Shaking Off the Radio Blues in the Mer Bleue Bog

Mer Bleue 20180916

In these times of poor conditions for HF propagation, I had entered a radio amateur hiatus period which could be best described as having the “radio blues”.

In an effort to shake these “blues” and recharge radio amateur batteries (meant only soul-wise), last Saturday I visited the OVQRP “Chillicon” campsite in the Rideau Provincial Park, where I was hoping to breathe or receive by radio-osmosis the enthusiasm still noticeable in many of my fellow radio amateurs. There, I met with old friends and colleagues and had the opportunity of witnessing the logging of some amazing DX contacts (there was talk of even a VK station having been logged…).

Infused with this new dose of radio-enthusiasm, on Sunday morning I decided I would return to the air, if not as a portable DX-seeker, at least as a portable net-caller. Hence, around 9:00AM local time (13:00z) I drove to parking-lot P21 in the Mer Bleue bog area with the Elecraft KX3 and the PAR EndFedZ 80m dipole monobander (see figure above). On the West side of parking-lot 21, there is an array of trees permitting the horizontal deployment of the 40-meter-long wire. To try to gain some height, I used the S9 telescopic pole to hold the middle of the wire above tree-level. The KX3 was set at 10W, with its meter showing that some 7W were reaching the antenna.

On first try, I was able to hear the NCS for the ONTARS net, calling CQ on 3.755 MHz: Grace VE3HZB’s signal was coming in from Elliot Lake as a 51/52. She could not hear my transmission, but I was QSP’ed into the net by John VE3OMA from Picton, who was reaching my KX3 with an RST of 59 (much appreciated, John!). Then, at 10:00AM (14:00z) I heard Ken VE3EKN calling CQ for the Pot Hole Net. From my QTH I usually have difficulty hearing Ken’s signal but not so from the Mer Bleue Area. Here are my reports for all the participants:

Ken VE3EKN (NCS) 57
Jose VA3PCJ/QRP/P
Jeremy VE3ZTF 58
Barrie VE3NA 57
Norm VE3LC 58
Brian VE3BGO 55
Hugo VE3KTM 56
Stuart VE3SMF 53

At 11:00AM (15:00z) I heard Mike VE3FFK calling CQ at 3.620 MHz for the Pot Lid Net (a slow CW net). On this occasion the key I was using was the little but very able Palm-Radio  PPK straight key. Here are the stations I heard being logged:

Mike VE3FFK (NCS)
Norm VE3LC
Guy VE3QC
Jose VE3DTI
Jeremy VE3ZTF
Ric VE3XL
Stuart VE3SMF

Towards the end of the net I had the pleasure of being able to QSP for Stuart VE3SMF calling again from the OVQRP “Chillicon” in the Rideau River Provincial Park.

I was also rewarded with the sight of a red dragonfly, likely a male Ruby Meadowhawk (Sympetrum rubicundulum) and some interesting tree-growing mushrooms that I have yet to identify. Possibly parasitic tuberous polypore mushrooms (Polyporus tuberaster) growing on a live maple tree:

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