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Francois LaPierre, SK

It is with great sadness that I share the passing of VA7FEL, Francois LaPierre, who became a Silent Key on Friday, December 2 at 4pm.

Francois was a character -- a larger than life character -- and I didn't really know him all that well, but in the short time that I knew him he made an impact on my life.

I first met Francois over the VE7RLO repeater -- I think it was during Field Day in the early days of COVID -- I was up at the repeater doing some work and this voice with a distinct Quebecois accent came over the radio asking for a radio check.  I got to talking to him and he told me that he had trouble getting a response on the repeater and wasn't sure that his radio was working.  I told him that I would be willing to meet him and do some tests with his radio to make sure it was working properly.  

It turned out he had recently moved into an apartment about two blocks from my office, so at lunch I walked up and met him across the street from his apartment.  He was sitting in his mobility scooter, relaxing under the shade of a tree in the parking lot, and was surrepticiously sipping a beer!

He had a little Baofeng HT, and when he told me where he lived I suspected that the Baofeng didn't have a good line of site to the repeater, hence the poor reception.  So I offered to help make him a window dipole. That was the start of our friendship.  Francois had moved to Kamloops from Vernon, and he missed talking with his friends in Vernon.  Frank's English (by his own admission!) wasn't the best, but he was fluent in French and it was a joy to hear his Quebecios accent on the local repeater when he was having a QSO with his friends in Vernon.  Over the years the club helped Francois get better radios and antennas so that he could still be active on the air.  The last project that Ralph and myself cooked up for Francois this past summer was a surplus Tait UHF radio and compact switching power supply along with a home-built UHF quarter-wave dipole that looked very much like a sexy brass coat rack!

I always used to enjoy hearing him call "CQ" in the morning, and telling people that he would be monitoring the radio "from 7am to 7pm" -- he was willing to monitor the radio in case anyone out there needed assistance, or just needed someone to talk to.  That's the kind of guy he was.   

Francois' health took a turn for the worse this fall, and he passed after a long illness that kept him off the radio at the end.  I spoke to him several hours before his passing, and he insisted that I take the radio package back and that the club should give it to someone in need, someone that could use it.  Someone like him.  It brought tears to my eyes knowing that Francois only had hours to live, but he was thinking of others -- his innate generousity and compassion was obvious right up to the end.  

Francois, we will miss you.

Francois LaPierre, VA7FEL
Silent Key, December 2, 2022

XYL SK Mary Houghton of Logan Lake

November 14, 1929 – November 11, 2022

Mary Houghton (nee Driedger)

It with great sadness that we learned that the beloved XYL of Fred Houghton (VE7FFK) of Logan Lake passed away on the afternoon of November 11th, 2022.  Mary leaves behind her husband, Frederich (Fred), 2 sons, 4 grandsons and 2 great grandkids. Mary's ashes will be kept until Fred's demise, at which time both will be buried at Whispering Pines in Logan Lake.  There will not be a funeral service for Mary.

Online condolensces may be left for the family at https://www.drakecremation.com/mary-houghton-nee-driedger/

For those who don't know Fred, VE7FFK, he is a character.  He won the KARC Ham of the Year in 1998 because of his vast efforts in building up the profile and importance of Amateur Radio in the Logan Lake community and region. 

Fred, please accept the sincere condolensces of all of the members of the Kamloops Amateur Radio Club.

2022 RAC Canada Day Contest -- fun in the sun!








The club held the 2022 RAC Canada Day Contest at Peter's (VE7DNZ) farm, at the same location that we held Field Day.  The weather was good for setup on Thursday afternoon, but early in the evening there was a wicked thunderstorm which finally cleared about 10:30pm.  Band conditions were good, and contacts were made on 80, 40, 20 and 15m.  Things were still hopping when the radio was turned off at 11pm.

Friday morning the sunshine and blue sky returned, and band conditions were good on 40, 20 and 15m. 

2022 RAC Canada Day Contest -- how and where

The annual RAC Canada Day Contest is this week, on Friday July 1.  The contest starts at 00:00 UTC (5pm Thursday PDT) until 23:59:59 UTC (5pm Friday PDT).  We will be operating the club station, VE7UT, from the Field Day site at Peter's farm in Knutsford.  All members and guests are welcome. 

Please bring your own chair, food and beverages, and be prepared for "rustic" and historic conditions (this is part of a ranch that has been in operation for over a hundred years).  There is an old ranchers cabin and an outhouse, and the views are spectacular (see the photo album for KARC Field Day 2022 for what to expect), so remember to bring your camera. As with Field Day, we will have the Coleman stove for cooking, some cool water for your dog (or you!), and lots of room to camp if you are so inclined.

Please see the directions to the site in the Field Day 2022 story below.  We had a few people who had some challenges finding the site last weekend, so I have attached a more detailed map to this story.  In a nutshell, when you come through the green metal gate (ignore the "Private Property" sign and remember to close the gate), you will drive on a rutted, 2-track dirt road for quite a ways before getting to the site.  If you don't make any turns off the 2-track you will eventually get to the site! 

Any problems, give us a call on 147.320 VE7RLO and we'll guide you in.

KARC Field Day 2022 -- It was awesome!





