Here is an excellent compilation of HT radio comparisons put
together by Reg VA7ZEB. Reg is a long time member of SARC and acts as Net
Manager for the club. Trust me, he knows his handheld radios. Enjoy.
Congratulations if you have completed the Amateur Radio Certification Course. But as you may have discovered by now; your learning has only begun. Amateur Radio is a prized skillset, but it’s not intuitive for novices. To help you 'Get On The Air', SARC is offering free workshops intended to kick-start your ham journey.
These half-day workshops will review simplex and repeater operations, on-air jargon, and etiquette, and how to make your first contacts. As well, there will be an informal net to get you over any mic reluctance you may be experiencing. Several of our SARC members will also be in attendance displaying their VHF/UHF mobile installations, grab ‘n go kits and transceivers.
As an added perk, and provided your radio is compatible with our software and cables, we will program your handheld radio with our local repeater and simplex database so that you are ready to go. We can accommodate all Baofengs (and their clones), Wouxon, Jianpai, and some iCom, Kenwood and Yaesu models.
You can confirm your interest in attending one of these free half-day workshops by contacting GOTA@ve7sar.net. If you would like our radio programming assistance, please provide the make and model of your radio when you pre-register. An outline of the workshop follows.
Mingle, Coffee and Donuts
Radios Are Programmed
A Typical New Ham Experience
Knobs, Buttons, and Parts of the Radio
VFO vs Memory Channels
VHF Antenna Options
HF, VHF, UHF
Repeaters vs Simplex
How to Make Your First Contact(s)
On-Air Jargon and Etiquette - Do's and Don'ts
Radio Buying Options
Contesting, Survival Communications
As well, we invite you to join our GOTA Net for new hams. This Net takes place every Thursday evening at 8pm on our North Repeater at 147.360MHz + tone 110.9Hz. Can’t reach our repeater locally? No problem, you can access the Net via Echolink on our VE7RSC-VHF repeater, Node: 496228 or via your free computer, Android or iOS app.
Finally, SARC members meet informally for breakfast at the Denny’s Restaurant 6850 King George Blvd in Surrey, between 7:30 and 9:00am each Saturday morning. We’d love to have you join us. Or drop into the OTC between 9:30 until noon with your questions or just to say hello. The OTC is located at 5756 142 St. Surrey.
~ Larry Bloom VE7LXB New Ham Coordinator Surrey Amateur Radio Communications
A. It is an opportunity for any Technician or Novice licensees (Basic or Basic with Honours in Canada), newly licensed amateurs, other generally inactive licensees, and non-licensed persons to experience first-hand the fun of amateur radio by allowing them to GET ON THE AIR (GOTA).
Q. How many GOTA stations may a club have on the air?
A. A club may employ only one GOTA station.
Q. What are the bands for the GOTA station?
A. The GOTA station may operate on any amateur band on which Field Day operation is permitted (HF or VHF) for which the
control operator has operating privileges.
Q. What modes may the GOTA station use?
A. The modes and frequencies are determined by the license class of the control operator of the GOTA station. There must
always be a control operator with operating privileges for the frequencies and modes desired present at the control point of the
GOTA station any time it is transmitting.
Q. May a non-licensed person operate the GOTA station?
A. A non-licensed person may never operate an amateur transmitter. They may participate at the GOTA station by speaking into
the microphone, sending CW, or making digital contacts but may do so only under the direct supervision of a properly licensed
control operator at the control point of the transmitter.
Q. What callsign does the GOTA station use?
A. The GOTA station uses a callsign different from the call used by the group’s main Field Day operation. The GOTA station
must use the same, single callsign for the duration of Field Day. Remember that you must have permission of the holder of the
callsign in order to use it for the GOTA station. Also remember the rules of station ID. A two-by-three call issued to a Technician
licensee may be used, but if the call is being used outside of the Technician privileges of the licensee, it must also include the callsign
of the control operator (WA4QQN/N1ND for example), who must be present at the control point. The main station for us is VE7SAR and the GOTA station will be VE7HME
Q. What Field Day exchange does the GOTA station send?
A. GOTA stations use the same exchange as its “parent” station, in our case 2F BC - Two parent stations, and Foxtrot is the type of station (F = EOC). And of course our location is BC.
