Sunday, 29 March 2015

Minutes - YRARC General Meeting March 3, 2015

Meeting held at the Sharon Temperance Hall. The meeting was called to order at 19:31. Chaired by Chris VE3NRT with 31 members and 1 guest in attendance
  1. Adoption of the minutes
    • Motion 2015-03-03-01 by Eric VE3EB to adopt the minutes of the February 3rd and January 6th general meeting minutes, seconded by Kerry VA3KTS. Motion carried.
  2. Harvey Bell Award: Call for nominations – Chris VE3NRT
    • At the January, 1971 meeting of the York North Radio Club, the membership established an award in memory of the late Harvey Bell, VE3AFK, of Aurora. It was the wish of the members that this award be presented annually to a member in good standing with this club, in recognition of substantial achievement involving Amateur Radio, particularly in connection with the York North Radio Club.
    • Please send your nominations including why you think the member is deserving of the award to Chris VA3DXZ.
  3. Treasurer’s Report – John VA3JI
    • The treasurer's report is available to members upon request to the club secretary.
    • Motion 2015-03-03-02 by John VA3JI to accept the treasurer’s report seconded by Glen VA3AU. Motion carried.
  4. Club Insurance – John VA3JI
    • The club presently has a general liability policy and a liability policy on the communications trailer, which provides coverage while the trailer is being towed.
    • The club has not purchased a directors and officers liability policy, property insurance covering club owned equipment, or a liability policy on the tower trailer similar to the communications trailer.
    • Directors and Officers Liability Policy:
      • In the January 21st board of directors meeting, the board discussed the need for a directors and officers liability policy. It was highlighted that the responsibilities of individuals serving on a non-profit board of directors are similar to those of directors of for-profit companies. However, non-profit organizations have limited resources to indemnify directors and officers or respond to expensive litigation, settlements or damage awards. Where no indemnification or only partial indemnification is available, the personal assets of directors and officers are at risk, as well as those of the entity itself. Directors’ and officers’ liability coverage is a critical component of the overall insurance protection package that no non-profit organization should forego, particularly if it wants to attract and retain qualified and motivated directors and officers and the discussion ended in a motion to bring the quote for this insurance to the club for further discussion.
      • Motion 2015-01-21-02 was carried on January 21st, to allocate $601.00 for the purchase of directors’ and officers’ [liability] insurance, subject to approval by the club.
      • The directors’ and officers’ insurance would be in addition to the liability policy currently in place on the communications trailer, and the club's general liability policy.
      • John VA3JI reported that per the quotation received by the board, the annual cost of the policy would be $601.00 +8% Provincial Sales Tax for $1M in liability coverage for the period from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016
      • Motion 2015-03-03-03 by John VE3POJ to allocate $650.00 for the purchase of the directors and officers liability policy, seconded by Charlie VE3SYK.
      • Chris VE3NRT advised that insurance is a growing expense for the club and that the club will need to look at how to increase revenues.
      • Motion carried.
    • Property Insurance
      • John VA3JI advised that the club owns approximately $50,000.00 in property that is not insured. The approximate cost to add insurance coverage for this property to our current general liability policy is $270.00 for the period from April 1st 2015 to the expiry of the general liability policy on Oct 15th 2015
