This event is open to all and if you would like to join us, please contact me (va3sie at rac dot ca) and I will make sure you’re on the email list. If you’re booking tent camping accommodation there are two sectors: Franceville and Grande Ourse. Grande Ourse is rustic (access is 3km hike), no showers, pit toilet. Franceville is more comfortable You can book those through SEPAQ here. There is also an option to book here which may be better suited to families. It’s around 25km from the park.
There are two 10 point SOTA summits in the park, the main summit is Mont Mégantic VE2/ES-003 and its twin mountain is Mont St-Joseph VE2/ES-020. I plan to activate one of those summits on Saturday. This will be a challenging hike (for me), 10 points is the maximum score for a summit and reflects the size of this hike! I expect that the activation itself will take most of the day (2 hours ascent, 3 hours playing SOTA, 2 hours descent).
On Saturday evening, we plan to get together for a group meal somewhere, a good chance to meet and share tall tales with fellow VE2 summiteers.
I drove up to the Étienne Brûlé Lookout in Gatineau Park and thew an 88′ doublet into the trees. I operated the KX3 from a picnic bench. It was a beautiful afternoon, just me and black fly #1, black fly #2, …, black fly #1,000,000. This was a good chance to put the KX3 through its paces.
Or watch full screen in High Definition:
Scanning the receiver through a quiet band (20m SSB),
Through a busy band (40m SSB), demonstrating how well it deals with strong QRN,
Receiving 10m propagation beacons (28.174MHz is VE3TEN, a local beacon),
Transmitting through a 10m FM repeater located in the US (don’t know which one!)
This was Bob’s first SOTA activation… I think he enjoyed himself
Or watch full screen in High Definition:
We operated for one hour and then we ate lunch during a thunderstorm as rolling thunder and lightning passed overhead. After a light rain shower, the sky cleared and we were able to put another hour of operating in before the main storm came thundering in…
As I was trying to throw a weight over just the right tree branch… Bob VA3QV picked up the husband and wife team of Herm KB1RJC and Merle KB1RJD with his FT-817 quick-deploy station featuring a PAR end-fed.
I then picked up the video camera and taped Bob pulling in Rich N4EX and Dennis WA2USA to make Bob’s *FIRST* SOTA activation official.. thanks for being there, guys!!
I videoed Bob pulling in NS7P Phil, W7CNL Jack, AJ5C Bob and WI2W Steve … all on 20m SSB.
As Bob was rounding things off, I put down the camera and fired up my new KX3 and tried some 20m SSB (a new mode for me as I had a KX1 with me on previous outings) with 5 Watts (I’m using a tiny wee battery for now). I got some excellent audio reports, so I had good mic gain & compressor settings I guess.
Finally, Rich N4EX gave me 5×5. Rich was 5×7 with me. This is the exact same report which Bob exchanged with Rich which is interesting. The EDZ appears to be on a par with the end fed vertical for longer paths and slightly better for shorter paths, I guess that makes sense since the EDZ is horizontal and it was quite low (1 wavelength).
A storm was approaching… I only had 3 QSOs in the log… was this to be a FAIL for VA3SIE??
I called and called CQ on SSB… I didn’t hear anyone reply but then again the storm was producing some massive QRN (though the KX3 was filtering most of it out).
I switched over to 20m CW as the sky got very dark and rumbles started and then spotted myself on SOTAWatch. Just as fat raindrops started hitting my KX3 (ouch!) I got a call from Barry N1EU.
Woo hoo! I managed to exchange signal reports and then send ‘TSTORM QRT’ and yanked the antenna connector out just as a huge rumble emitted from the clouds… so the activation was official. Sorry for disappearing on you, Barry!
I had exchanged a QSO both with Barry and Guy the day before during the KX3 Maiden Voyage. In both cases, I got a better signal report the day before
Propagation was a little different into NY/NJ on 20m today I guess.
While the storm passed, we ate lunch.
After a light rain shower, the skies cleared and we had bright hot sun once again, though there was another, bigger storm approaching.
The Second Hour
Bob called CQ on some of the other bands and then made a 6m contact while I opted to stay on 20m CW.
I got an RST 449 report from Woody WD9F in Springfield, IL and then Jack W7CNL gave me an RST 559 (Jack was RST 569). That’s marginally better than the 4×4 report that Bob got on SSB but the bands could have changed and after all CW comes through stronger than SSB.
