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.

CFARS and RAC and National Emergency Preparedness

(I’m posting a comment from Phil VA3QR who is replying to a post I did about Amateur Radio in Canada and our emergency preparedness.)

I saw your site come across my radar when you wrote about the directorial election in progress, and started reading and came across this article about Amateur Radio and emergency preparedness, and in the last paragraph you refer to a lack of a national Amateur Radio strategy.

There is one, but it’s not really where you’d think to look for it. It took me a long time to find it myself. RAC has tried (and failed) to build a national strategy before. If the Provinces don’t want to get along with each other, what chance does an organization like RAC have? None.

I joined the Canadian Forces Affiliate Radio System early this winter.

CFARS mandate has moved from one of providing phone patches between soldiers and loved ones (which is just no longer needed in the current age of satellite telephony) to one of national communications preparedness.

The last time CFARS was activated was by request of the RCMP through the Ministry of Public Safety when one of the ANIK satellites died, cutting off all communications north of Yellowknife, and there now exist inter-ministry MOUs that put CFARS in the position to create that strategy.

As much as the Provinces like to beat each other over the heads, if a disaster were to occur on a national scale, the Canadian Forces would be the ones in charge of rescue, relief and initial rebuild, which puts CFARS in the position of providing the national communications links that would be needed in those circumstances. So much so that DND has actually funded the purchase and building of Winlink RMS gateways that operate on our own frequency assignments, and some of those gateways physically exist at CF installations.

Canada doesn’t have a department like US FEMA, which takes control in the event of a disaster regardless of state lines, so RAC doesn’t have access to a national ministry or department to build that bridge.

RAC and CFARS do liaise with each other as there are RAC members who are also CFARS members as well.

Anyways, just my 2 cents (or is it 5 cents now?). I’m in the middle of writing a post about the relevance of Amateur Radio in modern day communications planning so I was already on a writing role 🙂

Have a great day!


Phil A. McBride, VA3QR / VA3KPJ / CIW601 (CFARS)
Acton, Ontario, Canada

RAC Ontario South Director Candidates

Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) like all non-profit associations is actually run by a board of directors who appoint paid and volunteer staff to form an executive which carries out the directions of the board following consultation with the members (which doesn’t happen enough IMHO but that’s a blog for another day).

RAC is our national organization and for better or worse is the best association we’ve got right now. But that’s not to say it’s good enough. I love RAC but hate the way it’s run (just in case I haven’t been clear enough in the past).

After failing to impress the importance of change and leadership upon the current executive (many of whom have left in frustration over the years) our only resources as members is to elect the best people we possibly can to our national board of directors.

The two candidates Phil McBride, VA3QR (bottom photo) from Acton and Igor Slakva, VE3ZF (top photo) from Stoney Creek have both put their names forward and election ballots have been sent out my mail.igor-ve3zf-after-cq-ww-as-a-vc2x-zone-2_1-desktop-resolution QSLProof

I know and respect Igor and I trust Phil is equally up to the task. Either man would make a good director but it’s important that you express your preference.

If you’re a RAC member with your permanent address in the Southern RAC region it’s essential you vote.

International Space Station Video

Welcome aboard the International Space Station.

Here’s a great video of Hams talking with ISS Expedition 25 commander Doug Wheelock operating the amateur radio on the ISS.astronaut-ham_1024

You too can work the space station with simple equipment.

There’s a reason why we call it “amateur radio” but think about it. Here you are working with your walkie-talkie and a hand-holdable beam antenna and as the space station passes overhead you can work it.

Some of the transmissions are super clear.

Does it get any cooler than this?

Maker Fair Big Success

We were doing okay until the guy with the Tesla coil showed up!IMG_0563

Toronto’s Maker Festival with 10,000 kids, teens and adults at Toronto’s Central Library was a two-day extravaganza of all things geeky and the Oakville Amateur Radio Club was there.

IMG_0556We were lucky to get an outside table so I tried erecting an end-fed 40/20 meter antenna in a couple of spindly downtown urban trees. The antenna loaded okay on 20 but was too low for 40 meters and we worked a couple of guys in South Carolina.

But as with all downtown locations the urban noise level plus the solar noise made for tough listening.IMG_0555

On the Sunday I thought I’d try the AlexLoop.

Remember we’re under a building with a concrete and reinforced overhang coming out 20 feet from the building and the AlexLoop at six-feet off the ground performed like a trooper. While we couldn’t hear a lot of activity due to conditions, what we could hear we could hear clearly.IMG_0567

Best of all we worked a few more guys and heard lots more.

All in all two great days and thanks to Rod VE3RHF and daughter Emma as well as Jim, VE3AJ and Brian VA3BCQ for helping out.