Here is your AVRAC newsletter, d' uncle Tom, VO1TV, Secretary d'AVRAC. This is the 9th AVRAC newsletter as befits the month of September.
We next meet this coming Wednesday, September 18 at 8 PM at the Red Cross on Majors Path in St. John's. As usual, talk in will be on VO1NTV-VHF.
Our first order of business is to note the passing of one of our founding members of the club: Lenny,VO1YS/KBN passed away at the end of August. Lenny was exceptionally talented when it came to putting up towers and making metal parts to fit almost any situation. I could listen for hours as he and his buddies chatted away in the night about old times around the Avalon. Lenny's obituary is printed below, and for the benefit of those who might not be aware, "Mister scruffy" refers to Lenny's dog of many years and much loyalty. Rest in peace,OM
Our next order of business concerns getting the DMR repeater working a bit better. For those who have obtained a Motorola portable radio requiring special programming, please bring your radios into this meeting as Matt will be reprogramming them all to match the new repeater located on the Rogers tower. I have also asked Matt to install the Air Canada DMR frequency as it is an amusing listen, at least here in the Valley of St. John's. So get your batteries charged up and ready to receive some new programming, come Wednesday night.
VO1UHF 443.400+ DMR and D-STAR
VO1TZ 145.090+ C4FM and Analog
At our last meeting, one of our members (Loren-VO1OE) indicated he instructed the Red Crossers on how to use the Red Cross portable radios for Regatta. There were a dozen kids lost....busy year....and at one time we had 3 lost at the same time, but the event went well. The plan is to activate the Red Cross repeater VDU 408 on the Red Cross roof, it being as good a location is any in the St. John's Valley.
In discussing the reinstallation of the vertical, all parts are now available, and at the Red Cross but there was agreement amongst the roof installment crew that it would be useless to put up the vertical without having permanent fittings arranged on the rooftop to tie it down. The feeling expressed was that it was inevitable for the roof bricks to move on the roof and for the same damage to recur to the antenna as we have just suffered. So the next task will be to figure out the best way to attach ropes to the roof edges.
VO1TZ is active again on the VHF frequency of 145.090+. The boys to the west of the city can hit it very easily but it does not hear well to the East End. Comes in at 10 over, but try hitting it from the East... Whatever plagued the old D-STAR system on the VHF side still plagues the analog part of VO1TZ.
We note the passing of one of our founding members of the club: Lenny, VO1YS/VO1KBN passed away at the end of August. Lenny was exceptionally talented when it came to putting up towers and making metal parts to fit almost any situation. I could listen for hours as he and his buddies chatted away in the night about old times around the Avalon. Lenny's obituary is printed below, and for the benefit of those who might not be aware, "Mister scruffy" refers to Lenny's dog of many years and much loyalty. Rest in peace,OM
Obituary for Leonard (Len) Lewis Starkes
Passed peacefully away on Friday August 30, 2019 with dignity and grace. He’s now gone over the rainbow bridge to be reunited
with his special loyal friend Mr. Scruffy. Predeceased by his mother and father Neta (nee: Blackwood) and Percy Starkes. Leaving to mourn his
daughters Lisa King, son-in-law Michael, Tanya Hunt, son-in-law Carson, Donna Starkes and Denise Humber; grandchildren Hannah, Brooklyn,
Rylen, and Cooper, Faith and Brianna, Christian, Nicholle, and Madison; great-grandchildren Keegan and Sophia, and special Blackwood family members.
Special thanks to Dad’s dear friends Margie and Don Payne and Dave Porter for their endless love, support, and respect,
his many friends and advocates at Empower, and Dad’s special friend Laine Woodfine who helped him with such understanding and empathy.
Special thanks as well to all the nurses and staff from 2 North at the Miller Centre. Thank you to all who visited Dad for chats
or to drop off goodies, magazines and books to keep him occupied throughout his journey. Dad also says a final 73 to all his amateur radio buddies.
- VO1KBN/ VO1YS (SK)
Here are your AVRAC newsletter, number 8 as befits the month of August. De Tom, Secretary D'AVRAC...
First we next meet this coming Wednesday night, August 21st at the Red Cross building on Majors Path at 8 PM. Talk-in will be on NTV-VHF, as usual.
At our last meeting, it was agreed that Matt would talk to the Red Cross about getting its industry Canada accounts up to date. This has been done so the simplex frequency and VDU 408 are back in business.
I plan to bring my big fan to the meeting as the long-range forecast calls for 25̊ weather and the building can become an oven in the evening. It came in real handy during our July meeting.
The big news from last month's meeting is that Fire and Emergency services together with SONRA are moving very close to us in a complex located behind the Colonial Garage building on Majors Path. That may prove to be very handy in times of trouble, since, if I recall correctly, Newfoundland Power has Majors Path as a high priority electricity restoration listing due to the medical facilities located in the area of the Red Cross.
Matt had to leave early, last July, as he was on-call and one of his transmitters blew off the air. Chris, VO1IDX, was unable to attend and he still has the replacement tube for the Hustler vertical antenna as well as the mating antenna section in his possession. I have received a big tube of antioxidant compound from Amazon and have refurbished the bottom section of the mast. I also reamed out all the hardware so that it now installs using finger pressure. One of the boys mentioned having access to good strong welding clamps to hold the mast in place while it is being checked for SWR to speed up the adjusting process when that is done. Clamping the mast to the mounting pole is the only way to preserve sanity if you have to take the mast up and down a dozen times for adjustment.
I also brought the new section for the top of the mast which covers the 80 m band which now sits in the radio room awaiting its day in the sun. I will bring along my toolkit in case we want to assemble the mast in rough form at our meeting.
Matt revealed the plan for the VO1UHF DMR repeater at our last meeting. With a few adjustments, it is hoped that it will live on the Rogers tower using the UHF antenna. Apparently unlike the VHF antenna, the UHF antenna is in the clear on the Rogers tower and should provide good coverage if we get our Internet connection up and running that we had for D star. The UHF frequency will change when it is installed.
Matt also revealed that the NTV UHF transmitter atop the NTV tower is running at only 5 W with a very long squelch tail so it will need some work, eventually. It was also revealed that VO1TNG is now on the air at Terra Nova in analog mode at 147.600 with a minus offset. Also on the repeater scene is a new DMR repeater which will be run by Chris, VO1IDX. That will make another gateway into the system. So, there are some new things on the go and dull moments are not what we got.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter, number 7 of the year as befits the month of July 2019. d'VO1TV, Secretary d'AVRAC.
First, we next meet this coming Wednesday night July 17 at 8 PM at the Red Cross. Our meeting place is the Red Cross on Majors Path and talk-in will be on VO1TV-VHF..
Our first point of interest is that VO1UHF is off the air. This is the DMR digital repeater linked into the Internet and the Brandmeister system. The machine has been down for a couple of months and it was replaced by Doug, and Rodney up at the NTV site with an analog UHF repeater on the same frequency. That is to say 444.600 with a plus offset. I have kerchunked the machine several times and I get five bars back on my big stick antenna, which indicates a very low output. The call sign of the analog repeater is NTV-UHF.
At our last meeting, we were able to get the bent Hustler antenna off the roof and examine it. We were fortunate to discover that the bent tube is standard 1 inch aluminum and Chris, VO1IDX has replacement tubing as well as some Penetrox to put the thing back together. I have ordered some antioxidant myself for club use which is somewhere on the continent as I type. We also noticed that the upper 80 m coil on the antenna was damaged beyond repair. Fortunately, a replacement was quickly available from Radioworld for only 80 bucks, so I now have that and will bring it to the meeting.
While we were disassembling the mast to get it upstairs, one of the covers of the coils came down revealing the condition of the coil. We noticed how clean it was but there was a very clear black patch where there had been some arcing. We need to strip the antenna down to its coils to have a look for more evidence of arcing before we put it all together. I could be wrong, but the antenna may have been subjected to some high power at one time in its life.
Mike, VO1AX thinks we should only run it at 400 watts, when we have power available to respect the fact the antenna is a compromise on many levels. Those who are part of our HF team should bring their toolkits for Wednesday night so that we can collectively work on the antenna from the comfort of the Red Cross garage. The plan is to do some work on the antenna after a short AVRAC meeting.
We hope to be able to set up a timetable for installation of the vertical together with time-consuming adjustments on the roof at this coming meeting.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter, number 6 of the year as befits June month. By VO1TV, uncle Tom, Secretary d'AVRAC..
First, we meet this coming Wednesday night on June 19th at the Canadian Red Cross building on majors path at 8 PM. As usual, talk-in will be on NTV-VHF, 147.060 MHz (with a negative offset).
