Fargo Hamfest – a first for me

I had a new radio piece shipped to our border pickup center just across the border in the US (much cheaper) and since I wanted to pick it up, timed it to coincide with attending the Fargo Hamfest this past weekend.

So, the XYL and I drive out just after lunch on Friday, pick up the parcel, head on down to the area of West Fargo.  Check into our hotel and head out to get ahead on our required shopping.  After a long day, we’re tired and call it a night.  Next morning I’m up bright and early and head on to the fairgrounds and meet up with what must be almost a dozen of us from the Winnipeg area – quite the crew turned out.

Was interesting – picked up quite a few odd pieces here and there, so was relatively pleased with the type of gear/accessories that was available.

What was even more interesting was that Walter VE4VB picked up 4 more radios!  They are in different states of repair so with his expertise they will be top-notch in no time flat.

A few pics from the centre:

pan5
pan5
pan4
pan4
pan3 - walter and dave
pan3 – walter and dave
pan2
pan2
pan1
pan1

Now, time to setup and “play” with my SDRplay!

73, Dan ve4drk

 

VA4WAN – new ham online

Jan VE4JS is just down the street – he always hears me when I check into the MEPN (Manitoba Evening Phone Net) on 3.747 KHz 7pm local time — more like 2km away, but still relatively close.

He had expressed an interest in our high speed ham net, so with the help of Colin, he secured some cabling and a grid antenna and I gave him one of my high power bullets and injectors.  He was able to fabricate a mount for his antenna and pointed at our new site (60c).  Now, that being relatively close, one would think it would be a decent connection –

looking towards 60c
looking towards 60c

but .. very poor results – only 1 bar on the radio part, so, over emails, I suggest he point it to our main site (55N) which is about 7km away give or take

looking at 55N .. tall building way out ...
looking at 55N .. tall building way out …

— lo and behold – full scale reading on the radio. So, we pick a time where I can come down and help verify his setup.  He’s on-line now — albeit only with about 3Mbps max … hovering around 1.5Mbps on average.  Will have to have one of the guys verify my handi-work on configuration and make sure it’s up to snuff — not sure if he has tree branches too close or not — but his tower is 50′ or so and is just over the tree line in his established area of town (near the river).

night-viewing
night-viewing

So, another member added on — looking to get more hams online.

73, Dan ve4drk

VA4WAN – upgrading member site

One of our founders home site was recently upgraded to a spanking new 15m tower!  So — with that in mind, why not move the high-speed gear to this new tower and get better connectivity — not just one one band, but three!

Colin starting the climbing
Colin starting the climbing
Derek assembling units -- while "spot" keeps us company ...
Derek assembling units — while “spot” keeps us company …
William programming/setting up units
William programming/setting up units
Colin mounting pole on new mount structure
Colin mounting pole on new mount structure

 

Cable runs made up, Derek getting the 2.3GHz grid ready to go up ...
Cable runs made up, Derek getting the 2.3GHz grid ready to go up …

Luckily, Derek had a whole roll of shielded outdoor rated cat5 cable – we ran 5 runs of 90′ or so of each, so that used up half a roll or so.  I was even able to practice putting together cat5 ends together 🙂

last antenna being mounted ...
last antenna being mounted …

 

Note – it was getting a tad dark out .. so we had to finish up quickly.   Colin doing the last part of the hardware install on top prior to securing the feed lines.  With all said and done, what’s installed is fairly impressive.  Running radios on the 2.3 GHz, 3.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz spectrum with a nice camera and an extra access point for local usage!  What I initially thought would take 3 hours or so, turned into 6!

Should have triple-redundancy connection on three bands when I get my reciprocating antenna installed on my roof!

Unfortunately, since we were running late in getting all done up at Derek’s place, we weren’t able to run over to William’s place to update his VHF connection.  In the plans I have to make some amendments to my own gear… winter is coming 🙂

Another few are interested in getting started in the mode, so we’ll help out where we can.

73, Dan ve4drk

 

55N work – new structure!

It was going to be a hot day — so, plenty of water was required – not just the heat was making us warm – but the exposure to all this RF up there can give you a sun-burn!

A rather nice addition to our primary location is a new mount point. This location faces south and will aid in getting a better signal through the new built-up hvac systems being upgraded.  Thanks to Derek VE4HAY for securing this new location — it’ll help on a number of fronts.

Meeting at the site was Derek VE4HAY, William VE4VR, Colin VE4CST, Wyatt VE4WDZ, Robert VE4RLK and myself Dan VE4DRK at around 10:00am Saturday.

While I usually try to take pics showing the work that is going on, I was busy running cable and had to leave at 3pm.  Robert had to leave around noon and the rest of the guys stayed till about 6pm.  Lots of work was done.  We were able to secure a new post to the infrastructure and host a 3.4 and a 2.3 sector and a couple of 5GHz panels – one pointing to the VE4WSC site and the other pointing to the 60C site down south.

Our existing tower has quite the number of units on it – to put it all on a single pole will take some work:

existing tower on 55n with all it's gear :-)
existing tower on 55n with all it’s gear 🙂

the new view to the south with the new pole is simply amazing:

exposure to the south
exposure to the south
Colin working on installing the two sectors .. William keeping things steady ...
Colin working on installing the two sectors .. William keeping things steady …

 

Derek bolting things in place ...
Derek bolting things in place …

 

Wyatt doing the fine cat5 cable connectors. All 4 runs in and out!
Wyatt doing the fine cat5 cable connectors. All 4 runs in and out!
Chowing down after a few hours of work - thanks, William for making the feed-bag run!
Chowing down after a few hours of work – thanks, William for making the feed-bag run!
nothin' you can't do with some power tools! Colin re-working the connector slot ...
nothin’ you can’t do with some power tools! Colin re-working the connector slot …
Derek and Colin securing the 5G panels in place .. talk about gain!
Derek and William securing the 5G panels in place .. talk about gain!

While there, we also attached the new 5G woodlands panel to the existing WDR site … it is interesting to look through all the scaffolding gear on top of that building – but hopefully it will be gone soon.

After I had left, a  new 5GHz panel was placed for Inkster and the radio unit for the 5GHz omni was replaced.  If you find yourself wanting to check out a 5GHz connection, point your radio to 55N and give it a try and let us know!

Some further work is required.  We need to secure a 5GHz panel at woodlands site itself and confirm the connectivity of the Dugald Road site – it would prove very useful in the future to connect up the Transcona area.

All for now – more work to be done while we have warm weather.  But remember, we do make house-calls in January!  (reference: http://ve4drk.keizer.ca/?p=182 )

73, Dan ve4drk

 

Canada Day Contest 2016

There were quite a few VE4’s operating in this contest this year – heard some, worked some who were running and some found me while I was running – so was nice to see.  While I worked most provinces and territories, Thursday was a good day for my record count – but that turned sour on Friday – at least for me the propagation was too poor to work too many stations.

One of the nicer features of my newer radio (TS590S) compared to my TS450SAT is the additional filters that it has.

ts590s
TS590S
TS450Sat
TS450Sat

It was great to be able to adjust the filters to bring in a few weaker stations that I would not be able to work on my older radio.  🙂  Well worth the effort on the upgrade.

I worked primarily my wire antenna – but occasionally worked with the vertical  – but the wire was most useful.

There was a great turnout for our local contest/dx group Radiosport Manitoba from all areas.  Mostly CDN and US ops were worked .. with a couple from further down south.  Bands were quiet on the high-end and 20 was the band of choice.

Be as it may, my scores are as such:canadaday2016scores

Hopefully, further years we get better conditions …. and better setup … time will tell …

73, Dan ve4drk

“60C” !

