Calgary Amateur Radio Association

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Cochrane Winter Rally 2020

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  • 08 Feb 2020 11:46 AM
    Reply # 8734758 on 8531149
    Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Packing and Preparation Guide

    The Cochrane Winter Rally is only a month away! To help you get ready, here is a link to the packing and preparation guide for radio operators who are planning to be part of the rally. Be sure to download a copy and review it so that you have your kit assembled for the event.

    While this guide is primarily oriented at new or returning folks, even experienced operators will benefit from a review of its contents as we get ready for this challenging day. Not everything listed in the guide is a requirement for participation as a radio operator. However, this list is based on the experiences of operators who have completed many rally events in the past.  Please consider the recommendations as you make your own preparations.


    Keep checking this forum regularly. As the event approaches, there will be other materials and information posted here that you'll want to review.


    Garry, VE6GDS

    Last modified: 10 Feb 2020 10:03 AM | Patrick Spencer (Administrator)
  • 06 Feb 2020 8:52 AM
    Reply # 8730529 on 8531149
    Harry Maylor (Administrator)

    I've begun contacting my buddies for the event.  Time is right to add a bigger plug for the Rally in the Key Klix as it's about to be published.  

  • 05 Feb 2020 4:13 PM
    Reply # 8729306 on 8531149
    Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Radio Operators Pre-Op Briefing

    A rally radio operations training meeting is planned for:

    Friday, 06 March 2020
    19:00 to 20:00
    Calgary Sports Car Club
    4215 80th Avenue NE

    We will be covering a variety of topics including emergency procedures. All prospective rally radio operators are requested to attend. If you cannot make it, please let me know beforehand. Hope to see you there!

    Additionally, more preparation and training material will be posted in this forum between now and the training session. Please check this forum regularly to ensure you have the latest information prior to the meeting.

    Garry, VE6GDS
    {mycallsign} at

  • 30 Jan 2020 6:11 PM
    Reply # 8703509 on 8531149
    Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Registration Now Available!

    The Rallywest Cochrane Winter Rally volunteer registration webpage is now available. Here is the information you will need to sign up as a radio operator for this event.

    If you follow this url it will take you to the main RallyWest page:

    From there click on "Events" in the upper left of the page and you will be taken to a set of images for upcoming RallyWest events. 

    Click on the picture for the Cochrane Winter Rally to get to the rally information page. Here is a shortcut:

    Click where it says Volunteer at the top of the page. This will take you down the page to the Volunteer Information section. Here is a final shortcut: 

    Scroll down and look for the blue Volunteer Registration Form button beside the words Registration Form. Clicking on this link will take you to the registration page with the title Cochrane Winter Rally Volunteer Signup. Each time you click on that registration link the system gives you a unique tag, so I can't give you a shortcut here. If you bookmark the link you get after this point, with that unique tag in the url, you'll be able to go back to your registration record and make updates later. Note that clicking on this link more than once means that you are signing up more than once!

    If you are considering coming to volunteer as a radio operator, then please complete the signup page. If you're not sure you can make it, then indicate in the Comments text box that you are "tentative" for now, but please do sign up. If I have no registration information for you, then it's difficult to assign a role or to contact you if there are urgent changes.

    When indicating the radio equipment that you plan to bring to the rally, try to be as generic as possible. It's much easier to deal with "50 watt mobile radio with APRS and a quarter wave magnetic mount antenna" than a bunch of make/model numbers with which I may not be familiar.

    Finally, please double check that the email address and phone number(s) that you enter on the registration form are correct. Messages that bounce back at me are not getting to you! It's also important to have valid contact information, should a problem occur at, or just prior to, the event.

    To accommodate feedback that I have received, I will try to keep the number of mass emails to a minimum. I will usually post material here in the CARA General Forum where everyone can find it at their own discretion.  That means it is up to you to check here regularly so that you have the latest information. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

    I hope you'll be joining us for a great time at the Cochrane Winter Rally!


    Garry, VE6GDS
    VE6GDS (at)

    Last modified: 10 Feb 2020 10:05 AM | Patrick Spencer (Administrator)
  • 30 Jan 2020 5:39 PM
    Reply # 8703476 on 8531149
    Harry Maylor (Administrator)

    Hi Matt and Brent,

    Glad to hear you enjoy the rallies Matt.  I too love working the rallies and they are what got me into the hobby to start with.

    Brent you will find a wealth of knowledge and help when working the rallies and it's part of the fun for all of us.  We like to challenge ourselves with dealing with the unexpected and a car rally never fails to deliver.

    We often try to run mock emergencies or run nets for practice but nothing comes close to the dynamic and unpredictable nature of a car rally.  Herding 700 cyclists from Airdrie to Olds comes close ie the MS bike tour.

