Signals from space – Annapolis Royal students learn amateur radio for June launch

©Lawrence Powell

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL – Al Penney can bounce radio signals off the moon, but right now he’s working with high school students who want to send live video back to Earth from the edge of space.

Annapolis West Education Centre student Abigail Bonnington holds a video camera hardly bigger than a sugar cube. It’s attached to a small transmitter that will send signal to a laptop.

It stopped working and now Penney and Bonnington are troubleshooting. It has to be operational or replaced by sometime in June when the Annapolis Royal Space Agency launches its second ‘package’ deep into the stratosphere – 30 or 40 kilometres up.

Penney is with the Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club and has been working with the students since the fall.

Read the full story in the Annapolis County Spectator

Field Day 2017

Hello everyone,

Field Day is fast approaching, so I want to let you all know what the Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club (AVARC) has planned for this year.

Dates and Times:

Field Day will take place on the weekend of 24/25 June 2017.  Setup will start early Saturday morning.  The operating part of Field Day starts at 1500 Saturday and continues for 24 hours.  We will then tear down and return home.

Location:

We have been invited to conduct Field Day in Annapolis Royal by the members of the Basic Course that AVARC is teaching.  Field Day will therefore be held in the fields beside the Annapolis West Education Centre (AWEC), 100 Champlain Drive in Annapolis Royal.  To get there, take Exit 22 off Highway 101 and head towards downtown.  Champlain Drive is off St. Patrick’s Lane.

I should mention that the students on the Basic Course are also members of the Annapolis Royal Space Agency, and they hope to incorporate Amateur Radio into the payload of their next high altitude balloon launch!

Objective:

To quote the ARRL website, the objective of Field Day is: “To work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands (excluding the 60, 30, 17, and 12-meter bands) and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions.  Field Day is open to all amateurs in the areas covered by the ARRL/RAC Field Organizations and countries within IARU Region Two.  DX stations residing in other regions may be contacted for credit, but are not eligible to submit entries.”

AVARC has two objectives for Field Day.  The first is to practice those skills necessary to operate in an emergency – deploying to a remote location, setting up effective stations without relying on commercial power, and making QSOs in an efficient manner. The second is to have a fun and interesting weekend!  We fully recognize that many of you have not operated before, especially in a contest-type situation.  There is no need to worry!  The idea is to learn in a fun, non-intimidating environment.

Category, Stations and Exchange:

AVARC will operate in the 2 Alpha category.  This means that we will have two HF stations operating on emergency power (generators).  These stations will use the callsign VA1AVR.

We will also have a GOTA (Get On The Air) station.  It is a “free” station that may be operated by any person licensed since the previous year’s Field Day or by generally inactive or inexperienced Hams.  Non-licensed persons may participate under the direct supervision of an appropriate control operator.  Doug VE1FAL will be GOTA “coach”, and the station will use his callsign.

The GOTA station will also serve as the digital station, using such modes as PSK-31 or Radio Teletype (RTTY).  These modes can be used by newcomers, so there is no excuse for anyone suffering from “mic fright”!

We will also have a 2M FM simplex station, and possibly a 6M SSB station.  They will use the VA1AVR callsign.

Field Day Exchange and Logging:

For a Field Day QSO to count, both stations must accurately copy the other station’s report.  This is called the “exchange”, and for Field Day it is our operating category and Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) / American Radio Relay League (ARRL) section.  For us, that is “Two Alpha Maritime”.  The “Two” means we are using 2 HF stations.  The ‘Alpha” means we are using emergency power, and “Maritime” means we are in the Maritime provinces of Canada – NS, NB and PEI.

If we answer a station calling CQ (K7UM for example), the exchange would go like this:

CQ Field Day.  This is Kilo Seven Uniform Mike.

Kilo Seven Uniform Mike this is Victor Alpha One Alpha Victor Romeo.  You are Two Alpha Maritime.

Victor Alpha One Alpha Victor Romeo you are Four Alpha Utah.

 Roger Four Alpha Utah.  Good luck and 73.

A list of the different categories and RAC/ARRL sections will be located in each station.  As well, the logging software will also have that information.

We will use the N1MM Logger+ (N1MM Logger Plus) logging software.  It is a very popular logging program, and is available as freeware:

https://n1mm.hamdocs.com/tiki-index.php?page=Full+Install

Bonus Points:

There are a wide range of bonus points available for Field Day.  We will try to take advantage of as many of them as possible.  They include:

  • 100% emergency power
  • Media publicity
  • Public information table and visitor’s log
  • Message to the RAC Section Manager
  • Satellite QSO
  • Alternate Energy QSO (solar panels)
  • Copying the ARRL Field Day Bulletin
  • Educational Activity
  • Site visit by an elected official
  • Site visit by a served agency (EMO, Wing Operations)
  • GOTA station bonuses
  • Use of Social Media
  • Submitting our report online, and
  • Youth participation

We will publish more information on the Bonus Activities closer to Field Day.

