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.

John VE3IPS

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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.

NVIS

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

expeditionradio

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT NVIS 

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 IS ABOUT FREQUENCY CHOICE 

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)

EVOLVING NVIS FREQUENCIES AND THE SOLAR CYCLE

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 AND IONOGRAMS 

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.
https://hamwaves.com/ionograms/en/index.html

ANTENNA HEIGHT 

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
https://ris.utwente.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/6029527/thesis_B_Witvliet.pdf
In the chart, “hRX” is a good Receive height, and “hTX” is a good Transmit height.

NVIS TECHNIQUES VS HAM TECHNIQUES 

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.

LOCAL HF HAM NETS AND NVIS

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.

CONCLUSION

NVIS isn’t an antenna.

73s , Bonnie Crystal KQ6XA 

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Icom 7610 Quick Thoughts and Mini Review

Just some quick thoughts

It has more dynamic range than the 7300 and the 756 Pro Series

The two receivers being independent using DigiCell technology is just wonderful

The bigger real estate is great to use in Contests

It is a step up from the 7300 and the Pro series radios

Some trickle down technology form the higher radios 7800, 7851

CW relay chatter is non-existent

CW Audio peak feature is nice (not on the 7300)

A serious operators and those who need reading glasses

Appliance operators will be happy with the 7300 and can save money or go buy a Icom 7100 and a 5100 and a 51A with the difference

Not for the Go Box unless its in a Motor Home

Remember the 11m mod will void your warranty and the RF filters may be tight not allowing much power on 11m but Hey I am not going to try it, I have a Yaesu for that band.

 

 

The Icom 7300 review after 180 Days – Thoughts and Comments

A View of my findings on the Icom 7300 HF SDR Radio

 

  • This is the first Japanese full direct digital sampling SDR based HF radio
  • Radio draws 21 amps at 100 watts output
  • Comes with the standard HM-219 hand mic which provides good audio
  • Direct Digital sampling us used on receive and transmit
  • RF input is through a diode switched bandpass filter – 15 of them
  • The IF is 36 Khz
  • 7300 uses the same DSP chip as the Icom 7100
  • High Stability TXCO is built in 0.5 ppm stability
  • Inside layout is clean
  • Integral heatsink with a quiet fan
  • Multicolor touchscreen display is the big selling point – but I still want knobs for power output and band change. The MULTI offers power out and mic gain.
  • QWERTY keyboard on the display makes memory name super easy
  • I miss the front panel CW key jack
  • Love the 8 pin Din plug for the mic as its better and more reliable than the RJ45
  • SD Card is a great feature and simplifies firmware updates
  • Only 1 antenna jack. I wish they had a receiver jack
  • USB and CI-V port available
  • 99 memories but I wish they had more
  • Notch filter is excellent for those dummies tuning up on nets
  • NR is very good
  • NO CW audio peak filter
  • CW Break IN relay driven but adjustable
  • ATU is still within a 3:1 range because they don’t understand how Elecraft can do 10:1
  • RTTY is cool with 8 pre programmed message stores so one can RTTY like an FT8 robot
  • Spectrum Display – still the selling feature for many. I changed mine to be more useful but I tune up and down but useful for looking at 6 or 10m but really on a busy 20m the display is jammed
  • DVR is nice for voice recording of CQ saving the voice in contests
  • Recording of QSO could be handy
  • Antenna SWR Plot is useful but I prefer a Handheld version
  • Voice Synthesizer a nice touch
  • RS-BA1 software for remote operation but to do it right you need a proper remote ham system set up – ie ability to disconnect antennas , etc
  • OVF tends to flash frequently in QRM sessions with proper antennas but not a problem if you understand how to reduce the input signals
  • No issues running an HF amplifier and the switch times have some adjustment
  • Deaf below 160m as typical but I was supposed on this radio it was provided (   to avoid swamping the FGPA)
  • FAN on all the time during transmit buts its quiet
  • Yaesu FH-2 type keypad missing
  • The 7300 is a fantastic radio and as I continue to read the manual and use it contests and weak signal conditions I realize how useful the new generation of NR, NB and filters can help.
  • Software Update was super easy unlike the nightmare on the Yaesu FT-991

I have Go Boxed this radio for portable ops but have stuck to the Yaesu FT-991 because of the VHF/UHF capability but I find the 7300 to be a better HF radio. Spec wise they are close but the Icom ergonomics are better for my operating style. At least Icom solved the power level knob problem

Excellent work Icom and no wonder over 50,000 units were shipped and even more when everyone had one under their arm at Dayton due to aggressive pricing to keep the bankers happy

So it will be a  while before Icom releases anything to replace it but enjoy it, I cant see the 7400 being that much better as you do need to go to the 7610 and higher for better performance

 

Too bad we dont have the Japanese QRP Version

HF Mag Mount Improvement – W1FTE Charles Colton

I had the luck of having Charles provide a guided tour of the ARRL W1AW heqdquarters. At the end he proudly showed me what he did to improve his HF mobiling experience.

