121206 - 9:30 Thursday a.m. - I arrived home late
Wednesday night. I'll catch up and clean up this blog and web site
later this weekend.
121205 - 8:00 a.m
Wednesday - Well it has been an exciting few days. I'm in
Heathrow, Terminal 5 and I'm wrestling with Internet - what else could I
be doing? Let me back up a bit, and catch up.
We left the Trading Post at about 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday
morning. Roger and our German team members in one vehicle, and
Frosty and the remaining Canadian Team members (Bill and Keith) in the
other. We got across the border with minimal issues - got some
more stamps in our passports, and we headed to Bernie's place. We
dropped off the Battle Creek antenna, and said our good byes. We
got separated heading north, with Frosty, Bill and Keith in the lead.
Long drive - and we were getting close to Johannesburg about 3:00.
We had been watching the skys turn darker, and we saw
the occasional flash of lightening. As we got into the outskirts
of Johannesburg, it started with torrential downpours - raining so hard
you couldn't talk easily in he vehicle from the pounding.
Lightening, thunder and then hailstones. Now we really couldn't
talk. I took a few pictures - I'll push them up when Internet
We finally got through it, dropped Keith at his
hotel, gassed up the rental car and went to the airport. I checked my
two bags and we went through security. They had a problem with my
Amateur Radio Handi Talki - so off to see the manager. He is
adamant that it is illegal to carry on an aircraft. I whom him my
license, I ask him to look it up in the rules - no go.
So back to British Airways - at first they want
nothing to do with me. I explain I carry it frequently and it is
not a problem. I carried it down there through Vancouver and Heathrow
security. They tello me I will need to buy a bag, and it is going
to cost me 44 pounds to check it.
I go and buy the only bag I could find - 350 Rand -
about $50. I get back to the counter - she puts it in and it comes
up with $1,850 dollars. I'm sent off to ticketing, and then back
to check in. I've asked the manager to step in - he can't do
anything about Security - but he has an idea. We'll treat it like
a firearm. I checked it in - and moments before the flight
departure it was delivered onto the aircraft and sat above my seat for
the whole trip.
So I get to Heathrow - clear immigration, and have to
go through Security again. This time they are in a snit about my
'liquids'. Totally ignored my ham radio. He pulls things
out, and I say medication - he pulls out my boxed Epipen, and says
this has to go - I say - it is a prescription it stays. He
pulls out my pitstop (anti-persperent) - and says this is a liquid.
I politely point out that it is a gel - and a gel isn't a liquid.
End of the story - he took my unopened bottle of cough
syrup and my unopened mini-bottle of mouthwash. Painful -
completely missed the terrorist with the Amateur Radio Handi Talki!
Oh yes, I will write to Security at Johannesburg - and voice my
concerns. I'll also point out that I walked through their scanners
twice and did not set them off - first time I've not set off a scanner
since my hip replacement - or in other words, their basic equipment
wasn't set up correctly.
I was going to try and go to the Yotel - but that
would mean going through security again - and I'm done with security for
this trip! I landed at 6:30 a.m. and I take off around 4:50 p.m. -
so a few hours to kill at this airport.
121203 - 9:00 p.m. - We've had our dinner.
I'm packed - mostly. Will wake up early enough to get a shower, a
shave and set up for the trip to JBurg tomorrow. Breakfast
at 6:30, leave at 7:00 a.m.
My flight is about 9:30 at night - so will be a bit
of a wait.
We did up a bit of a thank you certificate for CD
- all of the guys signed it. He was an awesome help on set up and tear
down. He was also always there for us during the DX-Pedition.
Mitch and Donovan are gone at 4:00 a.m. tomorrow - I suspect I won't be
saying my good byes in the a.m. Travel safe guys.
My laundry did not get done - because of the bad
weather - so I'm travelling with minimal clean clothes. A spilled drink
on the plane could spell disaster. We'll have to make do.
Monday 1:30 p.m. - Well the weather for
teardown was a lot better then we feared. The antennas are down -
the coax is rolled up, and we are working on packing up the rest of the
gear. We'll be giving Neil a lift to the airport, in a few
minutes. I'll go along to make sure he gets on the plane ;>}}.
It was a pleasure working the pileups with Neil - his contribution was
very much appreciated.
We've done up the brag videos, taken the team
pictures, and everyone is a little numb finishing up the trip. It
has been an awesome run. Keith asked me to do up a 'Certificate of
Appreciation' for CD - Tsilsiso - we'll get Jenny to print it out when
she gets back into town.
Gerry - the Ambassador from Ireland dropped by for a
visit. He is 7P8CC - also a ham from Ireland. It was very nice of
him to take time from his busy schedule and drop by to talk a little
radio with us.
121202 - Sunday noonish - Frosty and I went
for a drive this a.m. He wanted to check out where the airport was
- as he has to drop Neil there on Monday. Lots of rain, blowing
hard and visibility reduced. We found the airport, did a quick
spin around the checkin location, and headed back. We needed gas
for the rental car, but all of the local gas stations were closed.
We ended up driving into the capital to get gas.
I've taken a few more pictures which I will push up
shortly. As we were passing one of the busses, his driver's door
popped open - apparently to do a shoulder check - as his driver's side
mirror was non-existent! Many of the cars we passed were packed
with passengers, and the windows were completely fogged up - not sure
how the drivers were navigating, but it was not through normal vision.
Sunday 8:37 a.m.- Bit of catching up - was on
20 meters last night from about 7:30 till 10:00. Huge pileups -
wall to wall signals. Managed to work a number of VE7 and VA7's -
so glad to get you guys in the log book. Hit the sack around 10:00
p.m. and was up for 3:00 a.m. Sunday - called CQ for two hours on 20
meters, and got one Asiatic Russian in the log. Went back to bed
for a few hours.
Woke up at 7:30 - absolutely torrential downpours.
Enough water running down the sidewalks for fish to swim upstream.
Going to be a very wet day. The weather report is calling for the
rain overnight, and it to be nice Monday.
We will tear down the equipment on Monday - and doing
it in the rain isn't very attractive. Sounds like it will at least
be decent weather - we can live with that.
121201 - Saturday 9:45 - Called on 17 for an
hour and got one response - bit early for 17 meters. Just walked
over to the Trading Post - picked up two bottles of cough syrup - I'm
going to have to go to rehab to get over using this stuff!
While I was on my way back, there was a
young lady on horseback, dressed in her traditional garb, a blanket
around her, carrying an empty red gas can, pulled into the refuelling
pump to get a gallon of gas. It made me smile.
So last night / this morning, about 3:00
a.m. Roger and I both heard a gun shot. When I hit the sack at
around 4:00 a.m., I inadvertently woke Neil up, and we both heard what
sounded like three shots from an automatic pistol. Not sure what
was going on, but the last Friday of the month is payday, and the locals
Just across the street, there was a flagpole flying a
yellow flag yesterday. I asked CJ about it and it indicates that
the house has home made booze for sale. We've seen a few of those
flags around, it was gone this morning. Not sure I have it in me
to try some home made hooch of any type.
Saturday 3:30 a.m. - Been up for a bit.
Chris is pounding away on CW, and Emil just came up on CW.
