Updates: Canada activations, Ham Radio Workbench, contraband, field reports, travels, and an activation later today

Greetings everyone! I’m behind on email and comments at present so I thought I might share a few updates quickly in a post:

VY2SW Activations

We are absolutely loving our travels here in Canada and I’m giving the new Canadian call sign (VY2SW) a proper workout.

To date, I believe I’ve activated 11 parks (1 in Ontario, 10 in Québec) during our extended family vacation. Instead of hitting the same parks over and over, I’m trying to activate new parks during each outing because it’s giving us an opportunity to explore some really amazing spots that we might not otherwise discover.

Camping on the North Coast of the St. Lawrence in Bon Désir.

Before we leave La Belle Province, I’ve at least two SOTA summits in mind and 3-4 more parks, family time permitting. Indeed, as I mention below, I hope to activate another park sometime today.

Ham Radio Workbench Podcast

Once again the fine crew of the Ham Radio Workbench Podcast made the mistake of inviting me on another episode of the podcast.

In truth, it’s a proper honor to join them each time (don’t let them know I said that!). Seriously, they’re an amazing group of friends.

This episode was dedicated to our Field Day activities. For many of us, it was an unconventional Field Day and perhaps that’s what made the event so much fun.

John (W7DBO) was invited back to the show and it was great hearing how he integrated his whole family in his Field Day activities.

George had to operate from home, I operated from our condo/chalet here in Québec, and Vince from his very unique club setup in Alberta. Rob had a project that took priority on Field Day, and it’s worth listening to the podcast just to hear Smitty’s tale of life as a Field Day RVer (hint: not for the faint of heart).

Click here to listen to the full episode. 

I’m a big ole hypocrite

If you listened to the HRWB podcast, you’re already aware that I’ve proven once again that I’m a hypocrite.

How so?

Remember that post where I asked for your advice about choosing two radios to accompany me on our summer travels? Remember how I said that there was only room for one other radio besides the Elecraft KX2?

I did finally choose that one extra radio: the Discovery TX-500.

I chose the TX-500 because 1.) it would be a great “bad weather” radio, 2.) it could operate from my KX2 battery packs, 3.) it’s multimode and also covers 6 meters, and 4.) it has such a slim profile. I could easily the TX-500 in my Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack with the Elecraft KX2 and it didn’t make the pack feel any bulkier.

I came very close to choosing the IC-705, but it was just a bit too bulky for the way I had my pack configured.

Back to the hypocrite part…

The day before leaving North Carolina, I removed everything from our Subaru and gave it a deep cleaning.

When I pulled up the floor panel in the trunk/boot area to check the first aid kit, spare tire, and emergency gear I discovered that there was a fairly large unused area under there–a spot where I might be able to sneak a few extra radio supplies.

After a little finagling, I discovered that I could fit spare batteries, two folding PowerFilm panels, the Buddipole PowerMini 2, and two more radios: the MTR-3B field kit, and my Elecraft KX1.

This essentially amounted to contraband since I tend to be the guy who enforces “one bag per person” policy during our family travels.

I got some serious eye rolls from the family when they discovered the hidden radios after we reached our destination. I might not ever live this down.

If I had even a shred of dignity upon our arrival here in Canada, I can confirm it’s gone now.

Elecraft KX2 getting heavy use

Other than Field Day where I primarily used the TX-500, the Elecraft KX2 has been getting a heavy workout on this trip.

The reason why is because I’ve been activating a number of urban parks where an all-in one radio paired with a random wire or the AX1 vertical has been very useful.

Conditions have been very rough during some of these activations as well, so it’s nice to have both CW and SSB modes available and a full 5 watts (the KX1 and MTR-3B are CW-only hover around 3 watts). I’ve snagged some excellent QRP DX at times, but everything has been so unstable.

I didn’t bring the KX2 hand mic on this trip, so all of my SSB contacts have utilized the KX2’s built-in mic. It’s actually worked brilliantly!

Field Reports and Activation Videos

In the lead-up to Canada travels, I spent most of my spare time studying for the Canadian Basic exam and fell behind on field reports.

I’ve recorded a number of activations here in Canada and will likely post a couple of these out of chronological order while I’m still on this side of the border.

Uploading from our chalet hasn’t been possible–the upload speeds are about as dismal as they are at my QTH. Download isn’t too bad, though.

Hôtel Le Manoir, Baie-Comeau

While at the hotel in Baie-Comeau a few days ago, I uploaded at least four videos with their high-speed internet, so I’ll soon post a couple of them.

In short: the activations here have been amazingly fun. Some of the sites have been truly spectacular in terms of scenery and others are in urban settings taking me well outside my comfort zone.

In short: I’ve loved every minute of it!

Travels

Photo by K4TLI

We have had an amazing time here in Québec as always.

Our flavor of travel is the opposite of many: we tend to rent a home or apartment for a few weeks or couple of months and use it as a base for exploring the region. We do this as opposed to traveling long distances and only spending relatively short periods of time at multiple stops.

 

Activation today

I plan to activate a park while in Québec City today. I’ve no clue which one it’ll be yet, but I’ll announce it on the POTA site once I’ve got a plan together. If you have the time, look for me on the POTA spots page (as VY2SW) or via the RBN! I’d love to put you in the logs.

Here’s wishing all of you a week full of radio and fun!

72/73,

Thomas (VY2SW / K4SWL)

10 thoughts on “Updates: Canada activations, Ham Radio Workbench, contraband, field reports, travels, and an activation later today”

  1. Looks like a great trip. I haven’t been able to free myself up to catch you on the air yet. I had a similar radio dilemma on my Fathers Day backpacking trip to North Manitou. I weighed and measured and weighed and measured for weeks. It hurt a little to leave everything but one radio and some essential gear at home, or possibly a lot. I felt rather unprepared. As an Eagle Scout and generally over prepared human, it was a growing moment to see how little I could get by with for four days. As promised I am working on a write up and short video about the trip. Enjoy the rest of your trip Thomas. de K8DRT

  2. Great job on the extra radio gear!!! Who needs a spare tire anyway??? 😉

    Sorry, I’m a bit punchy after a lot of POTA SYP weekend operations… Hope to catch you in another park soon!

    Best 73 de Brian – K3ES

  3. Thanks for taking almost enough radios – I’ve already forwarded the picture of your trunk to my wife for approval 🙂

  4. Hello Thomas.. I see you are attempting activations this morning 7/22/22… I am in Florida and not hearing you on any of the frequencies…. Band conditions have been terrible eh??

    Mike

    W3DDS

  5. Hi all,

    Just catching up ahead of my own road trip around the coast of Scotland and a face a similar dilemma, which radio(s) do I take. I’ll be away for 10 days and off grid with only limited vehicle power for operation and charging.

    Have dismissed my KX2 as I’ll likely deplete the battery within a couple of days and then won’t be able to charge, so may current plan is Xiegu G90 for mobile, Xiegu X5105 for camping and stashed, my MTR3B, SW3b or QCX Mini. Antennas will be mobile hamsticks and a lightweight EFHW for use with trees or Sotabeams compact mast.

    If only the KX2 had a mobile charger…. I’d only need the one rig!

    Thoughts?

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