VE4CNR/IRLP, POE voltage upgrades and another contest …

Quite some time ago, the MRS repeater, VE4WRS, had to vacate it’s location due to changes in the site contracts of our sponsor.  That was a great location for an amateur radio repeater – and it was the repeater that operated a local IRLP gateway.  While there are a few of these gateways around town, this was was great as it had great coverage and it was on a repeater and not a simplex node. It has been in the list of things to do for the MRS – Manitoba Repeater Society for a bit, I was asked to help get this back on-line.  While I’m not a member of the exec, but am a paid-up member of the MRS (you should too:  Join/Renew MRS today!, I always enjoy helping out where I can.  So, I arrange to pick up the gear from Dick VE4HK from the storage bin, take it home and ensure it’s reconfigured and up to date, gets registered and gets a new node number IRLP 1504 @ VE4CNR .  Testing it at my home with my interface and radio – it works great!  The new site has physical access available around 9-5 and is in the ENE part of the city.  With me living in the SE and working in the SW, it’s not the easiest place to get to during normal working hours.  After having a few difficulties with interconnecting the radio system to the controller, we get Yuri VE4ACX involved and lends a hand.  We agree we need to make a visit and I take a day off work and we agree to meet up early in the morning (early for some anyways hi hi) .. and meet at the site.  I setup my laptop and we work on getting it all hooked in:

 

ve4cnr with va4wan

One of the reasons we can provide the IRLP system access there is that we have an already established connection to our city-wide VA4WAN amateur radio high-speed network!  You too can join/renew: Join/Renew VA4WAN!

VA4WAN dugald site – high-speed network

The work that was previously done there easily facilitates a connection to it.  Plugging in the ethernet cable and the bits start flying by.

Diagnosing a few items, the issue comes to light and a change in connection is done and then, viola, audio comes back in larger than life!  Running a test with some local (and remote) systems shows that the audio is awesome and gets good reviews by those with better ears than mine.  (Back in my younger years, I do recall a few times forgetting to wear my ear defenders/plugs during firing of the 105mm howitzers.  Only takes once (or twice) to remember hi hi).

The computer was left at the site and the rest of the goods was put back into the storage locker at the site:

 

storage
storage

I had not been to this site before – the rest of the guys put up our VA4WAN access to this site prior.  So, we have two backhauls – 1 to 55N and another to 60C – for redundancy.  There’s still work to be done on network reconfiguration etc, but, hey, it’s there.

back-hauls

there’s also a local 2.3GHz connection for guys in the area.  (It’s kinda wayyyyy up there, so I’ll highlight it a bit):

local 2.3GHz 270degree sector

and finally .. as we put our gear back in our respective trunks, Walter gives me a present to take back … the test gear we used for our AllStarLink connection at his site will now be repurposed for the remote Winkler site (VE4TOM), so I’ll set that up for programming – just waiting on a local static ip from their config out there.  AND — he was able to modify the voltage on this POE switch to provide 24v to support all our POE gear!  That is awesome – and will certainly help out and be used for our site at 55N!

re-purpose the RPi and URI and new upgraded voltage for this POE switch!

So, all-in-all, that was a good morning out.  Then out to coffee we go to see the rest of the coffee crowd.  Thanks to Walter VE4VB and Yuri VE4ACX for their fine work as always.

 

Now – onto my last item of the day — contesting.  Yesterday was the NAQP SSB August contest.  Conditions were so-so going into it and they stayed that way – not too good.  But, I was able to put in a few hours and made shy of 100 contacts, so not too shabby for me!  I was equally surprised how well 40m turned out – had some great contacts on that band and it turned out I made more than on 20m.  I did not hear any VE4 stations on there – quite a number of the contacts I made thanked me for the VE4/MB section mult.  For me, 80 was so poor, I had trouble hearing anyone, and 160 was non-existent.  (read need bigger antennas!) Now to my other task today – submit the logs – they only give you a week to get them in.  Oh yeah, in case you don’t know, I use VE4EV as my callsign when operating contests – so if you hear me, drop by and say hi.

score – or so I think

73, Dan ve4drk

and another contest … CANADA 150!

With the Canada 150 birthday coming up, there was the usual Canada Day contest to be had.  Having just got back in time to check a few things out I set out to make a few contacts and see how well we can do this year.