At our last club at meeting, we took some pictures of our damaged vertical antenna. The antenna has collapsed to the West with a sharp bend in the lower mast and the upper coil slightly damaged. Discussion on the situation reveals that the antenna can be fixed but Matt VO1EI suggests we guy it down extra strong so that this never happens again.
At our post-meeting gathering at Tim Horton's, we talked about what could have caused the blow down and there was another picture produced showing that the Eastern rope holding the antenna straight was attached to only 1 cinder block. I had no idea this was the case or I would have said something, frankly, but it is the weak point which gave way. To remind you, we had a lot of ice for 48 hours with relatively little wind but there was at least an inch of ice on the roof and if that brick was hoisted a few millimeters onto the ice by the wind, it would have no friction value whatsoever and so the antenna would topple over to the West. We had an east wind during that ice event and it caught our antenna at its weakest point. We still need to get the antenna down and come up with a workable plan to strengthen it and get it running.
Believe it or not the antenna still works! I was able to tune it up on 80 m while it lies flat against the roof. I could hear stations in the background as well.
Matt advised that he has heard that CBC will be shutting down its a.m. transmitters in the future and be going all FM. He also advised that Brand meister wanted an Atlantic Canada representative to keep an eye on the DMR linking and selected himself as the master-Brand meister controller for Atlantic Canada. We held our applause until we can figure out if this is a good thing or not..HI… We were invited to help out with SONRA and the MS walk coming up later in the month. Also, the topic of field day was raised with indications that few are interested in becoming involved in the event.
Here are your AVRAC bulletin, number 5 of the year as befits the month of May.. D’uncle Tom, Secretary d’AVRAC.
First, we next meet this coming Wednesday night… I say again, this coming Wednesday night, 15th of May. Our meeting time will be 8 PM, 20:00 hrs. at the Red Cross on Majors Path.
As pointed out in a separate note via email, we have reverted to our third Wednesday of the month meeting time.. This was decided by unanimous vote.
One of our first items for our meeting will take place outdoors when we have a look at the fallen roof antenna. A message to all of those guys who go up on the roof, do take pictures of exactly what you see. We have to reconstruct this accident from pictures and we need to see what role if any the ropes played.
As I mentioned in a note regarding our new meeting day, our vertical antenna has collapsed on the roof and is cracked at the bottom. We don’t know if it is recoverable or not at this stage, but we do know that the Red Cross location is great for HF but it also kills HF antennae. We have lost four antennae over my time at Majors Path: the wire Barker and Williamson folded dipole, the StepIR beam, a Ringo Ranger, and now the Hustler vertical.
At our last meeting we had our election of officers and there have been some changes:
Matt, VO1EI is still our President
Don,VO1XH remains as vice president
Keith, VO1KTF is the treasurer
Myself, uncle Tom VO1TV, remains as Secretary but I have given up activities with the Red Cross and the City due to health limitations
Mike, VO1AX , is now the keyholder and is a director. He also continues to rule the HF shack at VO1CRC
Steve, VO1SMC is also a director.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for April, AVRAC 04.19 prepared by me, Uncle Tom, VO1TV, Secretary d’AVRAC.
First we meet soon on WEDNESDAY evening April 17 at 8PM at the Red Cross. Weather permitting. There is a nasty WX system switching between spring and winter in our area. We won’t meet in snow storms, but blustery weather is not a problem.
As indicated in my last AVRAC note, we meet this Wednesday, as Thursday is the day before the Good Friday holiday and attendance would suffer..
At the upcoming meeting, we will take a vote to see if we move back to Wednesday night meetings.. Feelings at our last meeting indicated a general favourable opinion of changing our meeting night back to Wednesday...
If you missed our last meeting, it was dues night, so if you can, please bring along a $20 for deposit into our account.
Do check out the ARRL item on the upcoming sunspot cycle.. The bottom line: The experts believe it will not be worse than the last cycle..which is actually good news for HF fans...
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for March, number 3 of 2019. Produced by Uncle Tom, VO1TV
First, we meet this coming Thursday night at the Red Cross at 8 PM at Majors Path. It is our first meeting in daylight savings time. The temperatures are expected to be around freezing, which is pretty normal for March. You know the Newfoundland motto: "Any weather I don't have to shovel is good!"
This meeting will be our dues night, so please bring a $20 bill with you so we can keep our bank account in the positive line.
Our last meeting was fairly short, just updating a few things that are in the works. Most stuff must await the spring melt-up and open roads to transmitters and the like.
Matt programmed five Motorola mobile units for use by the Red Cross. These radios were donated as used and now have frequencies allowing the Red Cross to work on the island. Included is the inter-operations frequency, 149.080. I have this frequency on my own scanner and it is almost completely silent 365 days per year, so it is an ideal frequency for different agencies to communicate with each other during simulations and real emergencies.
We were informed that Joe Earle, VO1BQ, is the new license plate manager for auto-mobiles.
Our April Thursday meeting would be April 18...Yes, the night before Good Friday.. We could probably meet in the electrical room as 1/2 of St John's will be somewhere else. So I suggest we meet on April 17th - a Wednesday. We might want to consider moving our meeting night back to the third Wednesday of the month. Attendance may well improve since our move to Thursday nights has been underwhelming..
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for February prepared by me, Uncle Tom, VO1TV...
First, we next meet this coming Thursday night at 8PM at the Red Cross on Major's Path.
At our January meeting, we summed up our business in short order. There was insufficient interest in hosting the girl guide hf operation scheduled for this winter, so they were informed we could not assist.
By popular demand, the old, powerful 2 meter repeater was placed back on the air as NTV-VHF. Some found the newer Yaesu repeater to have less coverage , so it is now the subject of relocation plans..
This article on p-25 was located by Don, VO1XH... It's a good read, aimed at police purchasing-authorities..
How to buy Project 25 radio
This gem comes from Lorne , VO1OE ...
Army veteran, 54, who crawled across a rocky beach for two hours after breaking his leg was saved by exchanging Morse code signals with his wife using his TORCH (Flashlight)
Here is a great film Matt VO1EI found. It's 20 minutes of building a phone line across Newfoundland by locals
and the Army corps of Engineers.. In colour too! S real surprise.. That cost some bucks...
Newfoundland Long Lines - This is the story of the first telephone cables being placed across the province. Made in 1942 by the US Army.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for January of 2019, d'uncle Tom, VO1TV, Secretary d'AVRAC.
First we next meet this coming Thursday at Majors Path at the Red Cross building at 8 PM. Our talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF.First, we next meet this coming week on Thursday January 17 at 8PM at the Red Cross on Major's Path. The weather looks to be good for the day.
Our last meeting was in November, with our Christmas dinner comprising our December meeting.
A big "well done" to VO1COD , Dave Parsons, in Carbonear. Dave hosted a 5 minute segment on CBC's Hear and Now TV news about Amateur radio. Using his modern Yaesu HF rig, he talked with a few guys and demonstrated what CW sounded like and digital modes as well. All using wire antenna on his ocean-view lot. It was informative, friendly, and not too much information. A good, solid job. And , in this digital age, his HF signal did not QRM the video camera as I have seen through wincing eyes in the past. Very Fine Business, a couple of weeks ago.
Our Christmas party in the snow was a success according to Don, VO1XH. I chickened out when the weather closed in. About a dozen souls chowed down at Kelsey's on Kenmount road. The party broke up about 9PM . The weather was pretty bad around that time, so I made the best of my bowel of gruel at home...
Here are your AVRAC newsletter, number 11, as the months go by. de Tom, VO1TV, secretary d’AVRAC.
First we next meet this coming Thursday at Majors Path at the Red Cross building at 8 PM. Our talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF.
This will be our Christmas party preparation meeting wherein we will select a fine eatery for our party in December.
Our last meeting was fairly short as a number of people had other engagements, including Matt, our President. The assembled amateurs did suggest doing something useful with our Yaesu C4FM repeater... Its suggested new home was the Rogers tower and the UHF antenna that used to be running D-STAR. Rick, VO1TZ assured us that operation on the Rogers tower UHF side was very good and much more reliable than the VHF side.. The proposal would be to run the repeater with no Internet or linking connections and have it available as analog or C4 FM digital. Again, big thanks to Mike, VO1AX, for retrieving the repeater when the VO1EN project evaporated.
We received another gift of complete repeater systems which were running in the business spectrum. I believe we had now have three MSR 2000 analog repeaters to play with. They were operating in the 160 MHz area.
I just checked Eddie's forecast on NTV and he is concerned about a nasty weather bomb that's going to blow up North of the Avalon. It's possible we could have a weather bomb with winds peaking at 140 km/h. That's 80 miles an hour and change.... and that is going to do a lot of damage and could easily become “dark NL number two”. We still have time to get supplies... Tuesday etc.… See you Thursday!
Here are your AVRAC newsletter d'uncle Tom, VO1TV.. This is the 10th newsletter of the year as befits the 10th month, October.
