Friday, 26 September 2014

Repeater Report - Steve VE3UT

In the past, I headed up our club's repeater committee and now, once again, the Board of Directors has given me this task. Our club has a very good collection of machines but we have a number of challenges ahead. The departure of Bruce VE3BV, who has moved North to the Parry Sound area, has left a void to fill. The club has relied on Bruce's technical expertise and “connections” for the past 30+ years and we need to assemble a team of people with various skills to fill that void and keep us on the air. The challenge of keeping our sites or gaining access to new sites will also be an issue in the coming years.

The VE3YRC (147.225+ PL 103.5) site is not likely to remain available and coming up with ideas to keep it on the air from another location is a priority. YRC is the club's flagship repeater. The relocation of VE3YRA (145.350- PL 103.5) to its current temporary home has kept it on the air but ultimately it would be good to see us back at the original site with its superb coverage.

An idea that is just starting to be discussed is the possibility of have YRA and YRC permanently linked with one machine in the West end of York Region (the original YRA site) and another in the East end (actually North East). This would provide seamless VHF coverage of York Region and beyond with some overlapping coverage in places. Gaining a site in Georgina for YRC would solve the problem of spotty coverage there and other eastern locations.

With a link permanently on, users in the southern, western, and central areas of York Region would be able to select YRA or YRC depending on the coverage at their respective locations. For example, Bob WY and Brynn VOD could operate on YRA and talk to me UT and Barry LLT in the East on YRC. I mention these names because we all live or travel through noisy locations.

The club owns four repeater controllers, two 7330 units (on YRC and YRA) and a ACC RC85 (on YRC UHF) and a ACC RC96 (in the club trailer). The 7330 controllers are newer than the obsolete ACC units. The first 7330 was programmed and installed on YRC by Bruce BV and one was installed a couple of years ago on YRA when its ACC unit malfunctioned. Bruce was the only expert in the club on programming these controllers with me having a limited knowledge. But with Bruce's move, I have stepped up to the plate and am getting fairly proficient at programming them.

At this time, YRC is doing a fair bit of chatting at us. Some of the messages are regular daily messages and some are temporary for special club activities. They all serve the same purpose, to keep membership informed of upcoming activities. Please support our club and volunteer to help out at some of the events. Message schedule on YRC:
  • :00 Time and chimes
  • :10 Hamfest message, last week of October only
  • :15 Month long Hamfest message commencing October 1
  • :17 Tuesday club meeting message, last week of the month only
  • :20 Wildcard message – currently Run for the Cure event
  • :25 Wildcard message – currently Emcomm event at Markham Fair
  • :30 Time and ``this is VE3YRC repeater home of the YRARC``
  • :40 Same as:10
  • :45 same as :15
  • :47 same as :17
  • :50 same as :20
  • :55 same as 25
Last but not least...VE3YRK B and VE3YRK C, our D Star repeaters, great coverage and connect to international gateways. Check them out! borrow a club radio and get on the air!! These radios have FM and can also be used with YRA and YRC. [Note from Chris VE3NRT: Some members have already requested club radios which will be fulfilled at the next meeting]

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Membership Bulletin - September 2014

Welcome to the first edition of YRARC Membership Bulletin, which is planned as a complement to the blog on the club website and the club’s Yahoo Group.

Membership Dues: At the September meeting many club members paid their dues for 2014-2015. This is $25 for single membership, $30 for a family membership. Those who paid in September are asked to pick up their YRARC membership cards from Barry VA3LLT and/or Geoff VA3GS. You will have another opportunity to pay your dues at the October meeting. Members are asked to complete a form that will provide the Directors with information to better manage the affairs of the club.

