About VA3QR

(This is a mirror of my QRZ.com Page)

Early Years

            I’ve been into radio and RF-related activities since my childhood. At my behest (and after significant begging), my Dad bought me my first CB Radio when I was 8 years old. It was an old Cobra 40 channel mobile unit. He went to Radio Shack and bought a little 12VDC 5A power supply and a 5/8″ whip that he mounted to our eaves trough (gutter) and I was on the air. I upgraded a few times after that, finally ending up with a Radio Shack Realistic 40 channel base unit with built-in power supply.

When I turned 9, I started playing with two kids who lived around the corner from me, and I noticed there was a really big antenna in their backyard. When I finally got to go inside their house and look around, I saw their dad in a little corner of the basement with a whole lot of really cool looking stuff. This was my first exposure to Amateur Radio.

A few years later, I was browsing Radio Shack and saw a brand new product: the HTX-202 VHF 2M FM HT. I wanted it, but the store manager Terry told me that I needed an Amateur Radio license. So I gave him some money and put the unit on layaway. It took a year and four attempts, but I finally passed my Basic Qualification exam and received my first callsign, VA3KPJ, on 1994-05-05 at the age of 14. From there, I became very active in my local club, very heavily involved with ARES and got into APRS, packet, other digital modes, and operated mobile or portable.

Sometime after I’d moved out on my own, my old high school electronics teacher called and told me that they were getting rid of all the Amateur Radio Gear that the previous electronics teacher had left behind and asked if I wanted it. I responded with an enthusiastic yes and immediately went to the school to pick it all up. It was almost exclusively Heathkit equipment, and among it all was an HW-101 is pretty good condition. I brought everything up to my apartment where I turned on my laptop and started looking for help restoring it. After about two weeks, I had it up, running, and calibrated. However, I was unable to use HF with my license class at the time. So I spent every extra minute of the next three weeks learning CW. I received my CW endorsement in 2003 and I became active on HF with that HW-101, and a 165′ random wire antenna going out my 2nd floor apartment window to a tree in local impound lot, which my building was adjacent to. In January of 2004, I applied for, and received, my 2-letter suffix callsign, VA3QR, which I use as my primary.

In 2006, I married the love of my life, Cassandra McBride, VA3MEW, and shortly thereafter, we took possession of the home we currently share with our two sons, Connor and Callum (both SWL).

I currently hold my Advanced + CW Amateur Radio Certifications, and am an ISEDC (Canadian regulator) Accredited Examiner.

Current Interests/Operations (updated 2021-12-29)

  • I host the ontario.aprs2.net APRS-IS server, as well as the VE3YAP APRS digipeater. I am also the owner of the VE3ZAP APRS digipeater, which ties together traffic from across southern and central Ontario, as well as north- western New York.
  • I have recently gotten involved in Parks on the Air and am looking forward to activating parks in Ontario.
  • I am planning on continuing to give talks and presentations on the Amateur Radio Service to military-affiliated youth groups in southern Ontario once COVID19 restrictions begin to ease.

Organizations

  • Radio Amateurs of Canada – www.rac.ca
    • I was elected to the office of President by the Board of Directors, beginning 2022-01-01.
    • I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Ontario-South electoral region (Canadian Postal Codes starting with L, M and N) on 2015-09-03, and was re-elected twice more. As Director, I served 3 terms, ending 2021-12-31. During my time as a Director, I’ve worked to ensure that those who operate mobile in Ontario would retain the ability to do so under the province’s distracted driving legislation (Ontario Regulation 366/09, Highway Traffic Act), as well as sat on the Audit and Finance Committee.
    • I served as the Assistant Section Manager in the Ontario Section from 2005 to 2009 under Allan Boyd, VE3AJB.
    • I served as Emergency Coordinator for North Halton in the Ontario Section from 1999-2005 through the Halton Amateur Radio Club.
  • Canadian Forces Affiliate Radio System – www.cfarsoperations.ca – I was accepted into the network on 2015-02-07. The network exists to help train Canadian Forces members in HF/shortwave radio technique, and provide logistical support during domestic operations (DOMOPS).
  • Guelph Amateur Radio Club – www.garc.ca – I joined the club in the winter of 2016 and currently serve as the Webmaster and Club Examiner.
  • 1st Acton Scouts Memorial Amateur Radio Station – www.ve3nec.ca – I am the owner and club sponsor of this station, built in memory of my dear friend and long-time elmer John Langtry III, VE3NEC (SK), who passed away on 2019-03-22. The station is located at Acton Scout House, where I also serve as the Contact Scouter for the 1st Acton Scout Troop (Scouts Canada).