Bands look pretty quiet otherwise. Roger just headed off for a
couple of hours sleep. I'm still coughing like crazy - wouldn't
wish this on anyone. Jo is supposed to be getting up to work grey
line on 80 and 160 meters shortly.
It is seriously raining out there right
now. And of course the first heavy rumble of thunder. That
went on for a long time. We'll have to see if it sticks around or
rolls through quickly. A picture here.
121130 - Friday 8:30 p.m. - Finished dinner -
full team working the radios. I'm going to hit the sack, try and
get a few hours sleep and then come back after 2:00 a.m. to work some
radio. With any luck I'll have my voice back.
Before dinner, I met the new guard for
the weekend - don't think he speaks English. He is carrying a
sling mounted, 12 gauge Defender shotgun - not with a folding stock, not
with a cut off stock, but with no stock. That baby is going to
burn if he has to use it!
Friday 4:00 p.m. - Major storm blowing in.
Was outside, Chris and Mitch were trying to re-align the upper Hex Beam
antenna. I took a picture - it is here.
There were a bunch of kids outside playing until one of the mums came
out and yelled at them and they scattered to their homes.
Interestingly, several of them were playing with the rims off of
bicycles - spokes and tires removed, and were rolling them along the
ground with just a stick. Haven't seen that since I was a kid.
We had a BBQ for lunch -
here is a picture of the meat - I think it
was lamb and a type of African sausage. Regardless, it tasted
Friday 11:30 a.m. - Another storm blowing
through - heavy torrential rain, wind and a bit of lightening. I
was sitting down outside when one strike happened, and it was pretty
close - I'm guessing 1 KM. It certainly made me jump. Cellular modem
went down - usually takes a while for it to come back up.
Rain has stopped almost as quick as it started - already brightening up
again. Team is plugging everything back in again and powering it
back up. Bands were down and signals weak - should start to
pick up early this afternoon.
We are having a BBQ for lunch - CJ is cooking it over a
home made charcoal BBQ. They moved it under cover, just after the
121128 - Thursday 4:00 p.m. - Big storm blowing
in - winds are picking up, and the sky looks threatening. I think
we are in for a thunder storm this afternoon / evening. Haven't
heard any booms yet - but I think it is a matter of time. Just
checked accuweather - and the next few days are going to be unsettled.
Warm - mid to high 20's C and thunderstorms.
Thursday 11:15 a.m. - Went back to bed for two
hours - got a couple of more hours of sleep, and I'm feeling better all
the time. Went and picked up some more cough syrup - and I'm
feeling like I might live, and that it also might not be a bad idea!
Got a shift at noon for three hours - we'll see how I do.
Roger is still chasing gremlins in his
setup - and is swapping out amplifiers. I'm sure he will work it
I've been doing a bit more research - it is seems that
for a child to go to Middle School and High School - they will need
approximately $300 per year - or about 2,400 Rand per year - or over 12
months - 200 Rand a month. This is for five years - to graduate
with what we would call a high school diploma. When you look at
what people make below - you can see what education is so highly prized,
and so out of reach for so many children.
http://www.lesothoeducationfund.org/index.html This is for books and
tuition - they would still need a school uniform. There is also
some write-ups that talk about kids having to walk up to 2 hours each
way to school. We do see a lot of people walking at times - near
end of the school day there are a lot of uniformed kids on the roads and
Mitch and I went for a bit of a
walk this morning - around 5:30. Sun was coming up, and it was
getting warm already. We did a bit of a loop - outside of the
trading post, down a local dirt track, up the hill till we intercepted
the road, and then followed the road back down. We passed several
men walking to work. We also saw a number of women doing the
laundry, and hanging it out to dry. Some individuals were sitting
outside - watching the sun come up. We noticed that a number of
the homes had planted some small crops - and it looked like they had
been hand watered last night. They were still showing moisture
We took some pictures, and I have pushed
them up to the Images portion of the web site.
It was very early, so the sun was quite low, and there were lots of deep
shadows. There were also a couple of pictures taken of some road
side huts - a cafe, a public phone and I think some vegetable
Thursday 5:30 - found this on line. To put
it in perspective, 8 Rand or 8 Maloti equal $1 US or $1 Canadian - so
divide by 8 to get monthly, weekly or daily wages. I couldn't find
out where the hours of work were laid out.
MINIMUM WAGES 1
October 2006 튉 30 September
guard 튉 trainee
guard 튉 trained
What is the Lesotho Minimum Wage?
Lesotho's Minimum Wage
is the lowest amount a worker can be legally paid for
his work. Most countries have a nation-wide minimum wage
that all workers must be paid.
The Lesotho minimum wage
is 252 maloti per month for lower-skilled jobs, 686
maloti per month for textile machine operator trainees,
and 738 maloti per month for textile general workers.
The minimum wage rate are set annually. Lesotho's
minimum wage was last changed in 2008 .
Thursday 2:30 a.m. - Went to bed right after
dinner - feeling like this cold is a bad one. Got some sleep, took
some drugs, got some more sleep. Up and at them right now.
Not sure I'm up to getting on the air, as I am still coughing more then
I would like. Keith just arrived, he is working 80 and 160 meters
- grey line. A number of the guys are down - to various extents.
Intestinal and colds - not easy with the long hours these guys are
A bit of a wind out there - could feel
the blinds flapping. Outside, clear and cool. Visibility
appears unlimited. Many, many stars visible, and a full moon
hanging in the sky. I can clearly see a planet blazing away close
to the moon - Venus I think.
We had a bit of a storm blow through
Wednesday afternoon. Thunder and lightening. We took the
stations down for a bit - until the worst of it was over. Frosty has
still been arguing with the car company. The battery died - it was
checked and there was no water in the battery. They have
authorized him to buy a new battery. Vehicle only has 15K on it.
Neil got a weeks worth of laundry done, and it cost him
50R with the tip - or about $6 Canadian. Shirts were all buttoned
up, neatly pressed and folded. I've got my laundry back, need to
chase the lady for what I owe her.
I picked up a bottle of cough syrup yesterday - local
brand. It was 33R - or about $4 Canadian. We'll see how it
works, but I think I am back for another bottle this a.m.
When I came out to the operations area
this a.m. the lights were on, the doors were locked and no one was home.
Went into the house and grabbed the keys. There is a night
watchman by the front gate. He gets here by about 6:00 p.m. and is
here until well past dawn - usually 7:00 a.m. or so. He is bundled
up, with just a grey blanket wrapped around him, and he keeps an eye on
things. He usually just sits on the ground, but with us here, he
borrows one of the patio chairs we leave out.
Frosty just joined us - he is catching up on his email.
Keith just switched to 80 meters. Each band change requires
coordination (if there is more then one radio on the air), and a manual
swap out of filters, maybe a change in antenna and a tune-up. We'll see
if anything is open or if it is too early.
121127 - Wednesday 5:30 a.m. - Neil sorted out
his problems - symptoms were his amp was faulting out - low voltage.
He thought he had pooched his system. Did some measurements of the
power in the room, and it was low, compared to what it is supposed to
be. Neil took the cover off of his amp, and it was strapped for
240 volts - consistent with what this part of the world should be.
He lowered it to 210 volts - and all of his symptoms disappeared.
