Sunday, 27 September 2015

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

For the first time in 30 years, there will be a "Supermoon" eclipse tonight, as the Moon is closer to the Earth than usual. The eclipse will begin at 8:11 pm with the penumbra of the Earth first appearing on the moon, while the umbra begins to cross at 9:07 pm and reach its maximum at 10:47.

The eclipse will finish well after midnight. Too bad it's on a week night.

Lunar Eclipse of October 8, 2014

Friday, 25 September 2015

The CIBC Run for the Cure is just over one week away and the club is still looking for volunteers to support this event.

If you are available to support this event please send your response to

Event: CIBC Run for the Cure 2015 (Breast Cancer Research Fund Raiser)
Date: October 4, 2015
Time: TBD (Early and later morning starts)
Location: Richmond Green Park, Leslie and Elgin Mills, Richmond Hill
Scope: Communications, Vehicle Management and Participant Safety
Call out: 10-12 Amateur Radio Volunteers/Others

The above event is also posted on the club web site calendar.
Thank you

Eric Brown VE3EB/OIC
YRARC Director of Public Service Events

Thursday, 17 September 2015

First Impressions of Windows 10

So I've had a laptop running Windows 10 for some time. It's not my work laptop, which is on Windows 7 until our corporate IT group deems otherwise, but one which I sometimes use for ham radio. It has plenty of memory (8GB) and a solid state disk drive (256GB). The only problem I've seen so far is that sometimes the mouse pointer stalls - pretty annoying at times but I can't necessarily blame Windows 10 for it and haven't looked into it because I don't use that computer very much. I was pleased to see that one old device I have for which the latest driver was written for Vista still worked under Windows 10-64.

So I took the plunge and migrated the big desktop as well. This system is a Dell XPS 9100 with two 23" monitors is integrated into the station and a bunch of other technology and so has the greatest chance of having a problem. The key thing, of course, is how well all the devices and applications work. So far it's mostly good. Here's a list I've made up in my first 3 days of operation.


  1. Rig Control through an inexpensive 4-port PCI Express serial interface - no issues.
  2. KAT500 control through the Elecraft USB to Serial adapter - no issues.
  3. Echo Audiofire 12, a 12 channel 96 KHz audio interface connected to the system's built in Fire-wire port. No issues.
  4. Mouse and Keyboard - no issues
  5. Intel Rapid Storage Technology - This software manages the mirroring of my system drives. It worked as before and reported that the drives were healthy.
  6. A Logitech USB headset which I hadn't used for some time (before I had to rebuild my Windows 7 system due to a head crash, ergo the mirrored drives I run now). The driver installed automatically.

Operating System

  1. I was concerned at first because I saw the task bar icons on the secondary monitor, so at first glance it looked like it was replicated the primary monitor extend of extending the desktop. This turned out to be a feature, so that those icons are available on either monitor. That`s a good idea I think because it makes switching between applications easier.
  2. Windows Edge took over as my default browser from Chrome. I launched Chrome manually and it came right out with a video on how to make Chrome my default browser and pin it to the task bar. Ain't competition great!

Radio Applications

  1. JT-Alert and WSJT-X worked just fine. The first time I tried to transmit the tones came out the wrong sound card, but it was easily set to rights in the WSJT-X options menu and I was back in business on the next go-round.
  2. Elecraft Utilities - work as before (KAT500, KPA500, etc)
  3. DXLab - Launcher worked as did all the applications I tried including DXKeeper, Spot Collector (using Telnet and IRC), ...
  4. FreeDV. The WAE SSB contest was under way so no joy on getting a QSO 20m but the application seems to work just as well as it did on Windows 7. I managed to crash it once but getting ahead of it but I can't blame Windows 10 for that. It's minimal rig control (PTT only) worked fine too.
  5. FLDIGI with the FLDIGI DXLab Gateway also worked perfectly for several PSK31 and PSK63 QSOs.

Other Applications

  1. Courtesy of the my office I have the Adobe Creative Cloud on my home desktop computer and use Adobe Lightroom to edit and catalogue photos for this blog. Under Windows 10, Adobe Lightroom has a problem with the AMD Radeon graphics driver. The consensus is that it is a driver bug and the solution is either to regress to the previous version of the driver or to disable graphics acceleration in the application. I chose the latter and it works fine, although I'll have to remember to change it back if and when the bug is fixed by AMD.
  2. Microsoft Office 365 also worked fine. I'd have been quite surprised if it hadn't.
So far, after 4 days of operating, it's working well. No big problems. Your mileage may vary though.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Digital Technologies at EmComm Meeting

Last Thursday's EmComm at the Newmarket Community Centre had some special guests. These were Ian Snow VA3QT and Rick Harrison VE3NV. Rick, who is the ARES Section Emergency Coordinator for the GTA, addressed the group on coordination issues and opportunities across the 5 GTA ARES/EmComm Groups, while Ian gave a presentation and demonstration of Winlink.

