Ever consider becoming a ham? I thought about it for years when I was a boy. Being
color blind, I thought it would be impossible, but these days things have changed.
Examinations are very straight forward, and with digital instruments, even those
dealing with being color blind can pass without difficulty.
In 1993 I was working in Product/Program Management developing wireless packet data
infrastructure (Motorola's DataTAC system). At the time, I was responsible for base
stations and base station controllers. Learning about amateur radio seemed like the
best alternative to learn more about technology I was using every day, and so that
I could work better with my peers.
Through the help of a local amateur radio club (Burnaby Amateur Radio Club -http://www.ve7bar.org/)
I was able to enroll on a 3 month course of study. This culminated in successful
completion of Basic and Advanced written exams, as well as Morse Code so that I received
an Advanced accreditation.
My Amateur Radio Interests
I am involved with a variety of radio methods. These areas, with hotlinks to more
APRS - Amateur Packet Radio Service, an emergency location-based message service.
Packet Radio - slow speed over the air messaging. This slow speed service at 1200
bps is still used, but not as extensively as it has in the past. I still use it from
time to time. For this service, a Kantronics Packet Communicator modem is linked
to an IC-2AT and Zenith SuperSport 286. See the HF section where these items are
integrated with the HF station.
VHF/UHF - a variety of point-to-point transmissions, usually short distance using
Very High and Ultra High frequencies. A repeater list for Northwest Washington and
Vancouver/Victoria is on this link.
HF - High Frequency (alias Short Wave). This is the method that hams are known for
using to talk around the world.
Cross-Link - mixing VHF/UHF with HF and the internet is increasingly providing access
to hams around the work when propagation is in decline. This can be achieved with
many programs, one of which is called EchoLink.
My Local Club
I am a member of the Delta Amateur Radio Society (DARS) who club sign is VE7SUN.
We are located in Delta BC Canada, which is known for being a very sunny area of
Pictures showing our 2003 Field Day (24-hour Emergency Preparation Exercise and Contest)
are at 2003 Field Day Exercise. Normally I participate every year, but in recent
years I have had to miss a couple for the first time in a very long time from business
and family reasons.
I couldn't let you away without seeing me operating in a the upper flower garden
of Diefenbaker Park in Delta, BC, Canada in 1998 (the running joke is that this is
really my driveway.... but my driveway isn't this nice!).
The station I am using is a Yaesu FT7B (transmitting 50 watts) using battery power
and a magnetic mount mobile antenna on 20 meters (14.200 MHz SSB) on top of the "van".
The remainder of the club is spread around the Park operating other bands. You can
see their pictures on the club site.
DARS has many talented members who are contributing to amateur radio in a variety
of way. The membership is involved in a number of activities, including:
Construction project: packet data modems (Poor Man's Packet)
APRS setup and operation - most of the initial users of APRS in BC were from DARS
Construction project: QRP transceiver
Field Day exercises (VE7SUN placed well for QRP operation in 2000-2002)
Co-operation with the Delta Municipality in setting up and operating a UHF repeater
Repeater operates on 444.425 MHz at Delta's earthquake proof site, so its great for
The tower is 300' high, with our antennas at about 250' giving excellent coverage
across Vancouver. Most other repeaters are on northern mountains, having signal shadows.
This site covers those areas with poor coverage.
Members are joining the Provincial Emergency Preparedness team (on-call for emergency
Teaching aspiring hams is something that I have particularly enjoyed. In 2007-2008
about 50 students participated in the training. 2009-2010 we had 4 courses with 53
more stuents more students studying with with the DARS club making it roughly 100
folks trained to be hams.
At the end of 2010, development is nearing completion for an Advanced Credentials
course. Planning includes first course delivery in the Spring of 2011.
Being involved is great for making friends, being there for your community, and in
general provides a better chance to learn new things!