      • Motion 2015-03-03-04 by John VA3JI that the club allocate $270.00 to purchase insurance coverage for club property for the period from April 1st 2015 to the expiry of the general liability policy on Oct 15th 2015, seconded by Rick VA3VO.
      • The question of whether or not this would provide replacement coverage was raised as was a question concerning the value of the deductible.
      • Motion 2015-03-03-05 by Barry VA3LLT to table Motion 2015-03-03-04 at the next general meeting, seconded by Charlie VE3SYK. Motion carried
  5. Repeaters – Steve VE3UT
    • VE3YRC-UHF
      • In the YRARC repeater design, VE3YRC-UHF is an important hub for linking VE3YRC-VHF and VE3YRA to provide region wide coverage.
      • Unfortunately VE3YRC-UHF repeater controller is out of service and presently at Steve’s home for repair. The repeater controller is an RC85 which is obsolete and malfunctioning
      • Steve has investigated the cost to send the RC85 unit for repair and determined that the club would be better served by the purchase of an S-COM 7330 (same controller in use at VE3YRA and VE3YRC-VHF). By doing so the club would be able to standardize hardware and software configurations across repeaters allowing greater flexibility for field repair or re-deployment in an emergency.
      • The cost of the repeater controller purchased new is $499.99 USD plus taxes and shipping.
      • Steve VE3UT has agreed to donate funds to cover any costs above $600.00 thereby capping the cost to the club at $600.00 Canadian. Steve VE3UT suggested that anyone willing to donate should approach David VA3DCY
      • Motion 2015-03-03-06 by Glen VA3AU to allocate up to $600.00 towards the purchase of the S-COM 7330, seconded by Charlie VE3SYK.
      • Eric VE3EB commented that the club was very fortunate to receive over $39,000.00 from Ontario’s Trillium program and felt that by purchasing the new controller, the club would gain more benefit out of these relatively new club assets, as well as benefit from the plug and play aspect of standardizing hardware across repeaters.
      • Motion carried.
    • 6m Repeater
      • Steve VE3UT reported that a 6m repeater has been donated to the club. Steve VE3UT is looking for help in transporting the cans to Bob VE3WY who has volunteered to tune them
      • Steve VE3UT will be calling for a work party when the weather is better to install the repeater.
    • VE3YRK – Chris VE3NRT
      • Chris VE3NRT reported on the status of the transition to Freestar. The following items have been completed:
      • The Icom standard software and all its add-ons have been shut down.
      • Users & radios have been re-registered on VE3LSR
      • New software, ircDDB and g2_link software have been installed and are working properly.
      • D-APRS reporting is working. The link from the status page to now works properly for the first time.
      • security restored.
      • Still outstanding
        • The registrations on LSR are in some disarray. We are waiting for the US Trust administrators to fix the problem (and waiting and waiting). This may result in difficulty when trying to use “REF” type reflectors.
        • DV-Dongles cannot connect to VE3YRK. A workaround is available (Dvtool is a closed-source product by AA4RC)
  6. Public Service – Eric VE3EB provided a copy of the article appearing in the Newmarket snapd covering our Winter Field Day (Attachment #2)
  7. EMCOMM – Don VE3IXJ
    • The REOC drill at the York Region Headquarters building went well and the EMCOMM team was able to test the range of VE3PO (Don VE3IXJ’s portable low power repeater). VE3PO worked beyond expectation
  8. Summer Field Day – Steve VE3UT
    • The event is held on the 4th weekend in June.
    • Steve VE3UT has seen lots of interest expressed by club members.
    • To assist in the funding of the event and to help plan for food, Steve will be presenting a proposal to the board to sell food tickets at this summer’s event.
  9. Bob VE3WY presented an analysis of dipole antenna performance
  10. Meeting adjourned at 21:37

