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Canada May be the Best Place for Hams to Experience the Solar Eclipse, Says VE7DXW

Alex Schwarz, VE7DXW, who developed the online Scanning RF Seismograph to determine which bands are open, is among the many looking forward to the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Although the path of totality will move over Oregon then southeastward toward South Carolina, he believes radio amateurs north of the border can take advantage of this "very exciting celestial event," as those in the US will be doing, and may have an edge of sorts. Members of the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI) in the US will sponsor a Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP) to conduct their own research.

The projected path of totality for the August 2017 solar eclipse. The arrows indicate possible HF paths for Canadian radio amateurs.

"This will be spectacular when viewed with our eyes," Schwarz said. "The effects of the solar radiation on the propagation of radio waves will be equally or more exciting." Schwarz said it may appear that Canada won't be a part of the solar eclipse, but British Columbia (BC) will have up to 95% coverage, he pointed out.

"As the solar eclipse is moving over the planet, it is leaving a canyon of de-ionized gas on the ionosphere in altitudes of about 100 to 300 kilometers," Schwarz said. "This puts Canada -- and especially Ontario -- in a very good position to get really long signal paths to the horizon toward the south. Southern Ontario will be in the best location to make contacts into the southern and western US and Central America. In southern BC, we can aim our antennas right down the length of the propagation anomaly and reach the Caribbean and southeastern US." Schwarz said timing is important, because the gas will ionize again after the solar shadow has passed. The entire passage across North America will be approximately 90 minutes.

Schwarz said that during the 1999 solar eclipse in Europe, radio amateurs recorded long-distance contacts on 160 and 80 meters. "We want to inform all amateurs about the opportunity of experiencing the solar eclipse on a totally different level by operating radios in their shacks," he said.

Schwarz encouraged all ham radio clubs to participate in the opportunity, not only to view the eclipse but to experience its effects on radio propagation.

NASA offers much more information about the 2017 solar eclipse.

Thanks to the ARRL for this story.

60M propagation experiment

This weekend I decided to become part of an interesting 60M propagation experiment being led by a bunch of keen Albertan hams.  The image at left shows which beacons I heard, and which monitoring stations heard my beacon, over the past 24 hours.

From Al, VE6RFM: "The objective of our 60M Experiment is to evaluate the band as a viable HF communications link between remote communities and larger centers throughout the Northern Canada Auroral Zone.  To accomplish this, we are gathering a team of interested individuals in various locations to beacon, and to monitor beacons from other stations throughout the region.  Beacons heard will be spotted to PSK Reporter and the PSK Reporter data will automatically update our central data base every 15 minutes.  Solar weather data will also be updated in our central database every 15 minutes.  Beacons heard, and solar conditions observed, will then be displayed graphically on a common time base.  The graphs will show us beacons heard by any station and the existing solar conditions at any given time.  From this information we are hoping to learn what solar conditions need to exist to support a reasonable communications path, and what conditions will not."

For club members active in HF digital this is pretty easy to set up, especially if you are already using FLdigi as your software suite.  It took me about an hour or so to work through configuring FLdigi and the FLdigi Beacon Scheduler and then I was on the air beaconing using Olivia 4-250 on 60M.  I plan to leave my station on for the next couple weeks (more use that it has probably seen in the past year!) and see how things go -- as we approach the solar minimum this should be a "worst case scenario" period of time to do the research.  If you are interested in giving this a try it is pretty simple to build a 60M dipole.

Plans for new repeater packages on Lolo and Greenstone

As mentioned at the last club meeting, I am working on building two new repeater packages - one for Greenstone, and one for Lolo - to replace the existing aging and frequently failing repeaters.  With a lot of help from Lee, VE7FET, we are in the process of planning how the new repeater systems will work and what equipment will be needed.  For those members interested, I will provide some links below to information on the software, hardware, and interfaces that we will be putting together over the next couple months. Stay tuned to these pages for more information and updates as things progress. 

I have also been working on building some Raspberry Pi-based APRS and Winlink Packet gateways which will also be part of the repeater upgrades. The Raspberry Pi boards are connected to two TNC-Pi boards which are each connected to a VHF radio.  The Raspberry Pi will run Xastir for APRS, and LinuxRMS for the VHF packet gateway to the Winlink system. The two radios will share a single antenna, using a Sinclair Q2222 duplexer.