I got a call from Fred (Cloud Runner) KT5X and Bob managed to get that on video … Fred gave me an RST 229 from New Mexico; Fred was RST 579 into VE2. Not surprising that signal reports from NM were poor when I was receiving NY & NJ so strong. Band was short today.
For the remainder of the activation, I managed contacts with AB0BM in IA, VA1WT Phil in Nova Scotia (I was just vacationing in Nova Scotia last week, we drove around the Cabot Trail… Beautiful!), an RST 539 from DJ5AV in Heiligenberg, Germany, Phil NS7P gave me an RST 339 from Elmira, OR (again the same signal report that Bob received – Phil was an RST 569) and finally, just as the next storm was making itself kown (THUNDER!)
N4LA was my last contact of the day, RST 449 from NC, Todd is a QRP Polar Bear… GRRRRRR, Todd !
This was my first experience of SSB doing SOTA and I must say I enjoyed it immensely. CW SOTA can be a little bit like contesting, especially at slow speed like mine… as the summit activator, you don’t want to spend too long on each QSO so you often end up just exchanging signal reports. With SSB there’s more time to chat… more relaxing too… perfect for a lazy 1 point summit!
Thanks to all the chasers, this was FUN FUN FUN!!!
I got back from a vacation in Nova Scotia on Thursday and there was a note on my door from UPS. A package was waiting for me to pick up. A package with ‘Elecraft‘ written on the side.
Woo hoo!! My KX3 has arrived. It is serial number 238.
I don’t have much of a battery to drive it at the moment, I have ordered a couple of large capacity portable power packs from buddipole but they have not arrived yet.
So for now, to familiarize myself with the radio, I hooked it up to a 2Ah li-poly battery pack which I use for my KX1. This pack did not have enough current capacity to supply the KX3 at 10W output for more than a few seconds but it was good enough to operate at 5W for a couple of hours.
I don’t have any permanently installed antennas at home, so I set up a pair of verticals attached to the balcony.
This works reasonably well.
I set up two antennas; A 31′ pole onto which I wound 36′ of wire, tightly wound at the top (½″ pitch), loosely wound in the middle (2″ pitch) and then large windings toward the bottom. (6″ pitch) and a loading coil at the base. I was able to resonate this antenna on 80m and 40m against a single 16′ counterpoise made from RG-174 coax shield by selecting tap points.
The second antenna was 19′ or wire supported by a 20′ pole. This antenna was naturally resonant on 12MHz and the the KXAT3 internal ATU was able to resonate it on all the higher bands: 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m and 6m against the same single 16′ counterpoise.
The longer antenna is naturally resonant at 3.6 MHz against a 16′ counterpoise wire when the full length of the base loading coil is in-circuit and at 8 MHz when the base loading coil is bypassed. Feeding the antenna through 50′ of RG-174 coax makes no difference to the resonance when the loading coil is bypassed but it does lower the resonant frequency with the full length of the loading coil in-circuit to 2.7 MHz.
The antennas pick up a lot of electrical noise from all the electronics around the neighborhood so I had to deal with an S5 to S8 noise floor but it was sufficient to get to know the radio
The first thing I did (after tuning the loading coil for 40m) was to send CQ on 40m and have a listen to my own signal as received by the web SDR radios in Kingston, Rhode Island and at K2SDR in Sea Girt, New Jersey. I tried both the 10W and 5W settings and I could detect only a small difference in signal strength. I tried to listen to my SSB signal but for some reason I was not able to hear myself when talking. I checked mic gain and compression and both the RF and ALC meters were showing output. I guess voice is that much weaker than CW.
I spotted myself on QRP Spots and within a few minutes the first QSO was in the log book. Dennis K1YPP was kind enough to give me a call from Newton, NH. I wish I had known that Dennis was an Appalachian Trail (AT) hiker (learned that from QRZ.com after the QSO) – I’ve visited the AT and hiked upon it just one time but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
I operated from the AT with Ron WB3AAL who has completed more than 1000 QSOs from the AT and administrators an amateur radio awards scheme for completing QSOs from the AT and others from the QRP Polar Bear club. After the hike, they bestowed upon me a ‘trail name’ (and ‘bear name’) – Dittie Bear. Hence the name of this blog!
The 2nd QSO was with Randy KB4QQJ in MT. Randy was also using a KX3. So much fun! This QSO was both 2 X QRP and 2 X KX3
I will be getting to know this new radio over the next few weeks, so far I am deeply impressed!!