Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The February 2018 Communicator



Here is the latest Communicator. In this edition you will find:

Over 50 pages of Amateur Radio News from the South West corner of Canada. This issue focuses on Amateur Radio satellites, especially for beginners. Yes, you too can listen, or work Low Earth Orbit satellites with a homemade antenna and a cheap handheld transceiver.

We'll show you several antenna projects, programming tips and How-To's


You can read or download the SARC February 2018 Communicator
Your feedback is always welcome. My deadline for the March edition is February 20th. If you have news from your Vancouver area club, events or other items of interest please email them to the communicator@ve7sar.net


Saturday, January 27, 2018

An Ounce Of Prevention


A Communicator Reprise: May 2011




Take a good look around every room in your home, your ham shack as well as outside in your garage, shed and car. Consider all the things you would be sorry to lose or find hard to replace - then mark them.  Particularly as Amateurs, we may have thousands of dollars worth of equipment in our car or home. 

Remember that anything remotely useful or attractive is resalable. For instance, all your electrical and mechanical goods, household appliances, furniture, pictures, ornaments, antiques and silver, in fact anything can be a target of thieves. Garages and gardens sheds are also at risk. Protect your lawn mower and keep your tools locked up. They may well be used by an intruder to force his way into your home! Finally, always lock your car no matter where it is parked and remove any valuables from sight. 

Marking is easy 

Property  Marking  is  a  quick,  easy  Do-It-Yourself job, and it costs so little. For an outlay of only a few dollars and an hour or so of your time you could be saving yourself a great deal of money, inconvenience and personal anguish. 

Permanent Marking 

Engraving and punching identifies your property for good. Inexpensive tools and kits for the job can be bought from DIY  and hardware stores. Improvising by scratching to save yourself the outlay is acceptable but might need a little extra care. 

Invisible Marking 

For antiques or other valuable property which might be devalued or spoiled by visible marking, there's an invisible ultra-violet marker. Burglars cannot see it, but if something marked is stolen police can identify it with a special ultra-violet lamp. UV markers are available from most good DIY stores and stationers at around five dollars. It's important to remember that UV marking fades and will need to be renewed every so often. 

There are three ways of marking

  1. Engraving with an electric engraving tool, fine drill or other sharp-pointed tool. Use a template or stencil or simply do it freehand.  
  2. UV marking the invisible method using an ultra-violet pen. Simple to use - but needs renewing periodically. 
  3. Punching With a hammer and a set of punches bearing marking information.  Use  only  on heavier metal, items such as bicycles, mowers or engines.
Note that aluminum is easily damaged by punching and should not be marked in this way.

What to engrave 

At one time it was suggested that you mark your property with your SIN number. This is no longer the case. Police cannot readily trace SIN numbers, complicating the return of your property. Drivers License (DL) numbers however, can be tracked from any mobile police terminal in seconds! In most cases, police who find property in the hands of suspicious characters will attempt to verify it immediately via the  Canadian  Police  Information  Centre (CPIC) [NCIC in the United States]. Stolen property from across Canada is entered on this system and it can be accessed in seconds. Engraving the DL Province of issue before the number will assist police, for example: BC DL 1234567 

In the case of a business or organization, police agencies in some jurisdictions will issue an ‘Operation Provident’ number. This Program is meant to provide an easily traced number to identify ownership where it is not the property of a single individual. 

Where to mark your property 

Where you mark your property matters, particularly if you are using the engraving method. If you prefer the mark to remain out of sight, you'll obviously choose somewhere behind or underneath the article. 

If you purchase a used item that has been marked, engrave a single line through the previous marking and place your DL number above or below it. The really important thing to remember is to select a surface that can't be removed without spoiling the basic appearance or performance of the article. 

Keep  a  record  of  your property 

You  can  protect  items  that can’t be marked, and those that can, by keeping a record of them. A simple and effective way of doing this is to photograph each item, preferably in colour, paying special attention to any distinguishing marks such as initials or crests which may be used to identify the item. Take the photograph against a plain background and include a ruler to give an idea of size. 

Use the record form to keep a list  of  the  items  you have marked and where the marks are. It’s a good idea to give a second copy of the list and the photographs to someone you trust for them to look after. If you have property stolen, be prepared to provide copies of serial numbers and photos to police. 

