News & Events

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 08.17

Posted: 2017-08-16

Here are your AVRAC Newsletter for August, 2017 de Tom,VO1TV, Secretary d’AVRAC.

Upcoming Meeting

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

Club news

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.


Newsworthy Links


Field Day 2017 Participation

Posted: 2017-07-28

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!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbedOHmXll4

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!


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 07.17

Posted: 2017-07-18

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for July, 2017, de Tom, VO1TV, secretary d'AVRAC...

Upcoming Meeting

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.

Club news

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:

http://vo1digital.wordpress.com/

Yer field day report de Mike, VO1AX

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.

Annual St. John's Regatta

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.


Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 06.17

Posted: 2017-06-18

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for June, 2017 de Tom, VO1TV

Upcoming Meeting

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....

Antenna Party

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.

Club news

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.

Annual St. John's Regatta

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.


Grounding


"Antenna Party" May 17th, 2017. Pics taken by Steve, VO1SMC

The dual band antenna on CRC


The long wire 9:1 UNUN


Aaron VO1FOX rigging up the long wire antenna

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 05.17

Posted: 2017-05-15

Here is your AVRAC newsletter for May month 2017, d'uncle Tom VO1TV, Secretary d'AVRAC.

Upcoming Meeting

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.

Last months meeting

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:

https://youtu.be/LEigIMS6bo4

And this beacon finder:

http://www.ncdxf.org/beacon/index.html#Schedule

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.

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 04.17

Posted: 2017-04-19

Here are your AVRAC newsletter, number four of the year, d'uncle Tom (VO1TV).

Upcoming Meeting

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.

Silent Key

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.

Last month's meeting

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.

Latest news

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.

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 03.17

Posted: 2017-03-13

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for March month, 2017. AVRAC 03.17

Upcoming Meeting

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.

Last months meeting

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.

Newsworthy Links


Meeting Postponed!

Posted: 2017-02-15

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

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 02.17

Posted: 2017-02-14

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for February, 2017.

Upcoming Meeting

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...

Last months meeting

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.

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 01.17

Posted: 2017-01-16

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for January, the first month of 2017. Happy New Year everyone!

Upcoming Meeting

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.

Xmas Get-together

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.

ARRL News

(Article as written on ARRL website: http://www.arrl.org/news/special-call-sign-prefixes-available-to-celebrate-canada-s-sesquicentennial)

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.


Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 11.16

Posted: 2016-11-15

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for November, 2016. This has been prepared by Tom, VO1TV, secretary of AVRAC

Upcoming Meeting

We meet this Wednesday evening, 16 November, At 8 PM at the Red Cross for our regular meeting. Talk in will be on NTV-VHF.

Last Month's Meeting

At our last meeting, we updated a number of projects and planned to do an operation for the CQ worldwide contest. I don't believe this contest went ahead due to a large solar storm that was expected to blast the HF spectrum to pieces.. The UDRC Came in and Matt was busy protecting the repeater trying to get it to work. Apparently it may need a little more tweaking and cussing. We can expect a briefing at this month's meeting. A little reminder, we expect to have our Christmas get together around December 7 depending on the scheduling. We decided to move our meeting up into the early part of the month to make getting a reservation easier and to stay away from the actual Christmas holiday.

ARRL News

Silent Key

(Article as written on ARRL website: http://www.arrl.org/news/king-of-thailand-bhumibol-adulyadej-hs1a-sk)

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), HS1A, died on October 13, after a long period of declining health. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while his physician father was at Harvard University, the king, whose name translated as “strength of the land, incomparable power,” was 88.

According to noted DXer Fred Laun, K3ZO/HS0ZAR, the king “was never very active on the air, and, to my knowledge, the only QSOs he ever made were from a handheld on 2 meter FM.” He said HS1A was often “pictured using a handheld.” He also was pictured with a camera, as photography was one of his passions, and he was a jazz enthusiast, who played the saxophone.

The Radio Amateur Society of Thailand (RAST), the country’s IARU member society, said on its website that the king was “presented the call sign HS1A by the Ministry of Communications at Chitrlada Palace” in 1989 in a ceremony witnessed by RAST officers. He was the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty, having ascended to the throne in June of 1946, and was the world’s longest-reigning monarch. — Thanks to The Daily DX and other media outlets


IARU General Assembly Adopts Revisions to Region 2 Band Plan

(Article as written on ARRL website: http://www.arrl.org/news/iaru-general-assembly-adopts-revisions-to-region-2-band-plan)


View the new band plan here

Delegates to the 19th International Amateur Radio Union Region 2 (IARU-R2) General Assembly in mid-October adopted ARRL-proposed changes to the Region 2 (the Americas) band plan as well as other recommended revisions. Representatives of 24 IARU member societies took part in the General Assembly, held in Viña del Mar, Chile, either in person or by proxy. ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, headed the League contingent. Alternate head of delegation and ARRL Second Vice President Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT, chaired the IARU Region 2 B/C Committee, which handled LF/MF/HF and VHF+ band-planning matters and proposals and made recommendations to the full assembly — or plenary.

“The IARU Region 2 has established this band plan as the way to better organize the use of our bands efficiently,” the introduction to the updated document states. “To the extent possible, this band plan is harmonized with those of the other regions. It is suggested that member societies, in coordination with the authorities, incorporate it in their regulations and promote it widely with their radio amateur communities.”

General Assembly delegates approved minor modifications to band segments and modes of operation within 160, 80, and 15 meters, to align the Region 2 band plan with the Region 1 and 3 band plans, where appropriate. Changes also acknowledged AM operation within band plans where it commonly occurs (e.g., 160 meters), and added narrowband (i.e., 200 Hz bandwidth or less) digital operation to accommodate such modes as WSPR.

The revisions adopted also called for changing references to 660 meters to 630 meters, to more accurately describe the wavelength of the spectrum actually allocated to Amateur Radio; adding 60 meters to the Region 2 band plan, and making minor modifications to bands at 13 centimeters and above, with respect to Amateur-Satellite operation — again, to bring the Region 2 band plan into alignment, as appropriate, with the Region 1 and 3 band plans. The General Assembly also approved various editorial changes to improve readability, and clarified various footnotes and definitions.

The General Assembly unanimously approved the formation of a region-level working group that will interact with Region 2 member societies in order to become better informed of and to track band planning issues, challenges, and opportunities. The working group will report its findings and recommendations to the Region 2 Executive Committee as well as to future General Assembly band-planning committees, and it would interact with corresponding Region 1 and 3 groups toward developing a more global approach to band planning. Driving formation of the working group was a desire to transition Region 2 band planning to an ongoing process, rather than addressing it every 3 years — especially given the rapid pace of technological development within Amateur Radio.

Mileshosky stressed that while the FCC provides more explicit direction regarding the use of Amateur Radio allocations in the US, other countries prefer not to regulate allocations by mode and to allow amateurs to adopt voluntary band plans. The Region 2 band plan was last revised in 2013.

Recommendations of Committee A, which addressed administrative issues, were also adopted. The panel recommended that the Region 2 Executive Committee ask the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) to request uniform technical treatment under International Telecommunication Union (ITU) rules.

The committee specifically pointed to problems in Mexico, where Amateur Radio is not considered an internationally permitted activity, and rules and regulations constrain licensing and activity by operators visiting from other countries.

The committee recommended voluntary coordination of operating and technical requirements between Region 1 and 2 member societies for automatic reciprocal operation, in accordance with European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) Recommendation T/R 61-01; countries accepting the CEPT reciprocal standard would permit operation by any CEPT-country radio amateur meeting its standards, and vice versa.

The committee also called for promoting the use of Logbook of The World (LoTW) and for the IARU Administrative Council to retain current QSL bureau oversight.

In the plenary, the General Assembly elected members of the IARU Region 2 Executive Committee. Elected for new 3-year terms were Reinaldo Leandro, YV5AM, president; Ramon Santoyo, XE1KK, vice president; Jose Arturo Molina, YS1MS, secretary and Area D director; Jay Bellows, K0QB, treasurer and Area B director; George Gorsline, VE3YV, Area A director; Noel Donawa, Area E director; Gustavo de Faria Franco, PT2ADM, Area F director, and Ernesto Syriani, LU8AE, Area G director. President Leandro encouraged member societies to participate more actively in the organization and thanked the coordinators and volunteers who cooperated in making the 19th IARU Region 2 General Assembly a success.

The proposal of Radio Club Peruano for Lima, Peru, to be the venue of the 20th General Assembly in 2019 was adopted unanimously.

Broadcasters, Jammers Wreak Havoc on Amateur Radio Frequencies

(Article as written on ARRL website: http://www.arrl.org/news/broadcasters-jammers-wreak-havoc-on-amateur-radio-frequencies)

The battle continues between Radio Eritrea (Voice of the Broad Masses) and Radio Ethiopia, which is said to be jamming the Eritrean broadcaster with broadband white noise. The problem for radio amateurs is that the battle is taking place in the 40 meter phone band — 7.145 and 7.175 MHz — with the jamming signal reported by the IARU Region 1 Monitoring System (IARUMS) to be 20 kHz wide on each channel. The on-air conflict has been going on for years; Ethiopia constructed new transmitting sites in 2008 and is said to use two or three of them for jamming purposes. The interfering signals can be heard in North America after dark. According to IARUMS Region 1 Coordinator Wolf Hadel, DK2OM, Radio Eritrea is airing separate programs on each frequency. He said in the IARUMS September newsletter that telecommunications regulators in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have been informed, so they could file official complaints.

Other AM broadcast intruders on 40 meters include Radio Hargeisa in Somaliland on 7.120 MHz, which, Hadel said, is even audible in Australia and Japan. He further reports that the Voice of Iran’s signal on 7.205 MHz is splattering up to 5 kHz on either side of its channel, while Radio France International, which operates on the same frequency, is splattering down to 7.185 MHz.

