Correction to London Tower Issue

First of all a notice: My Cogeco email accounts have been down for two days now. They just came up and then went down again so all emails to ve3hg@cogeco.ca are late. Seems this is happening across much of the province.

So in the new batch of emails I got this correction from Ian VE3HUT:

Dear Peter: Your blog is incorrect about the City of London. The city HAS NOT passed a by-law restricting the heights of amateur antennas to 10 m. However, the City has approved a set of consultation guidelines which are ambiguous about amateur radio interests. The City has agreed to meet wtih me and representatives of the London A mateur Radio Club about clarifying the guidelines. In the interim, a new amateur radio antenna 16.6 m or less in height is exempt from most of the City’s consultation guidelines.

This is great news and good luck Ian.

CCO BBQ & AGM

Contest Club Ontario held its annual general meeting and BBQ at the world-class contest station in Grassie, Ontario owned and operated by John, VE3EJ.

Contesters from across the province showed up at this gathering and this year we set a new record with just short of 100 in attendance.

CCO has grown over the years and is now a force to be reckoned with when it comes to club-to-club competition against American clubs and some of the best in the world.

Contesting is more than just a pain in the butt (which it is when you’re doing a 48-hour contest solo) but is a test of station design, contesting strategy and physical endurance.

But even if the contester only gets on and works a few contacts we all have fun and well learn new things about contesting.

Thanks to all the sponsors who provided door prizes and to RadioWorld for the demonstration of the FlexRadio 500 and Yaseu DX 5000.

More photos from the CCO event  are at Peter West Photo.

Thanks to John, EJ, for the use of this place and thanks again to the CCO executive who help make this one of the great contesting clubs in the world.

When All Else Fails – There’s Coffee

I think that’s what the ARRL is trying to tell us with its newly designed “When All Else Fails” line of clothing, magnetic signs, banners, pins and coffee mugs.

Really ARRL: This too funny and words do fail me.

On the other hand, what’s an emergency response without coffee?

Here’s the link to the ARRL store.

Get yours now!

RAC Gets IC To Act

Bill Gade, VE4WO, RAC’s regulatory affairs officer is to be commended for his immediate and forceful defence of our Amateur Radio spectrum when it appeared that officials with the Canadian Paragliding National Championships being held in Pemberton, B.C. were advocating that non-licensed participants use the VHF frequency of 146.415 MHz.

In a RAC bulletin sent yesterday Bill says that although RAC normally doesn’t discuss enforcement issues which are ongoing (which is typical RAC crap as we’re not the enforcement agency but the member-drive association for all Amateur Radio operators in Canada and our volunteer executive and board shouldn’t be keeping secrets from the members with the sole exception of personnel matters that involve paid staff) but anyway here’s the news:

IC told the paragliders to get a grip and get off our frequencies.

Way to go Bill and way to go RAC.

BUT remember this action is a management function. We expect our national association to protect our interests. This is not to be confused with vision or leadership.

Sorry but that’s how it is. I’m not going to get all giddy because RAC did something it is supposed to do although I am grateful and acknowledge the quick action and hard work.

I got into RAC (for my sins) after a run-in with Oakville’s building department and a next door neighbour (who 10 years down the road still isn’t talking to us. This is a good thing!) when it came to erecting my tower.

RAC executive members were very quick to offer support, information and encouragement within hours of my initial emails. It wasn’t until I got on the executive that I discovered how ineffective I would become.

 

Why Contesting?

Contesting (and there’s a contest every week) is a great excuse to get on the air and actually work some interesting stations in some exotic locations.

Unlike DXing (which has yet to catch my attention) where you search for a specific station operating from a DX location, contesting is a four, 10, 24 or 48 hour pileup that is always changing, always exciting and always unpredictable.

So if you’re interested in contesting there are two things you should do right away:

First, join a contest club. In Ontario, the big contesting club is Contest Club Ontario. Formed a few years back some visionary contesters, the province-wide club holds but one meeting a year (which is really a fabulous social event followed by a short business meeting and a massive door-prize draw) and offers online support and contesting help to several hundred contesters. (In Photo: There’s a pile-up at the dinner call at CCO.)

Number two is get a subscription to the ARRL’s National Contest Journal. I’ve learned so much reading this bi-monthly publication. It’s got everything from rig reviews, to contesting stories and contest results to really simple tips on how to improve how you contest to technical articles on how to improve your contest station.

If you can, attend Contest U that takes place on the Thursday before the Dayton Hamvention in Ohio in May.

That will blow your mind and I guarantee you’ll learn a ton of stuff and actually meet some of the BIG guns that are on during every contest.

(Photo: This is a shot from the Contest U website showing the packed room for the plenary session.)

RAQI Scores On Driving Ban

As a member of Radio Amateurs of Canada I get RAC bulletins sent to my email box so today I was quite surprised to see an email from RAC but authored by RAQI, the Quebec-based association of radio amateurs in that province.

First, I don’t know what the actual relationship is between RAC and RACI but that’s a topic for another day.

Based on a bulletin from Guy Lamoureux, VE2LGL, the president-general manager RAQI, it  appears that the use of two-way radio equipment by motorists in Quebec is now legal.

And I quote:

“RAQI is proud to have contributed, by its representations to the authorities concerned, to the clarification of the text of the law banning the use of cellular telephones while driving and permitting ALL QUEBEC RADIOAMATEURS and not just members of RAQI to continue to use their mobile communications equipment in their vehicles as they always have.”

President Lamoureux ends his bulletin with the following note:

“RAQI hopes that the radio amateur community recognizes the importance of a strong provincial association and the support it provides.”

