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2013 Magazines

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Amateur Radio December 2013

Delivery expect from November 28


      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Editorial

Communication

Basically, our hobby is all about communication. Despite what some might think, communication is fundamentally a two way process. One aspect is delivering information from one source to one or many recipients. The second aspect is the reception of that information by the recipient/s. Acknowledgement of the receipt of the information may not be critical in some areas. For example, companies pay for their advertising to be transmitted via commercial radio and television. We can choose to take notice of the messages or not – some may even grab the remote control and channel surf as soon as a commercial break comes on whilst watching television. So the message may or may not be received by all intended recipients. However, in many (most?) aspects of our hobby, reception is usually required – the contact is not complete unless callsigns, reports and the reports have been acknowledgement by both parties.

A fundamental aspect of our hobby therefore is to listen. We listen for our report from the station with whom we are communicating.

So it can be interesting to listen to the behaviour of some of our peers.

I was recently listening on HF and experienced the dog piles generated by DXpedition stations located at relatively rare locations.

It seemed that everyone wanted to work the new station NOW, even though the station would be on air 24/7 for at least a week. One could hear the DX station struggling to pull a callsign out of the dog pile and asking all others to stand by so that one amateur could complete a contact with the DX. What did you hear if you listened on the frequency where the DX was listening – a slightly less loud dog pile! It seemed that everyone simply ignored the request/instructions from the DX.

The DX would ask the Japanese stations to please stand by and attempt to work a different region of the globe for a few minutes. Result on the listening frequency for the DX? You guessed it – calls from all over the globe, including Japan, making it very difficult for the DX to work the targeted region. Mind you, it was not just the JA stations at fault. At one stage I heard many very loud (some even distorted) VK stations calling when the DX asked for ZL stations only.

Why is it that so many people have little patience and cannot simply listen to the DX station’s instructions? Have they all forgotten about the Amateur’s Code? It is clear that many have not read and understood the DX Code of Conduct (see http://www.dx-code.org/).

Mind you, sometimes the DX was his own worst enemy: Not able to find a callsign from the targeted area, he would often then answer a JA station and complete a contact. Then again ask the JAs to standby whilst he listened for stateside stations….. Such behaviour would, in my humble opinion, only encourage the JAs to continue calling!

I had a brief email exchange with a couple of local amateurs about the situation, simply to voice my opinions. I am expecting that we may have an article in coming months about how to maximize your chances of success in working that DX station.

I have also heard similar behaviour locally within VK when on a SOTA summit. The SOTA Activator is the DX and calls for QRP stations only, or calling via call areas. Often one hears base stations still running full power calling back or out of turn. They were simply too impatient to make the contact to wait for their call area to be called.

We are moving into the festive season. Can I suggest that all operators think a little more carefully and consider others before hitting the PTT button?
May you and your families all have a safe and enjoyable festive season, and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover

Our cover this month shows a mast-mounted 10 GHz transverter and horn antenna – an excellent means of minimising feedline loss. The upper right photo shows inside a complete microwave transverter. The lower right image shows a completed transverter board ready for testing and final assembly into complete function unit. See the article on page 6. Photos by Graham Byrnes VK3XDK.

WIA President's Comment

On Reflection (High SWR ahead)

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of things: where we are and the most important priorities for the New Year.

For the WIA, 2013 has largely been a year of consolidation – the introduction of the MEMNET membership management system, the continuing development of the new WIA committee system, the ongoing advocacy with the ACMA, the IARU and the ITU, the examination and assessment of new radio amateurs along with those upgrading to Standard and Advanced licences, continuing the improvements to AR magazine, reducing the processing time for new repeater licences, and improving day-to-day support for individual members and affiliated clubs, etc., etc.

Also, together with the ACMA, we have completed an update of the regulation exam syllabus, and the EMR awareness campaign is now well under way in preparation for a revisit of the 1 kW Higher Power Licence issue.

So, what’s planned for 2014?

The WIA Board has identified three broad areas worthy of special attention in 2014 – improving the social/community relevance and accessibility of amateur radio, bedding down the new WIA Volunteers Committees and turning around the finances.

The first two items are a continuation of activities begun in 2013. As you may have noticed, the WIA is promoting amateur radio to the public through such actions as the “PR4 Amateur Radio initiative” and mounting displays at the recent ‘Maker’ exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney. Amateur radio has a lot to offer this new breed of DIY constructors, newly-termed ‘Makers’, especially in relation to technologies such as wireless telemetry, wireless-linked applications and digital signalling. Clearly, reviewing the privileges of the Foundation licence in relation to permitted digital modes is necessary to make amateur radio attractive to this group as well as other potential amateurs with an interest in ‘things digital’. The WIA Board plans to further pursue such avenues in future to promote the hobby.

