Monthly Archive for May, 2010

Customer Appreciation Day

We had a great time at Toronto’s Radioworld Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday. It was great to meet old friends and to tell new folks about Radio Amateurs of Canada. It’s important for all of us to ask our fellow amateurs whether or not they are members with RAC. I can’t tell you how many times I heard something to the effect of “Oh yeah. I meant to send in my renewal.”

Amateur Radio in Canada has a bright but somewhat uncertain future.

We know that broad-band industrial users are eying our spectrum space. We have a big fight in Ontario to get the temporary exemption from the distracted driving legislation (Bill 118) made permanent. The Youth Education Program needs amateurs like you to go into the schools and help a new generation of future hams understand the mystery and romance of radio. And, that’s just scratching the surface.

So where should we start?

Let’s start with some of the great radio clubs in Canada. The Peel Amateur Radio Club wants to strive for 100 per cent RAC membership. That would be amazing. What other clubs have or approach 100 per cent RAC membership?

At Radioworld on Saturday representing the Peel ARC were (in photo from left to right): George, VE3WRG; Teresa, VA3TF; Paul, VA3PB; Bryan, VA3OG; and Jim, VA3JF.

If your club has a special event (like Field Day?) how about sending us a short writeup and photo for the blog?

The $20 RAC display

At last month’s board of director’s meeting held in Ottawa, I was tasked with developing a cheap (read no cost) but professional looking membership display for RAC. Have you ever priced out table top displays? Most of the professional quality ones start at $300 or so and go up from there. And we need a bunch of them for all of the regional directors across the province.

So as a long-time public relations practitioner who is very well used to working with a zero budget, I put my thinking cap on and here’s the result: The $20 display.

I found a simple fold-out three-panel display for $18 at Staples. For display materials, I used my photo printer to make up some artwork. (Any photo printer will do. I’ve got one that does 81/2″ X 11″ and another one that does 16″X20″. If you don’t have access to such a big printer, WalMart or Blacks should be able to print out big posters on photo paper. Use photo paper as it is more substantial than ordinary paper and it doesn’t cost more than a couple of dollars to do.)

I printed out a couple of membership forms and I’m ready to roll.

BTW the small easel on the left in the photo runs around $25 and can hold up a foam board with a display photo affixed to it.

So with my $20 display in hand I hope to see everyone from the GTA area of southern Ontario at RadioWorld this Saturday for their Customer Appreciation Day.

Drop by and talk to me about what we can do about Bill 118 in Ontario which will mandate hands-free operation of your mobile rig.

CBers exempt?

Eagle-eye reader Ken Grant, VE3FIT, noticed the Toronto Star Wheels editor quoting an Ontario ministry of transportationspokesperson as saying that since CB radios are hardwired into the vehicle, the microphones are not considered handheld devices and are thus exempt from the province’s distracted driving legislation Bill 118.

We fear this is an issue of the Toronto Star quoting itself from a previous erroneous statement made by a government official before the legislation was passed.

However I’ve got a call into the spokesperson for clarification.

Having said that: If you want to help fight to get a permanent exemption for amateur radio use by drivers in moving vehicles in Ontario then please do the following today:

  1. If you haven’t already, please renew your membership. We need to show the government that the amateurs in Ontario are part of an organized and determined group (RAC) dedicated to working towards a permanent exemption for ham radio;
  2. If you’re not a member (and go read the benefit statement for RAC) (here’s more) please join today (see above);
  3. If you are a member, please go to your local club, ARES groups, radio associations or neighbouring hams and ask them to support you and all the other amateurs in Ontario by becoming a RAC member today.
  4. Get ready to be asked to go visit your local MPP with a statement (which I’ll write for you) about why an exemption is warranted and how it will benefit the people of Ontario;
  5. Keep reading this blog for more information to come soon.

It’s more than just a hobby

Amateur radio is more than just a hobby for some of us. If you’re like me, it’s a bit of an obsession. I’ve been interested in ham radio and shortwave listening since the mid-1960s. I was licensed in 1980 and I’ve never been more active than right now.