We next meet this week on Thursday night at 8 PM at the Red Cross building on Majors Path in St. John's. Talk-in will be on NTV – VHF.
Thursday should be a very interesting day… I expect to hear thumping from walls and trees in the woods… Lost souls banging their heads… Perhaps some weeping and wailing as well. Think of all those folks who predicted the legalized sale of marijuana would cause the stars to fall from the sky, complete disorder in traffic and biblical constipation… To discover they were wrong must come as a shock… Well, that's smoke in their face, HI!
At our last meeting, it was revealed that the folks behind the Electronic Center who own the facilities at the old VO1BT telephone pole on the Southside Hills were no longer willing to allow hams at the site. Thus the VO1EN restoration project is dead. The club wants its gear returned, and Mike, VO1AX, already has our Yaesu repeater in his possession. Well done, sir.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter, d'uncle Tom, VO1TV, Secretary d'AVRAC. This is the ninth newsletter of the season corresponding to September month.
We next meet this week on Thursday night at 8 PM at the Red Cross building on Majors Path in St. John's. Talk-in will be on NTV – VHF.
At our last meeting, we had our annual barbecue at the Red Cross building in the garage. Matt did the honours as chef-de-cuisine and a good time was had by all. My thanks to Matt for assuming this responsibility which does involve a fair amount of running around and planning.
At our upcoming meeting, one of our topics will centre around the potential VO1EN project or lack thereof. Traffic behind the scenes indicates the project is "no joy", so there will probably be a discussion on what equipment should be installed and where, in the remaining construction season that we have before winter. Additionally, we need about a one-hour session on the Red Cross roof in daylight to install rubber hose around the ropes that hold down the vertical antenna where they wrap around the concrete blocks that keeps the antenna stable. A couple of able-bodied roof workers should be able to make short work of that before the snow flies.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter d'uncle Tom, vo1tv, Secretary d' AVRAC
First, we next meet this coming Thursday, the 16 August. We will meet around 7:30 PM-ish or 19:30-ish in order to partake of our annual barbecue and get together near the Red Cross garage. We usually have a short meeting after we chow down. This may be the last warm evening of the year.
Our regular Chuck wagon master, Geoff, is busy building a barn for the chuck wagon. It is reputed to be of epic proportions and variously named "Taj Mahal 2" or "Geoff's garage and bulldog Emporium". This year, Matt, VO1EI, is willing to be our burger flipper and sausage roller in chief and to make with the barbecue. Matt would like to know how many souls are coming to the barbecue and if they will be bringing something to help with the barbecue. So please RSVP to Matt - email@example.com
Typical barbecue supplies include sausages, hot dogs, burgers, chicken wings, sauces, plastic wrap, tin foil, plates and cups and cutlery, various plates of cold salad, tons of soft drinks- which I will supply myself (tv), homemade specialty dishes, paper towels etc. Give Matt an email if you plan to attend and what you intend to bring. A big thank you to Matt for undertaking this gastronomic smoke fest. Note that by Red Cross rules, all such use of their property must be alcohol-free.
At our last meeting the club approved the purchase of an Arrow satellite antenna. This is a handheld antenna designed to chase down orbiting satellites whose orbits over our location are available by Internet and cell phone. Matt was quite impressed with the demonstration of the unit during field day.
The 200th running of the Royal St. John's Regatta, well that was interesting…
A few children were separated and reunited with their parents but the hot day was more pronounced by the lineups of ambulances meeting at the St. John ambulance designated position. The highlight of the afternoon was a gentleman with chest pains given comfort by the Red Cross volunteers until the St. John ambulance people quickly came and rendered support. It took 45 minutes to an hour for the Eastern Health ambulance to evacuate the patient and it caused the disruption of our ability to handle traffic as the emergency vehicles were parked right at the rear of the Red Cross Erv, and personnel were distracted.
On the technical side, there may be a problem with the Yaesu console rig which has to be checked out in the near future. We operated from both the cabin of the Erv and from the front seat. The city never did use the interoperation frequency and I suspect it is labeled in such a way in the "Garage queen" that they don't know what it is. The city did have a Red Cross radio with a fresh set of hard batteries in it which worked all day and very well. The hard battery pack is a very effective tool for those ICOM radios. The rechargeable batteries are all at least five or six years of age and we lost 2 to age this year.
On the amusing side of things, the brand-new Red Cross tent collapsed with broken metal pieces leaving Aaron sitting in a chair in the sun ( no kids injured)… Jackson wondered if we should start referring to this position as "chair" instead of tent. A spare tent was brought down from the Red Cross building and erected within an hour. "calling Mr. Chairman" takes on a whole new meaning..
Your AVRAC newsletter, the seventh of the year, from Uncle Tom, VO1TV .
First, we next meet this THURSDAY at 8pm (20:00 hrs) July 19, at the Red Cross on Major's Path. Since we moved our meeting night to Thursday, the large meeting room may be in use by the Red Cross, so we will use the smaller (and cooler) old meeting room in that eventuality. If push comes to shove, we can always meet in the garage as there are tables and chairs stored out there. Talk-in will be on NTV-VHF. If you come late and can't see us in the main meeting room, go around the building and knock on the window of the old meeting room, which is next to the kitchen.
Attached is a picture of the big tower just put up on Kenmount hill for VOAR.. Here is some station history provided by VO1XH
So this coming weekend is Field Day and I will attach notes from Chris, VO1IDX, showing the rough breakdown of the operation and operating times. Everyone knows band conditions have been lousy but you never know how lucky we can get if the noise floor is low, which it may be at Pippy Park.
Without further ado, here are some new notes from Chris regarding field day:
Thank you Tom for sharing that article with us,I was unaware that VOAR were vacating medium wave AM and going to FM. So,they will be no longer on 1210 KHz? Those two medium wave towers next door to the Anglican Cemetery on Kenmount Road will be coming down? [yep]
I remember when they had the original single tower in The Seventh Day Adventist church yard on Freshwater Road, it became unstable after about 30 + years and it was taken down in the mid 1980's and they were given temporary space at the old CJON/ CJYQ .930 (kHz) site on Groves Road,they were multi-coupled with CJYQ .930 kHz until the land on Kenmount Road was acquired and the two new towers were erected around 1992.
VOAR is I believe is the second oldest radio station in Newfoundland, originally,it was operated by the late Oscar Herlihy, VO1DI, who explained its origin around 1930 in his book, "MEMOIRS OF A RADIO AND TV PIONEER IN NEWFOUNDLAND."
I was fortunate in obtaining a copy of Oscars book for Christmas 1995. Oscar became a silent Key in December of 1997. Oscar was approached by the Seventh Day Adventist clergy to build and operate VOAR around 1930,and operated it until he left to go to work for The Avalon Telephone Company after about 2 years.
Those of us who watch the weather are fans of the YYT airport cam on bridge #4. At night, you can tell how bad the fog is by the colour of the lights you can see. If you can't even see the yellow "4" sign, rest assured nothing is taking off or landing... Well progress has caught up with the airport - the new expansion has added many bridges to YYT. No more shall we hear Air Canada searching for a bridge to plunk a plane. I believe they may have 9 bridges now, from a publicity picture. And existing bridges have been renumbered. Say goodbye to the Bridge "4" camera... Same bridge, but it is now #6. Long may ye be seen on screens around the world..
Out of the blue on a warm and Jeezly windy day,[ how else is it warm in St. John’s without a gale?? ] a fire got started in the woods behind Orlando Place on Kenmount hill.. That’s not that far from VOCM.. Long story short, as one resident said: If the wind had not shifted, it would have been another Fort MacMurray... Siding was melted and at least one deck burnt, but there were no pet or human casualties. The City pulled the pin and opened up a shelter with buses to the nearby church and the Salvation army and Red Cross was activated. Aaron and Jaxson saw the smoke and sprung into action assisting police and the Red Cross. People were told to evacuate immediately... This was a no-fooling, serious event that ended well. It was sharp and short. Kudos to Aaron and Jaxson for rallying to the Red Cross disaster team.
This year we wanted to do field day well with SONRA since it is AVRAC’S 25th anniversary. So a bunch of us met at the Red Cross a week beforehand with a view to assembling everything that would be used and testing everything. Rain, which was supposed to start at midnight came at about 19:30 hrs., but we had a plan B ready: one of the cars from the Red Cross was already out of the garage nearest the back lot so we had tons of room to work inside the Red Cross garage and set up antennas in the front parking lot. Not only did we have tables and chairs, but we had heat to keep us from freezing in the cool southerly wind. We had several power sources literally coming out of the ceiling on spools. It was an ideal test facility.
