NORAC members, with sadness I report a new silent key in our local group.

NORAC Silent Keys

Lowell VE7LRL became a silent key on June 19. Lowell was a longtime NORAC member as well as being the NORAC Ham of the Year in 2003. For many years he also helping out at the Winter Carnival Parade.
 
Penny (VE7PCL) his widow emailed the club on July 5th with the news. His obituary is online with Dignity Memorial, you can send condolences and share memories of Lowell on the website link below.
 
 
 
 
VA7AEJ

https://www.rac.ca/summer-2020-advanced-course-now-available/

For immediate release: 

In response to the global pandemic, Radio Amateurs of Canada is once again offering an online Advanced Qualification Amateur Radio Course so that individuals can upgrade their qualifications while continuing to practise social/physical distancing.

With your Advanced Certificate, you can run higher power, operate a remotely-controlled station, obtain operating privileges when travelling overseas, set up repeaters, be the trustee for club stations and even become an Accredited Examiner (AE). 

In addition to the Advanced Course, a Basic Qualification Amateur Radio Course will also once again be conducted with the assistance of the Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club (AVARC) of Nova Scotia. We anticipate that the next Basic course will start in mid-August and are currently setting up the course.

Registration for the Basic course is not yet available and we are not keeping a waitlist. We will be sending out a RAC bulletin as soon as the information becomes available and also posting it on the RAC website.

RAC Advanced Course for Maple Leaf Operators: Summer 2020

The RAC Advanced Qualification Amateur Radio course is being offered at no charge to RAC Maple Leaf Operator Members – both current and future.

Participants in the course will need to meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Participants must already have the Canadian Basic Amateur Radio Qualification and a Canadian call sign.
  2. Participants must already be a RAC Maple Leaf Operator Member or become one by joining RAC at the Maple Leaf Operator level or upgrading to that level.
  3. Participants must have a copy of the Canadian Amateur Radio Advanced Qualification Study Guide provided by Coax Publications. For more information please visit the RAC Study Guides webpage.
  4. Participants must have a computer and Internet connection capable of using the GoToMeeting (GTM) conference platform. You do not need your own account on GTM to take part in this course, but you will have to download an applet from the GTM site to participate.
  5. Participants must have a working email address to receive course materials and links to the sessions.
The course will be 10 sessions in length and each session will be two hours long.

In order to offer maximum flexibility, we will be running two Advanced courses so students will be able to choose one of the following two options:

  • Sunday afternoons from 3 pm to 5 pm EDT (12 pm PDT) starting on Sunday, July 5 and ending on Sunday, September 6

Or

  • Monday evenings from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm EDT (5:30 PDF) starting on Monday, July 6 and ending on Monday, September 7

The course instructor is Dave Goodwin, VE9CB. Dave has been an Amateur since 1975, is an active HF Contester and DXer and has many other interests in Amateur Radio. Since 2015, Dave has been teaching Basic and Advanced certification courses with the Fredericton (NB) Amateur Radio Club. He is also RAC’s Atlantic Director.

For complete details about the RAC Advanced Qualification Amateur Radio Course please visit:

https://www.rac.ca/amateur-radio-courses/advanced-course-for-maple-leaf-operators/

Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA
RAC President and Chair

June 9, 2020

Mike VE7KPZ has ordered the 2 x HAMwan CPEs required to setup the point to point network link between the VE7EGO repeater site and Brad VE7WBM's QTH. This will facilitate an alternate internet connection for the mountaintop shack.

While many HAMwan folks are recommending the MikroTik RBLHG-5HPnD model for it's great receive performance (due to a large dish), this unit is not really meant for a windy mountaintop repeater site.

Instead, Mike has chosen the latest generation in the MikroTik SXT line, the RBSXTsq5HPnD model (front/back):

This CPE has a little lower gain, but shoots out a bit more RF power (if needed) to overcome it's gain deficiency. Survivability of this unit is much higher for windy locations with an upwards of 200 km/h wind rating.

Check out the brochure here.

A pair of SXT sq5 HP units is advertised to be good for upwards of a 12 km link, but we only need to do 4 km as the crow flies from the mountaintop to Brad's QTH. We'll also narrowband the RF transmission channel to both preserve spectrum but also achieve a more resilient connection by focussing the CPE's RF power on the smaller bandwidth.

Brad's YL will also be happy with a lower-profile "dish" mounted to their house.

The units were ordered from BC supplier Solimedia. We look forward to their arrival so we can get to work setting up the link.

FYI and 73,
Mike VE7KPZ
NORAC Vice President and Technical Committee Lead

 

Summary:

Technical team members went to the VE7EGO site to do the following:

  • reboot the VHF DR-2X repeater
  • collect and deliver the IRLP node 1050 hardware to Brad VE7WBM's QTH for temporary relocation
  • skookum-up the shack roof

Attendees:

VE7WWJ Jane
VE7KPZ Mike

VE7WBM Brad (remote)
VE7UIH Ted (remote)
VE7TRZ Terry (remote)

Access:

The usual route was taken to access the VE7EGO Commonage site. Jane and Mike travelled up and down from the site in the Unimog.

Just before heading in to the VE7EGO site, Mike telephoned Kevin at 250-744-0732. Kevin is in charge of exploding/disposing of WW2 munitions still in the hillsides. Upon departure from the site, Mike texted Kevin to notify him of our departure. Kevin likes to know both the ins and outs of our visits.

