Monday, March 2, 2015

You can save some cash by double checking.

Over the past few weeks I had put some extra dust gathering ham gear up for sale. The sale was a successes and I ended up making 400.00 ham bucks. My main purpose for selling off some gear was to gather the funds for the new Elecraft K3 synthesizer (KSYNA3A as it's called) Without going into detail…..it's a very nice upgrade to the already great K3. While at the Elecraft site I was looking at what else the my K3 could do with in regards to upgrades. I came across the high stability ref oscillator  called the KTCXO3-1, it would be a great addition since I am now getting more into the digi modes and the less frequency drift the better. It's a 100.00 dollar upgrade and I wanted to do some more research on the topic before dishing out the cash! I ventured over to Google and typed it in, low and behold one of the sites that came up was VE3WDM blog!! Hmmm did I post about this at some time?? Off I went to my site and to my shock I found out I ordered the KTCXO3-1 when I ordered my new K3. It sure was good I looked into this before placing my order but having said that Elecraft is a great company and after explaining my realization I have had no problem sending it back. I'm getting older so the memory is getting shorter.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

ARRL CW Contest done QRP style

Oliver is asking……"Ahhhh dinner!!!
I took part in the ARRL CW contest this weekend in a part time way, I was not able to go full tilt as I had things around the house that needed to be done. I skipped the Friday evening as it's most of the big guns going at record setting CW speeds. I operated QRP, single band, non assisted, single transmuter and with my MFJ 1788 magnetic loop antenna. The bands were alive with CW and you would never think we were in the downswing of a solar cycle! Then conditions over all were great on 15m I was able to get on from early morning into the early evening. In the morning the bands were filled with
The rig setup
Europe and as the late afternoon rolled around the South Pacific started to boom in along with Central and south America. Some of the standout locations I heard were Bangladesh, Guam, Japan, New Zealand and South Sudan. None of which I was able to contact the pileups were HUGE!! Some of the highlights for me were contacting Hawaii, Cuba,  and grabbing a new DXCC Dominican Republic.
Score rundown is as follows
Contacts        DXCC's      Points
81                   39                9360

The equipment  used was the Elecraft K3 with 500,400 and 250 inrad filters, the Elecraft P3, Begali Contour Key and the Flex control external VFO knob and last but not least the MFJ 1788 Magnetic loop antenna. The software used were N1MM+ contest software, N4PY rig control software and MRP40 CW code reader for the chain saw speed code. I never had Murphy pay me any visits during
The contest software
the contest which really is a first time. I found 15m to be a great band very low noise floor and lots of action. I did venture up to 20m for a listen and from my location it was very noisy and I was glad I decided to stick with 15m.  Sunday seemed to be an easier day for making contacts I had far less repeats to do, Saturday I really had to work for each and every contact. Looking forward to the next CW contest!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Monday brings two dx contacts

Monday was a stay in and stay warm day oh and also I was able to fit in some ham radio time as well. Next weekend is the ARRL CW DX contest weekend and since I had time on my hands I thought I would finally install N1MM+ on my PC. Up to this point I have been using the older version of N1MM, the only time for me to update was just before a contest. According to Murphy's law if you update your contest software just before a contest bad things will happen! N1MM+ has some nice new features all of which I have not tried as of yet. While I was setting up and getting to know N1MM+ I had my K3 on and was rolling around the 20m band. I was able to make 2 DX contacts the first one being IK3VUT from italy. He was calling CQ and he came back to me on my first call to him. This was not your typically fast contact Luca gave you a report but also shared his name, thanked me for answering his CQ and asked my name. It was not a long QSO but it was nice to not just have a 599 and move on Luca gave me an honest 559 signal report.
late afternoon it was time to go out with Julie who had a photography assignment that involved us going downtown (Toronto) for some shots she needed to get. It sure was cold out but soon we would be back to our warm home and just a little more radio time as she edited some photos. This time on 20m  I heard HC5AI calling CQ from Ecuador and after some going back and forth he got my call and the contact was made.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

It's a cold one out there!

Steam coming off the water down at the lake
The little motor in the antenna
Today is supposed to be one of the coldest days this winter and up to this point we have had some very cold days! This morning I went out to get our food shopping done and going from the car to the market it was so cold it took your breath away. We live in a condo and in the underground garage the temp was -7C, most of the time it's well above 0C but not today. The temp this morning without the windchill was -22C and the weather is forecasting later later today with the windchill it  will drop to around -40C!! Today is a good time to stay indoors and play radio. The MFJ 1788 seems to have no problem in this cold weather. As a matter of fact the colder the weather be better the SWR, the little motor that operates the large capacitor has no problems in this weather. This afternoon I'm hanging out on 20m at the QRP watering hole of 14.060 calling CQ and listening. I was calling on 15m and it really did not seem like the band was open I then moved up to 20m. Since I was calling CQ I checked the Reverse Beacon Network and noticed that on 15m I was spotted by F5MUX from France. This is the first spot EVER for me from my new location being spotted  outside of the U.S. Well it's getting late in the afternoon and I was skunked on the bands today…..oh well maybe later this evening!