Recipient of the RAC Amateur of the Year 2020: Al Penney, VO1NO

The RAC Board of Directors takes great pleasure in selecting Al Penney, VO1NO, as the recipient of the RAC Amateur of the Year Award for 2020 in recognition of his tireless efforts to promote Amateur Radio in his home province of Newfoundland, throughout Canada and internationally.

Al Penney

Through the RAC Amateur of the Year Award, Radio Amateurs of Canada recognizes the outstanding contributions made by Canadian Amateurs. The RAC Board considers nominations for the RAC Amateur of the Year Award and presents it if and when the nomination demonstrates the exceptional contribution made. If there are several nominations the best for that year is approved.

Alphonse (Al) Penney, VO1NO, was born and raised in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. A Remco crystal radio kit Christmas gift, and the acquisition of a Hallicrafters S-38D shortwave receiver as a boy sparked a lifelong fascination with the “magic of radio”. Al was licensed in early 1977 after taking an evening course sponsored by the local Department of Communications (DOC) Radio Inspector.

Al has served on the Executives of many clubs throughout Canada and the USA, including Vice-President of the West Island ARC in Montreal, and President of the VE2CMR ARC, Halifax ARC, West Carleton ARC in Ottawa, and the Pike’s Peak Radio Amateur Association in Colorado Springs while serving at NORAD Headquarters. More recently he co-founded the Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club in Nova Scotia, a “virtual” club that appeals to those who do not like to take part in more traditional clubs.

Al has been involved with teaching prospective Amateurs since the early 1990s. He is one of the primary instructors for the Halifax ARC for their Basic and Advanced courses, and he organized and taught the RAC Online Basic Course in response to the global pandemic.

Al has been the RAC Band Planning Coordinator since 2013 and he spearheaded the effort to update the Canadian HF band plans and have them published in a graphic format. He is currently coordinating the update of the VHF/UHF band plans. He lives in Aylesford, Nova Scotia on 10 acres he would like to turn into an antenna farm!

Stay tuned to the March-April 2021 issue of The Canadian Amateur and the RAC website for complete information about our Amateur of the Year 2020 and the presentation of the award later this year.

For more information about the RAC Amateur of the Year Award visit: https://wp.rac.ca/rac-amateur-of-the-year/

Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA
RAC President and Chair

News from the Valley (Winter Contest)

Despite COVID-19 (and generally miserable shortwave propagation), four members of the Kings Co. ARC (three of whom are also in HARC) decided to get together for the 24-h RAC Winter Contest. Since 2006, hams in both HARC and KCARC have gathered for the annual Canada Day and Canada Winter RAC contests at the house and radio shack of Fred (VE1FA) and Helen (VA1YL) Archibald in metropolitan Canard, (just south of Canning). The shack/workshop is fairly roomy, allowing lots of snacks, chairs, and kibitzers. This time Wayne VE1BAB and Bob VE1RSM made up the foursome. We four meet frequently, so consider ourselves in a common bubble.

On 19-20 December 2020 we ran the Winter Contest as a mixed (SSB + CW) multi-op, single transmitter at 500-700W station in the MOST-HP class. A new RAC rule allowed us to use a second transmitter to work new multipliers only, but we stuck to a single TX. As always, we used two antennas; a 486’ circumference delta horizontal loop 48-54’ above ground, and a Mosley Classic 33 tri-bander at 53’. Sometimes we run as VE1LD (KCARC’s call) but this time we ran as VE1RAC. As usual, we logged with N1MM, optimized by our expert Bob.

Fred + Helen started at 8PM local on Dec. 19th, joined by Bob a little later, and we worked ‘till about 1 AM. Bands 80 and 160 were surprisingly good! As all of us are approaching old geezerdom, we then shut down for the night. Wayne and Bob arrived on the 20th, and we ended up working 15 of the 24h of the contest.

Propagation was spotty: 10m never opened and 15m was very weak, but 20, 40, 80, and 160 varied from poor to magic patches (in amongst the QSB) of amazingly good prop!

Results: 1088 total QSOs 651 SSB (Fred + Helen), 437 CW (Wayne + Bob)

  • 76 multipliers, 38 CW and 38 SSB
  • worked all provinces and territories except Nunavut (VY0)
  • Max QSO rates: 4 Qs/min for 1 minute, 2.3 Qs /minute for 1 hour (138 Qs/hr)
  • Total score: 489,592 Amazingly, considering conditions and where we are in the sunspot cycle, this was our best score ever in the Canada Winter Contest!

Problems?? Nothing tests a station like being in a contest, and though our current station has been tweaked and peaked for years, we did have a new problem which certainly cost us lot of points: the logging computer seized up several times. The problem was that I (Fred) had replaced the 12” computer screen with a 23” screen, which acted as an improved HF antenna, dumping too much of the radio’s RF energy into the logging computer on 20m.

Why do we do this twice a year? (1.) It’s nice and social, both in the shack and on the air. (2.) It keeps us sharp and improves our radio skills. (3.) It improves the station. (4.) It’s fun!

PS If you would like to join us (after we’re vaccinated) for the Canada Day or Winter contests, let Fred or Helen know!

De Fred VE1FA