By Al Penney
Members of the Kings County Amateur Radio Club (KCARC) gathered over the holiday period to test their operating skills in an international contest. Also known as Hams, Amateur Radio enthusiasts communicate around the world using a wide variety of frequencies and techniques. Sponsored by Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC), the national amateur radio organization of Canada, the RAC winter contest took place on the weekend of December 16-17. It is a fun event that encourages Canadian amateurs to contact other amateurs across Canada and around the world, and to wish them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. This year KCARC received permission to use the special call sign, VE1RAC for the contest.
Several members of the KCARC gathered at the station of Fred (VE1FA) and Helen (VA1YL) in Canard to assist with voice and Morse code contacts. While nasty weather and poor road conditions kept many club members at home on the opening night of the contest, better conditions on Saturday permitted them to get out to operate, socialize, and enjoy the camaraderie of the club.
Despite very poor propagation for much of the contest, we made 763 contacts over 24 hours, for just over 192,000 points. The club has had a very good showing in this contest over the years, often winning the high score for Nova Scotia. Contacts were made with many Radio Amateurs across Canada, the US, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, and Europe, including Germany, England, Spain, Italy, Romania, Poland, and France.
Most Amateur Radio contests are scheduled on weekends, with one major contest and several smaller ones scheduled during the month. Making contact with as many of the world’s 341 radio countries as possible, is a popular challenge for these contests, and hams will often go to remote corners of the world to put a rare country on the air. The hobby also offers the opportunity to make friends around the globe.
Amateur Radio allows you to work in voice, Morse code, and software driven digital modes that combine your computer with the Internet and radio to make contacts. You can employ exotic propagation techniques to extend the reach of your signal, such as meteor scatter, satellites, and moon-bounce! Public service is an important aspect of Amateur Radio, and Hams are often the only link with the outside world in times of disaster.