Welcome Maker Festival:
Here is a brief introduction and links to all things Amateur Radio In Canada.
Hams, are licensed to operate transmitters by their country’s radio regulator (Here it’s Industry Canada.) and can communicate with other licensed Amateurs from around the block to around the world.
(At the Maker Festival held in Toronto August 1 & 2 the licensed Amateur Radio operators from the Oakville Amateur Radio Club provided just a small glimpse into the world of Amateur Radio Communications and how you can get your license and talk around the world.)
Hams communicate to each other using commercial radios or kits or even build their own Amateur Radio equipment. The little rig in the photo comes from China and costs less than $6 including shipping! It’s a simple transceiver so it can send and receive signals on the Amateur Radio 40-meter band.
Not limited to voice communications, Hams communicate through Morse code also called CW (continuous wave – a highly efficient mode that uses cheap equipment yet provides global coverage).
Radio teletype (RTTY) is s popular mode and there are scores and scores of new digital modes (again highly efficient and uses regular Ham radios connected into computers and tablets). Local VHF/UHF repeaters (VHF is very-high frequency and UHF is ultra-high frequency.) allow for short, direct communications using hand-held portable radios. New digital interfaces allow for global communications using walkie-talkies into local automated repeaters.
The International Space Station has a Ham Radio station onboard and most (if not all) astronauts and cosmonauts have been licensed Hams. There are Ham Radio satellites orbiting Earth right now and you can communicate through them using simple hand-held radios and small directional antennas.
There are no longer any age or nationality restrictions (section 4.1) on getting your Amateur Radio license in Canada.
So how do you get started?
We recommend joining a local club. Here you will find a group of licensed Amateurs who will be willing to help you pass your examination and setup your station.
Some clubs even offer study courses to help you get your license.
Also study guides are available from Coax Publications.
You can even use Industry Canada’s Amateur Radio Exam Generator app as a learning aid to getting your “ticket”.
Here in Canada RAC Radio Amateurs of Canada is our national association. RAC is going through some interesting times and its website has recently changed and is very incomplete but it is the only national association we have in this country.
A far larger and more active organization that serves Amateurs in the USA and around the world is the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).
The name of the ARRL comes from the earliest times of radio when Hams relayed messages across the continent from one station to another. This was before the shortwave bands were discovered to support long distance international communications.
The ARRL publishes QST magazine and its website is a wealth of information about all aspects of Amateur Radio.
While many other countries have national organizations, the Radio Society of Great Britain is one of the oldest and again publishes tons of information of interest to Amateurs everywhere.
The cost involved in setting up your own Amateur Radio station can run from zero dollars to hundreds of thousands for multi-operator contest stations.
When it comes to zero dollar stations, it’s not unheard of for a club to supply an older tube technology rig to a new Ham to get him or her started.
QRP kits (low power) rigs can be purchased and built for well under $100. Connected to a resonant antenna these simple radios can communications stretching out hundreds even thousands of miles using CW. You will need to pass your exam with an 80 per cent or better grade to be given your advanced license which will allow you to build your own equipment.
Used equipment can be found locally on the Ontario Swap Shop. Remember you need to have passed the Amateur Radio License Exam and hold a valid Amateur Radio callsign (issued by Industry Canada) before you can buy a transmitter or put one on the air. The penalties for running unlicensed transmitters in Canada are severe and aggressively prosecuted.
RadioWorld is a retailer of Amateur Radio Equipment located here in Toronto.
Also, during the year there are scores of Amateur Radio flea markets where Hams sell used equipment to each other.
Here’s a blig list of Amateur Radio links thanks to the Ottawa Valley Mobile Radio Club.
Amateur Radio is more popular now (over a million Hams are licensed in Japan and US numbers are approaching the million mark as well) and there are new aspects to Ham Radio being developed almost daily.
For more information about Amateur Radio in Canada stay tuned to this blog and hope to work you on the air soon!