TRURO, N.S. – Daniela Zanin is only in Grade 8, but she had already helped her fellow amateur radio operators contact 65 other stations across North America.
Her task was to log contacts on a laptop made by the Truro Amateur Radio Club, who set up an array of radio sets and an antenna at the Special Hazards Response Unit building on Pictou Road, helping to test their readiness for an emergency situation.
“It’s really interesting, just the different communications and how one little antenna can reach all the way to Wisconsin and down to Alabama,” said Zanin. “It’s really fun, I haven’t gotten my license yet but I might get it in the future, so I’m just logging today.”
Zanin first got into radio through her father Luigi. Back in his native Italy, he took a radio exam and learned Morse code, but had to redo the tests after he immigrated to Canada.
When asked what she found most intriguing about radios, Daniela Zanin’s response was simple.
“Just how easy it is in a way to reach all the way across North America,” said Zanin.
The TARC was competing over a 24-hour period through Saturday and Sunday against clubs in Canada, the United States and for the first time, others in Mexico and some Caribbean islands. All clubs were partaking in the American Radio Relay League/Radio Amateurs of Canada competition.
The ARRL/RAC competition judged operators according to how many other clubs they can talk to, using either voice messages or Morse code over 24 hours. Clubs will also be graded on how many watts their radio transmitters use.
The TARC used high, very high and ultra-high frequency radios for communicating with other operators in Atlantic Canada and across North America. TARC is licensed by Industry Canada and the club owns the equipment it uses.
During disasters, amateur radio operators can offer steady communications when normal telephone and other infrastructure is offline.
In normal times, amateur radio operators may beam messages up to relay satellites in orbit when talking to clubs across the world. One club in Prince Edward Island even talked with astronauts on the International Space Station.