    Look forward to meeting you fellows at the radio ops meeting.



  • 30 Jan 2020 5:09 PM
    Reply # 8703435 on 8531149
    Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Hi Brent and Matt;

    First off, thanks Matt for your encouraging words about the rally. We certainly try to make sure that everyone has all the training and information they need to have a good day at the event. Part of the reason I got involved in organizing these events was to improve the steps we took to help the field radio operators feel better prepared. That said, part of the fun of participating in rallies is learning how to adapt and keep things functioning under challenging circumstances! So, if you want to develop good field operation skills, the rallies are one of the best opportunities to do so.

    Brent, I'm happy to see that you're interested in joining the Rally Radio Operators team! We always have lots of fun at these events and everyone comes back having learned something new each time. You'll find that the skills you develop volunteering at rallies are often transferrable to other events or on-the-air activities. Because of the safety requirements of a performance rally, we have to exercise a certain level of diligence in radio operations. So, our team members quickly develop experience in effective operation techniques.

    We have a variety of roles available. Some are good introductory roles, where the demands are less intensive but an operator can get a taste for what happens at a rally. Other roles are more demanding, so we usually assign more experienced operators to them. In any case, don't worry about being fed to the sharks the first time you come out.

    As for information and training, please watch this forum carefully and check back regularly. Information and documents will be posted here as the event approaches. A few things to watch for include:

    1. Registration instructions. The registration website is almost ready. I'll post detailed instructions here once that is up and running.
    2. The Packing and Preparation Guide. This document outlines the kinds of things you may want to consider as you get ready for the event. It will be posted in this forum soon.
    3. The Rally Radio Operators "101 Guide". This document outlines basic terminology and concepts that you'll want to understand so that you know what's going on around you at a rally. It will get posted in this forum, too.
    4. The Radio Configuration and Operation Guide. This document provides information about the frequencies you'll need to have programmed into your equipment for the rally. It also provides details about propagation throughout the venue, radio channel usage, and other helpful guidance for getting your equipment ready. This document gets posted to this forum, too.
    5. Maps! I try hard to get maps ready and posted here ahead of the event. Map information is often posted in .kml and .gpx format so that you can import it into your favourite GPS device, smartphone app, or APRS software. If I have time, I try to post some .jpg / .gif human readable format maps as well.
    6. The Pre-Op briefing. This short presentation (about an hour) provides most of the vital information that our ops need about standard procedures, emergency procedures, and "day of" particulars. The date/time of the meeting is normally posted in this forum. The briefing usually takes place in the evening two or three days before the rally.

    I hope that this list doesn't seem overwhelming. Each of the components noted above is quite digestible and there is time for questions if something seems confusing. I take this approach, as I'd rather over-communicate on these things than send someone out to a rally without giving them what they need to have a successful day. Also there are quite a few "old hands" around the club who have years of experience doing rallies. I'm sure any of them would be happy to help if you're feeling uncertain about anything - just be prepared for some great war stories when you ask!

    I hope this helps and I look forward to hearing both of you on the air for rally day!


    Garry, VE6GDS

  • 30 Jan 2020 12:43 PM
    Reply # 8703040 on 8701850
    Brent Anderson wrote:

    Hi Garry,

    I am interested in learning about how ham operation at the rallies works. I have not the slightest clue. I have an HT and a mobile, but my operation experience is extremely limited. (Truthfully I have just made a few contacts but nothing more). I there some provision for training new people to do this?

    Brent Anderson


    Hi Brent

    I thought I would give you perspective from someone similar to you. I hadn't been licensed long at all but wanted to help out. I also wanted to see a practical use for radio other than talking about the weather.

    I found a rally to be one of the best ways to get some quick experience using the mic. These guys are really good at being sure anyone, experienced or not, can participate. The meeting that is held before the rally in very informative and describes the role in a very straight forward manner. You certainly won't be left in the dark!

    I love working these events.


    Last modified: 30 Jan 2020 12:44 PM | Anonymous member
  • 29 Jan 2020 10:06 PM
    Reply # 8701850 on 8531149

    Hi Garry,

    I am interested in learning about how ham operation at the rallies works. I have not the slightest clue. I have an HT and a mobile, but my operation experience is extremely limited. (Truthfully I have just made a few contacts but nothing more). I there some provision for training new people to do this?

    Brent Anderson


  • 09 Jan 2020 8:44 PM
    Message # 8531149
    Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Event Pre-Announcement

    Attention all Rally Radio Operators! The Cochrane Winter Rally is scheduled for Sunday, 08 March 2020. More details will follow when they become available.  For now mark your calendar and drive carefully on those winter roads.


    Garry, VE6GDS

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