CARA

Calgary Amateur Radio Association

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Rally Radio Recce

For information - contact

Dana VA6DJH va6djh_rally@oneharding.com,  or

Garry VE6GDS ve6gds@gmail.com


CWR 2023 - Cochrane Winter Rally 2023

Date TBD Radio Operator Meeting
 2023-03-11 (Saturday) Cochrane Rally (event day)


The main event is on 11 March 2023 (Saturday) on stage roads:

Waiparious Valley Road 51.4031N, 115.0269W  
Harold Creek Road 51.4495N, 115.0367W

 

Hunter Valley Road 51.4862N, 115.0780W  


 Volunteer Registration Instructions



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  • 09 Jan 2023 8:34 PM | Dana Harding (Administrator)

    Volunteer registration for the Cochrane Winter Rally (CWR) is available.

    Instructions posted in other locations may be inaccurate for Radio Operator volunteers.

    Please use the following instructions:

    • email address: The Google Forms tool requests your email address. You do not need a google account for this registration. This is the address that we will use to contact you event related messages, and is also the address that it will send your registration receipt to. The receipt contains a link to edit your own response should you need to do so later.
    • Contact and Emergency Contact information: these are used to reach you regarding the event. In an emergency, we may notify your contact on your behalf, or inform first responders.
    • Callsign: provide one government assigned callsign that you intend to use for the rally.
    • Communications Team: Please make this selection for the question 'Which volunteer team are you registering for?'
    • Questions: The registration form has some more generic contact information shown in it. Please contact us at the email addresses at the top of this blog page.
    • There is a free format question near the end of the form for information or concerns that you believe were not addressed elsewhere.

    This URL will take you to the volunteer registration form:

    https://forms.gle/DzMBWBwU2J2yyqAZ6

    We hope that you will join us for a great time at the Cochrane Winter Rally!



  • 01 Jan 2023 9:21 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Get out your New Year's Calendars!

    Reserve the date for first rally event of 2023!

    Planning has started for the Cochrane Winter Rally (CWR). The intended date for racing is Saturday, 11 March. We'll be back in the Ghost / Waiparous area northwest of Cochrane, which is about 90 minutes west of Calgary.

    Watch this forum for further information at it comes available.


    73,
    Garry, VE6GDS


  • 06 Nov 2022 9:25 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    The 2022 Kananaskis Rally was an event with several unexpected twists and turns. Our operators used their skills, preparation, and training to handle the situations as they occurred. In the end, the event ran smoothly, and we had no serious incidents. Well done everyone!

    Let's start by taking a look at the radio operators who were part of this rally:

    • We had about 25 radio operators who registered for this event.
    • There were 3 operators who indicated being rookies – please help us to make them feel welcome.
    • There were 5 assignments on the Loop.
    • There were 14 assignments on Powderface Trail.
    • Several of our operators were involved in setting up and supporting the CARA Comms Trailer. which was used for Net Control.
    • An operator was tasked with support for the Temporary Repeater (VE6RNQ) on Moose Mountain.
    • We supplied operators for Service, the ambulance, and a course car.
    • There were 3 radio operators at Net Control: 2 assigned controllers and 1 shadow operator who was learning about the role.
    • Finally, we had a Radio Coordinator and a Logistics operator providing technical and procedural support for the radio team.

    As you can see, we covered a lot of bases!

    The pre-op briefing was held on the Thursday evening prior to the event. This was the first time that we have done one of these briefings as a mixed mode event (simultaneously online and in person). There were a few technical glitches getting started, but then everything went well after that. We want to acknowledge the effort that our operators made to keep apprised of the materials posted to the Rally Radio Recce Blog. It was obvious that our people had reviewed the posted documentation prior to the briefing, and this allowed us to move along quickly. So, we finished in a timely manner and were able to give the room over to the next presentation.

    Sunday was rally day and things got off to a good start. The weather was generally clear and favourable for the time of year, with temperatures around the freezing mark and a wind that was particularly brisk on Moose Mountain and at the south end of Powderface Trail. The roads had not been too badly affected by the snow that fell about a week earlier. The Comms Trailer team was onsite early and was setting up as the Temporary Repeater captain was getting that system operational. Radio Coordinator and Logistics activated around 07:00hrs to begin early check-ins. The supply truck experienced problems with its radio system that were not resolvable during the event. The Service radio operator was called upon a few times to relay messages to the supply truck when needed. There were 11 cars registered for racing on rally day.

