Saturday, March 28, 2015

RaDAR March 28th 2015 with VE3FAL/PM

Temperatures this morning were still cool(-10c) when I got up but the sun was starting to shine nice through the tree's.
March 28th sunrise

I was looking forward to the RaDAR event as well as the regular gathering of HFPack, HFNow and RaDAR gang that will congregate on or near 18157.5
I once again donned my favorite rig, the PRC-104, with the Chameleon Whip, a 10'7" counterpoise and headed out around the property.
Once on 17 meters the first I heard was Greg N4KGL who was QRP with the KX3, he was maybe a 2x2 but was unable to hear me call him. I called a number of times but no joy. I then heard my friend Budd W 3 Fast Freddie calling and he worked Greg, I then called as well and when Budd was clear with N4KGL he called me and we were able to have a 2 way 5x9 exchange on the band. Budd then asked if anyone else was hearing me and Warren KD4Z in GA. came back to me with a great report, so we exchanged reports and had a good qso, Warren then worked Tom G0SBW who was very weak to me, I asked Warren to pass along to Tom that I said hello and that he was just audible here.
I then came in the house for a minute and noted that Paul W0RW was portable with his Green Radio on 18.088, so I tuned the PRC-104 down to 18.088 and put the leg key on and worked Paul, we were both 599 reports so great signals on 17 meters.
After about an hour outside I was happy with the contacts I made and the propagation conditions as well as teh weather outside as I was able to operate with no gloves on again today.
So thanks to Budd, Warren, Paul and of course the RaDAR gang for being on the air and playing radio and going portable, thus the Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio group.
Next weekend, April 3rd and 4th (0000z-2359z) will be the 24 Hr. RaDAR event and I will be out portable for that one as well operating SSB,CW and digital modes.
RaDAR Information Below:
1. Aim
The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. This challenge is for all licensed radio amateurs not limited to South Africa. A RaDAR operator can take part in any of the three defined categories (see point 7) which may be changed at any time during the challenge. The
points system is so structured as to encourage portable RaDAR operations, especially moveable RaDAR stations. Moveable RaDAR stations rely on fixed and portable stations as a point of contact using channelised frequencies. “Search and pounce” techniques are also allowed.
2. Date and Time
From 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 4 April 2015 and from 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 7 November 2015 - 24 hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators. RaDAR operators can define their own operating time schedule or remain active for the full 24 hours.
3. Bands and Modes
All amateur bands are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites.
Modes – CW, SSB, AM, FM or any legal digital mode. QSOs via terrestrial repeaters will NOT be allowed.
4. Suggested HF calling frequencies
See for the latest international list of frequencies. The WARC bands can be used considering this is a RaDAR Challenge and not a contest as such. It provides better opportunities for Ra-
DAR contacts during difficult propagation conditions.
Recommended digital modes frequencies – Refer to the South African Radio League Contest Manual, General Rule 15.
5. Exchange
The RaDAR challenge requires more than a minimalistic information exchange. Accurate information exchange is considered more important than a large QSO count.
Call sign, name, RS(T) report, QTH and grid locator. Note the grid locator can change as RaDAR operators are allowed to move position at any time. The grid locator of six characters is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 10 characters for higher
position accuracy. Smartphone applications are generally used to establish more than a 6-character grid locator. If working non-participating stations, call sign, name, RST and QTH is acceptable.
6. Scoring
1 point per QSO.
Individual QSOs – per mode, per band, per satellite, per call sign.
If the moving RaDAR station has moved the required distance (see point 7) contact can be made with a previously worked station, again.
7. Categories and multipliers
The following multipliers are applicable to determine the final score. If category/mode of transport changes were made during the challenge, than calculate accordingly.
X 1 – RaDAR Fixed station (At home or in another building)
X 2 – RaDAR Field station (Portable – away from home)
X 3 – Moving RaDAR station – See modes of transport below.
Modes of transport and required movement distances (moving RaDAR stations only)
Vehicles, motorcycles and motorboats etc. (Motorised transport) – 6 km
Bicycles – 2 km
On foot and paddle canoes – 1 km
Wheelchairs – 500 m
Aeronautical mobile stations are considered moving stations and can communicate at any convenient time.
Note: Moving RaDAR stations can move at any time but are required to move to the next destination after five contacts have been made from the present location. The move needs to cover the required distance before further contacts are allowed to be made. This requirement tests the ability to rapidly re-deploy your amateur radio field station.
9. Bonus points (All categories)
Five (5) points (The equivalent of five QSOs) for a minimum of one satellite or any digital modes QSO involving a computer, smartphone or digital modes device. (For clarity thereafter 1 point per Satellite / Digital modes QSO).
Five (5) points for the first successful same continent RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange.
Five (5) points for the first intercontinental (DX) QSO
Ten (10) points for the first successful inter continental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange).
10. Log Sheets
Log sheets must be submitted by 14 April 2015 and 17 November 2015 and sent by e-mail to
See for a log sheet specifically designed for the 2015 RaDAR contest.
Note: A photo of the station (JPG format) MUST accompany every log entry. A photo is required for each new location that moveable stations visit. These photos are used to promote amateur radio and the RaDAR concept showing where amateur radio can be used to communicate from and in the many different ways.

