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2012 Magazines

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Delivery expected from May 24

Editorial

AR in electronic format

The Publications Committee has received very little feedback regarding the demand for an annual collation CD or DVD of a year’s issues of Amateur Radio. Does this mean that there is little demand? We can only therefore assume then that demand is low for such a product.

The committee has decided to include electronic copies of AR on the CD version of the Callbook, with an entire year’s issues included. This means that a bonus on the 2013 Callbook will be all issues of AR from 2011. We recognise that this is a delay of approximately one year, but it gives us a way of adding value to the Callbook, whilst also making AR available in electronic format.

We trust that this move will be welcomed by members and readers.

As this Editorial is being prepared, I have just received my copy of the June issue of the ARRL’s QST magazine, which is promoting that the Digital Edition of QST will be available for ARRL members from late May (for the June issue). In the coverage of the steps undertaken in the lead up to this milestone, a large number of issues are noted. Many of these issues have also been raised at Publications Committee meetings when we have discussed this topic. The committee is still considering the question of publishing AR electronically at about the same time as the paper-based issue is published. However, we still have many questions to answer and possible methods of publication need further exploration before we make any final decision.

WIA Annual Conference

The WIA Annual Conference is almost upon us. This issue of AR is due in post boxes in the days immediately prior to the event. It is now too late to register to join the event. I am sure that we will have news from the event in our July issue. I am certainly looking forward to all the activities on offer, except for chasing the Horus balloon. Why – the balloon chase conflicts with the paddleboat cruise and I chose the latter option. I hope that someone will have equipment on the Mundoo to monitor the progress of the flight and the chasers.

Microwave activity

The VHF/UHF – An Expanding World column reports on some of the recent activity on the microwave bands in Victoria and Tasmania. I had the pleasure of setting up a portable 10 GHz station on two separate days and successfully worked Rex VK7MO from two new grid squares. Other commitments meant that I missed out on one of the squares activated, but such is life. Rex can be very proud of his efforts over recent months. He has extended distances worked by aircraft enhancement/scatter, given several operators new squares and continues to write analytical reports of the activities which are available for all interested to read via the web. I look forward to hearing more about his activities at GippsTech in July.

There has also been further microwave activity in south eastern Queensland. It is excellent to see groups forming in different areas and that the established operators are sharing information with all interested amateurs. Such information sharing and encouragement is surely amongst the most worthwhile aspects of our hobby.

Our local club is currently gearing up for the annual GippsTech event, which is all about sharing information and inspiration. That means that I have several tasks to complete soon, so it is probably time to get to those tasks.

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover

The VK3JNH solar powered John Moyle Field Day (JMFD) station at 1700m ASL in the Victorian Alps. The Results of the 2012 JMFD are published in this issue, as is a story from Stephen VK3SN of his expeditions over the last two years into the Victorian Alps for the event. See page 10. Photo by Stephen Warrillow VK3SN/VK3JNH.

WIA President's Comment

Thoughts from an Audit

I am sorry Mr Editor, I know I am sending you this “Comment” for the June issue of the magazine a bit late.

My excuse is that the ACMA has been conducting a formal audit of the WIA in relation to our management of the examinations, issuing Certificates of Proficiency and making callsign recommendations on its behalf.

Two very nice people have been in the WIA office for four full days, seeing what we do and talking to our staff and to various volunteers.

How well do we keep to our various obligations under the Deed between the WIA and ACMA? Do we do what we have to do within the time that we are meant to? What about what we charge? Is there full cost recovery? Do we calculate the fees that we charge (and must charge) correctly? Do we keep financial records properly?

Make no bones about it; we welcome the opportunity for someone from outside looking at what we do, because they may see better ways to do some things.

I asked for a meeting before the audit started, when we could talk with them and our colleagues from the ACMA responsible for managing the WIA Deed, about two things that I thought would probably be something different from the subject of the usual audit. One was amateur radio. The other was a voluntary organisation undertaking responsibility for work for a Commonwealth agency.

We had the meeting and we talked about those matters.

At the end of their visit to Melbourne, we had another talk about the voluntary work of many contributors.

The voluntary factor had emerged in a number of contexts.

Fred Swainston, our Registered Training Organisation (RTO), had taken the auditors through the way we train, qualify, accredit and register our Assessors. He showed how they are audited annually, and re-registered every three years. He showed how, using the Assessor Information Site, a site he established and maintains, the work of our Assessors is tracked.

Fred stressed that our Assessors were unpaid, and the only costs incurred were the very occasional reimbursement of exceptional charges for very long travel or the cost of long phone calls for a remote assessment.

But Fred stressed one thing; the commitment and enthusiasm of our volunteer Assessors.

Of course, what the audit is all about is the obligations accepted by the WIA under the Deed.

But, it was pointed out today, we do more things than we are obliged to under the Deed.

