President Al (VO1NO/VE3) wrote (this is an excerpt, because we just would not have space for everything Al said):

2008 was a busy and exciting year for the West Carleton Amateur Radio Club. Among other things, the club initiated a comprehensive beacon project, participated in a grid expedition, and got its constitutional affairs in order.

The Beacon Project was undoubtedly the club’s most important undertaking this past year. Under the leadership of Doug VE3XK, the club assembled a professional-quality set of VHF/UHF beacons and associated antennas. The decision to use commercial-grade equipment in lieu of a more “home-brew” approach cost the club more money, but resulted in a thoroughly stable and reliable arrangement that should give years of trouble-free operation. Given that Ottawa is fast becoming a focal point of weak-signal VHF/UHF activity, the beacons will permit local Amateurs to calibrate their equipment, and will alert others to propagation openings.

In June several members of the club travelled to FN04xa for the ARRL June VHF QSO Party. Led by Al VO1NO, the team consisted of Doug VE3XK, Ken VA3KA, Barney VA3BGB, Andy VE3NVK, Dean VA3CDD, and Jeremy, N0CALL. The team stumbled upon an excellent operating location overlooking Lake Ontario! Previously a well-kept secret of Rovers, the site enabled the team to put outstanding signals into the northern USA. A score of 80,620 points gave the team the top Canadian position, and #3 in its category in all of the ARRL Central Region. Our efforts were very much appreciated - the club received a letter of thanks from Bill VE3CRU/Rover, who included several gifts and handouts to encourage the club to return to the site next year. Al has agreed to head the Grid Expedition Committee for 2009.

The Constitution and Bylaws formed the third focus of the club in 2008. The Constitutional Committee, made up of Doug VE3XK and Dean VA3CDD, continued work begun the previous year. Draft documents were distributed early in the new-year, and feedback was incorporated in the succeeding versions. Following a line-by-line review at the August meeting, the club’s new Constitution and Bylaws were unanimously approved by the membership, and formally incorporated the following month.

Club members are also involved in several other projects. Graham VE3BYT actively liaises with members of the Perth group to coordinate WCARC participation in their high altitude balloon launches (with Montessori School). Rick VE3CVG and Ken VA3KA have taken leadership roles in the formation of the Ottawa Amateur Radio Digital Group, devoted to the establishment of a D-STAR network in the region. Many other members are busy with their own projects of varying degrees of complexity.

The Repeater Committee under Dale VE3XZT has accomplished a great deal in the past 2 months. The IRLP node is once again functioning after being shut down in the summer when John VE3IAO moved. An ID EPROM has been received from Hamtronics, and all club repeaters will ID using the VE3WCC callsign.

The club had a variety of interesting guest speakers and entertainment. January saw the kickoff of the Beacon Project with a briefing by Doug VE3XK. In February Dale VE3XZT and Ken VA3KA described Frequency Division Multiplex Digital Voice, and included an interesting practical demonstration. March was Project Night! Among the projects exhibited were the beacon cabinet by Doug VE3XK, a temperature sensor with associated microprocessor and mini-transmitter by Graham VE3BYT, and a CW station controller project by Dave VE3KL.

In April Ernie VA3OEB gave the first of 2 presentations dealing with his experiences as a radio operator during the Second World War. The first covered the time he spent at sea in the Merchant Marine, which included having 2 ships sunk underneath him! Ernie’s second talk was given in July, and described how he and others intercepted enemy radio communications at the Ottawa Monitoring Station.

In May Barrie VE3BSB described the high-altitude balloon launch conducted by the Perth ARES group. The following month Al VO1NO briefed all present on the club’s plans for the Grid Expedition to FN04xa for the ARRL June VHF QSO Party. Also that evening, Doug VE3XK provided an update on the Beacon Project, including some interesting antenna radiation diagrams.

The Constitution and Bylaws were discussed and approved at the August meeting. In September Al VO1NO delivered a detailed description of Low Band Receive Antennas. The following month Bertrand VE2ZAZ gave a very interesting presentation on his experiences using EME - Earth Moon Earth, or Moonbounce. Ken VE3SRS concluded the year’s entertainment with a talk on his time operating as VE8RCS in Alert.

Membership peaked at 28 members. Although a relatively small club, the West Carleton Amateur Radio Club has a well-deserved reputation for technical expertise and excellent operators. This is no accident - it has taken a lot of hard work by a number of very dedicated individuals to put the West Carleton Club where it is. I ask you to join me in a round of applause for those people, and for the success of the club in general. I also remind everyone that each and every member of the club has something to offer - please remember this the next time the club needs a volunteer!

Al Penney, VO1NO, President