Last night, Roger was running hard on
RTTY on his PW1 amp - and it died on him. He did some research and
found out that his amp needed 220 volts, and if it went much below that,
one of the FETs would blow to protect the rest of the rig. So we
are down one amplifier.
Weather has been spectacular
- it must have hit 30 C yesterday, beautiful clear skies, no
wind and only one or two fluffy clouds. We had a great
lunch yesterday - a BBQ done on a charcoal BBQ. CJ did
a great job of it. I also got my first taste of a
staple here - Pap - made from corn meal or maize. At
first I though they were smashed potatoes - and as I was
trying to spoon it out, I though they could have used some
more milk and butter. It certainly is a 'stick to your
ribs' type of meal. It is a staple here in Africa.
It didn't do much for me, but I can see how important it is
to the local's diet.
The owner here advised me
that I would be seeing a new face around. He was a
fourteen year old, that their community supported. He
lost his family five years ago, and had looked after his two
younger siblings ever since. He was being sponsored to
go to school this year. The Aids epidemic has taken
its toll everywhere. Per the info I received, usually
family takes care of things like this, but there has been so
much devastation that many families have literally been
There is a Canadian couple
here for a few days. They are adopting two local
children from the orphanage. I am sure that the
lives of these two young children will change dramatically.
Some of the pictures I
posted yesterday were from the local University. There
were also a wack of pictures of the local street vendors
stalls (some pretty ingenious construction jobs).
There are many homes built out of concrete blocks, with
galvanized steel roofs. Most do not have running
water, and their is an outhouse at the side or back of the
buildings. The outhouses are built on a catchment
system, a concrete container buried in the ground that would
need to be pumped out. There are some pretty serious
outhouses that we have come across - I now know where the
expression, 'built like a brick sh*thouse' came from!
On a number of our trips, we
have seen people walking. It is one of the primary
modes of travel, and there are paths through fields
everywhere. In one area, each person walking was carry
two containers - usually a recycled oil container. If
they were walking up from the river, it was full of dirty
looking water. This is the same water we saw cattle,
sheep and dogs in, and it is a healthy looking brown colour.
I am reasonably sure that this became their cooking and
Around the Trading Post, I
have seen water spigots outside some of the homes. A
local has confirmed what I thought, they cook on charcoal or
small kerosene stoves. Many of the homes I have seen
have black soot at the top of the doors, looking like it was
vented through the main door. The homes have dirt floors.
They are either hot or cold - as the galvanized steel roof
transfers heat and cold equally well.
I just walked up to the road - and stood
their for a few minutes. it is around 6:30 a.m. local.
People are getting up, moving around, going to work. A
number of people passed me carrying empty containers.
I've pushed up some more pictures here - showing their
homes. One picture also shows the start of a new home
- with the foundation dug out. I also noticed that in
this neighbourhood, there was a communal tap up the road,
that was used by may people. There are usually windows
in the homes, and a lot of the homes we saw had steel bars
on the windows, and a steel gate on the front door (you
could leave it open for ventilation without worrying about
losing anything, I'm guessing. Some of the places
appear to have electricity, and some have TV dishes on their
Both Germany and North America are serious
about recycling, and about garbage disposal. Most of
us wouldn't even think about throwing a chocolate bar cover
on the ground. It is a bit different here. There
isn't a deposit on anything. There is no recycle
depot. Things get reused if they are useful, otherwise
they are discarded. Garbage is tossed everywhere.
Look in some of the pictures and it looks like there are
piles of garbage everywhere. We also see what look
like impromptu garbage dumps on the side of the road and in
On Sunday morning we heard singing and the
sounds of a pickaxe. Outside of the trading post was a
group of men, taking turns using a pick axe and shovels.
It looks like they have dug out a foundation for a new
house. There were quart size bottles of beer being
passed around. it looked like a guy and his mates
helping him out. There are some
121126 - Tuesday - 10:30 a.m. - team
fixed the vertical antenna this a.m. - raised it up a few
more meters. Neil has been trouble shooting a problem
with his radio and amp - it might have been the antenna so
we did some work on it. Neil has his head inside his
amp - trying to determine if there is a problem with it that
he can fix himself. Bands are quiet - North America -
it is after 12:30 on the West Coast - most people are
sleeping. I've been adding 'images' of Lesotho
Tuesday about 6:45 - Had a good run on 15
meters last night - from about 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. local.
Some great operators and a few lids. The usual of a
few people tuning up on your signal, but the guys that
broadcast their calls continuously or on top of the station
you are clearly working. What - they figure you are going to
stop working the station you are trying to work - in order
to talk to a knob interfering with your QSO? Why is it
that a small group of individuals makes it difficult for the
Was feeling the effects of
either a cold or allergies yesterday, and again this a.m.
We got a ton of rain in that one day, and everything is
greening up big time. Taking the allergy pills and
also some Otrivin - we'll have to see what today brings.
Feels like I am coughing up a lung once in a while.
We did a run into the
capital yesterday afternoon. I was concerned about how
much data we had left on our communal wifi dongle.
Turned out we still had 1.3 GB left on it. I added
another 4 GB to the dongle, and bought a spare 4 GB which I
am not loading to the dongle until we run out. That
will give us a bit of a buffer if we run out - can reload
the dongle - and know I have to go back into town to get
more. Data is costing us about $100 U.S. for 4 GB.
The freedom to have a bubble around our operations area with
wifi is priceless. We can get at the clusters, as well
as check our email, update the web pages and do Skype.
A couple of us are trying to
get a representative group of pictures on local buildings -
particularly the roadside 'stands'. Should make for an
interesting montage. Not sure if I will load it up
until I get to some broadband service. There are a lot
of large pictures.
We had a problem this a.m.
with the Teradyne antenna outside the operations area.
Emil shimmied up the pole and fixed it - we're back in
action. I'll send the link to the You Tube site when
it gets posted. Emil is our 'free climbing' guy - you
will see from the pictures how valuable he has been on this
problem. Here is the link.
121125 - Monday about 5:45 a.m.
I got about 3 hours sleep last night and got up at 2:00 a.m.
to work the radio. The contest is over - ended at 2:00
a.m. and lots of smiles from the CW operators. I
worked 17 - very quiet and then came up on 20 Meters -had a
good run going there to the US and Canada - and then dawn
came, and it was like someone pulled the switch on the band.
Worked a couple of Australian stations, and one from Oman -
but that was it.
Keith is working on 30
meters - CW contacts filling up the log. Emil just
came in, and he is finding 15 and 20 very quiet.
Chilly this a.m. - another beautiful day by
the look of it. Should start to warm up soon. We
lost our Internet yesterday - thought we had used up the 4GB
of data that Bill had purchased - but early on Monday
morning it started working again? Hmmm - it runs off
of the local cellular network - maybe they had a problem.
We'll pick up some more cards just to be sure we don't run
out at an inopportune time.
Some of the guys were at the
project yesterday - but we weren't able to work them.
Maybe we can make another sched and try again in a few days.
Here are some updated
pictures - click here
121125 - Sunday
about 5:30 a.m. I've been awake for a bit, reading on
my Ipad. My room mate Neil worked a CW shift last
night from 11:00 p.m. to about 2:00. We had a bit of a
chat when he got back to the room. Band conditions
were ok, and he was pleased with how his shift went.
