The (less temporary) return of VE7CXZ

My last post here was almost 3 years ago, somewhat ironically referring to me (for arcane, wonderfully regulatory reasons) using my UK callsign while on a short trip to Washington. After that, to the outside observer it would seem that the bit rot really set in. The reality, though, is… well, pretty much the same.

Being in an apartment rather than a house means that operating HF in particular is a challenge, and so my options are pretty limited. It’s for this reason that virtually all of my HF operation nowadays is portable, which in turn means there’s a lot more effort involved than just plonking my backside down at my desk at home. Anyway, the gist of this is that I gradually spent my time doing other things – mostly playing Ingress – and other than spitting out APRS beacons from the D710 in my truck, radio mostly went on the most back of back-burners.

However, a few months ago that started to change again. After encouraging a friend to get licensed I started to remember the fun stuff I’ve done with amateur radio in the past and decided that it was time to ditch my half-arsed portable set up and put things together properly. I bit the bullet and ordered a few things I’ve been thinking about for a while (which are subjects for future posts) and I’m well on the way to having an actual, (semi-)reliable set up. So much so that with the RSGB IOTA contest coming up at the end of July, I decided to apply to ISED Canada for a special event callsign and after parting with $60 was given VC7A to use for the weekend. Since I now have 36 cans of cider’s worth of a callsign, you could say I have a vested interest in using it so the next month will be me preparing for my first radio contest in 5 years. I just hope I’ve remembered how to do it…

The (temporary) return of M0VKG

It’s been almost two years since I got my Canadian amateur radio licence, but before then I was licensed in the UK as M0VKG. When I first moved to Canada in July 2012 I operated for a while as M0VKG/VE7, but since then – other than a visit back to the motherland in February of this year – my UK callsign has been mostly dormant.

Mostly.

International agreements can be complicated affairs, and amateur radio doesn’t escape this fact. The CEPT agreement is probably the biggest, and generally allows an amateur radio operator from one country to operate temporarily in another country, and in some cases actually acquire a licence in the other country based on their existing one.

Another agreement, which is much closer to home, is that between Canada and the US, which allows most amateur radio operators of both countries to operate in both countries. I say most, because the agreement states that it applies to citizens of both countries. This means that technically, if you aren’t either a Canadian or a US citizen, you’re not covered by the agreement. As a British citizen, this means it doesn’t cover me!

I recently had my application for permanent residency in Canada approved, which meant – for boring immigration reasons I won’t go into – that I had to leave the country and reenter again. From here, that means the easiest way is to drive to the US border, which is what I did. However, as explained above, I can’t legally operate as VE7CXZ in the US, so I had to fall back on M0VKG. Luckily, the Kenwood TM-D710 has a features which lets you store different ‘profiles’ in the radio, while sharing the same channel memories. This means that I was able to set up a profile on the TM-D710 that instead of using my usual callsign and SSID of VE7CXZ-1, I could quickly switch to using M0VKG-9 at – literally – the touch of a button.

Which, to wrap it all up, explains the reason for this map:-

APRS track from Victoria, BC to Ferndale, WA and back
APRS track from Victoria, BC to Ferndale, WA and back

VE7CXZ/P from the Coburg Peninsula

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The Focus of Doom, ready for portable HF

I’ve recently started operating portable from the Coburg Peninsula, which is a narrow strip of land by the historic Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse. Situated in the south of Colwood, BC, it looks out onto the Strait of Juan De Fuca and therefore has great takeoff on HF, especially to the south towards Washington and the rest of the continental US.

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Working AF7ES with PSK31

So far I’ve managed to work all over the US and in Europe, including W1AW/P and stations in Hungary and Slovenia. I’m using a Kenwood TS480SAT for SSB and a Yaesu FT897D for digimodes, with an Acer netbook running FLdigi for the digimodes and logging.

I’m hoping to get my second callsign of VA7HTJ on the air over the coming weeks, and some testing for the upcoming CQWW SSB contest.