Thursday 30 September 2010

Original Industry Canada Document To RAC

Here’s the original Industry Canada document sent to RAC on September 9th 2010 in its entirety and verbatim. I have just received it via email from the regional IC office in Quebec City:

Sir, Madam,

Monsieur, Madame,

The 10 and 12 of september there will be a cycling event in Québec City and Montréal. The runners are mostly european and so is their radio stations, therefore are located in the 430 - 450 MHz. Since this band is reserved secondarly for the amateurs, I beleive it is in order that I warn you. The following frequencies will be used by mobile stations up to 25W:

Les 10 et 12 septembre verront un événement de cyclisme à Québec et Montréal. Comme la plupart des participants et leur matériel radio sont européens, des fréquences entre 430 et 450 MHz ont dû être assigné. Cette bande de fréquence étant réservée aux amateurs à titre secondaire, j'ai crû bon vous en avertir. Les fréquences suivantes seront utilisées par des stations mobiles d'une puissance maximale de 25W:


Only one VHF ham frequency will be in use: 145.5550 MHz
Une seule fréquence VHF amateure a dû être assignée: 145.5550 MHz.

Best regards,

Marc Déry

Agent de Gestion du Spectre | Spectrum Management Officer
Direction générale des opérations de la gestion du spectre | Spectrum Management Operations Branch
Secteur du Spectre, des technologies de l'information et des télécommunications | Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications Sector
Industrie Canada | Industry Canada
1141 route de l'Église, Québec QC G1V 3W5 | 1141 route de l'Église, Québec QC G1V 3W5
Téléphone | Telephone 418-648-4848
Télécopieur | Facsimile 514-283-7035
Téléimprimeur | Teletypewriter 1-866-694-8389
Gouvernement du Canada | Government of Canada

Wednesday 29 September 2010

A Story (part deux – We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us)

RAC Bulletin 2010-09-14E
Industry Canada advised both RAC and RAQI on Friday, Sept 10, 2010 that their Montreal office had authorized a number of 430 to 450 MHz frequencies and a single VHF frequency on 145.555 mHz. According to IC, frequencies were chosen to avoid known amateur repeater channels. These frequencies in the 70 cm and 2m amateur bands were temporarily authorized to support communications for many European entrants of a cycling event to be held on Quebec City and Montreal on Sept 10 and Sept 12 respectively. This type of authorized intrusion by Industry Canada of non-amateur communications in amateur spectrum is highly unusual and is a matter of great concern to Radio Amateurs of Canada. RAC will be taking the matter up with Industry Canada officials.  RAC will be interested in knowing if actual interference has been caused to amateur communications; please report any observations to 

Norm Rashleigh, VE3LC
Vice President, Industrial  Liaison

All RAC members should have received this a few weeks ago. I did and was naturally quite upset about hearing this. I wanted to wait until I had more information about what actually occurred before publishing here. You, the readers of my blog can read on to see how this unfolded (so far!).

On September 12th I wrote to the President of RAC Geoff Bawden VE4BAW:

Subject: Industry Canada

Date:Sun, 12 Sep 2010 07:46:41 –0400
From: Bob Baillargeon VE3MPG

Good morning Geoff,

Could someone at RAC forward the original document from Industry Canada notifying RAC on Friday of the non-amateur use of the 440 and 2m frequencies? What immediate action will RAC be taking in this matter? I hope that RAC makes this a priority concern and I can assure you that all Canadian amateurs are watching this matter with great concern - well, I am anyway.

Thank you,

Bob Baillargeon VE3MPG
RAC member

I received no response from the President but did hear from Norm Rashleigh at RAC:

from:Norm Rashleigh <>Sent at 16:34 (GMT-04:00). Current time there: 16:26.
date:12 September 2010 16:34
subject:Use of amateur radio spectrum for non amateur purposes.

HI Bob..

Yes we do have the original e-mail correspondence from the Department.

We can forward it, but it was between the originator and RAC and I wouldn't necessarily want it on your blog or passed around.

