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!

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


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

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!

Annapolis Royal Space Agency

AVARC has received a request from the Annapolis Royal Space Agency for assistance with their next high altitude balloon project. Doug and I met with them today to discuss the part that Amateur Radio might play. We were really impressed with their enthusiasm, and look forward to working with them! Assistance right now will consist mainly of technical advice, but we’ll need club members to help with tracking and chasing the balloon when launch day arrives.