Starting out I make the usual first contact with our local power station (Ed ve4ear running the ve4rac station).  He is only a couple of km from me and it’s not difficult to find him in the bands.  I was glad to make a few runs and have some others contact me as I was able to make a VE8 as he replied to my calls!  I was also glad to make all the provinces, but was not able to make anything in YT or NU.  There were some weak stations that I could just not pull out – I was running with both a vertical (R5) and a wire antenna (Alpha-Delta DX LB+).  With the changes in our back yard over the last while, the 160m portion of that antenna is now not resonant – so was not able to reset it in time, so no real 160 contacts (except for our local power station).

Was glad to make a few local contacts and I was surprised how many Saskatchewan (SK) contacts I made – must have been some interesting propagation.  I was only able to make a few contacts on 40 before I found out my relatively newly installed smoke detector is very sensitive to RF and did NOT like 100watts coming out of my antennas – even though they are a ways away — so not sure about that!  I guess they don’t make them like they used to.  Me thinks there needs to be some filtering on the power lines heading into it.

So, having worked a number of hours hoping for a big break in propagation (ha) .. I have the following score:

ah well …

The one thing I did notice in the last while, was that when I picked up a used home-brew 6m 3-element beam from some of the guys (it’s a hand-me-down), it made a significant difference to the operation on that band.  So much so, that I think I have to now try out the tri-band that’s been sitting in the basement for some time — just to see.   I have no means of permanently mounting it at this point, but will be interesting to see how it performs.  Another contest down.

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Radiosport Meeting – Jan 2015

Well .. it’s a new year for our fledgling group and it’s our second year providing information, meetings assistance and contesting to all things DX.  Our latest meeting is held at our leader’s QTH in south St. Vital.  It was annual membership dues time and we all continue to support our local group.  A total of 9 in attendance – a full crowed – new member Harm VE4HAZ who also is taking over responsibility for the Manitoba QSL Bureau after being run by Adam VE4SN for quite some time.

Quite a bit of discussion on supporting and encouraging the local HF community – the local ham community has had quite a few classes over the last couple of years and there’s quite a number of new hams who have HF privileges.  Encouraging to see.  Everyone commented on the latest RAC Winter contest just after Christmas that there was quite a bit of VE4 participation – comments such as “Where did all you VE4’s come from?” was a common comment on the air.

We also will be setting up some additional spotting assistance technologies to support the group – to aid in the usual VHF and Skype connections.

Of also interest to note is that our local fellows – VE4EA, VE4EAR and VE4YU are in the top ten in Canada for the W1AW contest over the past year in 2014.

After the general meeting, we were treated to muchies and a slide presentation of Ed’s trip to 4W.

Thanks Ed and his XYL Jennifer for the hosting and munchies, not to mention the great coffee from the trip.

A tour of Ed VE4EAR/VE4VT contest station setup – quite impressive.  I will also find a pic of his antenna/tower – quite nice too.

Showcasing some RTTY setup
Showcasing some RTTY setup
4W anyone?
4W anyone?

73, Dan ve4drk

 

RAC Winter Contest … whew!

Our local DX Contest group (Radiosport Manitoba http://rsmb.keizer.ca ) was able to secure the VE4RAC callsign to run in the RAC Winter Contest these past couple of days.  The contest runs for 24 hours on 2014-12-27 from 0000h to 2359h UTC.  Next year’s (2015) RAC Winter contest will be on December 19, 2015.

VE4DXR volunteered to run the call and host a multi-single — and I was asked to participate – which I was more than glad to do.  Leor has a nice setup with a spiderbeam ontop of a 58′(ish) tower and runs a TS590 rig – a nice contest rig.

We started off on Friday evening and had a couple of good runs until it got “real” quiet near midnight – seems most contesters slip away into bed for a few hours rest — somewhat useful too considering the bands were not great in that evening.

Back at it in the morning, Leor is working stations before I get back to his station — we make some really good runs on 10/15/20 and Leor pokes away at giving out CW contacts in-between.  (Let’s face it guys, both of us don’t know CW that well, and it was hard slogging through – even with the decoder on!)  But we were able to push out some more contacts on that mode.  We did lack anything outside of HF and were limited to the 80-10 bands.  Something to note for further contests – prepare more ahead 🙂

By the end of it, we were able to contact much of the local VE4 contest traffic – great to see more calls on the air participating in this contest!  and it was great to hear a number of old callsigns and the usual contesting groups working.

