Monday, 26 June 2017

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

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

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

Several of our club members went in to the site on Wednesday morning to check it out and walk the property to decide where we could put up our various antennas to cause the least interference for our operating as a 5A station.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VE3EOG at work on the 40m station

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

The CW station with Rick, VE3ORY in control

Sunday, 18 June 2017


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

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

Field Day Preparations

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Field Day 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Our 2017 Field Day site location