Q. Who may the GOTA station contact?
A. The GOTA station may contact any other amateur radio station, with a couple of exceptions. The GOTA station may not work its
“parent” Field Day station. It may not contact any station operated by a person who was involved with their group’s Field Day
operation. Remember that if a DX station is involved, the FCC (ISED) rules involving Third Party traffic apply. A station worked by
the group’s main Field Day set-up may be worked again by the GOTA station and is NOT considered a dupe.
Q. What is considered a generally inactive licensee?
A. The GOTA station is not for everyone. The generally inactive licensee provisions pertain to someone who holds a General (Basic) or higher
class license but has been inactive. The intent and the spirit of this station is to provide an opportunity for persons to gain on-the-air
experience and progress to operating the regular club stations in the future. The intent is not to develop a group of “permanent GOTA
Field Day operators”. This is also not a station that a club “ringer” operates in order to rack up points. The list of operators of this
station must be submitted with the Field Day entry. For example, a “seasoned” operator who has been away at college and off the air
for a couple of years really is not considered a generally inactive amateur.
Q. May someone operate both the GOTA and the main Field Day stations?
A. It is permissible for someone to operate both GOTA and the main stations. However, remember that to use the GOTA station, you
must meet the requirements of license class and be generally inactive. It is not permissible for a seasoned operator to operate the GOTA
Q. I am an active Novice licensee. May I operate the GOTA station?
A. Yes. The GOTA station may be operated by any Novice or Technician (Basic or Basic with Honours) licensee, under the terms of their license privileges, or under
the supervision of a control operator.
Q. How do I calculate the GOTA bonus points?
A: Please refer to Field Day (arrl.org). In order to claim the GOTA bonus, the club/group must provide a
list of operators and the number of QSOs each operator makes at the GOTA station. Clubs should use their best judgment in
determining the operators of the GOTA station.
Field Day is always held on the fourth full weekend in June,
this year on the 24th and 2th. For those who are not familiar with the event,
Field Day is an annual exercise when Amateur Radio enthusiasts, primarily
across North America, activate for a 24-hour period. It is more than a
contest, however, as teams are encouraged to operate using alternative methods
as needed for emergency conditions. It is also a great time to socialize,
collaborate, and share ideas to innovate further.
focus this year is to make it more inclusive for recent graduates, new members
and the public with a program called ‘Get On The Air’ (GOTA). Unlike previous years we will be
providing our best antennas, radios, and frequency bands to GOTA on a priority
basis to foster interest in the hobby and participation in our programs.
participation in Field Day this year will take place at the OTC and in the
SEPAR trailer - with the SEPAR trailer being set aside for GOTA use. The
plan is for two individuals at a time operating, one as logger and one as
operator. Ideally the logger will gain experience with N1MM logging software
before moving into the operating position. You do not require a ham license
to operate as I plan on being present as station manager for the full 24 hours.
We hope to offer an N1MM workshop or presentation before Field Day. We also
hope to offer training on the GOTA Field Day radio.
Are you a ham licensed in the past 3 years but mostly inactive? Please respond if you are interested in:
Volunteering to help with
the set up on Friday (pizza dinner following set up)
Once I have an indication of interest, I will begin to put
together a schedule.
check this blog in the coming days
for a "Field Day for Beginners" post.
it for now,
Larry Bloom VE7LXB New Ham Coordinator Surrey Amateur Radio Communications
Here is a fun exercise that has practical applications...
No Ham license needed
Amateur radio direction finding (ARDF, also known as radio orienteering, radio fox hunting and radiosport) is an amateur radio sport that combines radio direction finding with the map and compass skills of orienteering.
