Monthly Archive for October, 2009

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October WorldRadio Online

The October issue of WorldRadio Online is available as a downloadable PDF from CQ Magazine’s site at http://www.cq-amateur.com and click on the WorldRadio Online box. This is the future of publishing with most of the links in the PDF document fully clickable. BTW RAC and Rod Hardman, VE3RHF made news columns in this issue in this brief about the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Radio Network (ACORN). Congratulations Rod and good luck ACORN.

RAC Asked to Help Find Elmer Hams

The Army Cadet League of Ontario, Canada is consider- ing the establishment of a Royal Canadian Army Cadet Radio Network based on amateur radio technology. Dubbed ‘ACORN’, for ‘Army Cadet Ontario Radio Network’, the aim is to support optional training and certification of Army cadets as licensed amateur radio operators throughout Ontario. Radio Amateurs of Canada has been asked to facilitate this project by identifying hams who live in the various pilot areas and who have the interest, time and qualifications to mentors and provide instruction to young would-be hams. Amateurs will also be needed to assist in setting up and managing ama- teur radio stations. Any interested Canadian radio amateur residing in a pilot area is asked to contact Rod Hardman, VE3RHF by e-mail to rod.hardman@gmail.com. Military experience would be help- ful but is not a requirement. (RAC)

As the dust settles on Bill 118

Seems some hams have just woken up to the ramifications of Bill 118 (Ontario’s distracted driving legislation) and the fact that in three-years time all mobile operators of two-way radios will have to find a way to use their equipment in a hands-free mode. RAC along with representatives from other affected groups including the Toronto FM Society, Ontario Road Rally Sport Association and several hard-working individuals have been making formal and informal presentations to Ontario government staffers and politicians for almost a year now. We have attended numerous meetings, sent tons of emails, placed and answered scores of telephone calls. There’s a lot of hard work and time been given to Bill 118 by these groups and individuals and we should be acknowledging their efforts.

So welcome to these new voices and I’d (VE3HG) like to offer some response to all the comments and emails.

For example (and I’m responding to what I’ve read leaving out names to protect the guilty):

  • Bill 118 does not limit anyone from operating a two-way radio while driving a vehicle in the province of Ontario
  • This isn’t the end of ham radio as we know it
  • RAC never was in negotiations with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. It’s silly to think so. We were one of a several dozen stakeholders who the government invited to comment on Bill 118 which we did with vigour and frequency but remember, we were the least financially significant group in the room (Remember $ talk) by a long shot
  • IMHO a legal challenge to Bill 118 isn’t going to happen unless somebody’s got an extra $50K to $100K
  • Even then, the province has the right to pass highway safety legislation (like seat belts) and Bill 118 is it
  • IC has so little interest in amateur radio that they don’t even track licenses let alone call a provincial government to defend its use
  • Someone (not me) should form a committee of concerned Ontario hams and create an action plan*
  • Finally, some emails have suggested that RAC could have done a better job. For that I personally apologize and I pledge to do a better job with your help in the future.

Peter – VE3HG

* As a former vice-president of a national public relations company which launched these sort of lobbying campaigns all the time, here’s where I’d start:

The 10-Point Plan:

  1. Research and create a document showing where similar legislation stands in all other provinces and states. The intent here is to create a position statement that clearly shows why amateur radio should be granted an exemption from Bill 118. If we can’t do this, then nothing else matters;
  2. Continue to liaise with the ARRL and other ham radio groups like ARES and CANWARN to share materials and info;
  3. Identify and contact all other organizations that have used amateur radio and solicit written letters of support for the continuing use of amateur radio signed by the head of these groups, associations and organizations;
  4. Create a lobbying plan of action and activate by contacting all MPPs in person. Email isn’t good enough;
  5. Maintain and continue contact with Ministry of Transport staffers with intent to show them scientific info designed to change their minds;
  6. Identify and work with other affected commercial stakeholders to find common ground and purpose in this effort;
  7. Talk to the current government and the loyal opposition and prepare them both (so whichever is in power in three years) to grant a permanent exemption to all users of two-way radios (my reasoning being that at the end of three years the politicians can say they’ve saved X number of lives and BTW those two-way radio folks aren’t part of the problem so they’re exempt.);
  8. Continue to publicize the community-service work being done by hams around the world, in Canada and across Ontario so that “hobby communications” isn’t deemed frivolous and banned outright;
  9. Continue to do daily or weekly updates to the RAC Blog like this one :) to keep everyone in the conversation loop;
  10. Don’t say anything in public or via email that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read or hear :)

Bill 118 explained

Thanks to a return telephone call from Ontario’s Ministry of Transport staff person who is in charge of working on Bill 118 we’ve got a better understanding of the definitions released this week in regards to Bill 118 Ontario’s distracted driving legislation. Seems the intent of section 14 is to allow the use of push-to-talk buttons and other controlling devices while banning the holding of a microphone while driving. This ban will come into effect in three years to allow for the introduction of hands-free technology when it comes to two-way radios.

Want to get on the air?

Having problems getting on the air? Then watch this teenager and learn how it’s done:  “How to set up an HF portable radio while hiking.”