By the time 6pm local hit, we were rather tired and were both getting the start of some form of headache — lots of SSB noise ringing in our ears 🙁

Chalking it up to experience, I think we both learned something from each other and are better prepared for future contests.

Here’s Leor’s station setup — he’s chasing the CW …

VE4DXR
VE4DXR

 

While I’m running with SSB …

VE4DRK
VE4DRK

 

The spiderbeam did rather well I must say — great signal *and* great audio reports … using the Heil microphones, it must show 🙂

Spider beam and GAP vertical
Spiderbeam and GAP vertical

 

Fun, fun, fun — until next time …

73, Dan ve4drk

New gear .. always welcome …

Well, during the Christmas season, it’s great to get a new radio piece .. in my case, a nice complement to the contesting scene for me — a spiffy new headset with boom mic  — welcome Heil Pro-set Elite 6 — another easier way of contesting – hands free 🙂

Thanks to my XYL, Michele, for such a great gift …

headset central
headset central

It’s being broken in right away!

73, Dan ve4drk

2014 10m ARRL contest

It was ‘weird’ working only one band on a contest – not quite what I’m used to, but heck, got used to the usual crowd in their usual places after a while — and some moved around just to make it fun to see if I can recall what their call is by their voice 😉

Only worked with the G5RV at 100 watts, so, no power station here that’s for sure.  Still had fun.  3830 score summary listed below … such that it is:

score summary
score summary

Radiosport Manitoba Meeting

It’s been some time since our group last met.  We were unable to set up a time to meet in October – a few fellows have been away – one on a DXpedition to 4W-land 🙂  That’s another story and there were stories 😮

A number of us met to discuss all things DX/contesting.  This time the meeting was held at Adam VE4SN’s QTH.  He’s an established ham with a knack for the DX and it shows – only missing a 1 (or 2?) prefixes.

We heard of our leader’s DXpedition to 4W land.  A local member will also be taking on the VE4RAC callsign for the RAC Winter Contest coming up just after Christmas.  Will be another interesting contest.

After going through the groups’ usual affairs, we were treated to some treats by Adam and his XYL Sylvia.  After such, we had a tour of his shack (pic below).  We will be assisting to get his logs from 3.5″ disk to cabrillo format to get it uploaded to LoTW. 🙂

Adam is also an accomplished painter – having dabbled in that for a while and proudly showcased some of his paintings afterwards.

A rather clean ham-shack if you ask me!

Adam's setup
Adam’s setup

A rather interesting piece of equipment he showed off — a key used from a WWII bomber!  Impressive to have and still use.

 

WWII Bomber Key
WWII Bomber Key

Our next meeting will hopefully be held just after Christmas – scheduled for Lee VE4DXR’s QTH.  More interesting stories 🙂

73, Dan ve4drk

ARRL Sweepstakes SSB

Unfortunately, I was only able to work a few hours on this contest.  This time I was at my own QTH on my own rigs.  After running on Cary VE4EA’s equipment for a while I get a little spoiled, so I started to work on the gear and bring it up to speed to run on a contest.  I did S&P for a while and, man, was it tough — I mean the exchange seemed so slow, it took, like, forever, to get to another exchange.  Oh well —  something to learn from and get better at.

My lowly score :-(
My lowly score 🙁

So, work is (again) on to get my station working easier on a contest …

73, Dan ve4drk

CQ WW SSB 2014 contest

Now that was an experience.  I was able to participate in a multi-single operation for this 48 hour contest.  I have worked this contest before, but only for a bit from my own QTH with limited setup. Cary VE4EA’s location has a good antenna and running 500watts (or thereabouts).  Ops in this contest were Cary VE4EA, Kelly VE4XT and myself.

Serious business ... Cary & Kelly
Serious business … Cary & Kelly
Getting serious contesters to smile during a contest is a tough job!
Getting serious contesters to smile during a contest is a tough job!

I saw some incredible operating by these guys and learned a few things here and there – -just have to make it all ‘stick’.  That comes with more practice me thinks …

Our score on paper is good.  For the Manitoba multi-single category, we should have beat the last record – but with the error count still to be applied, we will see – it’s close.