Other odds and ends on 40 meters include the so-called “V beacon” on 7.091.5 MHz. The looped CW signal, which sends the letter “V” over and over, is audible every day. Hadel said the signal originates in Kazakhstan.

Hadel has reported HF radar signals from Russia on 40 and 20 meters, with “long-lasting transmissions, often with many spurious emissions.”

A Russian Air Force frequency-shift keyed signal identifying in CW as “REA4,” has been active on 7.117 MHz, while a Russian Navy FSK signal “Sevastopol” has been observed on 14.180. Hadel said Germany’s telecommunications regulator has filed an official complaint. Other Russian military signals have been heard on 7.016 MHz.

Chinese broadband OTH radars on 14 MHz generated some “Woodpecker” complaints, “but this was not the Russian ‘Woodpecker,’” Hadel clarified. Mario Taeubel, DG0JBJ, observed 11 OTH radars on 40 meters, 40 on 20 meters, 13 on 15 meters and 2 on 10 meters during September.

Hadel reports that signals from Spanish and Portuguese, UK, and Irish fishing operations, Indonesian and Philippine pirates, and OTH radar signals are sprinkled throughout 80, 40, 20, and 15 meters, while signals from oceangoing sensor buoys are heard widely on various discrete frequencies on 10 meters.


Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 10.16

Posted: 2016-10-17

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for October, AVRAC10.2016, d’uncle Tom, Secretary d’AVRAC, VO1TV

Upcoming Meeting

First, we next meet this coming Wednesday October 19, at 8 PM, 20:00 hrs, at the Red Cross on Majors Path in St John’s. Talk-in will be on NTV-VHF.

Last month's meeting

at our meeting, we discussed the need to test the 4 bay 2 meter antenna we own and a proposed field day operation at Pippy Park for June 2017. Also discussed is a proposed operation on HF to honour WW1 veterans and their sacrifice. This event to occur for a week in March, 2017.

Ham Radio / Aviation Enthusiasts delight:

I (VO1TV) had no luck getting a webcam view of Bermuda during hurricane Matthew.. That’s no big surprise, as 90% of the island lost power.. But this Friday, I stumbled upon a hams’/avionics delight site:

http://www.mahobeachcam.com/

This site happily scans between a westward beach and the adjacent East/West runway of the Bermuda airport. Planes land and take off with the beach at the end, and the local Air traffic control frequency is one of the 2 audios available. The camera is located at a popular bar and grill and represents tranquillity and technology all on the same web page. Highly recommended for the coming winter days... uncle Tom

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 09.16

Posted: 2016-09-21

Upcoming Meeting

First, we next meet this coming Wednesday, September 21, at the Red Cross on Majors Path at 8PM or 20:00 hrs on the 24 hr clock . Talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF.

Last month's meeting

We had a really fine time at our club BBQ last month. Lovely weather, a full, big, fat-arsed moon a-rising... It ended up a tailgate session out of doors. Naturally, we talked of towers, the electronics industry and matters amateur radio. Many thanks to our chef-de garage, VO1GME.

RAC's AGM - Heart's Content Cable Station

Back on Sept 10, the RAC AGM took place and related "Hamvention" and swap shop. I (VO1TV) did not attend, but I hear that the event was a good success. A good time had by all.

HF Hurricane Frequencies (A reminder from VO1TV)

Hurricane net frequencies: --14.325 and 7.268 MHz – d’ARRL.. SPEAKING of which, keep and eye on KARL.. It’s coming right in the sweet spot....

And now I look at my third HD cable box from Rogers which is no longer connecting me to my Rogers cable service. Early on Friday morning at about 01:00 hrs., we had a lightning storm pass over St. John's. We had one big strike very close to the northeast end of the city where I live. I know it was close, since it was incredibly bright and the crash of thunder came within two seconds and hurt my ears. There are notes on the Internet of some pictures having fallen off the wall in peoples' homes. My 60 inch television was jammed halfway on and halfway off and had to be unplugged and re-plugged to get it to work normally.

My Rogers service is in the toilet, although my Internet works. I was told by the Rogers people on the phone that they have been flooded by calls after this lightning strike. I stood next to a lady over on Topsail road Rogers store exchanging her PVR for a new one, the old having had its guts blown out. Whatever that lightning bolt hit, it must of had Rogers name on it. Somewhere above a hole in the ground, a piece of equipment used to live.… Fascinating.

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 08.16

Posted: 2016-08-12

Here are your AVRAC news letter for August 2016. de Tom VO1TV

Upcoming Meeting

First a reminder about our BBQ meeting coming up Wednesday: our meal will be started at approximately 8 PM at the Red Cross building on Majors Path this coming Wednesday, August 17. This is weather-permitting. Currently the forecast is good in the long range, and GME will be our barbecue-master . He will be setting up and doing his thing at approximately 6 PM or 18:00 hrs. This will be a members-only barbecue with one special guest; namely, Stephanie from the Red Cross. The menu is burgers and sausages. Like last year. We will have a short meeting after clean-up with dessert at the usual place. :-)

Simultaneous with the barbecue preparation, we will send a team to the roof to have a look at our HF antenna and see if it needs a little bit of work. It has not been examined in a year, so naturally it should get a decent look-over to make sure it's okay. On the same note, Matt has realigned the HF rig to make sure our Kenwood is working properly. Currently we think our MFJ tuner has a problem, but the automatic antenna tuner built within the Kenwood is exceptionally good at tuning antennas.

Talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF

What's in a Lightning burst? (A story from VO1TV)

Years ago we had a speaker from Radio Amateurs of Canada passing on a number of interesting things about lightning. The important thing to know about it is that it is an exceptionally strong alternating current. It is estimated that it has a frequency of around 350 Hz. When it strikes an object, a huge magnetic field extends from that strike which can cause overloads in nearby electrical circuits that actually have not been hit by the lightning bolt. We saw a picture of a ham's phone line which was burned simply by induction. I once witnessed a lightning strike in Grand Falls where the power had been turned off to the building. Some ceiling fans began to spin rapidly for a few seconds after the lightning strike. What had occurred was a massive magnetic pulse which had generated current within the motor windings. With my own eyes I saw this.

And now I look at my third HD cable box from Rogers which is no longer connecting me to my Rogers cable service. Early on Friday morning at about 01:00 hrs., we had a lightning storm pass over St. John's. We had one big strike very close to the northeast end of the city where I live. I know it was close, since it was incredibly bright and the crash of thunder came within two seconds and hurt my ears. There are notes on the Internet of some pictures having fallen off the wall in peoples' homes. My 60 inch television was jammed halfway on and halfway off and had to be unplugged and re-plugged to get it to work normally.

My Rogers service is in the toilet, although my Internet works. I was told by the Rogers people on the phone that they have been flooded by calls after this lightning strike. I stood next to a lady over on Topsail road Rogers store exchanging her PVR for a new one, the old having had its guts blown out. Whatever that lightning bolt hit, it must of had Rogers name on it. Somewhere above a hole in the ground, a piece of equipment used to live.… Fascinating.

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 07.16

Posted: 2016-07-18

Here are your AVRAC news letter for July 2016. Number seven of the year, if you're counting. de Tom VO1TV

Upcoming Meeting

We next meet this coming Wednesday night, July 20th, at the Red Cross on Majors Path at 8 PM for our regular monthly meeting. Talk-in will be on NTV-VHF. NTV-VHF seems to be working well, this summer. shhhh not to be said out loud :-)

Last meeting

At our last meeting, we planned to operate with SONRA for the field day event. Reports from the hill indicate a good time was had by all and that a large number of amateurs dropped by the Signal Hill operation. As has become tradition, DX conditions were lousy, but the weather was good, which is definitely not a tradition.

At our last meeting, our president, Matt, VO1EI proposed that we affiliate our club with Radio Amateurs of Canada. The cost is quite low and the benefits many, so the matter was unanimously approved by all souls present. We are now affiliated.

Upcoming events

First, a reminder that the Red Cross will be doing its thing at the Regatta (only two weeks from our meeting) on August 3. I believe we will need at least three amateurs to cover off the day. Last year we had more than enough, but Keith, KTF, is unable to attend this year so we will get you to check your calendars for the August rowing classic. If it’s hot, we know the honkin’ ERV air conditioner will freeze your orange juice.

At our upcoming meeting, we will probably plan our AVRAC barbecue. Last year's event, with great weather, was so delicious we all said we should do it again. That depends upon the availability of the chief chef and the health of the chief chef's mobile barbecue machine.

The next thing on the agenda is a reminder that Radio Amateurs of Canada holds its Annual General Meeting on September 10 at the Heart's Content cable station. This event will likely be a form of hamvention, and the invitation is already contained in RAC materials.

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 06.16

Posted: 2016-06-13

Here is your AVRAC newsletter for June 2016 de VO1TV, uncle Tom

Upcoming Meeting

First, we next meet this coming Wednesday night 15 June at 8 PM at the Red Cross on Majors Path. If our room is still being used by the fundraising crew for Fort McMurray, we will find a spot somewhere in the Red Cross building as we did last month. Talk-in will be on NTV-VHF.

Last meeting

At our last meeting, we met in the training room and Matt (VO1EI) gave us a live update on the Fort McMurray situation. Attached with this newsletter is a public document which was sent to Fort McMurray residents or delivered to them in person. It is basically a plan on how to reoccupy a city, so it is rather a unique document and makes very interesting reading. The restoration crew has certainly worked very hard to get information to people.
View the information booklet here



Reminders

A reminder that AVRAC will be participating with SONRA in Field Day at the end of the month. The other summer activity which involves AVRAC is the Red Cross lost and found operation. We need at least three amateurs for this event. In the past we have confined or activities to the ERV, simply operating as net control on the simplex frequency as teams of walkers spread out around the pond.