The "Ice Man"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chameleon F-Loop inside testing

I started testing the F-Loop inside the house on the kitchen table because it has again gotten cold out with winds, and -19c with windchill. So I set up the CHA F-Loop on the table, FT-817 and WolphiLink TNC to the Samsung tablet using WSPR and decided to test. I tested last night on 20 meters with the 36" aluminum radiator loop on and thsi is what I got:

Was heard in Alaska and into the USA, I was running about 3 watts before I set the Wolhpilink transmitter levels up to proper settings.

So once I set the drive level and receive levels the FT-817 was running perfect with WSPR.
I did some tests on 20 meters. 17 meters with much of the USA being heard, so I switched to 15 meters and turned the loop so that the radiated sides were transmitting east and west, the results are seen below:

So good results considering my house is finished on the outside with stucco plaster which means it has mesh steel wire all the way around and then finished with the stucco.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chameleon Antennas F Loop Field Test 03-21-2105

With a morning temperature of -13c and windchill still about -18c in the morning Gary VE3ODE and myself decided it was still too nice a day to waste inside and that we were going to head out to the lookout again with the new Chameleon F Loop to give it a field test. We were on site by 1600z and we wanted to get set up and catch up with some of the RaDAR crew and the HFNow gang. Bands this past week were far from being in great shape after the CME we had on Monday morning, but it appeared that Saturday the bands were probably better than we had seen in the entire week.
The nice thing about the area we are operating from is not only the view of Pine Bay and Lake Superior but there is no line noise or man-made noises that affect us, only things we hear are the wind, birds and small wind chime that is hanging in a tree.

We took a couple rigs with us and few antennas to play with but our main goal today was to assemble and test the New Chameleon Antenna Mag Loop called the F Loop. This unit posed to be very easy to assemble and use and had great results , but more on that later. I have many Chameleon products and I am very happy with the quality and performance as well as the support that Carl gives to his customers. In my YouTube video you see me unpacking the antenna from the box, in the field I am assembling the unit and testing it live. The antenna when in the Condor pack with everything but the large loop section weighs in at 2.65kgs, so fairly light by most standards.
 We brought the IC-703 and the KX3 seen its first cold day to try and operate in. Once we hit the lookout the sun was bright and the temperature was -10c and about -14c with windchill and wind speed was at 10-12km/h. But the rock I was laying on was warm as was the snow around it melting fairly quickly from the heat. 
Once the antenna was assembled and coax attached we brought out the IC-703, tuner in by-pass, battery attached we went straight to 18157.5 mHz and was able to hear Greg N4KGL working some others, Greg was low in signal at first but I associate that too band cdx and his QRP operating cdx. as well as I heard other stations working him much louder, we attempted a few calls to Greg but we were not heard. I called for Budd W 3 Fast Freddie a few times but he was not on the frequency, I tuned up just a bit and was pleasantly thrilled when I heard Budd make a call on 18.159, he heard me first call running 10 watts to the loop with the IC-703, BIG SMILE on our faces you bet! We worked Budd and then was able to exchange 5x3 reports both ways with Joe W5SAN in TN. who was bike mobile with his IC-703 and hamstick configuration. While testing with Budd he asked me to turn the antenna to see if it made any change on signal, and sure enough the sides of the loop showed directivity and his signal along with others we listened too improved on my end. Budd noted signal strength showed no huge changes but I was louder, even with the fading we had today and some noise from the solar godz signals were good, Budd was running 50 watts and his signal was 5x9 peaking 20 at times on the IC-703