First there was 55N, then WSC, then there was the breadplant, then came woodlands, then came dugald road — now — comes “60c” our newest site for installation of RF units to support the expansion of the VA4WAN high-speed network!  Some of these sites are still undergoing change to bring them fully into the network, but we keep on trying to bring sites in that make sense to the expansion …

A number of us headed up the 14 or so flights to the top of the building — Jim VE4SIG, Colin VE4CST, William VE4VR, Derek VE4HAY, Wyatt VE4WDZ and myself Dan VE4DRK.  Meeting in the parking lot later after work we assembled the clan around 6:45pm(ish) and loaded up with Colin’s gear and the odd antenna piece.  Luckily, it was a nice warm day and the only thing we had to worry about was ensuring we had enough liquids to keep us hydrated while we’re up there.  We co-share this site with a number of cell providers and there was quite the power units up there (I forgot to bring my tinfoil hat!) hi hi …

We have a great shot at our main-site .. look below for a great pic of our main site – -the big building on the left-centre:

60c - 55n
60c – 55n

 

From this vantage point, it will server the surrounding areas and southern parts quite well!  Looking eastwards(ish) I see an area that should be my house in the distance .. except there appears to be some form of large’ish building just in the way a bit .. not sure how much .. but very very very close to blocking the entire view 🙁

hmmm
hmmm
somewhere behind there ...
somewhere behind there …

So, we had quite a few guys to help putting things up, down, apart, together etc .. so we started getting at it …

at_it1

at_it7

at_it2

at_it3

at_it4

UPS, routers, control box being setup
UPS, routers, control box being setup

After spending almost 4 hours up there, it was time to call it a night …

timing ...
timing …

 

So, now – while all the ethernet runs appear to be good as we can talk to all the units, the RF connectivity is only so-so.  So, while we ran out of time, we need to go back and do some diagnostics on some of the links/units to verify they are 100% RF output … will see shortly!  I suspect there is another venture to 60c in the future …

73, Dan ve4drk

Taking down of Ed VE4YU (sk) tower …

A number of hams gathered at the home of Irene, widow of the late Ed Henderson VE4YU (sk) Saturday to take down his tri-bander and other antenna items and his 40′ tower.

Dick VE4HK doing his thing ..
Dick VE4HK doing his thing ..

While it took longer than expected, we were treated with sandwiches, pickles and cupcakes from Irene and her daughter – very tasty at that!

Thanks to Dick VE4HK for all his climbing skills, the event went without a hitch.  Helping with this endeaver were Radiosport Manitoba members Cary VE4EA, Kelly VE4XT, myself VE4DRK, as well as Glen VE4GWN with Rosie VE4YYL and newly minted ham John VE4VJR.

Some pics during the day below- the day started off cool, then warmed up nicely when the sun was out in full.  Link from my google photos:

Photos of tower takedown

73, Dan ve4drk

 

Dayton!

Well — been licenced for 25 years — had not (yet) been to Dayton –  until this year!  The XYL and I planned a touring trip to some of the surrounding states to fit in with my attendance to the hamfest.  Well — the trip was good, saw a number of sights and visited a number of them on the way.  When I got there, I knew Walter VE4VB and Derek VE4HAY would be there from our city – so we hooked up with them for a bite to eat the night before and it just seemed apropos to join them when they attended.  They have vendor passes and have great parking!  and they get to show me around (i still get lost!) – -was great – Walter has been coming to Dayton for decades!  and Derek had some bargaining skills – so was fun to pick up a few units here and there.

I checked in with Cary VE4EA as well as Tom VE3CX and finally met Gerry W1VE in the flesh – so visiting these guys at the ARRL HF Experience booth was fun.

Cary, Dan ,Tom
Cary, Dan ,Tom

(Note in the background “RadioSport Manitoba” !! )

Was great to see a number of hams I had not met for some time — a few from the states and some from Calgary — even saw Ken Olke VE6AFO from my Calgary days there.  Tim VE6SH was also manning the IARU booth – man, does he get around!

I was able to pick up some used gear (of course!) I can’t believe the number of people in the flea market – a veritable treasure trove of used “stuff”.

Just as the gates were opening …

Starting up...
Starting up…

I found that there were a number of sessions on the first day that I wanted to attend, so I spent quite a bit of time in there.  Another session on HackRF 🙂

HackRF !
HackRF !

I did finally find my first purchase .. didn’t take that long to find some enclosures and units I could use:

first purchase
first purchase

It was great to have both Derek and Walter show me around a bit – (did I mention I kept on getting lost!) — Walter showed me a few vendors and introduced me to them – they certainly know Walter from years gone by …

Walter - VE4VB in his glory
Walter – VE4VB in his glory

We also felt we struck a good deal on some sectors … we were able to purchase 2 sets of 3 120 degree sectors with mounting hardware … they were heavy to carry from site to site – lucky the local transport crew spotted us lugging these things around and gave them a lift … so, trying to make sure they fit in Derek’s SUV:

Sectors!
Sectors!

Another session I had attended to was talking all about digital etc … Bruce and associates were certainly well-attended:

dayton_session2

sessions
sessions

well .. .I did buy some more gear at Dayton — I stopped by the TAPR booth and bought one of their 20m WSPR filter cards — this little guy attaches to the Raspberry Pi and puts out a whopping 100mW 🙂

QRPi 20m filter
QRPi 20m filter

I tied it to my 5band ground-mounted vertical and it appears to transmit as it is being heard in NA at least .. so — a better antenna and I’m sure it’ll make a bit longer trek 🙂

20m QRPi filters mounted
20m QRPi filters mounted

so — we left —

leaving - tired
leaving – tired

so – on the way back, we tried to meet up on 652 and I had my APRS on — so it seems when I stopped for gas and checked my messages, Derek had mentioned they had to stop in IL and saw me on my APRS passing them — didn’t hear them and didn’t see them … but they had engine problems .. seems the old GM hybrid blew a valve .. now THAT was an expensive venture for them … (at least our gear arrived) 🙂

The WSPR is interesting .. just today in the last while 20m is so-so but the 100 milli-watts is being heard 🙂

20m WSPR sightings - so-so
20m WSPR sightings – so-so

I was also able to pick up a new Raspberry PI kit .. came with all the goodies to get it working right out of the box! 🙂

raspberry pi kit
raspberry pi kit

Since I wasn’t able to buy one in person at Dayton, I ordered one on-line as I was coming back – took only a week to get it!   I like all things digital – so this little RF – digital interface was interesting .. so I bought one . .a DV4MINI .. my dstar and dmr radios can operate through this little guy – USB powered unit with low-power UHF radio to-boot:

DV4mini
DV4mini

so – would I do it again – sure – be interesting to talk to more guys as to what they’re up to and see what other “goods” can be found on the market … ’till next year!

73, Dan ve4drk

Play time with more gear :-)

A few more week and some more interesting things to work with over the last while.  The local ham-space held it’s twice-annual flea market – I manned the membership table of the local MRS group – will be my last as I transfer membership duties to another ham – been fun.  I was able to find a used antenna from a local ham – seems I need to do some work on this GAP Challenger vertical as there’s some damage to it.

We’ve been fortunate enough to find some decent deals on some used RF gear to help with our project, so I have to get some to try them out.

A nice Ubiquity Bullet2HP unit (or two), a few RouterBoard with built-in 2GHz RF unit, a nice Ubiquity M3 3GHz unit.

RFgear RFgear2

… and more to come — some of these units have some rather nice features to visualize spectrum usage – will be interesting.

Another fun item was a recent tower-destruction resulted in a small piece of hardline being offered up – I put my hand-held next to it to give some form of context — this is hard stuff …

hard-line anyone?
hard-line anyone?

this was some form of commercial broadcasting … would have been interesting to see 400′ of that tower coming down!

Another fun thing to work on is to resurrect the ol’ TNC and put it into good use.  A friend put up a dual-channel radio on 145.01 and I am putting together this little unit to get “back” on the air on AFSK 🙂  brings back memories:

TNC anyone?
TNC anyone?

why not provide a separate back-up to our 2.3 GHz unit (10Mbps) with a 1200bps 145MHz unit … will be interesting to see in operation.  Next will be 9600FSK data-radios 🙂

73, Dan ve4drk

 

 

Been a while … lots to say (or not) …

Been a rather long 3 months since my last update on my radio happenings.  After a while things keep on getting busier and busier, so in the end, I will have to pass on some of my current activities to others to take on,  such as the membership chair of the Manitoba Repeater Society, so I can focus on the items that need more attention from myself.  A good few years doing what needs to be done in support of the society – learned alot and met alot of very knowledgeable people.

