Canadian National Parks on the Air Activation – ON06 Rouge Natural Urban Park – Firtst CNPOTA Contact and Activation

As many know the CNPOTA is a new program to have hams visit and activate the Nation parks and Historic Sites as per the web site

It is also a chance for Chasers to seek out and work these portable operators

Please check out the web site for rules and information. This is a volunteer run operation.

I believe I am the first park activation for 2019 with more to follow.

I will post some details shortly about my experience.



Portable Operations Hot or Cold with PackTenna or Chameleon Antennas

PackTenna Mini in use at the Los Cabos, MX Hotel balcony


Small portable antenna kit


The Chameleon MPAS Antenna in Play with short 30 foot lengths. No problem working the east Coast on 40m with 10 watts


The PackTenna in Cabana Ops


PackTenna Vertical using a MFJ-1820T whip and also 2m whips at Mt Umunhum, CA. Managed to work RM0L in Russia with 5 watts and he was 59+20 and he gave me a 59 with his yagi.

PackTenna 2m/6m Antenna Kit

I have been playing around with some new items from PackTenna.

I have made up some 6m, 2m and air band configurations. I am also using the centers for a portable beam concept using an Arrow Backpacker mast.

The parts allow a lot of experimentation and ability to make things your own using PackTenna building blocks.

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Center Insulator configured as a L Dipole mounted on PVC tubing for mast mount.

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Shorted Insultaor for Reflector on 2m beam prototype

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Planning to use the Arrow Backpacker Boom for this 2m beam

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2m beam up in the air on my Tripod

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Dipole using Nagoya elements


This is an Airband set up for monitoing Aircraft. It worked awesome and plan to use it for the next Airshow

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Hanging off some paracord. I think If I add a suction cup with a hook it can be a nice Hotel window antenna or someone in a condo or HOA


Keep Sciencing!

73 John VE3IPS


A Day Trip to Newington, CT ARRL HQ John VE3IPS

On recent business trips to the Hartford area I had the ability to drop into ARRL HQ for tours and operate the W1AW stations.

My recent visit gave me a great opportunity to meet Ed Hare W1RFI and Zachary Lau W1VT/ ex KH6CP who work at ARRL.

I got to hear the wonderful story how Doug Demaw’s Tuna Tin ended up in a hamfest bin for a $1 and found its way back home. For me this project got me super excited and got me started into QRP and building things that transmit, listen or radiate.

I was able to hold the kit after washing my hands several times and was able to feel the QRP energy.

The showcase holds lots of QRP projects over the years and is a museum in itself.

I strongly urge all ARRL members to visit HQ when in town and get a tour of the premises and learn a little about the “old man”, see his station and chat up with staff to further enrich your understanding of our great hobby.


I made over 60 contacts in my 1 hour slot running a pile up on 17m. Lots of skip to the south and southwest USA. Yaesu FTDX5000 with 800 watts PEP on a Hygain Yagi. Please QSL via the Bureau or direct with a SASE to the ARRL Address

Santa Claus Net 3.916 MHz – All Kids Welcome to check in

For the 13th consecutive year, The 3916 Nets will be presenting The Santa Net on 3.916 MHz. Good girls and boys can talk to Santa Claus, via amateur radio, nightly at 7:30 PM (Central) starting Friday, November 23, 2018. The Santa Net will run nightly at 7:30 PM Central through Christmas Eve, December 24, 2018.

Pete Thomson (KE5GGY), of The 3916 Nets, commented on The 3916 Santa Net. He said, “Christmastime is our favorite time of the year on 3.916 MHz. Our group thoroughly enjoys helping young people and their families have a shared Christmas experience that they’ll always remember. In addition, Santa Net has introduced a lot of young people to the magic of amateur radio.”

Youngsters can talk to “Santa at The North Pole” via strategically placed operators who relay the voice of Santa. Thomson said that The Santa Net is a team effort that involves the efforts of a number of 3916 Net members. He said, “In our first year, we connected 10 kids to Santa on Ham Radio and it’s grown steadily since. For 2018, we’re expecting between 600-700 children to participate.”

