simplifying the complex

Category: Ham Radio Page 1 of 2

Writing on Stone, Ham Radio, CW, Morse Code,

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park CW Activation

Áísínai’pi, also known as Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, is located in Southern Alberta approximately 150 km from Lethbridge where I reside. Its a unesco heritage site and upon arriving off season I was greeted to an empty park with stunning views.

It was already the 21st of October, 2023 so I figured we may not get too many other chances to do some QRP activations before the snow flies. The weather was bound to turn cold soon enough so I met up with KJ7GNB to try to get in one last POTA before the weather gets too crazy to cross borders.

I often operate through the winter months from Park Lake as its so close by but it doesn’t have anything close to the allure of WOS provincial park. The sandstone cliffs, caves and hoodoos need to be seen to be believed.

I was able to get around 50+ contacts on the day with my KX2 and I alternated my Mag Loop and Buddipole. The Loop did the majority of the heavy lifting on this particular day.

With such a wonderful site it’s imperative that one respects the environment. With this in mind our operations involved no trees or physical alteration of any areas. Its always important to ad here to following:

  1. Park Regulations: Adhere to all park regulations concerning radio operations, respecting quiet zones or designated areas where radio operations may be restricted.
  2. Leave No Trace: Ensure that your QRP setup doesn’t disturb the park’s natural beauty. Remove all equipment and any trace of your activity after your operation.

Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park is an exceptional location for QRP operation, offering both the tranquility necessary for low-power radio operation and the beauty of nature. It was RF quiet, one of the most quiet areas I’ve operated frankly. By following best practices, utilizing suitable equipment, and respecting both the environment and park regulations, we can all enjoy the experience of QRP in this picturesque setting.

I can’t vouch for what it would be like during the peak season but if you happen to be in Southern Alberta and find yourself with some time to kill I would highly recommend taking a look at WOS to hike, play radio, photograph, or just enjoy.

73, Tyler Kacsor


Great Conditions on 20M

VE-1187 is a beautiful park located just outside of Lethbridge, Alberta. It’s a great spot for operating QRP (low-power amateur radio). Today, January 7, 2023 I had the pleasure of activating the park and making a few contacts on the 20 meter band.

The band conditions were fantastic – the solar flux was high and the K index was low, which meant that signals were coming in loud and clear. I was able to make contact with stations all over the continent with just 10 watts of power and my trusty PackTenna EFRW strung up in a tree.

Activating the park was a breeze. I arrived at VE-1187 in the AM and set up my station in less than 10 minutes. I chose a spot with a clear view of the sky and free from any obsticles as I setup the PackTenna with my arborist throw line. I then powered up my rig and tuned in to the 20 meter band. With a nice quiet noise floor and a clear channel I started to call CW to alert the RBN and spot me. Within three calls I heard from WB0RLJ – Jim from NE. He’s often in the logbooks and really set a great tone for the day with 599 into Southern Alberta. This was at 17:24UTC.

Before long, I was making contacts left and right. I worked stations in California, Kentucky, and even as far away as New York. It was great to make contact with hams from all over the country and share my love of QRP operating. I had activated the park by 17:33 or approximately 9 minutes. I left at 17:39 having made 15 contacts in 14 minutes.

Overall, it was a fantastic day of operating QRP at VE-1187. The band conditions were excellent and I was able to make a bunch of contacts in a short amount of time. I can’t wait to get back on the air and see who I can work next! I’ll likely be out there tomorrow and it would be great to get you in the log.

73, Tyler Kacsor

Make this the year to learn Morse Code!

Begali Spark Keyer
Begali Spark

As a ham radio operator, I’ve always been fascinated by the versatility and efficiency of Morse code. In the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to use this skill to make around 2000 contacts with other ham operators around the world. In my compromised environment I would likely only have made a hundred contacts or so were I to use SSB as my QTH setup isn’t as robust as it should be. Enter CW and POTA.

One of the most rewarding aspects of using Morse code is the sense of community it fosters. As I send out my call sign and exchange information with other operators, I feel like I’m a part of a global network of people who share a common interest in radio communication.

One of the things that makes Morse code so useful for ham radio is its efficiency. It allows for quick and accurate communication, even in situations where voice transmission might be difficult or impossible. In addition, it requires minimal equipment and can be used to communicate over long distances with relatively low power output. Sometimes as low as 500mw depending on how adventurous you’re feeling.

I look forward to continuing to make contacts and build connections with other operators in the coming year. Happy new year to all my fellow hams out there! If you’re not currently using this great mode I would say get involved with any of the great groups out there like CWOps or the Long Island CW club and make this the year you finally tackle CW, it’s not that hard. I promise. Moose and I look forward to working you on the air in 2023.

73, Tyler Kacsor

2022 CQ WPX Contest 

May 28-29 2022 I took part in CQWW. I don’t generally contest but I had been sticking around the house in case the XYL needed anything as she was under the weather.

I gathered my IC-705 and CHA tactical delta loop and strung it up in the backyard. I don’t have a lot of space as we’re in a new development. I’ve also chosen not to erect a massive antenna in effort to keep peace with the neighbours.

I started to casually enter contacts into HAMRS while making use of the IC-705’s CW incrementing features and after a while I decided that I should instead get out my laptop instead and log in N1MM. It was the first time that I put it to use and its a great piece of software for contesters.

You don’t need to look at the software too long to determine why it ranks so highly amongst ham’s who contest on the regular. I imported my ADIF and continued on after updated the numbers (they didn’t transfer over seamlessly).

I pecked away on the bands over the course of the weekend and was able to rack up over 50 contacts while hardly trying. I had such a great experience that I just purchased a winkeyer to setup in anticipation of field day at the end of the month. I’ll let you know how it turns out and document the setup.

If you’re wanting to get started contesting I would say just go ahead and do it. Its a lot of fun. Just make sure you read the rules and listen to an exchange or two before jumping into it. Once you make some contacts you’ll need to find out how to submit a log. N1MM makes it quite easy. Here is a copy of a generated log for reference.

CREATED-BY: N1MM Logger+ 1.0.9397.0
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0147 VA6TI         599 0001   NX5M          599 0336     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0150 VA6TI         599 0002   KC7V          599 0115     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0153 VA6TI         599 0003   AC6T          599 0620     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0156 VA6TI         599 0004   NA6T          599 0109     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0157 VA6TI         599 0005   N5JJ          599 0746     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0159 VA6TI         599 0006   WT7TT         599 0654     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0201 VA6TI         599 0007   K9LJN         599 0354     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0204 VA6TI         599 0008   KK6P          599 0981     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0210 VA6TI         599 0009   NU5A          599 2246     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0211 VA6TI         599 0010   K3LR          599 0131     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0213 VA6TI         599 0011   N4XD          599 0471     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0218 VA6TI         599 0012   N7IR          599 0444     
QSO: 21000 CW 2022-05-29 0225 VA6TI         599 0013   N5EE          599 0586     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0252 VA6TI         599 0014   K6WSC         599 0436     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0259 VA6TI         599 0015   W9MR          599 0291     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0301 VA6TI         599 0016   WD6T          599 0907     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0310 VA6TI         599 0017   WH7T          599 1183     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0313 VA6TI         599 0018   N2BA          599 0888     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0316 VA6TI         599 0019   AJ6V          599 0888     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0318 VA6TI         599 0020   NH7T          599 1288     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0434 VA6TI         599 0021   NR6O          599 1054     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0439 VA6TI         599 0022   W6TK          599 0621     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0448 VA6TI         599 0023   AA6IO         599 0064     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0450 VA6TI         599 0024   N6GP          599 0145     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0452 VA6TI         599 0025   N6TTV         599 0164     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0455 VA6TI         599 0026   N5YT          599 0926     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0457 VA6TI         599 0027   KW9A          599 0434     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0514 VA6TI         599 0028   XL3A          599 0255     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0518 VA6TI         599 0029   KK5I          599 1544     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 0521 VA6TI         599 0030   KT5J          599 2578     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1349 VA6TI         599 0031   K5UV          599 0648     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1407 VA6TI         599 0032   NS0R          599 0550     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1421 VA6TI         599 0033   VY2TT         599 3003     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1426 VA6TI         599 0034   KZ5D          599 1303     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1443 VA6TI         599 0035   NA6TT         599 1282     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1449 VA6TI         599 0036   AD0LI         599 0653     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1450 VA6TI         599 0037   NR60          599 1303     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1503 VA6TI         599 0038   WA8ZBT        599 0542     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1515 VA6TI         599 0039   WX0B          599 1743     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1521 VA6TI         599 0040   NX6T          599 1484     
QSO: 14000 CW 2022-05-29 1524 VA6TI         599 0041   WZ4F          599 2061     
QSO: 14048 CW 2022-05-29 1650 VA6TI         599 0042   NT6Q          599 2455     
QSO: 14051 CW 2022-05-29 1713 VA6TI         599 0043   WM6A          599 1361     
QSO: 14041 CW 2022-05-29 1721 VA6TI         599 0044   WA6KHK        599 0805     
QSO: 14061 CW 2022-05-29 1911 VA6TI         599 0045   NF6A          599 1020     
QSO: 21043 CW 2022-05-29 1926 VA6TI         599 0046   K6NR          599 1110     
QSO: 14002 CW 2022-05-29 1934 VA6TI         599 0047   ND7K          599 2546     
QSO: 14009 CW 2022-05-29 1939 VA6TI         599 0048   WR30          599 2718     
QSO: 14023 CW 2022-05-29 1940 VA6TI         599 0049   NA8V          599 2203     
QSO: 14028 CW 2022-05-29 1942 VA6TI         599 0050   W9EWZ         599 0551     
QSO: 14040 CW 2022-05-29 1943 VA6TI         599 0051   K9CT          599 1721     
QSO: 14046 CW 2022-05-29 1944 VA6TI         599 0052   WD9CIR        599 0585

All in all a few contacts were likely missed as the speeds are quite high but it was a blast and it left me wanting to do more of them.

73, Tyler

QRP POTA on ARRL DX CW Contest Weekend Feb 2022

The bands were absolutely full this weekend thanks to the ARRL CW Contest. Its great to see so many active operators enjoying the bands but it made it difficult to find a slice of spectrum for myself.

The weather has been quite cold (-20c) so quick deployment was the name of the game. I had initially setup the Buddystick Pro but the signal wasn’t able to propagate in such a manner that it could compete with the packed bands. The vertical whip on a tripod simply wasn’t enough. I also was running it with a tuner as it was cold and I didn’t wan’t to spend the time with an analyzer or SWR meter to make it resonant. Keep in mind I’m operating QRP on top of it all. I switched to the PakTenna EFHW hoisted in the tree and was able to make my activations.

I am awaiting confirmation as it looks like LN8W was in my logbooks from Norway. Quite the contest station, it is possible that the contact was for another station but I’m waiting until LOTW updates as it would be a good contact QRP.

The radio in use was the KX2. The 705 will return shortly especially as the warmer weather comes.

Tyler Kacsor

Park Lake Feb 12 & 13

Moose and I went out to Park Lake VE-1187 on the 12th and 13th to activate the parks in the warmer weather. The conditions were good and we were able to make 50 contacts over the two days.

The antenna system was the PakTenna EFHW paired with the Elecraft KX2 and it performed beautifully. I can’t recommend PakTenna or Chameleon products highly enough. While it is fun to work on some antenna builds I appreciate the simplicity of deploying well engineered and thought out commercial products.

Park Lake Feb 6, 2022

It was a warm afternoon thanks to the recent chinook that moved in. In typical fashion it brought a lot of wind which made me think about what antenna system to deploy. I recently acquired a Paktenna end fed half wave (EFHW) and thought it would be just the tool for the job.

The antenna itself comes with a nice S carabiner which makes it easy to hoist into a tree with appropriate strain relief. I paired this with the Elecraft KX2 as EFHW’s require a tuner and was quickly off and making contacts.

Ease of deployment rates highly as my arborist throw line effortlessly took care of any of the hassles associated with setting up other forms of antenna systems. One needs to have multiple solutions depending on terrain but if you know that there are tress where you will be playing radio a random wire in a tree is hard to beat.

I was able to activate the park in under 30 minutes with a nice distribution of contacts throughout the United States. I’ll be investigating other antenna systems from Paktenna in the near future but if you want a great antenna that is ready to go out of the box look no further.

Park Lake Jan 30, 2022

In an attempt to try out some new antenna systems I thought I would venture out to Park Lake to activate it. I selected the Chameleon Delta Loop and the Elecraft KX2 for this activation. Its the first time I’ve used the Elecraft and I was very pleased with its performance.

I had some issues with one of the telescoping whip’s which didn’t allow for full extension but Chameleon graciously sent me a replacement. Amazing customer service, its easy to see why so many people enjoy their antennas.

The activation itself was my longest to date at over 2 hours to make the 10 contacts required for activation. The majority of the contacts were made on 20 with once contact coming on 40. Midway through I converted the delta loop into a vertical to see if some NVIS was possible and I believe that allowed for the KJ7LLS Sota contact. The delta loop is a very versatile piece of gear. I added a counterpoise but didn’t notice any significant difference.

Below is the propagation map with contacts via HAMRS:

Winter Field Day 2022 – Park Lake Edition

It was around 9 degrees Celsius today so I decided to head out to play radio. Its been quite warm in Southern Alberta for January so it made great sense to get outside and practice some CW.

While it is field day my logs will not be eligible as you are not able to spot or post contacts and I use the POTA spotting feature to activate parks quicker. If you were to simply call CQ without a spot but within POTA territory you could claim Field Day and still activate the park.

I was once again able to contact Alaska and notably I made contact with Tom (K4SWL) who was the reason I wanted to learn CW in the first place. Pretty neat to see his callsign come through the airwaves. Logging was done digitally via HAMRS which allows me to send the log directly from the APP once I pack up (assuming there is cell service).

Red Rock Coulee Natural Area

Lethbridge started off windy as per usual so I decided to take Moose for a drive to the South Eastern portion of Alberta near Medicine Hat. Park VE-3114 had not yet been activated so I figured today was as good a day as any. The weather has been warm lately with double digit temperatures in January so strike while the iron is hot.

I left my equipment in the SUV from the prior night so packing was easy. The IC-705 and F-Loop 3.0 were ready for duty but I forgot my tablet so I wound up using HAMRS on my phone to log contacts. I also keep paper copies just in case.

Conditions were favourable and I was able to make 30 plus QSO’s in a relatively short period of time including a contact from the DR. I’ll attach a visualization of the contacts as well as some random shots from the day. The area itself was quite interesting, take a look at those rocks.

Moose and I had enough around 2PM local time and decided to head back to the QTH for the evening.

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