    Shortly before 08:00hrs we were tossed a curve ball. An Alberta Parks officer informed one of our radio operators that there was an active search in place for a missing hiker in the Prairie Mountain area along Powderface Trail. Reports were received on our Logistics channel of a helicopter being used near the Prairie Mountain area, and of Search and Rescue vehicles seen en route from the direction of Cochrane. A description of the missing person was received from a Parks Officer and relayed to our event radio nets. All of this was happening at about the same time that Net Control was activating and assuming responsibility for the Loop, course cars were being transferred to the Loop stage channel, and some of our other support operators were activating. This made for some busy time on our radio nets! While we were prepared to provide additional assistance to the search, this did not prove necessary. Just over an hour later, the Alberta Parks officer informed us that the missing person had been found in good condition and the search was being dismantled. It is worth noting that the Parks officer was surprised at how well our radio nets worked. She was impressed that we were able to quickly propagate information about the search, including the description of the missing person. Well done, everyone!

    The Loop stages seemed to work well this time. There do not appear to have been any major procedural errors, setup or schedule delays, or other significant incidents. The VE6RNQ repeater did not perform as well as earlier testing had indicated that it should have. Initial assessments suggest that this may have been due to some extremely windy conditions on Moose Mountain affecting the stability of the repeater antenna. Regardless, the stage control operators found a workaround and things proceeded as planned.

    Setup on Powderface Trail proceeded smoothly, despite the search and rescue operation taking place around the same time. The transition to Powderface Trail experienced no serious problems and handover to the stage control net happened as planned. The first Powderface stage was proceeding well when we encountered what will have to be called a needless and frustrating channel useability fault. While there had been reports of this problem occurring in the weeks prior to the rally, hopes were that it would not surface on the day of our event. Ultimately, our operators did a good job of working around the problem for a while, but the decision was soon made to switch to our backup channel. The fallback happened quickly and efficiently. Our radio operators were obviously well prepared and handled this procedure with ease. The stages went as planned after that.

    As for the radio channels used at this event, RF propagation on Powderface never fails to surprise. While the VE6RNQ repeater under-performed on the Loop, it provided unexpectedly good backup coverage for Powderface locations between Location 150 and Delta at Prairie Creek. Past experience and several field tests suggested that different results should have been obtained, so more investigation of the issue seems in order. The VE6AUY repeater provided surprisingly good coverage to almost all of the Powderface radio locations, often improving on what VE6RYC was able to do. Links to VE6RYC from a few Powderface locations seemed to be weaker than usual and we did have at least one situation in which an operator could hear the repeater clearly, but could not transmit into it. Due to the channel fault mentioned earlier, VE6RYC was not in use long enough to detect many of the particularly perplexing Powderface propagation problems that are so frequent with this machine. Perhaps the top takeaway from this year’s experience is that having alternative channels is important to ensuring reliable communications in this area. As preppers are fond of saying: Two is one, and one is none.

    Overall, the event wrapped up close to on schedule and many people enjoyed refreshments at the Service location. Of the 11 cars that started, 9 finished with 2 cars retired, including Car 5, which blew its engine during one of the stages. We had no incursions, major racing incidents, or false starts. In fact, only a couple of relatively minor problems needed significant attention. There was some confusion around movement of spectators and media between stages on Powderface, and this was resolved without serious effects on the schedule. Also, as noted earlier, the event experienced a minor interruption when we invoked our radio channel contingency procedures. So in general, this was a highly successful rally!

