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.

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:


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.

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.

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.

KARC History: Early VHF Radio in Kamloops, by Ken Hoshowski, VE7FP

In the early 1960’s taxi’s and other commercial businesses used VHF radios -- Marconi, RCA and General Electric to name a few.  These units were big and heavy and usually when used for mobile operation were located in the trunk of the vehicle.  This necessitated a long heavy power cord from the battery to the unit. In the early 1960’s with the advent of transistors, smaller units became available that were installed under the dash.

This made for a surplus of the old boat anchors which were easily adapted for ham radio use, typically single channel, crystal controlled, and usually on 147.330 MHz.  This is what I was still using when I moved back to Kamloops in 1970.

I got involved in the local club and was President in 1971 and 1972.  The BCFM Society in Vancouver had access to surplus repeaters.  I was in contact with Dave Powell Williams who, as well as a ham, was a pilot and flew a repeater to Kamloops.  This was a donation and no cost to the KARC.  At that time Colin Gowans, VE7BNM was our most knowledgeable technician who undertook the installation of the repeater on Dufferin Mountain.  I had previously done all the necessary paperwork with Transport Canada regarding licensing the repeater.  CFJC TV had a small shack on the site and graciously consented to give us space and power.  I can’t remember who arranged a telephone pole for our antenna installation but it was big and long enough that we had to get a small crane truck to lift it into the hole.  We had to rent a jack hammer to dig the hole in the very rocky ground. Once the pole was installed we had to attach the separate receive and transmit antennas.  Peter Stonier, VE7CBN, and I installed the antennas on a cold wet day.  A duplexer was way out of our means.  The antennas were installed one above the other with a spacing of about 10 feet.  I recall bolting the upper antenna in place on a wet and windy day.  Our extension ladder was only 20 feet and trying to hold and bolt the antenna in place required both hands.  I had to tie a rope around my waist and around the pole to hold me while I attached the antenna.  In the meanwhile it was pouring rain which ran down the pole and into my trousers and I am sure out my pant legs.  I have never been so cold in my life. It took me about 15 minutes to dry out and warm up with the car heater on full.

KARC Summer Picnic, Greenstone Mountain, August 30, 2020

A small group of KARC members got together (keeping a full wavelength apart at 146.520MHz) last Sunday for a picnic, tour of the VE7RKA repeater building, and hike up to the old forestry lookout.  We also had two hams (thanks to Phil and Al for driving all the way!) from Salmon Arm come to the picnic, visits from a couple prospective hams, and from a couple of motorcyclists who were curious about what we were all doing up there on Greenstone!

The weather was mostly sunny, and it made for a nice picnic lunch.  VA7GPX, Doug, was the early bird getting up the mountain before 10AM, and the last club member arrived about 2:15pm (thanks Eileen, VA7EJW, for coming up after your double shift!).

Photos of the picnic may be found at this link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/pptCQEpbT49brKm6A  If you have photos of the picnic that you would like to share please let me know and I will upload them to the album.

Thank you to all those who attended -- it was great seeing everyone at the picnic and to have a chance to catch up and socialize with each other.

Lorna Kilgour VE7LNK Silent Key

It is with the deepest sadness that we share notice of the sudden passing of VE7LNK, Lorna Kilgour of Deadman's Creek on August 21, 2020.  Lorna was a member of the KARC, and for many years was a volunteer with the Provincial Emergency Radio Communications Service (PERCS).  She was often heard on the VE7RKA repeater and she always had something positive and cheery to share with whomever she was talking to.  Lorna was predeceased by her loving husband Daniel Kilgour in November 2017.  Lorna is survived by her son Eric Kilgour (VA7IBO) and daughter Nancy Kilgour (VE7NMQ), granddaughters Ashley and Angela Kilgour.

Eric has told us that there will be a small funeral held on August 31 at 11am at the Skeetchestn Gym, and a small dinner following the service at Skeetchestn Arbor.  Due to COVID regulations the service will be limited to 50 people.  The family has set up a private livestream for those unable to attend in person.

Lorna's favourite Bible verse was John 3:16 -- For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

We will miss you, Lorna.


Subscribe to Kamloops Amateur Radio Club RSS