Expeditions and Travel

  • CY9C St. Paul Island DXPeditions – I was the licensee and sole Canadian member of both the 2016 and 2019 expeditions to St. Paul Island in Eastern Canada, where we garnered a total of more than 91,000 QSOs using SSB, CW, RTTY and FT8.
  • Vimy Ridge Memorial Station – I had the honour of operating the TM100VIMY commemorative station at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France in April of 2017 as a guest operator.

Stations and Equipment

  • VA3QR’s Shack

    Home Station – My station at home centers around a Flex 5000A (RX2, ATU and V/U Module) with an Ameritron ALS-1300X 1.2kW 160M-10M amplifier. HF Antennas consist of a TGM Communications MQ-36SR Hybrid Quad Minibeam, Hustler 6-BTV Vertical with all DX-Engineering Mods, an NI4L 135’ 80M-6M OCF Dipole, and a 65’ Random Wire from a Balun Designs 9:1 5kW UnUn. The station has an SCS PTC-II Pactor 3 TNC. For the upper bands, I have a Cushcraft A270-10S 2M/70CM beam. For day-to-day VHF/UHF, I have a Kenwood TM-D700 VHF/UHF Transceiver, a Connect Systems CS-800 DMR UHF Transcevier, and 2 x Comet CX-333 2M/1.25M/70CM vertical (one at the top of my tower and one on the hydro inlet). For AMSAT, I have 2 WiMO X-Quads with mast-mount preamps on a separate tower and rotator. I am capable of all modes on all bands from 160M-70CM (excl. 1.25M). I also have a Kenwood TS-590sg running 100W that I use for various digital modes – usually setup as an HF Gateway on 30m attached to VE3YAP. To top it all off, I own a Geochron Digital Clock.

  • Mobile Station – The station in my 2018 Dodge Ram 1500 consists of a Kenwood TS-480SAT with a Tennatronix Screwdriver ATU feeding a Little Tarheel II Screwdriver Antenna for HF. The HF station is connected to a Signalink SL1-USB. For VHF/UHF, I use a Kenwood TM-D710A. I do phone and HF digital modes on 80-6m, and FM phone, APRS and 1200/9600bps packet on 2m and 70cm.
  • Field Expedient Stations
    • QRO (2 Roadcases, Field-Expedient) – This station is built around a Yaesu FT-991A HF/VHF/UHF Transceiver in a Novexcomm custom roadcase. The antennas are an Alpha Antenna 80M-6M Field-Expedient Antenna, and a VHF/UHF wire J-Pole. A secondary roadcase contains an LDG AT-600ProII Autotuner and an Ameritron ALS-500M 12VDC 500W RF Amplifier. The computer is a Microsoft Surface 3, and the station has an SCS PTC-IIIusb Pactor 3 TNC. Both roadcases can be powered from commercial mains or my Honda EU2000i 2kW Inverter/Generator. I am capable of all modes on 160M-70CM (excl. 1.25M). This station is stored in a Faraday cage.
    • QRP (Rolling Pelican Case) – This station is built around an Icom IC-705 HF/VHF/UHF Transceiver. The antennas are a Chameleon CHA-TDL Tactical Delta Loop Antenna, Moonraker SPX-100, Original Miracle Whip, 3′ VHF/UHF vertical and a VHF/UHF wire J-Pole. The computer is a Microsoft Surface 3, and the station has an SCS PTC-IIIusb Pactor 3 TNC. For maximum flexibility, this kit also contains an LDG Z-11ProII ATU. The station includes a 120W foldable solar panel, a homemade 12V DC 15Ah LiFePO4 battery pack, and the entire station fits inside a single 40L backpack. I am capable of all modes on 160M-70CM (excl. 1.25M). The kit also contains 2 x Kenwood TH-D74a handhelds with short and long antenna options, spare batteries and the ability to charge from the 15aH battery pack. The Pelican case that this kit is stored in has been modified to be a Faraday cage.
    • Extra Antennas – I own a quick-deploy 30’ mast made up of several aluminum sections. I also have a separate duffle bag that contains NI4L 270’ 160M-6M and 135’ 80M-6M OCF Dipoles, various lengths of RG-8X coaxial cable, several lengths of dacron rope, and several other quick-deployment antenna accessories.
    • Extra Power – I have put together 3 complete solar generators consisting of 300W foldable panels and 12V DC 100Ah LiFePO4 batteries. These kits can power the QRP or the QRO station. These devices are stored with the QRO kit in a Faraday cage.