I’d like to thank Cary VE4EA for hosting the setup, and both Cary and Kelly for showing a newbie how things are done.  Seems I have to re-learn my code to do more contesting.

oh – and here are the submitted 3830 scores:

Call: VE4EA
Operator(s): VE4DRK VE4EA VE4XT
Station: VE4EA

Class: M/S HP
QTH: Winnipeg
Operating Time (hrs): 37.3
Location: Canada

Summary:   Compare Scores
Band QSOs Zones Countries
160: 0 0 0
80: 18 4 3
40: 242 18 39
20: 721 31 75
15: 578 30 92
10: 1183 32 89
Total: 2742 115 298 Total Score 2,539,537

 

Club: Radiosport Manitoba

73, Dan ve4drk

CQ WW RTTY …

… a new mode that I have not done before .. and still have not done at my own QTH.

I was lucky enough to team up with Cary VE4EA for a while Friday night at the start of the contest.  I stuck around and helped worked from 1900 hr local to about 0130hrs local the next day, so about 7 or so hours off and on.  Too bad we didn’t have it spec’ed out fully – would have been interesting to work more.  It is quite a different mode — no need to use a microphone — all keyboard and tuning – we had a bit of a pile-up there now and then too, so that proved interesting.  Cary kept going and got quite the score.

So, given that with RTTY — the next CQ WW SSB contest is coming up soon!  I will have to participate in that more fully 🙂

73, Dan ve4drk

Worked All Europe – SSB (WAE) 2014

Well– it all started out as checking into the local 80m traffic net.  It has been rather interesting the last few days — my noise-level on my rig is almost nil!  I’m wondering, what the’ is going on — but, with a couple of items working against RF, such as the recent CME and my ‘movement’ of my antenna to accommodate some improvements to my landscape. it’s hard to pin-point it down (at least for now).

So, I hear the odd european station calling on the contest and I give the odd call out here and there.  I’m not really working the contest per se, but am helping out some other hams get their contacts up with a local VE4 contact.   Remember, since I’m not really working the contest I’m not using my usual N1MM contest software, but am logging it via paper-log (yes, paper log).  I pick it back up the next day and end up spending more time than expected on the contest.  It was quite strange in some ways — I was hearing more European stations than local North American stations – again, I’m thinking my antenna movement is to blame.  The background noise level is almost nil – and some stations just boom into my rig, where others are so quiet, but I can work them non-the-less.   In the end, I put in a few hours to see what’s going on and to make further contacts

So now to the hard work, transposing those entries from the hard-copy to the digital version to make those submissions count for the rest.

73, Dan ve4drk

Radiosport Manitoba September meeting

A rather nice meeting was held at the home QTH of one of our members, Ed VE4YU.

Unfortunately, not all members could attend – of those in attendance were: Ed VE4YU, AdamVE4SN, Ed VE4EAR, Cary VE4EA, Dan VE4DRK.  Normal proceedings occurred and of note was that one of our members, Ed VE4EAR will be heading out on a DX’pedition mid October to 4W-land!

Ed VE4YU presented a number of videos/power-points on various DX’peditions that have occurred – was interesting to see and hear the adventures.

And, an interesting display was set up by Ed showcasing some of the radio memorabilia he has amassed over the years — very impressive!  Ed showed us his radio setup/shack and we attempted to assist him with some of the interfacing items.

We were filled with cheeses/etc and cake/ice cream, so all was good 🙂

Till next time – at Adam VE4SN’s QTH in Oct.

73, Dan ve4drk

CQ WPX Contest, RSMB Meet, Canada Day Contest, MARM fest, WPG Digital Rerpeater Group, etc

Well, I have some catching up to do on the posting front … it seems there have been some activities which I have not updated on in some time.  Summer months meant it wasn’t as busy on the posting front, but we’ll change that.

May 24-25 I participated in the CQ WPX contest — I think it was my first time submitting scores for that, but I neglected to note that.  Regardless, it was fun and I logged in quite a few contacts.  I did receive my results back — was behind VE4VT, VE4YU — good luck next time to me 🙂

June Radiosport Manitoba meeting (http://rsmb.keizer.ca) had us meeting at Cary’s VE4EA’s household in my ol’ stompin’ grounds in Garden City part of Winnipeg.  It was great to see Cary’s setup and tower.  Of significant interest was the presentation by VE6TL on solar analysis.  The presentation was great and I only wish we could have more of that – it was a great learning meeting.  Jim VE4SIG also attended as he is organizing the 2014 WARC Field Day and RSMB will be operating the contest stations.  A great turnout as usual, VE4YU, VE4EAR, VE4EA, VE4GV, VE4DXR, VE4XT, VE4DRK with guests VE6TL, K7MKL, W6NF/VE4SNA, VE4SIG, VE4TTH.

