Calgary Amateur Radio Association
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Attention all Rally Radio Operators!
Planning for the Cochrane Winter Rally (CWR) is underway. While organizing an event continues to be challenging in a pandemic context, we're going to be optimistic and take our best shot at making a rally happen. I'm sure that everyone is eager to get out of their basements and enjoy a day in the woods. The scenery near the mountains is far better and there is plenty of space to maintain social distance!
The intended date for the CWR has changed, so please note this in your calendars. The new date for racing is Sunday 11 April 2021. The organizing committee felt that a delay would increase the likelihood of pandemic rules being sufficiently relaxed in time for the event to be permitted. While everything is somewhat tentative in our current situation, there is growing confidence that this date is achievable.
Recce and other opening activities are planned for Saturday 10 April. A few radio operators may be needed to help with this part of the event, as well.
The venue covers the usual Ghost area locations on Waiparous Road, Harold Creek Road, and Hunter Valley Road northwest of Cochrane, Alberta.
Instructions for registration will be posted to this blog as soon as they are available. Check back here regularly for updates!
Hello Rally Radio Operators!
We trust that the New Year is treating everyone well. No doubt everyone is glad to put 2020 behind them and is hoping for better things this year. This is just a quick post to bring everyone up to date with what is happening on the rally front for 2021.
First, we have to bear in mind that COVID continues to be a reality with which we have to contend this year. While there is reason to be optimistic that things will get back to normal, it is likely to be slow, incremental progress. We need to temper our expectations accordingly.
Next, there are three rally events currently on the schedule and to which we’d like to draw your attention:
First is the Cochrane Winter Rally. It is currently scheduled for Sunday, 07 March 2021 (updated 2021-02-02) Sunday, 11 April 2021 in the traditional Ghost / Waiparous area northwest of Cochrane. Watch this blog carefully for updates on this event, as details will be coming out soon.
Next is the Rocky Mountain Rally. It is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, 29 and 30 May 2021. The intent is to hold this rally here in Alberta, rather than going to BC. More information about this event will be posted here once it is available.
Finally, the Kananaskis Stage Rally is scheduled for Sunday, 31 October. It is likely to be held in the Powderface region, as usual.
We could also be asked to assist with smaller rally related events, such as Test Days. This matter was discussed in a previous post (https://caraham.org/page-1862770/9362135). If you are interested in such events, please let Dana or me know so that we can coordinate these opportunities.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the events we managed to hold last year. Please keep an eye on this blog so that we can keep you updated with rally information in what we hope will be a much better season. See you on the course!
This year has proven to be a real challenge for the Rocky Mountain Rally. The organizing team had to move the event back to Alberta from BC, then later cancel it due to pandemic concerns. We did manage to pull off a smaller Test Day event last Saturday, though. While it was not what we were originally gearing up for, it was great just to get out of town and key up the radio out in the woods!
A Test Day is a more modest undertaking than a full rally. It typically involves fewer rally cars, a shorter route, fewer radio operators, and less formal radio protocols. These events are opportunities for rally drivers to test their cars, work on technique, and practice with the co-drivers. While the atmosphere is a little more relaxed than what one would find at a competitive event, safety is still a priority.
Our radio operators did a solid job of keeping the course under control and ensuring that the Rallymaster was kept up to date with what was happening around the venue. In all, we had 72 test runs made by 6 different rally teams over about a six hour timeframe on the JumpingPound Demonstration Loop. Bob, VA6BM, did a great job of coordinating the radio exchanges as the rally cars moved through the course. The rest of us rotated through different roles as blockers and Finish Point operators.
The radio team included:
Peter, VA6RPL had to send his regrets. We hope you can join us for Cochrane, Peter.
While we were on the alert for bad weather, the timing turned out almost perfectly. It was a chilly -2 degrees for much of the day, with moderate winds and a little light snow. However those brutal winds and the heavier snowfall held off until after the event was complete. I was just coming back into Calgary as the front moved in from the north.
