Welcome to the Wonderful World of Amateur Radio!

Local clubs offer Ham Radio Course

Would you like to talk to astronauts in the International Space Station?  Make friends around the world?  Build electronic projects?  Assist your community in times of disaster?  Keep in touch when traveling off the beaten path?  If so, then welcome to wonderful world of Amateur Radio!

Round Island 2018
Upper Canard resident Fred Archibald operating his portable station from the remote Round Island in the Aleutian Islands chain off Alaska in the summer of 2018.

Amateur Radio operators, also known as “hams”, are licensed by the Federal Government to communicate with similarly authorized enthusiasts in almost every country in the world.  They come from all walks of life – from the teenager next door, to people you know at work, to Nobel Prize winning scientists, astronauts, and famous entertainers.  They all share a love for the magic of radio!

Hams use a variety of methods to communicate.  The oldest is Morse code, known as CW.  It is still commonly heard on the air, but don’t worry – it is no longer a requirement to obtain your Amateur Radio Certificate.  We also use a variety of voice modes, including digital voice protocols, various image transmission techniques, and an ever-increasing number of keyboard-to-keyboard modes.

Raising Antenna
Local hams prepare to raise antennas capable of worldwide communications as part of an emergency preparedness exercise.

Signals travel worldwide using many different techniques.  We reflect radio waves off the upper atmosphere using shortwaves, relay signals through terrestrial and satellite repeaters, chat with astronauts in the ISS, reflect transmissions off the trails left by meteors, and even bounce signals off the Moon.  If there is a way to get a message through, Amateur Radio operators will find it!

Experimenting has been a key component of Amateur Radio from the earliest days of radio itself.  Hams have been responsible for key discoveries in signal propagation, ionospheric research, antenna design, electronic principles, and satellite communications.  There is still a lot to learn however, and Amateurs continue to make significant contributions to science.

Another vital aspect of Amateur Radio is emergency communications.  Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes – whatever the disaster, hams enable emergency officials to request assistance and coordinate their response when the regular communications systems are not working.  We are able to set up radio networks that do not rely on fixed infrastructure, and that can be powered with home generators, solar panels and batteries.  This capability has been a lifesaver in countless disasters.

Intense concentration in the Communications Trailer during the annual Field Day emergency preparedness exercise.

The Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club and the Kings County Amateur Radio Club will offer a course for those interested in obtaining their Amateur Radio Certificate.  The course will start at 6:30 PM on Thursday 27 February at the Kentville Volunteer Fire Department.  Classes will be held Thursday evenings until May, with two Saturday sessions for some of the more involved topics.  There will be a small fee to cover expenses, and students will be required to obtain the recommended textbook.  Membership in both clubs will be free for those following the course.  Students will also have the opportunity to conduct further training (at no expense) that will prepare them to provide emergency communications in time of disaster.

If you are fascinated by the magic of radio and want to join the fun, then let us know.  Contact Al Penney at alphonsepenney@gmail.com to learn how to obtain your Amateur Radio Certificate!

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.

Continue reading

2018 Field Day Results

The 2018 Field Day results have been published.  The combined Kings County / Annapolis Valley ARC entry was NUMBER ONE in all of Canada in any category, with 1892 QSOs and a score of 6448!  Overall we were 131 of 2902 participants.

These are excellent results, and clearly show the benefits of two clubs working together to provide emergency communications support.   Well done to all those who took part!

73
Al, VO1NO

Field Day 2018

Field Day is this upcoming weekend!  This year, AVARC will conduct a joint Field Day with the Kings County Amateur Radio Club (KCARC).  With the recent emphasis on emergency communications by both clubs, collaborating for Field Day will enhance our ability to work together in an actual disaster.

Dates and Times:
Field Day will take place on the weekend of 23/24 June 2018.  Setup will start at 1500 Friday afternoon.  The operating part of Field Day starts at 1500 Saturday and continues for 24 hours.  We will then tear down and return home.

Location:
Field Day will take place in the sports field next to the water tower in Port Williams.  Enter 227 Collins Road Port Williams in your GPS, and you’ll get within spitting distance of the location.

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, making QSOs in an efficient manner, and working with fellow hams from KCARC.  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 and KCARC 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 VE1LD.

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.  The GOTA station will use the callsign VA1AVR.

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 6M SSB station and a satellite station.  They will use the VE1LD 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:

THEM: CQ Field Day.  This is Kilo Seven Uniform Mike.

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

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

US: 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 is 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)

GOTA station bonuses

Use of Social Media

Submitting our report online, and

Youth participation.

Food services:
Most meals will be your own responsibility.  You can bring a lunch, or take advantage of restaurants in Port Williams or New Minas.  We will probably buy pizza for supper Saturday.  Those who wish to take part in that will be asked to chip in for the purchase.

Miscellaneous:
Toilets – We will have access to port-a-potty toilets.

Water – There is a tap with potable water at the site.

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

Insurance – KCARC is covering liability insurance for the weekend.  I’m sure that donations to the club’s account would be appreciated.

Security – There are security cameras at the location.

Don’t forget to bring work gloves, sturdy shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent!

Requirements:
Most of the equipment requirements have been taken care of. We need people for setup, teardown and operating however!  Please come out to support your club, to learn something new, to gain experience operating in emergency situations, and to have FUN!

Conclusion:
Field Day 2018 promises to be a fantastic occasion!  We will have effective stations, efficient antennas, an excellent location, and great company.  You do not need to be a member of AVARC or KCARC to take part – everyone is welcome.  I hope to see you all there!

73
Al Penney
VO1NO
AVARC Field Day Coordinator

Emergency Preparedness Week 2018

Kings County, NS – May 6 – 12, 2018 is recognized in Kings County as Emergency Preparedness Week. This is an annual event that takes place each year during the first full week of May, and this year’s theme is “Be Emergency Ready.”

Read the REMO Emergency Preparedness Week Press Release Here

For more information on preparing a Home Emergency Plan, and to learn how to prepare for all types of emergencies, visit www.GetPrepared.gc.ca or follow @REMO_KingsCty on Twitter.

AVARC Field Day 2018

Hello everyone,

Well, the snow is gone, and the days are getting both warmer and longer, so it’s time to start thinking about Field Day!

Field Day 2018 will take place on the weekend of 23 – 24 June.  This year AVARC will conduct a joint Field Day with the Kings County Amateur Radio Club (KCARC).  With the resources of both clubs available for the event, we should be able to properly man all stations for the weekend.  More importantly, a joint Field Day will promote cooperation between the two clubs, something that will pay dividends should Amateurs be called upon to provide communications in an emergency.

AVARC will provide a complete HF station, as well as a VHF/satellite station.  The location is the sports field near the water tank off Collins Road in Port Williams.  Details are yet to be worked out, but be sure to mark 23 – 24 June in your calendars!

73
Al
VO1NO

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

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

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).