Ian VA3QT speaks with Bonnie from the Canadian Red Cross with Rick VE3NV in foreground

Ian's Winlink Presentation
In addition to Winlink, Ian included MESH networking in his presentation and brought along a familiar-looking device similar to the one that Matt, VA3MGN built a couple of years ago.

Bonnie's canine friend didn't find the Winlink presentation as fascinating as the rest of the ARES team.

Don VE3IXJ, Bonnie and Rick VE3NV.
From left to right: MESH node, transceiver with tuner, and PACTOR modem for HF data communications

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Minutes - YRARC Board of Directors Meeting 2015-08-18

Meeting held in the Magna Centre. Called to Order at 19:00 by Chris VE3NRT. Board members attending: Chris VE3NRT, Steve VE3UT, John VA3JI, Geoff VA3GS, Barry VA3LLT, David VA3DCY, Rob VE3RQB, Alf VA3BLE, Doug VE3ATP. Absent: Eric VE3EB
  1. Agenda: The agenda, without amendments, was adopted as presented.
  2. Minutes: Motion 2015-08-18-2 to accept the minutes of the 2015/07/21 board meeting, moved by Steve VE3UT, seconded by Rob VE3RQB. Carried.
  3. Treasurer's Report: John VA3JI. Opening balance 2015/07/21 (members may request balance from the club Secretary). Income: Prepaid dues $205.00, Return FD food $243.30, Return AGM food $35.00. Total $483.30. Expenditures: Trailer Insurance $874.00, Trailer maintenance $100.00. Total $974.00. Members may request closing balance from the club Secreatary. Motion 2015-08-18-3a to accept the treasurer's report, moved by Rob VE3RQB, seconded by Alf VA3BLE. Carried.
  4. Budget discussion
    • Barry VA3LLT proposed a trailer budget of $200 for general maintenance, including $50 for changing the decals on the trailer to, a D-STAR cable for D-RATS. Not included but mentioned a possible Rig Blaster for each computer. Not included but mentioned, the need for WiFi access. David VA3DCY to investigate existing router in the trailer with Barry VA3LLT. Steve VE3UT proposed a repeater budget of $600 for general maintenance plus batteries. Rob VE3RQB proposed a property budget of $1200, to including a new BBQ ($300), a new shelter/frame/tarp for field day ($600) and miscellaneous ($300). Rob to investigate the cost of tarps. Alf VA3BLE mentioned that he has the capability to sew tarps together.
    • Motion 2015-08-18-3b by Geoff VA3GS that Rob VE3RQB and Barry VA3LLT purchase a new BBQ. Motion amended by Alf VA3BLE, seconded by Barry VA3LLT, that Rob VE3RQB and Barry VA3LLT in consultation with Peter VE3PBT, purchase a new BBQ, cost not to exceed $350 tax included. Carried.
    • Alf VA3BLE proposed a budget of no cost ($0), since we have a supply of membership cards. Chris VE3NRT proposed a budget of $175 for web hosting ($25), battery charging for the go-kits ($50) and awards and plaques ($100). Steve VE3UT and John VA3JI will submit a summary of field day expenses and John VA3JI will supply the costs of the Christmas and AGM food costs.
  5. Blog Update: Chris VE3NRT gave an update and overview of the blog, accessed at and via and selecting 'The Splatter'. Members are encouraged to read, comment and promote the site. We need pictures and stories.
  6. Property: Rob VE3RQB noted we have some donated red fiberglass cable containers for storing cables in the EmComm trailer, but need to be able to hold them in place.
    Motion 2015-08-18-4 by Rob VE3RQB, seconded by by Geoff VA3GS, to purchase materials to retain the containers, maximum cost $20. Carried.
    • Repeaters: Steve VE3UT reported that all repeaters are OK.
    • IRLP and Echo-link: John VA3JI has given the radios and IRLP and Echo-link controllers to Chris VE3NRT for further investigation.
  7. Events: Report sent from Eric VE3EB. Past events included participation at the Sharon Temple Canada Day, Newmarket Canada Day and the Newmarket Jazz Fest. Upcoming events include the Sharon Temple Illumination, Sept 11, Run for the Cure Oct 4 and the Markham Fair Sept to Oct 1 to 4.
  8. EmComm: Chris VE3NRT reported there is an upcoming meeting on Aug 18 to discuss the GTA channel list.
  9. Membership: Geoff VA3GS noted that we have speakers for the September, October and
    • November meetings. December will be the Christmas party and meetings for January, February and March are to be finalized, and may include remote stations.
    • September 1st: Amateur Radio and Model Rocketry, Dave Ranjauth VE3OOI
    • October 6th: Paul Delaney, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, York University
    • November 3rd: Tracking Small Balloons Around the World, Dave Beverstein VE3KCL
  10. Geoff VA3GS has sent emails to prospective vendors and has received 5 responses. The date is October 31. In the past we have spent $1000 for grand prizes, and we may cut back on the amount spent on prizes. A 50/50 draw was suggested. Volunteers will be recruited at the September meeting.
  11. Promotion: Chris VE3NRT has prepared a PDF file suitable for posting in libraries and other public places to promote the for September, October and November meetings.
  12. Recognition: Chris VE3NRT noted the club is forgoing a significant amount of money when we issue a life membership Some formal rules should be set up to control the number of free memberships issued, such as a significant contribution over 20 years might be required.
  13. Motion 2015-08-18-8d by Geoff VA3GS, seconded by Steve VE3UT that we spend $40 for frames for certificates of appreciation for TBA and TBA. Carried.
  14. Other business - Training: Geoff VA3GS noted that no less than 10 candidates are required to run a basic study course, however help could be provided for a self-study course.
Meeting adjourned at 8:35pm