Roger and Keith are
working the world right now - and the place is quiet.
Just the clicking of their keys and the radios - seems
strange as I am a SSB operator, and it is usually a lot
louder then this. About 21 hours left in the contest -
and then there will be more opportunity for the SSB
operators to get some chair time on the more productive
It rained most of the
night - but I woke up to a beautiful blue sky. A
little cooler, but it should warm up as the sun rises.
Little rivulets of mud everywhere, and it smells fresh and
clean. Damn animals seemed to like it as well -
braying of the burros went on for half the night. And
why would the rooster start crowing at 2:00 a.m. - about 2.5
hours before daylight?
There will be a hard
push today on the contest - to finish it off strong.
I've been exchanging emails with my buddies in BC, and we
are going to try a sched early tomorrow my time. For
those that would like to peek in - http://www.dxsummit.fi/DxSpots.aspx121124
- Check the third column and look for 7P8D - it will
show you who spotted us and by looking up the callsign (try
QRZ.com), you can see what part of the world we are working
on that band. Most of the spots are going to be for CW
for the next 21 hours.
4:30 p.m. - spent an hour calling on 17M - earlier today
- no takers. After lunch five of us took a run up to
the dam - weather was miserable, a lot of rocks off the side
of the mountain. A very twisting and winding road up
and down. Highest pass we went through was over 2,600
meters. A lot of people walking in the miserable rain
- most of them dressed in their local 'foul' weather gear.
A number of individuals who would crouch down under trees,
by the side of the road, or clinging to cliffs to stay out
of the weather. Check here for
some pictures - sorry they aren't better, but it was
nasty weather and the Iphone doesn't perform best on these
Saturday about 7:00
a.m. - it is raining now - steady and they certainly
need it here. Was just on QRZ.com (database to lookup
call signs) - yesterday the call sign had about 350 lookups
- today it is about 6,800. I think we are getting
recognized and we're working some serious stations.
Saturday about 5:00
a.m. Still catching up on my sleep. I'm in
the operations room. Chris and Donovan are working the
World Wide CQ DX CW contest. So, for the non-Hams,
this is one of the premier contests of the year - Morse Code
and work as many DX (long distance - so Lesotho counts as
DX) stations on as many bands as you can. We have six
of the ten team members working the contest. The
other four, of which I am one, will work the WARC bands on
voice or whatever. When the contest is over, we will
merge the CW Contest logs into the DX-Pedition logs, and we
will all work all bands and applicable modes.
The guys, when they are
not working one of the two CW contest stations, can work the
WARC bands on any mode, or any of the other bands on voice.
The contest is morse code only, so any voice contact will
not be confused with the contest log.
I received some feedback
on the setup here, and thought it might be good to clarify a
few things. When we arrived, there was nothing set up
from a ham radio perspective. Frosty and Neil had been
here a few years ago, and they had left one antenna (a
Teledyne - T6 log periodic - good on 20-17-15-12 and 10
meters) and a section of mast. I'll push up a picture
of it later today. This was the first antenna on the
The other antennas were
brought in by Donovan and Roger - via their vehicles.
These include two hex beams, a R7 vertical, a Battle Creek
vertical (43 feet tall - good on 40-80 and 160 meters), a
dipole good for 40 and 80 meters. In addition, Keith
put together a dipole on 30 meters.
The operation room, and
I'll push up some pictures today, is a mass of hardware,
power cables, network cables and tools. For the CW
contest, which started at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning local
time and it will go for 48 hours, until 2:00 a.m. Monday
morning. Things are split up into three
hour shifts, and each operator is responsible for his shift
- if he can't do it, then he needs to organize a
The room right now is
quiet. Donovan and Chris are on the air, the lights
are blinking with the draw down on transmit (pulls a lot of
amps). They are both using headphones, so all I am
hearing is the sound of the fans, and the occasional click
of Donovan's key, and Chris' keyboard (contesting on CW -
you can use a keyboard to generate the code for you or use a
Here are some more
A number of the guys,
but especially Emil were hard at work for hours yesterday
afternoon, trying to get the networked computers talking to
each other, getting the logging program N1MM working
properly (was complicated by the fact that all of the
computers needed to talk to each other for the DX-Pedition,
but only two could talk to each other for the contest).
Throw in some more fun things, like the German team members'
keyboard are different then the QWERTY keyboard - well you
get the idea - lots of hard work to get it all working the
way it is supposed to.
Generally I'm impressed
with the knowledge brought to the table by the different
individuals. There were some challenges with the
Battle Creek antenna yesterday. Everyone pitched in,
we thought we had it licked, and then no - still wasn't
working right. Chris, Jo and Keith headed back to the
front of the house (it is mounted on the front lawn) and
trouble shot it for some period of time. It turned out
to be a combination of things - but good perseverance and
team work got it beat. I'll push up some pictures of
the Battle Creek antenna and some links to info on it.
It is quite the interesting antenna!
6:00 a.m. now -
wind is picking up. Lesotho is in the second year of a
drought, and according to Miss Jenny (proprietor) there is
only about two more weeks for the drought to break before it
will be too late to plant their food crops. It is
heavily overcast - and the weather report is calling for
thunder and lightening. Donovan indicated a few
minutes ago that he got 'chased' off of 160 meters as he
couldn't compete with the static crashes from the
The food, as supplied by
the Trading Post, has been good. Hearty, filling and
lots of it. A picture of a typical breakfast is on the
link above. Scroll down a bit and you will find it.
In addition to the hot food, there was cereal, a fruit
salad, and toast. Typically there is water and a jug
or two of juice on the table as well. The ladies who
work here do a great job of keeping us fed, the rooms clean
and finding things we need when we can't find them. I
understand that they will also take care of our laundry -
which I am pretty sure will not get tossed into a Whirlpool
121123 - Friday
a.m. - about 3:30 a.m. I'm sitting in the main
building, next to where we take our meals and I'm working
off line. No one else moving yet, that I have seen.
Let me back up a bit and bring everyone up to date.
Let Vancouver Monday
night - 8:30 p.m. flight - got away at 9:00 p.m.
British Airways and one step above baggage class.
Uneventful flight - no one sitting next to me and managed
two hours of sleep. Arrived Heathrow about 10:00 a.m.
and spent the day at the airport. No Wifi - even the
paid for kind wouldn't work. Hey Heathrow - get with
the program and make Wifi accessible in the whole building.
Left Heathrow Tuesday
night around 9:30 or so. Eleven hour flight and
managed another two hours of sleep. Arrived
Johannesburg, and the immigration / custom lines were
brutal. They were also minimally air conditioned, and
I was hot and sticky before I cleared there. Met up
with some of the guys, once through Customs and we waited
for the rest of the team.
We left the airport by
SuV at about 11:00 a.m. - Frosty driving, Neil riding
shotgun, and Keith and I in the back seats. Beautiful
drive - very scenic and some very 'South African' trucks and
signs. I'll upload those separately - later. We
arrived into Roma Trading Post about 6:00 p.m. We
crossed into Lesotho at a border crossing - and although I
didn't take any pictures - it is exactly what you would have
expected if you were writing the script for a movie.