Here are some link to check out if you are interested in learning more:

AllStar Link https://allstarlink.org/about.html

Yaesu DR1X and AllStar Link http://crompton.com/hamradio/DR1_Allstar_mod/

Asterisk AllStar and the Raspberry Pi https://hamvoip.org/

Modifying USB Sound FOB for AllStar https://www.hamvoip.org/hamradio/usb_fob_modification/

Allstar RTCM (Radio Thin Client Module)  http://www.micro-node.com/thin-m1.html

VE7RKA repeater update

After several trips to Greenstone Mountain and a lot of troubleshooting and testing the conclusion is that the RLC-3 repeater controller has a bad CPU. This means that we can only have one link enabled at a time (for example, the IRLP node).

Please DO NOT use the *A1 all links on DTMF command.

At present the repeater is configured to enable the IRLP node (*5541) so that people can use the IRLP.  If you wish to use the North or East links, please follow these instructions:

To use the North Link: Send the DTMF command *A0 (Star A Zero) and wait for the repeater to reply with "All Links Off". Send the DMTF code *3961 to enable the North Link. When you have completed your QSO please send *A0, wait for the message, and then send *5541 to re-enable the IRLP link.

To use the East Link: Send the DTMF command *A0 (Star A Zero) and wait for the repeater to reply with "All Links Off". Send the DMTF code *8321 to enable the East Link. When you have completed your QSO please send *A0, wait for the message, and then send *5541 to re-enable the IRLP link.

If more than one link is active you will likely hear a choppy, interrupted audio coming from the repeater. Should you hear this, please send the DTMF command *A0 (Star A Zero) to turn off all links.  You may then enable the IRLP link with command *5541.

If you have any questions, or hear any issues on the VE7RKA repeater, please contact Myles, VE7FSR at (250) 318-5150.

Thinking Day on the Air 2017 with the Kamloops 2nd Aurora Sparks

Thinking Day on the Air 2017

The Kamloops Amateur Radio Club hosted the Second Aurora Sparks unit on February 18, 2017 for Thinking Day on the Air.  The aim of Thinking Day on the Air (TDOTA) is to encourage girls to make guiding friendships with members of other units and to introduce them to amateur radio.  TDOTA first formally took to the air in 1985 to celebrate 75 years of guiding, so the event has been going for more than 30 years.

The Sparks had fun learning the phonetic alphabet, doing crafts, playing Morse Mouse, and learning to send their names in CW.  All the Sparks successfully mastered the straight key and earned their CW badge.  Although HF propagation didn't allow the Sparks a long-distance QSO with other TDOTA participants, we were able to give the girls an opportunity to talk on 2M and HF (special thanks to Bill and Peter for manning their stations) and they all earned a special Thinking Day on the Air certificate.

Thank you to Adam VA7AQD and his sons Quentin and Alex, Bill VE7WWW, Gina VA7AIR, Myles VE7FSR, Peter VE7DNZ, and Vern VE7VGO who all pitched in to make this a very successful event. 

For more pictures (thank you to Adam for being our official photographer!) of the event, please click here.

See everyone again next year for Thinking Day on the Air!


Field Day 2016 Information

On June 25-26, the Kamloops Amateur Radio Club will again be participating in the ARRL Field Day event, the largest Amateur Radio held annually in Canada and the US.  Come on out to the KARC Field Day site to learn more about Amateur Radio, the event and emergency communications!

In the frame below you will see the google maps driving directions (hit 'more options' to bring it up larger in the browser and get the full driving directions).  There are also several file attachments - a PDF of driving directions, a KMZ file that will open the location in google earth, and some screen shots from google earth as well.  

The files & information in the files shows "2015", but the location hasn't changed so it is still current.

The Field Day schedule will be similar to past Field Days with set up beginning Friday June 24th in the afternoon and evening. We will finish set up Saturday June 25 morning and start operating at noon until noon Sunday June 26. Then it’s time to take everything apart.

As usual we will take a break from operating for our pot luck dinner around 5:00 PM on Saturday. Then back at it “CQ field day de VE7UT“

See you there!






