Monthly Archive for August, 2010

VE2WU – The Excitement Continues…

For those of you reading the blog in real time: (Tuesday, August 31 at noon EDT) VE2WU is raising the antennas to the top of his new tower. He’s live streaming the event here. Looks like there’s a lot of talking going on right now before the crane lifts the arrays.

VA3DB – Ideas for RAC

Diane, VA3DB sent this email to me and I’m posting her comments.

Have a read. What do you think? Are you, as Diane asks, ready for change?

It would be easy for unpaid volunteers to completely revamp the RAC website. It simply needs a bit of modernisation and making sure links actually work.

The key is to keep it simple; no fancy graphics cluttering it up, no complex navigation. Something a competent web designer and team of volunteers can do. While we are at it add a wiki and blog to make this truly a centre of RAC’s presence on the Internet. TCA, like the website, should be run entirely by unpaid volunteers.

Other organisations of comparable size operate this way, and this is certainly possible for RAC to do so as well using modern free software. Moving timely information from TCA to a modern website would reduce the size and weight of TCA thereby reducing the effort needed to produce the magazine and reduce its bulk mailing rate.

The basic membership in RAC should only include access to the electronic version of TCA, with a paper copy of TCA being an additional fee. This has been done very successfully in other organizations. If desired access to the electronic version of TCA can be password controlled.

Even if it was totally free, the advertisers would be getting advertising. EMRG is only one part of what amateur radio operators do. We are a diverse group of experimenters, builders, DXers, QRPers as well. RAC should reflect this diversity.

The interest in ham radio is there with the geeks young and old. Bring HTs to computer club meetings, advertise on our website the fun of building your own, communicating using modern DSP equipment, the fun of talking via satellites (including ISS). They will come. Those are just some ideas of what it would take to make RAC more relevant to new hams in Canada. RAC needs the vision, the leadership and the openness to be a world leader.

Are we ready?

- 73 Diane Bruce VA3DB

Housekeeping and A Few Thoughts

Hi All: I’ve taken the individual pages down that were about the Transforming Radio Amateurs of Canada and added links to all 14 submissions from John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ into the newly named permanent page (found in column on right) called “Transforming Radio Amateurs of Canada.” These new links include all of John’s graphics where the individual pages were text only.

At Saturday’s Contest Club Ontario’s annual members-BBQ and annual meeting, I heard from lots from the RAC members in attendance. (Of the 80 plus contesters in attendance a good 85 to 90 per cent said they were RAC members. The non-members got application forms handed to them with a request made by me for them to join me in supporting our national organization. Several said they would.)

The overwhelming comments I heard on Saturday were demands for more openness. And the Ontario hams want more representation of their needs on the board.

Gee if the Ontario hams want more representation, what about the Amateur Radio operators in Quebec who have roughly 25 per cent of the hams in the country and are represented by one director?

One of the hidden benefits of going through a visioning process which is inclusive of all the members and non-members alike is there are many issues that get brought out into public where they can be dealt with.

Not everybody is comfortable with this process. It’s messy. It’s public. It screams out for action. It’s tough to ignore. It takes time. And it requires a certain amount of courage.

But what this process does do, is create a culture of openness and trust. And isn’t that what you the members are asking for from your national organization?

(Keep those emails and comments coming in folks and renew your membership and ask at least 20 other hams in your club or community to join with you in supporting your national Amateur Radio association.

What has RAC done for me?

Got this question in an e-mail this morning from a Canadian ham. What has RAC done for me?

Well for your $50 you’ve got an opportunity to make Amateur Radio in Canada better. How’s that for starters?

RAC is made up of volunteers – for better or worse – who work together to improve our hobby. How do they do that?

They run our very popular Outgoing QSL Bureau (some guys – like me who do a lot of QSLing – pay for their RAC memberships many times over just by using the bureau).

Your $50 might get you the opportunity to pay your own way to meetings of Amateur Radio organizations like The International Amateur Radio Union which, if I’m not mistaken is holding meetings soon in Puerto Rico. Two RAC volunteers are going and will represent your interests.

You might want to become an assistant regional director and help promote Amateur Radio and RAC at ham fests in your region. This can eat up a lot of Saturday mornings but it can also get you into flea markets early :)

If Amateur Radio is more than a hobby, you could join your local ARES group and help serve your community while learning some communication’s skills.

