54th Annual International Ham Fest! VE4IHF

It has been a while – 4 years I suspect, since I did make the 50th IHF, since I’ve been to the fest.  This year, the XYL came with me to keep me company while driving.  (It is a good 3 hour drive from Winnipeg to the border crossing south of Boisevain).  My harmonic had some other appointments so he was not able to come along.  I did hear from a friend, Denis, VE4UK that he would be there, so I knew at least one person I knew would be there 🙂

We wanted to take in the “whole” day, so we decided to get up early (5am! ack!) and get on the road by 6ish.  6ish turned out to be 6:15ish, but oh well, we got things organized for the day trip and headed out down south from our home QTH … first stop .. java!  The Tim’s way out on St Mary’s and Warde was close enough and was on the way that a large would do the trick.

We decide to head west on highway 2 – which by the way – was amazingly smooth and in great shape.  While I do have a Kenwood D700 in the car with an attached GPS unit (thanks again Walter), there are not alot of APRS receivers active outside of the Winnipeg area – so I decided to turn on my APRSdroid app and use up some of my cell data plan as well – heck, I rarely get to 1GB a month and I have a 6GB/month plan – so, all is fine there too.  (A side note before I forget – after coming back and reviewing the APRS logs, I did see Walter’s repeater VE4TOM south of Winkler picked up my APRS beacon on the way back a bit too – wow – what a signal).

Heading out, I turn on simplex on 2m, nothing to be heard, so I move to the VE4RAG repeater — that, again, is a Walter repeater, so it has to be good – -and sure enough – this thing has coverage!  I was very impressed with how far west I was able to WORK the repeater.  If you’re ever west of Portage, give it a try – you probably will make it (although, I can’t hit it from Brandon on my car antenna).  I did hear that there are guys (with beams) working it from way out in Rivers and way out west to Falcon Lake – it’s quite the coverage for sure.

Anyways — on the way I hear Mike VE4BAE on the repeater .. he’s doing a bit of hauling but indicates he’ll be making the time to hitch up the guys from Brandon to make a venture down to the hamfest — cool stuff.  (I hear Mike most of the time running the Manitoba Evening Phone Net every night 7pm 3.747 MHz.  If you’re ever in the vicinity (ie: MB, SK, ND, ON, AB or even BC and points east -drop in and say hi.

We head down 18 to hit up with 3 to 10 .. but .. 18 is in really rough shape – wow — I think I’ll pass taking that road again – I’ll find another main road to head up to the next time, we’ll see.

But, the trip out in that time of day was very quiet – not alot of vehicles on the road, so it was relatively quick.  We get down to the ham fest and we pay our new $20 admission fee to the park.  We then go into the lodge and register and pay our ham fest fee – a good price, only $20 and they give you lunch too!  While there are not a LOT of people here (only 70+ registered) .. I find the time goes by quickly as there’s always someone to say HI to and strike up an eye-ball QSO.  I have been to quite the number of the hamfests here at the IHF, it was very popular in it’s day – so I recognize quite a few of the regulars. I sign-up for the ‘silent’ auction for an old rotor/cable/controller – will see by the end of the day if I get it.  Their hats are only $5, so I pick one up too – have to shape it now – it’s not the highest of quality, but works in a pinch.

There’s a few Winnipeg’ers who showed up – from what I recall, there was myself, Michele my XYL, Dick VE4HK, Mariska VE4MMG, Glen VE4GWN, Rosi VE4YYL, Denis VE4UK, Bruce VE4KQ, Yuri VE4ACX, Walter VE4VB and his YL, Pete VE4PH, Pat VE4PEH.  Let’s see – Richard VE4QK has residences in both Beausejour and WPG, so hey – lets include him 🙂  Rick VE4RA from Selkirk was manning the store front when I arrived.  There was a few from Brandon that I saw and I regularly hear on the MEPN (remember – 7pm 3.747MHz!)