We will be drafting an appropriate well worded response to the Department very soon and this will probably be something worthy of posting in TCA

Thanks for your concern in the matter.

Norm, ve3lc

And here was my final response to Norm and Geoff:

Hi Norm,
Normally I would agree with you on matters of correspondence, but in this instance I believe Industry Canada was writing to RAC rather than a private individual.

Since it was written to RAC, this matter, which is so important to the survival of amateur radio in Canada, must be a public matter, open to all members, to comment and debate.

It has been a common theme that RAC is in a state of crisis, which can be attributed to the state secrecy perpetrated by the executive. Membership has been declining for reasons such as this and we must change the way RAC leadership works in order to stave off the extinction of RAC and of amateur radio in Canada.

Please open up this issue and others to the membership. The executive is there on behalf of the membership, not the other way around. As a paid up member of RAC I believe I am entitled to receive a copy of this correspondence and to comment on it, either in my blog or in writing to you.


Bob Baillargeon VE3MPG

I received no response to this email and I’ve been hearing from other bloggers that any emails to RAC concerning this matter are not being answered. What’s happening and what’s RAC doing? Nobody knows, not even paid up members of RAC.

On my own initiative I wrote to Industry Canada to find out the real story, the story RAC tried to keep a lid on. I received a response from Industry Canada this afternoon, September 29th, 2010. Here’s the detailed explanation on what happened in Quebec City and Montreal:

Dear Mr. Baillargeon:

Thank you for your email of September 13, 2010, concerning RAC Bulletin 2010-09-14E – Industry Canada Authorizes Commercial Activity on 2-metre and 70 cm bands.

From time to time, Industry Canada receives requests from foreign organizations for temporary authority to operate radio systems in Canada for short periods of time while their officials are visiting. These requests often come from foreign governments for diplomatic visits and from organizers of special events, including motor races and cycling events such as the UCI pro tour that took place in September.

As spectrum managers, our mandate is to manage the spectrum. In doing so, we try to ensure that these temporary users have sufficient access to the spectrum to conduct their communications in a manner that will assure the safety of their participants and spectators, while minimizing the potential for interference to existing users. However, sometimes the limitation of the radio equipment available to our visitors requires that we take exceptional measures in assigning spectrum.

One of the difficulties in accommodating these requests is that not every country allocates the radio spectrum in the same manner as we do in Canada. Many of these teams have existing equipment from their home countries that is set up on channels that are already allocated for a different purpose in Canada. However, if the Department's assessment indicates that the use of that spectrum here is unlikely to cause problems for our domestic users, we can issue non-standard authorizations to these visitors under the provisions of subparagraph 5(1)(a)(v) of the Radiocommunication Act.

Industry Canada considers several factors when making such decisions, but safety and interference are always prime considerations. In this instance, having reviewed the local use of the spectrum requested, we determined that harmful interference was unlikely. Given the short duration of the cycling events (less than four hours) in Quebec City and Montréal on September 10 and 12, and the sporadic nature of the communications, we issued a short-term authorization for 12 frequencies between 430 and 450 MHz. This is a shared allocation in Canada and a secondary allocation for amateur radio. Additionally, a single simplex VHF frequency was allocated for handheld radios (3 watts). The issuance of short-term authorizations in the VHF amateur band is exceptional and not undertaken lightly.

Notification to the local amateurs was achieved via the national organization representing amateur radio operators in Canada, Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC), and the organization representing radio amateurs in Quebec, namely Radio Amateur du Québec (RAQI). The intent of the notification was to seek the assistance of the amateur community in advising us of any incidents of harmful interference that might result from this temporary authorization. Please be assured that when amateur spectrum is affected, the Department makes every effort to give the amateur community as much advance warning as possible, but sometimes we are working with very short time constraints.

