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2011 Magazines

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Amateur Radio March 2011

Delivery expected from February 23

Editorial

One year on…

Or should that be one hundred and one years on?

Our cover this month is a reprise of the cover from the March 2010 issue. That cover was based on historical photographs. This month, we have the same background, but have substituted a number of photographs from some of the activities that occurred during the Centenary celebrations.

Thanks to the efforts of the Centenary Committee, our lead article this month is an overview of activities during the past year. In itself, it will add to the archive of material that has been building, both of activities during the Centenary celebrations and from earlier years.

The Centenary year saw many separate events that combined to add to the celebrations. It is clear that the special callsign VK100WIA played a signifi cant role, involving clubs around the nation during the six months of operation. These operations commenced with the WIA directly sponsored operations during the month of May, including the period around the Annual General Meeting and associated activities.

Many amateurs around the globe made the effort to qualify for the Centenary Award. A total of 438 certificates were issued for the Award. It was interesting to see a number of relatively recently qualified local amateurs become enthused by the award. They started to keep an eye on the on-line logbook to obtain hints as to when and where to find the VK100WIA callsign as it moved from club to club. Most of them assisted with the setup of the station when our local club was operating the callsign and booked in for the operating roster. I note that some of them achieved their goal – they are on the list of those who have gained the award.

Some time on air

I did manage to load the car up with gear for the Summer VHF/UHF Field Day. It took some time to find all the required items, as the unpacking after the move last year has not progressed well as far as the radio shack contents are concerned.

I did a small Rover operation, venturing to the region around the nearest grid square junction. The actual grid square junction is down in a gully system – not the best site for successful VHF and UHF operations. From the first site chosen I was able to make contacts with several local amateurs, on all bands from 6 m through to 3 cm, except for 13 cm – for some reason the transverter decided it did not want to work. It was then a matter of moving around to some other locations in adjacent squares and making as many contacts as possible. At the second location, I found that now 23 cm was not working, as well as 13 cm.

By late afternoon I had activated three squares and decided to head back closer to home to activate the home square, dropping into home to pick up my IC-910 so that I had 23 cm operational. After grabbing some food, it was off to a local hilltop to leisurely work whoever I could manage to catch.

Later in the evening I heard something of interest on 23 cm. It ended up being very interesting – I managed to work our 6 m contributor Brian VK5BC at his portable location at Corny Point on 1296 MHz. The contact distance was just less than 934 km, and set a new national mobile record for the band, as well as being a new square for the grid square collection. I gave up at around one in the morning and drove home to get some sleep.

I went back to the hilltop the next morning to work a few more stations before heading home after the contest ended. It was a satisfying weekend of radio activity.

New look

By now, you should have noticed the new appearance of the magazine, thanks to the input from Sergio Fontana VK3SFG. Overall, the Publications Committee is happy with the new appearance and Sergio will continue to refine his workflow in an effort to meet new goals for delivery.

Of course, we would welcome any comments from readers.

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

Our cover

The cover this month links back to our early history by reprising the cover used in March 2010. Using the same background, we have added some highlights from the Centenary celebrations during 2010.

Upper left: Leighton Moss VK3CLJ operating VK100WIA from the EMDRC Clubrooms Saturday evening 18 September 2010.

Upper right: L to R: Councillor Andrew Antoniolle, IDRC President Michael Charteris VK4QS, Mayor Paul Pisasale Hon Vice President IDRC, Mr Ewan McLeod VK4ERM, Director WIA with the Certificate of Appreciation from Ipswich City Council presented to the Ipswich & District Radio Club for community involvement and assistance in times of disaster.

Lower left: Dick Smith VK2DIK and WIA President Michael Owen VK3KI in the radio room of the Bowylie Flying Club during the Centenary weekend of activities, May 2010.

Lower right: ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman speaking at the Centenary Dinner in Canberra.

WIA President's Comment

Has the Foundation licence been a failure?

Once a year, we pull out all sorts of information for the annual Directors’ Report and the report to the Open Forum following the Annual General Meeting.

This year it occurred to me that, as the first Foundation licensees were qualified in October 2005, we had now had full five years of the restructure of the Australian amateur licences and, more particularly, five full years of the entry level licence.

So, it seemed a good idea to ask the question, has the Foundation licence been a failure?

One table that I have been building up is the total number of amateur apparatus licences in force on 30 June each year, extracted from the Annual Report of the ACMA, previously the ACA, showing total apparatus licences.

30 June 2001 15,017
30 June 2002 14,536
30 June 2003 14,363
30 June 2004 14,047
30 June 2005 14,041
30 June 2006 14,475
30 June 2007 15,009
30 June 2008 15,278
30 June 2009 15,432
30 June 2010 15,626

It should be pointed out that the steady decline in numbers to 2005 had started many years before 2001.

There is a turnaround in 2006 and a fairly steady increase each year since then.

Now those figures show that there are actually much more than just a couple of hundred new licences each year.

Those numbers are the total apparatus licences in effect on the relevant date, and include amateur repeater and beacon licences as well as licences held by people who hold more than one amateur licence.

But the number of amateur licences at the relevant date is the number after the removal of licences that have not been renewed or have been quarantined because of the death of the licensee.

So, before you have an increase in the total number of licences, the number of licences not renewed or quarantined has to be offset against the new licences.

If you look at the Directors’ Report you will see that 88 callsigns were quarantined on the death of the licensee in the 2010 year. And neither ACMA nor the WIA is necessarily advised of the passing of all amateurs.