Over the years, I’ve bought a lot of equipment and accessories. And because I live here in Canada, I’ve bought almost exclusively from Canadian dealers and Canadian manufacturers.

Ever since I joined Radio Amateurs of Canada, I’ve also supported the dealers and distributors and manufacturers who advertise in The Canadian Amateur. You know for these business owners advertising in TCA is a smart business decision because they are directly reaching their customers through the pages of this excellent editorial, independent publication. Amateurs trust the editors and writers of TCA and, by association, trust its advertisers too.

This is a sacred trust. It’s a trust between friends as well as business people. It’s an exchange based on trust and a relationship built over time. Nothing is more valuable to an advertiser than your continuing good relationship. And every advertiser knows how fickle and mobile its customer base can be if they ever break that trust and do something to harm the relationship and customer experience.

I don’t know about you, but I buy from friends I trust and I will continue to buy from friends I trust even if it costs me a little more to buy from Canadian sources (and really, when you add up shipping and the availability of factory authorized repairs, why wouldn’t you buy here?) I still make the majority of my new purchases from TCA advertisers.

Over the next few months, I am anticipating seeing even more advertising in TCA. I say that from my long experience as a national magazine editor and group editor for a family of technical magazines where I supervised other editors. All of the successful magazines in our group attracted large readerships and many advertisers. Our magazines were well read because they were well written and well edited. Our advertisers supported the magazine because we could deliver loyal readers who became loyal customers. Without more advertising dollars, TCA can’t grow.

That’s how it works for any successful magazine. So, if you’re contemplating any new or used purchases, checkout the advertisers in TCA. After all, they deserve you support and are working hard to maintain it.

So finally, when you’re visiting our advertisers please tell them about this blog posting and remind them about how much you value their support in TCA.

Field Day with goats

Yes there’s goats in one of the articles posted in CQ’s online magazine WorldRadio Online that arrived today in my inbox.

There are lots of great articles but the one entitled “Flying Solo on Field Day” was really interesting especially when the writer referred to Steve Galchutt, WG0AT (I’m not making this stuff up folks.) of Monument, CO, who takes his goats Rooster and Peanut with him on Field Day.

Online magazines may be the future (and this one is pretty good) but I still like the feel of paper. Call me old school.

How to lobby the government

One of our members who lives in Ontario noticed that his local MPP was hosting a Saturday afternoon “get-together” for constituents at a local Second Cup coffee shop.

Taking some initiative, Joe, VE3OV, who is the ARES EC for Toronto North York, dropped by and talked to MPP Kathleen Wynne. Joe explained to Ms Wynne how amateur radio operators in Ontario were being negatively affected by Bill 118 and how the time-limited exemption from hands-free legislation should be made permanent. Joe said he got a fair hearing and Ms Wynne said she’d like to learn more about amateur radio and Bill 118.

This is how amateur radio operators in Ontario will get a permanent exemption to Bill 118. It’s called talking to your MPP. Do it respectfully. Use simple language to explain what’s at stake for the people of Ontario. But, most importantly, JUST DO IT!

Dayton 2010

What do you get with 20,000-plus amateurs, great weather and a well-run three-day event?

You get Hamvention 2010 held in Dayton, Ohio. This year we had around 20 folks from VE3-land share the experience. Among many highlights (including the purchase of a Flexradio 1500) was meeting ARRL President Kay Craigie N3KN. Another highlight was the ARRL PR Forum with Allen Pitts, W1AGP and PR National Committee Chair Bill Morine, N2COP. RAC President Geoff Bawden, VE4BAW, addressed the audience composed of public relations volunteers.

Dayton is a special experience. It can take a day to walk the fleamarket. The indoor vendors take over four buildings. Everybody who is anybody in ham radio in North America ends up at Dayton sooner or later. It’s wonderful to recognize a call sign name badge and to be engaged in a friendly conversation immediately.