However, by far the greatest challenge facing the WIA right now is financial, with another loss projected for this year. Although the introduction of the MEMNET system saved one part-time staff member, and the postponing of the Club Grants Scheme this year also saved a further $6000, increasing costs are certainly taking their toll on the finances of the WIA. Compounded with a reduction in magazine advertising revenue and a fall-off in merchandise and bookshop sales (a product of changing advertising spending policies and the economic times), the projected loss for this year is expected to be around $25,000. While the WIA has sufficient reserves to cover the loss, it would not be prudent to allow the situation to persist.

Fortunately, this year’s flow of new members and fewer non-renewals provides some saving grace, as membership remains strong. The simple answer to the financial issues would be to jack-up membership fees, including some buffer for future years to cover the shortfall. But, as many clubs in the community have found, increasing our membership fees could easily become counter-productive. The other obvious remedy is to cut costs by targeting ALL areas of expenditure, but the elephant in our financial room is always going to be the costs associated with printing and distributing Amateur Radio magazine, currently running at about $100,000 per year (printing and distribution alone – not composition and layout).

The WIA is not alone in this – most other member organisations supporting their own magazines are turning to digital publication and distribution, and this is clearly an option for the WIA, possibly with a printed AR magazine yearbook of construction projects and popular articles.

Basically, if the WIA is going to turn around its finances, the choice is clearly between an increase in membership fees, (either incrementally over several years, or in one hit), or a change in the way AR magazine is published and distributed to members. There are other areas of possible savings, but they are minor and incremental at best and most would adversely affect services to members and affiliated clubs. Mind you, it has been estimated that electricity costs for the national office will fall by $73 next year with the abolition of the carbon tax! Every little helps.

Before the WIA Board can make any decisions about which way to go (cost-cutting versus increased membership fees, or a mix of both), we need to know your opinions. We intend to produce a survey asking you to rate your preferences to various options proposed in the survey, and also asking you to rate the various services the WIA offers.

So, it looks like an interesting year coming up. I have said many times that, for such a small organisation, the WIA is exceptionally complex, with many highly specialist functions, from magazine publication to high-level governmental advocacy. The WIA can only continue to be effective because of the goodwill and generosity of its many volunteers, the dedication of its staff, and the loyalty of our members. For that, I thank you all very much.

Have a safe and happy Christmas and see you all in the New Year.

PS

Please do make sure you have registered for MEMNET. Go to www.wia.org.au click on ‘For Members’, then click on ‘Log into MEMNET’, and register... it’s very simple.

If you have already registered for MEMNET but have not received a confirmation Email we may not have your correct Email address. Please Email memnet@wia.org.au with your email address, name and membership number.

If you are changing your Email address, please remember to update your information in MEMNET.


Table Of Contents

GENERAL

Pair ranked analysis Dr Hank Prunckun VK5XB
‘Play time’ on 80 metres: A high performance antenna system for the VK/ZL Trans-Tasman contest, 2013 Jim McNabb VK3AMN and Michael Romanov VK3CMV
One hundred wonderful years Ron S Goodhew VK4EMF
Gridsquare Standings at 18 October 2013 Guy Fletcher VK2KU

TECHNICAL

Transverter systems Graham Byrnes VK3XDK
Review of Videomate U620F DVB/SDR (Software Defined Radio) John Titmuss VK4JWT
A triband end-fed wire antenna for QRP portable Peter Parker VK3YE
Antenna tuners Kevin Parsons VK2JS

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Pair ranked analysis

Dr Hank Prunckun VK5XB

Sitting in a pub in outback South Australia, listening to a couple of patrons discussing what was the better choice of radio for their 4WD, the author intervened when it appeared that no progress toward a solution was being, or was likely to be, made by the pair, and in five short minutes provided a basis whereupon both agreed that a decision had, indeed, been developed.

How?

Read the article.

‘Play time’ on 80 metres: A high performance antenna system for the VK/ZL Trans-Tasman contest, 2013

Jim McNabb VK3AMN and Michael Romanov VK3CMV

The authors explain what they hoped to achieve with their ideas for a high performance 80 metre antenna, and detail what they did, and how they did it, and some views on the performance outcomes, in their article.

Anyone who has attempted to improve their own 80 metre antenna performance will at least relate to many of the views expressed in this article.

Transverter systems

Graham Byrnes VK3XDK

This is an article describing the use of transverters, from their theory of operation, various technical performance requirements, fundamental design principles and some basic operational advice.

It will be a most interesting read for those who are involved in this aspect of amateur radio.

A triband end-fed wire antenna for QRP portable

Peter Parker VK3YE

This is yet another article from this author, this time providing information on the construction of a QRP wire antenna for portable use, and although presenting a suitable exercise for all levels of amateur, it would be a most suitable project for many of our Foundation level licensees or those interested in portable QRP work.

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