Site Layout:

HF Station One – This station will be located to the southeast of the school, not far from the basketball courts.  It will be housed in a cargo trailer specifically modified for use as a communications facility, and will use a 3 kw generator.  It will have a Kenwood TS-870 transceiver, a 3-element triband yagi on a 30-foot tower, and dipoles/inverted V antennas for 40 and 80 meters.  This station will be set up for voice operations.

HF Station Two – This station will be located to the north of the school.  It will be situated in a tent, and will use a Kenwood TS-450 transceiver with a 3-element triband yagi on a 30-foot tower and dipoles/inverted V antennas for 40 and 80 meters.  It will be powered by a 3 kw generator, and will be used primarily for CW operations.

GOTA Station – This station will be located in a tent close to HF Station One, near the basketball courts.  It will use a Yaesu FT-1000D transceiver, and will be used for voice and digital operations.  It will have a vertical antenna for 40M, and will share other antennas and a generator with HF Station One.

Visitor Information Table – This will be located near the GOTA station, co-located with the Galley Tent.  It will have a slide show and pamphlets explaining Amateur Radio, as well as a visitors’ logbook.  This is also where we will conduct lessons in antenna building and attaching coax connectors for the bonus points.

Galley Tent – This will located near HF Station One, and will house our galley and eating area in a 10” x 20” screen tent.  Information about meals can be found below.

Toilets – We will have access to proper indoor flush toilets.

Camping – There is plenty of room for people to pitch a tent should they wish to spend the night.

Food services:

Because most of us will be located far from home, we may have to forego our traditional potluck dinner on Saturday evening.  There are several options for supper that we are investigating however.

We will have food available for the following meals:

  • Lunch Saturday – hot dogs
  • Supper Saturday – To be confirmed
  • Overnight – snacks
  • Breakfast Sunday – delivered to overnight operators
  • Lunch Sunday – hot dogs, hamburgers

Expenses:

AVARC is a new and informal club, and we don’t have funding available to support Field Day.  We will therefore have to charge to cover the cost of food, soft drinks and gas.  Donations will also be gratefully received!

Requirements:

While planning for Field Day is progressing well, we will need information and support from YOU!

We have most of the equipment requirements filled, but if you have something you think might be useful, please let me know.  We can always use folding tables, chairs, coolers etc.  Does anyone have a propane BBQ that can be easily moved to the site?

If you are able to transport equipment to/from the site, then please let us know.

We need people to assist with all aspects of setup, operating and teardown.  If you can help, please let us know!  

Conclusion:

Field Day 2017 promises to be a fun occasion!  We will have effective stations, efficient antennas, tasty food, and an excellent location.  Best of all, we will have the assistance of a group of motivated young people who wish to become Hams!  You do not need to be a member of AVARC to take part – everyone is welcome.  Further details will be promulgated in the next few weeks, but please mark the weekend of 24/25 June in your calendar and come out for Field Day!

73
Al Penney
VO1NO
AVARC Field Day Coordinator

Low Band RX Antennas – SMART 2017 Presentation

Here is Al Penney’s Low Band RX Antennas, presented at the 2017 Symposium for Maritime Amateur Radio Techs.

Low Band RX Antennas - SMART 2017 Presentation
Low Band RX Antennas - SMART 2017 Presentation
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Amateur Satellites and AMSAT – SMART 2017 Presentation

Here is Brent Taylor’s Amateur Satellites and AMSAT, presented at the 2017 Symposium for Maritime Amateur Radio Techs

Amateur Satellites and AMSAT - SMART 2017 Presentation
Amateur Satellites and AMSAT - SMART 2017 Presentation
20170429-Presentation_for_WARC-VY2HF.pdf
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Symposium for Maritime Amateur Radio Techs

“To provide insight into the technical and procedural aspects of amateur radio operation.”

From Jim VE1JBL Apr.1st, 2017

There was a meeting on Saturday Apr. 1st, 2017 in Amherst with the organizing committee of this year’s Symposium of Maritime Amateur Radio Techs. (S.M.A.R.T.)

Taking part were Mike Johnson VE1MWJ, Kevin Burke VE1KEV, Bernie Cormier VE9BGC and Yvon Hachey VE1VON. The event will again be a one day event held on Apr.29th, 2017. Registration will begin at 8am and the first classes will begin at 9am. Registration fee is only $5.00. The classes will be broken down with one room having technical courses while the other room will have operational classes. Later in the day there will be a class for CANWARN and for Radio Amateurs of Canada. Both CANWARN and RAC will hopefully have booths set up for the day to supply information to interested hams and the general public.

