Monthly Archive for April, 2010

The end of day one

It’s been a day of reports and debate and consensus and progress that will benefit all amateur radio operators in Canada. We’re half way through the annual meeting of the board of directors of Radio Amateurs of Canada and I’m delighted to have been part of the executive group.

It’s amazing how much time and effort is put in behind the scenes by RAC members working individually or on committees across the country.

Your executive and board looked at ways to increase membership, increased revenues, increase services and focus our limited time and efforts as volunteers to create the best possible environment for ham radio in Canada.

For example, who is representing you at meetings with Industry Canada and the International Amateur Radio Union? Why it’s RAC volunteers. They are helping us protect your precious band spectrum allotments which are being coveted by powerful commercial lobbies. Thanks to them, you are represented at Regional 2 meetings that coordinate amateur radio use in this part of the world.

You can’t image how cumbersome and complicated it can be to get new frequency allotments and yet some of our more dedicated volunteers have been sitting in these meetings sometimes for years before they see some results.

These are exciting time for ham radio in Canada and especially for members of Radio Amateurs of Canada. If you’re not already a member, I’d invite you to join us by renewing your current membership or signing up for your first membership. When it comes to ham radio in Canada, RAC with member benefits such as The Canadian Amateur and the outgoing and incoming QSL bureau (which for some of us, pays back our membership costs almost instantly) and the club insurance program, there are scores of reasons why you should join us today.

May-June TCA

I got a sneak preview of The Canadian Amateur magazine and it’s another terrific issue.

There’s info on the new Canadian access to 137 kHz and info on the RAC proposal for 60 meter spot frequencies.

All the regular columns are there and there’s lots of new operating news.

Watch you mailbox as your issue is on its way.

Coffee break time

We’ve been at it for less than two hours and already my head is spinning.

We’ve been hearing about all the activity of the RAC committees who do so much hard work that most of us never hear about. I can tell you that lots of action items are resulting so you can expect to see and hear about lots of new initiatives in the upcoming months.

President Geoff is calling us back, so all for now :)

Hello Ottawa – The annual board meeting

Your national executive team and board of directors are meeting in Ottawa this weekend. This morning (Saturday) the RAC team will review the year’s progress and the opportunities for the upcoming year. I don’t know how much time I’ll have (if any) to blog but rest assured I’ll have lots to say after a day and a half’s worth of meetings.

Like all meetings, this annual meeting of the board of directors fill feature reports from the executive (president, first vp, vps of regulatory affairs, field services, international affairs, industrial liaison, technical and admin services and public relations. The treasurer will give a financial report and then we’ll break for lunch.

After lunch the standing (admin, financial, membership, youth education) and advisory (VHF/UHF band planning, MF/HF band planning, microwave band planning, RAC contests and incoming QSL bureau, Outgoing QSL bureau, DARF, RAC awards, antenna structures, ARDF and RABC) committees will report.

Next up comes the regional director reports followed by the CARAB report.

We’re anticipating a discussion of RAC in general and then we adjourn for the day.

Saturday we hear from the office staff and then we jump into the communications end of things which includes TCA, the news bulletins, blogging and Tweeting, website and hamfests.

There’s a ton of other stuff so it’s a big agenda and we’re going to get started at 9 am.

This is your RAC at work.

Moonbounce – You can do it!

If you have a 70 cm rig and a small hand-held 70 cm yagi antenna (you can build one using a wooden broom handle or a piece of 2″X2″ lumber) you can be among the few who have actually worked another amateur radio station via moonbounce.

How is that possible? After all the photos we see of the arrays needed for moonbounce are immense. Moonbounce is one of the esoteric of all ham radio activities.

Well that’s all true but it’s also true that both stations don’t need arrays this size. Let’s say the other guy was using a really big antenna and lots of power, then it stands to reason the antenna and power at your end doesn’t need to be so huge!

So how about if the antenna at the other end was Arecido Observatory dish located in Puerto Rico? Is it big enough? You bet.

On April 16 (from 1645 to 1030 UTC) and April 17 (1740 to 2020 UTC) and April 18 (1840 to 2125 UTC) the Areceibo Observatory Amateur Radio Club using the callsign KP4AO will be operating on a TX frequency of 432.045 MHz and a receive frequency of 432.050 to 432.060+ MHz with a TX power of 400 W. The array gain of the observatory radio dish is 60 dBi!

KP4AO can be heard with a small hand-held yagi pointed at the moon connected to a good receiver (good here means quiet). A 15 dBi antenna and 100 watts should do the job on CW. And you need to be able to figure out where the moon is (in case it’s a cloudy night at your QTH).

Here’s more operating info from QRZ.COM about this special event.

Now we know whose job it is!