Made it out of South Africa and into Lesotho - with a
half a dozen more stamps in the passport, and permission to
stay 14 days.
The four of us had a
nice dinner, and some of us had some nice South African
wine. We talked for a few hours, discussed the next
day's activities and lamented the lack of Internet and for
some of us, no phone connections either. Another four
members of the team showed up around midnight - and we were
concerned about our other group, driving up from the south
of South Africa. Frosty managed to finally contact
them, and they indicated that they were making poorer time
then they expected, and wouldn't be here until Thursday.
I hit the sack around midnight. The room, shared with
Neil was sweltering - even with the windows open.
I got two hours sleep
and was woken up by the sound of barking dogs. Oh
well, two hours sleep is better then none. I got up
and read for a few hours, heading over to the main building
around 5:30. There were a few other people up, several
for hours, and we enjoyed some of Frosty's special coffee.
I think Keith said he brought some Tim Horton's coffee - so
we'll have a 'Canadian Treat' later in the week.
Breakfast on Thursday
was good - we got to know our other travelling partners
better, and we set out the day's events and plans. I
still did not have my Lesotho license, and we put that on
the end of the day activities.
So - I should talk about
the Trading Post - I'll try and post some pictures soon.
It has been around for many years, since the turn of the
19th century. It is on a large plot of land.
There are a number of buildings - and I will have to get the
right name of the sleeping buildings. They are round
buildings, with stray / hay roofs. They hold the heat!
There is the Trading Post proper about 250 meters from where
we set up our operations.
So Thursday morning, I'm
reading on my Ipad, and there is every imaginable noise you
might expect from African. It started out with the
barking dogs about 3:00 a.m., and it was followed up by the
braying of a burro (there are a wack of them here - pictures
to follow), then a couple of his buddies joined in, cows
bawling and more dogs barking. Shortly after the
roosters cut in - followed, as the sun started to peek up,
by what sounded like hundreds of birds (sounded like our
ravens). I'll listen again this a.m. and make sure
I've captured all of the noises - because it was loud and
proud. Birds that sounded like owls - hooting.
There is also a sound like frogs - but I can't believe they
have frogs here. Oh yes - the neighing of the horses
chimed in another chorus.
Thursday a.m. found us,
after breakfast, packing all of the equipment into the
presentation room that we will use as our operation's room
(pictures to follow). We dug out a small tower and
multi-band beam Frosty had left there from before. A
couple of hours of effort, and we had our first beam
assembled and elevated to its operating position. Did
I mention it was warm. We all look a little sun burnt
- a little toasty around the edges by the end of the day.
We all worked hard to stay hydrated in the heat.
Another team was working
on getting up an antenna about 100 meters from the operating
shack. It was a hex beam, and it was not
cooperating. The steel mast was buckling under the
weight, and after a number of times trying - the guys
changed tactics and used a different mast. Later in
the day we got the 40 - 80 meter dipole up in the trees -
thanks Emil for the climbing.
The operations room is
about 25 by 20 foot. There are a set of doors on the
North side, and in back is a sink and two bathrooms.
There are some simple chairs - same stackable ones that you
would likely find at any banquet room around the world.
There are some narrow tables, and all of the power is
concentrated around the perimeter of the room. We've
brought the coax in through some windows that open next to
the doors. Gradually we are getting all of the
equipment in place and hooked up. We should be 100% by
the end of the day on Friday. Most of the antennas are
behaving and are resonant where we need them. Our
tuners should do the rest.
Some of you Hams know,
but some of my friends aren't Hams. We will be running
several modes of operation - CW (morse code), SSB (voice)
and digital (likely TTY - Teletype). These modes are
usually, by convention or law (Canada is a free for all -
you can do anything you like, as long as you stay in the
overall band plans. The US - very stringent on where
each of these signal modes goes) used within different parts
of the overall band. That means that an antenna,
resonant for CW - is a long way down the band from
where you might want to use it for SSB. You can
usually trim an antenna to where you want to operate - but
here, we have two very distinct groups - the CW and the SSB
boys. I'm sure we will find a happy medium.
We will be setup to work
160, 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 meters. We're
still discussing 6 meters - but I expect we will get some
Our third team members
had not arrived yet, and Frosty, Neil and I headed into
town. We went to the mall (a modern concrete mall -
which could have been anywhere inside of North America) and
went to the Vodacom store. My devices were locked to
TELUS - so no go there.
I loaded up 4 GB of data
on Frosty's dongle - and it worked. We'll try and hook
it to a router today, and get some better access for all of
our devices. If you get this Blog update, you will know we
made progress. Neil got his phone and data plan
working, after some little bit of time making things work.
Next was the Telecom
building to get Bill's license. We left Neil in the
car, working on his emails, and went into the government
building. One of the three elevators worked - and you
had to be careful of the significant tripping hazard when
the door opened on different floors (sometimes three or four
inches low, sometimes high). Wasn't quite a leap of
faith, but it was important to look before you stepped.
The lady we needed to talk to was off on leave, and we were
pointed to her replacement.
Building was warm - very
warm for me. The gentleman could not find my
application, and he called in an associate. They found
it, and started the process of getting it printed off and
approved. I didn't keep track of the time we
were in there, but figure an hour. We got my permit,
paid 240 Rand for it, shook hands all the way around, and
exited the building. The staff were polite and
competent and wished us well on our trip. I am now
7P8BG for the next year. The team call sign is 7P8D.
Going downstairs - I had
noticed a furniture place. We went in there, got
redirected to another store next door - and I picked up two
standing fans. Remote controls and all (no batteries
included of course - I'll need to dig around in my bags for
the extra batteries I'm sure I packed). Neil wanted
one, and so did I. Came to about 350 Rand each or $50
US. Set them up in the operating area for the evening.
I took one to the room, and it did an amazing job of cooling
the room down. We'll use it in the operating room
whenever we aren't using it to cool the sleeping areas.
The third vehicle had
arrived, and the teams had gotten another spiderbeam up in
front of the house. A bit more effort and they had
another directional beam set up to the West of the operating
room. It was just on the other side of the stone wall.
I'll get some pictures and push them up shortly.
An observation - there
seemed to be a small mob of young children at the gate all
day. They would never pass through the gate, but would
play up top and around the gate. There were mostly
friendly, happy and laughing their head's off. I'm not
sure, but that may have been children of some of the people
that worked at the Trading Post - sort of a do-it-yourself
The people on staff here
have been very friendly and have gone out of their way to
make us feel welcome. When we need something, we
usually just need to ask, and they try to accommodate us.
CD worked with us a good chunk of Thursday, and was a big
help assembling things, and sourcing replacement bits and
pieces that we couldn't find in our kit or with the antennas
that were left here before.
There is a night time
security guard - he shows up around 5:00 p.m. and is here
until after breakfast. The place is well maintained,
clean and I have seen nothing that would make me concerned
about our safety (Mum - read the last sentence a few
Let me describe some of
the residents and the area. We have driven through the
local town twice now in the afternoon. There are a lot
of people walking and hitch hiking. Yesterday we were
coming back through the little town, and there were hundreds
of school kids (in school uniforms), soldiers, policemen,
etc., just trying to get home. There are a lot of
taxis and little mini busses. The mini busses seem to
stop along the streets, and always have room for one more
person. The windows are open and hands and arms are
waving as they drive down the road. Oh yes - they
aren't air conditioned either.
