Monday, 15 November 2021

Edward Rogers Sr. 100th Anniversary

Somewhere around December 10th, or 9th, or maybe the 11th, depending on the account, Edward Rogers Senior made the first successful transatlantic radio transmission by a Canadian amateur operator. The event was more significant than it sounds. Commercial radio was at the time using long waves, at low (LF) or very low (VLF) frequencies. The thinking of the day was "the lower the better" and radio stations for transatlantic traffic were huge undertakings. Some of the big ones used generators to produce these low frequency waves. At least one, the Grimeton Radio Station in Sweden is still operating, although only once a year.

The 1921 Transatlantic tests, sponsored by the ARRL, used wavelengths around 200 metres. This is still quite low by amateur standards. It wasn't until several years ago that the lowest frequencies in use by amateurs were in the 160 metres band, although now we have small 630 and 2200 metre for experimentation at low power. The tests proved that long distance communication was possible with a tabletop station rather than a building full of equipment.

Edward made this historic transmission from his lodgings at Pickering College, on Main Street in Newmarket, Ontario, right in the centre of York Region using a 500W spark set and call sign 3BP. He was heard by Paul Godley, operating a receiving station in Ardrossan, Scotland, using a Beverage antenna. Rogers was the only Canadian station to be heard during that weekend of testing.

The York Region Amateur Radio Club is celebrating the 100th anniversary of this event by running station CF3BP. Club members will be operating on various bands and modes from November 13th to December 12th. Logs will be uploaded to LoTW,, and others. We are also in the midst of designing a QSL card for anyone in our logs. Canadian amateurs can send us an SASE. Outside Canada, please send $3 or equivalent to cover postage.

Edward went on to found Rogers Majestic, a very successful radio manufacturing company, a vacuum tube company, and AM radio station CFRB, located in Aurora, Ontario (also in York Region and the city that I live in). CFRB was heard all over North America and exists to this day. Edward's son, Edward "Ted" Jr., founded Rogers Communications in 1960, which is a principal player in the Canadian telecommunications industry.

See you on the air!

Chris VE3NRT
President, YRARC

Update - the first electronic QSL has been received. Thanks Marcel!

Saturday, 19 June 2021

N1MM Logger for ARRL Field Day

It seems that the two most popular logging software programs are N1MM Logger+ and N3FJP Logger. Both operate only on Microsoft Windows, so if you're using Linux you either need to use Wine or a different logging program.

I've used N1MM for contest logging for a long time, but I feel I've only scratched the surface of its capabilities. It has hundreds of features designed to shave fractions of a second from the contest exchange and logging process. Calling it a logger is an understatement, as it can also control and operate the radio by sending CW or recorded voice messages. It also knows how to interoperate with WSJT-X or JTDX for use with FT8/FT4 and other modes.

N3FJP is also very popular. It is simpler than N1MM+ and has fewer features, although its capabilities have been increasing steadily. Most of our operators on Field Day use it. It costs around $10-20 for a perpetual licence including updates.

Let me give an example of shaving fractions of seconds from the exchange. The CW in N1MM+ messaging facility will send CQ for you, as well as the contest exchange (e.g. "5A GTA" that the club station uses on field day) and the final thank you at the end of the exchange as well as messages like "AGN?" which can be useful from time to time. The CW can be tailored to speed up when there's something that is totally expected by the other station, like his own call sign, then slow down again when the exchange information is sent. Another example is that the spacing between CW characters can be changed from the standard 7 dits to 6 dits. That might reduce the message time by 50ms or so, which might add up to 5 or 10 more contacts over a 24 hour contest.

Learning N1MM+ can be daunting, but well worth the the time invested. The first time I used it I had it set up for RTTY in a hour or so. Support by N1MM himself and the team is excellent on the Google group and the program is free-of-charge (but not open source). I don't use N1MM+ for my general logging but after the contest I can produce an ADIF format file for upload to my regular logger which I then use to confirm the contacts in ARRL Logbook of the World.

It is truly an amazing and comprehensive tool to make your contest experience fun and productive. Here's a link to a video by the RATPAC team (who have lots of great videos) on using N1MM+ on ARRL Field Day.

Topic: N1MM Logger for Field Day

Speaker/Presenter: Anthony Luscre, K8ZT
View Video:
Download Video:

Friday, 18 June 2021

Field Day is Coming

The York Region Amateur Radio Club board has decided to cancel our Field Day operations again this year out of caution with the pandemic and compliance with Ontario guidelines. We are optimistic that we will be able to hold the event in 2022. 

 Meanwhile, club members are encouraged to operate a Field Day station either from home or an outdoor location, either on AC power, battery or generator, on HF or VHF, on CW, Phone or Digital, and to submit their score to the ARRL, specifying "York Region Amateur Radio Club" as their home club. As well as recognizing the individual scores, the ARRL will also recognize the overall club score when they publish the results in QST magazine. RAC will also publish the results for the Canadian stations in TCA ("The Canadian Amateur") magazine. I'd love to see a good turnout of members. 

The ISS will be operating a repeater on Field Day which you can use to make 1 (and only 1) contact for credit for the event. The limit of 1 contact is because the ISS is overwhelmed by Field Day activity so the limit will give more stations a chance at making a successful contact. The repeater, part of the ARISS project, operates on FM and contact can be made with a dual-band mobile radio and vertical antenna. A fairly clear view of the horizon is advisable as a vertical antenna does not radiate much straight up so contact is most likely when the ISS is at lower elevation angles. 

Here's the announcement from the ARRL 

International Space Station to be in Cross-Band Repeater Mode for Field Day

The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) cross-band repeater will be available for ARRL Field Day, June 26 - 27. 

Contacts will count toward Field Day bonus points as satellite contacts and Field Day contacts. Field Day rules limit stations to one contact on any single-channel FM satellite. Note that contacts made during Field Day by ISS crew would only count for contact credit, but not for satellite bonus points. 

ISS cross-band repeater contacts are also valid AMSAT Field Day satellite contacts. The ARISS cross-band repeater uplink is 145.990 MHz (67 Hz tone), with a downlink of 437.800 MHz. ARISS suggests that those unfamiliar with the ISS repeater may want to practice with it prior to Field Day. 

ARISS had planned to switch modes to the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) during the second week of June, but this won't happen until after the first ARISS school contact following ARRL Field Day. The ARISS ham station will be off-air during spacewalks on June 16 and June 20.

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