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.


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!


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:

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


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!


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!  


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!

Al Penney
AVARC Field Day Coordinator