  • Ron MacKay VE1AIC will be there again this year and have a table set up with Muti-Mode Digital Radio – Demos.
  • John Scott VE1JS will be there and available to check DXCC, WAS, VUCC and WAC cards, if required. He will also do  identity checks for those wishing to join LoTW without having to send a package to Newington. Make sure all your paperwork is in order for him to check. If not sure contact John at scotts@sandycove-ns.ca
  • Al Cyples VE1CYP from Nova Scotia Public Service and Field Communications will be attending with their mobile unit for all to see and visit during the day.

We will be contacting other provincial agencies to see if they can provide emergency vehicles at this year’s event. It was confirmed that courses will be 40 minutes with a 5 minute Q&A so that the room can be prepared for the next presenter. Each presenter will make himself/herself available after the meeting for more questions. The site for this year’s event has not been confirmed yet but there are two different locations available (Amherst & Springhill). This will be finalized at the next meeting in mid April.

This year there will be no classes between 12 noon and 1pm or 1:30pm TBA for lunch break, QSO with friends and touring of emergency vehicles that will be available. Lunch will again be barbecue hamburgs & hotdogs and soft drinks.

Visit the WestCUMB ARC website for more information and to indicate attendance

AWEC Antenna Class

Amateur Radio antenna class for students from the Annapolis West Education Centre in Annapolis Royal. We covered the theory of transmissions lines and antennas first, then made some practical measurements, and finally went outside to set up a portable HF station. With 100 watts from a battery-powered transceiver and a simple dipole antenna, we worked stations all over Europe and North America.

AWEC Antenna Class 2017

New HF Manager for IARU Region 2

Congratulations Al!

Alphonse Penney, VO1NO, Appointed HF Manager for IARU Region 2

January 26, 2016

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 2 Executive Committee has appointed Al Penney, VO1NO, RAC’s Band Planning Committee Chair, as the HF Band Manager for IARU Region 2.

The official announcement from IARU R2 can be found at: http://wp.rac.ca/iaru-r2-ec-elects-three-new-coordinators/

In Region 2, Canada’s proximity to both of the other International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regions offers a unique perspective on how small the world is for radio propagation and the need to coordinate band usage to minimize interference and maximize the Amateur spectrum for all. Al is an excellent choice with his on-the-air experience and as the current Chair of the RAC Band Planning Committee. Please join me in congratulating Al on his new role.

73, George Gorsline, VE3YV
International Affairs Officer
Radio Amateurs of/du Canada

New Bi-Directional iGate

I’ve set up a bi-directional APRS IGate in the Kingston area and it is now “live”. While there is an existing IGate, it is RF to IS only, limiting APRS usage in the area to just position reporting. Mine will give APRS users within RF range of the VE1ARC digipeater full two-way messaging capability. SMS or email to/from your radio. Query the IGate for local services/businesses (I will have to add many more than I have so far, that will be ongoing).

Winter Field Day 2017

Hello everyone,

Winter Field Day will take place this upcoming weekend, and once again the Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club will participate!

As described on the WFD web page, the purpose of Winter Field Day is “to foster Ham camaraderie, field operation, emergency operating preparedness, and just plain on the air, outdoor fun in the midst of winter for American, Canadian and DX Amateurs”. Disasters don’t always happen in the summer, and as providers of emergency communications capabilities, Amateurs need to be ready.
Last year, AVARC was the top station in the world in its category, and we intend to defend that placement. Don’t worry about freezing in a tent however! We will operate in the “Home” category, using my station. In recognition of the emergency preparedness aspect of the event however, we will power the equipment with a generator.

Winter Field Day will start at 1500 (3 PM) Saturday 28 January, and will finish up at 1500 the next day. All modes are permissible, so we need voice, CW and digital operators. If you would like to take part in the event, or simply want to drop by to see how Amateur Radio works, please contact me and I’ll fit you into the operating schedule.

This is a low intensity, relaxed contest, so there is no need to feel intimidated. I’ll have snacks and refreshments for those who drop by.
73
Al
VO1NO / VA1AVR

Basic Course in Annapolis Royal

Well – that was a fantastic start to the Basic Course in Annapolis Royal today! Nine students, with several more to join us next time. What’s more, they were motivated, quick to catch on to new concepts, and very sharp – a pleasure to teach! We covered the first 3 chapters of the Study Guide, and then spent an hour hooking up circuits in the Physics Lab. I think we’ll have a bunch of new hams in a few month’s time!