From ARRL: Transatlantic VHF Digital Receiver Site Now Operational in Newfoundland

A transatlantic VHF digital receiver site has begun operation in Newfoundland. Frank Davis, VO1HP, reports that antennas were erected and a VHF SDR activated on May 19 to inaugurate the VO1FN "TransAtlantic VHF Digital Beacon Receiver Site." The receiver site, in grid square GN37, is sponsored by the Society of Newfoundland Radio Amateurs (SONRA), the Baccalieu Amateur Radio Klub (VO1BRK), and the Upper Trinity Amateur Radio Club (UTARC). Davis made his summer home and station in Freshwater, Conception Bay North, available for the receive-only site; it offers an unobstructed view of the North Atlantic, and he's open to suggestions as to how to take best advantage of the site's capabilities.

The VO1FN transatlantic VHF receiving site. [Courtesy of Frank Davis, VO1HP]

"The point of this experiment is to provide a North American receiver online 24/7 that can be used by European beacon operators or well-equipped VHF stations to test their transmissions," he told ARRL. "It is a receive-only site, but if it is proven over time that signals can be heard and correlated with propagation studies, then it might stimulate operators to equip their stations to attempt a two-way QSO."

Attempts have been made from Newfoundland and Labrador to transmit an Amateur Radio signal across the North Atlantic on 2 meters, with a two-way contact as the ultimate goal. The Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) offers its Brendan Trophy to the operators of the Amateur Radio stations to establish the first two-way communication on 2 meters between Europe and North or South America. The most recent effort to snag the Brendan Trophy took place from VC1T in Newfoundland in 2014. Interest stemming from that experiment led to the VO1FN project.

"The receiver site is up and running using an SDR and SDR Console software," Davis told ARRL. He explained that users would first have to install SDR Console V2.3, and he would open a free account permitting them to log in.

"We are willing to rotate the Yagi array in any direction for testing with distant 144 MHz digital stations," Davis said



From ARRL: IARU Assumes Custody of Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has become the custodian of the operating standards guide Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur. The IARU Administrative Council recently accepted an offer "with gratitude" from authors John Devoldere, ON4UN, and Mark Demeuleneere, ON4WW, to take over maintenance and updating of the document.

"Over the last 8 years, the booklet Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur has become a respected work describing the best standards of operating on the amateur bands," the IARU said in a news release. "Translated into most major languages, the booklet is a valuable reference work for all radio amateurs."

Devoldere and Demeuleneere met with IARU Region 1 President Don Beattie, G3BJ, on May 5 in Brussels to officially hand over the document. IARU will now carry the work forward in future years to ensure its continued relevance and currency.

Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur is available as a PDF document in more than 25 languages. A PowerPoint presentation appropriate for club presentations is available in English, Dutch, and French.

The authors' stated goal is, "to improve, where necessary, the behavior on the bands in matters of ethics and operating procedures, and make available to the newcomers in the hobby a document covering these subjects in detail." The guide was accepted by the IARU Administrative Council in 2008 as the recommended manual covering the subject of ethics and operational procedures.

Visit the Ham Radio Ethics and Operating Procedures website for more information.


Check out Edition 3 (circa June 2010) of the document here

Monthly Meeting - Special Note

Posted: 2016-05-18

Matt (VO1EI) advises that the Red Cross is abuzz 24 hrs/day with the Fort McMurray recovery effort. It is likely our meeting space in the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) is in use. So, we may need to meet in the garage or perhaps at Tim's if push comes to shove. 15 years ago we met in the "new" ERV, just for the hell of it.

Current Plan

We meet on the Red Cross lot at 8PM, this evening (Wednesday). We reconnoiter the situation and decide where to plop. If you have a rig, please keep it on NTV-VHF. 'AVRAC the flexible'... that's us!

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 05.16

Posted: 2016-05-16

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for May, 2016. This is prepared by Tom, VO1TV, Sec. of AVRAC

Upcoming Meeting

First, we next meet this coming Wednesday, 18 May at 8:00 PM in the Red Cross building on Majors Path. Talk-in will be on NTV-VHF.

Emergency Preparedness Week

We had a good turnout at the "be prepared" event during the first week in May held at the Paradise town hall and home of the Rovers. A picture is attached showing most of our attendees in the Erv. The water leaking beneath the Erv is actually a snow bank behind the Erv.. As all attendees would attest, no one is really sure why the snow bank was melting because it felt so bloody cold during the event!

The public did attend and the kiddies enjoyed seeing all the vehicles and radios and playing with the PA system etc.... It never ceases to amaze me that at these simple transmission exercises, we can always learn something new.

This event has enormous potential for advertising preparedness, so it is likely to become an annual event during the first week in May of every year… Just remember to wear your long underwear!

Amateurs on Alert in Alberta

(Article As written on ARRL website: http://www.arrl.org/news/view/canadian-radio-amateurs-went-on-alert-to-assist-in-alberta-wildfire-emergency-evacuations)

A wildfire in Alberta, Canada, that began unremarkably on May 1 as “MWF-009” soon ballooned into a major, fast-moving conflagration, owing to hot, dry weather, high winds, and low humidity, creating a disaster of historic proportions. The flames caused extensive property damage and led to the evacuation of the entire population of Fort McMurray, in the heart of Canada’s oil sands country. While the wildfire emergency never became a “communications event,” prompting an ARES activation, Radio Amateurs of Canada said, radio amateurs on the ground helped other organizations such as the Red Cross.

Alberta Section Manager Garry Jacobs, VE6CIA/VE6OW, reported on May 5 that Alberta ARES went on standby “to provide VHF/UHF linking,” although there was no HF activity due to the fact that Fort McMurray had been evacuated.

According to the Amateur Radio Coalition, PERCS (Provincial Emergency Radio Communications Service) was put on standby to staff the radio room and to establish communication into Fort McMurray, and the club in Fort McMurray was staffing its local emergency communications center in case communications fail. PERCS Alberta Assistant Coordinator Curtis Bidulock, VE6AEW, said the organization directly supports the Alberta Emergency Management Agency and assists all Alberta Amateur Radio clubs with provincial coordination of resources and communication links, as requested. PERCS operates in partnership with Radio Amateurs of Canada.

By the end of the first week, some 80,000 residents had been evacuated from Fort McMurray. Some 25,000 residents who had fled to the north of the city were successfully relocated to the south, and out of the fire’s path. Thousands of homes and buildings have been lost — including entire neighborhoods — in the region as a result of the unprecedented fire disaster.

According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, provincial officials still have not determined when it might be safe for residents to return to Fort McMurray. Officials said on May 11 that the fire was lessening in intensity, and favorable weather conditions were helping firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to visit Fort McMurray on Friday, May 13.

Potential new rig?

Here is a potential new rig that sounds a bit too good to be true especially since there is a picture of it, but it won't be available until the end of 2016 or sometime in 2017:

http://www.va3xpr.net/dv4mobile-details-appear/

International Marconi Day

Posted: 2016-04-25

On-the-Air Activity to Highlight International Marconi Day

Saturday April 23rd was International Marconi Day

Around-the-world Amateur Radio activity will mark the 29th annual International Marconi Day (IMD), a 24-hour event held annually to celebrate the anniversary of wireless pioneer Guglielmo Marconi's birth on April 25, 1874. IMD is observed each year on a Saturday close to Marconi's birthday, and this year it will be observed on Saturday, April 23, with many special event stations on the air -- some operating from Marconi-related sites that count as points toward the Marconi Award. Certificates are available for both transmitting stations and shortwave listeners (SWLs).The event is not a contest; it is an opportunity for amateurs around the world to make point-to-point contact with historic Marconi sites on HF, and to earn an award certificate for working or hearing a requisite number of Marconi stations.

International Marconi Day special event station GB4IMD will operate from Cornwall, helmed by members of the Cornish Amateur Radio Club, which organizes the IMD event each year. IMD 2016 has been dedicated to Norman Pascoe, G4USB (SK), one of the event's founders, who died in February. Cornwall was home to some of Marconi's early work. GK3MPD will be on the air from the inventor's Poldhu site.

The Kerry Amateur Radio Group in Ireland will be among those taking part as an Award Station in this year's IMD activities. The station will be set up on the site of the former Marconi Station at Ballybunnion by the "Expeditionary Radio Team" of the radio club. Two HF stations are planned, and special event call sign EI6YXQ will commemorate the original YXQ that the Marconi Station at Ballybunnion used.

Radio amateurs in Norfolk, England, will once again be active from Caister Lifeboat as part of the International Marconi Day celebrations. The Norfolk Amateur Radio Club (NARC) will be on the air from special event station GB0CMS from the Caister Lifeboat Visitor Centre to commemorate the village's original Marconi wireless station, established in 1900. The station's initial purpose was to communicate with ships in the North Sea and the Cross Sands lightship.

While it's not part of the official International Marconi Day activities, an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school contact in England will take place on April 23, and the Marconi observance prompted the proposed initial question to ISS crew member Tim Peake, KG5BVI. Twelve-year-old Benny plans to ask, "Today is International Marconi Day; how do you think Marconi would feel about this radio communication?"

Other IMD sites with historical links to the inventor's work include Cape Cod, Massachusetts (WA1WCC); Glace Bay, Nova Scotia (VE1IMD); Villa Griffone, Bologna, Italy (IY4FGM); Signal Hill, St Johns, Newfoundland (VO1AA), and many others.

A Facebook page is also available.

Monthly Meeting Postponed!

Posted: 2016-04-20 @1800 NDT

Tonight's AVRAC meeting is OFF due to the storm. We will try again next Wednesday evening, April 27 at 8PM at the Red Cross.