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Notice - Upcoming Communication Trailer Usage

The Board of Directors has approved the use of the communication trailer at the following events:

  1. On March 29th, the trailer will be transported to the York Region Red Cross Headquarters at 13110 Yonge Street for the purpose of testing for an upcoming inter-regional emergency communications exercise. Contact is Robert VA3BXG, acting EmComm Chair. The VE3YRC VHF repeater will be monitored by the EmComm team at most times, although several frequencies will be tested so periods where the repeater is not monitored may occur.
  2. During the month of April, the trailer will once again be transported to the York Region Red Cross Headquarters for an emergency exercise. Contact details are the same as above.
  3. On May 2nd, 2015 the trailer will be present at the York Region Emergency Preparedness Fair at the York Region Municipal Headquarters on Yonge Street in Newmarket. The purpose of the club's presence at this event is to promote community safety, provide visibility to YRARC and its EmComm team, and to liaise with York Region's emergency management personnel. The VE3YRC UHF repeater will be monitored throughout the event. Contact for the event is Robert VA3BXG, acting EmComm Chair.
Any updates to the above will be published as comments to this article.

Minutes - YRARC Board of Directors, February 17, 2015

Meeting held in the Newmarket Community Centre. Called to order at 19:00. Chaired by Chris VE3NRT. Board members attending; Chris VE3NRT, Rob VE3RQB, Chris VA3DXZ, Eric VE3EB, Barry VA3LLT, Steve VE3UT, David VA3DCY, John VA3JI. Board members absent; Geoff VA3GS. Guests attending; Russell VA3WTR
  1. Adoption of Jan 21, 2015 board meeting minutes
    • Motion 2015-02-17-01 by Barry VA3LLT to adopt Jan 21, 2015 board meeting minutes as published in the splatter blog at, seconded by Rob VE3RQB. Motion carried.
  2. Agenda
    • Motion 2015-02-17-02 by John VA3JI to adopt agenda, seconded by David VA3DCY. Motion carried
  3. Governance
    • Treasurer’s report – John VA3JI
      • Bank balance at January month end is [available to club members on request to club secretary]
      • No transaction activity in February
  4. Property – Rob VE3RQB
    • Hilomast– Rob VE3RQB and Barry VA3LLT to discuss a plan to deal with the frozen mast
  5. Property Insurance – John VA3JI
      John VA3JI will report back to the board on the additional cost to cover club property
  6. Repeaters
    • VE3YRK – Chris VE3NRT
      • Move of the registrations from VE3YRK to VE3LSR is under process. An issue has been found which Chris is talking to US Trust about.
      • DTMF linking is in place
      • Chris VE3NRT is looking into talk groups
    • 6m Repeater – Steve VE3UT
      • The club has received a donation of a 6m repeater which is targeted to be installed at the Mackenzie Health (Formerly York Central ) hospital with the antenna to be installed on the existing mast.
    • VE3YRC-UHF – Steve VE3UT
      • Still off the air on the bench at Steve VE3UT’s home. RC-85 controller is malfunctioning. The cost to repair the unit is expensive and it must be shipped to and from the USA for repair.
      • Steve VE3UT proposed that the club would be far better served by the purchase of an S-COM 7330 repeater controller (the same unit in operation at VE3YRC-VHF and VE3YRA)
      • The S-COM 7330 is a 3 port controller which will support the linking to the VE3YRC-VHF, VE3YRA and the new 6m repeater.
      • The cost of the S-COM 7330 is $499.00 USD plus taxes and shipping.
      • Motion 2015-02-17-03 by Steve VE3UT that subject to approval by the club, the board allocate $600.00 for the purchase of the S-COM 7330 to replace the faulty RC85, seconded by Eric VE3EB.
      • John VA3JI asked if there was a computer based solution available that could be used rather than dedicated hardware. Chris VE3NRT is aware of asterisk based systems but these require internet access
      • Eric VE3EB indicated that he felt it was a good idea to purchase the same controller used at other YRARC repeater sites
      • Motion carried
  7. Events and Public Service – Steve VE3UT
    • Winter Field Day
      • The summer field day generator would not start. The unit should be started periodically
      • Event came in under budget. A surplus of $52.80 has been returned to the club treasurer
    • Summer Field Day
      • Planning is in the preliminary stages
      • There was a short discussion concerning whether or not the club should stick with a similar approach as last year. Steve VE3UT is open to other ideas.
  8. Membership
    • Motion 2015-02-17-04 by John VA3JI to enter into contract with the Markham Fairgrounds for the 2015 Hamfest Oct 31st seconded by Barry VA3LLT. Motion carried.
    • Presentations for upcoming meetings
      • March: Antenna Patterns
      • April: Contest Club
      • May: Dr. Paul Delaney
    • Call for Harvey Bell Award nominations to take place at the next general meeting
  9. Other Business
    • EMCOMM – Russell VA3WTR
      • Ambulance proposal is targeted to be ready for review by the board in April. Terry VE3ODM is running with this and is using operating data from Red Cross and to build a proposal that will be reviewed by EMCOMM and then sent to the board for review
      • YRP has amateur radio repeater in their command vehicle and would like assistance from the club in fitting their new trailer with an amateur repeater
      • The EMCOMM frequency list is being updated
      • The board requested a copy of the parking agreement that is sitting with York EMS. Russell VA3WTR will send a copy of the document to the board.
    • VE3YRC VHF and UHF repeater call signs – Steve VE3UT
      • Steve VE3UT has confirmed that the club does not need separate call signs for the VE3YRC-VHF and UHF repeaters
    • There was a short discussion on ideas for a future Trillium grant application
  10. Motion 2015-02-17-05 by Chris VA3DXZ to adjourn meeting, seconded by John VA3JI. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 21:01