Monday, 14 September 2015

To the Edge of Space - Slowly

The use of party balloons for flights to an altitude of about 8 km, just under the cruising altitude of most jet airplanes, has been covered here with the experiments of VE3KCL and VK3YT but other hams (and non-hams) are getting their kicks by aiming much higher with larger high-altitude balloons.

The Skies over Lake Michigan from a Weather Balloon
These types of flights are more complicated and expensive than the party balloons but no prohibitively so. Aeronautical regulations are not onerous even with a fairly sizable balloon with a weighty payload, as long as there are mechanism to slow the descent when the balloon bursts and to be able to detach the payload on command. Typically, although not necessarily required by law, air traffic control is informed of the flight and sometimes they even track it using on whatever web site is reporting the progress of the experiment.

Flights generally do not cover the same great distances as the party balloons, which makes them less exciting from the standpoint of seeing which way they will wander but allows for more interesting payloads, such as cameras and transponders using VHF and UHF communications. Typically the flights are much shorter in duration, rising rapidly to their maximum altitude then bursting and dropping by parachute.

The High Altitude Balloon Challenge web site lists some of the results achieved during their contest period in the Spring. The highest altitude achieved was 42895 m (140,732 ft), and the longest track 1,000 km (although it was disqualified as it was not achieved during the contest period).

A group of amateurs in Alberta who call themselves BEAR (Balloon Experiments in Amateur Radio) have been launching HABs over a period of 15 years and regularly achieving altitudes of 100,000 feet or more. They use APRS tracking rather than the custom system used by the party balloons, which makes sense when you have greater altitude and smaller distances.

AMSAT lists many different amateur groups doing high altitude ballooning projects on their web site.

The other big difference in the high altitude experiments is the far greater expectation of actually getting the payload back, by using chase cars and trying to engineer the recovery on farm land.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The Next Little Thing - Orange Pi

The Raspberry Pi has found its way into the hearts and minds of radio amateurs around the world. At only US $35 or so for a single board computer with USB, Ethernet, HDMI, and a  GPIO port for interfacing to other electronics, it's a bargain - or at least it was. Now there's a pretender to the low cost computing throne called the Orange Pi. Clearly the manufacturer has no issue with trying to horn in on Raspberry Pi's brand image.

There's a regular power port rather than the USB power of the Raspberry Pi - and a power switch. It also has 1GB memory, a faster processor, but you give up a couple of USB ports. The big news is that it is only US $15, plus $3.99 shipping, from China of course. The Techcrunch article rightly points out that support and the aftermarket for compatible devices may well be sacrificed to get the $20 savings.

The Orange Pi can be ordered from If you're worried about ordering products from China, Alibaba is designed to make the transaction safe and it has an excellent reputation.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Field Day 2006

Thanks to Barry VA3LLT for sending these photos in response to the request I made at the last club meeting. Barry said that this Field Day was held at the Sutton Fairgrounds and it appears to be a smaller affair than the one that Steve VE3UT has been organizing of late. Based on the report in the September 2006 Splatter (thanks to Murray VE3IO for the hard copy, the soft copy is not on our web site yet) it looks like Dave VE3SLM was organizing Field Day at the time. There's both familiar and unfamiliar (to me) at least people in the photos so if you can help with the identification please add them to the comments or send me an email.

Bryn VE3VOD doesn't mind looking down
Barry and I agree that we think is Bryn VE3VOD carrying the Canadian flag up the old tower (affectionately known to some as the "BUTT" - I'm talking about the tower, not Bryn of course). The old tower was a scary monster that is now (better) off in some fixed location, rather than being towed around in a club trailer.

