Monthly Archive for March, 2010

So what do I get for my $50?

This is a great question. After all, $50 is $50. It’s a dinner out with the XYL. It’s a new battery for the handi-talkie. It’s a new multi-meter.

So what happens to my $50 once I send in my Radio Amateurs of Canada membership? Okay I get the magazine. The Canadian Amateur is a 76-page glossy magazine that comes every two months. The Section News pages alone provide a window into the amount of amateur radio activity happening across Canada. If you’re reading the Section News, you know that ham radio is alive and well across the country.

So what’s my $50 buying me?

(And before I begin, forgive me for any omissions but let me know by email if I neglected your favourite RAC activity.)

Here’s a short list (in no particular order):

And there’s a ton of really worthwhile activities that I may have missed like The Canadian Defence of Amateur Radio Fund and an online list of events, fleamarkets and hamfests. There’s information about the very popular Scouts and the Jamboree On The Air annual event. Here’s a page of links for the VHF, UHF, Microwave and Moonbounce operators. There’s the always busy RAC Store. And the vital-to-our-future Youth Education Program. And finally, to give the ladies the last mention, the YL Page.

So is that all my $50 gets me? Nope. Your $50 makes you eligible to volunteer and help grow the amateur radio community in Canada.

To paraphrase John Kennedy’s famous quote: “Ask not what your RAC can do for you…

What are our core values?

I’ve been in the middle of a really healthy exchange of views today via email. It got me thinking to what just exactly are the core values of Radio Amateurs of Canada? I was wondering just what it is that we’re trying to accomplish to I went to the RAC site for some inspiration. The RAC Core Values are all about working together for the benefit of all hams in Canada (whether or not you’re a member).

I’ve been involved in amateur radio since the early 1960s and we always been fortunate to have had individuals who volunteered to help out whether at the national, provincial or local levels. And, it’s true we haven’t always been in total agreement, but we have survived and we have found ways to work cooperatively. This fact alone augers well for the future of amateur radio in Canada. And sure we’ve had our doomsayers over the decades but that comes with the territory as we’ve also had our advocates and dedicated volunteers. That’s one of things I love about amateur radio: There’s always been room in the “ham radio” tent for us all.

Here are the eight core values from the RAC website:

  1. We seek to reach all Radio Amateurs to help them improve their knowledge of Amateur Radio and their operating skills.
  2. We encourage the careful use of the radio spectrum needed to support our radio activities.
  3. We actively seek and protect adequate spectrum and antenna space for Amateur Radio activities and work in cooperation with other organizations and governments to ensure their availability at all times.
  4. We believe that Radio Amateurs have a responsibility to use their radio facilities to assist those in their community, especially in times of emergency or distress.
  5. We recognize the importance of good radio regulations in spectrum management as well as the active representation of the interests of Radio Amateurs in both domestic and international environments.
  6. We believe Amateur Radio is enriched by the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives found in Radio Amateurs.
  7. We are called upon to keep Radio Amateurs informed and up to date on Amateur Radio matters of interest to them by means of a magazine published regularly, regular information updates on the web site and by special news bulletins distributed when required.
  8. We believe Amateur Radio in Canada is enhanced and harmonized by a strong national association aided by local and provincial clubs and associations.

Just whose job is it anyway?

We got an email following the Ham-Ex event that takes place annually in Brampton, Ontario, pointing out that RAC did not have a display table at the event. This was true and unfortunate. And as I (VE3HG) am currently the only executive or board member who actually lives in the Greater Toronto Area, I suppose our emailer was anticipating that I should have showed up at Ham-EX. Actually I was there but I wasn’t there representing RAC. Maybe I should have been? After all, I am listed as the vice-president of public relations for RAC.

And this coming Saturday I could be at the 14th Annual IARC Fleamarket in Iroquois Falls. The next Saturday, I could attend the Maple Ridge ARC Swapmeet in Pitt Meadows, B.C. And the Saturday after that it would be nice if I was at the Durham Regional Amateur Radio Hamfest in Pickering and then on Sunday off to Winnipeg for the Winnipeg ARC’s Fleamarket.

Well, you get my point :)

I’m sure your executive committee could be doing a much better job getting out to all these events across the country but, like you, we’re volunteers too! Not only that, it’s simply not practical that one guy (me) or even everyone on the board or executive (all 15 of us) could get to every event in the country. So maybe we should look at this issue a little more closely. There’s a RAC board and executive meeting coming up and I’ve already suggested this issue be put on the agenda. Sure we should be represented at every event but logistically I don’t know how we could do it.

In the meantime, just like I suggested to our emailer about Ham-Ex: Maybe next year, some of your event’s organizers who are also RAC members might want to help out? After all, just whose job is it anyway?

Here’s another thought:

This is just one issue among many. As national representatives of amateur radio in Canada, RAC volunteers at many levels and from communities across Canada are working on your and my behalf by attending meetings and offering their contributions at the international, regional and local levels to protect and enhance our ability to enjoy our hobby. The recent work defending our ability (not our right) to use our radios while driving a motor vehicle in Canada is just one small example. Attending fleamarkets and other similar events is just another activity of the volunteers of your national organization. Want to backup your complaints? Then volunteer! I’ll set up a chair next to mine at the table :) Comments can be addressed to

CQ & ARRL Facebook

We’ve been contemplating creating a Facebook page for Radio Amateurs of Canada. I’ve been holding off solely due to time constraints but Facebook is the way of the future. Sooner or later I’ll break down and set up an account.

