Oakville D-Star Is Connected

Here’s news from John, VA3BL, our technical director for Oakville ARC.

Thanks to the hard work and persistence of immediate past president Rod, VA3RHF, the club’s digital D-Star repeater is working on the world-wide D-Star network.

Woo Hoo !!

Here are the settings for your D-Star radio. Our repeater is on 442.06250 MHz and the setup is:

Ur: cq cq cq                                                                                                                                          Rpt 1: va3orn b                                                                                                                                    Rpt 2: va3orn g

If you’ve got a D-Star capable rig, come on aboard.

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Opening my email this morning I got this note from Ian Snow VE3QT:

“All good stuff but I had no part in developing the ARES Operations Training Manual as a whole. That was done by the training manual sub-group of the National Training Review Group. I only wrote the chapter on digital comms and of course some 8 years later it’s so badly out of date as to be irrelevant. The latest I understand is that Ubiquity is now producing units that operate at 900 MHz models, something that would help with connecting dispersed LANs.”


Thanks to Ian for this new information.

MESH systems are in the planning stage for many clubs and ARES groups in the GTA. It’s an exciting time in Amateur Radio.

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Oakville ARES and MESH

I’ve posted some comments about the Oakville ARES group on my person blog at VE3HG but I thought I’d expand on where we are when it comes to our MESH installation here.

Back some months ago I heard from Ian Snow, VE3QT, who did a demonstration of MESH and who wrote some really good training manuals for ARES which I highly recommend you read. (I’m not sure Ian is still in ARES as the RAC ARES web pages show many, many vacancies and even show Oakville ARES as not having an EC in place which is incorrect and has been so for almost a year now.)download

I didn’t get what Ian was saying about MESH at the time but I do now. Buffalo, New York is a good example of what might befall us unexpectedly any winter. Six feet of snow buried the city and shutdown large portions of it. Now Buffalo might get significant flooding with temperatures way above freezing. There’s been at least 13 deaths. This is a disaster.

The old ARES model of deploying volunteer individual Amateurs with handhelds to designated places (hospitals, police, fire and ambulance stations, municipal offices, Red Cross shelters and others) to provide communications services wouldn’t work if the Buffalo situation had been worse.

However a dedicated MESH network of remote untended nodes on the system would allow local ARES groups to provide a high-speed private Internet-type service across a municipality.

Sure we’d have to get somebody to run a keyboard at key locations but the system could be in place and ready to go and it could be independent of electricity being available.

Plus we can always implement the old model and deploy individuals with the handhelds, a spare battery, their lunch and rubber boots to specific locations but the MESH network would sure make communications a whole lot easier.

We’ve been in touch with local Oakville municipal officials in government and helping services and we’ve been getting a very positive response so far.

Just like our sister ARES groups in Burlington, Hamilton, Mississauga and Peel who are also considering building their own MESH networks, the Oakville ARES group with the support of the Oakville Amateur Radio Club is making progress and once we’re all on the air we will be able to wireless connect to those municipalities as well.

If you’re an Amateur Radio operator living in or near Oakville, Ontario or if you’re a regular user of one of our repeater systems (VE3HB VHF, UHF and D-Star) please consider joining the Oakville ARC and doing your part to support our club.

We meet the second Tuesday of the month (There’s no regular meeting in December as we’re having our annual festive Christmas dinner and all are welcome.) and there’s an informal weekly gathering on Saturday’s at 6:30 am at Cora’s restaurant on Dorval north of the QEW. All are welcome.

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Field Day 2015

It’s not to early to start thinking about Field Day 2015!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the weekly 6:30 am Saturday breakfast meeting at Cora’s on Dorval Drive in Oakville (guests always welcome) the consensus seem to be that the guys were willing to try for a first or second place finish in our category for Canada.

They liked the site last year which was a smaller pavilion in Bronte Provincial Park from the larger full-service site we’ve had in previous years. The new site has a better setup for antennas.i-K34JRbJ-L

Speaking of antennas the thoughts towards winning our category would require better antennas and small tri-band beams backup with dipoles for 40 and 80 were discussed.

Of course the big issue for us is manpower to set all these antennas up. If we lifted a TH-3jr on two sections of tower and a five foot mast we could probably erect two antennas pretty quickly. Then we could add a big dual-band dipole which the two run stations could share.P6180085

The GOTA station would be able to get the beam on occasion and would need another all band dipole or maybe a vertical.

We’re good for power (Thanks to Brian) and we’ve got some really amazing operators running the CW and SSB stations so with a little planning I think we can exceed last year’s score.

We could use a Field Day coordinator and we sure could use a way better bonus point manager. The last guy (me) just wasn’t up to the job!

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Field Day 2014 Results

We came in fourth or maybe third in all Canada in our category of 2A out of 393 entries.


In the QST listings VE7SAR and VA7SAR were two above above us with both having identical scores.