Our new tower is made of Aluminum (instead of Steel) and the trailer which carried the old tower has now been improved for stability and road-worthiness. The new tower is a bit shorter too, by design, to reduce weight and improve stability.

The weather looks better than Field Day 2015, even if the turnout was a bit lower. 

There was no mention of the score in the September 2006, Splatter, but there was a long write-up by Judy, VE3JYF, otherwise known as "the Ice Queen". Maybe someone could offer up an explanation for that handle. Anyway, her words are reproduced here for your pleasure. The Ice Queen was a frequent contributor to the Splatter so I miss her even though I don't think we've met

CQ my loves, As many of you know, the last couple of years have been a rollercoaster for my family and I. My father passed away just a couple of years ago, I lost my job due to their bankruptcy and finding a new job hasn't been so easy with my full time family responsibilities, but I have just started a new contract so I'm good 'til the fall. Planning my best friend's wedding is just one more thing and even though it is good stress, it's still stress, so anything to relieve my stress is greatly appreciated. The thoughtfulness of my secret Santa this last Christmas, the anonymous letter nominating me for the Harvey Bell award (which actually caught me speechless), and laughing & talking the night away in-between contacts at Field Day have lightened my world and all have contributed to making me feel alive and appreciated again. I owe you all a big hug. Thank you!!!

I'm happy to report that Field Day was a success in my books. It all started back in December... I started wording the press release, putting together a list of contacts (after losing two computers right after one another and starting from scratch because I couldn't open the backup). Over the months, I sent to all TV, radio and newswire media, to a lot of emergency workers, a lot of local, provincial and federal government officials and even to the Premier, put together the info booth and do the annual maintenance on the camper.

These days, we put the flag on before raising the tower

Now for the drive there, I guess I overlooked one specific part of the van, the clamps holding the muffler, so about 40K in to the trip we hear this faint drop and drag sound... and I immediately pull over to the side of the road... just near old Moonstone corners (ed: is this North of Lake Simcoe near Jarrett?). I bent down and lo and behold there is the tailpipe on the ground. Well, wearing my best Field Day clothes and a change of clothes inaccessible due to efficient packing, I had to get down on the ground. Fortunately it was only the clamp that had let go, unfortunately I couldn't find the heavy gauge wire I always carry... oh @&*%, that's right I had taken it out of the camper an used it when I sewed the backdrop for my friend's wedding photos... and hadn't remembered to replace it... luckily Mom found an old, really old, coat hanger, you know the ones that wouldn't bend under a torch... well it worked, but not before the local kid came out to the road with his dog saying that 'if my dad was there he could of fixed it in thirty seconds'. I just smiled and thought to myself, if either my dad or my ex was still around, it would still be me under the camper, trying to feed the coat hanger through the bracket and crimping it around the almost glowing hot muffler. I don't follow the typical gender stereotypes, I guess that's why I'm a ham and a lady, my folks gave me the freedom of choice and the knowledge of how to think things through logically... I enjoy the best of both worlds.

So I was down on the the ground wrapping the wire around the tailpipe, when what do I hear but the flushing of the toilet. As anyone who has ever been under a vehicle that has a toilet when it is being flush can attest, my life flashed before my eyes... have you all seen the movie RV? If you have a camper or trailer, this is a must-see. Thank goodness it is functioning correctly and that is all I'm going to say. The repair took a lot longer than I had anticipated with trying to find something to hold it in place and all... Back on the road the drive was pretty smooth after that. This year we didn't see our friendly neighbourhood bear at 12 & 48 or anything else interesting en route. We didn't bring the trailer this time so set-up was a breeze, as the camper will turn on a dime, and putting up the posters and taking them down was easy.

Chow time is always a favourite event at Field Day
Since this was my 2nd trip around the lake, we didn't make any wrong turns this year and arrived a little after 10. I am so thankful it wasn't disgustingly hot this year and many of the club showed up. I am proud of each and every member and their family for supporting your club, thank-you. Anyway we got the camper set up and relaxed a little, sorry I'm not so gung-ho that early in the morning. Besides, I have a workable excuse. I've been working on and off for Field Day since December doing all the public relations... and I enjoy operating on the night shift since I am a night owl. Glen got the display set up beside the camper and it was visible halfway to the road, and after dark it was like a beacon.

On right - Jan VE3ZYL 
Thanks!... Dave & everyone who manned the food station, well done. Thanks!!! And ALL the band captains and their volunteers. Well done everyone, Thank You!!! As I'm sure you all know by now, my heart lies in 80 metres, way back when I started in Field Day, I sat with a young lad and logged for a couple of hours before I talked for an hour or so. The next year they couldn't keep me away. I talked all night with a couple of the best guys in C'wood. It was my best Field Day ever. I still remember the fun I had that 2nd year. This year, as the band started up, I took Beth over to the 80 metre trailer and she made here first contact. I think it was to N1NC, but that was enough for her, and for the logs, as a youth operating it earns us bonus points. Maybe next year after dinner she'll be up for an hour or so... 