When I get the chance, it’s always fun to take things apart — assuming we can get all the pieces back together again.  Following that line, I had a loose connector on my APRS VHF tracker unit.  This is a rather unique integrated device – it combines a GPS receiver (SiRF 4) with an ATMEGA board design, a 1 watt VHF transceiver, bluetooth, thermometer and sdcard storage into one small package about the size of a pack of smokes.

at510 description
at510 description
pieces
pieces

 

All good – back to normal again and connector reseated 🙂

 

On another front – our local digital group has a member that does not have direct line of sight to our main site, so with the help of another member, he rigged up a couple of connections to bounce-around and get what he needs :

connectivity ...
connectivity …

One of the benefits of having our VA4WAN system operational is that we get to support the local radio groups needs, such as the senior’s need for telephony and internet access.  Once it was open again, we were able to go in and help give it a good cleaning, and analyze at how we can wire-up the rooms with their own VoIP phonesets – to do that Derek was hunting around to where the lines came in and found the junction in the back room — wow – this has been around a while:

old-style to new style ..
old-style to new style ..

Thanks to Les from Les.Net for all his assistance, support and provisioning over the past while.

During the Christmas break, I was also able to have some hardware vacate the house.  I don’t have the same need for a rack full of servers and switching gear, so my son was able to re-purpose the rack and network gear, servers, etc to good use – part of the gear below:

gonzo ...
gonzo …

My Mikrotik router had issues — apparently with bad ‘caps’, so Colin was great enough to re-do the caps one evening – he certainly knows how to do this and has quite the experience.  So, better working unit now:

caps gone wild ...
caps gone wild …

Sad news this past while, one of our founding members of Radiosport Manitoba, and our treasurer, recently passed away.  Ed Henderson VE4YU, a very well-known and well-respected radio amateur, contester and all-round nice guy.  During the most recent contest, our group all gave out “Ed”‘s name as our contact exchange.  Ed always had a smile on his face.  73 Ed.

73 Ed VE4YU
73 Ed VE4YU
VE4YU
VE4YU

 

Our local guys Dick VE4HK and Cary VE4EA spent a lot of time organizing and taking care of his items.  When it was placed on the swap and shop, I was able to purchase some of his gear – all in excellent top-quality shape.   I now posses his TS590S, RS30M, paddles and studio mic.  It’s already making a significant difference in my experience —  I am now operational on HF digital 🙂

gear
gear

On one of my coffee trips to the usual joint, Jim and I were joking about how many handhelds we have .. so, we decided to bring (most) of them …

woo hoo
woo hoo

different digital radios, mult-bands, etc … quite the collection.  In the end, I ended up selling about 4 over a month … guess I don’t really need 3 digital radios 🙁

Spring is in the air and it’s time to re-group and identify what we need to get done on our VA4WAN project to continue building it out.  We had another group session with Derek VE4HAY, William, VE4VR, Colin VE4CST  and myself Dan VE4DRK (I keep on taking the pictures) …

decision time
decision time

One thing we want to do is assist more hams to get on the air with the VA4WAN system and expand it’s coverage to serve more groups and provide services.  A local student was asking for assistance so we were more then happy to help and were able to donate a 5GHz antenna for him to try out.  Now, we’ve been having issues (off and on) on our 5GHz omni on our main site, so this didn’t work out too well for him — so William put together a 2.3GHz station to get him on the air — a few days later and his call shows up on the system 🙂  We’ll also be fixing up the omni to ensure it’s working properly as well.

We were surprised to receive a nice donation from Walter VE4VB for a sector antenna – will be good to put  more in operation:

sector!
sector!

Over the past while we’ve been able to secure a significant number of 3.4GHz cards as well as some 2.3GHz bullets and miscellaneous items – like Router boards/enclosures etc .. so work needs to progress now on building the sites up.  Speaking of sites, we’ll soon be preparing to set up the site on Dugald road and provide coverage to the eastern part of the city fairly soon.  To top it off, we’ll also be installing the MRS test system for radio linking via VoIP — a great opportunity.

I was also able to upgrade my 9 port router to a more recent 10 port router a RB2011UiAS-RM – which also has gigabit ports to boot!

RB2011
RB2011

I’m really impressed with these routerboards and Mikrotik controllers — they are very impressive in what they do.  I still have some networking setup to accomplish on it to integrate the various networks in the house now, a few bumps, but it’s coming along.

The last thing to write about today is the meet up we had this past Saturday, April 2.  Radiosport Manitoba in conjunction with the Winnipeg Amateur Radio Club, co-sponsored a day long session called “Discover the HF experience” — in which esteemed radio amateurs local and remote are brought in to discuss all things ham radio and what’s going on today.  We were able to bring in Tom VE3CX as well as Gord VE6SV and remotely  have both W1VE and Doug K1DG do presentations.  Locally, we also had Ed VE4EAR and Leor VE4DXR also give presentations.  All in all, we had a great attendance at the event — almost 50 from what I was counting and packed the room quite full.  Was great participation from all members of Radiosport Manitoba in assisting with the event.  Thanks to Cary VE4EA for coordinating what will hopefully be a most impressive annual event.

Discover the HF experience
Discover the HF experience

During these winter months, it was not good for my antennas again!  This time, two of my coax cables got chewed up by rabbits!  So – -after discussing with those in the know, I’ll be looking at enclosing them with some wrap and burying them under the ground — at least worms don’t have big teeth!  So my RF experience as of late has been diminished and I really do need to run more cable — time is ripe.

73, Dan ve4drk

 

DMR – take ‘n’ …

Seems Canada Post gave me a little present just in time for Christmas, on Christmas eve  — at the door later in the afternoon, I hear a ring, and outside was a package waiting for my signature.  It took a few weeks to get it (about 5 or 6 I think), but it was opportune.  New in my hands was the programming cable for my radio that I’ve had for a while not programmed …

xpr6550 Cable & Radio
xpr6550 Cable & Radio

While I’ve had this radio for a while, it was not very usable.  I did manage to get a charger for it (thanks Shaun) and verify it worked fine — I could not transmit on it was it was not programmed.  So, now that I have said programming cable, I took a stock code plug from the va3xpr site (thanks guys!) and used that as a template to set things up.

This radio has quite the heft to it – it’s solid that’s for sure.  Since I do have the remote speaker mic for it — and since I do not yet have a mobile digital radio (neither d-star nor dmr), I will use this one in the car for a bit with the external antenna and remote mic to see how it goes.

On another front, a local ham (William) is also new to digital radio – the dstar type and has a line on getting mobile power cables for the dstar radios we both have – so will be good to have an option on that as well.

So, all is good in radio land – now with UHF DMR radio #3 to try out 🙂

73, Dan ve4drk

2015 RAC Winter Contest

While being away from my home QTH for a couple weeks off and on, I wasn’t 100% prepared for this latest contest.  We also had quite a bit of white stuff (ie: snow!) fall in this period — covering up a number of cables/etc.  Oh well .. my long wire antenna was up (actually, it’s the alpha-delta DX LB Plus).  This little guy gives me 160-10 coverage pretty darn good.  I had it tuned up real nice on all bands for what I wanted, so I was thinking, great .. I’ll be ready to go — but alas, it sat on the ground for a while until I got to it and when I did put it back up, well, one band wasn’t quite tuned up .. matter of fact, it needs some work to get it back.  The 20m band on it was way out .. best was 3:1, so needless to say, it wasn’t going to work too well for that.  To top it off, my  other antenna – the vertical 5 band, which works great by the way – had a problem with it’s coax.  Some intermittent was in there making it not that good.  So I was limited to the wire antenna and off of 20m for the most part.  Oh well — that’s the breaks when I don’t have enough time 🙂

Stats from the RAC Winter Contest 2015
Stats from the RAC Winter Contest 2015

But, working the contest was fun, I heard LOTS of VE4’s! and worked quite a few of them.  I was surprised by the VE5 contingent that was out – made a few there as well 🙂  Later on the VE7’s were booming on 15m, and I was able to work those folks who were on.  I was pleasantly surprised the YT/NT made it on my chart.  I was also quite surprised at the signal reports I received — band gods be praised.  Only ones I didn’t work were NU/PE.  I did not put in the full time, no where near it — only 10 hours or so … but my score was OK.  I did manage to make a few runs on 15 and 10 was open for a bit it seemed.  40 was decent too.  My long(er) term plan is to upgrade my rig (TS450Sat) to a more current rig with newer integration  – might save my voice a bit 🙂

73, Dan ve4drk

 

 

DMR – take 3 (or some number greater than 1)

The opportunity to upgrade my current CS700 UHF DMR radio presented itself this past week  so, just had to … you know .. upgrade the radio.  So, now I have my CS700 to offer up to sale – hope to have another come in and try the mode out locally.

new(er) DMR radio
new(er) DMR radio

The radio has a few options that my 700 does not, so it should be more useful.  One thing I noticed, is that these CS700/CS750 radios do have quite a sensitive receive on them and work well compared to my other DMR radio.

