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2013 Magazines

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Amateur Radio January 2013

Delivery expect from January 27


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Editorial

A New Year present

A happy New Year to all. I trust that you had a safe festive season and that the hot weather has not caused you any problems.

As you will have heard on the WIA News broadcasts, and as noted in the News column in this issue, the ACMA has given us all a New Year present in the form of amendments to the amateur Licence Conditions Determination (LCD). Advanced licensees were the major beneficiaries, with the release of the new secondary allocation in the Low Frequency 630 metre band – 472 kHz to 479 kHz. The other changes were mainly to do with bringing the LCD up to date with other changes previously announced, including the formal withdrawal of 420-430 MHz.

I note that several operators have already been using the 630 metre band. I understand that there are few VK2 operators, three in VK1, a couple in VK3 and one in VK4 and an enthusiastic SWL in VK7. The amateurs in VK1 have been discussing the challenges in radiating their transmitted signal: with a wavelength of 630 metres, virtually all amateurs will be using electrically very short antennas which will have low efficiency.

On the VHF side of things, amateurs have been discussing the continuing restrictions on operations in the eastern states in the 50-52 MHz segment, now that the last of the Channel 0 television transmitters have closed. I suspect that nothing will happen in the short term and that we will need to await the outcome of the investigations into the “Digital Dividend” – the reallocation of spectrum vacated by the analogue TV transmitters following the switch over to digital TV.

Summits On The Air

The Christmas New Year period saw several VK3 operators out and about on hilltops for SOTA. I combined a trip to the northeast of Victoria to visit my family for the festive season with several SOTA activations. As a result, I have now passed the 250 point mark for activations. Wayne VK3WAM undertook a multiday bushwalk in the Victorian Alps and reached the 500 Activator point landmark in early January and will be moving toward Mountain Goat status (1000 points). Three Victorian amateurs have passed the 500 point Chaser landmark and are well on the way to Shack Sloth status (1000 points).

January 1 was a busy day. SOTA activators can only claim points for a summit once per calendar year, whilst chasers can claim points once per UTC day for each summit. As the UTC New Year occurred at 1100 local time in Victoria and other eastern states on daylight savings time, several activators planned to “double dip” by being on a summit either side of the change of UTC year and thus gain the summit points twice, once for 2012 and then for 2013. 40 metres was busy with three stations active on summits. Three stations also activated other summits later in the day. There were many chasers around, which made for interesting times for those on summits – it was almost like contest operations at times.

A team of operators is working towards the collation of a list of qualifying summits for VK2 and the work has commenced in VK7. With VK3 and VK5 up and running, and VK1 in the final stages of approval, only VK4, VK6 and VK8 have not commenced the tasks required to become active in the worldwide SOTA movement. Anyone can Chase (work an operator on a SOTA summit), but to activate a summit, the summit must be checked that it meets the criteria before being listed on the official database.

Anyone interested in SOTA can do a web search to find much more information. There is plenty of discussion on the Yahoo group SOTA Australia, which would be a good place to start for those in VK. Also look back at the article by Ron VK3AFW in the August 2012 issue of AR.

Many SOTA Activators and Chasers will be meeting at the Centre Victoria RadioFest, as well as manning an information table. Be sure to drop by if you wish to learn more.

Welcome James VK4TJF

As we were starting to collate this issue, a draft Contest column arrived from James Fleming VK4TJF. You will be able to read James’ contribution in this edition. As time was short, I have largely left his contribution as supplied to us, as noted at the end of the column. James is now up to speed as to our production deadlines and promises to have a more relevant contribution ready for the March issue.

Welcome to the team James.

I am sure that readers will appreciate your contributions.

Until next month, keep safe.

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover

The handmade timber Morse key by Bob Crowe VK6CG. See his brief description on page 6. Photo by Bob Crowe VK6CG.

WIA President's Comment

Changes at the WIA

Firstly, I hope you all had a great Christmas holiday period. I certainly did, spending New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour, as I have for the last 20 or so years – the only problem is that as skipper I can’t drink too much, but I did manage to get a couple of 40 metre contacts in from the Barrett 550 marine radio.

In the first WIA broadcast for 2013, and in this President’s Comment, I want to tell you something about the plans we have for this year. There are some significant changes afoot which we hope will improve the WIA member experience.

Recently the WIA has suffered a fall in revenue due mainly to a dropoff in the number of new licensees, and the general economic conditions affecting sales to members and revenue from advertising. At the same time costs have been increasing – the WIA is the same as everyone in that respect.

The financial situation is certainly not serious, as the WIA has significant reserves, but it is something which needs to be addressed. It would be easy to simply jack up the membership fees to cover the shortfall, but in the present economic climate and with such a large proportion of the WIA membership retired and living on fixed incomes, that doesn’t seem like a good first option.

Another problem we have is that too few volunteers do too much work, and in recent times the demands on some key volunteers has been unrealistic. We need to find a way to get more skilled volunteers involved in the operation of the WIA, and in a way that it doesn’t become a burden for them.