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Harvey Bell Award - Update

I have been advised by our secretary that we have received the first nomination for the Harvey Bell Award. I hope we'll see many more! Below are the winners from the past. There may be more we don't know about.

  • Howard Morton VE3AQL 1973
  • Maurice Challenger VE3GBN 1974
  • John Epworth VE3GQF 1975
  • Doug Holmes VE3CWO 1976
  • Bob Knowles VE3DLJ 1977
  • John Cutts VE3INP 1978
  • Ted Dubois VE3HOI 1979
  • Heather Holmes VE3HQH 1979
  • Eileen Madden VE3KQQ 1980
  • Geoff Smith VE3KCE 1981
  • Elman Campbell VE3IET 1982
  • John Ellison VE3WHY 1989
  • Bruce Clements VE3AAY 1989
  • Murray Powell VE3ATO 1989-90
  • Rick Simpson VE3LSZ 1991
  • David Adams VE3HBF 1992
  • Al Dike VE3AFW 1994
  • Chris Dean VE3TBP 1996
  • Dave Marzetti VE3SLM 1997
  • Ron Gibson VE3CGR 1998
  • Jan Gibson VE3ZYL 1999
  • Tom Bygnes VE3JPN 2000-1
  • Roger Miller VE3ROG 2002
  • Dave Oman VE3HCR 2004
  • Judy Yanocko VE3JYF 2006
  • Neil Macklem VE3SST 2007
  • Doug Holmes VE3CWO 2009
  • Bob Morton VE3BFM 2010
  • John Meskes VE3POJ 2011/12
  • Steve Brady VA3SRV 2013/14
Update (2015-08-13). I discovered in a list I made a couple of years back the name of Howard Morton, VE3AQL as the 1973 winner. Based on club history I believe there may have been one or two earlier winners.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Call for Nominations for the 2015 Harvey Bell Award


Each year about this time, the members of our radio club have the opportunity to nominate a member to be honoured with this award. Your nominations should be made in writing or by email, and should include your description, explanation or citation related to the nominee, and be presented to the club secretary no later than May 8, 2015. Nominations may be presented by individuals, or may be co-signed by several members.

At the January, 1971 meeting of the York North Radio Club, the membership established an award in memory of the late Harvey Bell, VE3AFK, of Aurora.

It was the wish of the members that this award be presented annually to a member in good standing with this club, in recognition of substantial achievement involving Amateur Radio, particularly in connection with the York North Radio Club.

The winner would hold the trophy for one year, and would also receive a certificate, or other citation outlining the achievement.

Any club member would be eligible to nominate any other club member for the award. Nominations would normally be considered by the Executive Committee, or alternatively, the selection of a recipient could be voted on by the members present at a regular meeting.

Harvey Bell died unexpectedly in December of 1970. At that time he was in the process of making his third attempt at keeping the club together and active. He had been a club member for almost ten years, enjoyed the fellowship and the sharing of technical information regarding Amateur Radio. He was especially interested in the Morse Code, and CW operation, but was also very involved with the fairly new SSB technology that was growing with leaps and bounds. During the late 1960’s activity in the club seemed to wane, and Harvey Bell, along with a couple of other area hams kept up a steady contact with other hams in Newmarket and surroundings. Invitations were sent out on at least three occasions in a an attempt to keep the club active and growing. He had just succeeded, in the fall of 1970, to get the membership back together again, and had turned the leadership over to Frank Rusholme.