Do not advertise your absence 

We all chat on the various repeaters but we do not always know who is listening in. There is no expectation of privacy and the AR bands are open to monitoring by many people including unscrupulous ones with scanners. Mention of your intended absence on holidays may be advertising for those with criminal intentions to pay you a visit. As you know, the licensing database is readily available to anyone with an Internet connection and it takes only minutes to look up your call-sign for your address unless you have asked for it to be withheld. 

For more advice on marking or  protecting  your  property, contact your local police station. 




Monday, January 22, 2018

Amateur Radio: A 21st Century Hobby


Youth Involvement


Surrey Amateur Radio Club Field Day


Getting youth involved in Amateur Radio is one of our most important challenges for the long-term viability of our hobby. There is a great video from the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) that illustrates the exciting aspects of modern Amateur Radio.
Amateur Radio: A 21st Century Hobby

SARC is offering our Basic Licensing course starting April 3rd







Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Long Lasting Battery Backup For Your HT

A Communicator Reprise: April 2011


This is day five of a SEPAR callout and you're at home. Your hand-held radio (HT) battery is out of juice and you have no means of charging it. What you now wish you had is a substantial, fully charged battery to keep your HT operational for the couple of weeks that Hydro is going to take to restore the power.


Where Can I Get One Real Cheap?

Organizations which replace all their Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) batteries on a scheduled basis will often give them away. These batteries are typically the Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) type which means no gases escape them (provided you don't overcharge them) and so no particular safety precautions are required re: handling or ventilation as well as no need to add water from time to time. Clubs are often given a number of these batteries which are then made available to members.


What Does It Cost To Keep My HT Going For A Couple Of Weeks?

The battery has to have sufficient capacity. Battery capacity is specified in Ampere-hours, abbreviated Ah. A very common UPS battery is rated at 12 Volts and 7 Ah. What this means is that, theoretically, the battery will be able to deliver: The battery voltage has to match the voltage expected by your HT. Most HTs will work fine with a 12 Volt battery but you will need to check your HT documentation to be sure. For example, some iCom HTs cannot be powered from an external source. Charged - Yes. Powered - No.


How Does This 7 Amp-Hours Translate Into Operating Time?

Let's suppose that in order to ration your battery current consumption you listen for a total of 5 hours per day and that your total transmit time in a day is 1/4 hour.
For my old Kenwood TH28A, the current drain would be as follows:

  • Receiver current drain is 0.075 A (75 mA), loud so others can hear;
  • Transmit current drain is 0.100 A (100 mA), Low power;
To calculate the total ampere hours used in one day:
  • Receive amp hours per day = 0.075 A x 5.00 hrs = 0.375 Ah;
  • Transmit amp hours per day = 0.1 A x 0.25 hrs = 0.025 Ah; 
  • Total amp hours per day = 0.400 Ah

So, number of days you'll be able to use your HT using one of these 7 amp-hour batteries is 7 Ah / 0.400 Ah per day = 17.5 days. If you were to listen and transmit for twice as many hours in the day the battery would last for about 9 days. This is based on the Kenwood TH-28A. The current drains for your HT will undoubtedly be different. Still, this shows that one of these batteries can run an HT for quite a number of days.


OK, I'm Convinced I Need One Of These... What Else Do I Need?


  • A means of charging the battery (BEFORE the power goes off);
  • A cable with a fuse in the middle and appropriate connectors on the ends for connecting the battery to your HT.
The Battery Charger — Doesn't have to be expensive. You will encounter two different types, Trickle charger and "Smart" charger. The very inexpensive trickle chargers will continue to supply a small amount of current to the battery even when it is fully charged. As this is typically more current than needed to keep the battery fully charged, the battery lifetime will be reduced. For this reason, once the battery is fully charged it should be disconnected from the charger. As batteries lose their charge over a period of time, even when not used, the battery should be reconnected to the charger after three months.
The Smart chargers will supply charging current to the battery until the battery is fully charged. At this point, the Smart charger reduces its output voltage so as to supply just enough current to keep the battery fully charged. Consequently, there is no need to disconnect the charger and it will maintain the battery in the fully charged state indefinitely without overcharging it. RP Electronics in Vancouver sells a very suitable Smart charger for about $30. Part # FC-1212B. It charges 6 and 12V batteries. Charging current is selectable. 



