On December 7, 2010, President Al Penney, delivered this Annual Report:

Once again, the West Carleton Amateur Radio Club has had a busy and productive year. Among other things, the club completed its comprehensive beacon project, finished second in a grid expedition during the ARRL June VHF QSO Party, supported the development of D-STAR Radio, sold its repeater system, and completed a 5.8 GHz telephone project that was used in the contest. Additionally, many club members built Bluetooth-radio interfaces to comply with upcoming changes in Ontario’s driving regulations.

Under the solid leadership of Doug VE3XK, the club’s professional-quality set of VHF/UHF beacons have continued to put Ottawa on the VHF/UHF map. Other than an occasional truncation in the last character of the grid identifier, the system has performed flawlessly. Reception reports have been received from as far away as Florida and British Columbia. The beacons also permit local Amateurs to calibrate their equipment, and will alert others to propagation openings. Extra bands are being considered for next year, including a 1296 MHz beacon, and possibly even a 10 GHz beacon.

In June several members of the club returned to FN04xa for the third year in a row to take part in the ARRL June VHF QSO Party. Led by Al VO1NO, the team consisted of Doug VE3XK, Barney VA3BGB, Glenn VE3XRA, Greg VA3OMP, Sam VE3CMS, Drew VE3UIN and Air Cadets Erin and Laura. In a very busy weekend, they were credited with 330 QSOs and 130 multipliers for a score of 65,520 points. This was down from the previous year, but was enough to finish second in our category in Canada. Our decline in the standings this year can be attributed to propagation conditions and to having fewer operators this time. The pitiful excuses ranged from “I’m getting married that weekend” to “I have a sucking chest wound”! Nevertheless, the club is looking forward to regaining top position next year!

One success story out of the contest was the 5.8 GHz telephone system project. Glenn VE3XRA took on the task of transforming a normally short-ranged home telephone system into something that would support communications over a range of several kilometres. By mounting the main unit at the focal point of a satellite TV antenna, Glenn was able to obtain the desired increase in performance. It was used to good effect during the contest, obtaining several extra grids and many points for the team.

In May the owners of the tower that housed the club’s VHF and UHF repeater systems requested that the club remove them. When the club began investigating possible sites to relocate the repeaters, it became apparent that most would require sizeable annual payments. In July however the Almonte Amateur Radio Club approached the Executive with an offer to purchase both systems. Following a vote, the membership approved the sale. This is a win-win situation for both clubs. The Almonte club has two repeaters located at publicly-funded locations available for their emergency communications obligations. On the other hand, the footprint of these repeaters is generally similar to the West Carleton’s previous setup, and being open repeaters they are still available to West Carleton members.

The club had a variety of interesting guest speakers and entertainment. January saw two presentations. Bert VE2ZAZ briefed everyone on his Bluetooth-radio interface kit. Interest was so great that more than 30 were eventually sold to club members. Barrie VE3BSB described the high-altitude balloon activities of the Lanark Space Agency in a presentation titled “Amateur Radio Journeys to the Edge of Space”. The agency must be doing something right, as they recently set a new world altitude record for amateur balloons.

There were also two presentations at the February meeting. Glenn VE3XRA gave an update on the 5.8 GHz phone system, while Michael VE3WMB spoke about “New Digital Modes and Old Hellschriber”. In March Rick VE3CVG described the past, present and future of D-STAR radio, and in April Ray VE3FN spoke about Amateur Radio Microwave Communications. It should be noted that at the April meeting the membership voted to support the Ottawa Amateur Radio Digital Group’s efforts to develop D-STAR Radio in the area with a $300 donation.

Dave VE3KL gave a technical description of the many uses of ferrites in Amateur Radio at the May meeting. June saw another technical presentation as Bert VE2ZAZ spoke about Spectrum Analyzers and Network Analyzers. It included a demonstration of an analyzer so big that required 3 men and 2 horses to get it up the steps!

In July Al VO1NO described the club’s Grid Expedition for the June VHF Contest, while in August fellow-grid expedition member Glenn VE3XRA spoke about radio astronomy and his interesting career experiences as a radio astronomer. Al VO1NO was the guest speaker again in September. In a presentation titled “A Race on the Edge of Time” he described how the British developed not just radar, but an entire air defence system as well, and how it defeated the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain.

October and November marked a return to purely Amateur Radio topics. In October Andy VE3NVK described the wide range of digital modes available using the fldigi software. The following month Greg VE3YTZ delivered an informative talk on TAPR’s Software Defined Radio project.

Membership peaked at 32 regular members and 3 life members. Attendance at the meetings remained very high, with 26 at the February meeting - possibly a club record:

  • January 15
  • February 26
  • March 18
  • April 19
  • May 14
  • June 15
  • July 16
  • August 12
  • September 11
  • October 16
  • November 16

Although a relatively small club, the West Carleton Amateur Radio Club has maintained 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)