Almost forgot to mention the June field-day!  Wow – what an event.  There was great support from a number of fronts and it was great to operate in – my first time at that.  I was able to work quite the pile-up with Yuri’s home-brew 40m loop antenna 🙂  It also performed quite well on other bands as well, go figure.    The 40m vertical array was sorta up – some issues, but the 40m vertical was still solid.  Of also significant note would be the conditions we had to work through.  I wasn’t around in the wee hours, but I did hear that Jerry VE6TL did have his operating tent and rigs fall on him during a vicious wind/rain storm.  I think we will be looking for solid structures to operate from in succeeding years – -a trailer may be in order.  I will certainly look forward to spending more time at field day next year!

July 1st makes it Canada Day contest day!  and I was able to work the contest at least for a while.  Will see how the results tally up.

August 16 was the MARM fest.  It’s a great organization and was celebrating it’s 25th year of MARMfesting.  A great achievement.  Unfortunately this may be the last official MARMfest in Austin, but will see.  There’s still a great time had by all who attend and have some eye-balls with those we’ve met over the air, but never in person.  The semi-annual MRS meeting was also held there with a presentation on the current status of the repeaters and linking system and more memberships were brought in – a great time.

Some of us local folk have been interested in supporting a high-speed ham-only digital network on our 2.3GHz bands for all ham groups and hams to use.  It is operational.  The local Winnipeg Digital Repeater group had it’s meeting on September 3 and William VE4VR and I attended to discuss options and plans for integrating the high-speed network.  In the end, it’s a great opportunity, so I also joined that group to support their efforts.

Upcoming events include the Sep meeting of the RSMB at Ed VE4YU’s home and hopefully some more contests.

I’ve been able to aquire an older TA33 Mosley tri-band beam — it’s a good size, as well as a 48′ self-supporting dmx tower – which will hopefully find it’s way to my QTH in short order.  Work is underway to re-do the landscaping, so will see where the tower goes.  Will see if there is time to put it all up prior to the snow flying, but that’s another challenge.

Regardless, I have also received a couple of satellite dish and their mounts to use on mounting a pole to support my 2.3GHz HSMM node – now that I have the outside-rated cable, will see how well the path works between my QTH and the node in Osborne Village.

73, Dan ve4drk

 

 

RadioSport Manitoba

Well – another meeting was had last night – this time at VE4XT’s residence.  A number of items were discussed and resolutions made — all in the name of actively encouraging and supporting DX and contesting 🙂

Also – we’re now bona fide group – even with official receipts:

RSMB_Receipt

Only had a few bucks in my pocket at the time, so the rest will pay when I meet up with Ed next — thanks for getting these spiffy new receipts Ed!

As I was saying – the groups’ about supporting and encouraging DX and contesting – helping other locals to get active on the HF bands and spread the word.

We will be working the field day operations at our local WARC field day — expect to hear us on – should be a great turn-out and lots of operating!

In the mean-time, my little TS450S seems to have developed a humidity issue (or so I’ve been told).  With the recent rain and my radio being in the basement (next to the sump pit), it may be humid – but it seems to go totally deaf (no rx/audio) when the filters are on — turning off the IF filters bring the rx/audio back — so — while I am very comfortable working with computing hardware and the like, I’ll have to check out the inners of this and check the connections a bit more — hopefully it will come to a good end — I like the radio and it works quite well.  Will see how things go — and hopefully I stay on the air.

till next time .. 73, Dan ve4drk

CQ WW WPX Contest (SSB)

Well, my code is rusty and I don’t do digital on HF (yet), so SSB it is…

This was a 48hr contest with a single operator only allowing 36hrs to operate.  While I did participate in this contest more than I had in any other contest, I was still within 12hrs of the max.

