
14.345.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Upcoming Events......

This weekend seems to be shaping up to be a busy on.  Saturday and Sunday see the RSGB Islands on the Air Contest, which is always good for picking up DX.  The Rules are to be found HERE.

Also on Saturday, Dan, VA3MA, and John, VE3JQX, will be activating Pelee Island, ON-002  from approximately 1300 to 1900 EDT.   Dan and John will be on the usual 20m and 40m island calling frequencies.
They might also have time to activate the islands lighthouse during this activation.  This Lighthouse is known as Can-370.

There will be a special certificate or QSL card available for all QSO's. Contact details via QRZ.


Peel Island Lighthouse

Friday, 17 July 2015

Portable for the evening....

Last night it was off to Lemoine Point Conservation Area for our local clubs "Summer Meet Up".  We do this every year, instead of holding our meeting indoors we meet outdoors to operate and talk radio.

It was a beautiful evening, not too hot, and the Mozzies were not too bad if you had bug spray on!

I got to the site a couple of hours early, only to find Don, VE3MNE, already there eating his supper.  I quickly set up my IC-718 and Buddipole for 17m, I "guesstimated" the radial length, and it tuned up great.  So I starting spinning the VFO, the band was actually pretty quiet and I only managed to make two contacts.

The contacts were:

EA2KR, Oscar in Navarra, Spain.
EA5BYP, Elmo in Alicante, Spain.

Both gave me a 55 and they were both a very solid 59 into Kingston.  I did hear John, HK3C, on 20m who's signal was the usual S9+40, but I could not break the pile up he was running.   By the time these contacts were made the rest of the guys had shown up, and the meeting began.

All in all, it was a good night.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend

I can't believe that this is my 300th Post on my Blog.......where the heck has the time gone!!

It's that time of year again when we need to start thinking about Lighthouses.  This premier annual fun event began in 1995 when the Ayr Radio Group had the Scottish Northern Lighthouse Weekend. The concept proved so popular that it was renamed and opened up to the world. 

Always held on the third weekend of August, it has steadily grown to now attract more than 500 lighthouses and lightship from about 50 countries. 

The main reason for its popularity is that the weekend is a fun event, held under simple guidelines, and in the spirit of international goodwill. 

With four weeks to go 350 registrations have been received. In 2014 there were 544, making it an average 20 a year increase over the last eight years.  In the lead so far is Germany on 64, followed by Australia 58, USA 45 and England 33. Canada is currently sitting at 11 entries.

If you want to register a marine navigation beacon for August 15-16, then please see the guidelines and online registration on the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend website HERE.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Youth DXpedition

There was an interesting article on the RSGB Newsfeed this morning that caught my attention.   The RSGB’s Youth Committee is running a Kenwood-sponsored Youth DXpedition, DX-15, and will be active as MC0RYC from the Brecon Beacons in South Wales from 23-30 July.
They’ll be on all HF bands and VHF including satellite operations and will have six stations on the air. Throughout the week they'll be taking part in a range of activities including, activating and operating from SOTA summits.
You can support them by working the Youth DXpedition, or listening for the call sign MC0RYC during the IOTA Contest over the weekend of 25 and 26 July.
Please work the young team if you can, so they can experience the full flow of a big contest.
Congratulations to the RSGB, what an outstanding idea to get youth involved in our hobby.


Monday, 13 July 2015

IARU HF World Championships 2015

Saturday was spent taking part in the IARU World Championships.  The bands were not too bad, we've seen much better for this contest but as it's out of our control we just have to grin and take what we get.   At 1324Z on Saturday the SFI was 134, SN=131, A=25, and K=1 and it never moved from those numbers just about all weekend.

No new countries were worked, only the usual suspects managed to get into the log, in fact for a good part of the day pickings were pretty slim.  20m was the active band and I made 80% of my contacts there, a few were made on 15m and a couple on 40m as well.  I never did hear a signal on 10m or 80m for the whole contest.

The only contacts that were made on 15m were all in South America, its strange how the bands act at times.....but, considering that the only antenna I have up for 15m is a ham stick with two 11' radials sitting up at 12' on a painter pole I'm pleased with that result.

Many stations were heard calling and calling, but they were not hearing the ops calling them back.  One station from Kuwait had a huge pileup every time he paused from calling CQ......and then carried on calling CQ because he couldn't hear any of the stations coming back to him.  This happened time and time again with quite a number of stations, especially from the USA, guys transmitting further than they can possibly hear.  I guess if you have poor antennas you have to compensate by running more power....at least that seems to be their theory!!

I did not do as well as I have in the past few years on this contest, but neither did the other guys in Kingston who took part.  Is it a sign that Solar Cycle 24 is cooling down?  I know the deep QSB that we had didn't help us at all.

I'm off now to get ready for the IOTA Contest at the end of the month......there's a few islands I'm looking for!


Sunday, 12 July 2015

The 2015 W / VE Island QSO Party

Storm over Simcoe Island - ON022
Each year in the Fall the US Islands Award Program sponsors the W/VE Island QSO Party. That means pick an island from anywhere in Canada from the list (HERE) and go and activate it !!

This year the date has been brought forward to allow us to have some decent operating weather, as last year we all froze to death doing it.  The date chosen for this year is August 29th 1200 UTC to August 30th 0300 UTC.  Mark your calendars and plan on attending !!

Participation by Canadian stations has been pretty dismal over the past few years and the disappearance of the Canadian Island Award (CIsA) website did not help.  However, in case you don't know, out of the ashes has grown another group of guys who have formed Canadian Island Activators with the intent to carry on from where CIsA left off from.

The one item the organizers do ask is that you submit your days log.  Last year only three Canadian stations did so.  That list is HERE.

I've participated on this event for the past four years and have had a blast and I'm sure you will too if you take time to take part.

Start getting ready !!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

IC-v8000

Well, another rig appeared in the shack yesterday, an IC-v8000.....not that I needed it, but a spare 2m rig is always useful.

This rig is from the estate of Mike, VE3SIW, and it's always nice to have a bit of kit in the shack to remember an old friend by.  The loss of Mike was a pretty large shock to our small ham community here.

It works very well, and the reports on its signal and audio have been very good.  It does pump out a solid 75w at its top setting, but it does tend to get quite hot.  I have this one set at a more "cool" 25w, and while it gets warm, I can't make coffee on it.....

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Marathon Island Activation - July 11th

Victoria Island, Ottawa.

The following email was received from Gilles, VE2MAM........
I will be activating four or five islands Saturday the 11th of July.

The order will be the following:

Victoria isl. ON-123    Green isl. ON-122   Porter ON-121 and North Petri ON-119.

Bates isl. ON-283 will be activated the last if all goes well with the others.  Since I go on Bates isl. a few time each week it will be easy to make a sked if I skip Bates because of time constraint.

I will be on Victoria isl. at 9 AM (1300Z) and transmit on 7.250 (plus or minus) until there is no more takers. Then to 14.250 (plus or minus) again until no more takers. I will then move on to the next island.

It will be the same for every islands, 40M then 20M. The exchange will probably be contest style.

Victoria, Green and Porter are close to each other so it won't be too long between each of them.  North Petri is a bit farther, maximum one hour to get there.

One QSL card from you will be OK to confirm one or all the islands. I will send back one card that will confirm one or all the islands. QSL info is on QRZ.com

The order of the run could change or be cancel because of weather or for reasons that are unknown at this time.

It should be a lot of fun !!!   Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Gil  ve2mam@gmail.com