“Coming together is a beginning,

Keeping together is progress,

Working together is success.”

– Henry Ford

How sad that our national organization has failed to come together, keep together or work together.

It’s time to move on people.

Is there anyone in Ontario willing to take up the challenge?

Contest-Ready WetWare Neural Processor

Still not sure about those expensive SDR rigs for contesting especially contesting under noisy conditions?

Well Sparky I can sympathize remembering how long some of you held onto your 80-meter AM mobile rigs back in the 50s.20130625_201013

Now via our friend Mike, VA3MW, comes this information from Stu, K6TU, who posted a media release on the FlexRadio Systems online group about his cognitive processor bus interface for the FlexRadio 6700.

Read all about it here and get ready to see a big influx of contesters switching to Flex in the very near future.

This changes everything!

Field Day 2014 Results

Originally posted on The Oakville Amateur Radio Club Blog:

We came in fourth or maybe third in all Canada in our category of 2A out of 393 entries.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo why fourth or maybe third?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the QST listings VE7SAR and VA7SAR were two above above us with both having identical scores.

That seems wrong to my eye and if so, we came third in Canada and 38th overall.

We actually scored more QSOs (1597) but lost on points (6,1o8).

The VE7 scores were 1541 Qs but they got more points 6,256.

The winning Canadian team VE1FO scored 1997 Qs and 7,218 points.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what can we do better in 2014?

First off we’ve got to do a better job at getting the bonus points up. That was my job last year and I could have done a better job.

Can we win first in Canada?We’d need to work 400 more Qs and score 1,110 more points.

I’m not…

View original 132 more words

Three Watts Heard Everywhere

Just for fun I fired up my CRK-10a  3-watt xtal-controlled pocket-sized transceiver and had the Reverse Beacon Network listen for VE3HG sending CQ.crk10a_front

This is what three watts can do into a loaded dipole at 16 meters. Not bad, now to fire up the one-watt NorCal 40 :)

The Oakville ARC is doing a group build of the tiny rig in the New Year so listen for more VE3s on 7030.

VE3HG-Screen Shot

HSMM MESH Link Established

(This post originally appeared today on the blog of the Oakville Amateur Radio Club.)

At last night’s excellent meeting of the Oakville Amateur Radio Club, Brian, VA3BCO gave a very-well received presentation on HSMM MESH Networking.

Here’s a link to his slides.

And we’re not talking theory here. Thanks to John, VA3BL our technical director and his team the Oakville Club’s MESH link went on the air earlier this week.

So what is HSMM MESH (and forgive me if I get this wrong)?IMG_0109

HSMM stands for high-speed multi-media. Found on the Amateur micro-wave frequencies that parallel commercial WiFi channels, it allows licensed Amateur Radio operators to create their own private, high power (we’re talking milliwatts to maybe a Watt or two), flexible, resilient, ad hoc Internet.

So when we say high-speed what are we talking about?

PSK/RTTY/HF Packet run 300 – 300 bps. Pactor III or IV go 3 to 10 kbps. D-Star which supports high-speed data hits 128 kbps. HSMM goes up to 54 mbps+.

This means HSMM can handle things like streaming video.

MESH technology would allow for file sharing, IRC chat applications, IP cameras (think the Santa Claus parade), VOIP phone connection even web browsing.  complete-overview-of-mesh-for-amateur-radio-updated-nov-2014-12-638complete-overview-of-mesh-for-amateur-radio-updated-nov-2014-23-638complete-overview-of-mesh-for-amateur-radio-updated-nov-2014-71-638complete-overview-of-mesh-for-amateur-radio-updated-nov-2014-74-638-2

The equipment is cheap as some old Linksys routers can be flashed to work on the Amateur frequencies and easily available commercial units from Ubiquiti which put the microwave transceiver at the antenna need only power (from a modified standard ethernet cable or a battery perhaps with a solar cell.

These units sell for as little as $56 to $100.

Software and directions how to flash the units are readily available on the Internet.

Practical applications for ARES work are endless. For the rest of us, joining an HSMM MESH network would neighbouring contest stations to share logging programs in real time allowing for M2 class operation. Control of a remote Amateur Radio station from your laptop would be easy and secure.

HSMM MESH offers Amateur Radio a super cheap, super reliant and tons of fun new way to communicate.

The biggest issue is you must be able to have line-of-sight view of another HSMM MESH station.

The easiest way around not having someone you can see is the club could setup remote, solar-powered MESH nodes on cooperative apartment buildings or police and fire stations thus extending the network across the town.

Again thanks to Brian who gave us the presentation last night.

We’re planning a second slightly more advanced presentation sometime in the new year that will focus on how to add applications such as IP cameras to our MESH network.