    For those who follow the rally teams, you can find results posted here:

    Kananaskis Rally 2022 Results

    There are a few items on which we can improve for the next event:

    • Digital signals were heard for a time on one of our voice channels. To be fair, it is not certain that this was associated with one of our rally radio operators.
    • Attention is needed to support the correct use of radio operator tactical IDs in instances where they can be confused with location identifiers. Some maps and documents show blocker locations with a preceding ‘B’ to indicate that a blocker is to be assigned there. It is easy to see how a radio operator reading such a document could perceive his/her assignment as literally, B123, and read it over the air as “Bravo One Two Three.” Stage control operators could then believe that the Bravo checkpoint had called out the arrival / departure of cars one, two, and three on stage. The Radio Coordinators will need to spend some time reviewing this matter.
    • The VE6RNQ repeater under-performed on the Loop and had to be taken down early due to high winds on Moose Mountain. Future plans for use of this machine at events in this area will need to include means to address these points.
    • The use of distinct channels for each course segment was new to this event. While this worked well, further attention is needed to ensure that radio operators are changed over to the correct channel when entering a course segment. This will improve safety on the segment, decrease channel congestion, reduce the need for roll call style channel changes, and help radio operators get into positions that favour access to the appropriate channel for the upcoming stages.
    • Some operators proceeded into the course segment before coordinating with Logistics. This causes operational ambiguities and creates safety risks. The Radio Coordinators will review how to reinforce good procedure in this regard.
    • Clarification regarding the status of course segments would be helpful. Terms such as stage closed and stage hot are not well defined and seem to be used inconsistently. This leads to procedural confusion and potential safety concerns.

    Some things that went well and that we’ll try to replicate next time, include:

    • Preliminary feedback indicates that our rookies felt generally well prepared for the event, understood their assignments, and knew what to expect from the day. We hope to see them at the next rally!
    • We introduced the Occurrence Log to the Radio Handbooks for this event. Positive feedback has been received on the format of these pages. We’d appreciate hearing from more radio operators regarding how the sheets were used.
    • Additional questions were added to the volunteer registration form to solicit information about operator role preferences. The response to these questions was good and the results proved helpful in assigning people to appropriate roles.
    • The CARA Comms Trailer has become key infrastructure at our rally events. Thanks go out to all those who have contributed to its reliable and robust operation.
    • Having Volunteers attend at a supply depot was a new procedure at this event. This seems to have functioned as intended. In spite of radio communication difficulties with the supply truck, this new approach allowed Car 000 to focus more on route inspection and less on distributing materiel.
    • While having two Net Controllers is standard procedure, this time we also had a third person do a formal Net Control shadow. Good feedback was received from the Course Clerk on this approach, and we’ll look to do this again.

    In conclusion, the 2022 Kananaskis Rally was a successful event, and it marked a turning point in our return to regular rallies, post pandemic. These are still some of the most complex and rigorous service events that Amateur Radio operators undertake in our region. Rallies place unusual demands on our skills and equipment. This time we also had to deal with a couple of unexpected scenarios early in the day, and another particularly needless and frustrating interruption a while later. Nevertheless, our folks stepped up and got the job done. On top of that, we managed to implement a number of new practices to address issues that had arisen at prior events. Preliminary feedback indicates that these changes obtained the desired results and that our radio operators did well to adapt and integrate the new procedures. Our team should be very proud of the results they achieved at this rally.


    73,
    Garry, VE6GDS
    Dana, VA6DJH

  • 24 Oct 2022 11:16 PM | Dana Harding (Administrator)

    (edit 2022-10-29) Radio Operator Handbook v.04

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1O6aQb2IQgTnL2yTfKNuw3tRXq-kBxfXh/view?usp=share_link

    Changes:  Added one operator, formatting (mismatched fonts in the tables)



    (edit 2022-10-27) Radio Operator Handbook v.03

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sgcxE0WWfUoBx8sPqtBL0_FI4K0M7L7h/view?usp=sharing

    Changes are:  Added one operator, some typo fixes.


    The Radio Operator Handbook v.02 is available here:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dtPBqCEEyV5wP2FIL0Z3oMGuBGeXyOLP/view?usp=sharing

    Operator Assignments are on page 8.

    v.02 is the first publicly posted revision - updates will be marked up here.

  • 24 Oct 2022 2:18 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    A rally radio operations pre-op briefing is planned for:

    Thursday, 27 October 2022
    19:00 to ~20:00 hrs (7pm to ~8pm) MT
    Calgary Sports Car Club
    4215 80th Avenue NE
    Calgary, Alberta

    We will be covering important topics including emergency procedures. Prospective radio operators who cannot attend are requested to let Dana (VA6DJH) or Garry (VE6GDS) know beforehand.

