Calgary Amateur Radio Association

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Amateur Radio & WinLink For Mariners

The Calgary Amateur Radio Association (CARA) has a world class amateur radio station capable of calling sailors out on the world’s oceans.  Blue Water sailors can call you back at our station in Calgary.

Canada’s 'Industry, Science, and Economic Development' (ISED) amateur radio regulations require that HF and MF band users require the ‘Basic+’ credential for transmitting up to 250 Watts, or the Advanced ticket for using transmitting power up to 1000 Watts.

We use directional Yagi beam antennae with rotators and can gang them together to receive weak signals.

Bonus:  The CARA VE6AO station is set up to allow remote access to its (HF) high frequency / DX (long distance) facilities from the comfort of your own home, via the internet, using your PC !  You can use a simulated HF radio interface on your PC, and send / receive (TX/RX) through your home computer via the VE6AO station equipment to other HF users anywhere in the world!  As per ISED requirements, the ISED Advanced Amateur Radio certificate is required for remote operation.  You will need to download ‘remote access’ SDR (software defined radio) software to access CARA’s station from their PC computer at home, via the internet.  For more information on the remote access software, and its 'software defined radio' (SDR), CARA members can refer to the CARA remote access page .

Here’s a link with some info on becoming a licensed amateur radio operator in Canada:

Anyone wishing to use CARA’s radio equipment must be suitably licensed, and must also be full CARA members.

Here's the link to join CARA:

Annual dues are nominal - currently $35 per year per adult, $30 per senior.

An orientation to the station would need to be arranged for each new CARA member wishing to use the station for calling and to participate in sailor’s nets.

For questions on using the CARA HF station, and to arrange an orientation once you have become a member, contact the station team at: .

The CARA station is available 24/7 to full CARA members.  Members require a fob to gain access to the site, or go with another member with a fob.  You can download the agreement here: CARA Key Fob Agreement.pdf  Print, fill it out, scan (prefer 300 dpi), and email it to There is a $10 refundable deposit for the fob.

Round the clock access is good since good RF propagation with another part of the globe depends on factors like time of day and solar sunspots / solar wind.

CARA has seven operating positions at the station that can transmit and receive on High Frequency (HF) and Medium Frequency (MF) amateur radio bands, including Single Side Band (SSB) mode.  We are also fully equipped to do Morse Code, also known as Continuous Wave (CW).

CARA is also set up to do WinLink, which is global radio email.

Please note that CARA has only ‘type-specific’ amateur radio equipment capable of operating only on designated amateur radio frequency bands.

CARA does not have type-specific marine frequency band equipment.  This means that any boaters out on the oceans must use only amateur radio equipment, capable of operating only on amateur radio frequency bands, to communicate with CARA’s station in Calgary. 

All boaters communicating with our club station must have a valid amateur radio license.

Besides personal calling between ship and shore, there are multitudes of mariner nets that can be accessed on a daily basis.  Here’s an example of a web site with many of the popular nets:


ISED Definitions of Qualifications:

4.5.1 Basic Qualification

The following privileges and restrictions are applicable to the Basic Qualification:

access to all amateur bands above 30 MHz

use a maximum of 250 watts DC transmitter input power

build and operate all station equipment, except for “home-made” transmitters (“build” in the context of the Amateur Radio Operator Certificate with Basic Qualification is limited to the assembly of commercially available transmitter kits of professional design)

re-programming of radio equipment to operate in the amateur bands if this can be done by a computer program (note that no physical modifications to the circuitry of the radio are permitted)

operation of cross-band repeaters

operation through a repeater established by an amateur with the Advanced Qualification

no remote control of fixed stations permitted regardless of medium used for control (“remote control” is the ability to indirectly manipulate the technical parameters (i.e. bandwidth, emission type, output power, etc.) of a radio by means of some intermediate medium; operation through a repeater is not considered to be remote control)

In addition to the above-mentioned privileges and restrictions, the 'Basic+' Qualification (with honours  i.e. a score of 80% or above) also allows access to all amateur bands below 30 MHz.

4.5.2 Advanced Qualification

The following privileges and restrictions are applicable to the Advanced Qualification:

access to all amateur bands below 30 MHz

use a maximum transmitter power of 1000 watts DC input

build and operate transmitting equipment

modify radio apparatus by computer program or physical modifications to the circuitry

establishment of repeaters and club stations

remote control of fixed stations, including the use of radio links


Direct questions on HAM for mariners to VA6RPL Peter:

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