Stay tuned :)

RAC Alberta SEC Resigns: Here’s His Story

There are always two sides to every story but Curtis, VE6AEW, has chosen to share his as a comment to my last post about RAC being broken and I am reposting here.

I am not in a position to verify or deny anything that Curtis has sent me but to say it sure sounds familiar and comparable to the current situation in southern Ontario. 

Is RAC broken? Well read on and you decide:

(BTW all comments and posts are vetted by me to take out the bad words and not automatically post any personal attacks, ads for intimate devices or other unfriendly or unwanted actions.

So if you have something you’d like to see posted, send it to me. If I don’t use it, I usually will email you an explanation of why. With those exceptions above, all comments welcome.)

Here’s what Curtis sent us:

As for RAC moving away from ARES, this might actually be a good thing. ARES isn’t organized or managed by RAC, but by the local groups in the section. Here in Alberta we had a single group start dictating what everyone else should be doing and this wasn’t taken very well.

This group has now alienated themselves in that no one else wants to work with them. The lack of support that came from the SM and temporary VPFS in dealing with the issue has caused a number of groups to question why we need RAC at all.

Don’t get me wrong, RAC is the voice of all of us licensed amateurs with Industry Canada. So there are certain matters that RAC should be involved in for the betterment of us all. However when it comes to ARES, we don’t exactly have a federal emergency management agency that compares to FEMA in the US. All emergency management is handled at the local and provincial level, at least in Alberta.

I resigned as the SEC due to the lack of support from the SM in dealing with a rogue group that felt we need to be first responders. In the after math I decided to still support my local ARES group as this is why I am in amateur radio, to assist my community with emergency communications when all else fails.

After my resignation I kept in touch with a fellow amateur that was making a presentation in BC on the Southern Alberta Flooding Response. The SM stuck his nose into the email discussion stating that I chose to no longer be involved and I should no longer be included in the discussion. I stated that he had no right to filter who I can communicate with.

After a few back/forth emails I was told to go f*** myself and called me a whining snibbling a**hole. This is how our elected SM shows respect to an individual that got involved in ARES at a provincial level to bring all the groups together.

Before I got involved there was no provincial cooperation, a single rogue group claimed they would respond anywhere in the province and none of the other groups were required. I supported a new group in that region and this was a mistake as they have now gone rogue again.

The issue here is they have developed their own opinions with no experience. Prior to taking the SEC role, I started in ARES as an AEC and then moved into the EC role for Edmonton.

My involvement in ARES is nearly 10 years, and licensed for 15. Heck even my replacement as SEC has been licensed for 5 years and 0 years experience in ARES, but he got appointed by our SM. And now I hear he is looking for a new SEC as the current one isn’t very active supporting our groups.

From everything I have seen and heard over the last while, RAC is broken. The catch is who is willing to step up and fix it. I have heard from the RAC President requesting more background on what the issues are with ARES in Alberta. Granted he was involved in all the email threads when all the crap started this spring, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that the email threads might not provide all the details, even though they are there.

I am a little disappointed that he waits nearly 6 months to address the issues. It makes sense that RAC is falling apart if you drag things out for 6 months. While we wait for RAC to address the issues, we locals still have agencies to serve, repeater networks to build/maintain, training exercises to perform, etc.

RAC isn’t going to grow or even maintain what they have if they drag their feet to address issues. The RAC president and I have been playing phone tag for the last month so hopefully we can connect at some point, in the near future.

I am considering my options on whether getting involved in RAC is worth my time. Do I get involved to clean up the ARES mess in Alberta, for a 2nd time? Is it even worth having a RAC ARES structure in Alberta?

Other provinces have created their own organizations to handle provincial emergency communications. Is this the correct route to follow? I have spoken with a number of the ARES groups in Alberta after my resignation to gather their thoughts on where we should go. I won’t discuss what their views are,on this blog.

I still have to decide if I want to re-enter the political BS arena that we call RAC ARES.

Key People Keep Leaving RAC

At this morning’s 6:30 am weekly breakfast meeting of the Oakville Amateur Radio Club, Rod Hardman, VE3RHF, announced his decision to withdraw from his position of Ontario South Director for Radio Amateurs of Canada.

I won’t share here what Rod and I discussed but to say it sounds like Rod’s experience was very similar to my own which prompted my leaving the post of VP of Public Relations some years ago.

I took over from John Bartlett, who is now HK3C, who has become a great friend over the years despite the physical distance between us (which of course evaporates to nothing when we’re talking on 20 meter SSB).

John is the creator of CQ Canada which is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of Amateur Radio in Canada.

