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