There are hundreds of
homes, mostly built out of concrete blocks, but some out of
indigenous rocks. they would be very small by
North American standards, but they mostly appear to be well
kept up, and clean. It would seem to be very apparent
that the daily drive to keep your family fed and clothed is
here for all of these people. All of the children we
have seen were in clean clothes, and were happy. A
group of kids outside the gate, along with a few older
individuals (siblings, dads - don't know) are playing soccer
every night. They are loud and having a lot of fun.
I will push up some pictures of the villages and the homes.
Some are cookie cutter, and some are downright ingenious.
When we were coming
through South Africa we saw some villages, out in the middle
of nowhere. Hundreds of homes, many falling into
disrepair. They were surrounded by razor wire.
There were large lighting units, on very high towers, every
few blocks. It is right out of that movie where Earth
had been invaded by aliens and the aliens were being held in
the internment camps. I will try and find the movie
name. One of my travelling buddies said it was
deliberately done that way as a political statement in the
We haven't spent a great
deal of time checking out the local sites. Other then
what we have seen going to the Trading Post proper, and the
trips into town. The Trading Post is exactly what you
would expect. A number of buildings - one held a store
(grocer and hardware store). There were racks of pipes
and galvanized steel (roofing). There was a mill of
sorts there. I saw several people ride up on their
burros, with a large bag of, I think Maize. They
would get it ground, and put back into the bag, and the bag
and the boy/girl would ride back to their home. The
burros aren't big, but they appear to be strong.
Things you see as you
are driving? We were driving into the Capital, and
there are people everywhere herding a few cows, some sheep
or burros and or horses. I was looking at one
individual, about 100 meters away from the road. She
was tall, and wearing brightly coloured clothing, her head
and part of her face was covered. She had a stick, and
a dog and was minding the animals. They I saw the
unmistakeable actions as she pulled out a smart phone and
began texting. It took me by surprise - from pictures
I have seen in school etc., the act of herding the animals
could have been taken anytime in the last millennium!
The texting could have been my daughter or anyone of her
friends - today.
The roads in Lesotho
have been mostly paved - or more correctly, asphalt although
they call it something different here. No one else is
awake for me to ask - so will follow up on this later.
There are speed bumps - some real beauties. If you
weren't paying attention you would get some extreme air.
There is a lot of courteous passing - a slower car or truck
will pull off to the side of the highway and continue to
drive, while we would slip by the slower vehicle, trying to
avoid on coming traffic doing the same thing. Cab
drivers' honk incessantly. Neil thought there were
using their own version of CW.
You see a lot of young
men riding in the back of pick up trucks, all wearing
identical clothing. I'm thinking they work at a store,
business or company together, and they collectively find
ways to and from work. They always seem to be happy
and both wave and high five each other as the jump in and
out of the back of the trucks.
There are many of one of
my most favourite traffic control devices - roundabouts and
not! It is standard to drive on the opposite side of
the road from North America, and you go the wrong way on the
roundabouts (at least that is what my mind is screaming as
we head into one). There seems to be a few police
traffic stops going into or out of these traffic rounds.
Not sure if they are safety inspections, seat belt
enforcement or their own Distracted Driver crackdowns?
I'll have to ask.
The plan for today,
Friday, is to get the Battle Creek antenna installed.
It is supposed to get us 40, 80 and 160 meters. We
will network the computers, test everything and maybe start
getting some Q's (contacts). The CW (morse code)
contest starts at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Our team
will be there fighting for a frequency. Those of us
who are not feeling the urge to work CW (Frosty and Bill for
sure), will likely be up on the WARC bands working SSB or
It is now 4:41 a.m., and
I'm hearing more animal noises. Birds - I don't
know what type, but they are noisy. I'll come back and
update this paragraph as the world wakes up and starts
Weather has been good so
far. There were weather reports that we should expect
thunderstorms and lightening (Hams love lightening - not).
So far, no rain, lots of high cumulous clouds and
occasionally a refreshing breeze. The ground is very
dry here, and some of the help waters the flowers and other
plants. I don't know what the cycle is, but would be
surprised if they didn't have to water every day.
The region is
mountainous, and very dry. There is not a lot of
vegetation, except around the rivers and creeks. Many
of the waterways are in fairly deep gorges, the water having
worn its way down through the rock. Some of the
terrain reminds me of Southern Alberta - where they get very
little precipitation and there are cuts where the creeks
have gone down into their own gorges. There was one
area coming in from town, where Frosty pointed out a program
too plant trees and shrubs along the highway. It
looked like it was going to be successful - and it looked
Another thing you really
notice here, is the little roadside 'shacks' along the
highways and roads. They are predominantly made out of
galvanized steel, although we have seen some made out of
large culverts. They are road side eateries, hair
salons, barber shops, public phone locations, vegetable
stalls, grocery stores, etc. I'll push up some
pictures as time permits.
It is nearly 5:00 a.m.
now, and it has been getting light for about 30 minutes.
I've heard alarm clocks going off in some of the rooms, so
I'm sure I will have some company soon. The roosters
seem to be warming up nicely, and dogs are telling them off.
There are piercing cries from some sort of birds - seems to
be circling the buildings and telling anyone who will listen
it is time to get up! Just heard some truck horns -
maybe their travel mates hadn't heard their alarms and were
late for their pickup.
There are some beautiful
trees around the Trading Post. Some of them look like
some of our North American coniferous trees. They have
needles, but I can't quite figure out what they are.
Pictures - later I'm sure. I've seen a lot of willow
trees - usually around creek bottoms. There is grass
around the Trading Post - but it appears to be dormant and
about a half an inch high. The non-paved areas are
There is another guest
staying at one of the cabins. She drives a company
truck - Diesel, standard crummy (four door truck) and works
for Doctors without Borders. I introduced myself and
explained what we were doing (I'm certain she was
wondering!). She indicated that she was leaving the
Trading Post - last night on Sunday as they had other
bookings. Her organisation was trying to find her new
accommodations, but it is not like there is a Motel 6 on
any, let alone every street corner here.
While Neil was waiting
for Frosty and myself to get my license, he stayed in the
car. Later, he was telling us what kind of offers he
got - one fellow with a bath scale, so many Rand and you can
weigh yourself. I'm not sure what else he got
approached on, but there seems to be a very active group
that work the streets - offering to write you letters, etc.
121119 - Big day - need to finish my packing, clean up
some last things for work, go to court (as a witness - had
you guessing didn't I?). I've pretty much got what I
need together - just get it packed. I will be heading
to the airport around 4:00 p.m. - have a one hour conference
call to take en route. Will meet Daniel - he will keep
my car for the two weeks that I am gone.
Flight is around 8:30
p.m. tonight - get into Heathrow on Tuesday and cool my
heels for about 8 hours. Leave late Tuesday to arrive
in Johannesburg on Wednesday a.m. about 10 local. Then
we drive into Lesotho.
