My New Blog

by | 2014-10-13

My name is Phil A. McBride. I became interested in radio in general when I was introduced to Dave, VE3RCJ (now VE3YU), who was the father of a couple of school friends when I was 8 or 9 years old. I was playing with a couple of toy 49MHz FM walkie talkies and kept asking him if he could talk to me on them from the big radio (a Yaesu, for those interested) on his desk. He kept telling me he couldn’t.

(For the record, I didn’t believe him, and I would later find out that I was right, but then learned that transmitting out of band was a no-no. Sorry for bugging you, Dave.)

Anyways, after that, I started to branch out. I asked my parents to buy me a CB radio, and they indulged my new interest by getting me a Realistic (Radio Shack) 40 channel AM CB walkie talkie, as well as a Realistic 40 channel AM CB base station unit, with a little mobile antenna mounted on the eavestrough with a mobile trunk-lip mount. I began to talk to a few people within range of my home, and even brought that station with me in long car rides (even a couple we took across the Eastern-seaboard US states) and made some friends, but quickly got bored and turned off of CB due to the lack of users in my area, and the general naughtiness that happens on Ch. 19.

I saved up $220.00 and put a Realistic HTX-202 2m VHF FM Handheld transceiver on layaway at the local Radio Shack on my 13th birthday and began to study for my Basic Amateur Radio license. Canada had changed all the rules in 1990, and the Basic exam was 100 questions, multiple choice. It took me more than a year to pass, but on March 21, 1994, I was VA3KPJ, and I took a copy of my license to the store and picked up my new radio.

From here, I became very active in my local club, and even became the RAC (Radio Amateurs of Canada) ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) volunteer, and eventually the Emergency Coordinator for my area. I was an early adopter of the Amateur Position Reporting System (APRS), participated in Field Day as often as I could, and generally had a great time. But I was only a Basic licensee, so I was restricted to 50MHz and up, and didn’t have access to the HF bands.

In 2004, my old high school electronics teacher called to let me know that they were cleaning shop and were getting rid of all of their vintage Amateur Radio-related equipment. This included but was not limited to a Heathkit HW-101 80m-10m SSB/CW Transceiver. I quickly drove over and loaded all of the equipment into my car, drive back to my apartment, unloaded everything into my office (I got a 2 bedroom at the time; 1 for me to sleep in, and 1 for my toys), and started putting everything together. I needed an antenna tuner, which I went and bought, along with 150′ or so of copper wire out of my 4th storey window to a tree a couple of properties away. I had to do a restore job on the radio, but a few weeks later, I turned it on and was listening to HF for the first time. As well, I decided to upgrade to a 2-letter call, and became VA3QR.

But I couldn’t talk on HF: I needed my Morse Code endorsement.

So I started to study, and 2 weeks later, met up with the examiner and passed the test. I raced back home and made my first contacts that night on 40m.

After that, due to some local politics, I removed myself from the local Amateur Radio club, but have remained active. I met a girl named Cassandra, who I later married, who also became VA3MEW. I’ve got 2 boys who have shown a little interest in the hobby, but are a bit young yet. I am active on all bands from 160m – 70cm.

My primary radio is a Flex Radio 5000A with RX2, ATU and VHF/UHF. My secondary radios are a Kenwood TM-480SAT and TM-D700A. My antenna farm consists of a Cushcraft MA-5B HF Beam (20m-10m incl. WARC), a Cushcraft A6270-13s VHF/UHF Beam (6m, 2m, 70cm), 2 x Comet CX-333 VHF/UHF Verticals (2m, 1.25m, 70cm), a Hustler 6-BTV HF Vertical with 3 DX Engineering Mods (80m-10m, incl. 60m and WARC), a home-brew Random Wire Antenna (tunes 160m – 10m incl. WARC) and an MFJ Active Receive Antenna. I have a Kenwood TH-D7A Handheld, TH-G7A Handheld, and 4 Cobra Microtalk GMRS Handhelds for local and family communication. I am wired for backup power and, although not officially involved in ARES or emergency communications, am prepared to pass traffic in the event that operators are needed.

VA3QR's TowerI live in Acton, Ontario, and as it turns out, Dave, VE3RCJ/VE3YU lives just down the road from me. I’m grateful every day that I was introduced to this wonderful hobby, and hope that my kids decide to pick it up one day.

I’m also grateful to my wife, for putting up with the amount of metal I’ve put in the air at our home.

I decided to start this blog to post about stuff I’m involved in, as well as interesting tid-bits that I find around the web, as well as operating tips and experiences.

I hope you enjoy reading.

vy 73 de VA3QR