73, Dan ve4drk

2015 SSB Sweepstakes contest

I was able to spend a few hours here and there on this contest and put in a few contacts.  Unfortunately, my wire antennas are currently down, so I used my 5 band vertical – which did work quite well.  15 and 20 were working well, so that’s where the contacts were made.  Sure, I could have had more contacts if I were running in the contest, but without a voice sync hooked up, I would be losing my voice and flubbering-up the audio.

Made contacts with some of the other RadioSport Manitoba members – Cary was even running remote to the east coast and sounded quite good – could almost make out it was him!  Although I did not recognize Rob’s voice operating out of 6SV – until I asked 🙂

My score as it is:

score
score

 

Still – had fun working the contest:

working the contest
working the contest

73, Dan ve4drk

DMR – take 2

I’m getting more interested in learning this newer digital mode, so what best way than to dive in and get (another) DMR radio. 🙂  This one was being offered at a discount (from it’s already inexpensive pricing) from the folks at CS.  Now I realize it has mixed reviews, but it’s a great tool to try out different modes/operations.  Now I have two working units .. and another unit looking for a charger to figure it out more.

The unit I got was a Tytera MD380 UHF DMR radio …

MD380 basic entry level DMR radio
MD380 basic entry level DMR radio

It has all the basic offerings and some extra little quirks.  Funny thing about this unit is that it uses the same programming software as the CS700 model.  I still had to plug in (ie: lots of typing!) all the frequencies/groups/etc and make sure it works.  It came with two antennas . .a stubby and a non-stubby I’ll say – as it’s not the best antenna that’s for sure.  I have a dual-band antenna on the car which I’ll have to use this on for a bit a see how well it performs with 5 watts.

There’s some recent changes to the local DMR systems, so will try and navigate what is happening in that area to see how much coverage there is.  Interesting though, there are more guys getting involved in trying out DMR, so that’s good for the systems usage etc … lots to learn.  I really want to get more into the controller-side of things and understand the underpinnings, so, even more to read.

Timing is interesting on another front – the most current TCA from RAC just arrived yesterday and in it is an article by our local directory Derek, VE4HAY, describing the various digital modes that are out there, so I’m sure that will also generate more local activity.

I still have to meet up with more of the local DMR group and understand more of what’s going on… more to come there too.

73, Dan ve4drk

CQ WW DX 2015!

Another year – another BIG contest.  This, I’m told, is the mother-of-all-contests .. at least for SSB.  Everyone works everyone (or there abouts) 🙂

I did not have much time to work this contest — I think I spent about 10 or 12 hours operating what is a 48 hour contest.  I recently picked up a new (to me) antenna from a local ham that sports 10/12/15/17/20 coverage – (it does work well!) and I decided to try that it out for this contest.

So, down the basement I go and work the contest .. about 3 sessions I put into it and get the following out of it:

CQ WW SSB 2015
CQ WW SSB 2015

Not bad … I guess .. interesting to note that I forgot (until after) it was not an antenna that works 40 — but seems I was able to work him anyways!   Thank god for tuners!

73, Dan ve4drk

 

Another new digital mode .. well .. at least for me :-)

I’ve dabbled with the D-Star systems – both from an end-user and system administrator perspective and have learned lots about the system.  Mind you, there’s lots more to learn and figure out – but I know the basics – although I haven’t used all of them yet.  I like to try out the various modes to see how they work and how they would inter-operate with the ‘external’ world.

I’ve been following some interesting developments over the past year and such from the folks at Connect Systems .  Seems they (Jerry) is working on a new radio that does multiple digital systems at the same time.  Now that would be cool to have in one hand-held.  With the plethora of multiple digital radio systems coming on-line, how is one to keep up with so many different implementations!  Until this new radio comes out (which is supposed to support DSTAR, DMR, and further on would support Fusion and some others) I decided to learn more about another mode.  What best way to learn than to get yet another radio.  (I can hear the QRM already) 😉

So, a local ham was peddling his CS700 – a prior-generation from the folks at CS – but one that will at least let me experience the workings of this DMR mode and allow me the time to get to know it better to understand more of it’s workings.

New (to me) digital mobile radio
New (to me) digital mobile radio

Now, me with my interest in networking/etc – what better way to get digital communications than with another digital radio 🙂 … So — I have to now pick up and learn the inner workings of the control systems it talks to, the networking (or stand-alone) operations it performs etc etc … I know the basics, but there is always something to learn.

What would really be nice is to have a radio (ham hand-held or mobile) that has a built-in FPGA to allow us to program the device for whatever  mode we are interested in.  I’m sure it will come one day … would be nice to buy one radio instead of 3 or 4 or n …

So, from the DMR standpoint, from what I can tell there is more new activity in the realm of DMR in the city — will be good to get further involved and meet some of the players in that mode …

73, Dan ve4drk

WARC flea market

One of the group’s I belong to is the Winnipeg Amateur Radio Club (WARC) WARC website …

Twice a year, the group holds it’s flea market at the Heritage Victoria Community Centre and always has a great turn-out.  There were lots of vehicles with antennas hanging onto them:

cars & trucks 1
cars & trucks 1
cars and trucks 2
cars and trucks 2
cars and trucks 3
cars and trucks 3

 

It’s a chance for guys to peddle their wares and buy new ones and for groups to meet-up with members and for just good ol-fashioned eye-ball QSO’s.

It was busy as usual and I was manning the MRS membership table taking renewals and new memberships for the MRS group.

Clearing up and getting things packed up:

cleaning up 1
cleaning up 1
cleanup 2
cleanup 2

 

Following the flea market, we had the MRS semi-annual general meeting — as previously it was at MARM-fest, but this year no MARM-fest, so no meeting .. so we had to have some forum to discuss all matters with interested members and non-members.  And then after the MRS semi-annual general meeting, we have the following:

all-done
all-done

So, I did manage to pick up a few odd-ball things that I needed (and some I didn’t ‘need’) — but that’s all the fun of the flea-market is to find out who else is doing what and to share experiences … a fun event to meet up with those we haven’t seen in some time.

Until next  WARC flea market in the spring,

73, Dan ve4drk

55n here we come …

We had an ambitious schedule to get a number of things completed in this last visit … 1) replace server, 2) replace injectors, 3) replace nano with sectors and bullets, install the 5GHz dish, setup more cable, replace switch with newer MicroTik routers etc …

A number of us, VE4CST, VE4VR, VE4CY, VE4WDZ, VE4RAI and myself VE4DRK gathered a bunch of goods and set up on to the top of our main site at 55N Sat morning.

parts, parts, parts .. some assembly required ...
parts, parts, parts .. some assembly required …
.. even more parts
.. even more parts

We worked on putting together the one RF unit in an enclosure and sealing it up … replacing the servers and getting the UPS’s installed with new batteries:

servers being worked on
servers being worked on

and putting sector antennas together:

new sectors!
new sectors!
panel assembly
panel assembly

they are to replace the nano’s on the top of the tower:

tower to be worked on ...
tower to be worked on …

 

So, while I was only there for a few hours, the rest of the guys stayed a few hours later and continued on with the RF hardware installation on the tower … with those new sectors installed the signal strength will be awesome!

And once the 3′ 5GHz antenna is installed pointing to our Woodlands site we’ll have a remote system up as well — good stuff!

We’re also putting up links to support the remote connectivity of the MRS repeater systems in neighbouring areas.

More to come as they transpire – but a great start to upgrading the system …

73, Dan ve4drk

CQ WW 2014 SSB contest results are in …

Almost forgot … I’ve been involved with the digital side for a good chunk of the summer, I haven’t been working the DX nor contesting that much these days.