Congratulations go to RAQI and we welcome driving through La Belle Province while talking on our mobile rigs. Well done RAQI!

One would wish the same thoughts occur to our national association and similar action and an announcement is forthcoming in those provinces where the issue remains unclear.

RAC Takes Action

Bill, VE3CLQ, forwarded a copy of the following email sent from RAC’s Bill Gade, VE4WO to Industry Canada and various other regulatory officials including the Minister.

Before I print out the email below may I say it appears that our new regulatory affairs officer has acted promptly and forcefully in the best interests of Amateur Radio in Canada.

Way to go Bill and now the email:

I note that a search of the spectrum direct utility reveals that Industry Canada has not issued a license for this group, or any other, to operate on this frequency.  It is allocated for Amateur Radio use.

Throughout Canada, our members make use of this channel.  It is not acceptable for non amateur users to transmit on channel.

Enforcement action is required.  Please provide an update to this situation today in advance of a formal written request by the Radio Amateurs of Canada for enforcement.  Our written request will demand the seizure of the equipment being operated illegally.

You may reach me by telephone at __________  (Ed. Note: I’ve removed Bill’s number from this post.)

Bill Gade
Regulatory Affairs
Radio Amateurs of Canada

 

 

Toronto FM Communications Society

The Toronto FM Communications Society has re-emerged with a cool new website.

Already there’s a notice of the 2012 Annual General Meeting and Picnic on Sunday Sept. 16.

The Toronto FMCS has always been one of the more progressive and popular clubs in the Greater Toronto Area running repeaters on VE3TFM, VE3RPT, VE3SIX, VE3BEG and VE3TWR.

This is good news that TFMCS is back.

Hung Up on Hang Gliding

The RAC Facebook page and now Bob VA3QV’s excellent blog are alerting us to an apparent intrusion into Canadian Amateur Radio frequency space by the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada which seems to be openly promoting the use of 2m frequencies by non-hams.

If true and it appears it is, this is a serious intrusion and a violation of federal law.

So what’s RAC doing about it? Let’s here from you guys now!!

And here’s the danger. If RAC officials don’t act promptly or do act and don’t communicate to the rest of us what they’re doing concerned Hams from across the country are going to be sending protests to IC, their MPs and anybody else they can think of. This might not be the image we want to project on a national basis?

Anyway here’s the link to Bob’s site.

As well Bill VE3CLQ has issued an appeal to hams to contact IC, the minister and a bunch of others. Again I’m not convinced this is the best approach but based on not knowing what, if anything, RAC is going to do I reprint the email here:

Greetings All,
Today I was sent a link by Bob-VA3QV in Ottawa showing that the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada has been openly promoting the use of a 2m frequency by non-hams (link below).
I have sent the following email to Industry Canada, the Minister for IC (at both his emails), the IARU Region 2 Intruder Watch, RAC, RAC President, and our local MP, asking if the use of the frequency was authorized, and if not, to do something about this state of affairs.  There have been too many cases in the last few years of intruders on our frequencies, both UHF and HF.
If we do not start to question these intruders and ask IC why they are allowed to do this with no penalty, pretty soon the need for a ham license will be redundant!
Obviously my lone voice will not do too much so I’m asking you all to take the time and cut and paste the letter into your own email, and send it to the email address I have shown below.  Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil!  Also feel free to send it on to other hams you know around the country and ask them to do the same……the more the merrier!!
Thanks and 73
Bill VE3CLQ
This email should be sent to:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I would like to enquire if the Canadian Paragliding National Championships were authorized to us the frequency of 146.415 for their national competition held at Pemberton, BC, from August 5 to 12 2012?
Shown quite openly and clearly on the web site of the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada on the page with the rules of the competition, (http://www.paraglidenationals.com/rules/rules.php), Rule 8.1 states that the: “Safety frequency is 146.415 MHz all pilots must have radios equipped to receive and transmit on this frequency”.  Surely they should be using a frequency within the aeronautical band?
As you will know 146.415 is within the allotted spectrum of the Amateur Radio 2m Band and a license issued by Industry Canada is required to transmit on that frequency. 
We amateur radio operators are getting very concerned about individuals intruding on the ham bands; it seems to be happening much more often than in the past.  We all understand that we are supposed to police our own hobby, but there is only so much we can do before the clout of Industry Canada must step into the picture.
If this use of the amateur radio 2m band was not authorized by Industry Canada, could I please request on behalf of all Canadian amateurs that Industry Canada send a letter to the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada warning them of their illegal promotion and use of the 2m amateur band? 
Yours Sincerely,

KX3 Top Rig

There’s a seismic shutter going through the world-wide league of Ham Radio contesters with the announcement by Sherwood Engineering that the diminutive Elecraft KX3 is at the top of their receiver data list.

The Sherwood listing is especially vital to contesters who find themselves attempting to decipher a signal at the noise level with a kilowatt contester a few Hertz away. Most receiver’s front-ends give up the ghost and just pack it in under these circumstances.

Not the super compact and cheap at $999 (contest-quality rigs go up to $10,000 for a great rig and a good one is usually considered to cost around $3,000 and up).

So should you buy a KX3 for your next rig?

It depends on what you want to use it for. If you’re more interested in chatting on 80 meter phone, especially AM phone, you might want something else.

If you’ve got big hands or failing eye-sight you might want something bigger.

If the shack gets cold in the winter, tube rigs are still around.

But if you want amazing front-end performance then the KX3 might just be your next rig. It’s on my highly preferred rigs right now 🙂