We appreciate the positive relationship that Industry Canada has with Canadian amateurs who have a long history of providing emergency communication, as well as facilitating communication for various public events. We would like to assure Canadian amateurs that when amateur spectrum is temporarily used in such circumstances, it is done only after much deliberation, with the hope that amateurs will understand the rationale and will respond in a manner that facilitates the effective use of the radio spectrum.

Yours sincerely,

Michel Landry
Agent de gestion du spectre | Spectrum Management Officer
Industrie Canada | Industry Canada
1141, route de l'Église (5e étage / 5th floor )
Québec (Québec), G1V 3W5 
Gouvernement du Canada | Government of Canada

Here’s the subsection 5(1)(a)(v) from the Radio Communication Act mentioned in the Industry Canada response, for those not familiar with it:


5. (1) Subject to any regulations made under section 6, the Minister may, taking into account all matters that the Minister considers relevant for ensuring the orderly establishment or modification of radio stations and the orderly development and efficient operation of radiocommunication in Canada,
(a) issue
(i) radio licences in respect of radio apparatus,
(i.1) spectrum licences in respect of the utilization of specified radio frequencies within a defined geographic area,
(ii) broadcasting certificates in respect of radio apparatus that form part of a broadcasting undertaking,
(iii) radio operator certificates,
(iv) technical acceptance certificates in respect of radio apparatus, interference causing equipment and radio-sensitive equipment, and
(v) any other authorization relating to radiocommunication that the Minister considers appropriate, and may fix the terms and conditions of any such licence, certificate or authorization including, in the case of a radio licence and a spectrum licence, terms and conditions as to the services that may be provided by the holder thereof;

I would urge all of you, members of RAC or not, to contact his or her Member of Parliament and let them know how you feel. RAC only has about 5,000 members out of a ham population of 56,000 in Canada. Therefore RAC does NOT represent the majority of Canadian hams. Most clubs are not even RAC affiliated. I doubt that RAC holds much sway with Industry Canada. It’s up to us Canadian amateurs to protest loudly to our representatives in government.

Some comments from the blogosphere and on public forums >>

“I believe this is a test to see what spectrum can be grabbed; in this day and age of narrow band trunking and digital communications there is absolutely no need for any incursion into the Amateur bands. Also hearing of the technical ability's of inspectors in Canada perhaps you should be pushing for standards for inspectors just like there are standards for other law enforcement officers; just a thought!” – KF5EQB

“Non-qualified persons may use an amateur radio station provided a qualified operator is in attendance to perform the control functions.” – Industry Canada

“If you Americans want to help.... good luck. IC couldn't care less what someone in another country thinks. And as for “our” national organization.... read: deep sigh.... they're the kind of people who would bring a knife to a gun fight.” – a Canadian ham

Thank you all for reading this far. I would hope that any members of the RAC executive read my previous blog post about RAC’s problems. Here’s the link:

“We Have Met The Enemy And He Is Us” – a little about ‘dinosaur disease’.

The event in Montreal and Quebec Cityand the event partners.

Peter VE3HG’s Blog posting response

Monday 20 September 2010

Re-Furbishing The MFJ-941D Versa Tuner II

I was given the MFJ-941D about 8 years ago. It was in rough shape when I got it from another ham. There were bugs in it and every screw and bolts was loose. I re-soldered a couple of points along the coil inside and gave it a good shot of canned air to dislodge dust and the nasty critters that had taken up home in it. I put it away and didn’t think much about it until I was revamping my station this week. The darn thing looked really bad with deep scratches in the powder coated top cover. There were lots of paint chips and the cabinet looked grungy. The self tapping screws were faded and bare so they needed attention too. Here’s a photo before I started >

© VE3MPG  -2752
© VE3MPG  -2757
© VE3MPG  -2758

I decided to use the same paint treatment that I had used on my Cushcraft R6000 a couple of years ago. The paint was from the auto section of our Canadian Tire store. It’s a tough paint used to touch up and paint plastic auto bumpers and I had a little left over – this would be the perfect project for it.