Hamfest: This is scheduled for Saturday 01 November, back again at the Markham Fairgrounds. We will be setting up on Friday 31 October during the afternoon. If you can assist in any capacity please advise Geoff VA3GS, either at the next meeting or by email to:
  • If you have children or grandchildren who are in high school and want to earn up to 7 community service hours please bring them along to the event.
  • The club will have a table at the Hamfest. If you have any items that you want to sell please bring them along with the price clearly marked. Let the person looking after the table know the lowest price that you are willing to accept.
Presentations: The following are the presentation for the next few meetings. If you have any suggestions for presentations please let us know.
  • 02 September: Don VE3IXJ demonstrated his most ingenious portable repeater system, fashioned from two inexpensive HT’s and some readily available off-the-shelf hardware. If you missed the meeting please ask Don to tell you about it.
  • 07 October: Steve VE3EZ has just shepherded the Durham Region Police Force over to a new 700 MHz digital communications system. He will be discussing the challenges of the process and demonstrating some of the new hardware that the force will be using.
  • 05 November: John VE3IPS will be talking about lower power operation with the Elecraft KX3 and showing some of the antennas he uses.
  • 02 December: Our Xmas Party. Members are asked to bring non-perishable food items that will be distributed to local food banks.
  • 06 January: This is our in-house mini-fleamarket and is an opportunity to flog any ham-related items cluttering up your basement/shack. There will be a limit to the number of items that you may offer for sale; this is yet to be decided.

Friday, 19 September 2014

YRARC Board of Directors - Minutes 2014-08-19

Board of Directors: The following were present. Chris VE3NRT, John VA3JI, Geoff VA3GS, Rob VE3RQB, Representing EmComm: Russell VA3WTR
The meeting was called to order at 1909 with VE3NRT in the chair. In the absence of a quorum no motions were tabled or voted on. What follows is a summary of matters discussed.

  1. Governance:
    • Report from ad-hoc insurance committee (John VA3JI)
      • Only 1 trailer is covered. (the Car Mate CM6.) It is covered for $2 million liability (only) on the auto policy and for damage under the Lloyds policy.
      • The auto policy insures the trailer while it is being towed and is in addition to any coverage provided by the vehicle doing the towing. If the trailer is NOT being towed, then the auto policy doesn't cover it. (Lloyds does).
      • The tower trailer is NOT insured for towing. ie it is NOT covered by an auto policy [Motion passed in July to prohibit towing until insured].
      • The limit of liability coverage for the club under the Lloyds policy is $2 million for whatever happens (that is a covered type of loss of course). This is for whatever types of activities we carry on like the Hamfest, Field Day, public service, or whatever.
      • There is no directors and officers liability coverage for the board.
      • The limit of coverage for loss for the covered trailer is $15,000. Do we know how much the equipment mounted on it is valued at? Can we prove it?

        Here is what the insurance company says about the trailers when being towed by a PRIVATE vehicle (doesn't apply if the tow is a commercial vehicle).
        “In regards to the trailer - this would be the case for Liability coverage only while towing, however that only applies to personal trailers. Commercial trailers must be listed on a commercial auto policy in order to be covered for Liability purposes."