Everybody had brought their tool battleships with them, so we had just about everything imaginable. We also had tons of cable connectors and test gear. It was my first time at an amateur event where when someone called out for special chummy jigger, we had about three on hand! Equipment was repaired and tested, and connectors were installed on a mass production basis by VO1XH. I’m glad I brought my vise bench with me as it proved handy for holding parts for soldering.
It’s amazing what you learn assembling stuff ahead of time with lots of help, good lighting and access to every tool under the sun. I learned that my ancient Chush-Craft VHF beam had literally dissolved under the salt of our environment where a director fell apart inside my car. Talk about gear giving its last inch of service.
I saw a new piece of HF equipment in use that I had not seen before. Aaron, FOX, set to work wiring power into a device designed as an HF bandpass filter. Capable of taking 100 W, it was a serious filter to prevent interference where radios are grouped together, which is exactly what field day usually is. The device seemed to work surprisingly well despite a bit of a dirty switch. Contact cleaner! That’s what we didn’t have… I knew there is something I should have brought. ;-)
Now here is Chris’s report, the official chairman of the field day event.
Everyone was very enthusiastic about field day this year, and I think 2 clubs came together to put off what was a successful field day. Everyone showed up ahead of time on Saturday morning and we arrived early at Pippy Park. Park Staff already had our Port-a-Potty in place and a water line put out. We had a lot of hands making for very light work and everything was unpacked in record time. VO1CRP took the lead on traffic control and parking the trailers as they arrived. St. John's FES arrived first with the Mobile Command Unit for SONRA. VO1EI arrived a little later. We staged the FES trailer as the Operations Center with 1 CW station on VO1IDX's vertical at the rear, and a Phone SSB station at the front with VO1IRA's fan dipole, and VO1EI's trailer was the lounge. VO1MRK put off a great BBQ around lunch time, and we had a decent turn out of people help devour all the hot dogs and burgers.
Winds were too high to get the helium balloon in the air, but we will attempt to do this another day at another time, which I will keep everyone apprised of the opportunity to get it in the air when the wind is right. VO1WEB and myself attempted several times to catch some satellite scatter but either the sats were deaf, or they changed the uplink freq's because we got nothing come back to us. Strange, since we've both done Sats successfully every time we try. Still I would call the attempts a success, as we've inspired VO1EI to get himself an Arrow antenna and GOTA.
Very low noise floor at the site which was nice, Propagations we're deplorable during the daylight hours, but after dark 40m opened up and we made a few contacts. VO1WEB got on 40m and made a few contacts for his very first HF experience. He's hooked now I'm sure. Overall it seem like everyone enjoyed themselves, there was no conflict only a lot of laughs and a night I'll remember for a very long time.
Matt cooked Bacon, Eggs and Toast Sunday morning, donated by VO1IDX who attempted to give everyone high blood pressure with the very very salty bacon hihi, but everyone ate it anyway, sorry about that guys, first year smoking my own bacons, it will be better next year. Tear down went easy and everyone helped out again making our operation run smoothly.
Huge shout out to Mike's wife Annette for doing a lot of errand running for us and making sure we were all fed, that was absolutely awesome. And thanks to everyone who helped put this together, it showed me that teamwork does still exist and made me proud to be a part of this. Can't wait to see what we do next year.
de Chris Hillier vo1idx
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for June, AVRAC 06.2018 de Tom, VO1TV, Secretary d’AVRAC.
First, we meet this coming Thursday, June 21, at the Red Cross on Majors Path in St. John's. Our meeting takes place at 8 PM. Talk in will be on VO1NTV-VHF... And yes, it is on Thursday!
At our last meeting, our big discussion was about field day and how we should do something to mark AVRAC's 25th anniversary as club. Consensus was quickly reached that Pippy Park would be the best place to try for field day this year. Signal Hill has always been a lousy DX site which makes Marconi's achievement all the more remarkable!. Reading the mail on VHF, I gather there is a very high noise level on the Hill making HF operation anywhere on the Hill absolutely useless.
So this coming weekend is Field Day and I will attach notes from Chris, VO1IDX, showing the rough breakdown of the operation and operating times. Everyone knows band conditions have been lousy but you never know how lucky we can get if the noise floor is low, which it may be at Pippy Park.
Without further ado, here are some new notes from Chris regarding field day:
Field Day 2018 is but a week away, and I'm pleased to say this years event has the potential to be an epic one. This year SONRA will be teaming up with AVRAC again, joining them in celebrating their 25th Anniversary as a club. WOW, what a milestone. To commemorate the event we will be using a Special Event Call Sign which will be VD1A.
We will be operating 4A with 2 HF Stations (1 cw and 1 ssb phone), 1 VHF Station (Simplex) and 1 Satellite Station (FM and Linear). This year we decided to move away from Signal Hill, and will be holding the event at Pippy Park. We have been offered an area near the green houses.
Please see our schedule of events below, We encourage all HAMS and people interested in learning more about HAM radio to attend. We will be attempting to lift a random wire antenna with a helium filled weather balloon, and some other interesting stuff.
Hope to see you all there.
Chris Hillier\de vo1idx
At our last meeting I, VO1TV, asked for information about looking up frequencies directly from Industry Canada or whatever the agency is called this week. I was given the excellent advice that the Industry Canada website is very difficult to read; however, a private individual has taken on the task to provide a copy of the database, updated every couple of months. The web page https://tafl.mckie.ca also has some tips for how to scan the database and points out that some security frequencies are not made public by the government. (sigh....)
In the interest of completeness, I should also point out the webpage: https://www.radioreference.com which is an even easier-to-use database which is kept up-to-date by Matt, VO1EI, and others. RadioReference is your starting point for getting frequencies, as it is the easiest, then for the oddball stuff, you can try the Mckie webpage. Happy scanning, d'uncle Tom, VO1TV...
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for May, AVRAC 05.2018 de Tom, VO1TV, Secretary d’AVRAC.
First, we meet this Wednesday, May 16 at the Red Cross Major’s Path at 8PM/20:00 hrs in St John’s. This should be our last Wednesday night meeting, as we are tentatively to shift to THURSDAY night next month, June.
Our last meeting was eventful in itself. Mike, VO1AX, who agreed to be the club’s Treasurer, worked into Australia on 40 meters with a hundred watts. Not bad for a little vertical antenna on the roof that was supposed to be no good… Halfway around the world, which is maximum DX!
Speaking of the DX, we have a lovely plaque from the ARRL which is attached for your viewing pleasure in living color, where VO1CRC scored first place in the ARRL DX contest back in 2017… We have always known that the Red Cross station was a great HF spot. The problem with our location is that antenna stuff has to be built to extreme standards to withstand the salt and wind of Majors Path.
Check out Loren’s article in the Downhome magazine (LINK AVAILABLE BELOW "Atop..."). His pictures made it a natural for a local magazine. This was the SOTA HF operation run last year.
A recent event for our club was an invitation to attend a luncheon and awards ceremony for International Red Cross day. A nice gathering took place last week on Tuesday, May 8. Paul, VO1CRP and Mike VO1AX ran an HF special event station during the day and night. The equipment performed well, despite terrible band conditions. The success of the JT8 digital mode was very much demonstrated as being a beacon on steroids.
A rather important side story to the HF operation was the fact Bob Tipple, the volunteer building manager, invited me out to the locked shed where he thought some television antennas were stored, wondering if we knew anything about it. Guess where all our spare antennas were living?? It seems a bunch of students were hired during the summer to clean the place up and they decided to clean up our antennas. At least they didn’t throw them out...They stored them in the shed. Found were various VHF antennas and the UHF antenna that looks like a war club.
Further, Aaron took a good look around the top floor of the garage and asked me what was in the boxes marked “AVRAC” and sitting on the shelves? To which I replied “What effing...boxes!?” There they were, three boxes of our missing odds and ends properly labelled as belong to AVRAC, sitting on the shelves and even on the inventory list at the end of the shelving unit. Right under our noses for months. A rather eventful day..
The VO1EN installation will take time to complete. To climb the ancient shaky pole by the tank farm on the Southside Hills without a gale blowing is what is needed. Wheels are in motion attempting to try to get Internet access to the site so that the various planned repeaters will be linked to the Internet and to each other and to the various digital entities that are envisaged. It’s all good, but it will take time.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter, the fourth of the year for April month 2018 de Tom, VO1TV, Secretary of AVRAC.
We next meet this coming Wednesday night at 8 PM at the Red Cross on Majors Path. That's 18 April, and talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF.
The first item arising out of last month's meeting is the proposal to change our meeting night. Matt (VO1EI) had noticed that many people have functions scheduled on Wednesday night and thus cannot attend meetings. After throwing around alternate evenings, Thursday has been settled on as a potential new monthly meeting night, commencing June 2018. This topic is still open for discussion, so make your views known this coming Wednesday.