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 04.16

Posted: 2016-04-18

Here's your AVRAC newsletter for April, 2016, de VO1TV, secretary d'AVRAC.

Upcoming Meeting

First, we meet this coming Wednesday evening, April 20 at 8 PM at the Red Cross building on Majors Path. Weather might be an issue for that evening. We normally do not meet if there is a snowstorm going on. The decision will be made by our President usually by the time of the drive at 5. Talk-in will be on NTV-VHF. If we have to cancel, I (VO1TV) will send out a note via email and inform all comers on NTV-VHF.

Last month

Last month's meeting was well attended and we had a good chat about all matters dealing with communication. Matt (VO1EI) revealed that he believes the city of St. John's Regional Fire Department will be going Moto Turbo in the future which will remove it from most of our scanners. Our System Fusion radios will not pick up Moto Turbo even though it is close to C4FM Fusion.

Also, Matt confirmed that he has heard there will be some form of exercise involving the mobile units of all the agencies during the first week of May. I was not informed of the organization meeting so I have no details of what is to happen and I have heard nothing from the Red Cross, but I assume it will be participating. This may be a weekend event so it will be a chance for most of our members to put in an appearance should they desire.

Prior to last month's meeting, some of us observed a second balloon launch by the New Hampshire school who sent a balloon and portable radio on a journey that ended up in the Atlantic somewhere south of the island. This first launching, a year ago, was the subject of a fascinating show and tell and examination of the Styrofoam cocoon which held the radio and antennas which had rusted. This time, the radio was communicating by APRS and logged into a number of Newfoundland stations as it passed over the Avalon. I logged it on my station at a distance of 99 miles out to sea. The balloon is believed to have come down somewhere in the Atlantic to the east of us and has not been located. The webpage sponsored by the high school group showed the location of the balloon as it sped across Newfoundland at about 200 km/h in real time. I must say it was fun to watch.

With the sun shining high and the temperatures moderating somewhat, soon it will be time to check out the Red Cross roof and the HF wire antenna. Unfortunately, the forecast for Wednesday looks more like something out of January, so I have my doubts of any rooftop activities this coming week. - VO1TV

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 03.16

Posted: 2016-03-15

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for March 2016, D’uncle Tom, VO1TV, secretary of AVRAC.

Upcoming Meeting

We meet this coming Wednesday, March 16, at the Canadian Red Cross on Majors Path at 8 PM, (20:00 hrs) for our regular meeting. Talk-in on VO1NTV (VHF).

Last month

At our last meeting, we conducted our annual election of officers. Here are the executive for 2016:

President, VO1EI
Vice President- VO1XH
Past President- VO1PX
Treasurer- VO1GME
Secretary-VO1TV
Director-VO1ZX
Director-VO1KTF
Director- VO1OE

At our last meeting, we passed on our advance warning of a coming exercise in early May involving communications. This would involve the city of St. John’s and its mobile communications emergency vehicle. We speculated it would also involve the Red Cross. There was a tentative meeting scheduled for earlier this month for a planning session. I/We have heard nothing further since the initial contact, so we do not know if the main event will take place or not. If it does take place, there will be little preparation required unless a complex scenario is tested out…

Newsworthy Links


Annual General Meeting (AGM) - Election Results

Posted: 2016-02-29

Here is the AVRAC Executive for 2016


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 02.16

Posted: 2016-02-15

Here is your AVRAC news letter for February, 2016. De vo1tv, uncle Tom

Upcoming Meeting

We next meet this coming Wednesday February 17 at the Red Cross on Majors Path at 8 PM. Talk-in on VO1NTV (VHF). Don, VO1XH, and myself (VO1TV) will probably be over by 7 PM to check into the Newfoundland HF net. This meeting should be our annual election of club executive members.

Last month

Last month we met at the St. John’s Emergency Operations Center (our radio callsign there is VO1EOC), and did a Yaesu Fusion demonstration for the City of St. John's. The meeting was well attended.

Also at the meeting, a new member of our ham community, Jackson, wrote his examination and achieved a pass. He is a friend and fellow schoolmate of Aaron, VO1AKA. We wish Jackson (VO1JQB) a congratulations for getting his ham ticket!

One thing arising out of last month’s meeting was the anticipated use of the interoperation frequency. The city indicated that it would be infrequently used and if it was needed, we could rig something up. That translates as meaning it will be up to us amateur radio operators to rig something up if we have a serious communications emergency.

We also learned that the VHF D-STAR radio has blown its power amplifier so we've agreed to scope out a replacement and get it back on the air. The club will pick up the cost of this. Paul, VO1PX will do the purchasing.

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 01.16

Posted: 2016-01-20

Here are your AVRAC newsletter, the first for 2016 de VO1TV, secretary d’AVRAC..

Upcoming Meeting

Please take note that we meet this coming Wednesday night the 20th of January. We will meet at the Emergency Operations Center of the city of St. John's at 8 PM , 20:00 hrs. The Emergency Operations Center, VO1EOC, is located at the central fire station near the CLB Armoury, downtown St. John's. Fortunately, there is a Tim's next door… Park in the parking lot behind the Fire Hall and use the backdoor entrance. Talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF and you should bring a portable, especially if you arrive a bit late. There is an automatic lock on the door and no working intercom to get you past the back door, so your handheld is the only way you will be heard to be beamed up.

This will be be our first regular meeting after our very pleasant Christmas dinner we had at “Big’s” a month ago. Many thanks to Matt, VO1EI, for organizing that event. This month, I shall bring 2 QSTs from December and January to the meeting for review. These magazines will reside in the CRC shack in future.

Additionally, Aaron, VO1AKA has a fellow student coming to our meeting to write the Ham exam. With any luck at all, we will have a new ham operator in our midst! As usual, we shall gather the ham news of the day and see what the City of St. John's plans to do for the planned May exercise with an interoperability theme.

Newsworthy Links


SK - Silent Key

Posted: 2016-01-19 from Don VO1XH

Sad news to report the passing of Neil Dingwell,VO1XD.

Neil was an active amatuer for many years and he did attend both AVRAC and SONRA meetings.He passed away on Saturday,16 JAN 2016, at St.Lukes Homes in west end, St. Johns at 89 years of age. He has not been active for at least 8 years due to Alzheimers Disease. I would like to remember him at our meeting tomorrow and have a moment of silence to remember a member of our Amateur Fraternity.

Online obituary

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 11.2015

Posted: 2015-11-16

Here are your AVRAC newsletter d’uncle Tom (VO1TV) Secretary d’AVRAC..

Upcoming Meeting

First, we next meet this coming Wednesday at the Red Cross, Nov 18 at 8 PM on Major’s path. Likely, myself (VO1TV) and Don (VO1XH) will be over to VO1CRC before 7PM to check into the NL Evening HF Net on 3.740 MHz, so feel free to drop by early.

This will be our last formal meeting of 2015.December brings our annual dinner with the best of company.

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 10.2015

Posted: 2015-10-18

Upcoming Meeting

First, We meet this Wednesday Oct 21 at the Red Cross at 8 PM at Majors Path. Don (VO1XH) and myself (VO1TV) may be over by 7PM to check into the HF net.

News items over the past month

Last Saturday, Oct 17, Our folks helped a Scout troop Celebrate JOTA. Jamboree on the Air. Says Matt (VO1IEI): a few contacts were made( on D Star, I think), the boys helped me put together a couple of electronics kits, the scout leaders were impressed by the way we did things, Keith- VO1KTF and Geoff- VO1GME were there and gave the boys a good show of amateur radio.

Newsworthy Links


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 09.2015

Posted: 2015-09-21

Here are your AVRAC newsletter, number 9 of the year, for the month of September, 2015. De vo1tv, Secretary d’AVRAC.

Upcoming Meeting

First we meet at the Red Cross for our regular meeting this coming Wednesday, September 16 at 8 PM. Owing to the success we have had with the installation of a new wire end-fed antenna, Don, VO1XH and I (Tom, VO1TV) are likely to be over at the Red Cross before 7 PM to attempt to check into the HF network. Drop on by early if you wish. Talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF.

News items over the past month

First a great big thank you to GME for his cheffing services and his barbecue at our last meeting. The grub was delicious and plentiful. All we needed was a dozen of our favourite cold beverages and we would have been in heaven. We do plan for a Christmas dinner which is coming shockingly fast.

Antenna Install

Prior to our last meeting Don, VO1XH, installed a 135 foot end fed antenna for HF purposes. We moved the iron mast from its old location near the generator to the very corner of the lot. Thanks to all those involved moving bricks and exchanging ideas...
Many years ago, when the Red Cross lot was actually a woodland, we saw a rabbit perch contentedly beneath the pole for about 15 minutes. Ever since we have referred to this mast as the 'bunny pole'.
As the antenna was being installed, those of us inside were astonished to hear the DX coming in on the 80 and 40m bands while the wire was still laying on the ground. Later testing by VO1XH achieved an easy contact into England and into the US on 40 and 20m. So it works!
We have yet to receive any specifications from the British company which makes the antenna but we know what to do with it, as it proudly flies from the relocated center mast of the Red Cross roof.
Current plans are to try my (Tom, VO1TV) old Ameritron AL 811 amplifier on the wire to see if we can get about 300W into it. It has always been my experience on HF that running about 300-400W on a wire antenna will allow others to hear us as well as we hear them.

Fusion Fun

During the past month, Don, VO1XH has had the loan of the club’s portable Fusion handheld, the Yaesu FT1DR. This comes with the microphone capable of taking pictures. It is all programmed up and it is intended that it will be loaned to a separate club member (in good standing) every month with a view to using it on VO1UHF in digital format. The idea is to familiarize our club members with this machine because it is able to take pictures and send them over the air without the need of any Internet.
Also, the loaner let's all of us become familiar with digital radio and its quirks. It also allows us to communicate with the wires-X Internet linking function that is supported by Yaesu.


