Calgary Amateur Radio Association

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  • 06 Oct 2021 8:31 PM | Dana Harding (Administrator)

    Rocky Mountain Rally - 2021 edition - is now past. This was the first performance rally run by the CSCC since the Cochrane Winter Rally in March of 2020 - and we hope to see more to come. Of the 29 volunteers that we oversaw - this was old hat for many, and a first amateur radio public service event for several.

    It was a long day, and we hope an enjoyable and perhaps even an educational day for all. There were no major incidents while mobilizing and demobilizing our volunteers to and from the area, and the ambulance - ever ready - didn't get any emergency calls. These are, to us, ear markers of a successful day.

    The somewhat dramatic end - a Red Flag event ending the final stage, concluded safely and without incident - was not a common occurrence and it was the perfect time to demonstrate being ready at all times. A few operators illuminated their stop signs with their flashlights before the cars arrived. Without retroflective signage - this was probably the only available way to give as much notice to the signage as possible before the area was fully lit by the intense lighting systems that are on those cars.

    The Propagation Poltergeist of Powderface struck again at this event. As usual, it has left us with more questions than answers. It is known that the propagation characteristics change over time in this area, but we haven't really documented the magnitude of asymmetric propagation that we observed this time. Several stations were receiving VE6RYC full quieting - but weren't able to transmit back in to it. A couple found that they could receive RYC better, but were only able to get into AUY. Simplex relays are possible contingencies that had been considered, and this is one of the strategies that was employed. Radio Support was stationed at a strategic location over on Moose Mountain road that ended up being leveraged for it's simplex reach into the south end of Powderface Trail.

    Split channel operations were not part of a plan or contingency - it is generally a bad idea for an active stage. But we had some operators who tried it out and some very experienced net controllers who adapted to it without missing a beat. The ability to link and unlink the repeaters could have been an asset at this event.

    This was the first rally where we formalized a practice that was always previously being done, but informally. A final check for the radio operator volunteers as they departed the area to ensure nobody was left stranded. We couldn't use the word "sweep" because this is already reserved for active stage operations, and we've named this the "Scrub". Thank you to VA6BM, VE6DED, and VE6HRY who took on the scrub roles - you may have seen them with green flashing lights on their mobiles as they cleared the course.

    Last year, on a trip out to the area a 'passive repeater' (antenna-coax-antenna) was tried with VE6IXD to help VE6RYC's signal up and over the hill - it didn't end up working as well as hoped, but it was an interesting experiment. In the same trip, we also tried a 3 element yagi at road level - which actually seemed to help, and a doppler direction finding unit to try to see if it would help determining where the dominant reflections were actually coming from.

    Further experimentation is encouraged in this area (both the area of study, and also the geographical area). If proven effective, various means and designs for inexpensive directional antennas could mean a practical rollout for multiple locations. We would also love to hear about more complicated configurations such as diversity antenna setups, phased arrays and coherent receivers.

    Without knowing what variables are correlated with the propagation shifts, it is hard to define an experiment that has meaningful results. Also when inches count for antenna location, an omni vertical can't be colocated with a directional antenna to compare their performance without each modifying the performance of the other.

    At the previous Kananaskis rally we also experimented with 6m FM. Alternate bands propagate differently and is another tool to have in the toolbelt. There was some HF gear deployed at this event - we don't think there will be a practical plan to leverage this anytime soon, but the possibility is interesting. Consider that the New England Forest Rally currently uses HF for one of their rally stages (ref: presentation by Tim Carter - W3ATB).

    In a more general sense - we are happy to hear about what worked well, what didn't, and any ideas for improvement.

    Thank you, everybody, for your participation.

    This does not work without all of you.

    Garry Spicer, VE6GDS

    Dana Harding, VA6DJH


    For anybody interested and willing to make the trip - keep an eye out for Big White Winter Rally, which is run out of the Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna. It is a different organizing team, and has some different operating conditions. Currently undetermined if that will be happening or not, if it goes - that will likely be early to mid December.

  • 29 Sep 2021 6:49 PM | Dana Harding (Administrator)

    Radio Operators handbook is now available.  This book includes assignments.

    Radio Operators Handbook RMR 2021 v02.pdf

    Radio Operators Handbook RMR 2021 V02a.pdf

    (2021-09-29 21:25  V02a:   modified in position time for Powderface locations from 09:15 to 09:00, no other changes.)

