CANWARN

Here in Canada, our amateur weather spotters are primarily members of CANWARN (more or less the equivalent to SKYWARN in the U.S.) and I would say most – but not all – are amateur radio operators. CANWARN alerts are issued by Environment Canada (EC) when extreme weather conditions are heading (or more normally, already here) into Canada.

EC will send a message to a local CANWARN coordinator (although I’m not quite sure how) who declares a CANWARN alert via amateur radio – usually through a local repeater. At this point, other members will report conditions where they are and the coordinator forwards this on to EC. Although on the surface this sounds great, there are some problems with this method.

  • A. If the coordinator isn’t in the area (on vacation, etc) nobody knows there is an alert.
  • B. If no one is listening to the repeater, nobody knows there’s an alert!

At some point in the past, CANWARN volunteers were issued a pager. But due to the inevitable budget cuts, that is no longer the case. I don’t think the local coordinator even has a pager anymore. And, since most hams don’t have smartphones or texting (go figure!) or regularly check their email (if they even have email!) this system breaks down very quickly. For me, an email or text message would alert me within minutes – if not seconds – of a CANWARN alert. But that’s just me. And the whole thing depends on Environment Canada even issuing an alert – something they are very slow to do in my opinion.

Another issue where I live is that geographically, most of our extreme weather comes from Michigan and there doesn’t seem to be very good coordination between SkyWarn and CANWARN. I’m certainly not faulting the Americans as they do an excellent job “over there” and once the weather has passed, it’s no longer anywhere near U.S. soil.

So, how to resolve this.

  • A. First off, most coordinators are very good. But, as with anything, they can’t be “on call” 24/7/365 now can they? Two or three assistant coordinators would be a great start. Each with a pager (or a TXT capable phone) and a list of telephone contacts.
  • B. Either we as hams need to make our own paging system (and we certainly could) or EC must start issuing pagers to more than just the coordinating members. Or, as some of the younger members would prefer, get sent a TXT message as we’re never very far from our, ahem, devices. How hard could that be?

So if anyone has any great ideas on this, let’s hear from ya!

 

 

CKARC

I took the plunge and now I’m the assistant webmaster for the CKARC.CA website. So that’s four sites now. ckarc.ca, ckarc.net, darkradio.net and ve3ugg.com (yep, this one). Much better for the club as now updates can be made much easier than contacting poor old Austin, VE3NCQ/AK4OG – as he’s a busy guy with other pursuits.

My plan is to convert the .net website into a mobile friendly one. Being as hams are on the cutting edge of technology (right?) lot’s of our members have mobile devices. The .ca site works fine with my tablet but on my Nexus4 phone, not so great. That might take some careful planning and possibly some hair-pulling but I think I can pull it off. The website silly, not my hair (there’s very little left anyway).

Wish me luck! And as always…

Stay Tuned!

 

ircClient

My new fully functional IRC client is almost done. Yessir. It’s been a challenge. *BUT* almost all of the bugs have been worked out – including DCC chat and DCC file send/receive. Still working on the DCC send file thing. It does actually receive files flawlessly (although, I’m testing that with a mIRC client ‘locally’) and only the DCC SEND file module left to do. Whew. Possibly in a couple days it will be ready for packaging and distribution. As always, I do accept donations 🙂

please. stand. by.

 

CHAD (almost) BETA!

The latest version of CHAD is now 1.0.104 and it works much better. Cleared up some MORE nagging issues. Haven’t really worked on the whiteboard part. I figured getting it to work perfect as an IRC client was more important. Stability and all that. So. I packaged it up for your enjoyment 🙂

Again, only fully tested on Windows 7 *but* should work fine on XP, *might* work on Win8 but the xyl won’t let me experiment with her computer … wha wha wha 🙂 so I just don’t know. Anyway, there it is.

CHAD Stable(r) Now!

Ok, after some personal computer issues (now solved!), CHAD is much more stable. Version 1.0.89 is now working pretty good. Undo/Redo in the !draw window isn’t perfect yet though. Now that my computer issues have been solved, I’ll get to that… yep. I will. The best thing is, I’ve changed all the drop down menus to buttons! Very much easier to navigate channels and all windows in general.

BTW, until ALL current CHAD issues are finalized, the version number reflects the “alpha” status. When CHAD goes “beta” it will be 1.1.xx in the version number instead of the current 1.0.xx numbers.

At any rate, it *does* work and makes an easier alternative to mIrc and some of the other mainstream IRC clients (xchat, etc)… especially if you’re new to IRC. mIrc contains SO much that it might be a little tough to navigate whereas CHAD is very simple! I haven’t actually tried it on any other IRC networks, so for now, stick to Freenode. You don’t actually have a choice right now anyway. Freenode is VERY stable and only seldom has netsplits.

Visit the Download page (or the IRC Chat page), and download/install it today!

dArkradio Caps

So. You want a dArkradio.net ballcap. I took it upon myself to inquire at a hat store in Sarnia (LIDS) and here is the verdict: $23. Luckily for dArk, our logo uses readily available fonts so the ‘artwork’ was uber cheap! Basically, you can spend more on one (eg. glow in the dark thread, different colours, etc) but that is the basic amount. Not as bad as I’d thought it would be. We may charge $25 with proceeds going to the dArk coffers. I mean, who wouldn’t WANT a dArkradio.net ballcap! Our club will be in the black dArk in no time LOL.

ps. I didn’t get one yet myself 🙁

 

DARK Repeater

After some klub discussion, we’ve decided that the northern section of Chatham-Kent is lacking in repeater coverage – especially the Wallaceburg area. Indeed, travelling between “the Burg” and Sarnia, it’s pretty tough to stay in contact with Chatham. Even Dresden has issues. So, we propose a VHF (or UHF) repeater in Dresden to cover the entire area. Even at 100′ HAAT should provide adequate (mobile and possibly H/T) coverage for the area encompassing Thamesville, Florence, Wallaceburg, Chatham, the eastern shore of Michigan and nearly all the way to Petrolia!

Our proposed repeater would like to have the following features:

  • Radio linking to VA3KCR/VE3KCR/VE3COZ-V/VE3COZ-U
  • Radio linking to London, Sarnia and/or Windsor
  • EchoLink
  • FAST CW id’ing
  • low tone “tail”
  • ability to add extra receive sites
  • DTMF functions such as:
    • S-Meter readings
    • Time/date
    • Link management

And, if internet access is available:

  • IRLP
  • AutoPatch (via “MagicJack” or similar)
  • remote access/control
  • TXT messaging

Yes, some are pie-in-the-sky wants but hey, might as well think expansion right!

We have at least TWO towers in mind (sorry, no details) that would provide at MINIMUM the required footprint. Keep your fingers crossed!

 

 

Equipment

DARK has managed to obtain EIGHT VHF repeater folded dipoles and FOUR filter cavities to make a nice VHF repeater. We wanted to use the old VE3WAL frequency pair (146.985-) as it is no longer in use. I tried to make a base station antenna from ONE of the dipoles and concluded that they resonate around 190 Mhz! This will not do. Also, a “whisker” arrangement was added to the antenna with hopes of bringing that down to a usable ham band level with little success.

After some discussion with the other members we’ve decided to instead possibly re-instate the old VE3MGK UHF (442.200+)  repeater from the CKARC arsenal instead if they’re OK with that.

Who knows what the future may bring.

 

 


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