So I then switched to the KX3, I think the cold was affecting the radio though as I had to crank the volume to 50 in able to hear the signals, combine that with weak signals on the band and was a bit of a chore to hear with the small speaker, but the best thing was I made a contact into Florida with KD4ZU running 5 watts on SSB from this rig. He said I had a great signal at his end was very much copyable with no problems. So 3 contacts on initial setup of the new Chameleon F Loop was indeed a great success for us, assembly was easy with no issues at all, and packing and unpacking into the Condo bag was easy as well. The tuner can also be mounted on a tripod if needed as it has a hole pre-drilled for that purpose, as you seen we had it sitting on the rock and had no issue running it.

A quick test of WWV on 10 megs also showed the directivity qualities of the side of the loop and the signal peaked quite well. It was now 1900z and we decided to pack up and head back down from the lookout and head home knowing we had another successful RaDAR and HFNow operating day after bands being so bad all week.

My latest video can be found here on my YouTube Channel:

Thanks goes out to:
Carl at Chameleon Antennas
HFNow group
RaDAR Group
Gary VE3ODE (Camera man and friend)
Teresa (VE3TLL) my YL who encourages me to get out and play radio
Elecraft for making a great radio like the KX3
ICOM for the hardy IC-703 of which Gary and I both own
Propagation Godz for opening up the bands
George and Mary-Anne who have allowed this beautiful spot to be viewed by others

Take care gang and be back shortly with more reviews, test and just plain fun.

The Ice Man

Friday, March 20, 2015

Last Saturday being PI Day 3.14 on the calendar and with still major remnants of cabin fever after what seems to be a very long and never ending winter I decided to head out to a place South of Thunder Bay towards the ON/MN border.
The site is located off of Memory Road and is a slight walk up to the top of the hill and from there is a beautiful look at Pine Bay and Lake Superior.
VE3FAL_PM Memory Road Lookout3The wind was quite strong but at 4C and bright sun peeking through the clouds made this outing a great one.  I snowshoed in as the snow was soft but had to take them off when I got to the hill for the last part of the climb to prevent sliding down. Once at the top the view is awesome, there is also a Shrine that was built many years ago now and serves as place for people to go and share some thoughts I guess, as well on the way up are benches for resting with the words, LOVE,HOPE and FAITH on them, As well there are various pictures of Jesus carrying the cross.
VE3FAL_PM Shrine Memory Road
I brought my PRC-104 with me and the PRC-74 antenna with counterpoise and figured that since we were in the time frame for both RaDAR and the HFPack roundup on 18157.5 I would call CQ if the band was not busy, I used cw first and was able to work KC5UN, after that I worked WB4ETT on voice. I then tried the other bands but no joy. I then went and checked into the MMN on 20 meters on 14.300 and checked in with NCS.
VE3FAL_PM Memory Road Lookout2
PRC-74 antenna
PRC-104 Radio

So once again another good day to take the radio out and enjoy the day and just to get out. The video of my outing can be seen on my YouTube Channel at: