Other VA3SIE Pages: FYBO '07 | Grid Square '07 | FYBO '06 | Spartan Sprint May '06 | NAQCC Contest Oct '05 | Spartan Sprint Oct '05 | Maple Isl. '05

Summary

This year, I decided to take part in FYBO & February PBMME as a pedestrian mobile bear, so I walked from my home to a couple of local parks all within grid square FN25dk and walked around the trees operating 20m and 40m as a pedestrian mobile bear.   My coldest operating temperature was at the start of the event,, with a wind chill of -6°F.

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Route

I left my QBH ( BEARden/home) around 1440Z (just off Macdonald Gardens Park) with the antenna configured for urban use (40m only) - the 20m quarter-wave vertical retracted and the drag wire coiled and stowed.  This configuration is required to avoid street lights, power lines, low trees, and various other hazards.

/PM Route
Pedestrian Mobile Route (Click on picture for full size image)

Part One 1400Z to 1700Z

I walked north and crossed the St. Patrick bridge over the Rideau river, monitoring 40m around 7040 kHz.  I heard a couple of QSO parties going strong but heard no FYBO or PBMME activity.   I turned west and entered Stanley Park in New Edinburgh at 1500Z and tuned over to 7095 kHz and joined the pot hole net just as Ed, VE3GX called for any net stations.  Ed was kind enough to relay my CW for those net participants who don't know the code.  I participated in the net as I walked west through the park, it was a fun net and my thanks as always to the net controller, Bob VA3QV.

40m /PM in the Park!
40m /PM in the Park!

I'll have to remember to claim credit for the QSOs I made to net participants for the Polar Bear Challenge.   I claim points for every net station who passed traffic directly to me during these local SSB nets.  I also paused for awhile to loan my cell phone to someone.   I entered an area of the park with less trees so it was time to reconfigure my station for the 20m option.  This was a tricky operation, as described below, but basically involved extending the 20m vertical and uncoiling the drag wire.   As I finished this operation, the pot hole net was wrapping up and I sent a "73" and tuned up to 20m.

20m /PM in the Park!
20m /PM in the Park!

There was plenty of activity on 20m!  The first station I heard was (of course!) Bob Patten, N4BP in Florida.   Murphy decided to pay a visit though.  Bob was running a bunch of contacts and was quite strong so I injected my call.  Bob came right back but faded as he passed his exchange.  I guess the fade was both directions because Bob didn't get my temp (I was sending "M6F"), and he must have asked 5 times!  I started sending "MINUS 6 MINUS 6" and I think he got it in the end, but at one point, another contester actually relayed my -6°F to Bob.


Movie 1 (Click play button to play movie)

I spent the next hour just walking around in this area of Stanley Park, avoiding trees.   The next station I heard was the Arizona ScQRPions station in Thunderbird Park, NQ7RP with Mike, K7DD on the key.  That contact went more smoothly!

Then a surprise!  I heard a BeaRRRRiffic signal call me following that contact, it was Michael, VE3WMB, and he was also pedestrian mobile.  BOTA!  Michael Bear was walking in the central experimental farm in Ottawa.  Great! That's my first /PM to /PM contact.  Michael is polar bear #19 and I'm polar bear #20, so we both exchanged a "Grrrrr!".   The FYBO exchange was interesting.  I sent Michael an operating temp. of -4°F and Michael sent me a temp. of 10°F without wind chill, yet we were both /PM within 10km BEARtionary of each other.  I wasn't backing down though, because as I was tapping out my exchange I was facing into a rather brutal wind coming in across the river, and my face was pretty much numb from all the Polar Bearin' :)  Thanks, Michael, great "Dancing with Bears", Grrrr!

By the way, to make sense of all this Bear-talk, you may need to refer to the BEARtionary, courtesy of Ed, WA3WSJ & Ken, WA8REI, BEARglot extraordinaire!

A Bear in the Park!
A Bear in the Park!

After chatting with Michael, I decided to try calling for HF Pack stations on the net frequency of 14342.5 kHz, I camped out on that frequency and put the KX1 into beacon mode sending CQ, but I never got any takers, so perhaps the path to California was not great on 20m. Tuning back to 14060 kHz, I exchanged temps with Dick, W0NTA, in Colorado who is always nice and strong here in Ontario.


Movie 2 (Click play button to play movie)

I decided it was time for a break around 1630Z, being outside was getting to be UnBearable (an inside joke, look it up in the BEARtionary!), so I called Mrs. Ditti-Bear (my trail name), and we arranged to meet in the park, where she was kind enough to act as unofficial BEARtographer and capture the images and movies you see on this site.   As I was waiting for her, I called CQ a little higher in the band, and hooked W8DIZ down in Florida.  I was chatting to Diz while being photographed…  The antenna system got its next test following that QSO, would it pack down small enough to fit into a Ford Focus?  It sure did!

Part Two 1900Z to 2300Z

After enjoying a slap-up brunch at Hamies 1950s style Diner in New Edinburgh, with Mrs. Ditti-Bear, we headed home where this Bear warmed himself back up!

