Feb 8, 2018 -The Trainers

The appreciation luncheon for the instructors that took part in the training for the new hams Basic Course.  Held on Feb  8, 2018 at the Thalassa Restaurant in Qualicum Beach.

Nine students took the course and five have passed the exam, three with honours.  In addition, one student who could not attend the classes passed with honours through home study.  Two of these students have  their callsigns and one is already on the air.

Congratulations to these new hams!

Clockwise are: Don VE7AX, Len VE7XLH, Terry VA7EDX, Dave VA7QED, Syd VE7PI and Tony VE7AJN.

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2018

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE MID ISLAND RADIO ASSOCIATION (MIRA) IN EARLY 2018?

POSTED BY DON, VE7AX  FEBRUARY 5, 2018

WEBSITE UPDATE

If you are a frequent visitor to this website, you will note that it has been minimally maintained over the past few months (meaning “not very well kept up date”).  We are trying to do better.  We continue to be grateful to John, VA7PX for his work in setting up the MIRA website.  We think it is an important tool for our club and will only grow in popularity and value to our members.  The problem has been that we lack John’s skill and comfort with the Word Press program which drives the site and in John’s absence we have had to face – as the saying goes – “a steep learning curve”.

OVERALL UPDATE

Aside from the website, our club (MIRA) is doing well. Membership is growing – currently about 50 active members who share a wide variety of interests related to amateur radio.  We meet regularly over coffee on Saturday mornings and at our monthly General Meetings on the third Saturday of each month.  Also, all amateurs are invited to check in to our Sunday morning UHF/VHF net at 0900 local time.  We currently use the VE7SYD repeater high on Mt. Arrowsmith on 442.275 MHz with a 136.5 tone.

GENERAL MEETING HIGHLIGHTS

Our February 3, 2018 General Meeting featured “show and tell” presentations on:  Qualicum Beach antenna tower issues and a possible mechanical solution which allows for easy tower lie down, a Ballenas Secondary School cube satellite project,  a demonstration of an “electronic spoon and fork” designed to compensate for the shaky hand challenges some of us face (amazing device!).  At recent meetings we have also enjoyed Syd, VE7PI’s slide presentations on his travels to China and last year to central Europe on river cruises. Terry, VE7EDX has shared an amazing PowerPoint on his experimentation with Software Defined Radio.

SURVEY OF INTERESTS

The MIRA Executive Committee is undertaking to survey our membership regarding their level of interest in the many diverse facets of amateur radio in order to try to better meet the needs of our members.  It is really a long and interesting list:  Experimentation, Home Brewing, Rag Chewing – on and off air social activities, Outdoor Activities needing communications – boating, hunting, fishing, RVing, Emergency Communications and Preparedness, Public Service, Traffic Handling Nets, Local Adventure such as Summits on the Air, Big Time DXpeditions, DXing, Award Hunting, Contesting, Collecting Vintage Equipment,  Field Trips of interest to radio amateurs, ARRL Field Day.  What a great hobby – something for everyone!

FALL/WINTER BASIC QUALIFICATION HAM CLASS (OCTOBER TO FEBRUARY)

Once again MIRA has offered a training course leading to the Canadian (Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development – ISED) Basic Amateur Qualification.  Under the leadership of Tony, VE7AJN, the course has run from October, 2017 and is just now (early February, 2018) coming to an end with about ten successful candidates who have worked very hard on alternate Saturday mornings and some Tuesday evening make up sessions.  Congratulations to all.

SOCIAL EVENTS – HEALTH AND WELFARE SUPPORT

As well as our regular coffee and meeting schedule MIRA holds two major social events each year – our Christmas luncheon and our mid-summer Barbecue.  Lots of fun and great food.

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Operating on UHF and VHF

Since our hand held portables are battery operated and are relative short range equipment not many of us carry our radio with us all the time.  If we are getting together for some purpose we agree to monitor a specific channel then the group can talk to each other as necessary.  The international calling frequency is 146.520 MHz simplex and some might monitor this frequency. The protocol is to move off this channel after making an initial contact to leave the calling channel clear for someone else.  I think most of use when we have our radio on will be monitoring one of the local repeaters such as VE7RFR, VE7RPQ, VE7SYD or VE7PQA  or maybe scanning all four.

73s de Len Hooper VE7XLH

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Programming Your Hand Held (HT) Radio

Do you feel comfortable programming your hand-held (HT) so that you have all the settings for the repeaters in memory? We do that so that we don’t have to fumble around setting frequencies and tones when we need to switch operations.

You can find another ham with the same equipment, but the chances are that they will be wondering about the same problems as you – we don’t use the features on our radios often enough to become proficient.

I recently spent several frustrating hours with an ICOM HT. It’s a dandy little radio but a “bear of beast” to program. Even following the instruction book word by word did not produce good results. The internet indicates that the model I have is one of the easiest to program! So I wonder what some of the others are like!

Before I was about to give up I found that it is possible to purchase after-market cables for most brands and models. With drivers for the cables, and software, programming my HT and my Yaesu base station each took about 15 minutes. I have all the repeaters in Central Vancouver Island and on the Sunshine Coast entered into the radio memories.

Suddenly my equipment has become versatile, flexible and useful. What a joy! And if I need to amend the file I have it on my computer and can amend and update anytime.

The company RT Systems based in Broomfield, Colorado produces US-made products. Look them up online. I have purchased the software and cables for both of my VHF/UHF radios and am more than pleased with the service and quality. The downside though is that they are priced in US$ and the shipping is expensive.

 I tried the freeware Cricket and a cheap cable purchased through Amazon. I wasted my money there – it simply didn’t work – and I advise against it. Some people report good success but I had a dismal failure with it.

 So if you are frustrated trying to control your gear – here is an alternative to try. It will help you become more radioactive!

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Weekly Club Net Moving to UHF

As of Sunday January 29, 2017 MIRA will be changing venue from VHF to UHF for the 9:00 am net.  After reviewing the results of 9 weeks of testing VE7SYD it was decided at the recent executive meeting to make this major change that will result in members being able to hear net control much more clearly as well as to see an improvement to their signal quality.

Often signals from VE7RPQ have been so poor that net control has been unable to copy and other members have had the same difficulty.  This has not always been the case but reliability just isn’t there.   MIRA members all recognize the good work Mark VA7IX has done over the years to keep VE7RPQ on the air.

We will continue to use VE7RPQ as a backup repeater in case VE7SYD should fail. On January 29 and for several Sundays following we plan to QSY after the net to VE7RPQ to pick up any members who can’t operate on UHF.  We expect this number to be very few or nil.  We would appreciate hearing from members who are not UHF capable so that we may assist them.

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