Category: HFPack

CQ de VA3SIE/P at Big Salmon Lake, Ontario

By , July 21, 2015 11:18 pm

Our new paddles

Fariba and I canoe’ed into Big Salmon Lake for a brief 4-day camping trip.   We’re working on our packing skills and I think we did a pretty good job this time around.   We used pretty much everything we brought with us.


We brought cornish pasties individually wrapped in aluminium foil in the cooler for our first night and they were awesome!   We had reconstituted bart chilli on the 2nd night and reconstituted lasagna on the 3rd night.   Breakfast was a tried and true favorite;  Outrageous Outback Oatmeal with either blueberries or strawberries.  Lunch was nutella on pitta bread stuffed with banana slices.   And snacks of course.   Yum!!  We left with only a couple of pita breads and a handful or emergency cliff bars so we got the amount of food just right.

Still, you always learn something and we did learn a few things.  A saw and axe to cut better deadwood and a bigger tarp and more rope so we can completely enclose the tent and the picnic table will definitely be added on our next trip.

Cornish Pasties for dinner

Cornish Pasties for dinner


We canoe’ed in to cluster 4 on big salmon lake.

Park Map

Park Map



The weather was perfect.   Hot and sunny all weekend.  A line of thunderstorms passed through on Sunday evening but we only saw a light rain shower, enough to bring out twice the number of fireflies that came out on Saturday night…  nice!   It also rained on and off throughout the night on Monday night but it started long after we were asleep and the sun came out at breakfast time so the tent cover toasted dry by the time we packed up.


Wildlife sightings

Eastern garter snakes on the trails,  an American bullfrog which walked through our campsite, the ubiquitous Eastern chipmunks cavorting in the bush, a beaver grinding it’s nocturnal way through the foliage at the side of the campsite and a pair of loons teaching their kid how to swim.


Ham Radio

Operating the radio at the lakeside

Operating the radio

I brought along my Elecraft KX3, with my Heil BM-5 microphone, KXPD1 paddles (recently upgraded), two A123 battery packs, and a few antenna options.   When we arrived at the site, Fariba pointed out a tall jack pine right behind the campfire bench…  perfect!   I threw a weighted line over a tree limb at ~50ft and pulled up my 84′ wire.   When I pulled it back down the other side, the wire snapped and I had to restart less ~5′ wire.

I threw the 17′ counterpoise wire down into the lake.   On Monday night a beaver was working its way along the bank munching on foliage and it gnawed right through the wire causing me to have to re-tune  :roll:  … nevertheless the antenna worked really well.   It’s not often that I can get it up that high.

Elecraft KX3 with campfire

Elecraft KX3

Cognizant of the peace and tranquility of the campsite I opted to operate CW on the first night.   I fiddled with the keyer to attempt to resolve bad contacts and it was improved but I was still having issues from time to time.

There was a line of thunderstorms heading through the area generating ridiculous amounts of static on all bands but especially on 80m/40m.

Thanks to the awesome Noise Reduction (NR) and Noise Blanker (NB) functions of the KX3 as well as the super sharp filters, I was able to complete CW QSOs easily with NG7IL Gil in Utah and Gary AB0BM in Indiana.

Canoe in foreground, Martin in background operating radio

On the air from the canoe campsite

The 20m band was full of exotic DX stations each night, and open well into the night.   Among the more exotic stations I heard were Kuwait, Dubai, South Africa and a couple of different countries in Africa.

On Sunday evening the campsites around us were less busy so I decided to give SSB a whirl.

Rui CS8ABF gave me a solid 5×7 report on SSB, I was very happy with that signal report!  I also made contact with Craig KP2/VE3OP in the US Virgin Isles, he had read my blog in the past so he was able to put a face to the callsign, that was pretty cool.  Craig also gave me a 5×7 report.   The antenna was working!

Nice view of the lake

Nice view of the lake

On Monday morning, John VE3OMA in Picton was kind enough to relay me into the ONTARS net control Ian VA3IC and provide a weather update.   The forecast 30-40% rain overnight did happen but it was a brief rainshower.