Signal bounced off ISS heard across the Atlantic

A 2 meter signal from the UK, reflected off the structure of the International Space Station (ISS) on May 2, was heard across the Atlantic. Following 2 weeks of preparation, Tim Fern, G4LOH, in Cornwall (IO70jc) and Roger Sturtevant, VE1SKY, in Nova Scotia (FN74iu) attempted a FSK441 contact.

Employing AMSAT satellite software, both stations aimed at the calculated grid HO11nl for a 144.175 MHz contact attempt with a mutual window of less than 1 minute. VE1SKY was able to copy G4LOH at a distance of 4441 kilometers (approximately 2753 miles). This was the first signal received via ISS bounce from Europe to North America, and the first intentional signal heard via ISS reflection in any direction across the North or South Atlantic.

The reception is being verified as a possible DX record for satellite reflection.

Transmitting in CW, Fern, operating as GK4LOH, has since been received twice in the much-closer GN37 grid by VO1HP at VO1FN in Newfoundland.

In 2014, RSGB VHF Manager John Regnault, G4SWX, received a 2 meter signal from VC1T, where a team, was trying to win the Brendan Trophy for the first transatlantic contact on 144 MHz. Upon investigation, it was determined that the VC1T FSK441 signal that G4SWX heard had also bounced off the ISS rather than via terrestrial propagation and would not qualify for the Brendan Trophy, offered by the Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS).The Brendan Trophy will recognize the first “traditional mode” two-way contact (ie, SSB or CW) capable of being copied without machine assistance.

The Brendan Trophy will recognize the first “traditional mode” two-way contact (ie, SSB or CW) capable of being copied without machine assistance. 


Exercise Coastal Response: June 7 - 10

Exercise Coastal Response will commence on Tuesday, June 7 at 0800hrs and will run daily until 1700hrs, concluding on Friday, June 10 at 1200hrs.

The exercise is focusing on the Port Alberni/ Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District area, however Emergency Management BC are asking all amateur radio stations (both independent volunteer stations and EOC stations) to participate on the radio net.

Exercise instructions, goals, and HF frequencies are contained in the PowerPoint slideshow linked below.

If you have questions or concerns please contact Mike Knauff at Emergency Management BC at (250) 371-5245.

Members of the Kamloops Amateur Radio club will be participating from the Central Region Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre (PREOC) located at 1255-D Dalhousie Drive (around back of the Ambulance building).  If you would like to watch the exercise in action, or are interested in lending a hand, please stop by.

ARRL VHF Contest June 11-13, 2016

The ARRL June VHF Contest begins at 1800 UTC Saturday, and runs through 0259 UTC Monday (June 11-13, 2016).

Amateurs in the US and Canada (and their possessions) are encouraged to work as many amateur stations in as many different 2 degrees x 1 degree Maidenhead grid squares as possible using authorized frequencies above 50 MHz. Stations outside the US & Canada (and their possessions) may only work stations in the US (and its possessions) and Canada.

Myles, VE7FSR will be joining the Coquitlam Amateur Radio Club (VE7SCC) at Pavilion Mountain again this year.  Visitors are welcome to come out and visit, or give us a call on 2M or 6M and say "hello".

Emergency Services Day First of its Kind

Emergency Services Day First of its Kind

For the first time ever, Emergency Services in Kamloops joined forces to present Emergency Services Day. The free event combined Emergency Preparedness Week with National Police Week to provide the opportunity for residents to meet their emergency response community.

Visitors learned about Kamloops community’s emergency services teams and how to be better prepared for an emergency event.  The event took place in the North Parking Lot of Aberdeen Mall on Saturday, May 14th and the event featured a variety of emergency services partners, ranging from the Provincial Emergency Radio Communications Service (PERCS), Kamloops Fire Rescue, RCMP, BC Ambulance Service, CN and CP Police, Conservation Service, the Air 4 RCMP Helicopter, the BCSPCA, and many others.

PERCS volunteers Gina Charlesworth (VA7AIR), Bill Foster (VE7WWW), Myles Bruns (VE7FSR) and Mike Knauff from Emergency Management BC set up and staffed the PERCS tent, and visitors learned how amateur radio volunteers provide Emergency Radio Communications in the Province of British Columbia in support of their local municipality, Emergency Management BC or other response agencies.


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