Antenna Installation - August 26, 2015


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 08.2015

Posted: 2015-08-24

Here are your AVRAC newsletter, the eighth of the year, for August 2015. De vo1tv, Secretary d’AVRAC.

Upcoming Meeting

First we note that we meet this coming Wednesday night for a barbecue at 7 PM at the Red Cross on Majors Path. That is 1900 hrs. Wednesday, August 26. Note the change in time - 7 PM. As of today’s newsletter, we have no spouses or significant others attending the barbecue.

News over the past month

We had 4 club members take part at the Royal St. John’s Regatta assisting the Red Cross with communications: (VO1-) KTF, GME, XH, and TV. The weather ranged from fog and cold to surprisingly hot and humid in the afternoon. A huge crowd was in attendance in the afternoon with very little radio activity.

A big hit at this regatta was the quarter-wave mobile antennas. The city had a hard-battery Red Cross radio with a quarter-wave antenna for their command post roof. "City command" was not active, but they came in loud and clear up by the Virginia River when they did transmit. Similarly the shuttle run by the Red Cross came pounding in down at the pond and I heard it loud and clear hear from my listening post on the Virginia River wherever it roamed. We have a winner with those quarter-wave antennas. :-)

Radio updates

On the other technical fronts, the Yaesu fusion transceivers have arrived and have been providing digital communication for those of us with updated rigs. The audio quality of the digital signal is phenomenally good when heard over an extension speaker. The Wires–X system has been installed on a node at the NTV studios and is bringing in signals by the Internet from all over the world. The audio quality ranges from those who are out of range and therefore quite mechanical to signals that sound like they’re coming from within the room. The node receives and transmits in the digital C4FM mode usually in the narrow bandwidth format. The rigs will be demonstrated after the barbecue this Wednesday.

Shown below: The club's latest goodies have arrived! New Yaesu Fusion equipped radios

Antenna woes

The other bit of technical news this month is a de-sensing problem on NTVVHF. We had noticed with the advent of the warmer weather, the machine was transmitting poorly and receiving poorly back in June. This was eventually traced to water in the feedline. Matt and the NTV crew drilled a drain hole in the hard line which seem to help a bit. However, just a couple of days ago Geoff was having difficulty hitting the machine using 50 W of power with a good antenna on his vehicle in the East End of the city. The machine was transmitting full bore, but was not hearing well. Further work is needed on the VHF portion of the system.

Meanwhile the UHF fusion repeater continues to act magnificently nearly 400 feet off the ground. It will work in both digital and analog modes and remains the go-to repeater for those with dual band capabilities.

Newsworthy Links

AVRAC - Monthly Meeting Announcement - August 2015

Posted: 2015-08-10

From VO1TV, uncle Tom

A special AVRAC news item

We have decided to postpone our regular monthly meeting one week until August 26 at 7 PM at the Red Cross building. Note this is a week later than normal and it is an early start. This way we can maximize our attendance as most people will be back from vacation. We are proposing to have a barbecue at that time with Geoff providing the Chuck wagon. Spouses and significant others will be welcome. More details will be provided as the time approaches.

Fusion

After a chow down in the garage or in the Red Cross kitchen, we will have our meeting where the joys of the new Yaesu Fusion system will be explained and, hopefully, will demonstrated.

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 07.2015

Posted: 2015-07-13

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for July 2015. De VO1TV, uncle Tom (Secretary d'AVRAC)

Next Meeting

We next meet this Wednesday, July 15, at the Red Cross at 8 PM. Our talk-in will be on VO1NTV-VHF. If for some reason that repeater is unavailable we will use VO1RCR.

News

Our first story is VO1NTV-VHF. The repeater has had some sensitivity issues when the summer began but it really crapped out last week during the drive at five. To make a long story short, Matt, VO1EI, was up the tower at the 40 foot level and opened the feedline at an old joint, which looked perfectly secure on the outside. He got a bath as the water flowed out of the transmission line. Apparently, the connector had a bad seal within it and it is believed water is getting into the line from somewhere high in the clouds. Matt can go over the details of the fix that was placed upon the feedline. The machine had been switched off by Doug, VO1DWN, to prevent damage when it was obvious The there was something wrong with the feedline or the antenna. As of press time, the machine is on and seems to be working acceptably well. VO1NTV-UHF is not affected and is still as sensitive as hell.

Field Day

From ARRL website: Field Day is always the fourth full weekend of June, beginning at 1800 UTC Saturday and running through 2059 UTC Sunday. Field Day 2015 is June 27-28.

Media coverage (VOCM):
The Society of Newfoundland Radio Amateurs and the Avalon Radio Amateurs Club will join ham radio operators all over the world this weekend to operate for "Field Day.

The event will take place at the Signal Hill National Historic Site Interpretation Centre parking lot, with operations beginning 3:30 p.m. Saturday, running until 3:30 p.m Sunday.

Field Day is a 24-hour emergency exercise that tests the ability of ham radio to come to the aid of the public when regular communications fail or overload.

The public is encouraged to drop by and learn more.


This years Field Day:
Band conditions were rather bad on the Saturday of field day, but the participants enjoyed themselves. (See pictures below, provided by Geoff, VO1GME)

Regatta Day

Although we have not been contacted by the Red Cross as to their specific needs, I (VO1TV) think we can safely anticipate we will need 3 amateur radio operators to work in the ERV on Regatta day by the pond. Typically, we need a morning person, an afternoon person, and an evening person. Modern Regatta days are fairly sleepy events compared to our first involvement when there could easily be 100 or more lost kids during the holiday. The big change has occurred in smart phone technology and texting. Additionally, the cell phone company adds a portable tower next to the boathouse which greatly facilitates cell phone communications. Now it’s only the real little kids that end up getting lost.

This year, I would like to get 3 new volunteers to help the Red Cross simply to ensure that our tribal knowledge of helping the Red Cross is spread around. If I can, I will be a standby radio operator during the afternoon session just to observe what is going on and to make sure we stay current with the Red Cross needs.

I have tended to take over the project from the club’s point of view. Usually this means ensuring the radios are charged up and on the correct frequencies.

So, if you are going to be free for a few hours during Regatta day it will be greatly appreciated if you could step forward to take a shift, especially if you have not done it before. It is just basic radio communications passing traffic of specific missing children or missing adults. We usually have a meeting at Red Cross one week before Regatta to nail down specifics, where I do a 20 minute radio training session.


Field Day 2015 (June 27-28). Pics taken by Geoff, VO1GME


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 06.2015

Posted: 2015-06-16

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for June 2015. De VO1TV, uncle Tom

Next Meeting

We next meet this Wednesday, June 17 at 8PM at the St John’s Emergency Operations Center. The EOC is located above the Fire Station on Harvey Road. Use the back entrance (Parade Street). Talk-in will be on VO1RCR. Note, That’s check in on VO1RCR. VO1NTV-VHF may have issues...

News

News... have we ever got news this month. VO1NTV-VHF and VO1NTV-UHF are operating in the clouds on Shea Heights. On the first day of operations, VO1NTV-VHF was worked into from Clarenville by Jordan, VO1HJE, on a mobile antenna. VO1NTV-UHF is a real surprise. It is sensitive and the audio is excellent. Not bad for the burned remains of the Kenwood VO1UHF machine, HI!..

Doug VO1DWG shares the comment that the "the next project looking forward is a 6 meter repeater, maybe by next summer. We have to build the duplexer and the antenna, but work on this has already begun..."

But... then there was a little problem.

During the heat of the day, all 20 ̊C of it, some of the boys noticed that VO1NTV-VHF was not as sensitive as it should be. Now some insensitivity in the East End of St. John's is to be expected. The VHF antenna is located on the side of the NTV tower away from civilization. There is a wonderful lobe of power and sensitivity to the West and Southwest but hitting the repeater with a handheld in the east end meant using either high power or midrange power. Doug and I experienced this on the very first day of operating. But something else is going on.

During the heat of the day I could not bust into the repeater even with high power on my handheld. At midnight, I could hit the thing and hold it even on low-power. The boys think it may be absorption by the foliage 300 feet below. It's an ongoing mystery. By comparison, when VO1NTV is not sensitive you can hit VO1RCR easier. That is why we should use VO1RCR for talk-in on our meeting night, at least for this month of June.

Still with the good news

Matt, VO1EI, has managed to score a deal on purchasing a new Yaesu Fusion repeater. UHF/VHF. This can be worked into our radio system as we see fit. These machines are designed for Amateur use and are dual FM/digital use. They have been selling like hot cakes across North America. It will arrive in the fall. These machines will accept data as well as voice. As such, they can relay pictures and data when the internet is down. Most importantly, they work with Microsoft platforms, so you don’t need to speak geek just to switch the machine on... All you need is your usual arsenal of "blasphemy" you use every day for Windows. :-)

Newsworthy Links

VO1NTV - UHF repeater on the air!

Posted: 2015-06-04

VO1NTV - UHF

In addition to the installation and operation of VO1NTV VHF repeater, Rodney, VO1TWO and Matt, VO1EI have now put VO1NTV - UHF into operation as well. Thanks again for your hard work guys!

Click here for the repeater info

Shown below is the setup for both VHF and UHF repeaters. Note the cans for the UHF repeater are actually repurposed and modified from VHF filters!

VO1NTV - Moved to new home!

Posted: 2015-05-25

VO1NTV Moved!

The VO1NTV repeater has now been moved to it's (hopefully) permanent new home atop the NTV Shea Heights tower. Over the course of two days (May 21st-22nd) Rodney, VO1TWO and Matt, VO1EI have successfully placed the antenna atop the tower and after under-going a few checks, all is well! AVRAC thanks them for their hard work.

