Interpretation Centre
Richmond Amateur Radio Club Ornaments
2021 Steveston Festival of Trees
Dec. 1 to Dec. 24, 2021

Compiled by Urey Chan, VE7URE


The annual Steveston Festival of Trees organized by Gulf of Georgia Cannery (GOG) features holiday trees decorated by local merchants and organizations on display at the Cannery museum from Dec. 1 to Dec, 24, 2021.

Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC) participation in the event has three objectives:
    - Inform and educate the public about Amateur radio communications
    - Support GOG events and activities
    - Use the event to promote RARC and GOG beyond the local community

Last year (2020) was RARC's first participation in the GOG event. RARC received special mention for having the most online Web poll votes, along with comments about the unique theme and a Blogpage to provide information about the Amateur radio and satellite themed decorations.

This year's decorated trees are displayed throughout the museum with the RARC tree located with the group at the back. RARC ornaments build on last year's theme by providing additional information and educational content on Amateur radio in today's communication technologies.

The public can view and VOTE for their favourite tree either in person at the museum, online using PollUnit, or on the GOG Cannery Facebook and Instagram pages.


Choosing 'Communicating to One World' as the name and theme for RARC's tree is well suited to portray Amateur radio in current technologies. While Morse Code and other traditional radio communication practices are still in use, Amateur radio has a presence in outer space through programs by Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) and advocates like Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) and Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio (OSCAR). Using voice operations, Morse code and othe modes of transmission with Amateur radio protocols, operators enhanced by satellite technology can now communicate more effectively with one another around the world. (Below are overviews of the RARC tree.)


This year's ornaments improved on what was completed last year, with content and messaging representing the three key components of Amateur radio activity: equipment (rig), transmitted message (traffic), and operator (ham). All ornaments are built by RARC members and their family.

All ornaments are hand made (except for the fiigures and ribbon) and organized in four groups:
    - Models of cube satellites to portray modern technology of satellite communicaions
    - Coasters displaying messages and organizations involved with Amateur radio
    - Miniature figures (on ribbon) representing Amateur radio operators
    - Model of International Space Station as tree topper


The tree is topped by a 12-inch long abstract model of the International Space Station (ISS) because of ARISS - a program that enables students to communicate with astronauts on board using Amateur radio. Very recently a second Amateur radio station was installed to increase Amateur radio activities, such as special event slow scan television (SSTV) transmissions and STEM education initiatives. The Amateur call sign for the ISS is NA1SS. It is used for calling the Amateur stations on board to talk to astronauts and is on the front of the tree topper model.

The ISS model is created by shaped cardboard forms covered with grey patterned gift wrapping paper. The supporting tripod frame was built with sturdy metal Meccano parts and selected Lego Technic components to attach the model to the tower. On the tower structure bears the call sign VE7GOG for the RARC Amateur radio station located on the Parks Canada GOG Cannery National Historic Site property.


There are more than 40 operating satellites capable of or designated for Amateur radio operations presently in orbit, most of which are cube satellites (generally referred as CubeSats) measuring 10 cm. cubed in actual size. To portray Amateur radio in satellite communicaions, cubes representing CubeSats are scratch-built in three-quarters scale and half-size scale of the actual size.


Coasters covered by printed designs display abbreviations and codes commonly used in Amateur radio traffic along with words and phrases of the season. Also displayed are accronyms of local and international organizations representing Amateur radio as a global activity. There is Morse code translation on the Q-codes and abbreviations.

Common Q-codes (for Morse code) and other abbrevationss used for Amateur radio traffic:

CQ - Used to openly call for other operators, usually repeated 3 times (to sound like 'seek you')
QSO - A commonly used Q-code to indicate or confirm a radio contact
QTH - Q-code for location
RST - Accronym for signal report to represent: readability, strength and tone (of what is heard)
WX - Symbol for weather, any radio traffic concerning the weather begins with WX
CN89 - Maidenhead grid square geographic locator used in Amateur radio for station VE7GOG
73 - Numeric code meaning best regards or my compliments from Phillips code in telegraph era
88 - Means love and kisses also from the Phillips code
GOG - Refers to the club station, call sign VE7GOG, situated on the GOG Cannery site

Accronyms of Amateur radio organizations with full name and description:

AMSAT - Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, international educational organization fostering Amateur radio participation in space research and communication
ARISS - Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, program supported by space agencies and Amateur radio organizations inspiring students to pursue interests in careers in STEM through Amateur radio
OSCAR - Designation by AMSAT for 'orbiting sattelite carrying Amateur radio'
IARU - International Amateur Radio Union, worldwide federation of Amateur radio organizations providing an international voice
RAC - Radio Amateurs of Canada, national organization representing Amateur radio in Canada, a member of IARU
ARES - Amateur Radio Emergency Service, program coordinating Amateur radio operators in emergency communications

Other coaster messages:

Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe - three iconic phrases from Dr. Bonnie Henry
Pearch, Hope, Joy - three words associated with the Christmas season
One Love - name and phrase of Bob Marley song calling for peace and order


Using plastic two-inch 'minifigures' from popular building sets bring contrast to the geometric and technical composition of the CubeSats and also add a playful element to the ornaments reflecting the spirit of the season. The figures repreent Amateur radio operaors and club members, each figure bearing a personal call signs on the vest. The 20 figures are further personalized with scratch-built handheld radios, each with antennas of varying lengths and detailed with the RARC VHF repeater frequency on the dsplay. The radios are held by the hand and some are attached to the vest of the figures.


Two types of satellite models were constructed: whimsical compositions based on cardboard cubes, and more true to scale replicas of actual CubeSats. Bricks and pieces from popular building sets along with used items from around the kitchen and run down computer equipment made up the ecclectic appearance of each cube. Craft materials and scrap items from around the house are used to add creativity and a bit of whimsy into the design.


    - In person by visiting the Cannery museum,
    - Online using PollUnit for the event,
    - or on the GOG Cannery Facebook
    - and Instagram pages.


Thank you to our team of RARC members involved in the 2021 project:
- Allan, VE7WXZ
- Carole, VA7QCE
- Evaristo, VA7BZE (and family members)
- Roy, VA7RTL
- Urey, VE7URE

RARC Tree Decorating Team: (L to R) Roy (VA7RTL), Allan (VE7WXZ) , Urey (VE7URE), Carole (VA7QCE), Allan, (absent: Evaristo (VA7BZE))
Photo credit: Mimi Horita, Marketing and Visitor Services Manager, GOG Cannery
(from 2020 event)


Canada Space Agency - What is a CubeSat

NASA - CubeSats Overview

AMSAT For Beginners - Getting Started on Amateur Radio Satellites

AMSAT Live OSCAR - Satellite Status Page

ARISS in Canada

Back to RARC main Website
Updated: Dec. 26, 2021