Monday evening saw me checking into the Laurentian 80m net and I received a good signal report from John VE3VGI.   Later in the evening I also made contact with VE3MPM up in his cottage in VE2, that was on the 3730 net run by Ray KC1MR.  I heard Bob VA3QV check in but his signal was barely readable with all the lightning noise and I don’t think we would have been able to make contact with each other.

Up on 20m SSB and I worked a special event station II5YOTA (Youngsters On The Air) in Italy.  The 17 year old op was handling traffic like a pro!

I also had a pleasant chat with Mats SM7KOM in Ahus, Sweden.   Mats was at his vacation QTH.  Mats was driving 200W into a 5/8-wave dipole.


73 until my next adventure

Here is a Tom Thompson moment captured by Fariba:

Jack Pine at Sunset

Jack Pine at Sunset


Paddles Ahoy

Paddles Ahoy


QRP Demo Day & QRP Chillicon

By , September 18, 2011 11:22 pm

OARC Photo

OARC Photo

Saturday was a QRP bonanza!

I arranged to pick up Bob VA3QV at the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club‘s QRP Demonstration Day at Britannia park.  I spent a thoroughly enjoyable half an hour at the tail end of the event checking out some great QRP field stations.  Check out Chris VA3CME‘s excellent video of the event here.  You can find Bob’s write up for both events hereMike VE3ZY (VE3FFK) was making a contact with KB1PBA in the New England QRP Club‘s QRP Afield contest.  I couldn’t hardly wait to get active in that event later in the day :mrgreen:

Video (press play)



Bob and I drove down to the Rideau River Provincial Park, sending APRS beacons as we drove…  we got the park around 2pm and met up with the Ottawa Valley QRP Society‘s Chillicon Campers and spent some time socializing (that’s the most fun part of Chillicon!). 

Chillicon is an annual weekend campout featuring divine coffee, red hot chilli, eclectic beer, resistors, capacitors and wire.  Lots of wire.


Read Bill VE3CLQ‘s excellent account of Chillicon here and Michael’s account here.

It’s been a long time since I have operated pedestrian mobile.  I recently purchased a book entitled “Amateur Radio Pedestrian Mobile Handbook” written be Ed Breneiser, WA3WSJ and it re-kindled my interest in this style of operating. 



I wound 28′ of #26AWG teflon coated, silver plated wire onto 24′ of Jackite fiberglass pole and inserted it into a frame made of PVC plumbing zipped into a small backpack and hooked it up to my KX1 strapped to a clipboard with rubber bands.  I connected a 32′ drag wire with a crocodile-clip-to-crocodile-clip quick release and went a’walkin’ around the park starting around 3pm.

The antenna tuned up nicely on 20m, 30m and 40m.  I was using 2W on 40m and 1W on 20m.  I split my time between calling CQ QRP de CF3SIE/PM and seeking out others operating in the New England QRP Club’s QRP Afield event (calling CQ QRP).  My first QSO was on 40m with Cal K4JSI in Maryland.  Cal gave me RST 559. 

Sittin on the dock of the bay...

Sittin' on the dock of the bay...

I wandered over to a dock which extends out into the Rideau River and I walked out into the river.  I cast my drag wire out into the river in the hope that it would improve my signal strength.  It did actually seem to make a difference.  Dave AB9CA was just booming in from Loxley, Alabama with 5W.  We exchanged RST 579 both ways.

I called CQ for a while and hooked Dave NE5DL running 5W from the Lone Star State.  Dave gave me an RST 549.  My next QSO was also with Texas, it was Andy WA5RML.  The best thing about these QRP sprints is re-connecting with all these guys!  As I was walking back off the dock, I gave another call to Bob N4BP whom I had called earlier in the contest unsuccessfully.  Bob was gradually getting stronger.  Bob heard me and we exchanged RST 599 both ways.

I walked back into the campground (catching my antenna several times on the trees … hi) and caught up with the action.  Ying VA3YH had arrived :-)    Everyone was having a blast, so I walked back out to the cleared are by the river and tuned to 40m.