Cable - Wire size and type - #18 AWG 2 conductor stranded wire. One red conductor and one black, max 20 feet
Fuse holder - you want an in-line fuse holder with a 5 amp fuse. Put this in series with the red conductor. The fuse is necessary to protect the wire and battery from short circuits. These batteries store a lot of energy so if you short circuit the terminals there's a good chance the battery will blow up and spray sulfuric acid all over the place. So... don't leave out the fuse.
Battery connector - Different batteries have different style terminals so it depends on what battery you get. Most of the ones SARC gets have two metal tabs 1/4" wide and about 3/8" long. A very suitable connector for this is the Pico fully insulated female Quick Connect #1765. It does a good job of covering the metal tab so that if you drop a screwdriver across the tabs it won't short circuit the battery and melt a hole in the screwdriver shaft.
HT DC power connector - Different HTs also have different style power connectors. You will probably need to take the HT with you when purchasing this connector. Some suppliers sell the power connectors with leads attached. This is very desirable as it means you don't have to solder the leads on yourself. As these connectors are quite small, soldering to them is a bit tricky. You MUST make sure that you know which wire is to go to the positive (Red) terminal of the battery and which to the negative (Black) terminal. If you get this wrong you will probably cause serious damage to your HT.
Once your cable is assembled (complete with fuse), you connect it to the battery. Make sure you don’t mix up the positive (RED) and negative (BLACK) connections, plug the other end into the DC In socket of your HT, and you're in business.


How To make This Even More Useful

It would be nice if this same battery/cable combination could be used with another HT or if your HT could be plugged into a different battery. There is a way to do this using Anderson Power Pole connectors. These connectors are used by emergency communicators all over North America so that any radio can be connected to any power source, regardless of what kind of connector is on the radio or power source. To modify your cable to do this, simply cut it in half, install Power Pole (PP) connectors on the free ends and plug them into each other. 

For installation instructions see http://www.westmountainradio.com/kb_view_topic.php?id=OT75 NOTE The red and black connectors MUST be oriented with respect to each other as shown in the instructions. If you orient yours differently, they won't mate with anyone else's gear. 
To operate your radio from a different power source, separate  the PP connectors on your cable from each other and plug the radio end into the PP connector of the new source. Similarly, to use your battery with a different radio, unplug the PP connectors on your cable and plug the battery end into the PP connector of the new radio.


What If I Don't Have The Necessary Skills Or Tools To Do This?

If there's enough interest, SARC can put on a workshop session during which you make your cable.


Battery Disposal

At some point, your battery won't hold a charge anymore. Any recycler which accepts standard lead-acid batteries (like the one in your car) should accept it - You may even get some money back for it but you shouldn't just chuck it into the garbage.


Additional Information

Technical overview of the batteries we typically get: https://na.industrial.panasonic.com/products/batteries/rechargeable-batteries/lead-acid-vrla


Local Parts Suppliers


  • Battery charger - RP Electronics
  • Wire - RP Electronics, Main Electronics
  • Connectors - Canadian Tire, RP Electronics, Main Electronics, Lee‘s Electronics
  • Fuse holders - Canadian Tire, RP Electronics, Main Electronics, Lee‘s Electronics
  • Power Poles - MRO Electrical Supply

 eBay and Amazon have these parts on-line.




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SARC Pioneers Profiled


Mike Heritage VE7CLE (SK)


The initial Surrey Amateur Radio Club meeting, chaired by Doug Moore, VE7CBM, was held in September 1975 in a classroom at the North Surrey Senior High School. Doug was a teacher at the school and had graduated many new, young Hams from his annual courses. In attendance at this meeting were the founding member VE7's: Doug Moore CBM, Fred Orsetti CJG (now IO), Carl Bertholm CLC, Mike Heritage CLE, Mike Holley AVM, Cary MillerCFC (SK) Vic Medway CON (SK), Cecil Bogies YM (SK), Cory Galbraith CGR, Ken Clarke EZV (now BC), Ron Davies CBT, Ray Sims AXF, Bill Moore BGA, Wayne Horne CNJ, Bob Searle CHB, John Buchanan CTJ (SK), Jim Johnson CSJ (now VA7ET), Al Neufeld CDC, Bill Driscole ARL, Bren McCullough BGM, Lee Hopwood BDZ, Len TAM, and George Cruikshank (SK). Doug Moore was elected President. Mike became Secretary/Treasurer in 1977 and he remained in this position until 1980 he was a very active member of SARC. 

