Bone crushing QRPp

I’m on 40 meters and I’m 30db over S-9 at VA3EC’s QTH.

And all this with a third of a watt on 7.030 mHz.

Yes I managed to fumble through an hour of soldering to assemble my Tuna Tin 2 from QRPme.

I’m running the Idiom Press memory keyer and the new American Morse paddles.

Now if only someone could hear me, I’d be thrilled. And at one-third of watt it’s possible.

Here’s the math:

If I’m running a 100 watts and I’m S-9 at the other station. At 25 watts I’m still and S-8 and at five watts I’m S-7 so running QRPp isn’t out of the question since at one-third of a watt I should still be an S-3 or 4.

Doesn’t the rig look good with the Drake 2B receiver?

This from the WB9DLC website:

S9+10 db. 1000 watts output
S9 100 watts output
S8 25 watts output
S7 6.25 watts output
S6 1.56 watts output
S5 .39 watts output


Building a new station

Well Dayton was a hoot.

We had a great time and I think we had more guys from Oakville and area than every before. Also lots of Contest Club Ontario guys went to the Contesting Dinner to see CCO founding member John, VE3EJ, be inducted into the CQ Contest Hall of Fame.

I’ve got lots of stuff I bought that I’ll be featuring on the blog and here’s the first kit: The Porta Paddle-II kit from American Morse Equipment.

It takes a moment or two to assemble and the feel of these miniature paddles is amazing and the unit itself is just about indestructible.

Now why you might ask would I buy a miniature indestructible CW paddle?

Wait and see 🙂

RAC STEPS UP ON BILL 118

North/East Ontario RAC director Bill Unger, VE3XT, is calling us to support his effort to lobby the provincial government to extend the temporary exemption that amateurs in Ontario currently have when it comes to the distracted driving law (Bill 118). BTW our new Ontario south Director should be part of this effort.

The exemption is going to run out soon and all amateurs in Ontario need to get involved.

Let’s get a couple things straight:

  1. Bill Unger is a good guy who is fighting for our privileges to operate our mobile radio equipment with handheld devices like microphones while driving in the province of Ontario;
  2. We all need to get behind Bill Unger and fight to get the exemption made permanent.
  3. Amateur Radio wasn’t part of the problem that create the political need to pass Bill 118 and we aren’t part of the solution of distracted driving;
  4. RAC would help serve the cause if they created a draft letter for clubs and associations to use as a template;
  5. Many other jurisdictions have exempted Amateur Radio and Ontario should be one of them.
Bill needs to get these letters of support ASAP. In addition, he needs to draft a covering statement in plain language that clearly states our position and requests the Minister action on this matter.
The package should also include a document that lists the various states and provinces which have deemed it appropriate to exempt their amateur radio operators from distracted driving legislation.
Here’s how you can help. Ask your local Red Cross branch, Salvation Army, municipal officials, police departments, fire services, running clubs or whoever you’ve helped by providing communications to provide you with a simple letter of support.
(It could go something like:

To Whom It May Concern:

The ABC Running Club of North Bay Ontario wishes to acknowledge the invaluable free communications services provided to our organization by the North Bay Amateur Radio Club. For over 10 years now…   We understand that amateur radio operators in Ontario currently are exempt from Bill 118 the distracted driving legislation and we ask that this exemption be made permanent as it is in so many other jurisdictions across North America. By doing so, it will ensure the ability of Ontario’s amateur radio community to continue to provide communications services to organizations such as ours. Please feel free to contact us if we can provide further information.)

Once Bill has his package together, he needs to book a meeting with the Minister and make the presentation. My experience working within the Ontario government has me thinking we have at least a 50-50 chance at getting our exemption made permanent. All we need to do is provide the Minister with a reasoned argument and make a professional presentation.
Let’s get behind Bill Unger on this initiative.

I’m copying his letter which came as a RAC Bulletin in case you’re not a member of RAC:
Hello:
Just back from Dayton and we got a great response from a lot of Canadian hams who came by the booth and already planning for next year.Why I am sending you this email is just a gentle reminder that I really need letters of support from 3rd party groups and organizations. If you help with communications for any group or are part of an emergency response procedure for your community we need a letter from them.

I am not looking for a letter asking or telling any one that we need to continue to be able to operate mobile but rather a strong statement that Amateurs are important to the operation of their event or emergency preparedness plan. We need to show the bureaucrats and technocrats that Amateurs are a vital group and provide many community services that so far has gone unnoticed. Stated simply, we need to ???get on their radar???. The letters can be addressed to either Kathleen Wynn or your individual group.

Once the legislators understand that Ontario Amateurs provide a service that fills the needs of many diverse groups and organizations across the province I believe we can change their minds. This logic has worked in other provinces and it will work here as well.