I was in the process of leaving the BEARden again at 1800Z but I got two surprises!   The first surprise was that something had failed in the antenna system…  as I walked, the RF would click in and out in time with my steps.  I layed the antenna out on the hood of my car and tapped different connection points until I isolated the problem.   Simple enough!  The bannana plugs which connect the DCTL loop to the W1CG balun had lost thier splay, and become loose in the sockets.  I used my pen knife to re-spread the plugs and that fixed it right up!  The other surprise was a visit by Larry, VE3WEH, polar bear #28 who is something of a Canadian BEARtographer and Graham, VE3GBD.  They brought a CD full of great photographs and movies from a recent OVMRC Canadian Island Awards Program activation that this Bear took part in, CF3RCS (Canadians Freezing 3 - Really Cold Spot) DXpedition to Bate Island.

So everything working again, I left my QBH ( BEARden/home) again around 1845Z (just off Macdonald Gardens Park) with the antenna again configured for urban use (40m only).  Wow!  I heard the sound of a Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Event - Extremely strong RTTY.  I tuned just below the RTTY, hoping that the FYBO stations had sought refuge there, but alas! there were none.  I parked the KX1 on 7040 kHz and placed the KX1 in beacon mode calling CQ for the walk north over the St. Patrick bridge over the Rideau river.  I never did get an answer and my ears were ringing by the time I turned east and walked into Vanier Park.

/PM in the Park
/PM in the Park

Note:  Mrs. Ditti-Bear took the photos around noon, so I don't have any dusk photos…just in case you're wondering!

Once I walked under the trees at the entrance to Vanier Park, I extended the 20m vertical and uncoiled the drag wire, and switched over to 20m where my ears thanked me as there were once again quiet CW signals :)  My first contact of the evening was Randy, W6RA in Oregon, who was nice and strong.  Propagation had deteriorated somewhat on 20m as is typical of the late afternoon, and heard a few people working other stations (including the alpha bear Ron, WB3AAL on the Appalachian Trail, but I never heard those stations calling CQ.  I did try running the KX1 in beacon mode calling CQ a few more times but no takers.  Conditions did improve just before dusk and W6RA, W0NTA & N4BP were booming in, but I had worked them already.

In the Park, in the DARK

As the sun set on a cool winter evening, I worked a non-FYBO station, Dave, KI7YI in Washington State.   He gave me all his information and he was pretty strong RST 569 then I gave him my info, but I got no response.  Propagation can play funny games around dusk!   My final contact of the evening was with Dave, AB9CA in Alabama.


Movie 3 (Click play button to play movie)

As the last remnants of sunshine dwindled behind the trees, things got quite a bit colder, and although I fired up a couple of glove warmers, I was having to walk more quickly to ward off the chill.  I was wearing a red-light headlamp to log by, which worked pretty well.  When I heard N4BP and W0NTA get weaker, I knew the FYBO fun was over for another year, but there will be another PBMME this year, so I'll be looking forward to that!  I walked home from the park around 2315Z.

/PM in the Park
/PM in the Park

Equipment

My station was an Elecraft KX1, with optional 30m/80m module, KXAT1 internal tuner, and KXPD1 paddle, powered by 8 energizer recgargeable batteries, producing 2 Watts.  I used Sony Fontopia earbuds on a clipboard with a Garmin Etrex Summit GPS.  I kept the batteries in a radio shack battery holder inside my fleece to keep them warm and extend thier life.

KX1 Clipboard
KX1 Clipboard

I built a frame out of PVC plumbing pipes, which zipped up tightly into my backpack, it was kept in place just by pressure of the zipper being closed around it.  I used two Shakespeare Wonderpole TPS-20 20ft fishing poles, both with the bottom-most (and heaviest!) sections removed and one with the upper-most 3 sections removed also.  The shorter of the two poles formed the support for the 40m DCTL loop and was supported in the central PVC pipe, with just enough electrical tape applied to form a tight fit, so that it can be rotated in the field.

PVC Frame
PVC Frame

The 2nd longer fishing pole was secured to the shorter pole at 3 points along its length with plastic ties.  The longer pole stores the wire for the 20m quarter-wave antenna, and equal lengths of the two fishing poled were kept extended at all times.  To extend the 20m quarter-wave, the wire is pulled out of the fishing pole and used to pull up the thinner fiberglass sections.   The fiberglass sections are then rotated to wind the 20m wire helically along the length of the fishing pole and then pulled fast and twisted to secure it in place.   The counterpoise wire is coiled up and attached to the backpack with velcro when not in use.

Pair of Poles
A Pair of Poles

The 40m DCTL loop was fed through a W1CG balun, which was secured to the backpack, and the 20m quarter-wave (which was about 16ft of silver plater, teflon coated #26AWG teflon coated wire) was fed against a dragging counterpoise made from about 14½ft of RG-174 coax.   The coax and vertical were attached to a short length of feed RG-174 coax by a pair of bannana plugs, which were secured to loops on the backpack.

Backpack
Backpack

VA3SIE/PM Score

Score Summary
FYBO Score Summary

For the Polar Bear Challenge I earned 126.48 points for hiking a total of 6.78 miles and making a total of 9 eligible (non-contest or PBMME) contacts.

For the PBMME, I contacted 1 polar bear only.

Contacts on a map
Contest Contacts (Click on picture for full size image)

(Version: 1.0 February 4, 2007)