York Region Amateur Radio Club Annual GTA Fall FoxHunt 2018-09-19-20 Saturday

York Region Amateur Radio Club Annual Fall FoxHunt 2018-09-19-20 Saturday

The York Region Amateur Radio Club’s annual Fall Foxhunt (radio direction finding) is scheduled for Saturday, October 20th.

The hunt will start from your QTH but entrants can meet for breakfast at Wimpys Diner, 15480 Bayview Ave, Aurora, ON L4G 7J1

Registration is between 8:00-9:00AM with the hunt to begin at approximately 9:300AM.

The planned fox hunt operation time is between 9:30 and 11:30am. The hunt is free and open to all amateurs regardless of club affiliation or previous experience. Most of us hunt in teams of two or three. Many teams (including the winners of the last hunt) aren’t formed until the day of the hunt. If you’re new to foxhunting, all you need to get started is a radio capable of receiving 2 meters. Fox hunting is challenging and fun. We will be using lower power than in the past to make it harder to locate the beacon.

Tips and Tricks

York Region has a lot of hills and valleys which can play havoc with signals as well as the Aurora ridge blocking signals as well.

Past winner had a R6 Scanner radio with a tape measure beam, and previous winner used a 4 element Quad through the sunroof on the Radio Van.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Attenuation is important as one nears the fox as well as getting a good bearing
  2. Quads may be preferred to yagis due to the antenna lobe pattern to ensure a good bearing up front
  3. A radio with a proper or expanded S-meter is highly useful….3 segment S meters are useless
  4. Remember, to take two bearings before heading towards the beacon as you get closer.

The behind the scenes Doppler System Proof of Concept system will be in play again from the unmarked cruiser. Enhancements are being made to a GPS interface integrated with Google Maps and Canada Topo. This will help reduce the amount of noise and interference complaints we have been getting.


QRP Power Reference Levels

Many times we refer to power levels for QRP work. For the FT817 and Elecraft Series of KX radios the 5 watt level seems the normal power output

We can use the following as a guide line as a doubling of power is 3dB and vice versa for -3dB

If we use  “dB5W” as the reference, so that 5W = 0dB, 2.5W = -3dB, 10W = +3dB, 50W = +10dB , 100W = +13dB etc.

A calibrated S meter is 6db between positions.

Thus to be at 5 watts of power to be received at S5 will need 12 dB of extra power to be received at S7 or about 80 -100 watts.

Many times with efficient antennas like a dipole one can be heard at S7 which is totally acceptable. To be the Five by Nine (59) or S9 level again the need to increase power by a factor greater than 10 is required.

QRP works more so in CW than SSB where the rule of thumb is voice needs more power than CW operation.


SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT NVIS – NVIS isn’t an antenna by KQ6XA 

I presented some radio content at some ham clubs regarding SOTA and NVIS activities. What became apparent that there is confusion because NVIS requires a different antenna configuration (basic dipole 10 feet off the ground) that makes it all confusing? It is not. Read onward please

Bonnie has done a lot of research in NVIS use out in the field.


Sat Sep 22, 2018 12:57 pm (PDT) . Posted by:



The pronunciation of the NVIS initialism as “Enn-Viss” is probably the most common, or else spelled out: “Enn-Vee-Aye-Ess” (N.V.I..S)
I’ve also heard ops say: “Knee -Vuss” and “Nev-Iss”.
Give it some time, someone will call it Knee Vice 🙂


NVIS: Frequency choice is way way more important than antenna height.

Often, just moving 250 kHz can make a huge difference in NVIS signal.
Commercial and Governmental stations that intentionally utilize NVIS may have a variety of channels to choose from throughout the 2 MHz~13 MHz range.