Then it was time for me to keep my end of the deal, playing soccer for a while. Rog [ed: presumably this is Roger VE3ROG] joined us and the game was on... Thanks Rog, you are all going to have to ask him the line about what happened to the Easter Bunny some day, it's a real tear jerker. By then it was dusk and time to put all the toys away. Dark comes quickly up in Sutton as there are no streetlights on at the fairgrounds. After Beth went to bed, I headed over to the 80 metre trailer again. Bill and Rog were cq-ing away. Rog left and we carried on. 

Chairs are optional - man's best friend is not
Ron VE3CGR with the Midnight
Shortly after, security made contacts for a brief time, I'll say it again, nice inflective voice young man. So letting them have their way with the radio, a brief walk around the site, beautiful stars, loud music from the 'grad-hall' and it was our turn on the air. We cq'ed and joked the night away. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love to contest on Field Day. I think before I went to bed, I had made 6 trips to the Jack & Jane through the wet grass and my shoes were wet and my feet were cold and by about 2 AM it was bloody cold even inside. Bill turned on the stove, which was much better. Thanks again.

As usual I started to lose my voice by about 4 and there is only one ting that would cure it, stop talking and start logging. By 5:30 it was time for bed, with one last dewy walk through the grass and then back to the camper. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow, and was awake by 7 as my Mom & daughter are both early risers... so with great difficulty I got up and active.

After breakfast we played for a little while, then the generator was refueled and we worked very hard to get to 100 contacts on 80 metres. We fell a little short of our goal, I think 94 is quite respectable considering the band conditions.

And by 11:30 it was time to throw in the towel and call it a contest. The end result is we should receive the bonus for an invited emergency worker attending the event. Chief John Molyneaux, the bonus for an info booth, and for at least two youths actively making contacts during Field Day. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. We operated under the club's call sign, with 4 stations, under alternate power, and of course in Sutton... VE3YRA, 4 Alpha, Ontario.

The tower, trailers and tarps cam down in a flash and it was time to leave for home, for me six hours away. We drove back from Sutton up around the top of Lake Simcoe; it's not shorter but less traveled and with the camper, I don't go much over the speed limit so I irritate some drivers. We stopped at the A&W in Orillia and while Mom & Beth had a snack, my head hit the pillow and again I was asleep before I knew it, Beth was saying an hour had passed and it felt like I had just dozed off... We headed back along past Moonstone Resort and I noticed that up the other side, the oil pressure started to drop - not off the scale - but lower than the normal range for the camper... So much for getting home and to bed... Luckily there is a gas station to pull off at not too far from there. I added some oil, and we were off once again. Thankfully this did the trick and once at the cottage we changed from the camper/van to the car/van and drove home... and after my shower I feel like a lady again.

As always I truly enjoy the weekend, and I am delighted with everyone's actions, from the tower climber, to heavy lifters, from the band captains to security, to the friend/spouses who 'just' came out to support the cause. I think this was the 2nd  best year... but there's always the chance that next year will be better. This brings me to the point where I am announcing that I am stepping aside as P/R person for the Field Day next year at least. I think I will make it as just an 80 metre operator for the overnight shift, but we'll have to see. I would like to thank everyone for their support and compassion, but I need a break for me & my family. When you're done reading this remember to thank your family & loved ones, even if they gave your flack for going to Field Day.

73's & 88's my love
Take Care 'til next time.

Group Photo (click for larger image)
There are 4 unidentified people under the canopy. From left to right standing looking at the camera: Steve VE3EZ (VE3PIP), Garrett VE3PYP, Jack VE3UU, Jan VE3ZYL, Bryn VE3VOD, Dave VE3SLM, Alan VA3WAH, Ron VE3CGR (with Midnight), Roger VE3ROG, ????, ????, John VA3JI, Tom VE3JPN, Murray VE3IO (VE3ATO), ????

Please help identify those not named in the photo. Thanks! Click on the photo to see a larger version. Send me an email or post a comment if you can help.

Friday, 11 September 2015

The 1958 ARRL Convention (Ontario Chapter)

First announced in the April 1958 edition of QST magazine, this convention was held on October 18th in Hamilton, Ontario, at the Connaught Hotel (now a condominium development, pictured below) at 112 King St. East. Admission was $5 including the banquet, which featured a guest speaker. Contact for the event was Bob Parry, VE3DJE (no longer listed as the owner of that call). Bob is listed in the convention register along with his wife Vivian. It's unfortunate that QST didn't report on the actual conventions, so there aren't any pictures or write-ups on the happenings there.