The WIA’s advocacy role with the ITU, the IARU and the ACMA, is probably the most important work we do, but that work is often behind the scenes and goes largely unnoticed. We need to provide more tangible membership benefits, and we need to improve the information flow to members so they know what the WIA is doing, and also so the WIA better knows what its members want.

In summary we need to improve the finances, reduce the work load on WIA volunteers, and improve the general member experience.

The WIA Board has decided to introduce two new initiatives which it hopes will go a long way to addressing those issues.

Firstly, during 2013 we are introducing a new ‘cloud’ based membership management system called MEMNET.

A “cloud” based system is one where, for a monthly charge to the WIA, the entire office information system is provided by an outside company as a service over the internet. It frees the WIA and its volunteers from having to develop, maintain and upgrade the WIA computer information systems, but it has many other advantages as well.

With MEMNET, you will log into a member’s-only section on the WIA website to update your contact details including your particular interests in amateur radio, to purchase items at a members discount, and to pay membership fees.

You will know that your personal information is up to date because you will control it, and if you have registered your specific interests in amateur radio you can receive targeted emails alerting you to upcoming events, WIA news releases, technical information, or information about new products and services.

The MEMNET Membership Management System is also expected to offer significant administration efficiencies. Margaret, who currently works part-time at the WIA office, is retiring early in 2013 and, with the introduction of MEMNET, that position will not be renewed.

By saving one part-time office position, MEMNET is expected to be cost-neutral in the first year of operation and then offer significant cost savings to the WIA in following years.

Naturally a change like this is probably going to have some speed-bumps along the way; some members may not have the internet and some may still prefer more personal contact with the office. Those members will still be able to call the office and speak to Dianne or Mal, but things will certainly be a lot quicker and more convenient using the internet.

Look out for more information about the MEMNET system, and how to set up your user profile, in the coming months. You can find out more about the MEMNET system by going to www.MEMNET. com.au

The second initiative will need to wait until March because I’ve now run out of space, but in addition to overhauling the administration system, the WIA Board is looking at ways to reduce the workload on volunteers by encouraging more members to participate in the workings of the WIA.

I will have more to say about that in my next Comment, but you will see we are already looking for an Assistant Treasurer to assist John Longayroux VK3PZ in looking after the financial affairs of the Institute.

So, there is lot’s happening at the WIA in 2013. Much of it is about housekeeping at this stage, but out of it will come better member services, a better membership experience, and more reasons for people to join the WIA.

Phil Wait VK2ASD

President

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

A key with a difference Bob Crowe VK6CG
When Murphy ruined my ‘Swansong’ David Pilley VK2AYD
Hendricks QRP Kits PFR-3A Ray Buck VK4ZW
Amateur Radio Annual Index 2012 Don Jackson VK3DBB
Assessment of the use of higher transmitter output power by amateur advanced licensees Peter Young VK3MV

TECHNICAL

Cheaply improving Morse DX reception Peter Parker VK3YE
APRS in radio controlled model aircraft Ron Graham VK4BRG
HF’s ‘gig guide’: the low down on the best bands Peter Parker VK3YE
Why always pick on the poor ‘V’? More about the dreaded ‘diddly-dahs’! Michael Krochmal VK3KRO
An HF crystal set: a practical exercise in refined simplicity Peter Parker VK3YE
Foundation Corner 22: A hands on review of the Wouxun KG-UV6D hand held Ross Pittard VK3CE

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

A key with a difference

Bob Crowe VK6CG

This short article describes how the author produced an impressive Morse key from the scrap wood found in his shed.

Hendricks QRP Kits PFR-3A

Ray Buck VK4ZW

This article is more a review of the Hendricks QRP Kits PFR-3A kit radio, a popular kit rig manufactured in the USA.

The article explains the reason for the selection of this kit, the story of the build and how it performed after it was completed.

For QRP operators who will obviously know of this kit, this article will be of great interest, as it will be for general homebrew enthusiasts.

Cheaply improving Morse DX reception

Peter Parker VK3YE

To begin with, the author explains how one may, quite simplistically, improve the reception of Morse through the adoption of a couple of very basic, simple actions – basic and simple, yes, and somewhat unusual to boot.

Secondly, he explains the concept of ‘stereo’ reception and how to implement this concept into your homebrew receiver.

He is honest enough to suggest that not all builders may have the same enthusiasm for the results produced, but also suggests that this technical area is open to brave and adventurous homebrewers to work toward a better outcome.

Foundation Corner 22: A hands on review of the Wouxun KG-UV6D hand hel

Ross Pittard VK3CE

This article is a review of the Chinese manufactured Wouxun KG-UV6D two metre and 70 cm hand held transceiver.

In acknowledging that every product review is, in some part, a personal view not necessarily supported by facts or performance, the author nonetheless was quite impressed with the performance of the unit and believes that it is very good value for money.

If you are looking for a new hand held transceiver for personal use, this could well be a fine option.

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