Category Archives: News

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: https://sonra.ca/en/repeater-directory/

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!

Marconi Transatlantic Radio Signal 115th Anniversary

On December 12, 1901 at Signal Hill, Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal. SONRA members commemorate this each year, usually from Cabot Tower on Signal Hill with call sign VO1AA. Unfortunately, due to road and electrical upgrades, Cabot Tower is closed until the new year.

Instead, to celebrate the 115th anniversary, we’ll be operating from Admiralty House Museum using call sign VO1BZM. Look for us on 14.260 or thereabouts.

Marconi has a rich history at Admiralty House. The museum is located at the former H.M. Wireless telegraph station built in 1915 by the Marconi Telegraph Company.

To learn more, click here.

 

 

Repeater News

A couple of updates for the island-wide linked repeater system:

  • VO1 ISR Goulds is now linked to the island-wide system. If you already had this repeater programmed in your radio, it will now function with the link. Coverage is Goulds, Mount Pearl and the highway south-west towards Bay Bulls and Outer Ring Road. Freq: 146.640 –
  • VO1 MST Marystown is now back on the air and on the island-wide link! Special thanks to VO1 DNK. Freq: 146.850 –

The nightly Caribou Net happens 9pm NT on the linked system.

Thanks to VO1 MXZ for his continued work on the repeaters and all others who have been helping!

St. Anthony repeater is being worked on and we will provide an update soon. Plans for Birchy Lake & Baie Verte are in the works as well.