We had our election or appointment of officers at our last meeting and essentially nothing has changed. Matt (VO1EI) is still our president, Don (VO1XH) our vice-president, myself (Tom, VO1TV) the secretary and Loren (VO1OE) and Keith (VO1KTF) as directors. Matt said he would like to see someone take over the Treasurer's job if anyone is interested.
Mike, VO1AX, was appointed the official station manager of VO1CRC at our meeting. Additionally Loren and Aaron (VO1FOX) went on top of the roof and secured a loose rope holding down the vertical antenna. It had chafed on one of the bricks.
Eric, VO1SX, dropped by to indicate that he had paid the yearly web fee for the AVRAC homepage and he dropped off some VHF duplexers which he had hanging around for years. They will come in handy at the base of some tower someday. We were also informed that the VO1EN project on the Southside Hills will require some calm weather for pole climbing before the repeaters are blasting away at the old the VO1BT site.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for March, number 3 of the year, by Tom, VO1TV, Secretary d'AVRAC
We next meet at the Red Cross on Majors Path in St. John's at 8 PM on Wednesday, 21 March. Talk-in will be via NTV-VHF.
I, VO1TV, plan to be in attendance at the Red Cross about 45 minutes early, by 7:15 PM in order to allow a couple of volunteers to get on the roof and secure one of the ropes which has fallen off our vertical HF antenna. We believe the rope simply chafed through on the coarse concrete blocks that hold the ropes down, but we won't know the score until Wednesday.
Our first big news of the month confirms that our amateur radio course went off as planned and as result we have three new amateur radio operators:
Also Christian Alberto is planning to write the examination on Wednesday night and Larry Wall is planning to write the examination on April, during our club meeting. Thanks Matt, VO1EI, for a course well-taught! And thanks, Rick VO1ZX, for doing the testing.
At our last meeting on February 21 we got up to speed with what is going on around Metro and across the island in terms of radio news. It is believed that the DMR network will have an amateur radio repeater in Gander soon.
Mike, VO1AX, held an HF field day with the boys during the winter event and indicates that there was a lot of noise on the bands and that most of the contacts were made in CW mode. About 60 in number. We are at the bottom of the sunspot cycle so shouting into a microphone on HF is recommended....
Matt, VO1EI, our president, reminded us that March is usually our annual dues month. We have kept our dues at $20 per year since our first year of operation 25 years ago and so if you could pack a spare $20 bill to the meeting with you on Wednesday night it would be appreciated.
By the wayyy.. On a recent "this day in history" on NTV, mention was made of the great power failure of 1958 in St. John's when the US military used every generator it could get to operate within the city. I think this was the power failure when ham radio on HF was the only link from Nfld. to the outside world. And hams in St. John's did long service..https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dtrmlicoy11g6hk/AACy6Y_Yp0SZdZNbYoXZiNQNa?dl=0
Here are your AVRAC newsletter, #2 of the year produced by Uncle Tom, VO1TV, Secretary d’AVRAC
First, we meet this coming Wednesday at the Red Cross, February 21st at 8PM on Majors Path. Talk-in will be via NTV-VHF. It’s likely we will meet in the large meeting room given the size of our club...
And now a message from our Sponsor: The society for the preservation of older ham operators... This is a bad flu year with a killer strain.. If you have the flu. Please stay home out of it! Thank you..
Matt will probably be showing us his new DMR dual band handheld at our meeting. It puts out 10 watts on full power! eyup a 10 watt handheld! Now that’s one to try on an aircraft! Retevis ( China ) makes the Ailunce hd-1 . It’s hot off the assembly line. This radio is no flung-dung, according to Matt. The quality of Chinese DMR gear is rising rapidly.
Matt replaced a small part in the Kenwood power supply thus bringing it on line for future use. He also performed an instant fix for a mobile Red Cross vhf antenna that had a bad connection.
We are advised that the VO1EN site is coming along. This is the old VO1BT telephone pole on the South side hills by the oil tanks. This will be a linked vhf and uhf site for fun use.
VO1AX advised an HF Winter field day would be held out in Deer Park on the 27 and 28 th of January . That’s out by Salmonier.
Mike also said the CRC Vertical is working well. : swr is high on 80 meters. It may need to be tweaked this summer. 40 meters is flat now.
The ham radio condensed course is set for Feb 24 and 25 from 9am to 5pm. The Toronto emergency communications group developed the concept and materials . The Rule knowledge is easy. It’s the Electronics part that needs hands-on instruction. We should get an update at this month’s meeting.
Digital Mobile Radio or DMR, is the name given to Motorola’s digital communications standard. It’s been around for 20 years or so. The Chinese radio manufacturing industry is having a field day making cheap mobiles and handhelds for the Amateur market. These rigs are getting better and better every month..literally. QST just reviewed the Tytera 2017, a dual band handheld. That article also mentioned an ancient article on DMR in QST. In 2015, 2 years ago, that terrific article explaining DMR in baby-talk was written. That is soo ancient, it predates the Brandmeister internet linkage protocol . Yup, 2 years is the new antiquity.. Both articles have been downloaded by me and are about 26 megs of PDF. As such, that is too bulky for e mail. Sooo, I have made a link to them in Dropbox. Simply follow or past this link into your browser and you can also read/save these articles...https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dtrmlicoy11g6hk/AACy6Y_Yp0SZdZNbYoXZiNQNa?dl=0
Your AVRAC Newsletter d'uncle Tom, Secretary d'AVRAC, VO1TV.
First, we next meet this Wednesday night at the Red Cross at 8PM on Major's Path, St. John's on Jan 17. Talk- in will be on NTV-VHF.
This meeting should give us some update on the HF sections' plans for a winter Field day at CRC and HF operations at CRC , generally. The club's vertical antenna survived the holiday weather just fine. We should also receive a progress report on the VO1BT site restoration where SONRA and AVRAC will get UHF and VHF up an running. The old VO1BT site is an old telephone pole on the South Side hills and has surprising coverage around metro. This meeting should also inform us if a proposed "quick and dirty" ham radio course has sufficient interest to be offered at the Red Cross on a weekend. The syllabus has already been prepared for these "stuffin" courses up along, and they do have a successful Industry Canada/ or 'occupant' pass rate. Please remember: keep that flu home!
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for November, de Uncle Tom, VO1TV, Secretary d'AVRAC.
First, we next meet this coming Wednesday night, November 15th at 8PM at the Red Cross on Major's Path. Talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF.
At our last meeting, we had a good turnout. We had a successful hat-passing for the HF vertical antenna. Said antenna had no problems with the evening net on 3.740. The gear was made available for the upcoming JOTA event. We also approved the concept of a condensed amateur radio course to be held on a weekend at the Red Cross with SONRA and AVRAC coordinators. The idea is to get candidates through their ham radio tests first, then teach them about radio and related matters later. Everyone says they learned much more about the service after they were licensed. Thus, the concept of getting the cart first, then getting the horse. Apparently, it works well in other places. The old system of weekly lectures has a bad failure rate with the Ham exams.
De Mike, VO1AX on the CQWW DX SSB contest using VO1CRC:
Well this year's CQWW DX SSB was a wild one, to say the least. I found that the bands not only co-operated but were extremely crowded. I think the FTDX 1200 handled the load pretty good. Our VO1CRC team made a thousand contacts and over 436,000 pts, including a couple of VKs on 40 meters this morning! We worked 80/40/20/15 and of course our score will be affected by the lack of 160 and 10M contacts. I was lucky to nab VO2ET which is a rare one.
I’m pleased that the 3 tubed AL-811 did a wonderful job but it's hard to compete with the 1.5KW K3LRs, especially when they’re beaming over ya. LOL. We made lots of video as well and will be uploading to our Youtube channels once edited.
CKZU - CBC Radio 1 - Rural British Colombia: the tkicked the bucket.. It's an old continental 1kw rig. CBC said it will not replace the transmitter as no one listens to it and they do not want to spend the money. This leaves only 3 shortwave transmitters left in Canada (other then CHU).
The last two oddly enough are owned by bell media, I'm not sure why they are still on the air.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for October, 2017. Prepared by uncle Tom, Secretary, VO1TV
First we meet this coming Wednesday night at the Canadian Red Cross building on Majors Path at 8 PM. That is October 18 at 20:00 hrs. Talk-in will be NTV-VHF.
This meeting will be a "pass the hat" meeting where proceeds will be added to the club revenue to compensate for the purchase of the Hustler vertical HF antenna which now adorns the Red Cross roof.
A very successful antenna party took place Saturday, 14 October at the Red Cross. We had a good turnout of amateurs and we ended up using just about every piece of equipment we brought. Including a big hammer... The Hustler vertical HF antenna was assembled and carefully placed in a roof mount bracket. In accordance with the instructions, the tower was guyed and it was also attached to the metal roof of the Red Cross garage utilizing an available threaded screw coming out of the drain at the center of the roof.
