Author Archives: Joel North

VO1BLR Birchy Lake (Deer Lake) Repeater Now On Linked System

The VO1BLR Birchy Lake (Deer Lake) 2m repeater is now linked to the island-wide repeater system!

You can find it on 146.640- in the area.

As of posting, tests had not been done west towards Corner Brook, but in the other direction, it is confirmed excellent coverage west of Springdale Junction, all the way to Deer Lake airport.

Special thanks to VO1AJD and and VO2JAS who are hosting the Allstar node, and thanks to everyone who has contributed to help extend the coverage of the island-wide NL link! The more coverage it has, the more beneficial it is.

See the full repeater list and map on the Repeaters page.

New Portugal Cove-St. Phillip’s Linked Repeater Active

Thanks to VO1IDX, and those who helped acquire and set up the equipment, there’s a new 2m repeater active in Portugal Cove-St. Phillip’s. It is connected to the island-wide linked repeater system. We’ve now added it to our repeater list and map page.

Callsign: VO1ICE
Frequency: 146.640 MHZ
Offset: -0.600

Linked Echolink Node: 566468

Enjoy! Thanks to all who continue to contribute to ham radio in Newfoundland!

SONRA President Andrew Green Interviewed by CBC

It’s times like these that us hams prepare for! A major Bell outage caused widespread “no service” messages on Bell and Telus cellular phones across Atlantic Canada last week, and affected other services, resulting in closed banks, flight delays, and more. 911 service was not directly affected, but those who were left without a cellular or landline had no way to call out – including 911.

While rare, these types of service outages are even more problematic these days with our increasing reliance on cellular phones as a means of communication. Many amateur radio operators are calling the event a “wake-up call” to be more prepared for emergency situations. Bell described this event as “extraordinary” and said that 2 major fiber links were cut by 3rd party construction. The fact that this could bring nearly half the country to its knees in terms of communications certainly raises some red flags.

While the hobby of amateur radio isn’t solely for emergency purposes (there’s some fun involved as well!), emergency preparedness is certainly something that we train and plan for. As SONRA president Andrew Green told CBC, we were standing by and monitoring the situation, ready to help if necessary. Amateur radio clubs in PEI and Nova Scotia got some great press as well.

It’s great to know a ham radio operator in your neighborhood who can connect you with emergency communications and relay messages in these types of situations. You can also find many of us by looking for license plates that start with “VO1” as these vehicles generally have amateur radio equipment on board. Finally, you may even consider becoming a licensed ham radio operator yourself! SONRA generally offers annual ham radio classes to teach you everything you need to know.


International Marconi Day 2017

We’re honored to once again be operating from the historic VO1AA at Cabot Tower on Signal Hill for International Marconi Day this year!

Many hams around the world are always excited to make contact with us on this day.

SONRA’s club station will be active starting around 06:30 UTC on Saturday, April 22nd and we’re hoping to have the station staffed with an operator for as much of the day as possible until evening / early afternoon.

We’ll do our best to push out some updates on our Facebook / Twitter regarding what bands we’re most active on and where you may be able to find us!

VO1BT Holyrood Repeater Update

A big thank you to the crew who volunteered their time to get the VO1BT Holyrood repeater operational again. The tower (which was already due to be replaced) lost its top half in the March wind storm.

Despite a cold and windy day (-15 wind chill!), on April 19th, we were able to put some temporary measures in place to get VO1BT back on the air using the lower half of the tower and some alternate antennas.

If everything goes according to plan, we will be returning on a much warmer summer day to erect a new tower and perform some additional upgrades! This temporary fix should tie us over for now.

Also, a repair was made that brought the repeater output from around 1 watt to about 22, so you may notice an improvement even with the lower height.

For a bit of history about this site, the next tower will be the 3rd here for a ham repeater. The one pictured is the second, which was put up in the 80s. The concrete for the original tower is located behind the shack. Also, if you look closely you can see the original small shack and the larger part (with the peaked roof) which was built on afterward.


VO1BT Repeater Tower Damage

Miraculously, the falling tower did not take out our electrical service!

Chris & Joel (VO1FMJ) on the tower rigging the temporary antennas. This picture does nothing to show the strong winds and -15 windchill! Mark VO1MRK supervises from the ground.

Doug uses a SiteMaster to sweep the lines and antennas. A faulty antenna sends Chris back out into the cold and up the tower to swap it out! We’re thankful the shack has a heater.

Chris weatherproofing those connections.

New SONRA Executive

Congrats to the new SONRA executive, elected March 13th 2017.

  • President: Andrew Green VO1ABC
  • Vice President: Mark Sheppard VO1MRK
  • Treasurer: Earl Tucker VO1ERL
  • Recording Secretary: Aaron Abbot VO1FOX
  • Director: Ira Stacey VO1IRA
  • Director: Charlie Marsh VO1VZ
  • Director: Dave McLennon VO1LM
  • Director: Keith Fifield VO1KTF
  • Director: Rick Turner VO1ZX

Ham Radio Course

Interested in becoming a Ham Radio operator? SONRA is taking names of those interested in a spring course, one night per week. You’ll learn everything you need to pass the Industry Canada exam and become a licensed ham operator!

If you’re interested or would like to know more, please contact us!


New Linked Repeater Map

Finding a linked repeater in Newfoundland is now much easier, thanks to a new interactive map on our website.

Repeater Map Sample

This will be particularly useful to tourists or those unfamiliar with Newfoundland geography. Rather than a text list, you can now use this Google Map to explore and see all local repeaters on the linked system. These VHF repeaters are linked to each other, and generally, have the most activity since people can talk from all over the island.

The interactive map can be found on our Repeaters page:

We may someday have every repeater in the province, and other things like APRS, etc, listed. It is a time-consuming process, so we’ve started with what will benefit the highest number of people!