The Assessors will collect Callsign Recommendation forms from candidates, help them to fill in the application for an apparatus licence, collect the fees for the licence, and send it all with the Assessment results to the WIA, where the office checks it all, issues the certificate of proficiency, adds the certificate details to the application for an apparatus licence, sends the certificate of proficiency to the candidate and the application for an apparatus licence, the callsign recommendation and the licence fee to the ACMA in Canberra.

All of that we do because we are the WIA and not because of the Deed.

We believe that it is most important for people who have qualified for an amateur licence to get their callsign and be able to operate as soon as possible, and this certainly does speed up the process.

There is another consequential benefit from this. It means that the ACMA receives the majority of new applications for an amateur licence pre-checked, in bundles and with one cheque covering the licence fees of a number of applications. Surely this must help the ACMA?

All of that is outside the Deed, but because our role is to encourage amateur radio, this is a service we can offer.

How we handle the licence fee money is our responsibility, but in fact, what we do is follow the advice we were given by the WIA’s auditors.

Robert Broomhead took the auditors through the creation of an exam pack, and all the information that has been recorded in respect of every pack since the very first pack went out in October 2005.

John Longayroux led the auditors around the systems the WIA has in place to track expenses and income, and provide the information required to satisfy the annual cost recovery information we must provide to the ACMA.

Of course, some of the audit was pretty detailed. Under the Deed we are obliged to provide the ACMA with quite a lot of information within 30 days of the 30th June each year - “Please, can you show us an email providing that information to the ACMA with a date on it to show when it was sent?”

Our auditors confessed that they had not previously conducted an audit for the Commonwealth involving a voluntary organisation.

But it was their audit procedures that made me appreciate how, on so many levels, the WIA and its volunteers were contributing to the growth and health of amateur radio. I had not really thought about the controls and protections built into our software, created by volunteers, the controls and protections in the Assessor Information System software created for our RTO. I had not really thought about what the WIA and its people do that is more than we/they are obliged to do under the Deed, because we believe it is good for amateur radio, and that is why we exist.

I had not really thought about how much all this would cost if the WIA was an ordinary commercial entity, without volunteers.

The ACMA’s auditors have made me think about these things.

So, Mr. Editor, I hope you can forgive me for being late.

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

Experiencing the JMFD Stephen Warrillow VK3SN
Putting it across - Talking about amateur radio Geoff Emery VK4ZPP
Over to you - Three pin plugs Steve Mahony VK5AIM
Special Event stations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games John Warburton G4IRN
Confessions of a pirate Eric Jamieson VK5LP
A telephone conversation with Al Shawsmith, ex-VK4SS Peter Hadgraft VK4APD

TECHNICAL
Foundation Corner 20 - A buzzer with a difference Ross Pittard VK3CE
PRM80 six metre conversion – an unexpected fruit Matt Bilston VK3VS/VK3SMB
An unlikely source of QRM for your HF or VHF station Gerald Molenkamp VK3GJM
A computer powered multimode transmitter - QRP from your computer’s USB port Peter Parker VK3YE
An isolated USB interface for controlling radio equipment Dale Hughes VK1DSH

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Experiencing the JMFD

Stephen Warrillow VK3SN

This is an article not so much about what happened on a particular field trip as about how to prepare for the various eventualities that arise on such an adventure, and the need to pre-plan, to be both rational and systematic in the planning process, practical with personal and radio hardware/software requirements, and how to pick a location that is sensible for the event, both for living and operational purposes.

Very well written from one of the most experienced ‘bush’ lovers in VK, and who has significant experience in visiting and operating in Australia’s high country.

Confessions of a pirate

Eric Jamieson VK5LP

A simple yet wonderful story, from a period long past, when simple fun could be had more or less…simply.

This interesting read tells of two radio experimenters (pirates!) who each built from scratch a one metre TX/RX combination and used them for quite some time to communicate with each other, notwithstanding neither had an amateur radio licence.

One of those ‘pirates’ was to become one of Amateur Radio’s longest serving and most respected columnists – read on!

Foundation Corner 20 - A buzzer with a difference

Ross Pittard VK3CE

The author states ‘These days popular digital multi-meters come with a buzzer function which is very handy to check for shorts and continuity when setting up antennas and feed lines. The problem with these buzzers is they usually 'buzz' with anything from a dead short through to 100 ohms and sometimes higher resistance. This means when using them you need to constantly look at the display to make sure it is in fact reading zero ohms.”

The small circuit then described overcomes the main limitation of the above function, and tells the reader how to build a buzzer capable of warning users of digital multimeters when the resistance of whatever is being measured is varying, for whatever reason.

This is a very useful addition to a meter when trying to use it in direct sunlight, and is suitable when measuring cables, baluns and connectors.

An isolated USB interface for controlling radio equipment

Dale Hughes VK1DSH

The author is one of AR magazines most active contributors, and one of its more technically proficient, and this small article provides precise and easy instructions on how to build this interface.

With the typical amateur’s increasing use of the computer, the internet and amateur software, this is a piece of equipment that will do heavy duty service in the shack literally on a daily basis.

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Page Last Updated: Friday 18 May 2012 at 11:7 hours

 

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