Here is a copy of his article. ARRL mwembers can find the actual article in the QST archives January 2010

This is specific to the ATAS-120 but it works great on my Super Antenna MP-2 and Hamsticks.

I had purchased a Yaesu FT-875D radio and ATAS-120A antenna in 2007.  The ATAS-120 is an antenna designed to be used with the FT-857.  It can be tuned to any frequency in the 40 through 6 meter bands from the car by simply tuning the rig to the desired frequency and pressing a tune button on the 857.  I wanted to install them in our cars but did not want to mount the antenna on the bumper or trunk lid. So, I dusted off a Tri magnetic mount that  I had been using with an old Hustler antenna.  But a trip to Florida was being planned and I wanted a mount with more holding strength than the old Tri-Mag mount would provide for the higher highway speeds.

We have two cars and I wanted to be able to mount the antenna on each of them.

THE OWNERS MANUAL SAYS
The owners manual said “magnet mounts do not  provide the RF grounding necessary for good performance, and are not recommended for use with this antenna.”  To overcome this defect, I ran a ground wire from each magnet connecting bar to each side of the body of the car at the roof line.  The vertical rubber gasket between the doors was able to be pushed aside  just enough to drill a hole for a sheet metal screw, which was then invisible when the gasket was relaxed to its normal shape.  I scraped the paint around the hole to insure a good contact.  Because this involved drilling a hole for the ground screw, I had to get my XYL’s permission before drilling on her car.  Her initial reaction was “drilling holes in my new car, no way”   When I showed her where the holes would be, and that they would not be visible, she said “OK”.  When the vehicles are sold the screws will not be visible.  The coax cable was run along the rubber gasket into the car.  Never had any water leakage!

THE BOX ARRIVES
I purchased a quad magnet mount.   When the magnet mount arrived it was in a plastic bag.  First thing that I did was cut circles of plastic/Saran wrap for each magnet and placed them on immediately to keep debris off the magnets.   I am a firm believer in Murphy’s Law (ML) that says any scrap of metal, no matter how small, will be attracted to the magnets and will be impossible to get off, and will mar the car’s roof.

I anticipated a potential problem with the strong magnets and my watch so I took my wrist watch off when working with the mounts.However, I made the mistake of placing the magnet mount on an old metal projector table and had to take the cross bars off in order to get the magnets off the table individually.  OK, so I am almost age 70 and not Charles Atlas.  Each magnet has 200lbs of attractive force.  With four magnets, that’s 800lbs of holding power.  CAUTION: Do not get your fingers in the way!

NUTS AND BOLTS
I felt the cross bar between each set of magnets was not large enough for the hole for the SO-239.  I purchased a coax cable with a long barrel,  1 inch, SO-239 on one end with the coax at right angles and PL-259 on the other end.   This gives a very strong base for the ATAS antenna.  I had a machine shop drill a 5/8² hole in a piece of  aluminum stock, 11² long, 1 ½² wide and 3/8²thick.  If you have a machine shop drill the hole be sure to take the connector with you to be sure it fits.  (ML)  The bar that came with the mount was just 8² long and 1/4² thick with two small holes for screws going into the base of the mount.  I did not use it as I felt  the screws would not be strong enough.

The bottom of the ATAS has two slots for an open end wrench but they are too narrow for a standard wrench.  I had the machine shop make one as I wanted to be able to tighten the antenna beyond just using my hands.

When the antenna is not on the magnetic mount be sure to put the weather cap on the SO-239 to keep the water out.  ML says you are going to lose it so get some spares at the hardware store.

For the rig, I pulled the carpet aside under the dash board and found a bolt that I could back out and I used it for a ground attachment to the rig.  I used the threaded holes in the rig that the mounting bracket would be used for.  If you attach the mounting bracket, MMB-82 to the dash board be sure to run a ground as many dash boards are mostly PLASTIC!!

NOT ALL ROOFS ARE CREATED EQUAL
The XYL’s car is a 2008 Toyota RAV-4 which has ridges on the roof running front to back.  My car is a 2004 Dodge Neon and has a smooth but curved room.

To ensure proper fit-up for the XTL’s car, I placed a large piece of paper on the floor and traced around each magnet then placed the paper on the roof to get the position between the ridges.  I then separate the magnets, two and two, with the connecting cross bar attached to one side only, using that for a handle.  Astep ladder was necessary to get into the best position and have enough height for the installation.  I suggest that you have someone to help.

