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Ham Radio's Patron Saint


A Polish priest, Father Maximilian was fascinated by mass media in the 1920’s and 1930’s. He established large printing plants in Poland and Japan for his Franciscan Order publications. When he was on a mission to Japan (as well as China and India), he got acquainted with broadcasting and amateur-radio stations. That medium could reach those who were unable to read in those years.

Upon arrival back in Poland, he applied for a broadcasting license.  The radio was a strategic medium in the 1930’s and only the Polish Radio (1925) and a military radio station were permitted to broadcast. Besides, the amateur radio movement was thriving in Poland; clubs were already established in Lvov, Warsaw, Poznan, Kraków, Lodz and other cities.

He is the only canonized saint to have held an amateur radio license 

Father Maximilian was permitted to broadcast test transmissions close to the 40m amateur radio band in 1938. His interest in amateur radio has been confirmed by quotations from his writings. He chose the SP3RN callsign for his test transmissions (spelt in Polish: Stacja Polska 3 Radio Niepokalanów).
Father Maximilian was murdered in the German Nazi Auschwitz Concentration Camp after he had volunteered his life for the life of another inmate, randomly selected for execution.

Beatified by Pope Paul VI on 17.10.1971. Canonized as St. Maximilian Apostle of Consecration to Mary and declared Martyr of Charity by Pope John Paul II on 10.10.1982.

Considered a Patron of journalists, families, prisoners, the pro-life movement and the chemically addicted and Patron Saint of amateur radio operators.

January 8th is the birthday of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe (SP3RN),  To mark the date of the Anniversary of the Radio Niepo-kalanów founded by St. Maximilian, several special event stations operate from Poland and Italy.

A Polish and an Italian Award is awarded for working the special event and other associated stations.



Anagrams You Can Relate To

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SEPAR: Surrey Emergency Program Amateur Radio History

Part 4

Boxes to functioning portable communications kits; this was no small project and involved many hours of design, assembly and testing.  As mentioned in Part 3, many hours went into a design that would meet the needs of the City of Surrey (CoS) and now we needed a mock-up, then a prototype and finally the finished product.  

Plans were to use a team approach to work our way through these steps. But in the end the construction of the kits was taken on by John Brodie, VA7XB using his own newly constructed workshop.1  We carried on with the Sunday morning meetings at John’s shop each week, where we discussed the construction as it progressed.  Needless to say there were many details to work out and many hours went into the first kit.  Construction of kits two and three went more quickly as the first kit had been completely debugged before starting the others. John’s experience and training proved to be invaluable when problems arose, and as result, we have one of the best emergency communications kits around.

Once the kits were completed and tested we received many positive comments from both the City and other amateur radio groups, which prompted us to consider articles for RAC and ARRL.  The construction, testing and commissioning were fresh in our minds and John, VA7XB, offered to act as scribe and produce articles for RAC and ARRL.  With input from the SEPAR team John produced an outstanding article for RAC which was then picked up by ARRL.  ARRL even paid us a fee for the use of our article, great stuff. 

Our emergency communications kits were now becoming known in the amateur radio world and we started to receive requests for design and construction information, and we were anxious to make this information available. After some discussion it was decided to produce a CD with full construction details including high resolution images and schematics, this would be a professional product so let’s ask a nominal $20. for the CD, and it went over big.  We still have this information available if anyone is interested.
We continued to grow in terms of recognition and ARRL published our kits in the ARRL Handbook

An excellent video was produced showing the contents and assembly of the grab and go kits, you can view this at  It has over 10,000 views!

SEPAR Obtains Society Status On July 3rd 2009

Without a doubt the reason for SEPAR to become a society was provide an opportunity to obtain funding in order to continue to expand and improve our ability to provide emergency communications for the City of Surrey.  The grab and go kits were the center piece of SEPAR’s emergency communications strength but we needed to update the radio room at the EOC, amongst other things.  The plan for the radio room was to duplicate the equipment in the grab and go kits and provide a fixed amateur radio emergency communications station that could serve the needs of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), for the City of Surrey.

