AVARC 2018 Year in Review

Hello everyone,

With the last day of 2018 about to enter the history books, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look back at what AVARC has accomplished this year, and give a preview of what’s coming up in 2019.

The highlight of the year was undoubtedly Field Day.   AVARC partnered with the Kings County ARC in a joint effort that generated 1,892 QSOs, and 6,448 points.  This was good for first place in not just our 2A category, but the top score in Canada in any category!  It was also an excellent example of what two relatively small clubs can accomplish when they work together.

Once again this year AVARC assisted high schools with high altitude balloon experiments.  We provided advice to the NE Kings Education Center in Canning to help them get their balloon project started.  We played a much greater role with the Annapolis Royal Space Agency’s third balloon launch in June.  AVARC provided the expertise to install an APRS beacon and associated antenna in the payload.  To ensure reliable APRS coverage, AVARC also set up an APRS Internet gateway in Annapolis Royal.  The overall system worked so well that the balloon was tracked in real time throughout its flight, and the ground crews recovered the payload within 5 minutes of touchdown near Bridgewater.

Speaking of APRS, when it was noted that the APRS Internet gateway in Greenwood was down this past summer, AVARC quickly filled the gap with a temporary station until the regular gateway was put back into service.

AVARC conducted an Emergency Communications Course in early June.   The course covered voice and net procedures, message handling, EMO organization, and personal preparedness, and finished with a practice net passing exercise traffic.  More operators need to be trained of course, but this was a big step forward in emergency preparedness for Amateurs in the Valley.

Members of AVARC played important roles in planning and executing the annual Symposium for Maritime Amateur Radio Technicians (SMART), held in Springhill in April, including delivering presentations.  Many more AVARC members attended the symposium, and benefited from the excellent talks.

AVARC continued to promote education.  We added to our already extensive collection of Basic Exam study material on our website with a number of files from Geoff Smith, VA3GS, one of the authors of the Basic Study Guide.  We also added some of the presentations delivered at the SMART symposium, and the lesson plans used for the Emergency Communications Course.  Several exams were given, and we have new Basic and even an Advanced operator in our ranks.  Of course, members of AVARC were always available to assist people with questions, antenna work, and even equipment repairs.

Activity continues to grow on our Facebook page, with 116 members.   We post educational topics, links to interesting articles, funny memes, quizzes, and information of use to Amateurs in the Valley and elsewhere.   Members are always able to find answers to their questions.

While AVARC doesn’t hold regular meetings, we do occasionally get together for breakfast.  Three such social outings were held over the past year, each open to family and friends, and where radio was not the only topic of discussion!

Members of AVARC are playing important roles in the organization and administration of Amateur Radio on a provincial, national and even international level.  We administer several websites and Facebook groups, assist with the Canadian National Parks On The Air (CNPOTA) program, and conduct band planning through RAC and the IARU.  We have members who activate lighthouses, participate in the Regional EMO system, and travel to small islands on DX’peditions.  The breadth of knowledge of our members is quite remarkable!

AVARC has a busy year planned for 2019.  Another balloon launch is scheduled in the Spring.   Members are already working on the SMART symposium.  We may conduct a Basic Course if there is enough interest, and another Emergency Communications Course will be scheduled.  We will definitely take part in Field Day.   A few new activities are in the planning stages.  We are working on developing the capability to use Winlink to support emergency communications.  In fact, several members will travel to Halifax in a few weeks to take part in a Winlink training course.  We may activate a National Park as part of the CNPOTA, and we may even organize a grid expedition for a VHF/UHF contest.

AVARC is not a conventional club.  As a “virtual club” we do not hold regular meetings, have a constitution, collect dues etc.  That certainly does not mean that we don’t do anything however – our activities over the past year are proof of that!   It is interesting to note that virtual clubs seem to be catching on in Amateur Radio.  I spoke to former ARRL CEO David Sumner K1ZZ a few months ago, and learned that it is a concept that is being investigated in the USA.  It looks like AVARC may be a trendsetter!

Happy New Year!   Let’s be careful out there!

73 de Al, VO1NO