In the same year the ARRL National Convention was in Washington, DC. It looked like an interesting program with tours of the White House, The Naval Research Laboratory, the Pentagon and a Nike Installation, the Voice of America, the Capitol, the Smithsonian, and the Arlington Cemetery. The amateur radio program included sessions on VHF, Mobile, TVI, RACES, Antennas, Contests, Code, RTTY, DX. A Wouff Hong Ceremony was held as well. The registration fee was $5, although the banquets, including the Hiram Percy Maxim memorial banquet ($6.50) were extra.

A night in the Sheraton Park Hotel was $7.50 to $14. The "parlor suites" were $17.50 to $22.00. That same year, the Sheraton Park Hotel also hosted the 3rd Annual AFA Jet Age Conference, the 2nd National Conference on Aviation Education, and the American Helicopter Society 14th Annual Annual National Forum. The Cold War was at its peak. Less than two years later, John F. Kennedy said "The enemy is lean and hungry and the United States is the only strong sentinel at the gate" at that same hotel.

The convention was organized by a consortium of 15 radio clubs in the Washington area. That's an impressive degree of cooperation!

Our club's own meeting register, dating from 1963 to 1969 matches the convention register in only one respect - that Harvey Bell VE3AFK, a prominent figure in club history, is listed in both. Neither Frank Preuten VE3FEP nor Jim Spence VE3BBX (SK), who attended the 1957 Convention in Toronto and also appear in the club register, weren't there in 1958. Fred Hammond, VE3HC was there in 1958 but not in '57.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

ARES/EmComm Meeting Tonight

Tonight's meeting is being held at 19:30 EDT at the Newmarket Community Centre, 200 Doug Duncan Drive, Newmarket.


  1. Welcome / Intros – Group
  2. Cross Channel Repeater/Don (10 Min.)
  3. Rick Harrison VA3NV (GTA Section Emergency Coordinator) (50 Min.)
    • Intro
    • Discussion on GTA SET - November 7th, 2015.
  4. Ian Snow. (60+ Min). VA3QT has been a Winlink SYSOP since 2004. In his presentation he will summarise the K4REF video What is Winlink. Ian recommends that you view this video before his presentation in order to maximise time for a practical demonstration of RMS Express.

    This software is intended for Windows 7/8 (Windows 10 seems to work too). XP has been overtaken but works if appropriate .NET files are installed.
    • Winlink Demo/Information
    • Digital discussion
    • Q & A

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

YRARC's 2015-2016 Season Blasts Off

The first meeting of the new YRARC year is behind us. Even though the summer seemed all too short, it was great to see everyone again as well as see some new faces and especially some guests who were looking to get their ham licences.

Thanks to Dave VE3OOI for his informed and interesting presentation on model rockets and (fortunately!) static display. They were impressive home-built vehicles.

Next meeting will feature Paul Delaney. Don't miss it!

Members assemble for the Meeting

Pause for Refreshments - Steve VE3EZ and Nick VE3NJV

Geoff VA3GS looking for a lucky winner

Alex VA3ASE, Trevor VE3SLT & John VE3IPS

Chris VA3DXZ and Anthony VE3HIS

Alf VA3BLE signs up a member

Terry VE3ODM and Brian VE3IBW

The picture on the left of +Barry Byrom VA3LLT and +Bill Reid VA3QB clearly shows that we have diversity on the club's board and membership, while on the right Dave VE3OOI talks rockets with Doug VE3ATP.

Dave VE3OOI Introduces his Topic

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Field Day 2015: Score Not Dampened by Weather

Steve VE3UT delivered his Field Day Report at the September 1st club meeting. He noted that this was the best club score in 3 years, despite the miserable weather, which we are blaming for the decline in attendance. We're looking forward to bigger and better in 2016.

Total attendance536169
Total QSO's1,2001,1771,240
160 phone2163
160 CW-44
80 phone6216163
80 CW10--
40 phone271-103
40 CW522306255
40 digital12026438
20 phone100276298
20 CW---
20 digital2320114
15 phone21606
15 CW---
15 digital12590
10 phone102-
10 CW---
10 digital---
6 phone234678
6 CW-27
Total bonus points1,0109901,190
Emergency poweryesyesyes
Media publicityyesyesyes
Copy W1AW messageyesyesyes
Satellite bonusyesyesyes
Natural power QSOnoyesyes
Visit by served agencyyesnoyes
Visit by elected officialnonono
Youth participationyesnoyes
GOTA bonusyesyesyes
Educational displaynonono
Submitted onlineyesyesyes
Information boothnonono
Set up in public placenonono
Power multiplier< 150W< 150W< 150W
TOTAL CLAIMED SCORE3,7523,5983,496

Steve VE3UT - Field Day Director

Monday, 7 September 2015

Soldering - An Important “Tip” from VA3VFO

"Reprinted" from a past issue of Splatter.