Jordan, VO1HJE was able to keep a QSO on the repeater all the way out to Shoal Harbour, in the vicinity of VO1SHR repeater (a 'straight-shot' distance of about 120km!).

Click here for the repeater info

Matt, VO1EI notes the following:

  • City of St. John’s – Covered
  • Portugal Cove-St. Phillips - Covered
  • Paradise – Covered
  • Trans-Canada Highway West to Clarenville – Covered
  • Paradise – Covered
  • The southern shore is yet to be determined

"...One repeater to cover that of VO1GT, VO1BT, VO1ARG & VO1SHR... wicked!!"



Images taken by Matt, VO1EI


Doug, VO1DWN, provides the following info:

The VHF antenna is a 4 bay (210C4) Sinclair design, with the centre of radiation at about 330 feet, (1123 feet ASL!) pointed about 260 degrees. The radio is a Motorola Quantar with about 75 watts into antenna. The UHF antenna (for future install of UHF repeater) is an 8 bay setup as an omni, at the same height on the opposite leg of the tower from the VHF. And behind the forward lobe of the TV. The repeater is the old VO1RCR UHF unit, which is now have working again, the power output will be set to 25 watts -2.1 db loss in duplexer, for 15 watts into the antenna line...

This has been the culmination of almost two years work...

What pleases me is that these repeaters are built In the true spirit of amateur radio, all junk that has been modified, or rebuilt, Including the duplexers and antennas. The 8 can duplexers were cobbled together for VHF from two old 4 can reslocks rescued from the EMO junk pile. They would never have been used again. The UHF one was actually built from two old VHF ones, once again these would never have been used again. These cavities were modified completely to create the UHF version. Both antennas had to have extensive work as well. Especially the 4 bay VHF. We tried many antennas that we obtained, but all had issues. So we finally decided at Christmas time on one and rebuilt it. It was made form a new harness and dipoles that Ken (VO1ST) had. I will say that getting the harness inside that pipe is not for the faint of heart.

The cost was a lot of time, and sweat. So I’m very happy with the result so far. Thanks to all involved! While the UHF is not going to have coverage that the VHF has, hopefully it will Be good for in town QSO’s.


Last words

Again, AVRAC thanks Doug, Rodney and Matt for their technical expertise as well as performing the grunt-work for getting VO1NTV-VHF repeater installed (and VO1NTV-UHF soon enough)!

ARCON celebrating 50 years!

Posted: 2015-05-25

From Ken Tucker (VO1KVT):

Hello HAM aficionados,
Join our celebrations.

On Saturday, June 27, 2015, the Amateur Radio Club of Central Newfoundland (ARCON) will celebrate its 50th anniversary in conjunction with this year’s International Field Day for HAMs.

To celebrate, the club will open the festivities with a short broadcast from its original meeting place just off the Trans Canada Highway near Little Harbour. The transmission will be made at 2:30pm on 146.520 – the ol’ favourite for simplex communications. The message will be received at a tent set up for the occasion in the Gander Town Square near the gazebo. At the gazebo, the club will participate in communications for International Field Day – a day when HAMs from around the world gather with their clubs to hone their skills and register their communications in a global challenge.

A banquet will be held at 7:30 at the Masonic Hall, Lindbergh Road, Gander to further the celebrations. A Roast Beef Dinner will be served. Members old and new, members from other clubs, and interested parties are welcome to attend. Cost is $10. RSVP by 08 June
<Contact info removed for security. Get in touch with an AVRAC executive or member if you wish to find out more info>.

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 05.2015

Posted: 2015-05-12

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for may, 2015 de Tom, VO1TV, secretary d’Avrac...

Next Meeting

First, we next meet this coming Wednesday at the Red Cross. That’s May 20, at 8PM at the Red Cross on Major’s path. Happy sunny May 24th weekend.

Our Last Meeting

At our last meeting, we had a presentation by the Red Cross team of Stephanie Mentions and John McDonald. John did most of the presenting, giving us an operational picture of the Canadian Red Cross.

The Canadian Red Cross in Newfoundland has been very active and has sent volunteers all over the place to disasters worldwide. The Newfoundland volunteers continue to be highly experienced and very competent. From the radio side of things, John McDonald is very much aware that even modern cell phones will break down in an emergency, due to over-demand and lack of power to the cell phone towers.

His dream is to have the radio system beefed-up and to be ready to go complete with a list of "radio instructions for dummies" right by the radios in the Erv and in the Communications Room, so that the volunteers can decide to use the radios immediately on their own, without waiting for us hams.

We explained to the Red Cross volunteers that because we use different brands and types of radio across the system, there will be no such thing as a single instruction sheet on how to operate the radios. However, thanks to the Regatta, most volunteers will be familiar with using the ICOM portable radios.

Finally, at our meeting we again agreed to support SONRA at field day and to chip in some funds for food.

Red Cross Exercise

Back on May 3rd, an exercise took place at the Red Cross within the building itself. It was a simulated snowstorm and power failure where the Red Cross had a shelter established at the Mews Centre. It became a feeding centre as well as a warm-up centre. Tom (VO1TV), Matt (VO1EI), and Geoff (VO1GME) were in attendance and we used a couple of portable radios to simulate traffic between the shelter and the Red Cross. The Red Cross was established in the garage area of the building and the general training room served as the remote shelter. Quite a number simulated traffic messages were passed using the portable ICOM radios. Every message received at the simulated shelter had to be delivered orally to the shelter manager. That is precisely what will happen in the event of a real situation.

At the debriefing session, there was a very useful discussion held on ways to improve the performance of the Red Cross. Not all the details are relevant to us, but I did learn that the Red Cross has two very useful and experienced volunteers from a previous forest fire event in Labrador. Amateur radio operators took over the communications needs and set up a communications system that worked effectively. Remember, this was the operation where the town of Wabush had to be evacuated. They were on their own, with even the airport shut down because of smoke.

The exercise was held on a Sunday and it was deemed a great success. The volunteers asked for more exercises since the compressed format felt very much like the real thing. They had a number of people acting out roles including children.

Newsworthy Links

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 04.2015

Posted: 2015-04-13

Here are your AVRAC newsletter, the 4th of the year d'uncle Tom, vo1tv.

Next Meeting

First, we next meet at the Red Cross on Majors Path this coming Wednesday, April 15 at 8 PM.

Our Last Meeting

At our last meeting, Matt, our new AVRAC President, briefed us on his meeting with Stephanie and a general consensus of what we will be doing to help the Red Cross.

A number of students will be working with the Red Cross this year and will go through the radio equipment which Matt and John McDonald acquired to see what can be salvaged for use outside St. John's.

Generally, Matt, VO1EI, wants to ensure that the Red Cross repeater will be utilized by the Red Cross staff, and one way to accomplish this is to ensure that the Red Cross vehicles in daily use have radios hard-wired within them so that the vehicle operators and reception will get in the habit of staying in radio contact with each other. There should be at least 2 “go-pack” radios available with mag mount antennas and power supplies to operate at shelters.

Matt also suggested that we should attempt to help any Red Crossers interested get their ham radio licenses.

On another topic, Paul, VO1PX, had told us that digital cell phones do the same thing as the old analog cell phones in a real-time emergency… That is to say, communications get jammed up. Apparently, cell phone communications jammed up in Ottawa during the recent parliamentary shooting, according to media reports. That's something to bear in mind: radios still matter during emergencies.

Newsworthy Links

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 03.2015

Posted: 2015-03-14

Here are your AVRAC newsletter, the third of the year by vo1tv, uncle Tom. Happy St. Pat’s and Happy Easter, in a couple of weeks.

Next Meeting

First, we next meet this Wednesday, March 18, at The Red Cross on Major’s Path. Our meeting is at 20:00 Hrs, or 8PM in daylight saving speak.

Our Last Meeting

At our last meeting we held our election of officers. Actually, It was an appointment, but what the hell.. Here are our executive : ( and I apologize in advance if I got anything wrong...)


Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 02.2015

Posted: 2015-02-15

Our Meeting

First, we next meet this coming Wednesday, February 18 at 8 o'clock, 2000 hrs., at the Red Cross on Majors Path. This will be our annual general meeting, so if you can scrape up 20 bucks for club dues, that would be appreciated.

Note well: this is weather permitting! We have a system scheduled to hit St. Johns around the time of our meeting, but it is scheduled to switch to rain. We generally do not meet during snowstorms, but rain is not a problem. Talk in will be on VO1NTV repeater. If the weather is a problem, the decision to go or no-go will be sent by email, and messages will be sent on VO1NTV as folks check in.

Our Last Meeting

At our last meeting, we made some decisions affecting the Red Cross radio system and how we are going to move forward. To make a long story short, we decided to order up 11 hard battery packs for the portable radios.

We also decided to make our mobile – base station radios dual capability. In essence, we hope to have them portable between vehicles and base station use. The power cord will have a standard plug to go into a cheap 12 V power supply for base station use as well as a cigarette plug so that the same radios can be used in cars. All the radios will need a quarter wave magnetic mount antenna which can be used on cars or in buildings.

We also decided on the three basic frequencies on which the Red Cross will operate. For those radios with an alphanumeric display, the three channels will appear in the following order: repeater, walk 1, walk 2. By standardizing the names, the order of channels and the tones, this will let us get a radio ready for the Red Cross relatively easy. 10 amp power supplies should be sufficient to run a mobile radio as a base station, and they are about 70 bucks for a switching power supply available at one of the amateur radio supply stores. We should be able to convert existing and/or donated VHF radios for full Red Cross use for about $100 and change.

We also decided to swap out the existing VDU 408 commercial repeater with one of our VHF Kenwood VHF machines. The existing commercial repeater will not power-up after a power failure which would make it a pain in the ass when it gets moved to Southcott Hall. The Kenwood’s can be set to come back on after a power bump.

