Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 Silent Lake DX expedition


Thanks for visiting, this post is for another trip to Silent Lake. This trip was especially nice for a few reasons. My work takes me away from home on occasion, and I had just returned from Stockholm. Roxanne and I love time we spend together and this was a nice way to slow down a bit and enjoy each others company. On the other hand, the real reason, (but don't tell her!) is that I get to play radio once again.

Silent Lake is a provincial park in the central south Ontario. 

This park has a number of Yurts for daily rental, more information on these can be read at . The more notable items that are provided by the park at each Yurt are;
  • Two sets of bunks beds, sleeping 6 or more (depends on how cozy you want to be!)
  • Heating is by wood burning stove, with a endless supply of wood that splits very easily 
  • Propane barbecue, this is truly nice.  

Entry into the park, starts with your personal vehicle but does not end there, because you can not drive to the yurts, even though the yurts are on the normal campground road system. The park Ranger takes you and your stuff the last 1 to 2 km into the park with a ride in a mini bombardier and a pair modified sleighs.

At the site we were welcomed the next morning by a doe and her two yearlings. The park ranger  had told us that there was a threesome that was wandering the park, but for the past few days, they had not seen them all together. It was nice to see that nothing had happened to them.

I'd have to say with ears like those there is no wonder you only see them if they want.

 On the radio front, the important bits of the setup was the usual stuff.
I would expect that most folks are familiar with the IC-7000. I like the radio very much, it gets a bit hot at times and can use a bit of extra cooling at times. This is simply done with a 3in muffin fan.

IC-7000 100W Transceiver
The AH-4 tuner is another cool (especially in the winter time!) piece of equipment. It connects to the IC7000 with two connections. RF coax, and a 4 wire control link. It is activated, and powered from the IC7000. I have used this unit for both random wire end fed and in this case feeding a balanced system.

Icom AH-4 Tuner

The antenna I have used on this trip as well as a few others is a 80m doublet. It is twin lead fed (about 90ft) to the main part of the antenna which is about 130ft in total length. The connection is a bit different from the usual description in the manual which focuses on unbalanced feed lines. I am sure there are other ways to do this but, in this case, the balanced feed line is attached across the tuner from the "Hot" connection and the ground. A choke is on the feed line to the rig, this unit is from MapleLeaf. The tuner is not grounded, as it would be when driving a end fed system. There is no set of ground radials either. This makes this a nice and simple setup. It tunes up any where 80m to 10m, SWR at the rig was usually 1:1. Gotta love that!

80m Doublet (feed line at least)

Back inside, the radio is powered from the battery booster, which takes the voltage of the batteries that droops as they are discharged and provide a rock solid 13.5V under tx load. I can say that, I know this is a switching supply, and these can be nasty for birdies. But this unit has never given me problems, even in this place where the noise level is S0 when the bands are good! This unit is not large and is triggered by the TX RF and provides boost only while TX. I imagine this is why on RX there is no noise. Very smart design I suppose.

Battery Booster

The actual battery plant is four 50AH gell cells. These are charged up at home and used for the duration without any additional charging. With 200AH, the rig draws about 20A at 100W, but perhaps 8A at 25W so I'd guess there is 25Hrs TX key down time, that must easily translate into days of operation time. I have never run out of juice. The laptop is powered from the same plant, but I use a 12V laptop adapter, The goal was to avoid a 120V inverter, and one less thing to take along.

The Batteries

The whole thing ends up being the "Silent Lake HF Station".

The Silent Lake HF Station

Now, for the operating, well it was very good for a portable setup, and QSOs were truly global.

The best contact of the trip, was to Frank Schoombie's South African station ZR6RC. This was done on 15m, at mid day, in BPSK-31 mode. He answered my call and I almost fell off my chair. I would imagine this QSO hit the water a few times making its way nearly half way around the world. Thanks Frank for being there.

Now, the next new thing for me was to notice that ONTARS needed a controller Tuesday afternoon in the 2PM slot. With some reservation, I threw my call in the hat and away I went. You can see may name there at 2PM, as soon as Barry ISX updated the ONTARS website I knew there was no turning back!

Well, the hour went very fast and I was pleased it went well. I did not run out of power, I did not make to many mistakes, and most of all it was a blast. I enjoyed answering the many questions that helped folks understand where I was and the station setup.


I know there was one check in I missed to log at the start and for this I am truly sorry.  Thanks to all who checked in with me.

  • VE3CAK    John
  • VE3ISX  Barry
  • VA3ZW     James
  • VE3FAS    Philip
  • VE3NJV     Nick
  • VE3ODT     Don
  • VE3GGP     Harry
  • VE3ZP     Pat
  • VE3XDJ     Rich
  • VA3HRH     Handiradioham Amateur Radio Club of Canada
  • VE3BWQ     Allan
  • VE3UFO     John
  • VE3MDL     Marcus

I guess I better press the "Publish" button on this post. I look forward to the next DX expedition in the heart of Ontario or other place, and look forward to seeing everyone again.


Below is a post of a previous winter DX expedition is at the link below.

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