This weekend has been 2/3 good for radio.
Saturday I went out to Queen's Park to throw a water bottle over a tree branch, haul up a dipole, and see what I could drum up.
A couple of weeks ago I got a longer coax cable (50 feet, instead of 16 feet), so I was able to get the dipole up a little higher than usual. I'm not sure if that made the difference, or if was just bands opening up, but what a difference on 20m! The Reverse Beacon Network was showing me reaching clear across the continent:
One of those stations, W1NT, is in Massachusetts -- over 3900km away!
Not only that, I was able to leverage that and actually make a CW QSO. With only 15 watts, and me calling CQ, I had a nice chat with Gary, AB0BM, in Cherokee, Iowa. I got a report of 559 -- not bad at all!
Sunday I was at my inlaws for Thanksgiving. My father-in-law enjoys experimenting as much as I do, so he has put together a vertical made of stainless steel pipe he just happens to have lying around his garage. After laying out a bunch of radials on the ground, we gave it a try...and got nowhere on 20m: no spots, and we couldn't see our signal on any of the receivers we tried on sdr.hu. I couldn't figure out what was going on, since the length (18 feet) was about right for a 1/4 wave vertical. After we added another 7ft length, though, everything changed: the RBN showed me again reaching clear across the continent on 15W, and an SDR in New York State picked us up clearly -- 3856 km!
As for QSOs, this time it was a little closer to home: VE7UBC, the UBC Amateur Radio Society. Only 18 km away, but still good to get one in.
Today, I went back out to Queen's Park. Luck wasn't good: I forgot the coax (and ran back home to get it), got the water bottle halyard stuck in a tree and had to cut the rope, made a replacement with a bundle of sticks that didn't go nearly so well, and had nearly no luck on 20m at all...no spots or anything, until suddenly it opened up a bit: AC0C in Missouri and WB6BEE in Colorado spotted me. Couldn't turn it into a QSO though.
Fell back to 40m where it was noisy as anything -- not sure what was going on. Heard lots of folks showing up for the Novice Rig Night, but couldn't manage to convert any of them. Dang!
My parents are visiting for a while. I've had a few days off work, so I've been heading over to Queen's Park in the morning with my dad to do some radio. The weather hasn't been great, so I've been trying some spots near picnic benches so we at least have a place to sit. And I got some QSOs!
First up on 40m was Alan, K7FD in Seal Rock, Oregon via CW on Thursday the 28th. This was only my 2nd CW QSO, and I'm still having a hard time copying it. Fortunately, I was able to record it and go back later to transcribe; unfortunately, I referred to him by the wrong call sign twice in the exchange. headdesk Fortunately he seemed to have a good sense of humour about it. My dad took this picture:
Second on 20m was Steve, N7MZP in Sand Point, Idaho via SSB (!) today. Eli accompanied me and Dad to the park, and was happy I'd managed a contact:
I answered his CQ, and was quite surprised to hear him come back to me -- I have not had great luck with SSB so far (which isn't surprising, given that I'm only running 15W). The report I got was 52 up to 54, with some fading that we both noticed.
For all these contacts, I've been using a dipole or inverted vee, rather than the end-fed random wire with EARCHI matcher. Last weekend I found the Coquitlam club's Field Day setup, and one of the folks I talked to convince me to give dipoles a try. I think I'm noticing a lot less noise, but haven't yet done a side-by-side comparison.
Let's see if this still works....yep, apparently, it does.
Got my ham license in March -- my callsign is VA7UNX. I got Basic with Honours, which in Canada means you get to use the HF bands. I've picked up a used Elecraft K2, and have been mainly working QRP out of parks and trying to figure out antenas. I've made a handful of contacts on SSB to Oregon and Washington during the 7QP contest, and just last week made my first CW QSO to N6RNP in Chico, California (1050km!).
At Hamvention I picked up an Arrow II antenna from the AMSAT folks, plus a spare Baofeng (at $25, why the heck not?) and have been trying to work satellites. No luck yet, but efforts continue.
I'm going to be attending the Open Source Cubesat Workshop in Madrid this September, kinda-sorta as part of the Phase 4 Ground project. This blows my mind.
I've put in an order for most of the parts for a SatNOGS rotator. They're slowly trickling in, and hopefully I can get something working by the fall.
There will be a trip to Tampa this summer to visit my good friend Andy Seely.
Now back to cleaning up the house in preparation for my parent's visit.