Mike's dad was an amateur radio operator and Mike and his dad spent many hours enjoying contacts on CW and SSB. Ham radio was something Mike thoroughly enjoyed especially the Field Day outings on top of McKee (Monkey) Mountain. The club purchased a generator, a 204BA monoband antenna, and went after first place in Field Day. In addition to finding time to operate the radios, Mike and his buddy Carl VE7CLC, became well known for their ability to provide the Field Day team with excellent food . I'm sure it was the food that helped move SARC into first place in Canada for several years. Mike always provided much fun, laughter and camaraderie during these outings. It was always a pleasure to work alongside Mike on the radio or setting up antennas. He consistently provided a positive approach. Mike was also an accomplished Harmonica player and provided entertainment at several SARC Christmas parties. Mike continued as an active member of SARC and was always ready to help with club projects or help any member who needed a hand.

In the 90's Mike was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and was forced to retire from his job. On his QSL card he proudly displayed the Parkinson's Logo and he became a very active member of the Parkinson's Society. This was typical of Mike, always helping others needing a helping hand. During the last few years Mike found it very difficult to operate his radio as his hands were not steady enough to handle the  microphone. Not to be deterred, Mike advanced to operating PSK-31 where he made many contacts, but eventually it became very difficult for Mike to continue with any type of radio communication. Mike was a close personal friend who freely gave his time whenever it was needed. 

His Parkinson's made it very difficult for him but he never gave up and for that I will always admire his endurance. Mike spent many hours discussing Parkinson's with my wife, who is also affected, providing her with information and support. My wife and I miss Mike very much and we both feel privileged to have known him for almost 40 years through the good and the difficult times.

I believe all who knew Mike and shared his love of life, the outdoors and amateur radio will agree he was a special person. Mike passed in May 2011 and at Mike's celebration of life memorial many guests paid tribute to his generosity and his warm personality. We take some comfort in knowing that Mike is at peace and free of the stresses associated with Parkinson's.

~ Fred Orsetti VE7IO



Sunday, January 7, 2018

All about the Baofeng UV5-R

A Most Popular Hand-held Transceiver Choice


A lot has been written about Baofeng transceivers. They are affordable, multi-band, and deliver a pretty good bang for the buck given that they can be had new for less than Cdn$50 (less than US$30). There is now a video on YouTube that claims to perform the ‘Extreme Test’... watch, you’ll be surprised!  https://goo.gl/AEX75o

Loved or despised, many people are passionate about the Baofeng UV-5R.  Why? Simply because it is a basic dual band radio at a very affordable price. Where once you paid $250+ for a dual-band handheld, you now pay less than Cdn $50, perhaps much less. The UV-5R had a 5-year evolution.

The Basics:
  • Frequency Range: 65-108 MHz (Only commercial FM radio reception), VHF works from 136 to 174 MHz( both Rx/Tx), UHF works from 400 to 520 MHz (both Rx/Tx)
  • Channel Names customizable and many other adjustments by using the PC03 FTDI Programming Cable (which by the way, is highly recommended)
  • UV-5R model is equipped with a 1500mAh Battery (1800mAh Label); 
  • Broadband (Wide) 25khz / Narrowband (Narrow) 12.5khz Selectable
  • AUTO Keypad Lock, Dual Band, Dual Display and Dual Standby
  • 1(low) or 4 (high) watts output
  • Selectable frequency steps of the cheap radio include 2.5, 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5 and 25 kHz
  • Dual watch and dual reception, and it can store up to 128 memories; plus:
  • selectable wide/narrow, battery save function, VOX, DCS/CTCSS encode, key lock and a built in flashlight.