As the equipment was still being taken down from the roof, Mike, VO1AX, fired up the HF rig and we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of stations heard during a period of allegedly poor DX conditions. Contacts were made in the US, Brazil, and Hungary so the antenna is a success. It will likely get its first real work out next weekend during the annual scouts JOTA event starting on Saturday afternoon.
Loren VO1OE took a number of pictures which a been assembled for viewing. Included are a couple of video segments where Mike worked DX with the new antenna. Quite a bit of planning went into the erection of the new antenna and the availability of an exposed bolt through the drain was a very pleasant surprise. That bolt can be seen from inside the garage clearly attached to the metal superstructure of the roof. The roof is the ground counterpoise so no radials are used. Again, here is the webpage for your viewing and listening pleasure:
Antenna installation and testing photos courtesy of Loren VO1AX
Antenna installation photos courtesy of Steve VO1SMC
It's been a very busy fall on the electronics front as we get our homes and antennas ready for the winter to come and experiment with the DMR digital repeater at VO1UHF.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for September, 2017 de Tom,VO1TV, Secretary d’AVRAC.
First, we next meet at the Canadian Red Cross building on Majors Path this coming Wednesday night, September 20 at 8 PM. Talk-in, as usual, is on NTV-VHF.
OY VEY what a month!
On a serious note we convey our condolences to Geoff, VO1GME, upon the death of his father earlier this month.
At our August AVRAC meeting, we had our annual barbecue which was delicious, as usual. Many thanks to Geoff for doing the chefting. Paul, VO1PX, pointed out to us the reason we see large loops in the fiber-optic cable on telephone poles is due to the new method of repairing and fusing fiber-optic cable: employees no longer clamber up the side of the poll and work in a small tent up with the crows. Now the end of the cable is lowered into a vehicle with all the fancy tools, to properly fuse a broken cable together or work on the fiber-optic link as needed.
Mike, VO1AX, indicated he was going to use the club's call sign from his HF location in the upcoming QSO party and invited all to his shack.
Matt, VO1EI, informed us that Yeasu Fusion 2 was coming and that it would cost money if we were to upgrade to that system to use Wires-X. He, and us, have no shaggin' intention of spending any more money on Fusion 2. :-)
Loren, VO1OE, advised that he was able to make a contact on 6 meters during the Perseids meteor shower. Meteor scatter is one of the dark arts in ham communications.
During the month, Mike ,VO1AX, wanted to prove that a simple vertical antenna could work some DX from the Red Cross parking lot. He, and many of us, are convinced that no dipole antenna is going to work above the metal Red Cross roof. A work team was assembled in the evening and Steve, VO1SMC, disconnected the remains of a DXCC antenna wire and slung it off the roof down to us on the ground. Now Steve did not want to get to near the edge of the roof, which is understandable. He slung it blind over the edge of the building... The antenna landed in the dumpster. I told him my opinion of that on the Red Cross portable: That was the best g**damn place a g**damn dxcc antenna had ever landed! :-) Mike was of the opinion I should be given an award for the best editorial comment of the year in ham radio... I'll let Mike, VO1AX, tell the rest of the story.
Tonight at the CRC starting at 7:00, we took down the DXCC dipole antenna and turned it into a vertical element with a single ground radial.
Steve (VO1SMC) took down the DXCC and soldered together the vertical, while Tom VO1TV, and myself took care of the station setup outdoors plus holding the wires for Steve, while Paul, (VO1ZAP) and Jaxson (VO1JQB), took care of the redesigning of the mast base and mast. All of us chipped in to raise things and handle the ropes. Apparently I make a wonderful living vice (vise?) and rope anchor.LOL
It took about 2 hours and despite a little cut, Steve suffered stripping the coax, we had plenty of lighting in the parking lot to get on the air. I made a contact into Pennsylvania to K3AQ, RF burn and all. We were 4-by-5 to start but he reported my signal was coming up. He in fact wouldn't let me go, kept asking questions about the setup.LOL
The antenna tuned perfectly on 40/15/10 but not on 80/20. I think the main reason for this is because the 2 wires aren't 33 feet but closer to 36. This was probably the reason why the antenna didn't work well as a dipole/DXCC.
In fact as the DXCC, we didn't make 1 contact with it at my cabin but in the vertical configuration at the CRC it worked pretty well. I'm calling this a resounding success and there's no reason why a properly installed vertical shouldn't be an excellent antenna over there.
Here's what we did: We took 2 36 foot long wires, soldered the centre conductor of the coax to 1 side and the braid plus burndy connector to the other and taped the hell out of it. We put it on the mast and spread out the radial on the ground. Crazy hey? The Dude in PA thought so and that's why he wouldn't let me go, LOL. We'll discuss this in more detail next meeting and hopefully this will lay the ground work for a really nice kick ass antenna over there. Thanks to the lads for all your help, this is what amateur radio is all about.
Jaxson VO1JQB took some snaps which are shown below. We plugged the radio and lamp with a long extension chord and put the tuner and radio and lamp on a mobile trolley care of Tom VO1TV.
Setting up the outdoor shack
A true AVRAC tailgate party
The temporary vertical
A few days ago Mike, Jackson and yours truly attended the shack wherein we removed three good tubes out of Mike's ailing amplifier and substituted them in the Ameritron AL 811 amp I have donated to the club. The installation went smoothly, again with some pictures attached. Mike was able to get 400 W into a dummy load with only about 30 Watts input. This is a vast improvement over his own amplifier which required about 60 W to generate 400. His amplifier needs some serious work. Mike now is using the AL 811 at his shack giving it a good test run.
Hats off to Loren VO1OE for climbing Newfoundland's highest summit and making some contacts on HF for SOTA. Have a look at his lovely pictures at this webpage:
SOTA activation of NL highest peak VO1WC-001 pics and vids of hike and contacts
It was a nice to be invited to a special event honoring our club's involvement in 9/11. Myself, VO1TV with Paul, VO1PX, and Matt , VO1EI, were invited and Paul attended a performance of "Come From Away". The veterans of 9/11 posed for a picture at the Arts and Culture Centre which is attached.
The Red Cross 9/11 team at Come From Away Gala, 2017
I, (VO1TV) sent out notes about wall-to-wall TV coverage accessible by Internet from Texas and Florida for Hurricanes Harvey and IRMA. It's truly amazing that the Internet signal can get out during a hurricane despite power failures. I'm guessing Houston and Corpus Christi as well as Miami and Fort Myers had satellite transmissions with streaming done out-of-state. Whatever, it was gripping television. I remember a picture of the Houston Convention Center being opened with a small taped sign saying "no weapons allowed". By day two of the flooding in Houston, the Jumbo-tron above the stadium spelled out in large letters: " no alcohol no weapons".... no subtlety about it. The Fort Myers weather crew accurately predicted the landfall of IRMA before the hurricane center in Miami did. Fort Myers television was simulcast with about four radio stations so they gave descriptive audio of what the pictures were showing. With about 90% of the power out in the Fort Myers area they knew full well that most residents were hunkering down with radios and were absolutely dependent upon the team for information as to where the eye of the storm was and where the nasty force-3 eye-wall was about to hit. It was good to see the amount of planning that the Florida folks had put in to surviving a bad storm. From what I saw, they did their damnedest to do good.
Here are your AVRAC Newsletter for August, 2017 de Tom,VO1TV, Secretary d’AVRAC.
We next meet at the Red Cross this coming Wednesday at 8 PM . Majors Path. We will meet in the coolest room we can find. Talk in will be on NTV-VHF
On August 4, we had a repeat of the phone outage of a few years ago. Almost a repeat. Rogers has its own fiber optic system and phone operation, now, so some had the use of cellphones and the internet, myself (VO1TV) included. Banks and some stores closed because they could not complete their transactions electronically. Emergency ambulances were dispatched to the fire halls so that the fire Hall in the local area became the go-to center for anyone with a problem. Much like the 1800's. I didn’t read about any taxi services or service agencies being cut off from their repeaters, but that was also a possibility. NTV-VHF was active with amateurs monitoring the situation. I relayed the email I had received from the city that it was contemplating opening up the Emergency Operations Center to facilitate communications. The fact I had my email through Rogers was a definite asset. What is amazing is that somebody in the middle of nowhere could dig up a fiber-optic cable and shutdown the Eastern part of the country in its communications. From a strategic and military point of view, that is an incredible vulnerability. “The more complicated the plumbing the easier it is to stog it up.” More at our meeting.
At our last meeting, Mike, VO1AX said the VO1CRC field day operation got more points than anyone else around. 150 contacts and 520 points. Loren, VO1OE , confirmed he is the local SOTA contact for Newfoundland. Summits on the Air is a specialty HF group that likes to operate where the bunnies can’t go.
