The Branch Manager

Finally found a guy to do my tree trimming in the backyard. The trees were encroaching on my antenna so I couldn’t rotate the beam anymore.michelle-4

Solution came in the person of Louis Stroud ( and his company The Branch Managers.

Louis is a great guy. Works fast and is very economical. I can highly recommend him if you need some trees trimmed or removed.

As you can see in the photo of Louis and his chainsaw I’ve got 10 years of tree clearance now.


RAC Tower Sanity

As most of you know I have been very critical of the leadership of Radio Amateurs of Canada for a long time now but there are signs that things have changed and changed for the better.

My first indication is the leadership being offered by RAC president Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA. I don’t know how Glenn and his executive team and the RAC board of directors are getting along but I’m not hearing anything that concerns me so far and that’s a huge improvement from past years where internecine warfare between members was common.


Second, and very close to my heart, is the sage advice being offered in The Canadian Amateur when it comes to erecting your antenna tower. This was the issue that got me into RAC when neighbours took the nuclear option in opposition to my 15 meter tower on my 80′ X 180′ lot in Oakville, Ontario.

RAC was there with good advice and support based on the rules and regulations of the day which forced amateurs to consult with neighbours. I also wanted an exemption to put the tower up to 20 meters or so and I consulted with our town engineer who essentially told me that wasn’t going to happen and if I stuck to 15 meters the Town would have no interest in my tower.  Good to their word, the Town eventually sent a cease and desist letter to one of my neighbours who – brace yourself – 10 years later has made up with us saying he wanted “bygones to be bygones”. I was gobsmacked and still think there was an invasion of the body snatchers next door. We’ve taken this guy to court to stop his continuous harassment over the years. Maybe he got religion or joined a 12-Step group. I don’t care and I’m thrilled to have a new friendly neighbour just so long as he doesn’t get interested in getting his own ticket!Cover_September_2014_large

Back to the future and here’s Marcel Mongeon, VA3DDD, RAC honorary legal council writing in The Canadian Amateur saying he is advising amateurs across Canada to proceed without consultation if your tower is 15 meters or under and does not encroach on a neighbouring properties.

He is especially adamant that you should NOT contact your town officials as this can be construed to constitute a “consultation” and create issues for you with your municipality and even with Industry Canada.

Regulations regarding towers in Canada can be found on the Industry Canada site. Look for CPC-2-0-03.

If you are reading this post and you are an amateur radio operator in Canada or interested in Canadian amateur radio issues then please join RAC and do it right now. Amateur radio in Canada needs your support.


Around 75 of the world’s top contesters showed up for Contest Club Ontario‘s annual meeting and BBQ held at the magnificent contesting station of John VE3EJ.P8270169-Edit.jpg

Celebrating 15 years as one of the world’s premier contesting clubs, CCO boasts a membership just shy of 300. The annual BBQ and AGM is the highlight and marker of the end of summer and the beginning of a new contesting season.

At the gathering SCCORE plaques and endorsements were handed out to contesters whose accumulated points totalled from the year’s worth of contesting made them eligible for the prestigious honours. As well the attendees benefitted from the generosity of CCO’s supporters in the Amateur Radio community.

New members are always welcome. Membership is free and the club is supported by donations and door prize ticket sales. For more information contact the club secretary at

Photos from this year’s event are available for downloading in any size from small (ok of online) right on up to original (big for editing and printing) from my two online galleries at Peter West Photography and Peter West Photos.


CQ Canada

Just a quick note to my regular readers. I’ve been off the site drawn away by my new road cycling hobby.

But there’s too much going on in Ham Radio and I’ll be back soon.  :)

BTW I stole the title for this blog from our old friend John, HK3C who is very active on the bands now that he’s been bitten by the contesting bug.

Peashooter Contest Stations

Think you can’t contest because you don’t have room for a beam? Maybe you’re limited to a vertical or low dipole. Just because you’re not running a kilowatt is no reason not to contest.

Checkout the excellent article on contesting for the peashooter contester in the February 2016 newsletter of the Northern California Contest Club. Lots of tips on how you too can win some wallpaper with a minimal station.

As someone who has edited club newsletters before I can say with some authority that this is a pretty nice newsletter that any club would be proud to publish. Nice work guys.

Speaking of nice work I just checked my scores for the 50th running of the California QSO Party last Oct. 3-4. Seems I won my class of single-operator limited in Ontario and number five in Canada. Thanks NCCC.

2010 Participation Certificate

What Sorcery Was This?

Hams as yet unborn will ask if we competed in the 2016 ARRL DX SSB 48-hour contest and we will say “yes yes we were there”.

It was a contest when even the little pistols ran with the big guns and the conditions kept getting better and better. When one band would close another would open.

Oh some who live high on a hill in their country estate might say what is the big deal but they don’t know the pain, even the shame of living, by circumstance or marriage, in the low country and even worse within town lines and all that that entails when it comes to lesser power and restricted antennasDSC_0003

For those on the hill weekends like this last one maybe common but for those of us mere mortals running with our ancient tube rigs and 100-watt PAs into dipoles and rusty verticals the ability to break pileups on 80 meters in Europe is unheard of and only happens in our deepest most secret dreams.

And yet it did happen and more.