I put the SO-239 in the cross bar 5/8² hole while the magnet pair was separated.  This is necessary becuse there is NOT enough room to slide it in from under the connecting bar once the magnets are in place!  I placed one set of magnets  EDGE down and then lowered the pair to the vehicle roof.  The fun part was getting the other pair of magnets down without my fingers being shortened.   I had reversed the bolts so that the heads were down, closest to the roof, and the nuts were attached from above.  That way the socket wrench would work the nuts from above and an open end wrench would hold the bolt in place from underneath, next to the roof.   After getting the 2nd set of magnets in the proper position, the cross bar from the first pair of magnets was reattached to the 2nd set of magnets.

I use the Tri Magnet mount for my car with the smooth but curved roof.  Because each magnet has to sit flatly on the roof, it was necessary to bend the cross bar between the magnets to accomodate the roof’s curvature.  The machine shop bent the cross bar for me.

THE TRIP TO FLORIDA
The quad magnet mount was on the roof with the ATAS -120A antenna and the Yaesu on the dash board.  I went on a test drive on I-91 through Hartford.  There was a pileup on 17mtrs so I threw my call in and 4X4FR came back with a 5-9, thanks Rafi.   The trip to Florida was flawless as the ATAS was tuned from 40mtrs to 6mtrs with perfect SWR.  Contacts were made on all the bands with very good signal reports.  The speed limit for most of the trip was 70 mph and keeping up with traffic was 80mph.  That’s a lot of wind force on the ATAS antenna.  The magnet mount did not move at all, even under these forces, and the antenna automatically tuned from one band to another without a problem.   Keep an eye on the weather as a 20mph head wind could add up to 100mph of force on the antenna if you are at 80mph!

When we stayed at a motel the ATAS was removed from the magnet mount and the rig from the dash board and taken inside for the night.

WATCH THE HEADROOM MAX
A consequence of a roof mounted variable length antenna is that the antenna will hit low objects.  We adjusted our driving habits to avoid drive throughs with roofs and mostly parked in open parking lots.  Suggest you tune the ATAS to 40mtrs (the antenna is at its maximum height on 40 meters) and measure how high theheight of the antenna so that you’ll know what clearances you need.  Keep an eye on tree limbs, power lines and bridges.  While the whip at the upper portion of the ATAS-120 is flexible and can tolerate being bent back by low objects, having a low object hit the fixed body of the ATAS antenna would be disasterous.

THE BOTTOM LINE
I am more than satisfied with the performance of  the ATAS and magnet mount.  Suspect the radiation pattern is better than having the antenna mounted on the trunk or rear bumper.  I feel other motorized antennas could be adapted to fit the magnet mount.

 

W1FTE got his license 5-24-1955,  has an Extra license and is active on all bands from home and mobile.  He is retired,  is a Tour Guide at the ARRL every Tuesday, and advocates every ham to come to “Mecca’ when in the area.  w1fte@arrl.net

Airshow Airband Yagi

Many listeners can benefit from using a yagi to improve signal reception at air shows and airband listening

The commercial air band is centered around 125 MHz and the Military airband would be 250 MHz thus one needs two yagis

Ken WA5VBJ wrote a brilliant paper on Cheap Yagis. I have made many of these and they work well and yes appeal to the cheap ham radio operator.

http://www.wa5vjb.com/references/airband_ant.pdf

http://www.repeater-builder.com/antenna/pdf/cheap-yagis.pdf

If you cant be bothered with the calculator you can use the 220 MHz antenna as it will work just as well and also be your ham antenna serving dual duty

 

 credit:AB9IL

 Blue Angels Communications cart

Image result for air show scanner  radio N5XTC doing some listening

Image result for air show scanner  radio oh look a squirrel

A Visit to W1AW and a chance to make a QSO with the Big Station

I had a tour of the ARRL HQ recently and it was a real joy to visit the birthplace of ham radio.

The old man Herman wasn’t there but I did get the grand tour.

I was not able to take photos of the test lab as they had the Yaesu FT-818 radio on the bench so expect a review in the September or October issue of QST

I also had a chance to get some souvenir items

The tour takes an hour to go through

W6/CC-045, Mount Diablo – 1173m Activation

Mt Diablo – On Top of the World with 360 degree views


Mt Diablo is a perfect summit for the car bound ham. You can basically drive right up to the summit and then take a quick walk to get to the high point. However, from the base of the mountain to the summit it will take a good 45 minutes due to the 15 mph speed limit and walkers and cyclists on the way up.

Washrooms, cold drinks, ice cream and a chance to buy souveniers will make this a summit unlike others.

This high point will allow contacts into W7 land as a bonus which was over 150 miles

I used my trusty FT-817 and MFJ 5/8 BNC whip.

HF bands sucked so I didnt bother and next time I go I plan to use a MFJ1820T whip on the radio and avoid the hassle of a 20 foot pole and dipole. This place may have restrictions on antenna placement so be aware as many national and state parks prohibit wires in trees.

Always a bonus to have an ice cream after making contacts.

It was a pleasure to make the first contact with Rex KE6MT who is active in SOTA and got me into having SOTA fun as a tourist ham.