Thanks and please try to get those letters to me soon.

73

Bill Unger VE3XT <wunger@confederationc.on.ca>
North/East Ontario Regional Director
Radio Amateurs of Canada
— 

Why we need to fail!

The future of Amateur Radio in Canada is too important to me to leave in the hands of experts!

Experts know it all. They have a plan. It’s a better plan than anybody else’s plan.

When their plan eventually doesn’t work, they don’t change plans but insist their plan will work if you’d just stop complaining and we all get aligned with the plan. Dissent is squelched. Discussion is discouraged and common sense is ignored. Failure, it is said, is not an option.

And so we go back to old plan and we get the same old results.

The lesson according to Tim Hardford’s new book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure in today’s National Post is variation, achieved through a pluralistic approach to encouraging new innovations.

Don’t believe me?

Watch this short video on how to succeed by failing.

Eye on the prize

What do we want for amateur radio in Canada?

I would suggest that the top priority would be to build a strong representative national association by creating a responsive leadership group.

The first priority of this strong representative national association would be to build its membership numbers to the point that the association has a legitimate claim to represent all amateur radio operators in Canada. This requires an organized national campaign that goes beyond selling a score or so of memberships at the Dayton Hamvention.

The second priority would be to form committees to actively lobby government at all levels to ensure that our elected officials understand the importance of maintaining and growing a strong national cadre of trained technically oriented trained radio personnel. Ask your local director about the visibility amateur radio has right now with the new federal government.

The third priority would be to send volunteers to represent the interests of Canadian amateur radio operators on international committees and associations. We do have representation but do you know what’s happening to support amateur radio in Canada?

Notice I’ve said nothing about creating services to members! Member services like TCA or the selling of association T-shirts don’t build a loyal, dedicated membership. These are frills which are fun but unnecessary. Focusing on these issues has been compared by some to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

So now compare what I’m suggesting with what our current national association deems important enough to put on the front page of its ageing web site.

Contrast that with the Core Values of Radio Amateurs of Canada buried in the association’s administration manual and written in 2001 William J. Wilson – VE3NR.

Do you see what I see?

So what should we do in Canada?

Had my first good night’s sleep in four days 🙂 and I got to thinking what should we do about a national organization for amateur radio in Canada.

Lots of my thinking comes of course from my background in public relations and social media. I’m also reading a really good book (on my Kindle) called The Hyper-Social Organization which isn’t the easiest read but gets much better about half way in. The basic premise of the book is successful organizations of the future will find new ways to directly engage their customers and members.

One of the simple ways to tell if your organization is getting the message is to look at how it’s being managed. If the executive is involving the members in the planning and implementation of projects by organizing member committees and creating social media channels of open discussion you’ve got a Hyper-Social Organization.

If the executive is maintaining control and is being secretive and not creating ways of increasing membership involvement, you’re going to see declining numbers and future failure.

One sure sign an organization executive doesn’t get it is to examine how it plans to move forward. If you see management creating long policy documents or complex organizational plans without the benefit of massive member input, you  know the organization is in trouble.

Nobody follows plans and documents but everybody can get behind enlightened leadership. And what do the best leaders understand?

Member involvement is the secret.

Most organization managers not only don’t get this but are terrified of what would happen if they opened the organization up to direct member involvement.

Here in Canada it’s time for new thinking and a new national organization.

What are your thoughts?

Another RAC screwup?

I heard some disturbing news at Dayton this weekend.

It was reported to me that RAC’s new honorary council has allegedly been sending threatening letters to local clubs and ARES groups questioning their legitimate use of RAC and ARES logos.

Will someone please tell this gentleman that he’s sending letters to MEMBER groups who have a right to use the logos of the association they run!

When will the group running RAC come to the understanding that they aren’t running a club but a national association and that their role as board and executive members is to serve and not govern?

Their primary customers aren’t the existing members (who are very important and who should be getting the best services for their membership dollars) but the target customers are the vast majority of Canadian hams who aren’t members. RAC has been engaging in a series of customer unfriendly actions of late and this is a doozy and it suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of how to run a national association. Members have been abandoning RAC in droves and this isn’t going to help.

BTW RAC had a booth up at Dayton this year and congratulations to President Geoff Bawden who organized this initiative. The booth looked great.

One thought for next year Geoff is take a few moments to coach the booth guys that when a member asks a director a simple question like “what’s new?” or “How many memberships have we sold at Dayton?” there’s no need to be secretive or uninformed.

The reason to be at Dayton (the world’s largest hamfest) isn’t to sell 50 or even a 100 memberships.