If you’re a masochist like me you an join the national executive or board and trust me, there’s lots we can find for you to do. You’ll get to participate in the management and leadership of a volunteer national organization. Can’t tell you how much fun that can be some days. :)

So what has RAC done for you? It’s giving you the opportunity to make Amateur Radio in Canada better for you and all your fellow amateurs across Canada. How’s that for $50?

Live Streaming – VE2WU's 200' Tower

This from Contest Club Ontario’s Don, VE3RM, who reports that this morning (Aug. 30) Marten, VE2WU. is live streaming the erection of a 200-foot rotating tower and three very large 20 meter monoband yagis.

Here’s the link.

BTW we’ll be posting photos from Contest Club Ontario’s annual BBQ held at VE3EJ’s contest station high up on the Niagara Escarpment yesterday. Over 80 of Ontario’s top contesters attended.

Reply to a new ham

In the last two days the RAC Blog has received two separate emails from two young new hams. Here’s the link to a comment posted by Matthew, VO1GXG and my response is below:

Hi Matthew,

I’m distressed to hear of your experience so far. I was introduced to Amateur Radio along with my Dad, Leo West, (who later became VE3FWR) when we visited the shack of VE3UR (SK) known far and wide as Uncle Ray. Ray was big in DX and RTTY and dad and I were amazed to watch a World War II vintage surplus Model 19 printer bang out (it was loud) typed words coming from his station receiver (we had separate receivers and transmitters back then. DSB was just being introduced and the AM guys were saying it was the death of radio! Sound familiar?). Ray was a member of the Skywide Radio Club in Toronto and shortly after our visit dad and I joined the club where we were active members for many years.

I read that your experience was very different. The good news is of course with the Internet we can now join groups of people with similar interests regardless of our locations. The bad news is you didn’t find the support you needed locally.

In your comment you mentioned the drama that’s going on. The drama you speak of is very real but it’s also an indication that people are engaged. Some have nothing more to offer than nihilistic thoughts that we should end it all but those voices are in a very small minority and often come bearing other agendas.

You see Matthew RAC isn’t a thing or a place. It’s a collection of people – for better or worse – who are doing their best (mostly) to make our collective experience of the hobby we love a more exciting and satisfying experience for all Canadian licensed amateurs whether or not they are RAC members. RAC is not a club (contrary to some beliefs) but a national association of individuals and clubs and other associations who have banded together. And like a band of brothers, perfect harmony is never going to be reached. But by gathering together as a national organization Amateur Radio operators across Canada have the potential to better share their experiences, strengths and hopes for ham radio.

For some of us Amateur Radio is a pleasant hobby. For some it’s a way to serve their communities. For others, it’s contesting and the list goes on.

Look at your own experience Matthew. Amateur Radio is one of those leisure activities that we do in relation to others. We need people at the other end of the microphone or key to call us back when we send a CQ. ARES groups need dedicated and trained volunteers who are committed to working together to serve.

Radio Amateurs of Canada is the manifestation of thousands of Amateur Radio operators over many years (and many organizations) who have taken the time to volunteer their time, their talent and even their treasure to support the hobby we all love.

I’d invite you to join with the 5,000 other Canadian Amateur Radio operators who are members of Radio Amateurs of Canada.

Best regards,

Peter – VE3HG - Vice-President of Public Relations

Radio Amateurs of Canada

Follow VE3HG On Twitter

The Future of RAC and Amateur Radio

During tonight’s national RAC teleconference board/executive meeting President Geoff, VE4BAW, asked the document he presented to the DX Forum in Halifax on Aug. 7th be posted here and on the RAC website.

After some challenges between MAC’s and PC’s here it is in PDF format: The Future of Amateur Radio and the Future.

I’m really pleased to report that the board and the executive (with only two maybes) reported that they are going to attend a special visioning transformational meeting in Ottawa and the end of October. BTW every member is paying their own way! As far as I know so far, John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ will be facilitating the discussions.

I’ve been pretty outspoken in my comments about the board and executive and it’s time to say I’m very impressed with tonight’s meeting. I don’t agree with everything and everybody but everything will be on the table in Ottawa so keep those comments coming in.

QRP Campout

Wish I’d have heard about Maplecon 2010. According to VA3STL’s Weblog about 30 QRPers setup camp at Emily Provincial Park (which was around the corner from my family cottage near Peterborough, Ontario) last weekend.

Best DX was a two-way QRP QSO on 20 meters with Mirek, SP9ONC.

Here’s a link to a bunch of photos from the event.

