May - June 2023 SEPAR Report


Work ahead heading into spring

Over the last several weeks we have had multiple global events which have reminded us with the need to be prepared. Watching video of the earthquake disaster in Turkey and Syria and the subsequent response of nations to come to their aid has been another reminder that we too live in a very active seismic zone.

Often when we think of needs to prepare, the first thoughts of people in our region is that of an earthquake. We have also seen the consequences related to snow and the gridlock traffic in December that led to people being stuck for 8-10 hours in their cars when they should have arrived at home in 45 minutes to an hour. The previous year our neighbors just a few kilometers away experienced flooding that destroyed highways and led to many people coming to realize how quickly impassable roads led to supply chain challenges and limits on gas purchases. But in the local events we still had the ability to communicate. Other than perhaps some busy delays on the cell phone networks our communications still worked. Thankfully we haven’t had large damaging earthquakes in the area so we don’t really know what our communications will look like until (not if) the earthquake happens.

This has led to discussion amongst our local amateur radio community. We practice weekly with our nets, some area nets happen daily. The weekly SEPAR net starts on the repeater and then moves to an alternate frequency. This over the last couple of years has been on either of our planned/coordinated alternate simplex frequencies. This allows each of us to practice and try and improve our simplex communications throughout the entire City of Surrey. A city with 568,322 people as of the 2021 census covering 317.4 square km. We have valleys, rivers, agricultural areas, dense population areas with high rise towers etc. This can make communications challenging. We have north and a south repeaters available to use, but the weekly simplex portion of the net is a reminder of how we may require relay stations to ensure all of the hams can communicate if these two repeaters are no longer available.

Each year we discuss maintenance and plans of what to work on next. One of our members has started going through the City owned Radio Kits and checking coax, connectors, and ensuring the contents are in the correct boxes. We have some major updates to do on the SEPAR trailer and a couple of HF antennas that need maintenance to ensure they work properly. We have many new members and it is time to review our kits, programming and plans.

We have discussed expanding APRS availability at our repeaters, adding Winlink RMS stations to several locations in the city and one of our members is working on how we can add AREDN (Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network) mesh equipment. It is these digital improvements that will required more work. Whether it is securing a location for antennas, internet, backup power etc. each of these provides their own challenges. We do have a very supportive relationship with our city and want to make sure as we develop these plans that they can be maintained.

As a result of the city’s support we have a shared facility we can use and have a radio room with equipment always set up to use. Each week several of us (15-20) meet for breakfast at a local Denny’s restaurant and then go over to our OTC (Operations and Training Center) to work on projects, some to participate in contests, and of course to improve and maintain our equipment. New hams come to get advice on how to get stations set up in their apartment or strata unit, or how to tune an antenna etc.

One of the most recent topics is getting newly licensed hams over mic fright and active on the air. A newby net is being discussed and a seminar after the class licensing exam on “what is next now that you’re licensed?” It has been one of the most rewarding things to meet new people and see them become active participants on the air. We are seeing our volunteer numbers in the SEPAR program growing as well.

As we come out of winter and see some improved weather we are looking forward to kick staring several of these projects. Watch in the upcoming editions of the Communicator as we tackle some of them.

If you want further information on SEPAR please reach out.

~ Gord Kirk VA7GK
  SEPAR Coordinator



Welcome to SEPAR

Welcome to our blog site! Here you'll find the latest pictures and news about our group. Visit us regularly to see what we're up to.

Communications are a critical service in an emergency. Experience has shown when communications systems fail, and they often do, assistance efforts are hampered and loss of life and injuries increase. Amateur Radio has a long history of providing auxiliary communications services to support emergency and social services. Amateur Radio (Ham) radio enthusiasts practice radio communications as a hobby, routinely talk around the globe, and are well equipped and trained to provide these services. The term 'amateur' refers only to the fact that it is a not-for-profit service and is not a reflection of the skill level.  Practitioners include engineers, doctors, lawyers, blue-collar workers and others from all walks of life and many commercial communications applications were first developed by Amateur Radio hobbyists.