Training for Red Crossers

"I" (VO1TV) conducted a training seminar for a group of interested Red Cross parties who wanted to know more about communications. John McDonald, is the guy in charge of training for the Red Cross and we had a retired RCMP officer and airport fire-fighter as our trainees. All three were impressed with the idea of using base station radios at shelters with a magnetic mount antenna. The long-range plan is to have equipment ready to grab and go by a number of specifically trained Red Cross people who will have enough information to successfully establish a radio in a motor vehicle and inside a shelter or command post. They will also have access to, and know how to use, the hard battery packs. They will also know what channels are available both inside St. John’s and beyond the overpass. More training will take place in the future and will consist of short and long training programs.

Red Cross March Exercise

The city of St. John's exercise has not been rescheduled as of this writing, but John McDonald says he is planning on having a building-wide exercise for Red Cross volunteers sometime in March. This will probably take place during an evening or weekend so it will be a golden opportunity for those who are free to see what it is the Red Cross does. It will be a simulated running of a major operation with multiple shelters.

The Red Cross Generator

I was relieved to learn some good news at the training seminar. John McDonald indicated that there is an informal committee at the Red Cross looking into the feasibility of establishing a storage tank for diesel fuel to feed the new generator. The specifications sheet says that it will burn through 1500 L of diesel every 24 hours and the staff are aware of diesel fuel shortages that occurred during #DarkNL.

Newsworthy Links

A reminder to mobile ham operators and the NL Highway Traffic Act

Posted: 2015-01-23

The 'anti-cellphone' section has been updated to the Newfoundland & Labrador Highway Traffic Act (HTA) and, while it has made it less clear, Geoff (VO1GME) points out that there is still an exemption in place for 2-way radios.

Highway Traffic Act (as of 2015-April-07)



176.1 - Cellular telephones and other communication devices
  1. A person shall not drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding, or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, email or text messages.
  2. Notwithstanding subsection, (1), a person may drive a motor vehicle on a highway while using a device described in that subsection in hands-free mode.
  3. Subsection (1) does not apply to:
    1. the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police vehicle;
    2. a peace officer who is driving a motor vehicle in the discharge of his or her duties;
    3. another prescribed person or class of persons;
    4. a person holding or using a device prescribed for the purpose of this subsection; or
    5. a person engaged in a prescribed activity or in prescribed conditions or circumstances.
  4. Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the use of
    1. a device to contact ambulance, police or fire department emergency services; or
    2. a device that is linked to a non-public shortwave radio communication system.
  5. Subsection (1) does not apply if
    1. the motor vehicle is off the roadway and is not in motion; or
    2. the motor vehicle is lawfully parked on the roadway.
  6. The Lieutenant-Governor may make regulations,
    1. prescribing devices for the purpose of subsection (1); or
    2. prescribing persons, classes of persons, devices, activities, conditions and circumstances for the purpose of subsection (3).

AVRAC Interpretation

During the previous AVRAC meeting, the above section was discussed and interpreted. Two clauses were reviewed that may help protect mobile ham-radio operators from receiving tickets when operating:

Subsection 3c. - Subsection 1 does not apply to another prescribed person or class of persons
Interpretation: An amateur radio operator does require testing and prescribed a license for the privileges of operating a radio, mobile or otherwise.
Where the ambiguity lies: Whether a ham fits this description of 'prescribed person' is unknown.

Subsection 4b. - Subsection 1 does not apply in respect of the use of a device that is linked to a non-public shortwave radio communication system.
Interpretation: Probably our best protection against receiving tickets for using a communication device
Where the ambiguity lies: Definition of 'shortwave' - not all frequencies, such as 2m or 440MHz, are technically defined as shortwave


To repeat: This is only an interpretation, we have not found any official documentation to explicitly say that mobile ham radio operators are 100% exempt, so your mileage may vary!
Of course it goes without saying (but we will say it anyway) common sense can go a long way: when driving in dangerous conditions or areas that require 110% focus on the road, please PUT THE MIC DOWN!. :-)

Noteworthy Links

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 01.2015

Posted: 2015-01-17

Here are your Avrac newsletter for January 2015 d’uncle Tom, vo1tv, Secretary d’AVRAC......

Our Meeting

We meet next Wednesday night at the Red Cross at 8PM at Major’s Path. That’s January 21. Talk-in will be on VO1NTV, as usual.

The City exercise: the afternoon of Monday, January 26

The City conducts an annual exercise in January from the emergency operations center above the fire hall on Harvey Road. We have a VHF and UHF station at that location called VO1EOC. Our own room, no less... We were lucky to get the amateur radio call sign just as we were lucky to get the callsign VO1ERV for the Red Cross Erv. We are officially written into the St. John's emergency plan.

Last year's event was cobbled up very quickly. We had a Red Cross volunteer on a handheld in the parking lot working into the Red Cross commercial repeater VDU 408 (John MacDonald). The test was successful. I was in the emergency operations center and put in the new tones for VO1RCR and VO1UHF. We have three radios in operation at the EOC, all feeding into cavities. We had early discovered that we could tune into VO1GT thru the cavities, but not easily into VO1NTV.

Years ago the decision was made not to have a tower at the fire hall, but rather to put a bunch of folded dipole loop antennas around the roof. These would operate in the VHF and UHF spectrum. With so many doughnut shaped patterns blasting into one another it was suggested that a massive set of isolation cavities could be arranged to prevent interference. To my knowledge the emergency operations center has not been fully operational and tested out that isolation system to see how it will work in practice. As it is, the frequencies have changed for some of the agencies, so that means the cavity array needs tweaking.

As you know, what makes ham operators so useful in an emergency is our flexibility to change frequencies, something commercial radios cannot do. I managed to get into VO1NTV with my handheld and a rubber ducky from the fully enclosed VO1EOC room without interfering with the one commercial radio that was operating during last year's test. If we can manage to operate with a rubber ducky inside the radio room with all city repeaters, then we can be more useful than just monitoring the Red Cross commercial repeater and VO1RCR and VO1UHF. This year I want to try a 19 inch vertical dipole with my handheld and see if I can stay out of whatever commercial radios are in operation during the exercise. Probably, what we will never be able to do during a real event, is to walk to a window of the emergency operations center and blast away with 5 W on our rubber duck antennas to work repeaters that are not pre-built into the cavity system.

Newsworthy Links

SK - Silent Key

We next note the passing of Uncle Phil, vo1alf. He was a good head, and helped the club in many ways, including tower-climbing . We had a moment’s silence for him and toast at our Christmas party, last month. RIP, OM.

Obituary for Philip Noseworthy-VO1ALF

NOSEWORTHY, Philip Charles – Passed away suddenly at the Health Sciences Complex on Sunday, December 14, 2014, Philip Charles, aged 59 years. Special thanks to all the doctors and staff at the Health Sciences Complex.

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 12.2014

Posted: 2014-12-10

Here is a Christmas AVRAC newsletter and comeallye d’uncle Tom, vo1tv

Next Meeting

We don’t meet for our regular meeting this month, but this year we WILL be meeting at Montana’s eatery on Kenmount Road on Wednesday Dec 17 at 8 PM for a meal and general soiree (ironically, the 3rd Wednesday of the month!) . The club will be contributing to our meal, but bring your wallets for any shortfalls and the gratuity. Significant others are welcome.

So, if you have not already confirmed with Matt, please do so now. Unfortunately VO1PX can’t make it, but urges us to carry on as if normal. We shall toast you, sir, in your absence.
Dress: highly recommended as it's mighty cold to soiree in the buff... ;-)

New honkin' antenna for VO1NTV

Santa came early... we have an antenna for VO1NTV! We rephrased the dipoles and sure enough SHABANG! Here is a little diagram to show you how it is done:

Explanation: All four dipoles are attached to small stubs of 25 ohm cable, these stubs are then joined to two separate pieces of RG213 of 50ohms making two seperate units with a nominal impedance of 150 ohms each, both units are then attached to a piece of RG63B (125ohms) which brings the nominal impedance to 427 ohms, then a piece of RG213 (50ohms) is tapped at the centre causing the impedance to drop to 45 ohms at the end, giving you a VSWR match of about 1.3:1, if we wanted to turn this 4 bay into an 8 bay we would have to swap out the 125ohm RG63 with 75ohm RG11 to achieve the correct results. this is for a 1/2 wave length antenna in a 1/4 wave antenna the harness would be shorter but identical with the dipoles being 25 ohms each. If we were to look at a 2 bay dipole we would drop the 50 for 125, and the 125 stub for 75 stub this will bring the match to ~45 ohms which is again 1.3:1

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 11.2014

Posted: 2014-11-15

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for November and December 2014, d’uncle Tom, Vo1tv.

Next Meeting

First we meet for the last time this year, next Wednesday, Nov 19 at 8PM at the Red Cross. We look forward to having a good yarn, with a mug-up at Tim’s, later.

On Hurricane Gonzalo

Hurricane Gonzalo is now a memory, but it is one we actually need to ponder. The fact that we had a major hurricane roar up towards us on October 19 is truly extraordinary. This category 4 hurricane was a category 2 when it hit Bermuda. It then accelerated to speeds approaching 40 miles an hour and headed straight for us. Hurricane Igor did the same thing. Indeed, Igor was one of the rare storms that ramped UP as it transitioned. Those are the most dangerous of storms. “Gonzo” was a massive storm that moved too fast for the cold water protecting our island, to knock it down.

But something special happened with Gonzalo. It continued to hold its hurricane status with 90 mile-per-hour winds as it slipped by our southern shores. But there is more! Hurricanes tend to expand their wind field as they transition. Gonzalo stayed a full-fledged hurricane long after it passed by Cape Race! This puppy maintained its hurricane status at the 49th parallel out to sea. That's the same latitude as Corner Brook, Grand Falls, and Gander. That's awfully far north and much farther north than I thought a hurricane could ever exist. What may be the bottom line?