River Portable

River Portable

Suddenly I heard ‘CQ SOTA‘ (Summits-On-The-Air).  As luck would have it, I had stumbled upon J.P. CF2SG who was portable on the summit of the Grand Morne mountain in the Appalachian Mountains near the city of Thetford Mines in Chaudière-Appalaches.  J.P. gave me a huge, welcoming GRRRR  (the call of the wild QRP Polar Bear) and we exchanged signal reports for SOTA chaser points.

You can view J.P.’s video here.

I dashed back into the campground to let the others know that J.P. was on 40m.  Michael VE3WMB was successful to work J.P. but Pat VE3EUR missed him by only a few short seconds (those summit stations don’t hang around!)

My final QSO of the day was with Budd W3FF in California (… of Buddipole fame…).  The contact was tough going, RST 229 with QRM, so we kept it brief.

Chillicon wrapped up with ordering in pizza, partaking of the boundless hospitality of the OVQRP fellas, drinking a can of Rolling Rock beer, the official beverage of the QRP Polar Bears given to me my Michael and throwing some logs on the campfirefire! …great fun!

73 and thanks, guys!!

VA3SIE/PM webcam calling W0RW/PM webcam!

By , December 21, 2009 7:16 pm

This morning I checked the QRP-L list and I saw an announcement from Paul W0RW that he was planning to operate pedestrian mobile within view of the web cam at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado.

Great idea Paul to operate from within view of a web cam!

I glanced at my watch and realized that if I left the house in the next few minutes I would have enough time to get to a local web cam and make contact with Paul webcam-to-webcam!

Here’s a video of the web cams which I captured while I was out…

Before leaving the house, I set my PC to monitor both Pauls webcam and my webcam and take snapshots once per minute.

So I dashed downstairs, grabbed (almost) all the stuff I needed, fired up my APRS radio and walked to the park.  Hmm, now that I’m home I see that my APRS packets were not making it to APRS-IS, will need to look into this – maybe my radio was off frequency.  Anyhoo, I got to the park around 1715Z and set up the pedestrian mobile antenna on a park bench, and I was on the air on 20m around 1750Z – 10 minutes before Paul was due to QSY to 14342.5kHz USB.

I realise that I had forgotten my pencil so I had to copy morse in my head – a skill which could use some improvement.

Unfortunately I could not hear Paul on 14061kHz 😥 …  I did throw my callsign in there a couple of times just in case but no joy I think the band was too long.  Just before 1800Z I heard a station calling me, it was Michael VE3WMB he was watching me walking around the park on the web cam!  Cool – thanks for the call Michael.

It was interesting to hear the emissions from OC Transpo buses on 20m.  Everytime a bus would stop at a nearby bus stop I would hear a very interesting (and pretty loud) pulsing noise.

Right after Michael, Budd W3FF called me.  His signal report was 529 and when I thought about it I realized why…  I had placed my batteries inside my fleece to keep them warm but I had forgotten to connect them to the radio so I was on the internal (almost completely depleted) batteries and must have been putting out around 0.5W of power.  I connected the batteries and Michael mentioned I jumped up to around an S7 at his station.

Click for full size

Click for full size

I QSY‘ed to 14342.6kHz at 1800Z and walked around for another hour hoping the propagation would change and Paul would pop out of the noise.  A couple of times I did hear him but in each case I got only 10 to 15 seconds of speech and nothing more.  I also popped my callsign out (in CW) a few times.  After an hour I had not managed to contact Paul  😥   Oh well maybe next time, propagation was not with us today.

I QSY‘ed back to 14061kHz once or twice and called CQ once or twice.  One of the times I did that I got a call from NG7N (?) Paul.  Well I think I copied Paul’s callsign down wrong because says NG7N is Craig.  Oops.  That’s the problem with not having a pencil along.

Here’s some videos I shot:

72 / 73 de Dittie Bear.

Panorama Theme by Themocracy