That seems wrong to my eye and if so, we came third in Canada and 38th overall.

We actually scored more QSOs (1597) but lost on points (6,1o8).

The VE7 scores were 1541 Qs but they got more points 6,256.

The winning Canadian team VE1FO scored 1997 Qs and 7,218 points.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what can we do better in 2014?

First off we’ve got to do a better job at getting the bonus points up. That was my job last year and I could have done a better job.

Can we win first in Canada?We’d need to work 400 more Qs and score 1,110 more points.

I’m not sure that’s doable but we sure could take second place in Canada with a measly 156 more Qs and 148 more points.

So maybe in March we can have our first organizing meeting for our 2015 effort.

We’ll follow that up with a final review during our May meeting and maybe we could take a shot at second place in Canada (and somewhere around top 25 overall in our 2A category.

It’s going to be up to the club members about which category we enter. 2A and 3A are the two most competitive categories and really, aside from my merger effort, we did pretty well.

Thanks to all 21 operators who registered to get on the air and have some fun. And fun is the key ingredient to a great Field Day.

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HSMM MESH Link Established

At last night’s excellent meeting of the Oakville Amateur Radio Club, Brian, VA3BCO gave a very-well received presentation on HSMM MESH Networking.

Here’s a link to his slides.

And we’re not talking theory here. Thanks to John, VA3BL our technical director and his team the Oakville Club’s MESH link went on the air earlier this week.

So what is HSMM MESH (and forgive me if I get this wrong)?IMG_0109

HSMM stands for high-speed multi-media. Found on the Amateur micro-wave frequencies that parallel commercial WiFi channels, it allows licensed Amateur Radio operators to create their own private, high power (we’re talking milliwatts to maybe a Watt or two), flexible, resilient, ad hoc Internet.

So when we say high-speed what are we talking about?

PSK/RTTY/HF Packet run 300 – 300 bps. Pactor III or IV go 3 to 10 kbps. D-Star which supports high-speed data hits 128 kbps. HSMM goes up to 54 mbps+.

This means HSMM can handle things like streaming video.

MESH technology would allow for file sharing, IRC chat applications, IP cameras (think the Santa Claus parade), VOIP phone connection even web browsing.  complete-overview-of-mesh-for-amateur-radio-updated-nov-2014-12-638 complete-overview-of-mesh-for-amateur-radio-updated-nov-2014-23-638 complete-overview-of-mesh-for-amateur-radio-updated-nov-2014-71-638 complete-overview-of-mesh-for-amateur-radio-updated-nov-2014-74-638-2

The equipment is cheap as some old Linksys routers can be flashed to work on the Amateur frequencies and easily available commercial units from Ubiquiti which put the microwave transceiver at the antenna need only power (from a modified standard ethernet cable or a battery perhaps with a solar cell.

These units sell for as little as $56 to $100.

Software and directions how to flash the units are readily available on the Internet.

Practical applications for ARES work are endless. For the rest of us, joining an HSMM MESH network would neighbouring contest stations to share logging programs in real time allowing for M2 class operation. Control of a remote Amateur Radio station from your laptop would be easy and secure.

HSMM MESH offers Amateur Radio a super cheap, super reliant and tons of fun new way to communicate.

The biggest issue is you must be able to have line-of-sight view of another HSMM MESH station.

The easiest way around not having someone you can see is the club could setup remote, solar-powered MESH nodes on cooperative apartment buildings or police and fire stations thus extending the network across the town.

Again thanks to Brian who gave us the presentation last night.

We’re planning a second slightly more advanced presentation sometime in the new year that will focus on how to add applications such as IP cameras to our MESH network.

Stay tuned 🙂

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Pan Am Games Opportunity


As you may know, our Volunteer Application process for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games is in full swing. If you or members in your immediate community (tenants, club members, staff, current volunteers, etc.) are interested in volunteering with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am games, we encourage you to apply online. If you are interested in volunteering specifically for a role in our Venue Communications Centres, please use the below information when applying. If you will be sharing this code with your colleagues, we ask that you please email volunteers@toronto2015.org.

Don’t forget to Apply now to be a TORONTO 2015 Games-time volunteer. Everyone must apply through our Volunteer Portal. Given your affiliation with Amateur Radio in Canada, please enter the following volunteer code in the space provided at the end of the application: VEMVCC

Please be advised that:

– This code is provided for your use only and is non-transferrable. Applicants who use this code with no current affiliation with our venue may not be considered for a Games-time role.

– Everyone must complete the online Volunteer Application. All individuals who are currently affiliated with TORONTO 2015 and/or have previously submitted paperwork, must officially apply for a Games-time volunteer role.

– This code will be used to identify individuals who have a current affiliation with your organization. It does not guarantee a Games-time Volunteer role.

– The application process is the same for everyone. All applications will be screened with a video interview, and successful candidates will be offered a volunteer role.

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