This year’s Regatta went ahead with myself (VO1TV) and Jaxson (VO1JQB) holding down the ERV. Loren got called to work the holiday so could not help. Jaxson stepped up and did the morning and evening shift down at the pond. It was a cool day with the heater on in the ERV and a small to medium-sized crowd. There were several missing children quickly found by a combination of the police and the Red Cross volunteers. The city used the interoperation frequency to inform us of missing children and found children from the police. The Red Cross used the interoperation frequency to inform the police of missing children found by the Red Cross. What surprised me was the speed at which missing parties were reunited. Literally while listening to the interop frequency on the ERV Kenwood, I received a report on the Red Cross radio that we had found the child that was being described by the city operation. A quick reunification was arranged at the Red Cross tent and the power of the radio communication was clearly demonstrated. Next year’s Regatta 200 is expected to be a megga event which could involve a truly massive crowd during the day and evening.
Mike, VO1AX advises:
I'm gonna participate the club in the North America QSO Party (SSB) on Saturday August 19th, at my cabin in Marysvale. This is about 45 minutes from St. John's but I suspect most of you know where it is. This is a 12 hour contest beginning at 18UTC, 3:30 P.M local and running to 05:59UTC, 3:30 A.M local on August 20th.
This is a 100W contest and if the weather is nice, I'm inviting you all out to take a turn on the mic, make a few contacts and make an afternoon of it. I'll be monitoring NTV if someone wants to yell out to me if coming or can shoot me off an email or txt at 682-1831.
Mike (VO1AX) has a Youtube video of both himself and Jaxson (VO1JQB) participating in Field Day at Mike's cabin in Marysvale, NL. They are using the club callsign of VO1CRC. Check it out!
Don't forget to check out Mike's other videos including adventures on 160m with an inverted-L antenna, product demonstrations and showing off vintage equipment!
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for July, 2017, de Tom, VO1TV, secretary d'AVRAC...
First, we note our next meeting this Wednesday evening ( the 19th ) at 8pm or 20:00hrs at the Red Cross on Majors Path. Talk-in will be on NTV-VHF.
Web page devoted to happenings and plans for the NTV tower and D Star:
VO1EI, Matt, our president, has put together a web page to keep us updated on the analog and digital developments up on the hills. It's a great idea to keep us all updated. Here it is:
As you know me and Jaxson took VO1CRC and operated FD on behalf of the AVRAC club even though there was an AVRAC participation with SONRA. We had an excellent time and I think AVRAC is gonna have a really good showing with 500 pts. We made 150 contacts, the bands were excellent, we had a town official visit,youth representation with Jaxson and complete emergency power with a Champion 3Kw continuous generator with a jury rigged pull cord of which I'll tell the story of next meeting.
We did have a couple of hiccups. Saturday evening during that freak wind and rain storm, the cotton covered rope guying my 43 foot vertical and 160M mod got soaked which put a considerable weight on the antenna... We had to go out, lower the antenna to remove the rope and 100 foot wire. The wind was so strong, I could almost hang off the vertical. It took me and Jaxson's strength to pull it down but we got everything squared away.
Equipment used was the vintage Yaesu FT-102, running 150W, without breaking a sweat thanks to Matty's tube operation around Xmas and the Yaesu FTDX-1200running 100W. All contacts were made in SSB and there's a little video clip on YouTube from yesterdays coverage.
We need 2 more Hams to help out at Regatta August 2. I (VO1TV) plan to take 1 of 3 shifts. VO1FOX is definitely unavailable, and we are uncertain of VO1JQB, so we need 2 more souls to man the ERV. If you can possibly commit for a 4 hour shift at pond-side, please let me know via e-mail or at our meeting.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for June, 2017 de Tom, VO1TV
First, we meet this coming Wednesday June 21 at the Red Cross on Major's Path, St John's. Our meeting is set for 8pm or 20:00 hrs. but....
Our first note of interest is an antenna party at CRC at 7PM the night of our meeting. The long wire antenna we have in place has ceased to be of any use. It receives well, but even a manual tuner can't get the SWR below 4. Mike VO1AX, Aaron VO1FOX and Jaxson VO1JQB have made up a new antenna and have tested it off-site. It will be installed at CRC. It will be interesting to see if that antenna works over the Red Cross roof.
On the D-STAR front, Paul, VO1PX, visited the transmitter site to swap out the modem. He was not successful in gaining access to the computer program that runs the system.
Meanwhile, Matt, VO1EI, has managed to acquire a used digital repeater using DMR and P25. It's hoped this UHF machine can add to the digital capabilities of hamdom in St. John's metro. He will give us an update at the meeting. It's a good thing. :-)
Now, a note on the club’s Hansen Power meter ( FS-500H), 1.8-60 MHz up to 2K watts power. I (VO1TV) took it home some months ago when it showed ridiculously low power getting out into the long wire HF antenna... Well, as we now know from recent tests, the SWR is very high on the long wire antenna, and very little power IS getting out. The Hansen meter got that right.
I have now tested the meter with a dummy load and my own HF rig and the meter works just fine. The “swr sens.” potentiometer is a bit dirty, but swinging it back and forth a few times with no power running seems to make it work smoothly. I took off the top plastic cover to see if I could get at the potentiometer , but the unit is sealed in a full metal case, which I did not want to mess with. So, it will be returned to the shack for eventual use. The unit is built like a brick shat house. Good for field day.
The Regatta is only a month and a bit away. We need 3 hams to help the Red Cross. I hope to be there for 1 shift, so that means we need 2 other hams. Please keep that in mind, folks.
Here is your AVRAC newsletter for May month 2017, d'uncle Tom VO1TV, Secretary d'AVRAC.
First, we next meet this coming Wednesday night, 17th of May at 8 PM at the Red Cross building on Majors Path. Talk in will be on NTV-VHF. We are also trying to get a work party to do a little antenna work on the roof at 7 PM that same evening.
The weather on Wednesday evening is scheduled to be about 12̊ with some drizzle. That is not a perfect forecast but it is far from a wash out. I've had difficulty arranging for a vehicle to take my 12 foot step letter over to the building to mount the roof from the outside, so I guess we will have to use the internal ladder and the escape hatch on the roof. What we need to do is to get a set of eyes on all of the antenna cables to check for wear and tear. We will need some pictures taken of the HF antenna mounting board to see how it has fared this past winter. Most importantly, we need to take the tension off the HF antenna, and unscrew the feedline and put a dummy load on it for a few minutes. I can check it with my MFJ analyzer to see if the line is still good, but preferably, Matt can bring his fancy gear and give both the feedline and the antenna an electronic enema.
At our last meeting, Matt outlined his plans to work with SONRA to keep the D-STAR system running. It is hoped that the entire system can be engineered locally and kept on the air for the long haul.
Mike, AX and crew have established the CRC HF station using Mike's Kenwood machine and the Ameritron tuner which I donated to the club. The tuner works and can handle up to 2000 Watts. The club's Kenwood and the club's tuner both need repairs. This Saturday, I soldered the connection on line number 2 which goes to the HF antenna and did some listening with Mike's radio. The antenna receives like a bomb, but Mike's automatic tuner will not tune the long wire antenna so it has to be done manually, even when using barefoot power. Knowing that the HF feedline and HF antenna appear to be in working order is therefore important. Mike reports that although we can hear well with the antenna, we are not being heard very well, if at all.
SONRA has approached us to help with field day in June. Due to the big dig on Signal Hill, that location is not do-able, so an alternate location must be found.
VO1OE, Loren, showed off his impeccably-made VHF J pole utilizing some ladder line from Princess Automotive. Also from Loren, This terrific video about antennas:
And this beacon finder:
On the fusion front, Matt indicates that the CQ Canada room is becoming popular on the UHF repeater. Changes have been made to the Wires system so that you do not have to set your Yaesu radio into the Wires mode in order to communicate with the room. Basically if you transmit on NTV UHF, in the fusion mode, you will be heard on the Wires system. The system is set to remain on the CQ Canada room by default, and there is a Wednesday night network conducted every week.
One tidbit we picked up at last month's meeting is the demise of the city of St. John's backup emergency operations center. Our information is that the project is no joy. DMR (Brandmeister, DMRplus), is the format, and Matt will probably do a show and tell at this week's meeting.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter, number four of the year, d'uncle Tom (VO1TV).
First we remind all that we meet tonight, 19 April at 8 PM at the Canadian Red Cross on Majors Path. As usual, talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF.
On a sad note, we note the passing of Eric Meth, VE3EI . Eric's write-up on QST.com is a powerful statement to his accomplishments affecting communications over the years. He was super-active and responsible for much of the development of the D-STAR system in Canada. He certainly will be missed . He made his home at Niagara-on-the-Lake.