Working an Italian station who was heard through the pileup isn’t unusual but when he claimed to be running 500-milliwatts then you know that something special is taking place.cco-1-37

Working Mozambique on several bands too rates as a notable moment for certain but actually hearing Europeans on 80 Saturday night was simply beyond belief. And then a tentative call made more out of curiosity than certainly resulted in an immediate reply was so surreal as cause one to check that they hadn’t fallen asleep at the keyboard (which has happened before more out of boredom than lack of sleep).

Gathering courage calls to Europeans calling CQ Contest into the face or a howling pileup on 80 were answered immediately.

What sorcery is this?

Who works Europe with a shortened 80/40 dipole at 25 feet? With 80 acting like 40 on a good night there was no expectation that more was to come but it was.

Getting up early on both mornings resulted in no special openings but Friday night the greyline DX resulted in signals from Japan peaking over S-9 and calls answered on the first try.

And the on Sunday morning 15 meters opened to the low country in Europe and calling CQ resulted in endless numbers of casual operators out for a go with their 100 modest stations running up the point total to astronomical heights.

Just for fun the occasional station out of the middle East would call and who knew there were so many Russian stations available in one contest? Typing became painful in attempts to keep up and an external voice keyer saved the vocal chords from failing from overuse.

When all was said and done conditions, while perhaps not as strong as in the glory days of the 80s, were more unpredictable, crazy and productive for those of us who were there.cqwwdx2007allcanadave3hg-thumb.jpg

For a few hours each day, we the owners of modest stations raged across the bands and we competed with the high-powered Titans and the multi-multi monsters who devour all that they can hear. For a few brief hours we too were heroes and warriors battling on the edges of solar terminator.

It was glorious and wonderful and perhaps the most exciting contest in my memory. I did better on SSB than in any previous contest in over 35 years.

The Wake-Up Call

I haven’t felt much motivation to write here or on any of my other blogs (Peter West Photo, Peter West Public Relations, Toastmasters, Yoga, Coaching, VE3HB) what with the holidays and contests and general busyness.

So as I nurse a very sore shoulder injured in a fall down the stairs (I’m okay but I’m considering giving up my house cleaning chores) and waiting for four video renderings to upload to a private DropBox folder for my Toastmaster club (First Oakville Toastmasters) where we record the three speeches of the night and the subsequent evaluations, my eye was caught by a headline in this morning’s Globe and Mail.3465

The article was subtitled “Disaster Preparedness” and the main headline read: “Victoria earthquake an urgent wake-up call.” Here Benjamin Perrin, a law professor at U of BC and a former public safety adviser for the PMO wrote that when, not if, B.C. gets hit with a bigger earthquake than the 4.7 magnitude Christmas quake, the results will likely be overwhelming and deadly.

Perrin suggests that the poor state of schools and hospitals in the area will likely cause those buildings to collapse in the face of a magnitude 9 or greater quake snuffing out the lives of school children and hospital patients and staff.

Of course, Perrrin is saying something should be done and he’s right.

Here in Canada we get lulled into a sense of “it-can’t-happen-here” thinking right up to the time it does happen here. I’m thinking of the Quebec ice-storm and Barrie, Ontario tornado. Both were unexpected and deadly.

With our national organization thankfully on death’s door when it comes to growth let alone the ability to plan for any future perhaps it’s time for those who care about emergency preparedness to start to reorganize on a national basis?

Ham Radio For Newcomers

I had hoped to give a presentation to a bunch of university students in Toronto. The date was arranged after I was approached by a delightful young woman at the Maker Fair held in Toronto this summer who said she was really, really interested in Amateur Radio.IMG_0567

It’s not everyday that somebody under the age of 25 who (a) appears normal; (b) isn’t dressed in dungarees (not that there’s anything wrong with wearing coveralls); and (c) is a woman of any age but especially one 1/3 my age expresses an interest in Ham Radio. (That’s Rod and his daughter Emma staffing the booth.)

I was thrilled to meet her. It was like running into ET for me🙂 I couldn’t believe she was real.

Anyway she asked if I’d be willing to speak to her group of students who were also interested in Ham Radio and despite the group being in Toronto and me in Oakville I said yes right away. After all it’s not everyday we get a chance to promote the hobby.QST_Cover_August_2015_TILTED

So today i regret to say that I just got an email from my young friend and she has had to cancel the talk as the administrators at her school have cut her funding (which I bet was pretty minimal to begin with) and there’d be no talk.

Okay no talk but heck we’re all Hams here and we communicate, as the ARRL says: “When All Else Fails” so here’s the talk.


HamRadio – Here’s the original keynote.

Please feel free to use these slides or PDF at your club or group.

And Katherine, if you’ve not already got your license (my wife has hers…that’s her in the photo)) go study and pass the exam.

There’s a world of great fun, fellowship and learning that needs more Katherines🙂 I hope to work you on the air someday soon.

73 (best regards) and 88 (love and kisses) from all of us at the Oakville Amateur Radio Club.

Photos From Contest Club Ontario’s AGM-BBQ

Another fine gathering of Ontario’s top contesters yesterday (Saturday) at the world-class contesting station of John, VE3EJ.P8290084-1

Awards were awarded. Stories of past contests were told, Old and some new friends shared a sunny afternoon in the country.

And now with the festivities over, it’s time to get ready for another contesting season beginning in a few weeks.P8250117-1

For more photos please visit my online gallery at Peter West Photography or here at Peter West Photo. All photos are free for your non-commercial use and are downloadable in a variety of sizes right off the sites.