Events Leading Up To The Visit

The VHF DR-2X repeater was exhibiting the same odd behaviour that had previously been seen with the UHF DR-2X repeater.

On a previous visit to the site, it was noted that the roof tin was not looking so good in the northwest corner of the roof. Also, many of the roof screws were looking a little loose.

Brad had offered to host the IRLP node 1050 hardware while we sorted out internet for the mountain-top site.

Actions Taken:

Mike opened up the VE7EGO shack and went straight to the DR-2X VHF repeater. With a quick power cycle, the issue was fixed.

Mike re-enabled the VHF DR-2X repeater and tested first with Jane monitoring the repeater's display screen. This was followed by a true analog FM QSO test with Ted.

Mike disconnected the IRLP node's various connections and loaded the hardware into the Unimog for later transport to Brad's QTH.

Mike installed a new piece of roofing tin in the questionable northwest corner of the shack roof. He then proceeded to tighten many of the existing roof screws. The screws that were still loose were removed and replaced with bigger roofing screws. Then, additional large screws were installed in key areas of the roof as per Jane's instruction. In total approximately 100 screws were installed. Special thanks to Brad for donating the roofing screws. Special thanks to Jane and Mike for donating the roofing tin.

Jane and Mike then delivered the IRLP node hardware and the Sinclair folded dipole 3-element UHF yagi antenna to Brad's QTH. Special thanks to Mike for donating a PL-259 end for the yagi's coax. Brad will cut the existing end from the coax, run the coax through a hole in the wall of his QTH and then install the new PL-259 end. He'll point the yagi up towards SilverStar so that the node can again be accessed via the SIRG network.

After the visit, Terry and Mike discussed possible causes for both DR-2X repeaters malfunctioning at the same time. The current theory is that AC 120 V mains power may not be clean enough, especially given the wild weather the repeater site sees. 

Next Steps:

While we wait for the 5.9 GHz WiFi CPE order (so that we can setup our own P2P internet connection via Brad's QTH), Terry and Brad will setup the IRLP node at Brad's house. Thanks Brad for offering to host it again for a bit. Fortunately the setup is much smaller and quieter with the fanless PiRLP doing the computer work.

Mike has an APC SmartUPS 1500 and an APC SmartUPS 750 sitting around sans batteries (both picked up at an OCARC club meeting - thanks Gordon VE7GFH and donating party). Terry will pick one of the UPSes and find a suitable replacement battery, test the unit to confirm proper function (output voltage, sine wave, etc.) and then configure PiEGO to work with it. PiEGO can then automatically shut itself (and the PiRLP) down if the UPS battery runs low. The PiEGO can also monitor power events via either the USB or serial communication connections the UPS provides and send emails when critical events such as spikes, brownouts or electrical noise are observed. Even if the PiEGO has to wait until we revive internet connectivity at the site, we can configure the UPS to run with high sensitivity to power events and then install it at the site running in standalone mode. Having a UPS to cover short power events with a quick switchover to batter backup should ensure that the repeaters observe a cleaner AC 120 V mains supply.

 

FYI,
Mike VE7KPZ
NORAC Vice-President 2017-2020, Technical Committee Lead 2020

Summary:

Technical team members went to the VE7EGO site to do the following:

  • reboot the UHF DR-2X repeater

While on site it was observed that the internet connection had been lost, the IRLP 1050 node antenna was broken and the roof was coming off the shack. There must have been some very high winds at the site recently to do the antenna and roof damage.

Attendees:

VE7WWJ Jane
VE7KPZ Mike

VE7WBM Brad (remote)
VE7WEA Jake (remote)

Access:

The usual route was taken to access the VE7EGO Commonage site. Jane and Mike travelled up and down from the site in the Unimog.

Just before heading in to the VE7EGO site, Mike telephoned Kevin at 250-744-0732. Kevin is in charge of exploding/disposing of WW2 munitions still in the hillsides. Upon departure from the site, Mike texted Kevin to notify him of our departure. Kevin likes to know both the ins and outs of our visits.

Events Leading Up To The Visit

It was reported that the UHF DR-2X repeater was not working. Specifically, a transmit to the repeater would key the repeater but the output would be indiscernible, and continue on until the repeater's time-out timer stopped it. Brad had disabled the repeater remotely.

Actions Taken:

Mike opened up the VE7EGO shack and went straight to the DR-2X UHF repeater. With a quick power cycle, the issue was fixed.

Mike observed that the internet connection was again down.

Jane observed that the IRLP antenna had broken.

Mike observed that a corner of the roof appeared to be missing a couple of screws and was a bit deformed.

Mike re-enabled the UHF DR-2X repeater and tested a WIRES-X QSO with Jake (who was coming into the WIRES-X network via his own node).

Next Steps:

While we wait for the 5.9 GHz WiFi CPE order (so that we can setup our own P2P internet connection via Brad's QTH), we will move the IRLP node to Brad's house. Thanks Brad for offering to host it again for a bit.

Mike will work on implementing a new antenna for IRLP at the site.

Mike will bring up a piece of fresh roofing tin and the roofing screws that Brad donated so many years ago... and install it instead of the manky piece.

After leaving the site, it was observed that the VHF DR-2X repeater was doing the exact same thing as the UHF DR-2X repeater had been. This repeater has since been remotely disabled by Mike. We'll power cycle it to fix it when we revisit the site (soon) to bring the new roofing tin up and the IRLP node down.

 

FYI,
Mike VE7KPZ
NORAC Vice-President 2017-2020, Technical Committee Lead 2020