KARC Field Day 2022 was held at Peter's (VE7DNZ) farm in Knutsford near Curry Hill (aka Brigade Hill).  We enjoyed fabulous weather and made lots of contacts and had lots of fun.  We put up the club's 40-foot portable mast (aka tower) and HF beam (10/15/20m), and a 40-foot fiberglass mast from which we hung the OCF Carolina Windom HF antenna (mostly used for 40/80m).  We also had a portable APRS station broadcasting our location for Field Day.  Band conditions were great (particularly 20m), and we made almost 200 (197, "missed it by that much") contacts over the 24-hour period.  We operated as a 2A station, using the club's IC-7300 in Ralph's tent and also the IC-7100 in Myles' Jeep.  We used solar power (3 - 100W panels) for the contest, although we did run the 3kW generator for a while on Friday evening just to make sure it worked in case we needed it.  We also lit the "VE7WWW Memorial Mosquito Coil" -- long time club members will recall Bill's passion for the mosquito coil!

Thank you to everyone who helped set up and take down, and to all those who participated or just came out for a visit!

There is a Field Day 2022 Photo Album here: https://karc.ca/node/694 and I have included a few photos from the weekend to whet your appetite before you look at the complete Photo Album.

Participating were:
  • Peter, VE7DNZ
  • Ralph, VA7VZA
  • Simon, VE7RIZ and his son Bryson
  • Mark, VE7ARN
  • Shawn, VA7NIN
  • Jeff, VA7LH
  • Bill, VE7EAF and his XYL Susan
  • Don, VA7LNX
  • Myles, VE7FSR

KARC Field Day 2022 -- How to get there




The KARC Field Day will be held this weekend from Saturday noon until Sunday noon, at Peter (VE7DNZ) Philip's farm in Knutsford.  A map and Google Earth KMZ file are attached, as well as Google Maps directions from the link below.


We will be setting up on Friday from noon onward, and on Saturday morning.  Please bring your own chair, food and beverages, and be prepared for "rustic" and historic conditions (this is part of a ranch that has been in operation for over a hundred years).  There is an old ranchers cabin and an outhouse, and lots of room to camp if you are so inclined.  The views are spectacular, so remember to bring your camera.

To get there start from the Knutsford Community Hall south of Aberdeen, and follow the Long Lake Road south until you come to the junction and turn left onto Jackson Road.  Head east and then turn right onto Mannings Road and follow it south until you come to the sign that says "End of Public Road".  Look to your left and you will see a sign for the KARC Field Day and a gate leading into a field.  Please close the gate after you come through, and follow the two-track dirt road and the flagging ribbons until you come to the old rancher's cabin.  Please stay on the two-track (unless you need to bypass a mud puddle) and avoid driving in the field wherever possible.  We will be monitoring 147.320 VE7RLO if you need help finding the place.

Please keep in mind you are driving through open range and there may be cattle on the roads so please drive carefully, especially after dark.

Here is a photo of what to expect when you get there.

2022 KARC Picnic

The annual KARC Picnic was held Saturday, May 28 at the City of Kamloops Long Board Park in Aberdeen.  Ralph VA7VZA organized the picnic and the permitting from the City, and in attendance were Ralph VA7VZA, Myles VE7FSR, Simon VE7RIZ, Jordan VE7OSX, Peter VE7DNZ, Jim VE7JMN, Shawn VA7NIN, and Alphie the dog.

The gang set up a portable mast with a 20m quarter-wave vertical antenna, and four ground radials.  We tried out the club's new Icom IC-7300 HF radio, and Simon and Shawn made their first HF contacts with W9IMS the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ham special event station.  We had quite a few dog walkers wander by and ask us what we were doing, and the weather cooperated with some sunshine and a few overcast clouds.

For more photos of the picnic please see:  Photo Album 2022 KARC Picnic

Reminder: Annual KARC Picnic Saturday May 28

The annual KARC Picnic is being held this Saturday, May 28 from noon to 4PM, at the City of Kamloops Long Board Park in Aberdeen.  It's just above the Pacific Way Elementary School, and you can access it from the upper parking lot of the school.

Please bring your own camp chair, snacks, and beverages.  There are two picnic tables, one under a shelter.  We will have a two-burner Coleman stove for anyone wanting to roast hot dogs or marshmallows.

We will be monitoring VE7RLO (147.320+ and 442.525+ PL100) for anyone that needs directions or help finding the picnic.

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday!

For directions: https://goo.gl/maps/agLeD3YN8S5J7HvD6






PS.  Don't forget the club breakfast at Kirsten's Hideaway at 9AM Saturday.

Reminder: KARC Monthly Meeting next Thursday, June 2 at 7:00PM






The next monthly meeting of the Kamloops Amateur Radio Club will be held on
Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 7:00 PM PST.

The Agenda and Minutes from the last meeting are attached below.


Project Corner: Building an APRS Tracker for a Snowmobile





By Myles Bruns, VE7FSR

The APRS-IS network is terrific -- it not only shows the geospatial location of amateur radio stations (for example, https://aprs.fi/VE7FSR-9), but it allows for messaging between those amateur radio stations over RF (on 144.390 MHz).  The APRS-IS also supports short messages to and from email (see http://www.aprs-is.net/email.aspx) and short messages to and from SMS (e.g. mobile phone, see https://smsgte.org/ug-sending-messages/ for more info).  What this means is that the user of a "two-way" APRS tracker has the ability to send and receive messages to other ham radio operators on APRS, but also to non-hams such as family members through the email or SMS gateways.  This increases a person's safety net and ability to "stay in touch" -- and to call for help if needed.

Fortunately for me, in my pile of "ham radio and electronics junk" I had almost everything I needed to build a "two-way" APRS tracker which would allow me to send and receive short messages over APRS while out on the snowmobile alone.  It took a little thinking to figure out how to make this work on the snowmobile -- I didn't want to have something else (more weight) to carry in my pack -- and I wanted to use an efficient (and tough) antenna mounted to the snowmobile.

Click on "Read more" to see the rest of the article...


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