    In the interests of time, it will be assumed that all radio operators are familiar with the event materials posted to this blog prior to the meeting.

    Hope to see you there!


    73,
    Garry, VE6GDS


  • 24 Oct 2022 1:47 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Maps are now available!

    The information in these files is intended to help radio operators navigate to, from, and around the rally venue. You will need this information on rally day.

    The links below are for map files in KML format.  They are not image files! These files are intended for use with a GPS device or GIS software.

    The utility that you obtain from these files will be closely associated with the device or software into which you import the data. I generally use APRSIS32 or YAAC. Some people report success with a program called Gaia. If you want image files, then I suggest making them with an application that can display KML data (Google Earth, Bing Maps...).

    If you need files in GPX format (some GPS devices require this) or you would like them in a CSV to import into a spreadsheet, then I suggest using one of the online converter services available on the Internet.

    In any case, be sure that you understand the features and requirements of your chosen GPS device or GIS software.

    It is strongly recommended that radio operators use GPS based navigation on rally day. Keep in mind that cell coverage is poor at the rally venue, so be sure to download map tiles to your device prior to rally day.

    First is a KML with just the course segment locations (blockers, control points...).

    KPR Segment Items v2.0

    Second is a KML with the routes (roads), places of significance, and waypoints. These items are marked to help you navigate to, from, and around the venue.

    KPR Context v2.0

    It is possible for changes to occur between now and the rally, so keep watch in this blog for possible updates.


    73,
    Garry, VE6GDS


  • 24 Oct 2022 9:58 AM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Here is a link to the Radio Configuration and Operation Guide for the upcoming rally. This document lists the operating frequencies for the event, provides key radio procedures, and makes recommendations for effective communication practices.

    Powderface Trail is a challenging environment for radio operations. This guide describes means of managing the difficulties that operators may encounter.  Please review the related recommendations.

    Please take careful note of the guidance for minimizing interference!  

    With so many of us out there, radio operator caused interference can become a significant problem on rally day. Accidental jamming of event channels and poorly configured equipment can seriously inhibit operation of the event radio network. Please review this guide carefully to help us reduce interference at the event.

    A copy of the guide can be found here:

    KPR 2022 Radio Configuration Guide


    73,
    Garry, VE6GDS


  • 07 Oct 2022 5:26 PM | Dana Harding (Administrator)

    The event is handling participation waivers through an online system.

    You can access this system to submit a waiver by this link: https://calgarysportscc.speedwaiver.com/cayre


    If able, please submit a waiver by this link before the event.

    Waivers will be verified in the event venue - pre-submitted waivers will speed up the verification process.

  • 26 Sep 2022 11:31 AM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    The Kananaskis Performance Rally (KPR) is next month, and we'll need all our radio operators to be prepared for the day.

    Below you will find a link to the Radio Operations at Rallysport Events '101' Guide. If you are new to rally radio operations, or you have been away from the scene for a while, then this document is made just for you! The guide was written to help radio operators get comfortable with the sights and sounds of rally day action. 

    At the pre-op briefing, we assume that everyone is familiar with the contents of this guide.

    Rally Radio Operations 101 Guide


  • 24 Sep 2022 1:22 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Hello Rally Radio Operators!

    Below are links to documents that you can use to start getting ready for the upcoming Kananaskis Performance Rally.

    • First, the Packing and Preparation Guide is a generic checklist that each radio operator should review to ensure readiness for the event.
    • Second, the Vehicle Preparation Supplement is focused on getting a vehicle ready for a rally event.

    These guides are oriented at new or returning folks and also serve as secondary checklists for others. The material was provided by some of our most seasoned field radio operators. Most items on these lists are recommendations and suggestions, but a few are required.

    Here are links for the documents:

    Packing and Preparation Guide

    Vehicle Preparation Supplement

    Keep checking this blog regularly. More materials and information will be posted here soon. I hope that we'll see you at the upcoming Kananaskis Performance Rally!


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