His influence and his leadership in club affairs will long be remembered by the Amateurs in this area who knew him personally. In addition to being an active 80 metre DX chaser, Harvey was also involved in RTTY (radio teletype), VHF, and had one of the outstanding stamp collections in the region.

The award, which honours his name, is consider the highest acclaim that the club can give to one of its members.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Analysis of Winter Field Day 2015

    1. The mast on the club comm trailer is not up to the task of operating in cold weather. First, it was frozen, and then, would not hold air after being thawed out. The seals are likely the source of the troubles.
    2. The club portable generator would not start. I recommend we store it with some gas plus stabilizer and start it up at least once a month.
    3. The Sharon Hall location is extemely noisy (RF noise) and conditions were extremely poor all weekend.
    4. The Sharon Hall acoustics are poor for voice communications and the chatter of guests and members present make it difficult to operate.
    1. The location was excellent for visibility to the general public creating some “off the street” visits.
    2. The site worked very well for antenna placement with no interference between the stations noticed. Six antennas deployed (160,80, three muti band verticals, 2m beam)
    3. The kitchen facilities worked extremely well for food and refreshment prep.
    4. The press showed up giving us additional advertising of the hobby and club.
    5. Using just a home made hand held antenna with a hand held radio, two satellite contacts were made.
    6. The trailer generator starts and works very well, handles the load, including a heater in the trailer.
    7. The tower trailer worked perfectly in the cold weather conditions.
    8. Everything went according to schedule and we were able to start by noon and the clean up went quickly.

    Overall, the event went very well for a first time activity for the club. We met our objective, to quickly (in 4 hours) establish an emergency communications site in winter conditions. Band conditions are out of our control but we did make contacts in spite of this. Local RF noise was an issue here but the other advantages of the site made it a good choice overall. Also, we were able to discover where we have weakness in cold weather operation (generator and mast) and hopefully we can work to resolve these issues.

Steve VE3UT
Club Field Day Chair

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Notes from the Shack - Where there's a will there's a way

Some of you know that I've been having antenna troubles. A permanent solution awaits in the Summer, but until then I've been making do with my flaky 30 year old Butternut HF6V. For a vertical, it's a great antenna - when it works, which is some of the time on some of the bands. But even when it's not working, contacts are still possible.

Now that the year of W1AW is in the history books, I've been trying to fill in some of the missing bits of my log. The sunspot cycle is heading towards a trough, so I've been focused on 12m during the day while the conditions are still somewhat favourable. At night, I've mostly been working 80m as it is my weakest band in the 10 - 80 range. One night, the noise level on 80m was unusually high at S9+20 and almost as high on every other band. My noise blanker works on some types of noise but not others, and this night I was happy to see it drop to about S6 after hitting the switch.

Because the antenna was working so poorly, I decided to use JT65/JT9 as it works well with low power. With the noise blanker on the display was quite unusual.

The signals appeared as adjacent bands in the spectrogram (a.k.a. waterfall) which was clearly an artifact of the noise blanker. This was confirmed by the text display.

Just like the waterfall, each signal had shadows above and below the actual frequency. This is very similar to when Ron VE3CGR is working JT65 on the same band as me at the same time. In that case I just turn my preamp off and everything is fine. The other strategy is to make sure I'm transmitting on the same time slot as he is and it solves the problem for both of us. With the noise blanker, though, it was a case of living with it or turning the radio off.

A difference between the signal overload and the noise blanker artifacts is that the former will exhibit equally strong signals on either side of the actual frequency, e.g -24db, -18db, -12db, -18db, -24db at regular spaced intervals of a few hundred hertz. The noise blanker artifacts were equally spaced at 220hz apart but with asymmetrical signal to noise ratios, with the better signals being below the actual frequency.

The trick with a display like this is to pick the strongest signal, and even with the noise, the compromised antenna, and the artifacts from the noise blanker I was able to work several stations. That's one of the great things about the JT modes - you can make contacts no matter what the circumstances.