My interest was to have the opportunity to work plenty of DX and see how well it goes.  Remember, I still have my ol’ trusty ground-mounted vertical to work off of, so it was tough at times, but oh well, spring is coming soon too — and the snow is melting (although we’re getting another 10cm tomorrow 🙂

I heard a number of VE4’s participating in the contest and I was able to work a couple of locals, as well as the boys at vc6r in ve6-land – their 40m signal was strong.

With the time I had, I certainly logged more scores – and it was interesting to see, as the contest went forward, that my multipliers really made a difference for each contact I made – made me want to get that next contact in the log.  Was a couple of long nights and I didn’t work the end of the contest as I’m not setup to run, but I was able to get the following out of it:

CQ WW WPX score

 

I like the fact that I got 220 unique prefixes out of 330 contacts – that will aid my DXCC in the logs (I hope).  I pushed the logs to LoTW to beat the rush .. and I already have a couple more entities showing up, so I’m now at 43.  A ways to go, and I’m sure it will get tougher …

’till the next time …

73, Dan ve4drk

Russian DX Contest

Well, I had some time to work the Russian DX contest on this past weekend.  In some ways it was nice to have a one full day contest (even though I could not spare all the time — having only put in about 4.5 hours). Regardless, working DX with a vertical has it’s challenges — lack of directivity and being a tad on the weak side, especially since I run barefoot @ 100 watts.

I did hear a couple of the other local DX guys SaP, but not very much NA activity from what I heard.  Could be that all the beams were pointing elsewhere 🙂

So, here’s my results — I do like the fact that I am getting plenty of countries.

20140315-Russian-Dx

Time to get that computer interface working, and a foot pedal.

I received an email from NCJ about the sprint that night, but unfortunately was not able to make that on such short notice – planning in advance may help 🙂

73, Dan ve4drk

 

Radiosport Manitoba – Contest Group

Very good turn-out tonight for our second meeting.  While we continue with the process of structurally forming the group, we were able to discuss things HF and DX.  It was great to see everyone turn out and get to know what we’ve been up to.  Thanks to my XYL, Michele, for all her food and drink selections and spread, all was great.  In attendance:  VE4YU Ed, VE4SN Adam, VE4EA Cary, VE4GV Rob, VE4EAR(VT) Ed, VE4XT Kelly, VE4DRK Dan.

So, the group now has a founding executive to help things go forward.

President – Ed, ve4ear (ve4vt)

Vice President: Cary, ve4ea

Treasurer: Ed, ve4yu

Secretary: Dan ve4drk

We talked about a number of items and lots more to come, so we have work to do to ensure we support the interests and needs of the group and DX in general — so will be a great to see this group moving forward.

More to come!

73, Dan ve4drk

2014 ARRL DX Contest (Phone)

This contest runs for a full 2 day period (6pm Friday to 6pm Sunday – at least CDT anyways).  This year, I was able to spend a few hours working the bands – and I’m glad I did!  Wow.  10m was hopping and 15 was great as well.  20m was down until later on in the evening.

Too bad I was working the contest with only a vertical — but, hey, you use what you have.  Seems to me I need a beam – at least for 10/15/20 — I don’t think I can afford a 40m beam, especially the space and weight!

Our local group now has it’s name listed as one of the contest groups 🙂  Radiosport Manitoba (RadMan).

Our group listings are as such:

RadioSport Manitoba 2014 ARRL DX Phone Scores
RadioSport Manitoba 2014 ARRL DX Phone Scores

 

My breakdown was as such:

ve4drk_2014_arrl_dx_phone

 

While it was difficult to get through a pile-up, persistence did pay off most of the time — finding the right time to slip in.  Most of the time, once another station hears the ‘ve4…’ they get excited and work it in right away.  Seems again, this section is a bit of a rarity in the HF contesting world.

We had our inaugural meet-up a bit more than a month ago.  While most made it, there were a few absent.  Next meet up will be at my home QTH next week, so will be good to discuss all things HF/DX/Contesting/Station/etc … Looking forward to it …

73, Dan ve4drk

2012 ARRL 10m Contest

Well, I have been dabbling in the odd contest here or there, but I seem to get distracted and not upload my results all the time, so I just end up logging them into the LoTW.

But, in the mail yesterday, an envelope from the ARRL arrived.  In it, yes, was another contest certificate!  Wow, I was thinking, great — except — it’s almost embarrassing the score that was claimed.  A whopping “2” — yes, you heard that right – two.  Seems I have two options, claim the score or just submit check logs.

