All posts by va7mpg

New NASA video highlights ARISS contact with Airdrie Space Science Club in Alberta

A new @NASA video provides a different perspective from the typical Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) Program school contact.

The @NASA Twitter feed announcing the video states: “Students Use Ham Radio to Call an Astronaut in Space. Canadian students participating from home used ham radio to talk with astronaut Chris Cassidy (@Astro_Seal) aboard the station on May 15, 2020.”The tweet spread quickly in cyberspace and was featured in an article in the Friday, August 28, 2020 issue of the United Kingdom’s online newspaper, The Daily Mailas shown in the photo below.The headline reads: “NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy aboard the ISS receives a call from Canadian students using a ham radio who ask him about life in space, foods he misses and what happens when someone vomits on the ship…” 
The May 15 contact was no ordinary ISS contact and it was featured on the front cover of the July-August 2020 issue of The Canadian Amateur magazine and prominently displayed on the RAC website. In addition, the magazine also included the article “Successful ARISS contact with the Airdrie Space Science Club in Alberta using new Multipoint Telebridge Contact via Amateur Radio”.Youth members of the Airdrie Space Science Club (ASSC) in Airdrie, Alberta were able to engage in a Q&A session with US astronaut Chris Cassidy, KF5KDR, onboard the International Space Station (ISS). This was the second test of the new-style radio contact called Multipoint Telebridge Contact via Amateur Radio. The concept was developed for distance learning when schools closed worldwide due to COVID-19. The virus eliminated all opportunities for ARISS radio contacts at education organizations.The previous news post included a video of the ISS contact with the Airdrie Space Science Club. Unlike previous videos which shows excited students, teachers, parents and media all gathered together in a school gymnasium, this video shows students and parents making contacts from the safety of their homes during a global pandemic.The Airdrie Space Science Club was formed by a group of space enthusiasts interested in advancing students’ interest in model rocketry and who wanted to offer ways to help them enjoy the wonders of space science. One of those leaders was teacher Brian Jackson, VE6JBJ, who is the Western Canada ARISS Mentor and the Chair of the RAC Youth Education Program. Brian described the new ARISS concept in this way:“During this pandemic, our opportunities to develop kids’ interest in space has been interrupted. This ARISS contact gets them looking back up, towards the sky, and imagining themselves as an astronaut one day.”The new NASA video that was just released provides a completely different perspective: that of the astronauts onboard the International Space Station.RAC President Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA, describes it in this way:“The recently released video is based on both the questions and answers from the ARISS contact and also video from inside the International Space Station (ISS).It highlights Amateur Radio as the means of students speaking with astronauts, picks out some of the most interesting questions and answers and shows what is happening inside the ISS.The new video is shorter and more gripping than the original and it includes the most important and interesting segments of the contact.ARISS has chosen it to highlight how contacts are done today during the global pandemic. I think the high quality of the questions was one of the reasons for choosing this session. It has been liked and retweeted thousands of times in the first days since its release.I would like to publicize it because is something we and the Airdrie group should be proud of. It is what you’d want to show someone who wondered what these contacts are about.”Stay tuned to the following websites for more information on the ARISS Program:RAC ARISS page: ARISS page:

[RAC-Bulletin] September-October 2020 eTCA now available |

Welcome to the September-October 2020 issue of The Canadian Amateur

The electronic TCA (eTCA) version of the September-October 2020 TCA is now available for viewing or download.

Note: Due to technical issues, the FlipHTML5 version is not ready yet but it will be posted as soon as it is ready.

The paper version is now being processed by the printer, but it will be delayed as a result of COVID-19. Stay tuned to the RAC website for additional information.

To download your copy please visit:


The US FCC has authorized the use of Pactor 4 by US hams until Sept 25 2020. This in response to Hurricane Laura. The order is shown below.

Federal Communications Commission DA 20-963
Before the
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of
Emergency Request for a Temporary Waiver of
Section 97.307(f) of the Commission’s Rules
Adopted: August 27, 2020 Released: August 27, 2020
By the Deputy Chief, Mobility Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau:

