Welcome to the Kamloops Amateur Radio Club Website!

Please click on any of the top club links at the top of the page, or more informational links on the side. News is immediately below.

Happy New Year from the KARC!

Power line issue on Mt. Lolo December 12-13 affects VE7RLO repeater

On the weekend of December 12-13 there was a power line issue that impacted the VE7RLO repeater.  The power issues started at about 21:00 PST on Saturday, with the power returning to normal around 15:30 PST on Sunday afternoon.  We aren't sure what it was, but our best guess is that during the big wind storm a tree came down on one of the lines going up to Lolo.  From reviewing the logs on the UPS, Lee VE7FET, was able to determine that both the voltage and frequency of the power going to the Lolo site was low, dropping as low as 35VAC at one point!  The unusual part is that whatever it was it didn't blow the fuses on the line and cut the power completely, so we speculate that it may have been a branch or small tree across one of the phases?

Regardless, the UPS did its job and when the power quality got too low it switched over to battery, running for almost 10 hours before shutting down to conserve the battery bank.  Some of you may have noticed that on Sunday morning the repeater was working, albeit sounding very weak and only identifying in CW.  Dave VE7LTW and Myles VE7FSR were able to hold a brief QSO on the repeater so something was working up there, even though neither Lee nor Myles could remotely access any of the IP equipment on Lolo that morning.

Registration now underway for RAC Online Basic Amateur Radio Course: Winter 2021

Registration for Winter 2021 RAC Basic Course is now underway
https://www.rac.ca/rac-basic-amateur-radio-course-winter-2021/

For immediate release:

Radio Amateurs of Canada is once again offering an online Amateur Radio course so that individuals from all across Canada can obtain their Amateur Radio Operator Certificate with Basic Qualification while continuing to practise social/physical distancing.

The course will again be conducted with the assistance of the Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club (AVARC) of Nova Scotia.

This course prepares students for the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) Basic Qualification Level Operator Certificate exam to operate on allocated Amateur Radio frequencies.

Course material pertaining to all topics covered in the course syllabus will be provided to all registered students. Students must have a copy of the Canadian Amateur Radio Basic Qualification Study Guide provided by Coax Publications. For more information please visit the RAC Study Guides webpage.

Grounding & Bonding: presentation from the December KARC meeting

For those KARC members who were unable to attend the monthly meeting last Thursday, Adam VA7AQD has recorded the presentation which may be viewed here:

https://bbb1.isurf.ca/playback/presentation/2.0/playback.html?meetingId=...

The presentation included information on RF ground, safety ground, ground loops, RF safety in the shack, RFI, grounding and vehicles, and a list of resources for those wanting to learn more about the topic.

Digital Modes Simplified!

Over the past decade ham radio digital modes have grown in popularity and include everything from FT8 on HF to DMR on VHF and UHF.  The most common modes used on VHF and UHF today are D-STAR, DMR, Fusion, and Allstar. Each has their own characteristics, and you can find a lot more information by searching Google or YouTube.

D-STAR (Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio) was one of the first digital modes used world-wide. It works on reflectors and can be monitored by a “dashboard” on a computer. It seems to be more susceptible to sounding like “R2D2” than the more current nodes, but is still used extensively.

DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) is growing more day by day. Personally, I find it the most complicated system to use. I only use mine through my computer as the radios with “code plugs” are very tricky to understand and program. Sound quality is very good too.

Fusion (also called C4FM or Yaesu System Fusion) is propriety to Yaesu and controlled by same. It uses “Rooms and Nodes” but does offer excellent sound quality.  Rooms can be selected throughout the world. As Fusion users transmit their call signs every time they key up the standard announcing of your call is not so necessary.

AllStar (aka AllStarLink) is the latest newcomer to the field. It has the advantage that no special repeater is needed other than it needing an internet connection and obtain a node number. A standard VHF or UHF radio with DTMF (depending on repeater) is all that is needed. Certain DTMF keypad functions will allow you to connect to nodes through the world.

Hot Spots” are a combination of hardware, firmware, and software that enable an amateur radio enthusiast with internet connectivity to link directly to digital voice systems around the world, even if there is no dedicated repeater in your area. Hotspots can link to DMR, D-STAR, Fusion, NXDN, and AllStar nodes.

Over the last 5 years Hot Spots have become a popular device of choice. With a Hot Spot connected to the internet the newer models will let you access multiple different digital modes from the radio of your choice.

D-STAR, DMR, and Fusion all require you to register you call sign with each system. The process is quick and painless and usually completed within 24 hours.

The Kamloops Amateur Radio Club has had a Fusion repeater (VE7FUS) up for a year and now we have AllStar on the VE7RLO repeater which services Kamloops and surrounding areas.

AllStar is certainly the least expensive way to go digital as most of us already have a DTMF-capable radio.

Welcome to our newest club member!

I would like to introduce you to our newest KARC member, Pete, VE7RPJ from Logan Lake.

Pete worked in Facility Management at the City of Richmond for 35 years, and retired seven years ago.  He was a radio operator in the Navy and always wanted to get a HAM license, but it wasn’t until he retired that he found the time to take the course about three years ago.

Currently he is active on 2M from his mobile, but would like to get an HF base station and explore more of the hobby.

He and his wife moved to Logan Lake in October, partly because they couldn’t take the lower mainland any longer, but also to be closer to his wife’s mother who lives in Merritt.  After looking around Kamloops for about a year and not finding a house that met their needs, Jim, VE7JMN, suggested they consider Logan Lake.  Pete is glad that Jim did, because Pete and his wife love their new place in Logan Lake.