I leave my handheld on Adam Lake repeater and simplex (dual VFO) (I think I recall that Bruce VE4KQ also supports/sponsors that repeater) – so to pick up any local stuff as well (let’s face it, it’s pretty quiet though).  The flea market is kind spartan, but there’s a handful of tail gate vendors (count on less than 10 fingers), so pickings are slim, but ya never know what you’re going to find.  Funny – in the end, I ended up buying a radio from Dick VE4HK — he hauled it all the way to the IHF and I hauled it all the way back 🙂  oh well, it’ll work out in the end.

Dick’s wares

Lunch was served at some point (probably close to 12), lose track of time while I’m there – the XYL keeps busy with the bingo and the ladies tea/bingo in the afternoon, so the time rolls by fast.  I jaw-wag lots with guys and just see what’s up.  I talked with a couple from Colorado area who headed up here for the IHF – explain to them as well that this hamfest was quite the thing (in it’s day), but it’s great to meet up with those who you don’t really see that often.

Ending the hamfest (same day still) we have the prize draws, who won the auctions etc and some closing comments.  Oh yeah – can’t forget the used junque collection auction off – that has to be the funnest part of the fest — and me with my waving arms to say hi to a friend from University days I had not seen in some time – have to keep those arms down during the auction!  I ended up with a BABY MONITOR!  oh well .. all proceeds to the hamfest – judging by the treasurers report is quite LARGE at that … I heard there are 10’s of thousands in the bank for the IHF.  Hopefully the money is well used to support further IHF on-goings years down the road.

Remember – all proceeds to the IHF! 🙂
The auction continued …

I ended up with the winning bid for the ol’ rotator, so I have some great lengths of rotator cable to work with (as well as a controller and rotator) 🙂

It’s going to be a long day since we’re driving back to the PEG the same day, so we end up leaving around 6(ish)?  We arrive in Brandon (decided to go this way for a couple of reasons) – first to get a bite to eat on the way back and gas and, well, something different.  I find the drive back OK – AC is good but a cold compress always helps keeps the eyes good.  I suspect seasonal allergies are at work there.  Oh well – regardless we get home later in the evening and clear things up and hit the hay shortly thereafter.  Needless to say, we sleep in the next day (today) till 8 (or 9) can’t recall …

Doing the yard work and clear up, I also check into the TransCanada net on 14.140MHz – a light lunch and wash up and we’re off walking to the grocery store to pick up what we need for the week and dinner will be served  … after a cold one while I sit on the deck typing this up … ah, what a nice warm summer!

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

New heights/sights …

While out for a visit to Riding Mountain National Park, the XYL and I had some time that I wanted to go and visit “Baldy Mountain” – being the highest point in the province, I do not recall heading up there to the actual site.  Being “not too far” from RMNP, (read: an hour or two) we headed out with a friend who camps in the area a fair amount of the time.  Heading north, not much of occurrence as we head through dauphin and head west.  Some of the signs show up and we know we’re not lost.

Heading north from Grandview on HWY 366 not too bad of a drive – then we find out, well, it’s rural, so it’s now turned into a gravel road – surprise.  Lots of loose gravel on the road, I’m not going more than 70 km/h else I start to ‘swish’ around the gravel – not a fun feeling.

After a while and a few “are we there yet” ..we finally see a turn off for the site.  There is a look-out tower and an old cabin-type building where work occurred years-before.

old work cabin
look-out tower
great view!
commercial broadcasters

After a look around, there’s a few maintenance buildings for the broadcasters etc, even a satellite up-link of sorts is there.

I knew there was a ham repeater up her (Baldy Mountain Repeater no-less), I wasn’t sure where it was, as I did not see it around – but it may have been intermixed in the ‘other’ VHF operational antennas that were around.

On our way back you get the feeling of how high we were:

heading back …

with some of the information at the site:

Height comparisons …

So, I know a ham based up north is involved with the groups managing those systems, so I shot an email to ve4mrt.  He did send back some information which was fairly cool – the image of the Baldy Mountain Repeater sure is large:  (I have to add that it sure would be great to have the two largest repeater systems in the province linked up again – hint hint)

Nice pic of the coverage of the DARC repeater systems etc … the big one is the Baldy Mountain Repeater 🙂

anyways – was a fun visit to see where things were etc and a chance to see the area as I don’t get out to that neck of the woods too much.  Back to the park we go.

73, Dan ve4drk