If you look at my first post in this little blog (the one waaaaaaay at the end), you will notice a little reference to this 10m contest — funny too, my 10m dipole is still up 🙂

Really?
Really?

What does this say about the local (ve4) participation in contests?  Well, would be good to change some of that!

Until another arrives …

73, Dan ve4drk

NAQP SSB 2014 – Radiosport Manitoba

Once again (for the second time) – I participated in the North American QSO Party (SSB).  It’s a fairly quick event running for 12 hours with 10 hours operating time for a single operator.  I worked almost the full 10 hours – those hours certainly go by fast!  I think the XYL enjoyed it better with me using my headset!  (Although – wearing them for a long time gets hard on the head)

First time for me operating with a club name — welcome “Radiosport Manitoba”.

I primarily used my ground-mounted vertical for the contest and did try the ‘long-wire’ – but in the end, the vertical won.  (That might say something about my setup of the long-wire though — so, I’ll work on that!)

My logged score (as it is) is as such:naqpssb2014rsm

 

Remember — I’m a n00b at this (ie: newbie) — so be nice.

I have to say, I’m in the presence of some local ‘masters’ of contesting, as it were, as the club has some serious participants with much more experience and great station setups:  VE4EA, VE4GV, VE4VT, VE4YU, VE4XT and me — that’s what I know.

I have received some more tips on enhancing my operating / etc — so there is always work to be done to get better – not to mention getting the RF gear in better shape.  Will see how much time I get to play in the next while (it is a hobby) 🙂

73, Dan ve4drk

 

RAC Winter Contest 2013

I enjoy the RAC contests — and like to make as many CDN contacts as possible.  (I need more wire in the air!).  But I did operate almost 12 hours in the contest — and in those hours I was able to use some new tools.  I actually deemed it good to use software to log entries instead of manually copying them on paper 🙂  Add that with a new(er) radio (ie: a synthesized radio with an auto-tuner as opposed to my ol’ trust Yaesu FT101E manual radio with manual tuner) — I was able to log alot of contacts.  (Well, at least for me it was alot).

This is what I will be claiming — 🙂

        Band    QSOs    Pts  Sec
         1.8       1      10    1
         3.5      14     144    5
           7      24     248    7
          14      59     528    9
          21      42     364    7
          28       3      30    2
       Total     143    1324   31
 
 
            Score : 41,044
It is noteworthy that the sole 160m contact was with a local ham who I could probably see his tower if I stand on my roof!
Learned alot with this contest — so — as with everything else, I need better antennas…
IMG_00000053
73, Dan ve4drk

10m contest …. weeeeeee…

This past weekend I was able to spend a few hours participating in the ARRL 10m contest http://www.arrl.org/10-meter and had some fun doing it.  It was certainly a lot easier making quick contacts on this new(er) rig of mine.  With my ol’ trusty FT101E I had to manually tune the rig and the manual antenna tuner — can take some time in some cases — but with this new digital radio of mine, I just go.

The band was fairly open — made contacts across the pond and alot of north-south DX’ing going on.  All-in-all, I hit 10 US states, 7 CDN provinces, 5 MX states and 13 other DX countries (I was hunting for more of the DX 🙂 … so, from my counting, I think I have about 4690 points.  Not bad, considering my standing last year — I made one contact 🙂  I was even able to massage the contacts and send in my log to the robot the same day!  A first for me too.

So — looks like it will be fun with the RAC winter contest coming up … will have to get a better dipole up for this one.

73, Dan ve4drk

Woo Hoo ! Contest certificate …

Now this is something new that I most certainly did not expect.

Today, after getting the mail, an envelope arrived with my callsign on it from CQ WW Dallas.  Opening it up reveals a shiny new certificate for a contest I entered in 2012!  Interesting to read I was 1st place for low power SSB single operator on 20m for the Canada 4th area.  I think I need to look at what the 4th area means — probably provincial or some such? 🙂

Manitoba Section Results
Manitoba Section Results
My first contest certificate!
My first contest certificate!

Thanks CQ!

73, Dan ve4drk

Radio, Radio, wherefore art though ..

Looking at my last posts – it’s been about a month since I’ve last posted.  Mostly because I haven’t been that active on the HF side of things.  I seem to be too busy on other issues of the day to spend enough time on the radio.

