Monday, September 19, 2016

Ham Radio at the Beeton Fall Fair

Some members of the club set up a ham radio display at the Beeton Fall Fair for two days on September 17 and 18. Above is Jack VE3RDQ and Brant VE3UME. Also there were Al VE3RRD (taking the picture), and Jay VE3JXT.

Above, I have my KX3 set up on a small table with paddles and straight key. To the right is my home made 15m through 40m magnetic loop antenna which I didn't try transmitting on, but also seemed to pick up quite a few signals. In front of the magloop is my 80 AHr battery with TGE N8XJK 25A boost-regulator to provide 13.8 VDC to the radios (see for more on this product).

The silver pole on the left is a 16 foot painter pole with an Arrow 2m/70cm J-pole antenna on top. The black one is a 33 foot MFJ-1910 telescoping fiberglass mast which I used to support a 31 foot end-fed antenna with 9:1 unun (Balun Designs 9130sw). This antenna performed very well even though I was using the van as the counterpoise.

In the foreground is the painter pole inserted into a surplus tripod staked to the ground. Behind it you can see the "foot" made from a 2 foot long piece of 2x6 with a pipe flange bolted to it and a 6 inch piece of threaded 1-1/4 inch pipe. I have one of the fiberglass 4 foot military tent poles (available from Mapleleaf Communications or from Princess Auto) slipped over the pipe (I had to add a piece of rubber hose over the iron pipe to tighten it up inside the tent pole). The 33 foot mast is fastened to the tent pole with duct tape, and with the van wheel sitting on the "foot", the whole vertical antenna was very stable. The 9:1 unun ended up being about 2 feet off the ground. Since I couldn't have counterpoise wires because of the people walking around, I used my booster cables to fasten the ground lug to the body of the van.
This antenna worked better than I expected, with strong signals being heard through the day on 15, 17, 20, 30 and 40m. Although we only worked a few stations, we did have a good time at the Beeton Fair, and I had a chance to try out my 31 foot endfed configuration. I also have a 52 foot wire that can be used when tall trees are available as the support; this longer wire also works on 80m.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Last night the WAX Group had real raspberry pie to go with their Raspberry Pi.

It was finger licking good. The freshly baked raspberry pie from Barrie Hill Farms was supplied by John VE3FDZ.

As Mike VE3MKX said: "the WAX Group - always going where no radio builders group has gone before..... raspberry pie..... then ice cream!"

Friday, August 19, 2016

WAX Group members
We had a good turn-out of members last night (18 August). Clockwise starting from the left-front:
Tom VE3THR, Eric VA3EEB, Greg VE3YGG, Ian VA3QT, Ryan VA3RRE, Andy VA3TNE, Mike VE3MKX, John VE3FDZ (in blue T-shirt), Al VE3RRD, Jack VE3RDQ, James N6NRD, and Bill VA3OL (in the red shirt). Taking the picture is Ken VE3KDG. James N6NRD still has to write the exam to obtain a Canadian call.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

NorCalQRP lives again! A number of years ago, this group sold several kits and published a newsletter called "QRPp". The original website is still found at  and you can download the groups old "QRPp" newsletters from . As you can see, this interesting newsletter existed from 1993 until it ceased publication in 2003.
Recently, the NorCal club has begun holding monthly meetings again (in San Jose, California), and Doug Hendricks KI6DS has taken on publishing "QRPp, Journal of the NorCal QRP Club". The latest issue for August 2016 (Volume 12 Issue 1), and future issues can be downloaded from the "FILES" section of the NorCalQRP Yahoo Group found at . Just join the group to have access to upcoming issues of this great newsletter.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I just used Ed K3HTK's auto fldigi install script to install fldigi on my Raspberry Pi 3. The script works very well, I have my Pi connected to my KX3 - you can find the script at: . FLDIGI is a free program that offers many digital modes including PSK31, RTTY, Hell, MT63, Olivia and even CW. Versions are available for Windows, Apple OS X and Linux. You can download fldigi from :

73, AL - VE3RRD

Thursday, July 14, 2016

QRP is most effective when using a "narrow-band" mode such as CW. Assuming the person receiving you has good CW filtering, 5W of CW has the same copy-ability at the receiving end as 100W or more of SSB voice. In most cases you will see a two S-unit (12 dB) or more improvement with CW as compared to SSB voice. See and for an explanation of the power density differences between CW and SSB.

The important skills the QRPer must develop aren't just communication/operating skills, but include a better understanding of the many aspects propagation (day, night, summer, winter, sunspots, solar flares, geomagnetic storms), as well as antenna concepts such as take-off angle, vertical vs. horizontal, antenna radiation efficiency, height above ground, dipoles, end-feds, verticals etc. etc. When you are operating QRP portable then you must choose between weight and size verses efficiency for the radio, the battery, the feedline, the antenna and the antenna configuration you plan to use. 
A high-power (QRO) operator just turns up the power and uses a giant yagi on top of his 100 foot tower to blast through, a QRP operator in the field fights for every fraction of an S-unit improvement he can get. It is definitely "skill instead of power".

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Amateur QRP Radio group, see their Facebook page at is having their 1st International Amateur QRP Radio Field Weekend starting at 18:00 UTC on Friday 8 July until 18:00 UTC on Sunday 10 July.
Maximum power is 5W.
Goal: Work as many Amateur QRP Radio members as you can, from your shack or operating portable. Keep track of how many Amateur QRP Radio members you contact and tell everyone else about our Amateur QRP Radio Facebook group!

SSB (Single Sideband)
40 metres – 7.185 MHz
20 metres – 14.285 MHz
17 metres – 18.145 MHz
15 metres – 21.285 MHz
10 metres – 28.365 MHz
2 metres – 144.775 MHz
CW (Morse Code)
40 metres – 7.035 MHz
30 metres – 10.115 MHz
20 metres – 14.035 MHz
17 metres – 18.075 MHz
15 metres – 21.035 MHz
10 metres – 28.035 MHz

Amateur QRP Radio is an international group of amateur radio licensees who practice and enjoy QRP low power operations. More information may be found on the Amateur QRP Radio Facebook group. You can apply for an "AQRxxx" number which you can exchange with other group members when you contact them.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

You're kidding!
But I selected the 10A range and it's still not getting hot.

I smell something burning!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Headless" Raspberry Pi

This is a snapshot of using VNC Viewer on my iPad Mini to remotely access the Raspberry Pi 3 located at my home. The RPi3 has on-board WiFi and Bluetooth. A VNC server can be configured to run on bootup of the Pi to allow remote access from anywhere. You can instead use Remote Desktop if you wish by installing XRDP remote desktop server on the Pi. Using one of these methods means that you don't really need a monitor, keyboard or mouse plugged into the Raspberry Pi, instead use a Windows laptop, iPad, Android tablet etc. That unused Windows machine can become a "dumb terminal" for accessing the RPi.

The Arduino Uno clone "the Shrimp" with LCD display.

Some of the WAX Group members building their own Shrimp.

The Shrimp uses the same CPU (and programming software) as the Arduino Uno (ATMEGA328P)  but costs much less. See for more info about the Arduino and download the latest version of the Arduino IDE for programming at . Adafruit is another good source for information about the Arduino and what you can do with it: .