  1. Introduction. We have before us a request filed by the American Radio Relay League
    (ARRL) for a temporary waiver to permit amateur data transmissions at a higher symbol rate than
    currently is permitted by section 97.307(f) of the Commission’s rules, in order to facilitate hurricane relief
    communications within the continental United States.1 For the reasons set forth below, we grant the
    waiver request.
  2. Background. Section 97.307(f) limits the symbol rate (also known as the baud rate) –
    the rate at which the carrier waveform amplitude, frequency, and/or phase is varied to transmit
    information2 – for high frequency (HF) amateur radioteletype (RTTY)/data transmissions as follows to
    300 bauds for frequencies below 28 MHz (except the 60 meter band), and 1200 bauds in the 10 meter (28-
    29.7 MHz) band.
    The digital code used to encode the signal being transmitted must be one of the codes
    specified in section 97.309(a) of the Commission’s rules, but an amateur station transmitting a RTTY or
    data emission using one of the specified digital codes may use any technique whose technical
    characteristics have been publicly documented, such as CLOVER, G-TOR, or PACTOR.4
  3. In 2016, in response to an ARRL petition for rulemaking, the Commission proposed to
    remove the symbol rate limitations, which it tentatively concluded had become unnecessary due to
    advances in modulation techniques and no longer served a useful purpose.5
    That proceeding is currently
    1 E-mail from Dan Henderson, Call Sign N1ND on behalf of the ARRL to Thomas Derenge, Laura Smith and
    Joshua Smith, FCC (August 26, 2020 14:02 EDT) (Waiver Request); see 47 CFR § 97.307(f).
    2 Amendment of Part 97 of the Commission’s Amateur Radio Service Rules to Permit Greater Flexibility in Data
    Communications, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 31 FCC Rcd 8485, 8485, para. 1 (2016) (Baud Rate NPRM).
    3 47 C.F.R. § 97.307(f)(3), (4). In the 60 meter (5.3305-5.4064 MHz) band, there is no maximum symbol rate, but
    bandwidth is limited to 2.8 kilohertz for data and 60 hertz for RTTY. See 47 CFR § 97.307(f)(14).
    4 47 C.F.R. §§ 97.307(f)(3), (4), 97.309(a)(4). CLOVER, G-TOR, and PACTOR are different techniques used to
    increase the efficiency of digital communications. Baud Rate NPRM, 31 FCC Rcd at 8486, n.18.
    5 See Baud Rate NPRM, 31 FCC Rcd at 8458, para. 8.
    Federal Communications Commission DA 20-963
  4. ARRL seeks this waiver for those licensed radio amateurs who are directly involved with
    hurricane relief via High Frequency Amateur Radio using PACTOR 4 modems in communications within
    the Continental United States relative to impending Hurricane Laura.6 ARRL states that Section 97.307(f)
    of the Commission’s Rules prevents the use of PACTOR 4 emissions, which is a data protocol that
    permits relatively high-speed data transmission in the High Frequency (HF) bands and many Amateur
    stations active in emergency communications preparedness are capable of using. They also point out that
    the past FCC temporary waivers have allowed this protocol in similar events including Hurricane Maria,
    Typhoon relief communications in Hawaii and Hurricane Dorian.
  5. ARRL also states that trained amateur radio operators with communications equipment in
    the southeastern United States are actively preparing to assist radio amateurs involved with the Amateur
    Radio Emergency Service (ARES) working with federal, state and local emergency management officials
    to assist with disaster relief communications in anticipation of the arrival on the Gulf Coast of Hurricane
    Laura.7 This equipment includes PACTOR radio modems that are capable of both PACTOR 3 and
    PACTOR 4 emissions and the higher data rates offered by PACTOR 4 emissions are critical to sending
    hurricane relief communications including lists of needed and distributed supplies.
  6. Discussion. To obtain a waiver of the Commission’s rules, a petitioner must demonstrate
    either that (i) the underlying purpose of the rule(s) would not be served or would be frustrated by
    application to the present case, and that a grant of the waiver would be in the public interest; or (ii) in
    view of unique or unusual factual circumstances of the instant case, application of the rule(s) would be
    inequitable, unduly burdensome, or contrary to the public interest, or the applicant has no reasonable
    We conclude that ARRL’s request should be granted.
  7. ARRL stands ready to assist the area potentially impacted by Hurricane Laura to conduct
    disaster relief communications.9 While PACTOR 3 and PACTOR 4 modems are downward-compatible
    with slower speed versions of PACTOR, ARRL asserts that the higher data rates offered by PACTOR 3
    and PACTOR 4 emissions are critical to sending hurricane relief communications.10
  8. We conclude that granting the requested waiver is in the public interest. Hurricane Laura
    has the potential to cause massive destruction states along the Gulf of Mexico, and communications
    services will likely be disrupted. Thus, to accommodate amateur radio operators assisting in the recovery
    efforts, we grant the ARRL’s waiver request for the period of 30 days from the date of this Order. The
    waiver is limited to amateur radio operators in the continental United States using PACTOR 3 and
    PACTOR 4 emissions who are directly involved with HF hurricane relief communications.
  9. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that pursuant to section 4(i) of the Communications Act
    of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 154(i), and section 1.925 of the Commission’s rules, 47 CFR § 1.925,
    the Emergency Request for a Temporary Waiver of Section 97.307(f) of the Commission’s Rules filed by
    the American Radio Relay League on August 26, 2020, IS GRANTED as set forth above.
    6 See Waiver Request.
    7 See Waiver Request.
    8 47 CFR §§ 1.925(b)(3).
    9 See Waiver Request.
    10 See id.
    Federal Communications Commission DA 20-963
  10. This action is taken under delegated authority pursuant to sections 0.131 and 0.331 of the
    Commission’s rules, 47 CFR §§ 0.131, 0.331.
    Thomas Derenge
    Deputy Chief, Mobility Division
    Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

“World Amateur Radio Day” Special Event Certificates are now ready for download!

The special event certificates are now ready for download from the following webpage.