By Greg VA3VFO

Good to hear about the Project Nights and interest in soldering skills.

My tips for those starting out are often over-looked or underestimated by even experienced folk, but should especially help our new project builders.

One of the first lessons taught is the requirement of “tinning” the new tip of your iron or gun, (much like “seasoning” a new cast-iron fry pan).It is equally important to continue to make sure the tip remains tinned as it ages and wears down. When neglected, it leads to much frustration, and the beginner may not realize this is the cause of so much grief.

If the joint is not quickly “wicking-up” the wet solder, or if you find you have to really heat up the joint ONLY, chances are you have an oxidized tip that is not holding its “tinning”.

It is very important to apply the solder to not only the joint of the connection, but at the intersection of the joint AND where the tip makes contact with the joint. A dark or blackened tip that seems to repel the solder should be repaired or replaced. For the tip to transfer heat properly, it MUST be “silver/light grey” in colour and accept solder over its total tip contact area. Simply wiping the tip on a cloth or damp sponge won’t work! You have to remove the build up of oxidization and this can be tricky on some types of tips.

Tips usually come with factory plating on the tip. I am not sure of the various plating materials used, but would guess silver or similar alloy. Some tips you have may be copper only. You may tempt to sand, grind or file down the tip to renew its surface. This can destroy or remove the coating of its plating material, which is so important to its ability to hold the “tinning” and to transfer heat. Yes, you may find it necessary to grid down a tip- go for it. Make a specialized tip to solder that micro-small surface mount part, or to squeeze into a tight space, but beware! If you do this, accept that the tip will lose its proper plating finish and will be subject to FAST re-oxidation. So keeping it fresh becomes an ongoing concern.

You will have to watch for poor heat transfer caused by “cold spots” on the tip. These are areas, which stubbornly repel solder- usually from solder flux residue or spots of oxidization. The longer a tinned copper tip sits plugged in, the more it will oxidize! After a good tinning, unplug, let cool and store away. Don’t store a plated or copper tip without a good fresh coat of solder. You may ruin a good tip trying to restore it to take full tinning. When possible, always buy the properly plated tip for your work! Only file or grind a “custom” or old tip if you have to.

Since an oxidized tip will not transfer heat well, it will take longer to heat the material. You likely know that too much heat can render some electronic parts (transistors etc) useless. But often, not enough heat is just as bad. I would much rather apply a high heat to a part for a quick, shorter period of time, than having the part and its support connections, like plastic insulators or the centre core of coax, melt away or become deformed. So “turn UP” the heat by simply keeping a well tinned tip at all times. If you are still having problems with nice wet joints, you may want to use a higher-powered iron (or gun for the heavy stuff, like coax connectors).

One last trick for stubborn tips that just won’t tin properly is to dip them into acid solder flux (used for plumbing, NEVER for electronics). Re-tin them IMMEDIATELY. You can try this if a very light sanding or steel wool pad fails to clean a plated tip. Plated tips can be gently “refinished” but careful not to “peel-way” the factory applied plating. An old tip can be sacrificed or filed into a fine point, but extra special attention to maintaining a “good tin” is paramount once the copper under the platting is exposed. It is just as likely to have a new plated tip “go cold” and not accept solder, so watch for that problem at all times!

Keep the oxidization off your tip. Keep it shiny and hot and you will have mastered the biggest secret of becoming a master solderer…er!


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Junk in the Trunk 2015

This year's Junk in the Trunk seemed to have more selection than usual. Maybe it was just that I didn't wait until it was almost over to show up this time. Geoff VA3GS knew I was looking for a way to put a wire antenna in the trees and noticed a tennis ball slingshot with an attached fishing reel that I tried out almost as soon as I got it home and had a successful launch on the first attempt.

It was good to get see some of the club members who we haven't seen since Field Day or the AGM. Here's a quick video of the merchandise.

The smooth fast motion was, as you might have guessed if you watched all the way to the end, courtesy of Microsoft Hyperlapse, which is available as a no-cost trial until October 1, 2015. Click on the picture below to see some more photos of the event.

It was a beautiful day to get together, find some of those items we were looking for, and to talk about ham radio.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Balloon Experiments in the Southern Hemisphere

There's been a lot of coverage of the balloon launches of VE3KCL in this blog (see S-4 and S-3), an Australian Ham, Andy VK3YT has been using single (rather than double) party balloons and managed to have them circle the (southern part of the) globe several times in one flight.

He launched PS-50 on August 23rd and keeps a log of his exploits on the "Pico Space" web site. At the time of writing, the balloon has traversed about 170 degrees of longitude at around 40 degrees South latitude.