RAC Assistant Director Comments

This post comes from K. Scott Wood, VE1QD, RAC Assistant Director, Halifax Region who is the chair of the Maritime DX Forum:

On August 6 and 7, the Halifax Amateur Radio Club was very pleased to host this year’s RAC AGM and Forum.  It was part of our annual Maritime DX Forum and attracted a large part of our audience of almost 70 people.

All of us who have many years in amateur radio, and have followed the ups and downs of our national organization, were delighted with the presentation of President Geoff Bawden and several other members of the Executive.  There was an openness and candour about the precarious status of RAC and a willingness to recognize past errors and shortcomings.  However, what most grabbed my attention was a clear commitment to not wallow in the past, but rather shift our gaze to the future.

Beginning with an acknowledgement of the vital importance of our national organization to securing and advancing our interests, RAC revealed that a process of transformation was indeed underway.  John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ and former RAC VP, has been asked to facilitate the process.  If you haven’t yet seen them, John has written 12 short pieces that provide a framework for thinking about and approaching the task. You should look at his excellent material.  You can find them on either the RAC website  (see RAC Blog) or HARC’s website www.halifax-arc.org. The objective is to obtain the changes necessary for RAC to become a truly respected and effective force for advancing amateur radio in Canada.

The core of John’s approach is simple.  One, acknowledge failures of the past and the factual status of the organization, BUT do not dwell on the past.  We won’t be able to get to the future by just fixing this and that!  Two, engage the membership as broadly as possible, since a “top down approach” is definitely not what is needed.  In fact, many would argue, this is a part of the past needing reform. Moreover, RAC belongs to every amateur so change needs to be defined by us. Three, we need to dream creatively about what we want RAC to be. Four, given some commonly agreed upon dream or future, what steps will we need to take in order to get there?  Five, since everything needed to create a new future cannot be done all at once, the steps will need to be sorted out or given priorities, and including figuring out what steps will depend upon something happening first. Finally, an Action Plan can emerge that will focus RAC’s efforts in a strategic way, i.e. that will maximize the chances of us realizing the desired future.

I commend Geoff Bawden and his team for opening up RAC, shaking things up and launching a process of change.   I also applaud John Bartlett’s courage in laying out a path that we can follow.  However, without the commitment of current RAC members and the recruitment of many more, the process of transformation will not happen.  Moreover, for those who think that RAC needs to die before being reborn, I would caution against a faith that a new organization would emerge from the rubble.  Moreover, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water!  RAC has many positive elements on which we can build a better future.

I am one of a very large number of Assistant RAC Directors and represent the Halifax region.  I think that our role is to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the Regional Directors.  RAC Section Managers are another key group.   In any case, collectively we are two layers of the RAC organization that are closest to the grassroots. How can we help move this vital process along?

I will make a presentation and lead a discussion at HARC’s September 15th meeting.   My expectation is not that this will do it, but rather that this will start a dialogue in Halifax.  In fact, I think that I will recommend that the large number of hams in the Halifax Regional Municipality who head off to Timmy’s most mornings for coffee do some of the dreaming at this other national institution!  I expect it will be necessary to have a few meetings before this corner of our vast country might have something to share.  I hope that others will do the same and that we can collectively make change happen.  One day I would like to look back and be able to say:  “I’ll be damned.  We did it!”

Scott

K. Scott Wood, VE1QD -RAC Assistant Director, Halifax Region

and Chair, Maritime DX Forum

Halifax Amateur Radio Club

Bob replies…

Replying to President Geoff’s comments (posted below), Bob VA3QV asks an interesting question (which I comment on at my blog VE3HG).

Hi Geoff…

Thanks for the reply and for reading my blog…

My issues or concerns lie with the fact that the “Magnificent 7″ have not made a statement to the general membership even acknowledging that there is a problem…

We have 7 directors who have control of the corporation… I can blog till the cows come home and so can just about everyone else but until the Directors announce that they have decided to revamp the system its still the same old… same old…

The first step is to admit that we have a problem… The 2nd step is to do something about the problem…

Thanks for the information that the Directors and the Board will be meeting in Ottawa at the end of October… I would love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting…

WHAT THE HECK… IN THE SPIRIT OF BEING OPEN AND TRANSPARENT CAN I ATTEND THE MEETING ???

I think I know the answer but I had to ask…

Failing that how about a Q & A session after the meeting…??? With you and/or the Board if they choose to attend…

We can work out the details closer to the event…

We all have the same agenda on this one… We all want the same things…

Thanks for your efforts…

73bob