A few postings back I talked about whose job it was to represent Radio Amateurs of Canada at all of the various fleamarkets and special events that many of us enjoy so much. I suggested it was yourjob! And guess what? I was right :) … well, sort of.

You see RAC is run by an elected board of directors (seven members who represent all of Canada) and a national executive (12 hams who are appointed) and by almost 50 assistant directors who work to help the regional directors communicate with all of us members. (SO IT’S THEIR JOB!  Not so fast.)

None of these folks should be confused with the eight section managers (Field Services) who are the senior elected RAC officials in their sections (Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Maritimes, Newfoundland-Labrador, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan) who supervise the section-level assistants and administer the RAC programs that involve emergency communications, message traffic and on-the-air bulletins. A report of section activities is printed in every issue of The Canadian Amateur and makes for some interesting reading about ham radio activities across the country.

The section manager also appoints a section emergency coordinator (SEC) who is responsible for all matters pertaining to radio emergency communications and the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) and also appoints a section traffic manager. The SEC also appoints district emergency coordinators and local emergency coordinators (EC). There are lots of other positions that flow from here (and it’s all described in the RAC Administration Manual in great detail) but you get the idea.

So just whose job is it to promote Radio Amateurs of Canada and to sign up new members and get us existing members to renew (take the three-year option)?

It’s all of our jobs if we sincerely want to support our amateur radio hobby and service. It’s President Geoff Bawden’s job. It’s the job of the board members. It’s top of mind of the assistant directors. It’s my job and it’s yours.

RAC needs all Canadian amateurs to join and to help recruit new members. And it’s not to make RAC a better organization (although it wouldn’t hurt). It’s to make amateur radio better for all Canadian amateur radio operators both today and in the future. So when it comes to whose job is it. You know the answer.

NPR says Ham Radio OK

This just in thanks to our friends at the ARRL.

American National Public Radio has just put a very complimentary piece up about the growth and vitality of ham radio in the USA>

Worth a moment to read here.

Join RAC Now. Save $$. Make Ham Radio Better!

This email was sent out by Dave Hayes, VE3JX. I understand it is being resent by other recipients to hams in Ontario and British Columbia. I’ve heard of several hams who have been renewing their membership for a three-year period to get the maximum savings! BTW if you are renewing, why not let the other hams in your community or club know that you’re supporting the growth of ham radio in Canada by joining RAC? If we all brought in one more member…  :)

Here’s Dave’s email message:

This message is primarily for Ontario & British Columbia amateurs.  If you were thinking of becoming a RAC member or renewing your current membership, now is the time to do it.

Here is why:

There is a one-time “window of opportunity” open until May 1st to save 8% (ON) or 7% (BC) on the future price of a RAC Membership.

Here is how it works.

As of July 1st of this year, the Harmonized Sales Tax will be fully implemented in two more provinces, Ontario & British Columbia.  That means that the total cost of an annual membership in Radio Amateurs of Canada will rise from $52.50 currently to $56.50 (ON) & $56 (BC). HST Transition Rules call for a pro-rated phase-in beginning May 1st.  As of May 1st, RAC will have to collect HST on the portion of the membership that is after July 1st.  Up until that date (May 1st), RAC only collects GST (5%) instead of the HST (13%-ON, 12%-BC).  Therefore, the cost of RAC’s annual membership will remain at $52.50 per year, until May 1st.

RAC offers 1-, 2-, & 3-year memberships.  Therefore, one can add-on to their existing membership up to 3 years more, or acquire a new membership for one to three years.  If purchased before May 1st, it is only $52.50 per year, saving $4 (8%) in Ontario, or $3.50 (7%) in BC.

RAC Membership is really a no-brainer.  We need RAC to represent our interests before national & international governmental entities.  No one else can advocate for us in these venues.  There are many other benefits associated with RAC Membership, such as liability insurance, bi-monthly magazine, outgoing QSL bureau, etc.  But the must-have need is a representative organization to protect and enhance the interests of amateur radio.  RAC is that national advocate in Canada.

Remember, you have approximately one-month to save on your RAC membership.  I think all of us will want to take advantage of the savings involved here.

Call RAC at 613-244-4367 or 877-273-8304, between 10am & 3pm, Monday to Friday.

Remember, you have only one month to save; on May 1st the savings end!

The future of radio

Thanks to Mike, VA3MW, here’s a link to a YouTube video that is absolutely incredible.

It’s the future of radio (and this is no April 1 joke). It’s a demonstration of a software defined radio (Flex 5000 A) but note the absence of any tuning knobs. Honestly folks, this is the future. Might as well sell all your hardware and buy a software program. This is going to be a shock for those of us with modern solid state rigs. Can’t even imagine the emotion trauma for operators still operating tube rigs.