In order to equip the radio room we needed new radios, antennas, computers and Terminal Network Controllers and new workstations.  The City agreed to provide the workstations and cabinets and SEPAR undertook the responsibility of providing the equipment.  Our plan was to develop a budget and apply to BC Lotteries for funding for the new equipment.  And, while we were at it we wanted new emergency communications vests so that our members would be easily identified at exercises and community events.  Since becoming a registered society SEPAR now had an executive team that, due to a wealth of experience, put together an application for funding to BC Lotteries.  We were successful and now we could purchase the needed equipment and move forward with upgrading the radio room at the EOC and purchase high quality vests for our members.

The City very quickly had the cabinets made and installed and with the help of Bill Slaughter at Burnaby Radio and Icom Canada the equipment was purchased.  Installing the radios was time consuming, but with dedicated volunteers the installation went well.  

However, there was a major problem with the antenna installations. The existing, not functioning, antennas were mounted on tripods sitting on the roof of Fire Hall number one, and we could not make use of any of them.  Dan Barnscher, the Emergency Planner, wanted the antennas to be neatly and permanently installed and they had to be clear of the roof surface as the firemen use the roof for training purposes. 

After investigating possible locations for two dual band, two tri-band and one HF antenna a location on the west wall of the building was approved.  We now needed mounting hardware that we could attach to the vertical wall, we needed mounts and masts. After some checking with local tower company’s we were able to acquire, free of charge, the large brackets needed for mounting the antenna masts.  We purchased, at a discounted price, the schedule 40 and 80 aluminum mast material from a company in Langley. We had the material now how to get it attached to the building. Surrey Fire gave us the green light to do the work on the building ourselves and our volunteers quickly rose to the challenge.  In particular Kjeld VE7GP, who had been in the construction business before retiring, offered to oversee the installation of the antenna mounting hardware.  We had several volunteers to drill holes, hold pipes, tighten bolts, and the job was completed in 3 days.

~Fred VE7IO
SEPAR Coordinator

Note: 1The credit for the concept, selection of gear and proper functioning of the grab & go kits rightly goes to other members of the team, who supplied the brain-power: Bill VE7XS, Fred VE7IO and Drew VA7DRW.  Though I did the actual physical construction, this was very much a team effort and it would be a discredit to the others if I did not say so. 

~ John VA7XB


RAC Bulletin: Two Metres Re-Allocation?

An Important Message

Radio Amateurs of Canada has received several requests for more information in response to reports on some websites and discussions on email lists of a proposal to reallocate 144 MHz -146MHz from the Amateur Radio Service to the Aeronautical Mobile Service.  The following has been prepared by Bryan Rawlings VE3QN RAC’s representative at the World Radio Conference and the domestic and International meetings leading up to that meeting. 

Glenn MacDonell
Radio Amateurs of Canada

Two Metres: Re-Allocation?

There is concern – understandably – in the amateur community over a French proposal to re-allocate 144 – 146 MHz to the aeronautical navigation service to accommodate the growing number of aircraft employing new navigation tracking and communication aids.

Here is a brief summary of what and where this proposal is…
The French administration have proposed a new primary allocation to the aeronautical mobile service in 144 to 146 MHz which is the entirety of the amateur two-metre band in ITU Region 1 (Europe, the Mid-East and Africa). Their proposal was most recently considered at a meeting in Prague of a subcommittee of the Conseil Europeen des Postes et Radiocommunication (CEPT). The CEPT comprises 48 European states.

What is under consideration specifically is that an agenda item to this effect be included for the World Radiocommunication Conference tentatively planned for 2023. The WRC-23 agenda will be decided at the conclusion of the next WRC which begins October 28th in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) was present as an observer at the Prague meeting and energetically opposed the French proposal. In the event, only Germany among the delegates opposed the French proposal. The issue will now be taken up at a higher level CEPT meeting in August. Belgium has apparently joined Germany in opposition. Should the number of administrations opposing the French proposal reach eight the proposal will fail to move forward. The IARU and European amateurs are now actively seeking the support of other administrations to oppose the French proposal.

Formally, the proposal is not on the agenda of any other regional groups preparing for WRC-19. RAC has made known to our regulator that we support the IARU’s opposition to the French proposal and its actions to defend amateur radio’s worldwide primary allocation and that we would oppose any similar proposal for re-allocation in Region 2 (the Americas). The Comisión Interamericana de Telecomunicaciones (CITEL) of the Organization of American States will meet in Ottawa in mid-August. The IARU will again be an observer and RAC will be represented in the Canadian delegation.