This Radio Comes With:
  • an SMA-Female antenna,
  • flexible antenna,
  • BL-5 Li-ion battery (7.4V 1500 mAh,
  • belt clip and wrist strap,
  • AC adapter (8.4V 600ma) and a drop-in charging tray.
Accessories , such as a hand-held mic, extra batteries, car adapter, better antenna and external antenna adapter, a programming cable and software and cases are mostly less than $10 each.
    Baofeng radios have proven to be reliable and inexpensive. Hams buy one to use just in case of emergency, camping, chatting on a repeater with other fellow amateur radio operators, and, at the price, you can keep one in your glove compartment permanently without losing to much sleep worrying about theft of your expensive gear. Moreover, the Baofeng UV-5R is the perfect first radio for a new operators after they passed their exams.


    I doubt he has a ham license but yes, this militia member uses a Baofeng UV-5R.

    Baofeng started to sell the UV-5R Dual Band, Dual Display radio in 2012. Since its introduction the UV-5R has seen a massive growth of its sales. There were  two major releases after its launch, with the second generation being signified by BFB297 Firmware in early 2013 and the N5R firmware tweak in August of 2014. Variations include the UV-5R v2+, UV-5RA, UV-5RE, UV-5R+ (Plus), along with several other lesser produced variants.

    At the end of 2013, the Baofeng UV-5R was released with a new variant featuring  the inverted display series and the introduction of the BF-F8+ and its own aesthetics variants (the GT-3 and 997-S). During the fall of 2014, the Baofeng UV-5R was replaced by the brand new Baofeng BF-F8HP.  There are lots of new UV-5Rs still available. This is why today, the Baofeng UV-5R is the least expensive VHF/UHF radio ever available.
    The BaoFeng UV-5R is able to operate on narrowband (12.5kHz) and wideband (25kHz). It is a dual watch receiver. The BaoFeng UV-5R has one built-in receiver but can “watch” two channels (semi duplex). Monitor two different frequencies (even on different bands (VHF/UHF)) and the radio will monitor both frequencies, giving priority to the first station to receive an incoming call.

    If you purchase a Baofeng UV-5R you can listen to the FM Broadcast band, because your Baofeng will be able to receive your favourite FM station in the background. Any incoming call will be given priority insuring you never miss an important call while listening to the radio.

    The BaoFeng UV-5R supports the most common Analog Tones. It supports CTCSS, DCS, and DTMF calling methods. Configuring your calling methods to call by group tones it’s easy. A simple tone call is required by most repeater applications and the Baofeng UV-5R is able to supports the latest standards. The BaoFeng UV-5R can send DTMF tones. This allows for sending ANI (Caller ID) or remote commands that require DTMF tones.

    You may program your BaoFeng UV-5R exactly how you want it as there are 128 programmable memory channels ready for you. And it is easy to add or remove channels from scanning list using free CHIRP software. You can name the channels alphanumerically, display the frequency or a channel number.

    You can easily program from a PC to set-up the radio as shown in the video at:
    https://youtu.be/0mzY5vIH718


    I do recommend a better antenna. All handheld antennas are compromised and inefficient because of their length. A company called Nagoya sells an after-market antenna (model NA-771) that is about three times the length of the stock rubber duckie. It is much more efficient and very flexible so it doesn’t get in the way (see below).  Another good investment is a mobile or base antenna. You’ll need an adapter (photo right) to transition from Baofeng’s reverse SMA (M) to SO-239 (F).  

    The other recommended purchases are an AA battery holder, so that when your power drains you can simply replace the battery with dry cells, a programming cable and perhaps a car adapter, which powers your radio from your car battery.


    The Nagoya antenna referred to in the article

    Hopefully you found this review useful. When I bought my first handheld, a single-band 2m iCom, it cost Cdn $600 from a local dealer, and had a whole lot fewer features. Is the UV-5R the best handheld out there? No, but there are lots of choices out there, and  I don’t think this handheld will disappoint you at the price; I’ve even worked satellites with it.
    The Surrey Amateur Radio Club has a programming file for CHiRP with frequencies in use for the Vancouver area. Download the file in .CSV format at https://goo.gl/iZiXhB






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