This course is presented by the North Shore Amateur Radio Club of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada (http://ve3osh.com/).
The goal is to supplement self study of the Canadian Amateur Radio Basic Qualification Study Guide and prepare you for your Amateur Radio Basic Qualification exam with Industry Canada. You must do all readings as this course will only supplement material found in your study guide.
Instructor contact information:
Bring to class:
Internet will be available during class.
Missing a week is discouraged as a large portion of the material will be missed. However, it is not mandatory you attend all classes and arriving late is also acceptable.
All tests/exams are multiple choice as the Industry Canada exam is also multiple choice. If special arrangements are needed, they are available as per the Industry Canada examination requirements (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf01862.html).
Well, the ham radio licence allows individuals to make use of the amateur radio bands for non-commercial purposes. Massive amounts of the frequency space in Canada has been made available to amateurs under licence by Industry Canada (IC) with guidance from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to allow hobbits to not only communicate but also tinker, develop, and generally play with radio.
In general, hams have a portion of radio spectrum available within each band allocation by IC. To understand just how much spectrum, here is the internal division of the amateur bands as outlined by Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC):
The real fun though is in what you can do. Although the basic licence only allows you to be a sort of appliance user in the ham bands (your radio must be commercially packaged), the advanced allows you to build and operate your own radio.
Hams are allowed to use transmitters for RC vehicles that operate in the ham bands.
Hams use many tens of digital modes of communication such as PSK31, RTTY, JT56, and DominoEX. Or, just invent your own, publicly document it (no encryption or secret code is legal in amateur radio) and begin using it with a friend.
There are networks of hams who use analog modems to build out an entire TCP/IP network over radio with networked servers, some of which are only accessible through the ham network (no internet connection). Better still, some of these servers are actually satellites in space. In fact, the entire 184.108.40.206/8 IPv4 address space has been allocated to ham radio under direction of AMPRNet.
Amateurs also run a service called the Amateur Packet Reporting System (APRS). APRS allows hams to broadcast their location for any number of reasons from emergency response to social networking. It's not just location though, you can send the system weather, texts, or even emails all of which are available to other hams both locally through their radio or online as gateways aggregate this information and send it to aggregating servers. You can see this aggravating in action on http://aprs.fi/#!addr=Oshawa.
If you're not really into the tech, there's always the social aspects. Many groups of hams exist (NSARC is one of them). These groups are often heavily involved in their communities providing realtime radio communications for various events. One that we do for example is the Ride For the United Way. This is a 160km bike ride that happens throughout the Durham region. We provide strategic radio stations for the event as well as drive around during the race to check along the route and ensure everyone is both safe and, in the event of an emergency, that assistance (repairs, medical, transportation) can be provided to those in need.
If you want to volunteer in more serious situations, there is the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES). These people go through training to become well versed in providing first response emergency communications following a disaster. They train how to work alongside other responders such as police, fire service, medical first aid, coast guard, search and rescue, as well as the military to become a front line emergency response team.
If that's maybe a little too much, there is also Canadian Weather Amateur Radio Network (CANWARN). CANWARN is an organized severe weather spotting and reporting program organized and run by the Meteorological Services Division of Environment Canada. They work to confirm and add information to the remote sensing observations of satellites and radar as well as provide information not observable by these technologies.
Ham clubs will often run local repeaters. A repeater is a device that captures signal on one frequency and rebroadcasts it at a higher power on another frequency usually 600 kHz above or below the input frequency. Often these devices are quite technical and require committees of people to service and run them as well as backup generators and antenna towers. They are a fantastic way to make much longer distance contacts from low power as they often operate on possibly hundreds of watts of power unlike a handheld station that will usually only run on about 5.
Most clubs and even some individuals participate in one or more grand radio contact events called field day. Field days are a day or weekend about emergency communications. It's a contest where hams compete to earn points making contact with as many others on the air that they can within a time limit. All of this while earning bonuses for running on non-conventional or generator power sources, camping, and generally providing emergency like restrictions to their contacts. It tests hams ability to provide last resort communication and through a friendly contest to compete in.
There's a whole community of people who attempt to make long distance contacts called DX. They do all sorts of fantastic things like taking trips to remote areas in hopes of making contact with others using special callsigns. These are sometimes called DXpeditions. One happening soon at the time of writing is someone will be running a DXpedition from North Korea. Some of the DX hardcore limit themselves to low power for bragging rights. They'll contest to make contact with people in every province, every country, every state of the USA. To top it off, some special callsigns are assigned to events that give an exotic quality to some contacts on the air. As an example is the callsign VG3SJAM which was active from Jan-01 to Jan-31 2015 where members of the Kingston Amateur Radio Club (VE3KBR) join the celebration to commemorate the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald with the call VG3SJAM. Kingston was Sir John A. Macdonald's hometown and the first capital of Canada.
There's a group of people who love a sort of radio sport often called fox hunting. No foxes get to play in this game though. Instead, hidden radio beacons are hidden around town or your county and the participant's job is to use radio triangulation to locate the beacons to claim their reward. Harder than it looks and a sport where your technical ability and deductive reasoning often beats brawn in a race to collect them first.
Last one in this list but certainly not last in the field nor least by any measure. All of the astronauts aboard the international space station ISS are licensed and avid ham radio operators. You can make contact and say a hello when they have free time to talk to all of us down here for those who want to listen. In fact, many aspects of space are ham radio by nature. Many amateur satellites exist that do everything from act as a simple repeater (in freaking space) to allow you to login and exchange mail (email in freaking space!). When I say anything is possible, I mean anything. Are you so ambitious that you want to find a budget, build a satellite, and launch it into orbit? You can with your follow hams and a lot of hard work. They do it all the time.
The best part, whenever you get board in ham radio, just remember that at least twice more exists yet unknown in radio than you currently know. So go explore if you want to have fun. It's a nerdy hobby, so read up and ask questions.
This course is available at http://bit.ly/1MlnaXA.