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Re: AMSAT-NA totally metric?

On 20 Jan 2007 at 10:18, G. Beat wrote:

> "Everybody has to be careful with their units when they convert." But
> he says it will make calculations easier in the long run. Everything
> fits together by tens, hundreds and so on.

Here is an excerpt on the Canadian metric conversion experience. Still today we 
tend to convert to the old english system (old generation) but the new 
generation are fully imbedded in the SI system.

The harder part is the temperature system and the volume measures. A big plus 
it is a decimal based system no more 1/64 1/32 and so on odd fraction. As in 
Asterix a small village still resist the conversion...

I remember the advertisement campaign at that time "don't convert think metric" 
easier to say than doing.

Here is the excerpt.

Metric Conversion is the process of making metric units, eg, metre (m), litre 
(L), kilogram (kg), degree Celsius (°C), the common units of measurement in 
Canada. Although the metric system was legalized in Canada in 1871, the British 
imperial system of units, based on yards, pounds, gallons, etc, continued to 
predominate. In the 1960s, with rapidly advancing technology and expanding 
worldwide trade, the need for an international measurement system became 
increasingly apparent. Britain decided to convert to the metric system and the 
US was studying a similar move.

A number of Canadian associations representing diverse interests, including 
consumers, educators and professionals, made representations to the government 
favouring the metric system. In January 1970 the White Paper on Metric 
Conversion in Canada set out Canadian government policy. It stated that a 
single, coherent measurement system based on metric units should be used for 
all measurement purposes, including legislation. In line with this policy, the 
Weights and Measures Act was amended by Parliament in 1971 to recognize the 
Système International d'Unités (SI), the latest evolution of the metric system, 
for use in Canada. Also in 1971, Parliament passed the Consumer Packaging and 
Labelling Act, requiring that metric units be shown on labels of most consumer 

To implement metric conversion the government established a Preparatory 
Commission in 1971, later called Metric Commission Canada. The commission's 
role was to ensure a planned and co-ordinated conversion in all sectors of the 
Canadian economy and to disseminate information on metric conversion. Beginning 
in 1973 the commission organized over 100 sector committees, with members from 
national associations and major organizations representing business and 
industry, consumers, labour, health, education and government. Each sector 
committee was responsible for preparing a sector conversion plan and monitoring 
its implementation. The commission as a whole approved sector conversion plans 
developed through consensus.

The process of replacing imperial units with SI units in all kinds of 
documents, measuring devices, manufacturing processes, products and packages 
involved a countless variety of tasks. The technical basis for the change to SI 
units was established by 2 national standards of Canada, the International 
System of Units (SI) and the Canadian Metric Practice Guide, first published in 
1973 by the Canadian Standards Association and approved by the Standards 
Council of Canada.

After choosing appropriate SI units, practical approaches to implementation 
were debated by sector committees, with each sector determining policies and 
strategies to suit its interests. Soft conversion (arithmetical conversion of 
pre-existing measurement values) versus hard conversion (round, rational values 
in metric units, possibly requiring physical change in product size) was a 
major issue. The use of both imperial and metric measurements was another area 
of controversy. Dependence on the US for many parts and products was a 
constraint for many sectors. The dedicated efforts of Canadian industry allowed 
conversion to proceed with few major problems, although it took 2-5 years 
longer than planned.

Luc Leblanc VE2DWE
Skype VE2DWE


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