Our Website is at http://separ.ca and our Informational Video is at URL: http://tinyurl.com/SeparsInfo

S.E.P.A.R. stands for Surrey Emergency Program Amateur Radio, an acronym of the City of Surrey’s Amateur Radio program. SEPAR is somewhat unique in that it is not an Amateur Radio club but a community service organization that includes both licensed Amateur Radio operators and other communications volunteers involved in the city emergency program. All SEPAR volunteers must submit to a criminal records check as a condition of membership. 

We're also on Twitter via #VE7HME

Contact Information

Information e-mail separ.mail@gmail.com

Emergency Program Administrative Coordinator

The SEPAR Mailing Address

8767 - 132nd Street
Surrey, B.C. V3W 4P1


March - April 2023 SEPAR Report


What seems like a very long winter finally seems to be over. 

It feels like we have had weeks of rain which impacts our outside activities. But as I write this report the sun is shining and the trees around me are all covered in blossoms. This means it is time to get busy with annual outdoor maintenance. Radio antenna’s, and all of the outdoor equipment we have, as well as doing some portable operating. In this issue of the communicator if you check out the SARC Monthly Meeting Minutes, or the the Report from Larry about the GOTA activities, the number of students graduating licensing classes and the participation of those in contesting you will see so much has been happening to get those newly licensed involved.

As with any program which relies on volunteers it is always exciting to see newcomers join us and grow both in their personal abilities but also assist with the program for emergency communications. We have recently had requests from NEPP (Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Program) groups to talk about emergency communications. We are also participating in a local Emergency Preparedness Fair on June 10th with the ask that we talk about how local groups/ individuals can communicate during an emergency. We have been requested to show radio options and discuss these. This will be so much easier with some of the lessons learned helping with the newly licensed Hams, the GOTA class and net. In fact on the GOTA net one of the participants asked about using 440mhz as the nets are typically done on 2m. So instead of the simplex portion of the SEPAR net (where we move to a simplex frequency and then return to the repeater) we chose to have the net participants move to the 440 repeater and then return to the 2m one. This allowed the newer members to program the repeater frequencies into their radios and try it out. Even though the repeaters are side by site at the rooftop location some discovered they had a cleaner signal on 440 rather than 2m. The benefit of this is we expanded the knowledge of the group, tested the repeater equipment and increased those who can support emergency communications now on another band they hadn’t used.

The new hams often start with a simple handheld radio like the Baofengs as they purchase their first radio. As part of the licensing class we also provide a hands on antenna workshop where students build a roll-up J-Pole antenna and hopefully come away with a better practical understanding of antenna theory. As I have previously mentioned it is really quite noticeable the improvements on signals both in strength and clarity when the antenna which comes with a handheld is replaced with a gain antenna. Again this is a win to have hams understand and have the ability to improve their signal and help them get “connected” from their homes.

So, as we talk about the use of amateur radio in a disaster often we prepare but are not needed as normal communications often still work. This is a good thing, the reliability of our communications systems is so important in our daily lives we really don’t want failures. That said often the failures are small and limited in scope. It can simply be an overloaded area due to abnormal congestion, or a localized power outage, or perhaps a vehicle incident has caused a communications pole and line to be damaged. In our area it is often vehicle incidents or natural caused interruptions eg. windstorms impacting local areas.

So, that leads to the question: What is your personal communications plan? Lets start with identifying the answers to these 4 questions:

  1. Who do you want to communicate with? (spouse, family, friends, employer/ coworkers)
  2. Why do you want to communicate with them? (What do they need from you or what do you need from them, is it communications to let them know you are safe?)
  3. How will you talk with them? This is where most people expect me to start talking about amateur radio, frequencies etc. However, in emergency communications I would recommend you start with more traditional means of communication. At least identify which of these are options you should consider:

  • cell phone
  • texting
  • messaging app
  • social media, and
  • satellite communicators

are all examples of technology which might be better to start off with.

