During the Wildfire of May 2016 in Fort McMurray the need for reliable HF communications became apparent. Al Parsons – VE6RFM started researching the possibility of using the 60m band to create reliable links between communities in Northern Alberta.
Each year on July 1, the anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, Radio Amateurs of Canada sponsors the Canada Day Contest. Amateurs all over the world are invited to Canada’s Birthday Party on the air.
Contest Period: 0000 UTC to 2359 UTC on Friday, July 1, 2016.
Continue reading RAC Canada Day Contest 2016 is this Friday! (#RACCD)
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Exercise Coastal Response 2016, a full scale exercise led by EMBC. The exercise is designed to test the province’s response to a simulated worst case scenario earthquake. Exercise Coastal Response 2016 is linked with Exercise Staunch Maple (Joint Task Force Pacific), Exercise Pacific Quake (Public Safety Canada), Exercise Ardent Sentry (NORAD-US Northern Command) and Exercise Cascadia Rising (Washington State , Oregon, Idaho and FEMA). This event will occur between June 7 and 10 2016. Various VHf,UHF, and HF frequencies will be in use.
UPDATED JUNE 2 2016
The following was received from the RAC Director for British Columbia
Distracted Driving and Amateur Radio – First appeared in the SARC Communicator June 1, 2016
I am not a lawyer – this is based on information we have compiled, conversations with the Solicitor General, the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and some of the Province’s Senior Policy advisors.
An Amateur Radio operator was ticketed under British Columbia’s Distracted Driving law. He went totraffic court and was found guilty by the Magistrate. The Magistrate ruled that the hand microphone he was using, with multiple buttons on it, was an electronic device, and he had it in his hand.
Two members of the Delta Amateur Radio Society and the RAC Director for BC & YT, met with the Provincial government to discuss Amateur Radio and Distracted Driving on April 25, 2016. Attending were the Solicitor General (Minister Mike Morris), the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (Sam MacLeod)
and the Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness (Naomi Yamamoto), several Policy Advisors and the Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington (Ind).
We identified that we were concerned that the apparent exemption for Amateur Radio Operators had been removed from the MOJ guide. In addition, at least one Amateur had been charged and convicted
of Distracted Driving for using their hand microphones while in their vehicle. We also highlighted the inconsistencies in the wording of the regulations, and that the MOJ handout was downright wrong in some of the information it was providing. We offered to work with the Province to correct the errors, and to help reword the legislation to make it clear what was legal, and what wasn’t, when it came to using Amateur Radio in a moving vehicle.
We subsequently held a working session on May 27, 2016, which was a very productive meeting with a Senior Policy Advisor and his associate, two members of the Delta club, and myself. We discussed our concerns, we explained more about how Amateur Radio was used, and we reviewed our suggested rewording of the language that governs Distracted Driving. There will be more working sessions.
The Province explained their position, that Distracted Driving was a rapidly growing problem, and was resulting in a steadily increase in deaths, injuries and accidents. We have all heard that the government have substantially increased the penalties, both with fines and points totaling $543 and 4 points for a first offense, as of June 1st, 2016.
The Province will be conferring with stakeholder groups (of which Amateur Radio is one), including the trucking industry, taxi cab industry, Police etc. They are also looking into what other Jurisdictions are doing, so they can better understand the range of options that they have. This is going to take some time, and if Legislative or Regulatory changes are required – even more time.
So what is legal today?
Remember – I’m not a lawyer. As I understand it, if you have a transceiver, firmly attached to your body, or your vehicle, and it has a hand microphone, with only one button – a push to talk switch, you are legal using it when you are driving. There are some caveats, it can’t obstruct your view forward or sideways, and the hand mike must be within easy reach of the driver. So the first problem, who has a hand mike that has more than just a push to talk button on it? Probably all of us.
First thing to do – don’t use any of those other buttons while driving. My smartphone has a lot of things on it that I can’t use while driving, so I don’t. Apparently it is not a problem for you to reach over to the radio, and physically turn the volume up or down, or to change frequencies or channels. You do the same thing using the buttons on your hand mike, and it would be considered Distracted Driving!
There are also some things that are not supported under the current rules. For example, push to talk on the driving wheel, on the floorboard or a headset with VOX are not, technically, supported. Oh yes,hands free using Bluetooth to the transceiver isn’t covered as well. My daily drive radio has a separate speaker – it doesn’t use the hand mike as a speaker – not legal.
Now I think you are starting to see the problem. So is the Province. They are prepared to work with us to address the issues, but I doubt we will ever get an ‘exemption’ and it is going to take time. What do you do if you get a ticket? Be polite, point out that it is a handheld microphone tethered to the radio, firmly attached to your vehicle and you were only using the push to talk button as permitted under the regulations. Carrying a copy of B.C Reg. 308/209 (available on www.bclaws.ca) along with your ham certificate could help justify your radio operation. Contest the ticket, then contact me and we will work with you to mount a defense, hire a lawyer (we’ll be passing the hat for that) and we’ll fight it.
In the meantime, we will continue to work with the Senior Policy Advisors and make sure they understand the issues, the options and what the wording of their regulations / legislation means to Amateur Radio Operators, our use of the equipment and our ability to be prepared should our volunteer services be required.
Bill Gipps VE7XS
Director, Radio Amateurs of Canada, BC & YT
Section Manager, Amateur Radio Emergency Services, BC & YT
Here is the RAC website info
What are you doing for Field Day 2016 ? What is your club doing ? It is not too late to start getting things organized. Here is some Field Day information from the ARRL. Get out and “get er done” this year.
Please join us in using this week as a reminder to be prepared. The wildfire season has come with a vengeance and many communities have had to implement mandatory evacuations, as well as shelter-in-place advisories. Are you ready?
Here are some resources that you can use to plan for your family safety:
These handy copper-cactus antennas are great projects. Build one for everyday use, or as an emergency back-up antenna. Click on the link below for instructions, and a calculator to provide measurements for the frequency you will be using. They can be built for 6m, 2m, or 70cm. No ground plane is needed, just an insulted support of, PVC, rope…etc.
On April 15, 2016, the Winlink system will begin requiring the use of passwords and secure login for all users. This is being done to enhance the privacy and protection of the Winlink community. If you’ve already entered both a password and also turned on Secure Login, you don’t have to make any other changes. The transition taking place on April 15, 2016, won’t change your operation. If you have not set a password for your account, and also have not enabled Secure Login, we recommend you do it now so you won’t be surprised on April 15, 2016.
The West Coast Amateur Radio Association will be holding a ham course in January 2016. This course may make a nice Christmas present….. For more information go to