Fox hunting involves searching for a hidden radio transmitter using radio direction-finding equipment. The objective is to be the first to locate the hidden transmitter(s), often referred to as the "fox." The fox can be located anywhere within a designated area, such as a park, forest, or urban area.
The origins of fox hunting can be traced back to the early days of radio communication. Radio direction-finding was used in the early 1900s to locate ships in distress and to track down enemy radio transmissions during wars. In the 1920s, amateur radio enthusiasts started using the technique to find hidden transmitters, which led to the development of the sport of fox hunting.
Today, fox hunting is a popular activity among amateur radio operators, with competitions held around the world. On the international level, the sport requires a combination of technical skills and physical fitness, as participants need to be able to navigate through different terrains while using their radio direction-finding equipment to locate the hidden transmitter. Locally, it becomes a ‘walk in the park’ and doesn’t require a high level of physical fitness.
There are different types of fox hunts, each with its own set of rules and objectives. In some hunts, the fox transmitter is located in a fixed position and participants must find the transmitter's exact location using direction-finding equipment. In other hunts, the fox transmitter is mobile and participants must track its movements through a designated area. The fox transmitter typically emits a Morse code (CW) signal with dits indicating the ID of one of a series of foxes, thus making it easier to locate.
One of the key components of fox hunting is the radio direction-finding equipment. This typically consists of a directional antenna and a radio receiver. No license is required because you do not send any RF signals yourself. The receiver’s directional antenna is used to determine the heading to the fox transmitter, while the radio receiver is used to pick up the transmitter's audio signal. By rotating the antenna and listening to the signal strength, participants can determine the general direction of the fox transmitter.
ARDF events use radio frequencies on either the two-meter or eighty-meter amateur radio bands. These two bands were chosen because of their universal availability to amateur radio licensees in all countries. The radio equipment carried by competitors on a course must be capable of receiving the signal being transmitted by the five transmitters and useful for radio direction finding, including a radio receiver, attenuator, and directional antenna. Most equipment designs integrate all three components into one handheld device.
On the VHF two meter band (~144 MHz), the most common directional antennas used by competitors are two or three element Yagi antennas made from flexible steel tape [pictured top right]. This kind of antenna has a cardioid receiving pattern, which means that it has one peak direction where the received signal will be the strongest, and a null direction, 180° from the peak, in which the received signal will be the weakest.
Flexible steel tape enables the antenna elements
to flex and not break when encountering
vegetation in the forest.
On the eighty meter band, two common receiver design approaches are to use either a small loop antenna or an even smaller loop antenna wound around a ferrite rod [photos right].
These antennas have a bidirectional receiving pattern, with two peak directions 180° apart from one another and two null directions 180° apart from one another.
The peak directions are 90° offset from the null directions. A small vertical antenna element can be combined with the loop or ferrite rod antenna to change the receiving pattern to a cardioid shape, but the resulting null in the cardioid is not as sensitive as the nulls in the bidirectional receiving pattern. A switch is often used to allow the competitor to select the bidirectional or cardioid patterns at any moment.
This ARDF receiver equipment is designed to be lightweight and easy to operate while the competitor is in motion as well as rugged enough to withstand use in areas of thick vegetation.
ARDF is a sport that continues to evolve, with new technology and techniques emerging all the time. The future of the sport is likely to be shaped by advances in radio technology, including the use of software-defined radios and artificial intelligence. The sport is also likely to become more accessible and inclusive, with efforts underway to encourage more women and young people to participate.
In addition to being a fun and challenging sport, fox hunting also serves a practical purpose. Radio direction-finding is an important skill for emergency responders, search and rescue teams, and other organizations that need to locate people or objects in difficult terrain. By participating in fox hunting, amateur radio enthusiasts can develop and refine these skills, making them better equipped to assist in emergency situations.
On a local level, fox hunting is a rewarding sport that requires minimal training and average fitness. It's a great way to explore the outdoors while also honing your radio communication and direction-finding skills. The sport also provides an opportunity to connect with other ham radio enthusiasts and participate in a friendly competition.
