Amateur Radio June 2011
Delivery expected from May 25
AR print and paper quality
I recently had correspondence from a WIA member regarding the quality of our magazine – Amateur Radio. In particular, the member was questioning if the decision to produce the magazine on “newsprint” was related to budget, and further he attempted to link the magazine print quality to the then just announced rises in WIA membership fees. I thought that many of our readers might be interested in the related facts, so here is my response to the inquiry:
AR has been published on newsprint for several years now – since well before I became Editor in 2006. In 2010, we upgraded to a whiter and slightly heavier grade of paper when we changed printer, which brought with it an improvement in general reproduction and particularly the reproduction of colour images on the main pages of the magazine.
Production costs, especially the printing costs, are but one factor in the choice of printing technology used. We regularly explore the costs of moving to a whiter paper stock than currently used, but such a move would require a change of printing process. All previous quotations for such printing for AR at our small (for the printing trade) print run size would incur a significant increase in printing (and postage) costs. To date, we (Publications Committee (PubCom)) have chosen to not recommend such a change to the WIA Board, as we have considered the increased costs to be so significantly large that they were unlikely to be acceptable to us or the Board - they would require a very significant increase in the budget for AR and therefore a significant hike in membership fees for members.
With any printing technology, there are sometimes a number of impressions of a particular print run which have unacceptably poor reproduction. Most of these are usually picked up by the print house quality control mechanisms, but some may slip through and be sent out to recipients.
Perhaps the magazine that you received was one that was missed by quality control? If that is the case, I am sure that the WIA office can arrange for a replacement copy to be sent to you if you contact the office.
Having said that, I do note that the May issue appears to have unusually poor reproduction of the internal colour images, especially compared to the January/February and March issues. Most copies of the April issue that we have seen were acceptable, but some colour photos had some issues. But the May issue was definitely not up to the usual standard. We have initiated inquiries with the printer in an effort to determine the cause of this issue.
The Publications Committee has no involvement of the setting of WIA fees, which are determined solely by the Board. My only comment is that we have been at the same membership fee for several years, and any normal person would have expected a review of the fees annually, with some increase very likely at some stage - any organisation can only absorb the increases in costs bought about by inflation for a limited time, especially when it has already done so across several years. I do note that whilst AR production is a significant proportion of the WIA’s annual budget, the organisation undertakes many other activities. Whilst many of the WIA activities are undertaken by volunteers, each will have associated costs for the organisation. We are lucky that we have the volunteers assisting the organisation - if we did not, I doubt that we would have as many services that many members enjoy, and probably we would not have a monthly magazine published 11 times a year.
The Publications Committee will continue to review our printing options and will make a recommendation to the Board for a change if and when we can produce a better quality finished product at what we consider to be a reasonable cost. For the moment, we strive to produce the best magazine possible within the budget constraints imposed upon us.
We are definitely chasing up the print house following the May issue – we need to return to the quality achieved with earlier issues this year (January/February and March).
What are your views?
Both PubCom and particularly I would be interested in your views. Are we doing a reasonable job with the magazine? I try to balance all the interests of the hobby, provided that I have material to publish – our hobby is very diverse!
If you have any pressing thoughts on your magazine, please send them in to either myself or Ernie VK3FM, PubCom Secretary. The comments will be carefully considered by PubCom. We cannot guarantee any changes in the short term – we all face budget constraints.
The cover this month depicts recent Field Day activities. The main photo shows the Hills Amateur Radio Group station at Mount Gunjin in WA for the John Moyle Field Day (Photo by Martin Stretton VK6ZMS). The upper inset photo shows the Amateur Radio Victoria VK3WI interactive display at Point Gellibrand Coastal Heritage Park for the National Field Day, with Greens MP Colleen Hartland MLC at the microphone (Photo by Michele Grant VK3FEAT). The lower inset photo also depicts the National Field Day, with Jean VK3VIP and Jenny VK3NDR at the information table, part of the Eastern & Mountain District Radio Club station at Lilydale (Photo by John Fisher VK3DQ).
WIA President's Comment
The RAVEN is not about to swoop
There has been much discussion recently in some quarters about the WIA in relation to emergency communications, with some suggesting that we have formulated policies where we are, in fact, still doing so.
Let me set out the current position of the WIA in relation to emergency communications.
First, why does the WIA think that what radio amateurs do in relation to emergency communications matters?
Amateur radio, in order to retain its increasingly valuable spectrum and privileges must be able to demonstrate a ‘public benefit’ in what it does. It can do that with an effective and relevant emergency communications capability, supporting the emergency services and the community.
Since 2003, when that part of the ITU’s international Radio Regulations governing the amateur services were reviewed and amended, the importance of amateur radio emergency communications has been recognised internationally.
In Australia for many years the WICEN groups, through their volunteers, have been the focus of amateur emergency communications. Generally these groups are separate clubs. They grew out of the old Divisions, when the WIA was a federal organisation of state and territory organisations.
But despite their name, while many are affiliated clubs, they are not part of the WIA and cannot be controlled by the WIA.
The fact is that these organisations vary greatly from place to place, some having effective working relationships with local organisations, some providing safety support for community organisations in non emergency roles, some have almost ceased to exist.
It may be unkind to say it, but in some places WICEN is a solution looking for a problem to solve.
There is no national organisation and no single approach to amateur emergency communications.