If you hear Pete on the repeater, please give him a call.

Welcome to the KARC, Pete, thank you for becoming a member!

Late season repeater upgrades and repairs

Lee, VE7FET and Myles, VE7FSR have been busy this fall with late season repairs and upgrades to several mountain top repeater sites in the region, hoping to beat winter's icy grasp.

On November 11 the two made a trip to VE7IRN (Iron Mountain, near Merritt) to replace the old duplexer, replace a failed network card on the UPS, and add three IP cameras.  Breaking fresh snow, they arrived safely at the top on a frosty morning.  Lee worked on replacing the duplexer and swapping out the network card on the UPS, while Myles installed the IP cameras (two outside and one inside).  By early afternoon the repairs and upgrades were tested and complete.  You can view the new IP camera streams at http://video.bcwarn.net:8085/player.html (outside, east) and http://video.bcwarn.net:8086/player.html (outside, looking towards Merritt).

 

Kamloops Army Cadets learn about radio communications

On Sunday, November 1 twenty-five Cadets from the 2305 Rocky Mountain Rangers Royal Canadian Army Cadets conducted an exercise in preparation for future survival training and search & rescue operations.  The Cadets, ranging in age from 12 to 18, were led on a 5km morning hike through Kenna Cartwright Park by Commanding Officer Captain Christine Stillborn and Training Officer 2nd Lieutenant Jeff Bingley, supported by MWO Bingley, Sgt Bux and Sgt Marrington.

The Cadet group enjoyed the fall sunshine and ate lunch in the Emergency Management BC (EMBC) parking lot, and following their lunch they received an introduction to radio communications and learned how radio communication is used by Emergency Management BC.  Myles Bruns, VE7FSR, a Public Service Line Volunteer and the Radio Station Manager for EMBC’s Central Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre (PREOC) led the information and education session.

Cadets learned about HF, VHF, UHF and microwave radio communication, the role of the ionosphere and propagation, the use of repeaters, basic antenna theory, RF safety, and digital vs analog communication.  Cadets assisted to deploy the portable MSAT (EMERGNET BC) terminal, aligned the high-gain antenna, and calls were made from the MSAT terminal to a Cadet’s mobile phone to demonstrate the latency when communicating through a satellite in geosynchronous inclined orbit 36,000 km above the earth.

Future plans include more instruction in HF, VHF, and UHF radio communication for use in search and rescue operations, and conducting exercises where the cadets will set up portable radio communications stations and pass message traffic, or use radios while orienteering to maintain contact with each other or with other groups.

The KARC has a new server!


 

 

The Kamloops Amateur Radio Club has been very fortunate to receive the donation of a Dell PowerEdge T610 server from SilverServers, a local website development, SEO, and web hosting company that offers web solutions for small to medium businesses all over the world.  Founder and President Mickael Maddison very generously agreed to donate the PowerEdge T610 when he learned that the KARC was in need of a server to help us manage our increasingly complex repeater network, data storage, and IP network services. 

Tracking and recovering weather balloons, by Ralph Adams, VA7VZA

At over 800 locations around the world, at 0:00 and 12:00 UTC every day, a strange ritual is performed. Technicians fill a latex or neoprene balloon with a metered volume of hydrogen or helium, and then attach a small instrument package (called a radiosonde) to the now bouyant balloon. The balloon is then released and rises through the atmosphere dragging along the radiosonde. As it rises, temperature, pressure, and humidty measurements, as well as GPS derived location and elevation, are telemetered back to the launch station. The location and elevation are used to calculate the windspeed and direction with height. The balloon keeps on rising and being carried downwind until the balloon can expand no more and bursts. By this time the balloon can be as high as 30 km above the surface and up to several hundred kilometres downwind of the launch site. Within a few hours the data have been checked and shared between meteorological agencies and databases around the world.

Why?
The measurements,  called upper air soundings, are extremely important in determining the stability of the atmosphere and are used as inputs to computer models that are used to forecast the weather. The are also used by forecasters to predict if lightning and damaging thunderstorms are likely, how the atmosphere is able to disperse pollutants like smoke and other pollutants, and to control when open burning of logging slash can occur. The data are also used in other models like climate change simulations and pollutant dispersion models. Remember the dispersion modelling done during the application for the Ajax mine near Kamloops, the model used upper air observations for the three year period to project dust emissions and other pollutants and how they could affect Kamloops residents.

Where?
In British Columbia there are four stations where radiosondes are launched twice a day: Prince George, Vernon, Port Hardy, and Fort Nelson. As well there are stations in Washington State at Spokane and Quillayute, and in Alaska at Annette Island, from which radiosondes can fly over BC after launch.

The station in Vernon has had a strange history -- the station was on the ridge west of Kalamalka Lake and Highway 97 until the 1980s. In those days there were no GPS satellites and the location and elevation of the rising radiosonde was determined with radar. This required a large installation for each ground station. When the Mountain Weather Office was established on the grounds of what is now UBC Okangan in Kelowna, the launch site was moved there. A few years ago, UBCO decided that expanding a parking lot was more important than upper air soundings and the station was evicted. There were no upper air data available for the Southern Interior of BC for several years until a new station in Vernon was established by Environment Canada. Next time you drive to Kelowna, look to the west (right) as you pass the Kalamalka Forestry Research station and you will see the old upper air station on the ridge. It is now used as a community eductation centre. Environment Canada is hoping to use the old station again, but until then the radiosondes are launched from the Water Survey of Canada office at the north end of Vernon.

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