It was a special treat for me to meet CQ Contest Hall of Fame recipient Don Hill, AA5AU and shake his hand. Don wrote a primary for RTTY which has been read by thousands of newcomers to RTTY. His induction into the Hall of Fame was a moving part of the Contesters’ Dinner and could not have happened to a nicer and more deserving guy.

And did I mention the great weather? We’ve years with tornados and driving rain. It’s been cold enough for snow (well almost). But this year was glorious sunny days and warm pleasant temperatures. Well another Dayton is in the history books and I highly recommend it for next year.

Contest U – Best yet

Contest University, held today just prior to the Dayton Hamvention in Dayton, Ohio was considered by many who attended as the best yet. This was the fourth Contest U (four previous events have been held as part of the Hamvention and four have been held in Europe).

Tim, K3LR, and his crew which included Canadian contesting champion John, VE3EJ, put on a first-class event which was sold out. My unofficial guess at attendance is around 400. Sessions were held on contesting tips, propagation, antenna design, ethics of contesting, software, and lots more. Every participant was feed breakfast and lunch, given a hat (thanks DX Engineering) and a T-shirt plus a breakout book of all the presentations and a CD along with CQ Magazine and The Contesting Journal.

In photo, Greg, VA3GGf and Jim, VE3AJ who were among 19 Canadians who attended Contest U.

Now after a good night’s sleep it’s off to North America’s largest flea market tomorrow.

Radioworld BBQ and Customer Appreciation Day

The 11th Annual Radioworld BBQ and Sale is coming Saturday, May 28 from 10am to 3pm at the (the free BBQ lunch is served from 11 am to 3 pm) and Radio Amateurs of Canada will be helpingRadioworld celebrate. Yes we’ll be there with membership applications in hand and a BIG smile just for you.

Radioworld has historically been a big supporter of RAC and we appreciate everything they’ve done for amateur radio in Canada.

So if you’re in the Toronto area come on out to the BBQ being held at Radioworld 4335 Steeles Ave. West.

BTW if any of you other retailers have a special event coming up, let me know and we’ll announce it as well.

Get yourself posted

Do you have a special event coming up? Or maybe you’ve just had one? Why not let the rest of Canada know about it? It’s easy to do.

Why not post your photos and info right here on the RAC Blog?

Send us by email a digital image in JPG format that is around 500 kilobytes (no bigger than 1 meg) in size. Just about any digital point and shoot or DSLR camera will do the trick. Make sure your subject(s) can be seen clearly and that the shot is fairly close up. Include in the email a line or two of information as follows: Who (left to right); What; Where; Why; and When. If you’ve got more information and would like to send it please do so. If you wish to take the time to actually do a small write-up I’d recommend keeping it to no more than 200 to 400 words.

If you’ve got a video clip posted to YouTube, please send us the link and a short description of what viewers will see and I’ll post that as well.

Field Day, hamfests, club meetings, ARES events, antenna parties and just about anything else that has to do with amateur radio in Canada is welcome.

If you have any questions or need any guidance don’t hesitate to contact me directly at Peter, VE3HG at ve3hg@rac.ca

Oh and by the way this offer isn’t limited to RAC members but then again why wouldn’t you be a member?  :)

Here’s a link you might want to read about RAC and you. And here’s another one about the benefits of RAC membership.

If you’re a ham in Ontario and you don’t like Bill 118 you should consider joining with your fellow amateurs as we’ll be going back to the ministry of transport in a year or so to get the limited exemption made permanent. When it comes to politicians, numbers count. Can we count on you?

Same thing when it comes to spectrum space. As I said before, Canadian hams have access to more frequency spectrum than anyone else in Canada with the sole exception of the military. The broadband cellular telephone among others are crying out for more frequencies and they’re looking at our microwave and up spectrum space.

Now is the time to join a national organization.

The national organization we have is Radio Amateurs of Canada. Radio Amateurs of Canada is made up of members like you. If you’re already a member, then pleasego to your next club meeting or Field Day event and ask your fellow hams to join with you in supporting your national organization.

The issues are pressing. The time is short. Now is the time to act.