We had an interesting take-away from this event. In the past, radio operators have not been requested for Test Days. However, radio operations were so successful that the Rallymaster asked if we might be interested in participating in future Test Day events. These smaller, less complex events are much easier to prepare for than a full rally, but still make a great chance to get out of town for a day and have some fun. They could also be opportunities for people who are interested in rally radio operations and would like to get some experience with the rally scene before taking on the challenges of a regional or national level event. Please give this some consideration and let Dana (VA6DJH) or me know your thoughts.
Thanks to everyone who came out. I hope that we can get the pandemic under control before it's time for the Cochrane Winter Rally. Watch this blog for details about upcoming rally events.
For those of you who have signed up to help with the Rocky Test Day on Saturday, here are a few details:
Rallymaster would like us to activate by 08:30hrs. I suggest being on site by 08:00 so that we have time to do radio checks and such before things get started.
I suggest that radio operators connect on the VE6AUY repeater (147.060- T110.9). I'll be monitoring that channel on approach.
We'll be using 146.55Mhz simplex for the event. I suggest that all operators check that they have programmed this frequency correctly.
Here is a .kml file of the reduced venue. It should have enough information to keep you on track:
For those of you using APRSIS32, or something similar, here is the equivalent .gpx file:
Please keep in mind that we must follow the Pandemic Protocol guidelines, as posted earlier in this blog. Let's keep the vast majority of our interaction "over the air" and minimize in-person contact. Don't forget to bring a mask and some hand sanitizer!
Additionally, be aware that the weather forecast is calling for a significant change over the next 24 hours. The temperature is likely to drop and it looks like we'll get snow. Conditions can change quickly in the mountains, so please come prepared.
Thanks to everyone who signed up to help with this event. While it's not what we were all hoping for, a reduced event is still a great chance to get out of town for a day and have some fun!
See you there,
Hello Radio Operators,
COVID-19 current and daily new infection rates are at record high levels and we don’t feel it would be socially responsible to continue with the event and potentially put our volunteers, competitors, and other participants at risk.
Official bulletin is here: https://www.rallywest.com/f/vnb/164/RMR20_Bulletin_3.pdf
We thank all the volunteers for your interest. There was a very strong showing for radio operator volunteers - which was exciting to see. I look forward to trying to do the same for CWR!
Dana Harding, VA6DJH
Garry Spicer, VE6GDS
Here is a link to the Radio Configuration and Operation Guide for the upcoming 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:
Hello Rally Radio Operators;
This post is to confirm details of the Pre-Op Briefing. Please note that the date has changed since the original schedule was announced.
The current particulars are:
Radio Operator Pre-Op Briefing
04 November 2020
The entry on the CARA calendar is correct:
The briefing should take a little over an hour. The Zoom link will be emailed out to radio operators who have registered. So, if you have not already done so, please register!
Instructions for signing up can be found here:
Maps are important for events like this. 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.
In recent years, we've been moving toward electronic maps that can be imported into your favourite GPS device or APRS application. You can also import these files into most map software and print your own maps, if you prefer carbon based technology to silicon.
The link below is for a .kml file. 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.
This 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. The file with the blocker and control point locations is pending and will be made available soon.
It's going to be great to get out and enjoy radio operations in the mountains for rally day! It's just a couple of weeks away, so I hope that you're getting prepared.
Given the pandemic that continues to affect our daily lives, we do need to take steps to ensure everyone's safety while participating in this fun event. The organizers have developed this pandemic protocol to guide how we do things, so that we're all implementing appropriate precautions. It's important that we protect ourselves, and each other, from the spread of this virus.
All rally radio operators are required to review this protocol and take reasonable steps to implement its guidance. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Dana or me.
Please download a copy via this link:
The Rocky Mountain Rally is less than six weeks away!
Radio Operator Meeting Wednesday 4 November 2020, 19:00 (Date Changed)
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 prior rally events. Please consider the material covered by this guide 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.