It’s been an eventful month, some good, some not so.  A local fellow ham has become a SK.  Doug ve4dds, passed away a couple of weeks ago.  He was involved in some technical interests that we both had a long-time involvement with, and he was just taking his advanced course when he passed.  Doug was a smart guy – he will be missed.

On the other side of the fence, I spend a fair bit of time assisting RAC with their membership administration, assisting HQ  and system administration functions — it’s evolving that’s for sure.  During one of these email assistance, a new RAC member, Paul, asked if I knew Irv’6BP in Calgary.  Now that’s an interesting statement – since he lived just down the road from me in Calgary at the time and whom I bought my FT-101E from … weird how that works out eh.  Anyways, had a good email chat and will be looking for him on the nets.

A few weeks ago, there was a 10m contest (the 10-10 club I believe) and I put in quite a few contacts on that one.  It was interesting and I managed to work a few of the 10-10 members.  Funny though – I was just checking and the requirements of the contest was to have your results posted by last week 🙁 oh well — so much for my memory.  I did a quick check on their website and there are a couple of CDN hams on their admin group – I wonder what the stats are for how many CDN hams are active with the group…

Enough for now — hope to catch you on the air …

73, de Dan ve4drk

Another fun contest

Well, the North American QSO Party (NAQP) SSB is over and I had a little bit of fun with my ol’ trusty FT-101E.

FT-101E

Note that I did say “fun”, not “competition”.  Not that I can compete with a manual system such as this one, but I did make contacts and handed out a few ve4’s.

I need to look at configuring some logging software – that would make it much easier to deal with the aftermath of the contest to enter details.  (Note the pad next to the tuner!).  But, I don’t know which ones would be best, so if you know some good ones and how to configure them, let me know 🙂

Dan, ve4drk

RAC Winter Contest, etc

Well, I did participate in the RAC Winter Contest – put my callsign out there to get contacts and for others to contact me.  For thew few hours I was there, it was pretty fun, I have to admit – but it is rather cumbersome with my older radio – my FT-101E – I had to continually manually tune the rig .. and then re-tune the vertical antenna with my manual antenna tuner — but I did get great experience doing it 🙂

I managed to log about 75 or so entries, and almost logged all the provinces/territories.  I was not so lucky with the RAC stations though – only having worked 10 in total on the bands I was on.  So, the next time, we’ll be looking to use better performing antennas (when it warms up a bit more – as we’re at -23c as I write this).  My 40m/80m operations is not as good though – as the antenna is not performing to expectations in those bands – I suspect a repair is coming soon when it’s warm.

I like to hunt around the 10m band for contacts now and then – it’s much quieter and I was able to work a fellow from the Grant Cayman Islands – but, he did report I was a bit “light” … read: antenna needs work!  I’m still waiting for my friend to give me a shout on 10m – now that he has his rig operational and is working on his vertical – should prove interesting to hear regular traffic from AZ land.

So, it’s now new years eve – hope everyone has a great forthcoming new year and have fun on the air!

73, Dan ve4drk

Keep on listening …

I’ve had a little bit of luck on 10m in the last few days.  I’ve heard a number of stations and was able to work a few.  While they come across as weaker reception for me, most are able to work me.  Best I had was a new contact in Mexico with an S7 reported back – for me on my vertical that’s pretty good.

I started looking around at other options, and reviewed some information in the Antenna books I have.  Pre-builts are not that expensive it seems – such as the G5RV and it’s variants, and even some other verticals like S9 etc.  Some people even sell the telescoping poles which may be of interest at some point – will see which way I lean.

On another front, the local radio group held a meet-up on 652 for those interested in getting their Worked All Winnipeg (WAW) award.  Work 25 local stations direct and get confirmation — so, while I already logged my entries back in the early 90’s, I never did submit them – so I will have to make sure I submit my new entries now.  For those interested, here’s the link:  http://winnipegarc.org/awards.html

I’m very interested in the Canada Winter Contest starting up this Friday – link here:  http://www.rac.ca/en/rac/programmes/contests/files/2012%20Canada%20Winter%20Rules%20French-English.pdf   Will be great to test out changes to the antenna.

Hope everyone has a great Christmas and enjoys the season –

73, Dan, ve4drk