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The Elevation Education | Satellites | Weak Signal Propagation Reporting

Amateur Radio is a popular technical hobby and volunteer public service that uses designated radio frequencies for non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training and emergency communications. Amateur Radio is the only hobby governed by international treaty.

Amateur Radio is a hobby made especially for youth. As an Amateur Radio operator, you will have the chance to talk to people around the world and even astronauts in space.

Through Amateur Radio, you will learn and practise a set of lifelong skills that will help you throughout your future: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) principles that are taught in school, including the basics of electronics and wave propagation.

You will also make many lifelong friends and connections to your community. You will be prepared for, and can contribute during emergencies that arise. Amateur Radio will provide you with many opportunities in your community.

Even though Amateur Radio has been around for just over 100 years, it is still quite experimental and enthusiasts often look for ways to try something new with a radio.

As a Radio Amateur you are able to transmit radio signals on a number of frequency bands allocated specifically to the radio amateurs.

Radio Amateurs make use of their frequencies in a number of ways:

    • Contacting people all over the world by radio which often leads to developing international friendships
    • Competing in international competitions to test how effective your equipment is, and how good you are as an operator
    • Technical experimentation — many of the leaps forward in radio technology have been initiated by Radio Amateurs
    • Communication through Amateur space satellites or with the International Space Station (which carries an Amateur Radio station)
    • Providing communications at times of emergencies and undertaking exercises to ensure you keep the capability to do so.

There is no better way to explore the fascinating world of radio communications than by becoming a Radio Amateur.

High Altitude Balloons: “The Elevation Education”

Kelly Shulman at NASA
Teacher Kelly Shulman, VE3KLX, meeting with astronaut Charles Bolden at NASA.
Kelly Shulman, VE3KLX

Kelly Shulman, VE3KLX, is a Computer Science, Physics and Math Teacher from North Bay, Ontario. She received her Amateur Radio certification in the spring of 2017 through an interest in High Altitude Ballooning and joined the North Bay Amateur Radio Club at that time. She has written several articles about the High Altitude Balloon (HAB) program for The Canadian Amateur magazine.

Her first article in the January-February 2019 TCA was called “High Altitude Ballooning: The Elevation Education”. Here is an excerpt:

“On Monday, October 29, 2018, the Grade 11 Physics students of West Ferris Intermediate Secondary School in North Bay, launched a camera-toting high altitude balloon payload to Earth’s stratosphere, under the direction of their teacher Kelly Shulman.

This near space mission had three primary goals: to challenge the students with a real-world engineering problem; to record experimental data that could be used to examine course concepts; and to provide contextual anchors that will help students understand and retain Physics concepts, such as terminal velocity and the conservation of energy in a closed system.”

For more information visit our High Altitude Balloon program’s webpage.

Kelly Shulman’s excellent presentation on the High Altitude Balloon program is available for viewing on the RAC YouTube Channel.

           RAC 2020 Conference: High Altitude Balloons: The Elevation Education         

Amateur Cube Satellites (CubeSat)

University and other non-commercial groups around the world are developing satellites so students can learn how to design and operate spacecraft and conduct experiments that do not have a commercial objective.

These spacecraft usually rely on Amateur Radio communications to report on the health of the satellites and send data to Earth from experiments on the spacecraft. Students who operate the communications system for these satellites have passed the Canadian government examination required to become Radio Amateurs.

Canada’s first university CubeSat, ExAlta-1, was launched in 2018 and involved an Amateur Radio team of about 30 students. All of the 15 CubeSats now being designed and built at Canadian universities and colleges, as part of the Canadian Space Agency’s University CubeSat program, plan to use Amateur Radio communications.

Amateur Radio from Coast to Coast to Coast onboard the Polar Prince

Weak Signal Propagation Reporting (WSPR – pronounced “whisper”) beacons have been described as one-way radio, designed to understand radio signal propagation conditions using low-power transmissions.

In honour of Canada’s 150 Birthday, the Polar Prince, a retired Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker – as part of the Canada C3 celebration – took a unique 150-day voyage commencing in Toronto, Ontario and travelling down the St. Lawrence River and following the three coastlines of the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans, via the Historic Northwest Passage, terminating in Victoria, British Columbia. Onboard was a WSPR beacon which tracked the vessel’s progress.

On Thursday, July 9, 2020, Radio Amateurs of Canada participated in the 2020 IEEE AP-S Symposium on Antennas and Propagation by hosting a virtual presentation on the Canada C3 Weak Signal Propagation Reporting System (WSPR) Project.

RAC President Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA and Barrie Crampton, VE3BSB, were joined online by people from Canada, the United States and Latin America to view Barrie’s presentation on the development, operation and results of the project.

Canadian Radio Amateurs led by Barrie Crampton, VE3BSB, installed a WSPR beacon that provided round the clock transmissions at three Amateur Radio frequencies throughout the 150-day voyage. A video of the presentation is provided below.

More WSPR possibilities remain for those interested in learning about signal propagation at low power.

RAC Youth Education Program

The RAC Youth Education Program (YEP) provides teachers, youth and community leaders with an innovative way of learning by introducing them to the wonderful world of Amateur Radio. It provides financial and personal support to teachers in schools and leaders in community youth groups. Teachers who wish to include an element of radio technology in their programs will be eligible for assistance in acquiring the necessary equipment, books and other resources.

For more information, please visit