4. When will you communicate with them. Have you discussed how one person might get in touch with the other when one of the parties may be outside of any area experiencing challenges and be completely unaware of the issue.

Cell phones, texts, apps etc. allow to you to get in contact but if you are using radios how will the other person know to turn it on and start following your plan? Use of calling clocks can help with this. There is a protocol called the Wilderness Protocol and frequencies recommended to monitor. “The Wilderness Protocol” (ref. June 1996 QST, page 85), recommends that stations (fixed, portable or mobile) monitor the primary (and secondary if possible) frequency(s) every three hours starting at 7 AM local time, for five minutes (7:00-7:05 AM, 10:00-10:05 AM, etc.) Additionally, stations that have sufficient power resources should monitor for five minutes starting at the top of every hour, or even continuously.” The primary frequency is the National Simplex Calling Frequency… 146.52 MHz. The secondary frequencies are 446.0, 223.5, 52.525 and 1294.5 MHz.

Again, without a prior discussion (a plan) you might not establish the communications you think you will have.

Next month we will continue with developing our plan. For this month I ask you to spend a few minutes and write down the answers to the above questions as a start.

I hope everyone stays safe as we move into our spring and summer activities. If you are interested in the SEPAR program and wish to become more involved please let us know. Our website is www.separ.ca and there is a contact form to get in touch with us. 

Our weekly nets are every Tuesday night on the SARC repeater on 147.360 + T110.9 at 07:30 pm PST. All are welcome to check in.

~ Gord Kirk VA7GK
SEPAR Coordinator



Interested in our course?

Be prepared!

We offer our Canadian Basic Amateur Radio Communications on-line course every 12 weeks. Whether as a hobby, possible electronics career path, remote outdoor activities, or for emergency communications, Amateur Radio just works. Click for more information or to register


The SEPAR Cruise-In

 Come show us yours... 

Many Amateur Radio licensees have home stations where the hobby is practiced for fun, contacting similar stations all over the globe, but the hobby has a serious side as well. We provide emergency communications where all other systems, such as cell phones or even radio towers fail. Many of us have mobile stations (in compliance with distracted driving regulations) that permit us to operate wherever and whenever. Mobile Amateur Radio is not restricted to cars and trucks but bicycles, even pedestrians and equestrians. This type of broad-based community availability requires no commercial infrastructure, hence the slogan: “ Amateur Radio works when all else fails”. This has been shown time and again all over the world.

SEPAR would like to host a first ever event of its kind locally. We have a commitment from the Surrey Fire Service and I expect that support from our contacts at the Surrey RCMP (or Surrey Police Service)  to judge the entries.  Prizes will be awarded for the neatest installation and the most bands covered.

The idea for this local event originated with the Portage County Amateur Radio Service (PCARS), a Wisconsin group who have been doing the Mobile Cruise-In for twelve consecutive years.  Their turnout varies with the weather, but in past years they've had 50 or more entries. In addition to the entrants and Amateur Radio spectators, we welcome members of the public to stop by and check out the goings on. They say that it's a great way to generate some exposure for Amateur Radio and our emergency programs.

We appreciate the support of the A&W restaurant at that location but, if you are not an A&W fan, there are several other refreshment options adjoining the same large parking lot.

So polish up your mobile rig, dust off your Grab ‘n Go kit and come show it off at  the ‘Cruise-In’

August 25: The post event video is now available at: https://youtu.be/VxwvYtPwaGU 


The SEPAR Video


What is SEPAR

Soon to be updated, we made a video a few years ago describing SEPAR and its role in the City of Surrey Emergency Program


SEPAR - SARC School and Libraries Program


Making kids aware of communications

For several years SEPAR and SARC brought an educational hands-on experience to primary school kids and library programs in the City of Surrey.

To enquire about a visit for your group, please contact us at SEPAR@ve7sar.net

November - December SEPAR report

  Fall happenings Fall has finally arrived. The long very dry summer has ended, and the fall winds and rain have started. For many of us it ...