        • We need to cover BOTH trailers on the auto policy. That way no matter who/what is towing them we know we have enough and proper insurance.
        • We need directors and officer insurance. The board is managing a significant financial asset and we are not protected if something goes wrong.
        • We should determine a value for the stuff stored in the trailer and be sure that it is less than $15,000 or increase the coverage to enough.
        • The offsite repeaters are specifically covered on the Lloyds policy but the storage container is not. We should value the equipment stored in the container and see if it
          warrants coverage. Previously it would have been covered under Bruce's house insurance. We should send a list of what we have and what we expect to the insurance company for a professional review to make sure we are not buying too much or the wrong insurance. They know the policies, we don't.
        • The insurance company requires more information on the tower trailer.
        • We need to locate the old tower trailer operations manual, re-write it to apply to the new tower trailer, and submit it to the insurance company.
      • VE3RQB determined that the club trailers could be towed without an annual inspection as they were below the legal loads limits.
  2. Newmarket street lamp issue.
    • VA3GS had contacted VE1JBL, who lives in Amherst, NS. This is where the LED street lights are manufactured. VE1JBL had heard no reports of interference to Amateur Radio by the lights but would investigate further.
  3. Changes to budget estimates? in the absence of the full board this was deferred to the next meeting.
  4. Property
    • GO Kit Storage
      • The GO Kits have been moved from the VE3HII QTH to the storage container with the exception of the hand held radios which are with VE3NRT (not including cases).
    • Inventory
      • 5 Aluminum cases that house the ICOM HT's (ID-80D)
      • 3 Black cases for Mobile Go-Kits (ICOM IC-880H)
      • 1 ID880H and Samplex Power Supply
      • 1 12 Volt charger
      • 2 large cases that house the Field Supplementary Kits
      • 2 Bags of 4' Poles
      • 2 Jet Stream 144/432 Antennas
      • 9 12 Volt Batteries
    • Maintenance
      • Recharge HT`s on a monthly basis and before any public service events. I keep the HT`s out of the kits for easy transport to Events. Every 4 months I discharge the units prior to recharge.
      • Every two months I top off the 9 12Volt small car Batteries
    • Missing items from trailer: To be determined
    • Necessary maintenance & upgrade recommendations: To be determined
  5. Repeaters
    • Transfer of the VE3YRA call from Bruce VE3BV to another member of the club has to be orchestrated and the necessary documents sent to IC. VE3NRT would look after this.
  6. Events
    • Tracking volunteers for recognition and lack of support from members was discussed.
    • A request to use the trailer at the Markham Fair in October was approved,.
    • Recent and upcoming events were discussed
      • Aug. 25: Remembering Renata walk is along the Nokiidaa Trail. Chris DXZ is driving this event.
      • Sept 6/7: Caribbean event in Newmarket, being driven by Don Matthews.
      • Oct 5: Run for the Cure, No confirmation on our requirements. Use of the trailer would nice but will be bumped by the Markham Fair.
      • October 2, 3. 4 & 5 Markham Fair Russell VA3WTR is driving this event
      • Date not posted Newmarket Santa Parade in November, no bookings yet (driven with independent hams by Don Matthews., not a club event). Does the club enter the COMM trailer and/or the tower trailer as a float?
  7. Membership Matters
    • Information about members would be collected at the September meetings. VA3GS would produce a sign-up form. The logistics of this is to set up early, before 1900, with lots of extra pens on hand. As soon as the forms are completed members can pay their dues.
    • Up-coming programs are, subject to change:
      •  02 Sep: Don VE3IXJ on his "home brew" 2 m repeater
    • Project Night: VE3HII has offered to look after this
    • Basic Amateur Class: VA3GS said that he would offer a course in April – June 2015.
    • Hamfest: VA3GS said that planning was well underway
  8. Motion to purchase Field Day trophy tags ($30): Deferred to the next meeting
  9. Budget - the budget for 2014-15 was discussed:
  10. VE3NRT pointed out the club’s dependence of revenue from our hamfest.
  11. EmComm:
    • VA3WTR reported that there was a possibility for the club to secure an out-of-service ambulance that the region would maintain.

Meeting adjourned at 2110.
Geoffrey Smith VA3GS
Secretary pro-tem

Monday, 8 September 2014

Links of the Summer

July and August have been slow months for the submission of interesting links so I've combined July and August. If I've missed any that are still in my inbox then I will include them next month.

Chris VE3NRT
  1. Canadian Amateurs Receive the Order of Canada: ARRL Article; Southgate News Article; The original RAC link, submitted by Steve, VA3SRV, was broken in their web site move. Google to the rescue!
  2. UK APRS Balloons Circle Globe [Patrick VE3WST]
  3. Bringing down a 380' Cell Phone Tower [Steve VE3EZ]
  4. Info on VE3PIC repeater. Steve VE3EZ is interested in receiving signal reports for both the current and future location of this repeater. It is located in Durham but provides coverage in York.
  5. Field Day Press Coverage [Barry VA3LLT]
  6. ISS on Field Day [Steve VA3SRV]. As many of you know from the last meeting Brad VE3HII managed to contact several of the astronauts on Field Day, prior to his computer packing it in due to a power surge.
  7. The Open Repeater Project. This project based on Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone single board computers is in its early stages. [Steve VA3SRV]