But we also believe that over the years what is needed has changed. Once, the value of the amateur was to provide emergency communications using his own equipment. It is now clear that the manpower resources of the emergency services organisations become severely stretched during a protracted emergency, and suitably trained and qualified radio amateurs who can operate emergency services communications systems can be a valuable resource.
For a number of years the WIA has been considering these issues. In July 2009 the WIA proposed the possibility of a nationally recognised competency based Training Package, and in the September 2009 issue of Amateur Radio, under the heading “What about WICEN” I said “What should be the role of the WIA so far as the existing WICEN groups are concerned is not so clear.”
The WIA has gone ahead with the training and accreditation program. It has distinguished between members and non members in the training program, subsidising part of the cost of the training for members and charging what it believes are the real costs for non members. It was concerned at the possible effects of different insurance coverage between members and non member participants in courses, overcoming this by creating a free, non-voting, temporary membership, but providing this magazine for 6 months in the hope that at least some would become full members.
The accreditation process has started, with the application forms now on the WIA website. This is only for voting members and is not automatic, requiring the meeting of certain health, mobility hearing and similar requirements.
We believe that in doing that, we are providing valuable support for the WICEN organisations. We believed training and accreditation program would be seen as complementing, supporting and strengthening the activities of the WICEN groups.
Once again, all of this was reviewed at our last face to face Board meeting at the beginning of April.
It was recognised that we needed to promote the WIA accreditation program to the appropriate services, government and non government.
In drawing together the various streams of ideas, we thought we would try to find a name for the project, and subject to what we called in our minutes, “some cautious field testing” we decided to try the term RAVEN – Radio Amateur Volunteer Emergency Network. We have identified it as a tentative name, but because of the word “Network”, seen in the same sense as in the term WICEN, we now feel that tentative use was rather putting the cart before the horse.
We also asked our group responsible for steering our work in this area to seek further advice and “on the basis of this advice and further investigations, to propose a structure and identify individuals to ensure that the representation of amateur emergency resources at appropriate regional levels was available.”
In short, we have not yet answered the question: what should be the role of the WIA and in what structure in relation to the provision of emergency communications in Australia beyond its training and accreditation program?
Certainly we have a role internationally, perhaps using specialist resources. We must ask could what is being done now be done better? Have we the resource to provide a substitute organisation? Should we enter into partnership arrangements with other organisations?
Can we better provide a national focus for amateur emergency organisations and volunteers? If so, how?
Have we been going slow? In a word, yes. Why? Because we see these as very complex issues across our nation, at times rather emotive issues, and with structures and requirements evolving all the time. If we move too fast, without the support of a majority, we will simply further fragment amateur radio’s approach to these vitally important issues.
We have had some very thoughtful suggestions offered to us.
We invite further input, both from groups and from individuals.
We may even consider a weekend roundtable for all of those who are interested.
We believe that the training and accreditation program should be a first step to a new national approach to the provision of communications in emergencies. The WIA will continue to seek the best solution, so that the skills and training of radio amateurs are best utilised in times of great need for the benefit of the community of which they are part.
Table Of Contents
The Darwin ARC at the WIA National Field Day in Darwin, 2011 Spud Murphy VK8ZWM
Club Grant Scheme 2011 WIA
The Whyalla ARC at the WIA 3National Field Day Sunday, 17 April, 2011 Peter Horgan VK5BWH
Scouts go bush for John Moyle Field Day Miles Burke VK6FMAB
Field Day botch-ups and other lessons learned Peter Ellis VK1PE
Multiband antennas Kevin Parsons VK2JS
A device holder for SMD construction Winston Nickols VK7EM
Down in the dirt: radio earths… Dale Hughes VK1DSH
My FT-290R repair adventure Steve Ireland VK2MD
Building and using a touch keyer Grant McDuling VK4JAZ
Plus all the usual Club news and columns
Scouts go bush for John Moyle Field Day
Miles Burke VK6FMAB
Whilst yet ‘another’ John Moyle Field Day article, this one, like they all do, tells a very human story of teamwork, camaraderie, hard work and just plain fun, never mind the age or sex of the participants, and this one is no different.
An interesting read of one group’s fun weekend, featuring as it does the introduction of some very young amateurs into amateur radio contesting and, again, of just having fun.
Field Day botch-ups and other lessons learned
Peter Ellis VK1PE
This article, ostensibly another in the long history of JMMFD lore, turns out to be somewhat different, in that it explains, in a casual, matter of fact and slightly humorous way how not to plan for such an event, and some of the performance impediments if you do.
It must be conceded that the author certainly acknowledged the shortfalls in his planning regime, and identified a number of improvements he could (would!) make for any future JMMFD jaunts.
Down in the dirt: radio earths…
Dale Hughes VK1DSH
Every station has them, to some degree or other, and often the ‘other’ is somewhat less effective than we might expect, or hope.
The author takes a more detailed approach to determining what the efficiency, and potential effectiveness, of his existing earth system might be, and with a few simple experiments, if, and how, it may be improved.
The article makes very interesting reading – and is relatively more important the lower in frequency one essentially operates.
A device holder for SMD construction
Winston Nickols VK7EM
This is a small article that gives an excellent suggestion on how to handle SMDs in a construction environment.
There are only a few words to the article, stated simply. But they contain such a good idea. And for all builders of our builders, it is well worth a look.
55 Cookson (Jackson Bros)
35 G & C Communications
55 Hamak Electrical Industries
33, 55 TTS
IFC Vertex Standard (Yaesu)
Page Last Updated: Monday 20 June 2011 at 20:48 hours