121114 - Been a hectic week. Remembrance Day 詴 the
Legion with one of my brothers, some nephews, some friends
and my mum and dad. Thanks for the service and the
tickets are booked, and paid for. Still working on the
things I need to take 㬯thes, medical supplies and what
have you. Work is busy ᮤ likely going to be right up
until I leave. Longer layovers both ways then I would have
liked, but that is the way it goes. I堵pgraded my
tickets ᠬittle bit ಥmium economy 㯳t went up to
looks like I will be joining the team in Johannesburg on
Wednesday a.m., with a drive into Lesotho that day. Set up
of the equipment and antennas 䨥n on the air! It is
starting to sink in that this is coming together, and I
expect it will be full of thrills and chills.
new Heil headset arrived today 穴h a foot switch. Got
some extra adapters 㯠hopefully we will be in good shape
for the trip. Also got a travel bag with it, and stuffed it
all into that bag. Tried the headset on my laptop rly
blew my ears off. Great quality audio 쥴t it on the
air and see how it sounds.
out that Lesotho has a Mounted Police Force. I also found
out that trying to use a credit card was going to be
difficult and forget about a debit card. The infrastructure
isnനere to support it. Hmmmm 衴e travelling with
been downloading reading material, study material and other
䵦f䯠cover off some very long flights, layovers and
waiting times for flights. I堢een working on invertors,
convertors and adaptors to power my electronics for this
Sunday will be packing day ൬ling together everything
that I need to take. All electronics will need to have
their serial numbers recorded, and engraved where it makes
sense. Printouts for the border security in my carry on
121108 餥ntified my flights 欹 out evening on November
19th, 2012 and arrive in Johannesburg around 0630
Wednesday November 21st, 2012. About a 4 hour
layover in Heathrow airport.
Coming back 쥡ve Johannesburg on Tuesday December 4th,
at 2140 hours, a 10 hour layover in Heathrow, and home to
Vancouverࡩrport on Wednesday evening at 1825 hours.
Baggage class both ways, and a total of about $1,900
about 20 hours in the air each way ᤤ in the early
arrivals at the airports, and the layovers 篩ng to be
very long days.
British Airways ﮥ checked bag at 50 pounds ﮥ carry
on bag and a personal item 䯴al of 50 pounds between the
two. Iயt taking much equipment, as I was a late
addition to the team, so that should work for me. I likely
will carry on my laptop, Ipad, Iphone, Heil headset and
other support gear that I donnt to check. My suitcase
will likely have mostly clothes 㯭e other handy radio
odds and sods.
starting to sink in that this trip is happening. I堢een
doing some additional research on DXetiquette and some
backgrounds on managing pileups. I can always use a
refresher in this area.
looks like I will be able to catch up with Frosty, Neil, and
Keith and we젤rive in. Frosty is renting a vehicle. I
understand it is about 500 kilometers. Some of the
team is going across the Sani
Pass. A You Tube video here
write up here -
Pass looks awesome. I堤one some pretty good 4x4ing in my
day 䨩s should be great for pictures. It looks like it
is over 2800 meters at the summit ॲ the above. Not
sure if we are all going this way - but it looks way cool.
Rogerc from a previous trip ⥬ow - summer on the
Roger's vehicles - testing out carrying the antennas
my shots, and my oral 'shots'. Working on clothes,
gear and other stuff.
121105 - I'm officially able to join
7P8D - a DX-Pedition to Lesotho. I am so pumped.
It has been a tough haul, and I am ready for two weeks off -
the long trip to Africa, and getting on the air. I'm
also nervous - I've done one mini-Dxpedition - to Belize,
and it was by myself. This trip is with some well
experienced DX'ers, and I'm stating right up front, I don't
have an ego you can bruise if you have advice on how I can
improve my 'game'.
Passport is securely locked away. It
is valid and ready to go. I'm pulling together my
supplies, clothes, equipment, information, etc. Will
have to hit my kids up for some tips - they were both
travelling internationally this last year. I'm
borrowing some things from Daniel - including his 'carry on
Talked to Frosty today - and have an email
with the rest of the team's account info. Sent a note
introducing myself. Visited the Travel Clinic and have
the sore arms to prove it.
I am looking for flight options to get me
to Africa to join up with the team.
110323 - Long time - no update.
It is 3:00 a.m., a Wednesday morning, and my day has
started. The hound (Nikki - a Sheba Inu) was up with
me for a while, but even she has realized that it is too
early to be up and about. CNN is on in the background
- Libya is getting bombed back into the stone age, and I'm
catching up on my web site. Big contest this weekend -
the 2011 CQ WPX contest. I'm working it, just not sure
how many people will be working it with me. We'll see.
The 'Project' is moving along well. It
is operational - it will never be done. Next steps are
to insulate the rest of the floor area, and put in the
kitchen. We have two fully functional stations, and
room for a third guest station. We also have some two
other locations where guest will be able to 'plug in'.
091006 - Been going at the 'By The
Farm' project hard the last few days. The Compound is
in, and the three Hydro poles are planted. There is
still work to be done to finish the swale, but the
contractor is going away for a week. It won't impact
my project. The weather is supposed to be nice for the
next week - so we'll see what we can get done. There
is an awesome access road - and the Compound is done.
They used 3 inch and minus rock, and will put chips and dust
on it Once I get the C cans moved in.
Check it out
090927 - Wow - it has been so long
since I've updated this blog and my web page. Last
week I had a handshake deal with my two farmer brothers on
access to their field. We are moving ahead with the
project. Check out the web page devoted to this
Finally picked up a mount
that can be used with my car Amateur Radio equipment - need
to get it installed this week. Spent last week in the
Big Smoke (Toronto) on a project. Things went well.
Rumours abound on what Ontario is, or isn't going to do,
with implementing their cell phone legislation.
090728 - Updated the cell phone
legislation page. Bought a new vehicle this week - A
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid - fully loaded. I picked it up
on Saturday, after some extensive research by my son Daniel
and to a lesser extent, myself. I can't believe the
reviews and kudos that this vehicle is getting. I've
been honest with both Ford and my friends - the thought that
I would ever buy domestic, let alone Ford, ever again, in my
life time, would have been unthinkable. I'm very
impressed with this product. It has an unbelievable
electronics package. It includes Microsoft Sync -
which gives voice commands to run virtually everything from
the climate control to the satellite radio. It
integrates with my Blackberries (yes - two for me alone!),
and multiple users can connect their phones (one at a time).
The car is rated at 51 MPG (Imperial) on the
highway, and 61 MPG in the city. We have been going
through a very heavy hot spell in the Lower Mainland right
now - and it is putting a beating on the mileage. Air
Conditioning runs off of electricity - not the engine, so
when I am running the AC, it puts a huge load on the High
Voltage (HV) battery. I've only had the machine about
3 days - so it is still early.
Initial impressions - wow - was driving
down 96th Avenue with Daniel when he asked me how fast I was
going. I looked at my speedometer and told him that I
was driving 76 Kph. He then said 'Dad - do you realize
that you are running in EV (Electrical Vehicle) mode, or on
battery, at that speed?' I hadn't - so was pretty
impressed. I can now see why the rating for in the
city is higher than the highway.