We also know from the families that contact us in relation to the renewal of WIA membership that a number of people’s membership and licences are simply not renewed because of age and health.

So, really, while the total number of amateur licences may have increased by a couple of hundred a year, the number of new amateurs is more than just a couple of hundred in a year.

Since the WIA has qualified all amateurs since the restructure of the Australian amateur licences in 2005, we are able to throw some more light on the matter.

In each Directors’ Report we have said how many people qualified for the Foundation certificate of proficiency in each calendar year, starting in 2006.

So, I can make a new table:

2006 1,065
2007 743
2008 580
2009 541
2010 480

Without producing more tables, the WIA data shows that since 2005 the preferred entry route into amateur radio for the majority of amateurs is the Foundation licence, with relatively few first entering at either the Standard or Advanced level.

Our data also shows that the number of Foundation licensees upgrading to Standard and Advanced is acceptable.

WIA Director Peter Young has analysed the WIA examination information, and other data that he could access, and concluded that since the introduction of the Foundation licence, the average age of radio amateurs had dropped, with many new amateurs being aged under 25.

Does the fact that for the last couple of years the WIA has been advocating the promotion of amateur radio to the general community with a view to attracting more amateurs mean that the Foundation licence is not working? Of course, we did not have to do much for the first few years, because the fact that an entry level licence would be introduced had been announced for quite a while, and so people were waiting for it.

However, we live in a world where many things clamour for people’s attention, and amateur radio is just one of them, but at least we have something to sell with the entry level licence.

Let me look at another table, also from the Open Forum Report but with the latest figures in the Directors’ Report, is the membership of the WIA.

That table looks like this:

31 December 2004 3,494
31 December 2005 3,851
31 December 2006 4,114
31 December 2007 4,302
31 December 2008 4,376
31 December 2009 4,541
31 December 2010 4,641

That table only goes back to December 2004, and tracks the membership numbers from the year of the restructure of the WIA from a federal organisation of state and territory based “Divisions” to a single national body.

Now what is interesting is that while there is an accelerated growth in the early period, the growth rather follows the growth of amateur licences.

Of course the rate of growth is not as fast as we would like.

But remember, exactly the same issues in relation to total licences apply to total members as against members dropping out. A steady increase in members is more new or rejoining members than it appears.

In short, despite the internet and mobile phones, I think that in Australia amateur radio is alive and well.

And anyone who suggests that the Foundation licence has been a failure is either foolish or malicious.

A final thought. We have celebrated our Centenary. We are conscious of how amateur radio has changed in that time. As the world changes and as technology changes, amateur radio will and must continue to change, I suggest at an ever faster rate.

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

How to aim an antenna with the Internet and the sun Erich Heinzle VK5HSE
Across the Tasman on 2.4 GHz David Smith VK3HZ
The Darwin Invitation Spud Murphy VK8ZWM
WIA Centenary Celebrations Centenary Committee
My RFI experiences James Fleming VK4TJF
Delta loops and Quad loops and inverted vee dipoles Felix Scerri VK4FUQ
Amateur Radio - The first technology- based social network Philip Adams VK3JNI
Dual Centenary plus celebrated at Ipswich Michael J Charteris VK4QS
A different sort of radio Hans Smit VK5YX
Book Review: Thunderstruck by Eric Larson Lesley Smit VK5LOL

TECHNICAL

A simple antenna base for portable vertical antennas Graeme Scott VK2KE
An adaptable antenna for portable operation Henrik Stenstrom VK2HHS & Jim Ayling VK2JA
A poor man’s single paddle lever for a Hallicrafters T O Keyer Yves Bernier VK2AUJ
Building an 80 metre SSB kit radio Lyle Whyatt VK5WL

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

A different sort of radio

Hans Smit VK5YX

The next ‘big’ thing in amateur radio, so many amateurs suggest, will be (or is) Software Defined Radio (SDR).

This article is an introduction to this facet of our hobby, by an author who is well versed in the technical and computer aspects of the new technology, having been deeply involved since 2006, and thus gives readers a basic understanding of what is being achieved, and how, together with a warning that to go further, to the website noted in the article, could lead to a lifetime involvement with the technology.

Highly recommended, as a read on the future of SDR.

How to aim an antenna with the Internet and the sun

Erich Heinzle VK5HSE

The author was too cheap and/or lazy (that’s what he said!) to buy/find the piece of equipment required for the task of aligning a new antenna on a distant television transmitter and so, with judicious searching around the Internet managed to find a method of achieving his task with a precision unlikely to be approached by any piece of equipment he may have had available, in any event.

A very interesting read on how one amateur merged the benefits of the Internet with Mother Nature (the Sun) to achieve pinpoint alignment accuracy of his antenna with the required television transmitter.

An adaptable antenna for portable operation

Henrik Stenstrom VK2HHS & Jim Ayling VK2JA

The ubiquitous ‘squid pole’ is finding more and more uses for the amateur.

In this article, the author’s tell us how they used the pole to construct an antenna principally for use in a portable situation, such as on a field day or the like.

Another interesting utilisation of a (currently) popular piece of equipment.

A simple antenna base for portable vertical antennas

Graeme Scott VK2KE

This is a short, straightforward article on how to ‘erect’ a typical vertical antenna in a ‘portable’ position, and operate with a sensible degree of convenience, safety and performance, using a portable antenna base.

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