At our March meeting, we did not have our annual general meeting at such, but dues were collected. We had a fun session viewing a complete cell phone repeater that Paul, VO1PX, had brought from work amongst other activities. We were told that Industry Canada has been reborn as: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. That should last for a few years. ISEDC sounds like a biblical reference or the latest version of a social disease… hi! We will get used to it.
Mike, VO1AX, gave us a summary of the contest operation at VO1CRC and the VIMY special callsign event conducted at the same time. Band conditions were not the best and the were a few technical issues discovered by trial and error. At the meeting, I tested out the club's Kenwood 450 hf rig and quickly discovered that the antenna jack in the rig has a bad connection. Currently the rig is unserviceable, to borrow an aviation phrase.
On the fusion frontier, some progress has been made to getting an active Canadian room on the Wires system. Matt, VO1EI, leaves the NTV-UHF repeater hooked up to the CQ-Canada room by default. It's been quite active chirping away at by my elbow since he made the room entry. The NTV-UHF repeater only operates Wires in the digital mode so you need a fusion radio to work it. You can still use the UHF repeater and not bother the Wires users unless your radio enters the dedicated Wires-X mode. It is quite possible that a local user may be on Wires-X and talking with other stations in the room when you hear white noise on the frequency in analog VHF. It's probably best to avoid transmitting if you are hearing white noise on the frequency for the time being.
Still on the fusion front and Yaesu radios, Matt, VO1MNM, sent along a little blurb from Universal Radio about a new Yaesu handheld about to be released. It is the FT-70DT and it looks quite sexy. The write up about the radio can be read here :http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht/6070.html
I noticed there is nothing said about access to Wires-X but it would seem dumb not to have that capability when you're putting out a digital handheld. Looks interesting.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for March month, 2017. AVRAC 03.17
First, we next meet this coming Wednesday night, March 15th at the Red Cross building on Majors Path at 8 PM (20:00 hrs). This is weather permitting… Yes, there is another damn storm scheduled for that day. It’s the big blizzard that is about to blast the Northeast Seaboard. Hopefully it will be mostly rain here. If we have to cancel, I will send out an email and we will reschedule for a week later just like we did last month. We may find the local Red Cross building to be busy, with staff looking after displaced residents as a result of the “Brier Blast”, the huge windstorm that has caused so much damage in Eastern Newfoundland. I got to say it… Someone said “we won’t have a multi-day power outage, why should the Red Cross have an external fuel tank on the generator for something that will never happen?” Power will be out until midweek in some parts of the province. I told ya! happy daylight savings...
A reminder that the March meeting is usually the time where our $20 annual dues are collected and we have our annual general meeting for the club officers.
We had 16 souls at our last meeting about three weeks ago at the Red Cross. That meeting had been postponed a week due to bad weather. We had so many souls, we decided to move into the main meeting room of the Red Cross which gave us lots more room than the EOC attached to the radio shack.
Mike, VO1AX, mentioned that he wanted to start up a subgroup within our club for the purpose of contesting. I noticed a number of our members were eager to help out.
Matt informed us that the city will have a backup emergency operations center located behind the Metrobus building. We will have a dedicated antenna in the space, but there is no emergency power there.
Loren VO1OE, brought in another of his antenna creations, this time a 2 meter loop antenna with rather classy metal work done. He also showed off a new all-purpose dipole connector for the 259 connector which was printed using a 3-D printer. He also showed off his power box of amateur gear which will be stored in a nifty plastic carrying case. With today’s microtechnology, you can indeed have a radio shack in a box. When I saw Mike’s AX, switching power supply with large meters on a small box I was amazed to learn it could put out a hefty amperage (it’s The Astron 630M).
It was a busy time at the Red Cross shack on the weekend of March 4. Mike, VO1AX ,was the chairman of the board running the single sideband contest and also doing the special callsign for VO1VIMY . Actually, the VIMY callsign is so long I’m surprised if it can be said in under 10 or 15 seconds.
We were surprised before the weekend event that Mike’s new Yaesu 1200 would not tune up the broadband long-wire antenna at CRC. We were even more surprised when his separate automatic tuner would not tune up the antenna on 80 meters either. I dragged out my old Ameritron tuner and the boys went ahead manually with about 300 to 400 W into the antenna.
Mike indicates “we finished with 92 contacts, getting 52 of those the last 4 hrs of the contest.” We had good participation from our younger members who are keen to get into contesting. It’s the first time the antenna at the Canadian Red Cross has been given a good burn. The boys stayed on 40 meters where the tuner brought down the SWR to acceptable levels. I’m told the young fellas stretched the antenna fairly straight where it was sagging since its installation many months ago.
Matt, EI, dropped by to inspect the facility and noted that the club’s Kenwood 450 “ The St-450's antenna board has some broken solder joints and the amp keying circuit is dead and needs attention along with our inductor tuner.” I’m sure we will get all the gory details at our upcoming meeting.
AVRAC Meeting postponed to next Wednesday, Feb 22
Hi folks, I (VO1TV) delayed sending this out until the storm started part 2 of it's 'dumpage'.I e-mailed Matt(VO1EI) at 16:00 and he agrees -we will postpone our meeting a week.
Well, the radar says megga-snow, part 2, is on the way soooo... If we get 60-70 cm, the city will be no place to play in Wednesday evening. We might as well shovel out and relax.. Besides, tomorrow might be the alternate Valentine's day/night at the restaurant. It would not look good to shovel a path and then shag off with the boys..... you could do it...once!
Best 73's and we meet at the Red Cross in a week..... d'uncle Tom/VO1TV
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for February, 2017.
First, we next meet this coming Wednesday night, February 15 at 8 PM at the Red Cross on Majors Path…but, and this is a big but, this is subject to the weather which may see us just coming out of a major winter storm (and into another)! Original forecasts for the storm said it would dump close to 40 cm across Nova Scotia and could do the same to Eastern Newfoundland. It’s a Great Lakes storm which is going to explode in intensity and sit and spin.
When we have questionable weather coming up, I usually plan to contact Matt, VO1EI, by 4 PM, 16:00 hrs of the meeting day and get the go or no-go decision and send out a complete email.
Get your batteries in and a few cans of meatballs and gravy ( heart attack in a can ) in case of major sleet. It’s amazing how good meatballs and gravy can taste in front of the fire, warmed on your camp stove as the kerosene lamps glows on day two of a power failure...
Our last meeting was a real treat up at the NTV studios. We got as thorough a tour as possible and I think everybody got the same impression of just how technical everything is these days. From blinking lights to time delays and conversions from digital to analog and so on, there is a hell of a lot of gear in the building, and not a tube in sight! I was impressed in the beer cooler room which is cold to take the heat away from the humming computers. It would be a good place to keep a sixpack cold, and that is for sure.
We were shown a rack of about 3 feet of relatively modern computer gear which controls an important part of the station and it is just being superseded by approximately 10 inches of brand-new extremely digital, flashing lights and solid metal cases, which is its upgrade. From 3 feet to 10 inches (in what I would guess would be 10 years or even 5 years) - that is the reality. To accomplish what NTV does today in the analog world would be impossible but to try would take a building four times the size and probably 20 technicians. Like they say: every bank machine contains the ghosts of 3 bank tellers.... Thanks to Rodney VO1TWO and Matt VO1EI for a great time.
Here are your AVRAC newsletter for January, the first month of 2017. Happy New Year everyone!
First up, we meet this coming Wednesday evening at 8 PM at the NTV studios on Logy Bay Road where we will conduct our meeting. Talk-in will be on NTV-VHF. We should also receive a tour of the studios courtesy of Matt(VO1EI) and Rodney (VO1TWO). The long-range weather looks good for Wednesday, January 18.
Next, we thank Matt, VO1EI, for his organization of our December feast at BIGs. It was well-attended by club members and some XYL’s, as well. Everyone appeared satisfied with the menu and the service. The weather cooperated as well.
The club received a donation from Rodney, VO1TWO, of a cabinet of various connectors left over from the storehouse of connectors used are made by the late Oscar, VO1DI. I have possession of the connectors and they will live in the club at Red Cross for use by our members as projects emerge.
Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) has secured permission for all Canadian radio amateurs to use special call sign prefixes to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation during 2017.
Starting on January 1, radio amateurs and clubs with VA-prefix call signs may use CF instead, and those with VE-prefix call signs may use CG instead. Amateurs and clubs with VO-prefix call signs may substitute CH instead, while those holding VY-prefix call signs may substitute CI. Use of the special prefixes is optional, and Canadian radio amateurs may choose if and when to use the special prefix at any time during the year.
VY1AAA, the Yukon Canam Contest Club, will mark the sesquicentennial with special call sign XK150YUKON from January 1 until March 1. The rest of 2017, VY1AAA will operate using either CI1AAA or VY1AAA.