A fast-moving, large hurricane could easily hit the Avalon Peninsula as a large category one, or even a more deadly, category 2 hurricane. Could it be that the real threat of a disaster for the Red Cross is not the ice storm but rather a hurricane in September and October? See the picture of the recent hurricane/post tropical storm paths over Newfoundland.

Here is a look at the official discussion on Gonzalo as of 11:30 AM on that Sunday, 6 hours after the hurricane brushed by Cape Race:

HURRICANE GONZALO DISCUSSION NUMBER  29
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL       AL082014
1100 AM AST SUN OCT 19 2014

Despite traversing across sea-surface temperatures less than 10C,
Gonzalo has been able to maintain convection near the center. A 0845
UTC AMSU overpass also revealed that Gonzalo still had a deep warm
core that extended above the 200 mb level. Oil rigs in the
southeastern quadrant have reported sustained hurricane-force winds
during the past few hours, with oil rig VEP717 reporting a sustained
wind of 85 kt more than 80 nmi from the center of Gonzalo. Since
this report originated from a height of 130 meters, the initial
intensity will remain at 75 kt for this advisory.
Gonzalo is expected to become extratropical later today, and
gradually weaken during the next 24 to 36 hours.
FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT  19/1500Z 49.0N  47.3W   75 KT  85 MPH
Forecaster Stewart

Newsworthy Links

MURS now active in Canada

Posted: 2014-10-13

The power restriction is 2 Watts with type accepted radios ( Kenwood, Icom ,Motorola etc) and modulation is AM , FM , PM or Digital. Could be a very useful tool for sure!

MURS Frequencies
Channel Frequency Authorized Bandwidth Channel Name
1 151.820 MHz 11.25 kHz N/A
2 151.880 MHz 11.25 kHz N/A
3 151.940 MHz 11.25 kHz N/A
4 154.570 20.00 kHz Blue Dot
5 154.600 20.00 kHz Green Dot

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 10.2014

Posted: 2014-10-12

Next Meeting

Happy Thanksgiving. First, we next meet this coming Wednesday evening at 8 PM at the Red Cross on Majors Path. That is October 15. Talk-in will take place on VO1NTV repeater.

JOTA - (Scouts) Jamboree On The Air

The first thing to consider is whether we can put forth a useful program for the Boy Scouts at Mary Queen of Peace on Saturday, October 18. That is one of the days in which the jamboree on the air takes place. We have no reliable HF capability, but we can use VHF and UHF and D star. D star will be our best bet for interesting distance communications. We need to ensure our D star machine works and to see if we have any D star-savvy amateurs who can volunteer some time this coming Saturday. I have forwarded a copy of the phonetic alphabet over to the computer at the Red Cross so that we can edit the document and print it off over there, if we wish.

HF Antenna

On the HF front, I (VO1TV) had toyed with the idea of attempting to establish the ICOM folded dipole we own on the Red Cross fence to see if we could be heard. Unfortunately, I could not locate a couple of 20 foot steel posts so I've decided to hold off and consult with the membership this coming Wednesday. Attached will be a copy of the proposed antenna installation diagram and a copy of the ICOM folded dipole specifications. The idea is to take one 20 foot mast and poke a stiff 10 foot PVC pipe about 3 feet down its throat and fly the center of the dipole from that point. That would give us about 27 feet of height for the folded dipole. The ends would taper off to the 20 foot level. If we can keep as much antenna as possible in the air, we have a chance of the folded dipole working about as well as it did when we hauled it up the old tower several years ago. The antenna worked very well from the 40 foot level with the legs spread apart,back in ancient times....

Handi-Talky Donation

Rodney, VO1TWO, has donated a Baofeng portable radio for club use. I (VO1TV) have been playing with the unit and I am surprised with its stamina in terms of battery use. It would allow us to use simplex comms very quickly around the Red Cross building. It is also a good backup radio for general communications on amateur repeaters.

Hurricane Gonzalo

Although it is late October, keep an eye open on the progress of hurricane Gonzalo. By this coming Friday it will be raging at 175 km/h winds. It's too early to tell if it's going to come up our way, but it is going to be in the Western slot where it could.

Know your Pro-words

Posted: 2014-10-12

Prowords are used in actual communications by military (NATO) and emergency operations. Very handy for cellphone (yes, cellphones ARE radios) and radio communications, or, face to face in noisy shelters. They are designed to be understood when there is high noise or poor communication conditions.

ROGER
Yes
Ā-FFIRMATIVE - (Ā is pronounced as in acorn)
“The answer to your question is yes” OR “Yes, that's what I said”
NEGATIVE
“The answer to your question is no” OR “No, that's not what I said”
SAY AGAIN [YOUR LAST]
Repeat the last bit or your entire message
QUESTION MARK
I am unsure, did I get that right? “Did you say you are taking a 15 (say: one-five) minute break, question mark?”
I SAY AGAIN
I'm going to repeat this
GO AHEAD
Same as “Over”, OR now it's your turn
TRAFFIC
I have messages
BREAK
I want to interrupt you guys chatting away, let me in please
BREAK, BREAK
Sometimes used as a general phrase to alert stations you are about to transmit. “Break, Break, this is EOC with traffic for ...”
BREAK, BREAK, BREAK
This is an emergency, let me talk NOW! and DO shut up please
BREAK, MORE TO COME
I am reading a long list and I am going to take a short pause in case there is some one else with more important traffic.
WE DOUBLED
We transmitted at the same time
GIVE ME A READ BACK, PLEASE
Tell me what you 'think' my message is.
CLEAR
Finished. “That's all my traffic. This is VO1AAA, Clear”
PLEASE DISREGARD
Ignore my last message, I goofed
I SPELL
Standby for phonetic spelling “the name is Bill, Bravo India Lima Lima, Bill”
STAND BY, PLEASE
Get ready or hold on for a minute, I'm busy
COPY
Standby to write down stuff, or did you get that stuff? “standby to copy” or “did you copy my last?”
YOU ARE BROKEN
Your signal is breaking up and I am getting parts of your transmission only
FULL QUIETING
You are hitting the repeater (or my radio) so strongly, there is no noise at all
MOBILE
I am operating from a car. “This is VO1AAA, mobile.”
I AM PORTABLE
I am on my hand held radio. My transmissions may be short to save batteries and my antenna is small, too. “This is VO1AAA, portable”
I AM NOT SECURE/ ARE YOU SECURE?
I have people right around me, watch what you say. / Are you alone? I need to pass some sensitive traffic.
THIS IS NET CONTROL
The repeater or frequency is being run by a boss, report to him/her before passing traffic
MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY
This is a life and death emergency, no foolin'. Let me transmit my message to someone in charge. DO NOT use this unless it's VERY serious=life and death. If you are in doubt, do not use.
PAN, PAN, PAN
I have an emergency, let me transmit. It's not a matter of life and death, but it is quite urgent.
SIMULATION
We are doing an exercise, so anyone else monitoring will not be alarmed. “We have 10 casualties awaiting paramedics, please notify immediately. SIMULATION”
EOC
Emergency Operations Center: every organization has one.
TIME STAMP
A time is being recorded with this transmission. “I note your traffic and my time stamp on it is 22:42 hours (=10:42PM)”
THIS IS NOT A DRILL
What you have just heard or about to hear is real, not an exercise. (Never EVER use in jest or practice)

Monthly Newsletter - AVRAC 09.2014

Posted: 2014-09-14

Here are your AVRAC newsletter for September month, de Tom, vo1tv, Secretary d'AVRAC. The Avalon Radio Amateur Club.

Next Meeting

First, we meet in a couple of days on Wednesday, September 17 at 8 PM, 20:00 hrs., at the Red Cross on majors path.

Winterization

Since the installation season is drawing to a close, we need to make some installation plans for Southcott Hall and for the Rogers tower, if at all possible.

A new perspective

Take a look at the tower photo that Matt (VO1EI) sent out.

Red Cross Exercise

The main event for the past month was the annual airport exercise in which the Red Cross participated with our club’s assistance. It was good to know that the missing portable radio and charging units mysteriously appeared in one of the offices of the Red Cross. In looking at the specification sheets, the small Chargers are actually trickle chargers which can take about nine hours to charge a battery for the ICOM F 50 radios. As such they are of limited utility when compared to what the rapid bulk charger can do. 4 vrs 9 hrs.

I believe we now have five batteries that are definitely exhausted and we may have one that's just around its expiry date. One of the radios was blinking after three hours use at the airport exercise. The radios should be good for about eight hours on a healthy battery.

The Red Cross volunteers did a great job communicating by radio using plain language and speaking clearly. We used the ERV as a command vehicle and its powerful radio was heard by almost all portable units. The ERV was located on the Torbay Road side of the airport and down in the lun. One Red Cross site was located deep within the bowels of the Air Canada building and the Red Crossers were prohibited from going near the window to communicate. As in real life, a combination of radio and cell phone was used to communicate.

An attempt to get the attention of the operation leader meeting with officials in the simulated disaster field failed due to the ambient noise of such a site. Fire engines and the wind, etc. Even using the loud hailer on the ERV was ineffective at about 50 feet ! I used to Kenwood V7 to communicate as a relay on a couple of occasions, but the larger antenna dedicated to the commercial radio was hearing signals better. The portable unit within the bowels of the Air Canada building was coming in broken and could not hear the ERV.

This leads me to the recommendation that we quickly purchase mobile magnetic mount antennas which can be set up in a window on tinfoil if need be. Matt, EI, has already been looking for a cheap model that will screw directly into the ICOM F 50's. (male SMA connector for the antennae).