If you participated in the event, all you need to do is to insert your call sign in the space provided and then click on the “Submit” button. 

Please let me know if you have any problems with the certificate. For more information about the World Amateur Radio Day event please visit:

We will also be including an article about the special event in the July-August 2020 issue of The Canadian Amateur and I would appreciate it if you would please send any comments to me at the address provided below.
 Alan Griffin
RAC MarCom Director | TCA Editor

[RAC-Bulletin] New RAC Membership Renewal Procedures

On behalf of Radio Amateurs of Canada, I would like to thank you for your continued support of Amateur Radio in Canada and internationally. Your membership has helped RAC in its two primary objectives: to support and promote Amateur Radio in Canada and internationally; and to provide valuable programs and services to RAC members (see below).

As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the RAC Head Office in Ottawa has been closed temporarily and we are no longer able to send out membership renewal notices by mail and we will be sending out email notices instead.

We would appreciate it if you would please watch for these messages in your inbox and also in your junk folders – this is especially true if you have Outlook or Hotmail email addresses.

In addition, you can assist us by checking to see when your membership will expire by logging on to the RAC website and going to the “My Membership” webpage ( You can also find it on the mailing label of the paper version of The Canadian Amateur magazine or by calling the RAC office as described below.

If you need to renew your membership you can do so by using one of the following options:

  • Online: by completing the online renewal form (or by clicking on the “Join Radio Amateurs of Canada” logo on the top right of the RAC website). Payments must be made by credit card or by PayPal.
  • By phone: by calling 877-273-8304 from 10 am to 4 pm EST/EDT, Monday through Friday (except statutory holidays). You may pay by credit card or you may send a cheque for the appropriate amount to the RAC head office.
  • By mail: if you prefer to have your renewal form processed via standard mail, you can download an application for your region from the Membership Renewals webpage and mail it to the RAC Office. 

73, Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA
RAC President——

RAC Membership Benefits: A Reminder

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of just a few of the important services and benefits RAC provides to its members.
Radio Amateurs of Canada represents all Canadian Amateurs at all levels of government: 

1) At the Local/Municipal Level: RAC works with municipalities on such issues as regulations governing the placement of antennas and assists Amateur Radio clubs and other organizations in Public Service and Emergency Services (ARES) functions throughout the year. 

2) At the Regional/Provincial/Territorial Levels: RAC works with governments on such issues as Distracted Driving Legislation and Emergency Services.

3) At the National Level: RAC represents all Amateurs on the Canadian Amateur Radio Advisory Board (CARAB) and works with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada on important issues such as tower legislation, RF interference and spectrum grabs by business.

4) At the International Level: RAC is a member of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) which works with the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to preserve and expand our frequency spectrum allocations. RAC sponsors a representative at the World Radio Conferences (WRC) and their Preparatory Meetings to protect existing spectrum and open new spectrum. 

All of these items are intangible benefits that RAC members enjoy but members also enjoy tangible benefits including:

  • RAC’s membership journal, The Canadian Amateur (TCA) magazine – available in both print and digital (eTCA) formats – includes regular columns, features and technical articles of interest to Amateur Radio operators.
  • The RAC QSL Bureau System distributes QSL cards for RAC members to countries around the world.
  • The RAC Affiliated Club Program and Liability Insurance Program provides documents and other useful material to help local Amateur Radio clubs to be more efficient and also provides affordable $5 million liability insurance to their members.
  • Two annual contests – the RAC Canada Day Contest and the RAC Canada Winter Contest – and the RAC Operating Awards for Radio Amateurs worldwide.
  • The RAC Field Organization coordinates traffic-handling (National Traffic System) and emergency communications (ARES) across Canada.
  • The RAC Scholarship and Grant Program applies member donations to provide financial support through scholarships, research and equipment grants.
  • The RAC Youth Education Program provides support to teachers and schools wishing to implement an Amateur Radio program or project.

I hope this gives you a good idea of how a membership in Radio Amateurs of Canada is of direct benefit to you. Of course, what is not mentioned is that all of these services rely on the hard work of volunteers throughout Canada including those who serve on the RAC Board of Directors and Executive, as Section Managers and in Field Services, as volunteers at RAC Headquarters to name just a few. 

The challenge for us is that we do not have the membership base that the American Radio Relay League has in the United States and we rely on and appreciate the support of every single member. We hope that you decide to continue to do so by renewing your membership.       

Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA
RAC President and Chair

[RAC-Bulletin] World Amateur Radio Day Award Certificates: delayed until Friday, May 8

Thank you for participating in the first RAC “Get on the Air on World Amateur Radio Day” (WARD) Special Event! Our volunteers are now working on processing the special event certificates but have been delayed due to circumstances related to the global pandemic.

We hope to have them available for download from the WARD webpage at the following link by Friday, May 8.

We will also be including an article about the special event in the July-August 2020 issue of The Canadian Amateur and I would appreciate it if you would please send any comments to me at

Please stay tuned for additional information as soon as it becomes available.

Alan Griffin
RAC MarCom Director | TCA Editor