But, along comes an email from Cary VE4EA which indicates we placed (good thing) in the CQ WW 2014 SSB contest late last year.  We tried and (almost) broke the record!  dang .. we did pretty good though, as a multi-single setup with Cary’s K3 station and his antenna system we (Cary VE4EA, Kelly VE4XT and Dan VE4DRK) worked the station for the duration of the contest.  We did have some downtime and could have beat the record – but I am a bit of a n00b at it still, so our error rate was so-so …

Even so, we did receive a rather nice certificate …

CQ WW 2014 SSB multi-single VE4EA, VE4XT, VE4DRK
CQ WW 2014 SSB multi-single VE4EA, VE4XT, VE4DRK
almost!
almost!

Another year — will have to plan another one – as it was fun working with these guys …

Take a look at their happy faces last year —  CQ WW 2014 SSB contest

73, Dan ve4drk

High speed cow – take 2

High-speed cow - take 2
High-speed cow – take 2

If at first you don’t succeed … this was the outcome of that first try — more time.

Was expecting a few hours to complete the setup, but it turns out it took all day to do what we had to do 🙂 🙁

On Sunday, Colin VE4CST and Dan VE4DRK met Jim VE4CY on the way to the Woodlands site where we started to verify the setup and ensure it’s working.

Working on the mounting for the UPS and ancillary plugs as well as getting the new batteries installed in the UPS, all was looking good.

UPS setup
UPS setup

Well — we ran into a few issues along the way — took a lot longer than expected- we had to build our own mount which was interesting.  Thank god for “step bits”!

Step bits!
Step bits!

They went through that iron like butter!  We also eventually found the spare drill battery 🙂

mount to be
mount to be
mount 'be'
mount ‘be’

A rather nice job fabricating this mount – and Colin even had rust protection spray paint, so Jim gave it that ‘pro’ look –  great job all around.

antenna 'not to be'
antenna ‘not to be’

Let’s face it, it’s now October — in Manitoba — it’s getting chilly, especially up top the 100′ silo where Colin spent a lot of time mounting etc., but we ran into some stiff wind and moving this large ‘pizza-box’ size flat antenna up with shorter-than-expected rope up the side was just not going to do it – so we just ensured the Microtik router was up and running and plugged into the antennas and away we go — except — we had to fill up a couple of tires with air  as it seems we ran into (over) some nails and one tire was completely flat and the other down to 20lbs.  Lucky enough we’re on a farm and the 5ton service vehicle was close by to fill us up before we headed up and make it back to the city.  (Thanks guys!)

But, the fun continues, as on the way out we try to connect to the 2.3GHz omni – it is so weak it is hardly reachable!  Something is not right — we scanter about looking for signals etc but can’t find any and back-up back to the farm yard and connect back to the unit from the south facing directional antenna and Colin does his magic and re-connects the wireless card with the right antenna port 🙂

Ola’ there we go and we can hear it pretty good down the road — Jim was ahead of us a bit and was already climbing his tower by the time we rolled by …

Jim VE4CY tower climbing (nice SteppIR by the way!)
Jim VE4CY tower climbing (nice SteppIR by the way!)

…so we tried a regular nanostation to see how it would perform – Ola! again we have a weak signal!  Not bad for a 7 mile or so run.  We give Jim the coax, grid antenna and Colin instructs on how to create the mount/etc and Jim will have a nice setup for his shack.  Luckily, Jim has iron working equipment and can fabricate his own goods to mount the antenna on.

antenna to mount
antenna to mount

An expected 4 hour job turned into an 8 hour plus job as events unfolded …  thank goodness my XYL sent sandwiches and munchies/water 🙂

we’ll be there soon …

73, Dan ve4drk

High-speed cow!

Well – it’s been a while since I was on a farm operation :

High-Speed Cow
High-Speed Cow

… but that’s where we were bright and early Sunday morning – I dropped by Colin VE4CST’s QTH at 0730hrs and we met Jim VE4CY as we passed along and headed up the 7 mile ride to the site.  Arriving at about 8:30am from the trip from the ‘peg to a farm operation out in Woodlands area which is about an hour north-west of the city from my area – we started the operation right away.

This is a great site in the area as it has a 100’ large silo with an existing RF infrastructure established which we are able to tag-along with and install some amateur radio RF connections.   First on the list was to install the 2.3GHz and the 5.9GHz dual back-haul grid antennas and the 2.3GHz omni.  Colin scaled the silo and Jim followed and Dan stayed on the ground.

Silo Scaling
Silo Scaling

Then looking from the homestead …

Way-up!
Way-up!
way-up-from-homestead
way-up-from-homestead

and from up-top:

dan-from-afar
dan-from-afar

After Colin setup the mounts and antennas way up, and Jim and Dan ran the cable through the barn into the control room (remember it’s a barn, so cleanliness is not the order of the day) — Colin setup the router and the wifi cards …

route and wifi
route and wifi

Colin was able to install the box and finishing up a few things on the way down:

finishing up
finishing up

We have a few more things to do with it – so it’s not 100% yet but another trip planned and list of things-to-do should cover it – we’re already gathering up pieces that are required to complete the job and spend another half day up there.

We will also be installing a larger 3′ dish on our primary site to  provide the feed for this site – will be interesting to see how well it performs with the dual back-haul.

Was just shy of 6 hours spent at the sight and I don’t know if it was the fresh air or what, but man, was I tired — slept like a baby last night.

73, Dan ve4drk

New 2.3GHz access site installed

This was the wrap-up and finalization of a site that Colin had been working on for a few trips.  It’s located in the St James area and has decent visibility/height to serve those around it.  Derek VE4HAY, Colin VE4CST and myself met Isaac at the Bread plant.  We were able to finish tacking up the long run of cat5e cable to the mount point.

Derek drilling holes for mounting
Derek drilling holes for mounting

 

Colin finished installing the new MicroTik router and wireless cards into the enclosure that houses the flat panel antenna.  Also along with that was a nice 12dB 2.3GHz omni antenna.

New MicroTik board - lots of growth
New MicroTik board – lots of growth

 

Wasn’t too hard of a job, but took a few hours from start to finish – when all was said and done, Colin did the last bit of setup on the router board and away we went:

Setup
Setup

 

It’s position looks quite good for the local area — will have to make sure we get more hams active on it.

 

shot from a-far
shot from a-far

This site, and other remote sites like it, will be well-served when our new sector antennas come in – at that point, we can make a trip to our primary site and replace the antennas and adjust the frequencies – maybe even reduce our usage of the spectrum a bit.

73, Dan ve4drk

 

Hide an antenna

Well .. it was great to get on the air no 2.3GHz earlier in the month.  Had to have the antenna moved to the front of the house so as not to get interference from the roof.  Not too close though so it’s totally visible .. good thing it works pretty good as the XYL did not know where it was located as she couldn’t see it.

I had to take some pics to show here where it was:

Find the antenna
Find the antenna
side pic
side pic

So – I can’t complain – if the XYL can’t see it very easily – all the better 🙂

73, Dan ve4drk

New router OS – literally

In further support of the 2.3 GHz project, I decided it was time to learn the ins and outs of our current router we use to link our units all together — that would be the MicroTik line of routers.

So, William had a few spare units the group wasn’t using yet, so I popped by and he gave me a “black box” — inside was a sturdy black metal box with lots of holes in it 🙂   Further interesting was the stuff that was inside those holes … nine (yes, 9) ethernet ports in this little box!

Now that's a router!
Now that’s a router!

While I do have a nice 24 port Extreme Networks switch in the rack downstairs, this little guy will be useful in linking up my 2.3GHz RF unit into the rest of the network.  Along the way, I’ll familiarize myself with the inner workings, routing, firewalling/etc with this puppy .. lots to learn I’m sure .. but having already used the web-based admin section on another MicroTik router, I get the gist of it .. just gotta learn the itty bitty details.

73, Dan ve4drk

New install and also on-the-air!

I’ve know Cary VE4EA for a couple of years now – mostly regarding contesting.  He is getting much more into remote-station operating and VoIP in a big way now it seems, and had some issues/questions to work out, so we were chatting a bit one day.  I mentioned that he should join our little group and get involved with our 2.3GHz highspeed data project  so, he bit and joined up.