Here’s a link to CQ Magazine’s Facebook page so you can see how it works. Here’s a link to the ARRL’s Facebook page.

Facebook, like this blog, is just another way to keeping in touch and up to date. This stuff is fun to play with and best of all is free.

One of the newest trends we’re going to see is live streaming by hams as they operate. I wrote a post about the Russian contest station on Cyprus that was doing live streaming. Over the weekend I chanced upon a guy in Michigan talking to a couple of other U.S. hams on 40 meters. They were comparing antennas by watching the Michigan stations live Internet feed. This guy had a camera pointed at the S-meter on his IC-756 Pro III. This is cool stuff. BTW I was 20db over S-9 into Michigan on 40 running 100 watts into a Hy-Gain Explorer at 16 meters.

Canada's Youngest Ham?

Andrew Copeland at 11 years old might be Canada’s youngest ham. He sure is one of the more famous. Andrew lives in Port Dover, Ontario and was recently featured in the Port Dover Maple Leaf (March 17, 2010) in a complimentary article about his achievements in amateur radio. He passed his exam back in December when he was 10 getting a 95 per cent passing grade. Andrew got interested in ham radio thanks to his dad Cary. Now both father and son are learning the Morse Code. Andrew is in grade 6 and is on the air as VE3NOA.

Congratulations Andrew.

RAC Values

Here’s our second posting from RAC president Geoff, VE4BAW:

RAC is amateurs helping amateurs and it is important because all of us together are stronger than each of us alone.

I believe that there are only two kinds of amateurs: those that are RAC members and those that will be. To recruit new members all we have to show is openness, inclusiveness, effectiveness and credibility. These need to be the values of RAC.

I have been through a great many organizational reviews over the past years as organizations that I have worked in have struggled to identify the values that they wish to have at their core. Make no mistake, values are important because they are the standard to which decisions are measured against. Is the decision consistent with the values that the organization intends to practice and portray? An organization without articulated values is one which is at the mercy of the wind, of the latest fad, of the latest challenge whether imaginary or real. Values are the compass that keeps the organizational ship sailing without deviation through tempests, real or imaginary.

An organization can have many values and I have expressed four; openness, inclusiveness, effectiveness, and credibility.

There are often a great many words and sometimes many sentences in a value statement but I have always argued that in the end, after you have distilled away all the dross and lofty expressions there is left the most important value: credibility. Without credibility none of the other values will allow you to succeed.

I propose values for RAC: openness, inclusiveness, effectiveness, and credibility. I believe that with these values there are only two types of amateurs; those that are RAC members and those that will be.


Geoff  VE4BAW

P3N on the air and Internet

P3N, the Russian station on Cyprus, is gearing up for the big CQ WPX SSB contest this weekend.

But if you want to work them before the contest, they’re on the air. Even better, they are streaming live video on the Internet so you can listen to what they are hearing at their end! Think about it for a moment. You’re calling (and they’re on SSB and CW. Today – Thursday – they’re on 20 meters. Listen for the pileup.) and if you’ve got your computer online you can listen to your own call just as if you were sitting at the operating position at P3N.

I tried them from here (VE3HG) and could clearly hear them work a VE6 and then I immediately called them but I heard nothing coming back :( Unfortunately my SB-220 amp is out for repair (I fried something in the 15 meter circuit) and I just wasn’t making the trip with my 100 watts to an Explorer up at 16.6 meters although they were a good S-7 here. The neat thing was I had a digital recorder running on my laptop so I had perfect audio to review at my leisure.

Anyway if you want to have some fun on the weekend and perhaps work some rare ones (watch for really weird prefixes for this contest), here’s a link to the rules.

Diversity receivers and noise reduction

His post is going to take us down a very technical path. The linked YouTube video is from W9OY and is a demonstration of thediversity properties of the software-defined Flex 5000 transceiver.

In this demonstration we start off listening to the basic noise floor on 160 meters (which is pretty much how I hear 160 meters all the time) and then Lee walks us through how the Flex 5000 can make the signal so much more intelligible by introducing filtering and diversity receiving.

But there’s more. The Flex 5000 has two software defined receivers that Lee is feeding with two vertical antennas separated by about 3/8 of a wavelength. The software allows for the operate to “steer” the two vertical antennas for better reception. As Lee puts it: “Beam steering is accomplished by changing the phase and gain of one antenna relative to the other.”

This is likely the future of radio.

Thanks VA3MW for this link.

VE3CTP/VE3ZO acclaimed

RAC Bulletin 2010-010E : Ontario South Director Elected

Congratulations are extended to Chris Pitre VE3CTP/VE3ZO who was recently elected as the RAC Director for Ontario South for the remainder of a  two year term which started January 1, 2010 ending December 31, 2011. He ran unopposed.

VE4JS acclaimed

RAC Bulletin 2010-009E : RAC Section Manager Election Results – Manitoba.

Congratulations are extended to Jan Schippers VE4JS who was recently
returned as Section Manager for Manitoba for a two year term of office
that will begin on July 1, 2010. Jan was unopposed eliminating the
need for a balloted election.

Doug Mercer  VO1DTM
Vice President Field Services
Radio Amateurs of Canada