Surface preparation is important so I located some #320 and #600 grit sandpaper. First sanding was with the #320 grit and progressed to the #600 grade. I wiped the sanding dust off with a tack cloth and inspected my work. Sanding is not critical but I payed careful attention to the deep scratches. The bumper coating covers extremely well and I planned for at least 3 coats to hide any imperfections.
© VE3MPG  -2761
© VE3MPG  -2762
© VE3MPG  -2764

To spray paint the top of the screws I lightly screwed them into a piece of scrap wood and spray painted them with 3 coats. The bumper coating dries very quickly, about a half hour – the screws looked new again.

© VE3MPG  -2760  
© VE3MPG  -2766
© VE3MPG  -2768 Here’s the finished product. Three coats of bumper coating, air dried for about an hour. There’s a half hour drying period between coats and no sanding between coats. The coating usually hides any imperfections and forms an extra tough scratch resistant coating – much better than the original MFJ powder coated finish. The tuner looks like it just left the factory.

© VE3MPG  -2773

© VE3MPG  -2777 The same methods can be used for just about any ham equipment that needs sprucing up. There are some very interesting paints available at any local hardware stores.

Usually I leave painted components overnight before putting it all back together. After an hour the top cover and screws were ready as this coating dries to a hard finish very quickly.

This was a very easy project and didn’t take a lot of time or effort. If you decide to try this just make sure you have plenty of ventilation while you’re spray painting and keep your work area clean. Use a fresh tack cloth to wipe up sanding dust.

Sunday 19 September 2010

OVQRP Weekend At Rideau River Provincial Park

It’s the weekend and not a drop of rain. The weather is cool at night, dropping to 6C last night at the campground on the Rideau River near Kemptville.

Members of the Ottawa Valley QRP Society (OV-QRP) group are still out there tonight working qrp and some really great DX. Bill VE3CLQ worked France and Zagreb Croatia with 20 watts and 10 watts with his Buddistick antenna and his Yaesu FT-857. Goes to show that even with low sunspot numbers you can still work some great DX with low power. Martin VA3SIE, Mike VE3WMB and Jim VE3XJ did kitchen duty.

Here are a few pictures of this weekend’s event on the Rideau >

© VE3MPG  -2735
© VE3MPG  -2736
© VE3MPG  -2737
© VE3MPG  -2745
© VE3MPG  -2746
© VE3MPG  -2748
© VE3MPG  -2750
The group will operate through part of Sunday and it was a good effort and not at all a contest type operation. 

Friday 10 September 2010

September 11, 2001 – We Remember 9/11

“We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further — we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations or regions. A new insecurity has entered every mind, regardless of wealth or status. A deeper awareness of the bonds that bind us all — in pain as in prosperity — has gripped young and old. In the early beginnings of the 21st century — a century already violently disabused of any hopes that progress towards global peace and prosperity is inevitable — this new reality can no longer be ignored. It must be confronted.”

~ Kofi Annan ~

© Bob Baillargeon -2615


Tourists in Plaza WTC

Tourists in Plaza WTC2

WTC Mezzanine


WTC2 IMG_1658 (1) IMG_1627


Nine years ago, our neighbours, the United States of America had their hearts ripped out. I was in New York twice that summer, my first visit since first being in New York in December of 1970. My last visit was in late July of 2001 just a few weeks before the twin towers were destroyed. The World Trade Center Plaza was always full of tourists and office workers taking time out in the beautiful surroundings. I had friends at the UN in New York and it was impossible to contact them after the attack. They were safe but the UN building was in lock down and they eventually made it back to the Upper East side where they lived.

Ottawa had a memorial ceremony on September 15th just a few days after the attack. Canadians were shocked and in those many days after the attacks we welcomed stranded American travelers until they were able to resume their journeys home.

To our American neighbours, and the amateur radio operators who provided comms during the days and weeks following the attacks “We remember September 11th, 2001”.

Link to memorial events taking place in New York City tomorrow, September 11th, 2001 >>

Remember September 11 on Ninth Anniversary of 9/11