Discussing with the rest of the guys, Colin chimes up that he can do the install that day – just needs a spare RF unit.  Wow …. well, I had a couple in my basement  but was heading out for the monthly MRS exec meeting that night.  So, I left them on my door-step.  After coming back from the meeting, I check the MicroTik routers to see if Cary had made it on yet – not yet, so I email Colin asking how are things with Cary .. just as I get it sent, I see Cary’s callsign pop upon the MicroTik!  he’s on the air.  Mind you, it’s after 10pm at night now .. and from what I understand, Colin was working in a light-restricted time of day – but was able to get him operational.  Now, the aiming needs to be adjusted and possibly a better antenna to ensure the signal strength will be adequate — more to come.

ve4ea 2.3GHz antenna
ve4ea 2.3GHz antenna

So, once all done, Cary can do his remote ham operating and Ham VoIP over the group’s 2.3GHz data link.   Nice.  Another addition to our active user list.

73, Dan ve4drk

2.3GHz – and on the air

It was a nice day and lucky for me Colin VE4CST had some spare time to come to my QTH and install (properly) my 2.3GHz radio on the roof.  (I say properly, as my installation mount was not up to spec).  After installation, it was determined the model should be upgraded to provide better signal quality.  Being about 8 km away or so from the main site, a good antenna at the frequency is great.  So, after all was said and done, installing mount, radio and running cable, splicing etc I have a nice 10Mbps RF connection over ham radio frequencies 🙂  Gotta love that!  Our spectrum utilization is quite narrow at this point in time – we didn’t want to over-use the allocations just for us, just in case.

We needed to get to visit Walter VE4VB’s setup and verify some items.  It had been intermittent it seems.  So, we head on out towards his QTH – but on the way we need to have a bite to eat, so we stop in at a local east-indian restaurant — nice break.

Getting to Walter, we find him eager to see what we were going to do.  Colin remembered the angle of the unit mounted to the tower would need to be adjusted, so a hunt was on for spare parts in Walter’s garage — we eventually find some useful tubing on the side and proceed to cut it down to size.  Colin heads on up the tower and replaces the existing radio with a new(er) one and re-aims the unit.

 

Colin scaling Walter's tower - replacing RF unit
Colin scaling Walter’s tower – replacing RF unit

Next, we had to re-wire the rj45 conneector to spec and re-work his router to ensure it’s all setup.  After a bit of time, we figured things out and got them arranged just so.  So, now, it’s a stable connection with full time connection for his ham functions.

On the way out, we were treated to some of his “buckets” of tomatoes he seemed to have grown — thanks Walter – and thanks Colin, for all your hard work!

73, Dan ve4drk

2015 NA SSB Sprint

Remember my prior post on this? 2015 NA SSB Sprint ?? Well, today in the email, I received a note from the contest organizer that I had won 1st place for low power in my section. Well, I thought, that’s great … then I remembered the contest and how difficult it was.

There was only three entries for VE4-land, one was high power and two were low power — both the other Dan and I had low scores as we both run modest station setups.

So, I was kinda surprised to hear I had placed.  Although I was not too impressed with my score vs my submitted score .. I lost 6 contacts from errors somehow .. oh well … seems the conditions were not that good after all 🙂 🙁  Also not sure what happened with the team submission – I do log as RadMan 🙂

Scores for this little one
Scores for this little one

Will see how it goes — I’d like to continue with it — but I need better setup.

73, Dan ve4drk

VA4WAN planning …

So, it’s been summer and everyone has lots on their mind (beyond working on radios all the time) — so it’s been a while since we’ve worked on some of the core features of the system, so it was time to have a meeting of the minds to go over what we have to do and how to get it done and etc etc …

Having a long list to go through, it only took 2.5 hrs to review, discuss, hash-out etc to ensure we have a priority list of items to get taken care of.  Naturally, there was the meeting after the meeting to discuss other stuff … I stayed behind and Derek treated to scotch while we chatted, along with William.  Colin had to run right around 9 — but it was great to get the guys into a room to figure out what where we need to go and do to keep momentum moving on the projects.

Sites, bands, routing, access, servers, collaboration server and the like were all discussed.  So, a good meeting was had to ensure we keep this moving.

73, Dan, ve4drk

NAQP & new capacitance hat!

Well — I did try out the NAQP SSB this weekend — the bands were terrible … looking at the solarham site, it did show RED … solar winds were well over 400 and the conditions did show that … the only band that was partly open was 20m .. 15 and above really didn’t exist .. 40 was ok later in the evening .. i put in about 5 hours .. and i only made about 50+ contacts .. I will submit my logs to assist those that need them.

I even had a couple of thanks for the “rare ve4” section being in the contest!

Funny though — the only ve4 I heard was Ed VE4YU – he was S&P so I couldn’t work him.  I made a ve7 and a ve3 contact and that’s about it for the CDN side of things – the rest were US based contacts.

But — my antenna may be better now that it has a better looking capacitance hat on it ! 🙂   My XYL calls them lemon-drops!

73, Dan ve4drk

 

Local Antenna policy

Industry Canada administers the spectrum in Canada as well as it’s licensing and restrictions on various apparatus.

Recently, a group of municipalities had their get-together and one topic was the consultation process that Industry Canada wants the municipalities to provide clear guidance on what is locally acceptable.  Naturally, IC will have final say, but this guidance holds weight and will be just that – a guide —

For us hams, there is only one small paragraph which is applicable … and it is:

antenna-info

So, keep it in the back, don’t intrude on your neighbour, don’t make it go ‘blink’, and keep it under 70′.  Well, that is not too bad .. 70′ is reasonable within the city limits and does a decent job for most hams.

Actual reference:

City of Winnipeg Antenna Systems Policy

Industry Canada Amateur Radio Publications

73, Dan ve4drk

Antenna changes

I’ve been puttin’ this off for a bit .. getting my 2.3GHz high speed network connection functional.  I finally took down the alpha-delta fan dipole and the g5rv and the mount is down from the house.

New mount was fun to get up .. barely .. now I’m tired and have to put the fan dipole on the mount pole to have it erected on the mount on the house … that will have to be day 2. … maybe tomorrow … maybe not – depending how I feel.  Climbing ladders up and down just isn’t my cup of tea anymore.

So, when I mount this antenna up and give it a go, should be much better being much higher in the air 🙂  here’s hoping.

73, Dan ve4drk

Winnipeg Digital Repeater Group AGM

Wednesday July 29, a number of us met at the Sals on Leila to hold the annual general meeting of the Winnipeg Digital Repeater Group.

Quite a number turned out for this AGM.  There was no topic per se, but a review of last year’s notes and new business was quick and that was it.

There are 2 newbies on the exec – Derek VE4HAY is the new vice president, and Dan VE4DRK (that’s me) is the new membership chair.

This will be a good tenure to take for a year or so — help out a bit as I also currently handle the MRS memberships as well.

Also of note – the WDR group is also now merged up with the HSMM digital group – which is great, as we have similar interests and uses.

Here’s to a good year ahead!

73, Dan ve4drk

New *short* contest (really short!)

A month or so ago, I received an email from a contest organizer indicating a new type of short contest is being setup on a trial basis.  Now, when I say “short”, I mean “short”!   How’s 30 minutes one evening during the week?!  Yup — for the month of August, on Tuesdays at 9:30pm (CDT) for 30 minutes, we run like NAQP and work stations with 100 watts.  Now, that is more my style, considering that’s all the power I have to run with — so it’s a semi-level playing field.

So, I don’t get into it right away, as I forgot about it and only worked about 15 or so minutes of the contest.  But, I did S&P and run for a bit – but given it’s so short, it’s hard to do much searching the bands — one would run out of time!  So, I stuck mostly to 20m and 40m and did try 80 and 160, but did not hear much on those bands.

So, all in all, a mere 7 contacts with 7 mults gives me a whopping score of 49!  woo hoo LOL …

Anyways, I had not been that active in the past while, so running a short contest was a good thing to try it out.

Will have to try again and see how many more show up …

73, Dan ve4drk

VE4LRFG – special event station

The local airwaves were mentioning that the special event station VE4LRFG would be working 3.885MHz with Amplitude Modulation — from a “19 set” to commemorate the two world wars.  This special event station would be operating from the grounds of the National History Site of Lower Fort Garry .

There was a lot of local hams in the Winnipeg area who were chompin’ at the bit to get a contact with this station — only a few were able to make it in from what I heard.  So, my XYL and I ventured “up” north to the “lower” fort garry history site — given we have a Parks Canada “Discovery” pass we picked up earlier in the year, we were able to save the entry fee (also to the Cabot Trail earlier in the month!)  It was quite the hot day and turned out to be quite muggy.