I've had two problems so far - the first
is that the BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) has failed
twice - both times it said the sensor was covered. The
second problem was that the Sync system quit working - and
just generated static. In both cases, a reboot (turn
the car on and off), fixed the problem. It is being
looked at this Thursday by Ford.
I need to do some more research on what is
needed for installing radios - HF and UHF/VHF in the Hybrid.
Needless to say - it is going to be tricky. A buddy of
mine may have helped me out without knowing it. He
provided me with some wire, towards my 'By the Farm'
project. It is a fully shielded wire. It can be
buried. It contains two x six gauge wires - very small
wires that make up the six gauge. There are two other
rubber shielded strands in the package - and I'm not sure
what they are? The overall thickness of the wire is
about 5/8ths of an inch. It is heavily shielded.
I think this may work to get me my power without
interference from or to the system. I think I am going
to have to try and install a second battery in the trunk to
run this equipment - just need to figure out how to isolate
it and charge it - maybe solar?
My test in the farmer's field was
successful. I was as far East as I could go in the
field, quite close to the High Voltage lines - zero noise
floor. Half way back to the gate - still no noise
floor. I worked a few stations, and there was a six
meter opening that I managed to take advantage of. It
is back in my court to talk to the farmers about the next
090707 - This sure isn't a daily blog!
No time. So where are we with the various projects.
I've just gone back and talked to the two farmers about my
'By the Farm' project. I believe it went well.
The location has so much going for it - private entrance to
the field furthest from their farm buildings. Only one
neighbour, and they are a couple of hundred meters from
where I want to build this environment. I reviewed a
PowerPoint with them, which went over the proposal.
We've agreed the next step is to validate the Noise Floor at
the sites where I expect to set up antennas. I was
hoping to use a portable tower, but a little shy of
volunteers, likely because it is summer. I'll use my
HY-Q 5-80 on the jeep, and it should give me what I want.
Next steps, if the Noise Floor looks ok (and
I really think it is going to be), is to walk the land with
the owners, and lay out what I want to do. I've made
some big asks, but you have to start somewhere. I can
back off from some of the asks without compromising too
much. Others, well - you know, too much to lose.
I've got the Flex-Radio 5000A up and
running in my shack. The SPE 1K Expert Amp is awesome.
The remote control of both is very good. I've got some
'issues' I need to work on, but I have a plan, and I am
working the plan. Some of my issues are around having
two USB to serial ports - one of them just 'quits' working.
I've ordered a USB to eight serial port adapter, and that is
in. I'm hoping / expecting that it will remove some of
Power to the site is still a concern.
My back up plan is a generator - diesel, gas or propane is
still to be determined. There is no doubt in my mind
that utility power is a requirement to be successful moving
forward, so it will have to be done sooner or later. I
think that getting cable and internet to the site will also
hinge on this as well.
The Olympics - stay tuned there - we have
a plan, and we are refining the plan. BC will be on
the air for the Olympics - and you will be wanting one of
our QSL cards!
Finally, the Province of British Columbia
is looking into Cellular phone and electronic device
legislation. This is a huge potential threat to
Amateur Radio, and I have started a page on it. Please
090415 - So, another big step forward.
The Flex-Radio SDR 5000A has been ordered, and is expected
in another 10 days. The SPE Expert 1K solid state
amplifier - I am on the waiting list for it - near the top I
am told. I also discussed with Steppir, the new
distributor for SPE in North America, their Steppir DB36 - a
huge antenna that will do 80 through six meters.
I need to get in front of the farmers, and
make sure we still have something that is workable.
090405 - Another Swap meet today - did
the RAC thing, flew the flag, and talked to a lot of fellow
Hams. I ordered the Flex-radio 5000A this week.
It should be delivered in about three weeks. I need to
get into the field, with a portable tower and and a Yagi and
truly convince myself that the 500 KVA power lines aren't
going to be a problem. I also need to get back and
talk to the farmers with my proposal, and see if we are
going to have a deal.
the team finished off the trailer this weekend. I
stopped by to see how they were doing, and it is looking
great. Al and Dave E., and Dave G., put on the decals
and put on the pneumatic semi-automat 10 meter mast.
Sweet. Check out
www.langleyamateurradio.com and follow the links in
090402 - Mailed some
more PSE from the Belize trip.
Continuing to work on the remainder that will go via the
090329 - Went
back to the farm yesterday, and did some more looking.
I need to walk the property and through the wooded section -
to really understand what I can, or cannot do there.
Surrey Amateur Radio Club has (SARC) is having their swap
meet this afternoon, so will be running the RAC table with
help from Ed. I've pushed up some more info on my
'Farm' project. See here for
dimensions, and here for my first
cut at proposed plans - neither of which are entirely
workable at this point.
090318 - Went
and saw the township yesterday. Much better meeting.
See my Remote HF section for more info. Was elected,
by acclamation, to the Board of Radio Amateurs of Canada as
the Director for BC and the Yukon. I'm taking over
from Ed Frazer VE7EF, and I have some pretty big boots to
fill. I've been travelling a lot over the last four
weeks. A couple of trips to Toronto and one to Ottawa.
The time zone and the hours can be a bit brutal. We
(the Vancouver Olympic Amateur Radio Group - VOARG) have
worked out our arrangement with VANOC, and have ordered the
Special Event call signs for the Olympics.
090227 - Friday
a.m., up at 5:15 and on the road to the 'farm'. I had
a conference call at 5:45 my time. See the results of
my testing here. I'm
continuing to do my research, and will put together a
proposal for the brothers. I'll give the Township
another week to get their heads around it, and then will
formally submit some paperwork.
090222 - Sunday morning, I'm up bright and early.
There is a Amateur Radio Swap Meet this morning. It
starts at 10:00. I'm going to get there a bit earlier,
and help Ed setup the RAC table. I've decided that I
am going to throw my hat on the table to replace Ed Frazer
as the RAC Director for BC and the Yukon. I've
obtained more than enough sponsor's signatures to support
the petition. I need to get a 500 word or less Bio
done up and send off the materials to RAC in the next few
I met with the two brothers who have a farm and who are
prepared to rent / lease me access to the property. To
see the story of what I am trying to do with the Remote HF
access, click here. The
plan is starting to gel. We would keep the core group
fairly small, but make some form of access available to
those other hams that would like to operate, either on site,
or remotely. This is not going to be an inexpensive
undertaking. It would likely scale over several years.
We would be looking for a 10-20 year commitment, with
options to renegotiate and renew at that time.
It looks like we can get power to the property line, and
would need to go underground a hundred or so meters into the
field. We will need to build stable road access, as
well as a pad for the Shipping Containers (C-Cans) which
will store our equipment and operating positions. It
looks like we can get Shaw Cable to the lot line as
well, so that would give us high speed Internet access.
I've discussed with the brothers putting up several towers,
as well as some utility poles to string dipole antennas, and
maybe a square loop for 80 meters. Need to do some
work to figure out what kind of antenna we would put up for
The farmers grow hay in the field, as well as letting
Hereford cows graze in it. We would try and minimize
any impact to the use of their land. We would avoid
using towers that required guys. In addition, we would
run all of the coax and control cables underground in
conduits. C-Cans are very secure storage facilities,
and we could dress them up a bit for our use as operating
stations. I've cut and pasted some ideas