What do you do when you find a fox?
Generally SARC puts out 5 foxes in a large park. Each has a Morse code signature of dits from 1 to 5 to identify it. There is a punch attached to each fox and you punch the corresponding fox number on your card to validate the find. When you have all 5 you return to the start point.
[Above] The punch card, and [below] Anton VE7SSD locates a fox and punches the card
SARC has a number of receivers for loan during the event, or you can tag along with an experienced hunter. At the end we have a barbecue to cap off the event.
If you're interested in trying out fox hunting, there are many resources available online to help you get started. You can find information on local clubs and events, as well as tips and tricks for improving your direction-finding skills. Surrey Amateur Radio Communications and many other ham radio organizations also offer training and events for fox hunting enthusiasts [see the poster below].
So grab your radio and head out into the outdoors for a great Amateur Radio family event – the foxes are waiting to be found!
So easy that even these two can find the foxes. Remember, all you need is a receiver, no ham license required.
SARC member Les Tocko VA7OM designed a top notch contest grade ARDF 80m receiver that is now available. Inquiries may be sent to VA7XB@myrac.ca. Les and Amel presented a SARC meeting program on ARDF and the receiver in April 2022, following up on a presentation first given on March 11, 2020, when the receiver was still in development. The development team included his cohorts Amel Krdzalic VA7KBA and Dave Miller VE7HR. He has shared his presentation slides and two videos. Here are some links:
There once lived a man named Michael Cool. Michael was gregarious, outgoing and self-assured. You might say he was Mr. Cool. Michael moved through life with ease, confident in his job, his intellect, and his capacity to handle life’s challenges.
When Michael learned of an online Ham Course he sensed a challenge and quickly signed up. Michael lacked a background in electronics and found the course daunting, but he persevered and seven weeks later received his Amateur Radio Certificate.
Michael proudly hung his certificate and prepared to enter the world of amateur radio. He charged his handheld, read his manual, and turned the power knob. Heart pounding, Michael’s thumb edged closer to the transmit button - but Michael couldn’t push the PTT.
For the first time he felt the grip of terror. Michael was dejected and crestfallen and his friends soon took to calling him Mike Fright.
Confidence shattered, Michael became a recluse seldom venturing beyond his bedroom door. This tortured soul spent hours listening to local nets never daring to announce his call sign.
One day Michael heard The Good Humor Man outside his window. His love of ice cream took hold and before long he was devouring a Good Humor Bar.
Then a strange thing happened. Michael felt his transmit terror draining from his body. He began to laugh. Uproariously. At himself!
Try as he might, Michael couldn’t remember what he was afraid of. Yes, dear readers, Michael was ready to transmit!
New Hams: Your fear of transmitting is unfounded. Monsters do not lurk in the 2-meter shadows. The airwaves are filled with helpful and friendly hams like yourself. Amateur Radio is meant to be a fun and light-hearted hobby. So if anxiety rears its ugly head – don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and if necessary conquer your fears with a healthy dose of humor.
My name is Larry, my call sign is VE7LXB, and welcome to my
blog. This blog is centred around my passion for getting new hams on the air.
Unfortunately, most new hams get their license and don’t know what to do with
their radios or they have mic fright. Consequently, they lose interest and drift
away from this amazing hobby without giving it a chance. Like I almost did when
I received my license.
As the New Ham Coordinator at SARC I am trying to buck that trend
with our course graduates. At SARC we have put together a GOTA workshop for new
hams which covers the essentials required to get on the air: Handheld and antenna
basics, purchasing options, on-air etiquette and jargon, repeater and simplex
fundamentals. We even program their radios and run a mock net at the end of the
workshop. As well, we run a weekly Net for new and unseasoned hams every
Thursday evening at 8pm.
That’s it for now except to say that I look forward to
posting updates and anecdotes regarding our New Ham Initiatives. I will also
post articles I have written for the SARC Communicator - like the one below:
Mr. Cool and The Good Humour Man.