We did see one station setup in a vintage jeep at the entrance to the site – stopped to say hi and we ventured in.  Strolling down the path a ways, we arrived at the stone fort — impressive structure being built back then — and in the middle of the ‘big house’ was Joe VE4XI working the 19 set and talking to visitors explaining the setup and reason for the special event.  I came across some other hams visiting in the area and I spent some time talking to Joe for a bit and listening to him talk to visitors.  He was there for some time, so when it was quieter, he asked if I’d look after the station while he goes for a break — sure!

So, I turned up the RF gain and made some calls — I understand this was only about 10 watts output and it was only to a 30′ length of wire about 25′ in the area — but a voice came back, VE4UR, Bob responded.  Wow I thought, pretty good — should have been good as he was working the site mobile from the parking lot!

Anyways, it was great to operate a vintage set – I understand it is owned by VE4AY.  So, thanks guys for putting on the display and allowing me to operate the rig!

I wasn’t able to get a contact via RF, but I did get an eye-ball contact!

‘Till we meet again …

LoweR Fort Garry special event QSL card
LoweR Fort Garry special event QSL card

 

Back of QSL card VE4LRFG
Back of QSL card VE4LRFG

73, Dan ve4drk

VE1VAS – Marconi National Historic site

On my recent tour to VE1-land (Nova Scotia) it also included a trip around the Cabot Trail – a great experience.

I was also able to venture into Glace Bay and visit the Parks Canada National Historic Site for Marconi and the location ham radio station VE1VAS at the site.

VE4DRK at Marconi site
VE4DRK at Marconi site
VE1VAS
VE1VAS
VE1VAS
VE1VAS
VE1VAS
VE1VAS

A great visit for a historic site off the beaten path …

73, Dan ve4drk

Field Day 2015

The annual gathering of remote setup and operation on emergency power occurred again.  I was assisting with the setup of the computers/networking.

20150615_085846b

Colin VE4CST graciously provided 3 systems to use as logging computers during the event. I scrounged up monitors, keyboards, mice and cords etc and we had enough to successfully use.

Rob VE4GV and Cary VE4EA came over to my QTH with Rob’s radio and I picked up Derek VE4HAY’s radio.  This gave us some time to ensure the radios were talking properly to the computers.  It was great to work with the guys and with some remote support from Gerry W1VE, we were able to link up what we had.  After a long(ish) session, we called it a night and were ready for the following Saturday.

Early morning on Saturday I packed up all the gear:

20150626_203629b

 

After setting up all the computer systems, William VE4VR provided the networking setup and it all worked just great.  We even had a connection via our HSMM 2.3GHz radio link to the internet for general use.

Also had to put up the signage on the front-lawn of CMU:

 

 

20150627_104138c

 

Derek VE4HAY and Colin VE4CST examining their handiwork
Derek VE4HAY and Colin VE4CST examining their handiwork
New field day HF beam
New field day HF beam

That’s about the extent of my helping with the event  – spent most of the time at the event and only ran some HF a small amount … hopefully we did well.

73, Dan ve4drk

Glenn, W0GJ presentation to Radiosport Manitoba

Tuesday June 9th – our little radio group had a special visitor come all the way up from the states to give us a presentation on his involvement in the K1N Navassa DX-pedition.

We were also joined by friends from Alberta and the northern states by other interested DXers.  A hearty buffet was available – and most strapped on the feed-bag prior to the presentation.

Glenn gave us a very interesting presentation on the scope and size of the effort needed to co-ordinate/plan/execute such an endeavor.   I took in the presentation — and the subsequent following presentation.

Excellent presentations and content and our group was well represented.

A small fundraiser was provided by a couple of donations – and a key donation from Glen on a ‘rock’ of petrified bird droppings with K1N etched in it fetched a hearty amount to help the group.

Thanks to those who organized and supported the meeting – was great to hear.

20150609_211150b

 

Thanks for all the co-ordination guys — I was glad to attend.

73, Dan ve4drk

VA4WAN – continued progress and enhancements

Last Sunday William VE4VR, Colin VE4CST, Les VA4LES and myself headed up to the location of our VA4WAN high-speed networking site.  Had to re-establish some good weighting on a unit outside and ensure it was strong enough to withstand the high winds like we had a week prior.  Good thing it was built like a tank – no damage!

Since we were up there, we had to re-organize things 😉 … so, all the RF units were re-organized on the tower – here’s Colin doing his thing:

Colin working hard ...
Colin working hard …

The rats nest of PoE injectors was just that — a mess, so we had to do something .. re-org a bit better.  I think we need to invest in a good multi-port PoE injector unit for this site — sure would help keep things neat.

A new router-board unit with a metal box to help keep unwanted stray RF out of it was also installed – will help no doubt.

Our new 5GHz link radio and antenna was installed to point to our soon-to-be-new multi-connection point.  That will offer us dual BGP routing to our network from two major net connections .. wowser!  fun times.

Took a lot longer than expected – over 6 hrs 🙁 but we’re in a better position now than before.  A wee bit more work on things and it will be even better.

Today, I spent a hour or two working on a local ham’s nano station to ensure it is connecting properly to our network – so it’s line of sight and works like a charm 🙂  Happy days.

73, Dan ve4drk

VE4WRS IRLP

Well, a week or so ago, we rounded up a couple of network gurus and headed back up to the site to ensure we get the networking setup properly.

Accompanying myself, was our host Ed VE4EAR, William VE4VR and my son Robert VE4RLK.

Sure enough – as soon as they were in and we pointed out where things were, it was evident what the issue was … so the box that I thought was just in dumb adsl model mode was actually in router mode and we were running PPPoE over PPPoE or some such .. so, fun .. was fairly easy to get things back setup properly and it’s been working just fine since.

The repeater is getting a good workout with all the IRLP connections and we’re able to monitor the system better now as well.

Robert and William figuring it out
Robert and William figuring it out

Our receiving antenna is at the very tip top of this tower – barely visible !

Great antenna
Great antenna

Thanks for all your help and time guys — and so it goes …

73, Dan ve4drk

Sierra Radio Systems controller

You may recall a previous posting http://ve4drk.keizer.ca/?p=145 where I discussed the local repeater group getting a funky new repeater controller.  Well, it is finally hooked up to a repeater and is on-line on our local 44/net.

It has some nice interface options to the repeater controllers which will be fun to experiment with and see what is possible.

I’ve worked with administering an IRLP system and setting them up -so some of the concepts are there, but in a much grander scale — this unit is rather nice.

Looking forward to implementing new VoIP/RoIP connectivities

73, Dan ve4drk

Radiosport Manitoba – special presentation — W0GJ

Well, this fell across my lap the other day from Cary VE4EA.  Seems he has been able to secure the presence of Glenn W0GJ to present at a special meeting of the group!  This is exciting.  Glenn has been involved in a significant number of major DXpeditions over the past number of years and has just recently returned from K1N Navassa ..

To learn more about Glenn, turn to his QRZ page at:

http://www.qrz.com/lookup/w0gj

As well as for current information on the event, turn to http://rsmb.keizer.ca

So, save the date — Tuesday June 9, 2015.  Location TBD — but we are expecting a large turnout!

73, Dan ve4drk

MRS AGM

The Manitoba Repeater Society held it’s AGM Thursday April 23 at the Norberry Community Centre — our usual place for holding the AGM in the past while.  A good attendance of almost 30 members attended which allowed the exec to provide updates to finance, membership and technical updates as well as the current state of the repeater network — expansion efforts, as well as discussion on settings up a working group to discuss options for ROIP – radio over IP.

Certainly will be interesting to discuss.

73, Dan ve4drk

VE4WDR, HSMM, and CQ WPX

One of the groups I belong to is the VE4WDR – Winnipeg Digital Repeater group that runs and operates the local D-Star repeater.  I joined the group last year and picked up a hand-held dstar radio to try out the modes and understand more of the protocols – how we can use it/leverage it /etc …

Well, the computer that runs the internet-gateway services for the dstar system crashed a couple of weeks ago, and while it was attempted to resurrect the machine, it was DOA and not recovering, so a new server was procured – thanks to William VE4VR on his server-grade rack-mount unit with redundant supplies/etc.  After getting the software CD’s /downloads, I was able to get the server back in operational state – running in my rack in my basement.

So, we finally get a time where a group of us can scale the bldg at the site and install the new server.