This issue is a clear illustration of the importance of amateurs and their national associations being vigilant and taking part in the regional and international regulatory conferences which can determine the fate of our most-cherished amateur bands. For a more-complete description of these processes read the article “The Importance of Showing Up” in the May-June 2019 issue of The Canadian Amateur.

Bryan Rawlings  VE3QN


More About The Surrey Emergency Program Amateur Radio

Part 3

It is 2007 and SEPAR is about to take a new direction, we had a new Emergency Planner and the requirements of the City Of Surrey changed. In this installment we will look at the new direction for emergency communications and the changes needed for SEPAR to meet these new requirements.  We had a lot of work to do.

Having just been appointed to the position of SEPAR Coordinator I needed to find out what the city expected of our amateur radio volunteers and how we would meet their needs. 
To begin with, I reviewed that past organizational structure, looked at what we had in place with regards to radios and how many volunteers we had to work with. 

Understanding these assets would allow me to meet with the new planner and Fire Chief and be able to work towards the City’s emergency communications needs.
The organizational structure, as outlined in previous articles, consisted of single VHF radios and antennas installed in schools, which were designated as reception centers.  These were fixed installations and some were in need of repair, mostly antenna work.  

There was a radio room at fire hall number one, the Surrey EOC. The radio room was mainly for storage of portable gear, however, there were antennas on the roof which I thought could be used, this was incorrect.  The question, should we rebuild the schools sites, upgrade the radio room or start new, what did the City need?

In the first meeting with Dan Barnscher, the Emergency Planner, and Len Garis, the Fire Chief, I quickly discovered that the new direction for amateur radio emergency communications would require radio portability for reception centers.  In order to meet these needs the fixed school installations needed to be decommissioned and new portable kits had to be put together in order to meet the City’s plan to use recreation centers as reception centers.  Len Garis wanted flexibility, in setting up reception centers and on site communications. There would be more changes to SEPAR but in the spring of 2007 we needed to get to work on portable communications kits.

In order to get the ball rolling we needed a plan and financing, both being rather tall orders considering we had exactly zero in both categories.  How much would we need, who would lead the design and development of the portable kits, how much radio capacity should the kits have... all these were immediate questions.

Well, without financing we could not move forward so I approached Surrey Fire and the City for funding.  How much would we need?  I will get into the numbers later in this article but for now I will just say that both Surrey Fire and the City gave us the green light to go ahead with the design and construction of three grab and go kits.

OK, we had the money, now we needed a kit design.  The Coquitlam amateur radio emergency group had built several portable kits so I arranged for Ian Procyk to come to a meeting with Dan Barnscher and the SEPAR volunteers to demonstrate the Coquitlam kits.  It was a big success with the City immediately wanting the same communications ability.  We had the money, now we had a basic design goal, now we needed the human resources to get started.

The time frame was around January 2007 and we needed a team leader to lead the due diligence on developing the communications kit.  Bill Gipps, VE7XS, stepped up and he called meetings of the SEPAR volunteers through, February and March to tap into the experience of our radio amateurs.
The first steps were to build a consensus of what the objectives would be.  A subgroup was formed with some of the volunteers and many emails back and forth kept everyone on the same page.  In addition to the emails coffee meetings were held at MacDonald’s and at John Brodie’s VA7XB on Sunday mornings, all this before kit construction began.  There were literally dozens of meetings focused on building a consensus of what we were trying to achieve.

There were presentations made at the SEPAR general meetings and to the Surrey Fire management.  Ideas were put forth, discussed and explored.  Surrey Fire had a keen interest in the development of the grab and go kits as they were expensive and had to meet their requirements. We worked mostly with subgroups, vetting designs to come up with design considerations.  Some of the considerations were, how many hours of run time, protection of radios that were not connected to an antenna and how could we separate the workstations for practical operation.  Many hours went into these discussions with white boards being used to compile the information. At round table meetings we discussed options, solutions to problems others had experienced and at the end of the design process we were very happy with the outcome and ultimately the kits themselves.

In the next article we will get into the actual construction and commissioning of the three portable kits.  We will look at the response from other emergency groups, PEP, ARRL and RAC to the design and operation of the SEPAR communications kits. 

~Fred VE7IO
SEPAR Coordinator


The Eruption of Mt. St. Helens

Remembering the amateur radio account by Gerry Martin W7WFP On Sunday, March 27, 1980, a series of volcanic explosions and pyroclastic flows...

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