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.