After getting the old server out (a pc-based desktop housed inside a rack-mount enclosure), we needed to put the (larger) server in a different spot — higher up.

Plugging in the power and the ethernet cables, it came up just fine and started it’s registration process to put itself on the routes.  A little while late rand viola, we were back on-line.  Now Garth VE4GWB was working hard on figuring out the free-start g2_link new software – so there’s a bit of new stuff to figure out, but at least it’s back on-line and more secure.

Attending the fix was VE4GWB, VE4MAB, VE4VR, VE4DRK, VE4RLK and his S.O. Laura.

I was able to spend a few hours spread over a couple days to try my hand at the CQ WPX contest.  I didn’t quite make my deadline on getting my new antenna up, so I didn’t put in much time (nor effort) — so my score shows — I think I made around 140 contacts — so, just played around.

The other item that I was able to get tested out was my ubiquiti radio on the 2.3GHz amateur radio spectrum.  After setting it atop my 20′ pole, I was able to get some connectivity — albeit only at a 1.5Mbps rate .. so I do need more height — mounted to the pole above the house should do it 🙂  will see.

On the bright side, Walter VE4VB was ale to get connected to the network as well — he’s only a couple of km from the site, so it appears he has good coverage, but might be slightly obscured from equipment on top of the bldg and off to the side .. will do further tests to figure that out.

73, Dan ve4drk

 

VA4WAN – continued progress

A large contingent of hams scaled the 55 Nassau building last Sunday.  Accompanying us was our ISP provider Les from les.net (who coincidentally happens to also be a ham) and with us was a large external enclosure and some new RF gear — a spanking new Air Fiber 24GHz unit!  So the point of this visit is to replace the existing link with this new hot one.  With one radio already setup at the base and this one being installed, the speed will be over 1Gbps duplex 🙂

Switching gear/etc
Switching gear/etc
The Air Fiber ... first dish on the right-side
The Air Fiber … first dish on the right-side
William, Colin, Derek (and apparently my thumb) working on the rack
William, Colin, Derek (and apparently my thumb) working on the rack

 

one switch, two switch - small switch, big switch
one switch, two switch – small switch, big switch

SO – how fast can this this transfer data?  How about 800Mbps sustained!  Now that’s quite a data feed for our little radio setup – and that’s without tweaking the configuration.

We have more work to do on the network configuration/management end of things, but it’s all good working forwards.

The effort now is to bridge this connection to remote points of the city and outside to provide services to hams and ham groups.

Stay tuned!

73, Dan ve4drk

Meeting VE4VJ up close …

While I was able to see the VE4VJ/VE4WPG site up close and personal on a previous visit on the roof, I had not been in the machine room where the RF gear is located – except for this last Sunday where I accompanied Yuri VE4ACX, Dick VE4HK to the Richardson building at Portage & Main in Winnipeg.

I didn’t realize the close quarters that the gear is setup in — mind you, we don’t need alot of room to host the RF gear.

The UHF repeater VE4VJ is being taken out of service to tune up the RF & audio.  Also – the two link radios are being brought in for Yuri to tune as well — almost like getting the oil replaced in your car – just not as often 🙂

Repeaters
Repeaters
RF gear
RF gear
RF gear ...
RF gear …

 

It will be back on the air in a week or so after Yuri does his magic … it’s a great repeater and site.

73, Dan ve4drk

Radiosport Manitoba March meeting

A rather nice meet-up occurred on a Thursday – March 12 – at a new venue for our group.  For this monthly meeting, we held it at a local restaurant and we invited our XYL’s!

We had all but one able to show up (work gets in the way sometimes) — and we all had a good time talking about DX and contesting – yes – even the XYL’s understand the lingo.  That’s a good thing considering they are always aware of the wires and gadgets the clutter the house up! 🙂

Quality of my phone camera is less than desirable – but you get the idea:

A fine group of ladies with the DX contest group
A fine group of ladies with the DX contest group

73, Dan ve4drk

ARRL International DX Contest

Its been over a month since I’ve been involved in any contests.

I started to work this contest — did a few in the first couple of hours — then called it a night.

Unfortunately, a run-in with my sushi coming back up on my caused me to miss most of the contest — bad sushi, means staying in bed all day — no radio!  So, I only make 49 contacts – not good at all – but at least I feel better now and can continue on.

oh well.

73, Dan ve4drk

2015 SSB Sprint …

I have to admit, while I had not had any experience working in this contest, I have heard about it read the rules/etc.  Cary VE4EA was drumming up local support for more turn-out to this contest.

I did read about it in the last NCJ that it would no longer be a supported contest from their perspective.  The indication was poor turn-out in the last number of years.  A band of hams got together to keep it going and they were pushing for participation — so I decided, why not – I’ll try something new.  Well, it was new for sure!

One has to remember the ability of their station (and the operator) to work a contest under various conditions.  I still consider myself a n00b in the contest scene and still get my feet wet where I can — this was a rather ‘interesting’ contest.  Another local ham, fairly new to the HF/contesting scene, Dan VE4DPR also participated — I worked both Cary and Dan on at least one band during the contest.

Score is as such (I hope):

The score -- brutal
The score — brutal

I can say for the first while it went along fine – and I was able to S&P and get responses when I was calling CQ — then about half-way through the contest, it became more interesting.  Seems I could not finagle a contact through a pile-up — and given that I only had one crack at it, until the next station came on, it was all or nothing.  I lost a few contacts when either they faded or adjacent QRM caused too much interference to complete the entry — remember I do run a rather old basic radio, a TS450SAT on a G5RV and a vertical.

The contest was also categorized as QRP/LOW/HIGH power … I’m not sure how the QRP stations would have made out with the high power stations.  It appears to be a fun contest for those with decent station setup and certainly if you’re running power – you can charge right in and get the contact.

So, as you know, I’m looking to increase the antenna count for my station — and have picked up a fan dipole to try out for better receive — will see how well it performs once it warms up a bit (I don’t like to climb the house at-40c).

Keep on truckin’ …

73, Dan ve4drk

NAQP SSB

Yeah yeah — for those not familiar with the ham radio contest scene, it’s geek talk for North American QSO Party SSB.

(And for those not familiar with what a QSO is, click on the words for a reference).

Anyways — it’s a relatively short contest (noon to midnight).  Single operators have a maximum of 10hr operating time, and teams have the full 12 hours.  Since my antennas work best on the higher bands, I worked everything I could at first, 10, 15, 20 and then switched to 40,80 later in the day.  I spent the full 10hrs working the contest – unfortunately didn’t find anyone on 160 – could have used some more mults I think.  My QSO rate was not what I was hoping – even with running for a while, it wasn’t what I was expecting – I may have left it too late.

The cool thing about this contest is that we’re all on a level playing field, so to speak, at least in terms of power.  Everyone runs low power – which means 100 watts maximum — or there is the QRP route (5 watts maximum).  Naturally, what dictates the score is how good an antenna system one has, as well as location/height.  To separate the men from the boys, operating skills come into play.

I ran with two antennas — a G5RV and a ground-mounted vertical — switched back and forth to check which was best for different conditions/etc — found the majority of the contacts were better with the G5RV, but for the odd one, the vertical proved much better, go figure.   (I had to make a note which antenna was on which port, as I had switched them around just prior to the contest after making some small mods.

Heard the usual VE4 guys on – not as much as the Canada Winter Contest – but was good to hear local activity.

Was kinda nice, I had my dinner delivered to me in the basement where my rigs are, so I was able to continue operating while muching down some grub.  (Thanks Miss).

So, the posted scores are as such:

Call: VE4DRK
Operator(s): VE4DRK
Station: VE4DRK

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: WINNIPEG
Operating Time (hrs): 10hr
Location: Canada

Summary:   Compare Scores
Band QSOs Mults
160:
80: 15 11
40: 38 22
20: 64 29
15: 99 30
10: 14 3
Total: 230 95 Total Score 21,850

Club: Radiosport Manitoba

As you can see, 15 was rockin’, but 20 came up a bit more.

Used the new N1MM logging software – works quite well on this new(ish) laptop.  Now that I have the SSD drive installed and the OS working the way I want it, time to transfer all the goodies over to this machine and setup the digital side of HF things …

Until the next set … time to get the setup changed 🙂

73, Dan, ve4drk