I also believe that new PR guy for RAC who was out of Quebec has resigned before I really got to know him. I can’t think of his name right now (I think it was Sheldon Werner, VA2SH/VA6SH) (I did get the wrong guy. It was Vincent Charron.) and he was turning around RAC’s social media efforts. (The RAC Facebook page is filled with great content which I believe was Sheldon’s work.)

The ancient, broken and ugly old RAC website was being migrated over to a new WordPress based-site what at least looked modern but alas I fear all this will fall to the wayside again. It’s back to the spark days for RAC.

So now what for RAC?

Since it appears that the few remaining directors aren’t going to do anything of substance to correct the ongoing issues (starting with acknowledging that there are fatal issues that need addressing by them) and there being no wholesale effort by the shrinking general membership to impeach anyone within our national organization, I think it’s over.

Rumour has it that RAC is going to drop the national ARES program like a hot potato as internecine squabbling within ARES is so bad that most of the good people have quit leaving nobody of substance and authority in charge.

Maybe it’s time to revisit the idea of something like The Radio Society of Ontario? RSO was formed in April 1962 with amalgamation of the Ontario Amateur Radio Association and the Ontario Amateur Radio Federation.

We could vote in a new board of directors and install a new president and executive team from right here in Ontario. Negotiations with our national organization might follow if the Ontario membership saw any advantage in doing so.

If this happened, I’d volunteer to be its social media maven.

How to Promote Amateur Radio

Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, produces the online HAMRADIO.NOW which you can find streaming on the website Blip.TV, or YouTube. He’s produced a detailed “how to” video on how to organize a 10-day Ham Radio demonstration at the North Carolina state fair which is worth the hour of time to watch.

Gary obviously understands video production as the two-camera video and wireless hand mics makes for a very professional looking production with very amateur-level equipment.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Why I am bringing this to your attention is this is something that we could be doing here in Canada. We should be promoting Ham Radio on the Internet!

Now RAC would seem to be the obvious place to do this but we don’t have to wait for RAC. We can do this ourselves.

I bet if we looked around within our own club structure we could find some former (or current) members with broadcast or public relations experience to run the camera.

You don’t need a two camera setup (although it’s sure nice and Gary’s second camera is an inexpensive camcorder) and you don’t need wireless mics (although this is the way I’d go but you can use two lapel mics clipped on shirt collars. Not ideal but super cheap. What you don’t want to do is use the internal mic in the camera as the audio always sucks due to the AVC action of the audio preamps and the distance from camera to subject makes for poor audio an lots of wind noise).

Okay so you’ve got some equipment now what?Products63424-1300x1300-491831

Any presentation at a club meeting can be video recorded, lightly edited in Movie Maker (free for PCs) or IMovie (free on Mac) and posted to YouTube. Same for any special event participation or how about Field Day operations?

I video record and edit lightly the three speakers and the evaluators at my weekly Toastmaster meeting. It takes no effort to record the speeches (the camcorder is setup on a cheap tripod) and editing takes five minutes. While I get on with my day the rendered movies are then posted to a private DropBox folder for our members.

We could be doing this folks.

Once you’ve got some video with decent audio, you can use it to promote Amateur Radio or ARES at special events or online just like the video done at the North Carolina state fair.

Gary has got over 100 episodes on this website. Go have a visit. There’s a ton of great information online for your viewing pleasure.

Former Oakville Ham Big News In Bermuda

Former Oakville amateur John Stevens has been featured in a top-notch article on Amateur Radio use during Hurricane Gonzalo in Burmuda’s The Royal Gazette.rglogo1.gif&LogoXPos=0&LogoYPos=290&maxw=630&maxh=350

John, who drops by the regular Saturday morning Oakville Amateur Radio Club 6:30am  breakfast at Cora’s on Dorval (guests welcome) once or twice a year, is credited with reporting vital weather information to the hurricane centre during the storm which hit Bermuda hard a few weeks ago.

Well done John.

Core Incompetencies at RAC

Our friend John, HK3C, (you remember him…CQ Canada…formerly with RAC…generally nice guy…decent contester) well he and I keep in contact over the years and we send each other bits and pieces we think the other will like.

Today I found in my inbox this little piece from the Harvard Business Review blog. See if any of this makes any sense to you when you think of RAC.

For the non-readers here’s the executive summary:

  • large organizations suffer from congenital disabilities
  • inertial is the first
  • orgs rarely change even in the face of crisis
  • when it happens it’s belated and convulsive
  • usually it requires an overhaul of the exec. team
  • org. structures inherently toxic and limit break-out thinking
  • large orgs are emotionally insipid
  • little “fixes” don’t work
  • managers know how to command obedience
  • no idea how to motivate volunteers

Doesn’t this sound like the RAC we have now?

You really should read the short article to see what the authors recommend as a way forward for organizations just like Radio Amateurs of Canada.