Heck we can do that in Canada at some of the bigger hamfests. No. It’s to wave the flag – which you did literally which was a good thing – and personally thank Canadians who attend Dayton for being members or becoming new members. Numbers don’t matter. What you’re doing is building a brand. But being secretive doesn’t fill potential members with confidence.  The guys who were talking to me weren’t impressed at all. That’s sad.

Do want to mention how warmly I was greeted by Northern Ontario director Bill Unger who was staffing the booth when I walked by. I so wish I could be back on the team but until some team members are replaced I won’t be back. And BTW Bill isn’t one of them 🙂 He has always been one of the good guys and hams in Ontario should be grateful he’s still on the executive.

BTW when it comes to using logos from a PR point of view I would have no issue if anybody wanted to use my national association’s logo in their club newsletters and blog sites whether or not they are members. Please help us advertise our association. Same thing comes to the use of the @rac.ca email address. Why end this program which helps attract new members and does no harm or lessen membership value for existing members?

Same thing for The Canadian Amateur. If it were up to me I’d post a PDF version for free on the RAC website (such as it is) for all to see. It’s a very good magazine.

As it is right now, we are burdened by the gang who don’t understand how they are alienating their membership base and hurting the growth of amateur radio in Canada.

If you want to read more about what’s broken at RAC and what needs fixing I’d invite you to read John Bartlett’s (Ve1OZ/HK3OZ) blog CQ CANADA . John was the VP of public relations for RAC before I was and we’ve grown to be friends over the last months.

Dayton RoundUp

Dayton Hamvention 2011 was overflowing with fun, good fellowship and something else (Viewer warning…this is going to get dirty) thanks to HamSexy.com.

Don’t say you weren’t warned 🙂

Wx was perfect both days. Lots of vendors and lots of new stuff.

Oh the photo with the handhelds? That was the Oakville gang reprogramming their handhelds to a simplex toned frequency  for onsite communications.

John, VE3EJ, was inducted into the CQ Contesting Hall of Fame.

We all spent too much money but we’re back home safe and sound…more to come.

DAYTON – May 19-22

The Oakville crew is getting ready to head down to the Dayton Hamvention. If you’ve never been to Dayton, you have no idea what you’re missing. Aside from four days of bad food :), there are acres of fleamarket bargains, four or five buildings full of retailers selling the latest gizmos, plus the forums.

But that’s not all. On the Thursday there’s the day-long Contest University. At $85 it’s the best investment you’ll ever make in learning how to be a contester. If you’re 25 or younger, there may still be some scholarships available which means the organizers will wave the registration fee.

The “professors” of CTU are the best of the best contesters. What they don’t know, isn’t worth knowing!

I’ve been to Contest U three or four times and I’ve learned something new every year. Tim K3LR has narrated an introduction to all things contesting that are taking place at Dayton. Here’s link from the Potomac Valley Radio Club.

If you got to CTU you won’t want to miss Rob Sherwood’s presentation on receiver performance. Sherwood’s findings are always controversial and upsetting for some guys who have bought really expensive rigs only to find it beaten out in performance by my $600 FlexRadio 1500. Rumour says there will be a live online webinar of Sherwood’s presentation which I hope gets archived for broadcast later.

Also on Thursday, the QRP world comes together for their event called Four Days In May. I’m attending the day-long workshops held at a nearby hotel. This will be my second time at FDIM and I’m looking forward to it. QRP guys have to do more with less and that means workshops on antennas, propagation and operating skills are likely on the agenda.

Then of course there’s the outdoor vendor area which has got to be several acres in size. It can take four or five hours to walk it properly.

And as for what’s on the list? Well the Ten-Tec R4020 is a contender after my experiences with the 5-watt Flex 1500. This five-watt rig runs on 40 and 20 meters and at $250 is a bargain. I’ve heard it on the air via You Tube and it’s impressive. Probably going to buy a PAR Electronics HF End-Fedz EF-10-20-40 for easy installation when operating portable.

I rearranged the antenna system to make room for a possible Carolina Windom 80. The off-center feed Windom may give me better 80 meter performance. There’s not much I can do better on 160 than run my sloper but my 80-meter signal could be better with a better antenna. Right now I’m running an Alpha-Delta shortened 80/40 dipole and it works great but requires too much tuning on 80 meters during a contest to be really useful.

The rearrangement of antennas meant I ended up with a long coaxial run of LMR-400 from the switch box located on the tower in the backyard to half way up the front yard. Now my front yard happens to be lined on the west side by tall pine trees.

An S-9 31-foot vertical (which is just a fibreglass pole with a wire inside) mounted over a bunch of underground radials would give me a dedicated 40-meter antenna in the front yard.

Sure I could do the exact same thing by suspending a 31-foot wire off a tree branch but this is so much more elegant 🙂 And at $99 it’s relatively cheap.