Like VE3KCL's payloads, Andy is using WSPR and JT9 protocols but uses the 20m band as well as 30m. It would be interesting to compare the methods and technologies of the two ventures.

Friday, 4 September 2015

On My Way to Mars

A recent ARRL letter provided a link to a NASA web site that takes your name (and call sign) and includes it on a microchip in on the "Insight" mission Mars lander. There's no explicit way to add the call sign so I added it after my last name. Last day to register is September 8th. All aboard!

Boarding Pass

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Volunteer at the Hamfest - Top 10 Reasons

From the September 2005 Splatter

  1. Be part of the team of the #1 Hamfest in Ontario
  2. Get into the Hamfest for free
  3. It's a fun day for a few hours work
  4. A chance to meet fellow Hams
  5. Opportunity to pick up the odd Christmas present
  6. A chance to participate in another aspect of the hobby
  7. Variety of volunteer "activities" to choose from
  8. Be involved in the "behind-the-scenes" aspects of a Hamfest
  9. Jan (ed: now Geoff) will stop petering you to sign up
  10. It's the Club's (your Club's) primary source of money. The success of the Hamfest ensures a sound financial basis for the Club.
I'll add to this that for high school students it may also count for community service hours. Contact Geoff for more information.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Astrophysics: Exploring Exoplanets

Professor Paul Delaney of York University has long (as in more than 10 years) been one of, if not our most, popular presenters at club meetings. His presentations always pay particular attention to the fascinating topic of exoplanets, where new discoveries are being made daily. Professor Delaney will be presenting at our October 6th meeting.

For those that want to know more and are willing to invest several hours a week to develop a deeper understanding of the topic, the Australian National University in Canberra is offering the course "Astrophysics: Exploring Exoplanets" through its association with edX, which is organizes access to courses of dozens of Universities, including MIT and Harvard which govern its operation.

The course itself is free, although if you want the certificate it is $50 US. It is wise not to underestimate the effort required to complete the course, though. It will take several hours of study each week. The course starts on September 15th, and follows a schedule rather than being self-paced. Course assistants are available on-line to answer questions.

In general, the courses offered by edX are very well received. Bob VA3IL recently took "Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python" (i.e. the Python programming language) and thought highly of it, although he found the assignments to be quite a bit of work (this course is probably at the high end of the workload spectrum, mind you). If you're interested in this course it started on August 26th so you likely have time to catch up.

Some other courses that were recently announced:
  • Transforming Business, Society, and Self with U.Lab: Join the global movement to build a new economy by co-sensing and co-creating the emerging future (MIT)
  • Solar Energy: Discover the power of solar energy and learn how to design a complete photovoltaic system (Australian National University)
  • Discovery Precalculus: A Creative and Connected Approach: This is an inquiry-based exploration of the main topics of Precalculus. The emphasis is on development of critical thinking skills (University of Texas at Austin)
  • The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours: Discover the literature and heroes of ancient Greece through the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, the tragedies of Sophocles, the dialogues of Plato, and more (Harvard)
  • M&A Professional Certificate Part 1 – Concepts and Theories: An Introduction. If your goal is a career on a broker-dealer’s M&A desk (New York Institute of Finance)
  • Principles of Electric Circuits: Learn sufficient techniques for analyzing and designing circuits (Tsinghua University)
  • Introduction to jQuery: Learn how to use jQuery to simplify common tasks in JavaScript to quickly add interactivity to web pages (Microsoft)
  • Music Production and Vocal Recording Technology: Explore emerging innovations in vocal production, audio engineering, recording, and mixing (Berklee College of Music)
  • Science at the Polls: Biology for Voters, Part 1: Each year, as voters you are asked to make decisions on ballot initiatives on matters of biology, medicine, agriculture and the environment. Enroll in this course to learn how biology and your vote are connected (University of California: Berkeley)
  • Terrorism and Counterterrorism: What is the danger of terrorism, and how can the world respond effectively? (Georgetown University)
  • Electronic Interfaces: Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds: Learn by doing: analyze, design, and build electronic interfaces between sensors and a microcontroller to build a robot or your own creation in this hands-on lab course (University of California: Berkeley)
So many courses - so little time...

Signing up is simple, and I'm sure Prof. Delaney would be delighted to see some club members showing a higher level interest in the topic.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

YRARC - Meeting Tonight

The first meeting of the 2015-2016 is tonight - Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 after an all-too-short summer. Tonight's meeting will feature a presentation by Dave Rajnauth, VE3OOI on the topic of model rocketry and amateur radio which I'm sure will be of interest to most of our members.

The meeting is at the usual time and place - 7:30pm at the Sharon Temperance Hall, adjacent to the parking lot for the Sharon Temple.

We will be approving both the minutes of the June 2nd General meeting, and the June 2nd Annual General Meeting tonight. Please take a moment to read them.