Repeater Update

UHF repeater YRC/U:The controller on our UHF repeater is obsolete and has issues. It would not be cost effective to spend any further money for repairs on it and the technical advantages of purchasing a new controller make sense. I proposed at the last board meeting that we purchase a new S-Com 7330 (same unit as YRA and YRC/V). Tonight, the members present voted in favour of the purchase. As part of my proposal I have offered to make a personal donation of funds to cover shipping and any duty/fees. Tonight I suggested that members could donate funds if they wished and I'm pleased to report that $100 was collected. Thank you to all who chipped in. If anyone reading this would also like to "throw a few bucks into the hat", please contact David VE3DCY who is looking after the donations.

Six meter repeater YRC/6: Bruce VE3BV is donating a 6m repeater to the club. I will be picking it up in Parry Sound later this week. Installation will happen when the weather improves (requires antenna work on a roof). The repeater will be interfaced with the new controller described above. On behalf of the club, our thanks go out to Bruce for the generous donation.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

YRARC General Meeting - February 3, 2015

Meeting held at the Sharon Temperance Hall. The meeting was called to order at 19:30. Chaired by Chris VE3NRT. 32 members and 2 guests in attendance
  1. Adoption of the minutes. There was no motion to adopt the minutes of the last meeting due to the late publication
  2. Winter Field Day – Steve VE3UT
    • Steve VE3UT reported that there was a surplus of $52.80 to be returned to the treasurer
    • Chris VE3NRT reported that he is working on the scoring and will make an announcement when completed
    • Steve VE3UT submitted a report summarizing what went well and what went wrong (Attachment #1)
    • John VE3POJ announced that the Polar Bear Car Rally will be held Saturday and Sunday Feb 21 and 22nd near Bancroft. Amateur radio operators are needed at each check point
  3. Emcomm – Russell VA3WTR
    • Emcomm has asked the club to consider an offer available from Yaesu, which combines a Fusion Repeater and 6 HTs for $500.00 USD. The deadline for the offer is March 31
    • REOC Drill is coming up on Feb 9th at York Regional Headquarters in Newmarket. This drill involves setting up the EMC and testing / updating equipment.
    • Courses in emergency management will be offered again by the region to Emcomm members. Russell VA3WTR will post a schedule.
  4. Repeaters – Steve VE3UT
    • VE3YRA is back on the air. The antenna position was changed which has resulted in better coverage to the north. Coverage in Georgina is improved.
    • VE3YRC-UHF is off the air. There are issues with the link radio and the controller. The controller is very old, and is malfunctioning. A new controller will cost $499.00 USD plus shipping. Purchase of a new controller will be discussed at the next board meeting.
    • Chris VE3NRT reported an issue with the VE3YRK D-Star registration page and gateway. Similar issues have been reported in Vancouver. The solution requires a complete reload of the system software and configuration. However, the current system uses 10 year old software which is no longer supported, and prevents us from installing the latest patches in the operating system. To resolve the issue and get the system running current software, Chris VE3NRT will migrate VE3YRK away from the US Trust Registration system and run the g2_link software which is part of the free*star system . There will be limited impact to users and there is no cost to change.
  5. Doug VE3VS presented a short summary of the DXpedition to Navassa Island which is presently underway and is planned to be in operation for another 8-10 days. The last time amateur operators were allowed on the island was 1993. It is not expected to be on the air again for 25-30 years.
  6. Doug VE3VS presented the “YRARC Field Day Melted Pot Award” to Steve VE3UT. Steve VE3UT and Geoff VA3GS were awarded the Melted Pot Award at Field Day last year. Doug VE3VS volunteered his time to craft a wooden Trophy featuring the burnt element from the melted coffee pot. Special thanks were extended to Doug VE3VS for taking the time to build such a beautiful trophy for the Club.
  7. Don VE3IXJ presented a new HT (TYT-DM-UVF10) that he has been experimenting with. This is an analogue and DPMR Digital radio that sells for $85.00 USD plus shipping. The radio supports individual calling, group call, all call, short message services (SMS) messaging, and GPS (although Don does not recommend purchasing the GPS option due to weak performance of the GPS receiver).
  8. Meeting adjourned at 21:26pm