    Fillable .pdf log sheets for anybody interested in trying logging on an electronic device:

    Radio Operators Handbook RMR 2021 v02 LOGS.pdf

  • 29 Sep 2021 1:11 AM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    This is a reminder for the radio operator Pre Operation Briefing:

    Wednesday, 29 September 2021
    19:00 to 20:00 hrs
    Zoom virtual meeting (Link to be provided later)

    The link will be sent out under separate cover.

  • 28 Sep 2021 11:33 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    The Rallymaster has provided us with some excellent course road segment videos that you may want to watch prior to heading out for the event on Saturday. If you have not been out there, or just not recently, you may find these videos helpful when planning your day.

    1) Jumping Pound Loop Reverse (Westbound)

    2) Powderface Down (Southbound)

    3) Powderface Up (Northbound)


  • 28 Sep 2021 10:44 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    My sincerest apologies to everyone for this late change to the Radio Configuration Guide. We have had to make some modifications to the channel set, so please check this guide carefully to make sure that your equipment is properly configured for the event. Channel changes affect certain procedures, so please be sure that you review a copy of this document so that you understand how things will work on rally day.

    Garry, VE6GDS

  • 28 Sep 2021 10:10 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Maps are important for events like this. On Rally day, there will be dozens of volunteers spread across dozens of kilometers. Radio operators will need to navigate during twilight and darkness in areas where signage is sparse. The maps we make for these events are intended to help you find your way, whether you are an experienced rally radio operator, or this is your very first rally event.

    The links below are for .kml files. If you need a .gpx file or another format, there are various free online conversion tools available - a quick web search will find one that suits your needs. These are not image files. They are intended to be loaded into a GPS device, APRS software, or GIS software such as Google Earth, Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc. If you want to make a printable image, then load this file into the software of your choice and print your maps from that point.

    This first file contains only a context map, and is for general navigation purposes only. It shows routes to/from the venue, key event facilities, and some of the areas where extra caution may be needed.

    This second file contains only the blocker and control point locations on the course road segments.

    For those who load these maps into GPS devices, it is suggested that you disable direction instruction features while at the event. Reading and understanding the map yourself tends to work much better in these isolated areas. Radio operators have reported that GPS devices frequently provide distracting, erroneous, or even dangerous directions in remote rally venues.

    Garry, VE6GDS

  • 25 Sep 2021 11:14 AM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Hello all;

    Soon after the time of the prior posting regarding waiver forms, the links to the forms got changed. So, the links provided in the previous posting on this topic will not work reliably. Sorry for the confusion.

    To avoid a repeat of this effect, the link below takes you to the 2021 Rocky Mountain Rally Virtual Notice Board on the rally site. Technically, this virtual space is part of the competitors' area on that site, so it might be difficult for volunteers to find on their own. There is other material in that space that may not be pertinent to volunteers, but this is where the forms are posted, and I am told that they are the correct ones for radio volunteers to use.

    Here is the link to the notice board:

    Completed forms and questions about them should be sent to the event registrar:

    Thanks, everyone, and my apologies again for the confusion.

    Garry, VE6GDS

  • 23 Sep 2021 7:40 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Rally Radio Operators;

    As part of the terms of participation as a volunteer, and to meet insurance requirements for the event, radio operators are required to complete certain waiver documents. Since our pre-op briefing will be virtual this time, we'll need to get these forms dealt with electronically. Please complete the appropriate forms and send them to the event registrar. Below are links to the forms, their French language equivalents, and the registrar's email address.

    [Edit: The links below may not work reliably. Please see the UPDATE blog posting on this subject. - VE6GDS]

    This is the general waiver for everyone.

    This year we need to complete a COVID waiver as well:

    Here is the required waiver for all persons not of the age of majority (i.e. minors) who will be volunteering or present with someone who is volunteering:

    Finally, here is the waiver to be completed by the parents of minors:

    Please complete these forms, as applicable to your circumstances, and send them to the event registrar. If you have any questions about the forms, please contact the registrar.

    Here is the email address of the event registrar:

    Garry, VE6GDS


  • 21 Sep 2021 4:38 PM | Garry Spicer (Administrator)

    Here is a link to the Radio Configuration and Operation Guide for the 2021 Rocky Mountain Rally. This document lists the operating frequencies for the event, presents key radio procedures, and provides recommendations for effective communication practices.

    Powderface Trail can be 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!   

    We will have a large number of radio operators involved in this event. So, it is very important that we minimize interference issues. The sections in this guide that pertain to cross-band configurations and digital operations are especially important.

    A copy of the guide can be found here:

    Garry, VE6GDS

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