For hams to take advantage of the NVIS at this point in the solar cycle, operators need frequency agile capability mainly on the following bands:
160 metres 1.8~2 MHz (NVIS Top Band late night when 80m doesn’t work)
80 metres 3.5~3.8 MHz (NVIS evening and some daytime)
75 metres 3.8~4.0 MHz (NVIS evening and daytime)
60 metres 5.3 MHz (Primary NVIS mid-latitude daytime on the Rock Band)
40 metres 7.0~7.3 Mhz (NVIS mid-latitude daytime)
30 metres 10.1 MHz. (NVIS daytime mainly in equatorial latitudes)


Recently, the only daytime NVIS ham bands here in California have been 60 metres and 75 metres… either one or the other… rarely both at the same time.


Ionosondes capture the critical frequency of the F2 layer of the ionosphere (foF2).
For all practical purposes, we consider the foF2 as “the maximum possible NVIS frequency”.
The foF2 may be different at another location.  Look for the foF2 is the ionosonde that is near your QTH.


A dipole at 1/10 wavelength high is a popular misconception and mis-reading of NVIS recommendations for optimum antenna height.

For RECEIVE NVIS, 1/10 wavelength (0.1 wavelength) is the height for optimum SNR (Signal-to-Noise-Ratio) , in a perfect ground site.
For TRANSMIT NVIS, 0.2 wavelength is approximately the optimum height.

There is only a 1dB NVIS advantage at 1/10 wavelength for Receive (compared to 0.2 wavelength).
But, there is a 3dB NVIS advantage for 0.2 wavelength for Transmit.

What this all boils down to, is that 0.2 wavelength is probably the best overall height for an NVIS dipole, above typical (farmland) damp soil.  Over other types of ground, it varies quite a lot.

Generally, the lower the dipole, the more of your transmit power (gain) gets absorbed by the ground soil.

But, with HF receive, the SNR is often more important than gain or loss.
Then, there’s the modern reality of SNR… the RFI received due to nearby RF noise sources.

Whatever height for the receive antenna which achieves the lowest receive RFI, is probably now the best NVIS receive height 🙂
Unless your QTH is totally noise-free, you may need to throw out the NVIS myths about low dipoles being better.

Also, a little-known fact is that a transmitted signal from a dipole, when it goes thru an NVIS path, gets converted to approximately circular polarization by the ionosphere 🙂

See antenna height NVIS chart attached. source: B. Witvliet, 2015
In the chart, “hRX” is a good Receive height, and “hTX” is a good Transmit height.


A few things set NVIS somewhat apart from “conventional" HF ham radio techniques:
NVIS can have very short communication distances via ionosphere (less than 150 miles).
NVIS generally has no skip zone.

NVIS uses frequency agility.
+ Strategies that rely on NVIS often use standardized frequencies so the communications path can be tested rapidly and dependably.

Most normal ham radio activity is not really geared for NVIS:
+ Ham nets that are intended to be for a local area, tend to be locked on one frequency.
+ If a station is “too close to be heard”, then someone further away in the net will “relay”.
+ Reluctance to QSY to another band, for equipment, antenna, (hard-headed or lazy) reasons.


For example, the NoonTime Net, here on the west coast, meets every day at noon on 40 meters.
It is a wonderful net, usually with hundreds of check-ins when the NVIS frequency is 7 MHz.
But, 40 meters has not been capable of NVIS at noon, most of the time this year, due to changes in the solar cycle.  Most of the time, the NVIS frequency hasn’t been above 5 or 6 MHz.
The “75 meter alternative frequency” for the net has very little activity, even though the local and regional propagation is excellent on it.  The net doesn’t even have a 60 meter alternative frequency, which often would be the best NVIS frequency, and a lot better than 40 meters for the intended net coverage area.

It is noon right now. Looking at the ionogram for this area (attached), it is showing the foF2 optimum NVIS frequency is 4.9 MHz.
There’s no NVIS on 40 meters now, regardless of what type of antenna you have.

The skip distance on 40 meters is around 400 miles at the moment.

“Skip distance” means that you can’t copy anyone closer than 400 miles.


NVIS isn’t an antenna.

73s , Bonnie Crystal KQ6XA 

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