ISS contact completed by BC hams

The Langley ARC members are to be congratulated as they successfully completed their second contact with the International Space Station today. The entire pass was caught on live-streaming video (with perfect audio especially from ISS) as students from the elementary school . This is great publicity for amateur radio in Canada and around the world. As the ISS passed over British Columbia the astronauts commented that they were passing over the mountains and could see snow coming up in the Calgary area. The most amazing thing seen from space was the lightening in a thunderstorm. Also the astronauts were saying they could see radiation flashes when they were sleeping. The hams timed the contact perfectly as the last words of ISS faded into the noise.

Congratulations Langley ARC. Well done.

Langley BC ARC making history

Yes it’s history. Today’s attempt by the Langley ARC to live-stream their contact with the International Space Station shows the power of the Internet and the flexibility of amateur radio in a way that mere words can’t express. Sure there are some kinks to iron out (we lost the feed after about 20 minutes and then it came back) but over all this is terrific stuff.

Here’s how to maximize the positive publicity for amateur radio. If it were me I would have sent a media release out to every major newspaper and TV station in the country.

FLASH — Langley ARC streaming live video of ISS contact

Members of the Langley ARC are streaming live video of their second attempt to communicate with the International Space Station today (Tuesday at 12:15 EST).

Here is he feed: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/belmont-lara-iss-broadcast

Bill 118 definitions

Just when we thought Bill 118 was a dead issue comes the details of the definitions and exemptions. In section 14 we find this curious exemption:

Exemption for pressing buttons

14.  (1)  A person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while pressing a button on a hand-held wireless communication device to make, answer or end a cell phone call or to transmit or receive voice communication on a two-way radio if the device is placed securely in or mounted to the motor vehicle so that it does not move while the vehicle is in motion and the driver can see it at a quick glance and easily reach it without adjusting his or her driving position.

(2)  A person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while pressing a button on a device that is worn on his or her head or hung over or placed inside his or her ear or is attached to his or her clothing and is linked to a hand-held wireless communication device to make, answer or end a cell phone call or to transmit or receive voice communication on a two-way radio or a hand microphone or portable radio.

Needless to say an email was sent this morning to ministry staff asking for clarification. Sure reads like a typical vhf/uhf installation with microphone attached. Part 2 reads like a handie-talkie with an external microphone with a clip on the back to affix it to the operator’s clothing.

ARISS hits the headlines

Congratulations to ARISS members Lori McFarlane and her husband Steve for their work with the students of Langley, British Columbia’s Ecole Belmont elementary school in working the International Space Station earlier this month.

The successful communications (thanks to members of the Langley ARC) had the auditorium of over 500 students thrilled to speak to Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk for 10 minutes during the pass of the space station.

Even better, the entire event was captured in photos and print by the Vancouver Sun. Here’s the link to the article.

Canadian club gives US ham exams in Canada!

Besides sponsoring a number of Industry Canada Accredited Examiners authorized to give Canadian Amateur Radio Examinations, the Lambton County Radio Club (LCRC) will also now sponsor a Volunteer Examiner Team affiliated with the American Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) Organization.

This team, called the “Southwest Ontario VE Team” will soon begin administering examinations in Canada for all three classes of United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Amateur Radio licenses.  This service is being offered so as to assist members of the Lambton County Radio Club, other clubs, other Ontario Hams or others who would like to more easily obtain a US Amateur Radio license without actually traveling across the US/Canadian border to do so.

Test sessions have now been scheduled for Saturday, December 5th, 2009 as well as Saturday, January 23rd, March 27th and May 22nd, 2010 at the Sarnia Police Headquarters Training Room, 555 North Christina Street North, in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

Pre-registration is REQUIRED and absolutely NO “walk-ins” will be accommodated.  All sessions will begin promptly at 2:00 PM.  This start time was specifically chosen so as to give those persons traveling from the Toronto, Hamilton, London and/or Windsor, Ontario metro areas ample time to travel to and from the test site in a single day.

For Canadian Amateurs, obtaining a US Amateur Radio License and call sign can be done for any number of reasons.  These may include frequent travel to the United States and a desire to “fit in” with local Hams, the desire to obtain a foreign-based license and/or call sign, or simply to have yet another “piece of paper” to hang on the wall of one’s Ham Radio shack.

Similar to Canada’s Amateur Radio certification requirements, all that is required for Canadian citizens or permanent residents to become licensed in the Amateur Radio Service in the USA is to have a US mailing address somewhere in the United States where the US Postal Service can deliver US domestic mail.  That can be a “borrowed” postal address from a friend or relative who lives in the United States, or it could be some other form of US-based postal address, such as a UPS Store address or a US Post office Box.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REGISTER CONTACT:

Keith Baker, VA3KSF
377 Bentinck Street, P.O. Box 33, Corunna, ON, N0N 1G0
519-481-0153
va3ksf@rac.ca

Specific information about the Lambton County Radio Club (as well as these upcoming test sessions and the requirements for a US Amateur Radio license) is also available via the club’s Website at:

www.ve3sar.org
(Click on “USA Licensing”)

The Lambton County Radio Club (LCRC) Inc. was formed in 1982 and was incorporated in 1985 as a Canadian, not-for-profit corporation.  Its purpose is to promote and foster Amateur (Ham) Radio, electronic experimenting, short wave listening and computer science, as well as to foster the exchange of information and camaraderie.  The organization provides a meeting place where experiences may be shared and ideas exchanged, as well as to provide support to local, provincial and federal authorities during civil emergencies.