Sunday, July 12, 2009

NC6A Comes to Visit us

Don had emailed from Molokai regarding a Motorcar trip his club from California was doing in July. He mentioned that he would be on Vancouver Island and then come to the lower mainland and from there off to Nelsen B.C. We insisted that he come by and show us his Motorcar, and have a visit.

1. What is that “thing” on your trailer?
That is a Railroad Motorcar, sometimes called a “Speeder”. Smaller models, like this one, were used routinely to inspect the many miles of track for defects. Larger versions would carry half a dozen workers and pull a few trailers loaded with spikes and tools, to handle track maintenance.
Use of motorcars has been phased out over the past couple decades in favor of Hy-Rail vehicles, which are standard road vehicles with retractable guide wheels that can operate on road or rail. Although these “speeders” have a top speed of only about 30 m.p.h., they were so nicknamed because compared to the manually powered pump cars they replaced, they were much faster.
2. What do you do with it?
Motorcar owners belong to several clubs which obtain permission from railroads to operate on their tracks. These clubs are under the organizational umbrella of the North American Rail Car Operators Association (NARCOA).
With permission of the railroads, members operate their motorcars on excursions ranging from one day to over a week in almost all parts of the U.S. and Canada.
Many of these excursions are in remote and very scenic areas that are impossible to see from the highway and thus provide an experience not available by other means of transportation.
3. How do you get permission to use your motorcar on a railroad track?
We rent the tracks for our outings from the many small railroad companies which have taken over former branch lines of the major carriers (as well as some large railroads in the U.S. and Canada). Often smaller railroads operate trains only on weekdays, so a group of motorcars on a Saturday or Sunday does not cause the coordination problems the larger lines would have.
We have developed an excellent reputation within the rail industry for our attention to safety through operator training, self imposed safety rules and mechanical standards for our motorcars. We know that our operation must be viewed as a positive experience for the railroad to invite us back year after year.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blind Bay BC Lake Side Portable

Blind Bay a hidden paradise in Shuswap BC. We took a 4 day weekend and headed up to a buddies cabin on the lake. It was about 20 feet from the lake and such a great location. We left Vancouver at 4:15 PM Saturday night and arrived just before 10:00 PM. I surveyed the site for trees only to discover I would have to cross over top of the hydro lines. This is a bad idea so I abandoned that and started to look for alternatives. I spoted a flag pole right by the lake. I lowered the flag and tied a 10 foot piece of line to the ring that the flag snaps onto and the other end on my End Fed antenna. I raised the flag and could sware I heard taps playing in the background. I setup the IC-703 on the deck and hooked up the coax, key and headset. WOW I was hearing all kinds of VK stations booming in with 10 over 9 signals. I spent most of the first night chasing DX. I even made c contact with Hawaii.

I was so happy to get a 4 day break and to enjoy it on the lake with warm sunny days. We had some great sunsets which the XYL took many pictures of. I was fixated to the radio and all of the DX I was hearing. With a noise floor of S1 it did not take a strong signal to hear it at my end. I even heard Malaysia, which is a first for me from any location.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Princeton BC Spring Break

Princeton, B.C. Canada what a neat place to visit. We had the pleasure of staying at a friends home on 38 acres of land. One of the buildings on the site is a log home built in the late 1800's or early 1900's by the original land owner. We did not stay in that building due to some current tenants with long tails. It was so much fun exploring the area, lakes and towns. We took the 4 hour drive from Vancouver to Princeton. I am sure you can do it in less time but we had a few dog stops along the way, lunch and shopping before we arrived at the site. I had the car unpacked and items in the house in no time. By dinner time I was trying to get a line over a tree in the yard to hoist my End FED Par Electronics antenna. This took a while due to a strong wind that was determined to prevent me from hooking the branch I wanted. The XYL looked out from the kitchen window just in time to see me lose my prime branch. In the end it was at about 40 feet at the top end and 12 feet at the low end. I have had great luck using the End Fed antenna from PAR. Its simple to put up works 3 bands, and does not require a tuner. The antenna can handle up to to 25 watts, which is plenty of power to work SSB or CW. I was hearing the Eastern Seaboard from New York to Texas. There were many European stations as well.

So here I am working CW on 20 meters using a set of Palm Mini Paddles and a IC-703 radio that belongs to VE7EPP David. Its a cool little radio that has a built in tuner. The red plastic cups are from the wonderful drinks my XYL was blending in the kitchen. Alex our youngest was keeping a close eye on me to make sure that I was entering everything into the log. The fire was mostly to keep the misquotes away. It was also very warm to sit around after dark. After many portable trips using the End Fed I am convinced that the low end is the direction the antenna will favor. I had the high end pointed due west and the strongest signals where for the east. I did work stations on the west coast as well with good signal reports.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hawaii Trip 2008

This was the first ever DX holiday I had ever been on, not to mention my first trip to Hawaii. I was very fortunate to have an Elecraft K2 at my disposal. It had the built-in tuner, SSB board and lots of CW filters. Our trip included 9 days on the Island of Molokai, and 4 days in Maui. we met many great people while on Malokai, includuing Don Bordon NC6A. Don and I have become good freinds and continue to email one and another. Don will be visiting us in Vancouver July 11th, 2009. I can't say enough good things about holidays and portable ham radio fun.

Kualapuu Cookhouse Entertainment

We drove every inch of the ilsand of Maolokai, and in some cases hiked to see some of the sites. My XYL even rode a donkey down the side of the mountain to visit the unique and formerly forbidden village of Kalaupapa. The residents of Kalaupapa have set the rules, including one that stipulates no visitor under the age of 16 is allowed here. During the decades of isolation, newborn infants were taken from parents and removed from the settlement, placed with relatives or in orphanages to prevent the babies from catching the disease. They feel, 'Why should other people be able to bring their children down here when ours were taken away at birth?' " The remaining patients know today's tourist drill well. We were told they usually retire behind the curtains of their homes in the late morning when the tour bus pulls in, and remain there until it drives off in the early afternoon. A requisite stop was St. Philomena Church, which was central to Father Damien's ministry at Kalaupapa before he contracted leprosy and died here in 1889.

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