Thursday, 31 August 2017

2017 Island QSO Party

VE3ULC hiding under his umbrella
A great time was had by one and all!!!

This year Jim VE3ULC and I decided to go over to Simcoe Island, ON-022.  Simcoe is a relatively small island and has no RF noise at all, our meters showed S0 on the noise floor.

Lots of signals were heard on the bands, although we were mainly on 20m and 40m.   That weekend, besides the Island QSO Party was also the weekend for the Kansas and Ohio QSO Parties, so lots of traffic out there for us.........lots of LIDS and people tuning up on top of ongoing QSO's as well.

Jim operated PSK31 and I operated SSB, which worked out quite well for us.  Jim's rig was an FT-817ND into a multi-band sloper antenna held up by my 33' MFJ mast at one end.   I operated my FT-897D into a MFJ 17' collapsible whip antenna up at 8' off the ground, with two 16.5' elevated radials.  Both systems worked as advertised.
VE3FI's antenna

The WX was great, hot and sunny with just enough of a breeze to keep the worst of the bugs at bay.

Between us we managed to work 10 islands, including a couple of local ones, and another 40 contacts from people hunting the islands.

All in all it was a great day, and we're going to have to do this again before the snow flies....maybe in late October if the bands behave.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Be Careful Out There!!

They say that ham radio is basically a safe hobby.  There has also been considerable discussion and concern about the possible hazards of electromagnetic radiation, including both RF energy and power-frequency (50-60 Hz) electromagnetic fields.

BUT…..did anyone think of those simple dangers, like rocks falling out of trees?

Last Friday, in preparation for the weekends Island QSO Party, Jim VE3ULC, and I decided to test out some equipment on my driveway to make sure it was working well for the weekend event.  A portable antenna needed to be checked out, so up went a line attached to a large rock…which was placed inside a cloth bag.

My Head after being cleaned up.
Well…this was fine until the rock and line went over the wrong branch, and Jim pulled on the line to bring it down so he could try again.  It came down all right, right onto my head.  

While Jim yelled a warning I couldn’t see a thing as the midday sun was in my eyes.  The first thing I knew was a tremendous pain in my head and copious amounts of blood running down my face. 

So please keep in mind that you never know when something is going to happen and it pays to play safe.

No real damage done, but when Jim is around I’m wearing my old army helmet…it’s safer!!

My new operating helmet!!!

Friday, 25 August 2017

Island QSO Party

Don't forget, tomorrow is the W / VE Island QSO Party !!

You can find the rules HERE.

Jim-VE3ULC and I will be heading over to Simcoe Island early tomorrow morning.  We plan on operating a Digital station and a SSB station, and will be on 40m through 6m.

The propagation numbers for tomorrow are not looking too bad as of today, but lets see what happens in the morning, if nothing else it will be a nice day out on the island.

Stay tuned for the full report.....

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Not the day I had hoped for......

The 20m Antenna
Well, we had high hopes for a good day of activating and chasing lighthouses......that was not too be.  At 1020 UTC the propagation numbers were:

SFI= 80, SN= 41, A Index= 21, and the K Index= 5......not the numbers you want to see on a big event day.

We also had a S5 to S7 noise floor at the operating site.  It rained heavily for about 20 minutes while we set up our gear.......just what we needed !

Once we were up and running the bands were in a disgusting state, between the high noise floor and the very deep QSB we had it was very difficult to work anyone.   In fact we had two SSB stations and a Digital station on the air and made a grand total of 4 contacts all day.....including one, solitary, lighthouse station in Florida, K4PIL.

However, having said all that, we did have a good time out there - but then again, any day outside playing radio is better than being home with a large "honey-do" list.......

My antenna for the day was my MFJ 17' collapsible whip, up at 8' with a 17' counterpoise.  Radio was my FT-897D, with my FT-817 being used for VHF work.

I hope the propagation...and weather... improve a great deal for next weekends W/VE Island QSO Party.  I'll be out for that event as well.  Details will be posted here later in the week.

The 20m station using an FT-897D

VE3ULC operating the digital station

Friday, 18 August 2017

ILLW coming up

Coming up this weekend in the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend.   This event is sponsored by the AYR Amateur Radio Group in Scotland, and they have been running it since 1993.

This year I will be activating Pig Point Lighthouse on Amherst Island, a light which has never been activated before, so hopefully the propagation and weather Gods will cooperate with each other and allow us to have a great day on Saturday at the light.

I'll be using the usual Lighthouse frequencies and using the VE3FI callsign.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sunday QRP'ing

Jim VE3ULC in todays operating tent.
It was a beautiful day here in Eastern Ontario, in fact it was warm enough to go on out to our Field Day site.....which is now no longer under water, but still real soggy in some spots.....and play some portable QRP radio.

The bands were not in too bad a condition.  The propagation numbers as of 1757 UTC, 13 August were:   SFI=70, SN=11, A Index=11, and the K Index=2.

The was the usual stuff going on, tuning up over QSO's and LIDS a plenty.  Lots of European stations were on 20m, I tried to work 9A3ON in Croatia, and SV9NNK in Crete.  Both stations copied VE3Fox......but couldn't get the "Italy" at the end of the callsign no matter what phonetic I they're not in the log.

I did manage to have solid QSO's with EI8BLB in Ireland, and EG8HKT in the Canary Islands, both of which made my day.   Not too shabby for 5 watts into an MFJ 17' collapsible whip antenna with one 17' elevated counterpoise.

Next weekend we're off to activate the Pig Point Lighthouse on Amherst Island for the ILLW weekend.  We'll be QRO for that event with the FT-897D.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

It was a WSPRing type day.....

Not much going on at the homestead yesterday so I did a bit of WSPRing after cutting the grass.  I haven't been on WSPR for a few weeks as my computer developed a disliking to that program.......

Propagation as of 2242 UTC, 11 August, was:  SFI=69.  SN=11.  A Index=8 and the K Index=3.

Here's my 20m map:

Not too shabby, signals getting out to either end of the earth, from Eureka, Nunavut, to Australia, and New Zealand.   Very pleased with this.   Antenna is a 148 foot inverted L long wire up at 50' and my FT-817ND at 500mw.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

An interesting Go-Box

Jim - VE3ULC brought his recently built go-box over to my QTH yesterday so he could check it and a newly built OCF dipole out.

The finished box
Interesting piece of kit, he's built it into a small Pelican Case and it has a FT-817, speaker, a Raspberry Pi, a small hi-def screen, and enough battery power to last a week.

He's built a lightweight 40m OCF dipole to go with this kit, and we put it up 25 feet into one of my tall trees to test it out.   Putting the analyzer on it first we found it was very good on all bands.....including 2m...... but it will not tune at all on 15m.

We ran it through several bands on various digital modes and it works just great on all of them.   Next Friday we plan on getting out to one of the local parks and doing some portable work with our gear, and hopefully Jim's gear will pass and exceed our expectations.

Jim VE3ULC on the miniature key pad.
Don - VE3MNE supervising our testing