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2013 Magazines

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Delivery expected from 26 February


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Editorial

Software Defined Radio

Radio manufacturers are releasing more models which use Digital Signal Processing (DSP), with most models using the DSP predominantly in the receiver. Some manufacturers produce complete Software Defined Radios, with perhaps FlexRadio Systems the best known with their various models. Many amateurs in Australia as well as around the world have been purchasing the boards developed by the hpsdr project, facilitated by TAPR and AMSAT.

The hpsdr project initially produced, over a period of time, a number of modules to plug into a motherboard to produce a functioning SDR transceiver made up of a half watt transmitter, receiver and a board to communicate with the controlling computer. Add-ons include a precision frequency source, a 20 W power amplifier and a full set of band pass filters for Tx and Rx. I must admit that I have not yet fired up my modular hpsdr system!

In the second half of 2012, hpsdr released the Hermes single board transceiver, incorporating all the key modules on a single Eurocard size board. It is again only 0.5 W output on transmit, but is capable of operation from 50 kHz to 55 MHz. A matching amplifier is the next likely production project.

If you are interested in a Hermes board, you are not yet out of luck. TAPR only produced the number of units pre-ordered. However, you can buy a Hermes transceiver from Apache Labs in India. Apache Labs also offer the Anan-10 transceiver, which uses the Hermes board combined with a 10 W power amplifier and filter board in a very smart looking case. They are also developing two 100 W transceivers, one based on the Hermes board, with the second using an enhanced version which has two separate receivers on the board, together with a large controlling FPGA chip which in the future may be able to include a simple controlling computer.

None of these SDR transceivers are cheap, but they are also not expensive in comparison to conventional transceivers, especially if you already have a suitable computer in the shack. They all have the advantage of excellent performance combined with the ability to be run by software which can be readily updated and even customised if you have the programming skills.

At the other end of the scale are a number of SDR receivers. The January 2013 issue of QST had an article Cheap and Easy SDR by Robert Nickels W9RAN. Robert describes how to use a cheap (nominally $20) TV dongle as a VHF/UHF receiver using free software and an upconverter board to enable the reception of signals in the HF bands.

The latest issue of RadCom (The RSGB equivalent of this magazine) has a detailed review of the latest FUNCube Dongle Plus. It is a little more expensive, at around 150 pounds, but it includes HF through to 1700 MHz reception, with a gap.

For anyone with a computer and access to the web, there is no reason why you cannot be exploring the possibilities of SDR – all you need to do is to find one of the cheap TV dongles. Just be sure to do some research first, so that you buy one which is compatible with the software that is freely available.

SOTA progresses

Only a few days after I had submitted my last Editorial, news came through that the VK1 SOTA Association had completed all steps required for registration. VK1 became “live” in the SOTA system on February 1 at 0000Z.

In VK1 the height bands for summit points are markedly different to VK3 and VK5, primarily because most of the ACT is 600 metres or more above sea level.

The local Canberra club had a meeting in the week prior to the commencement of SOTA in VK1 and some of the locals who had already been participating in the program gave a presentation on SOTA. The 40 m band was alive with activity on the Friday morning, with six summits activated in the ACT. Several operators activated summits in VK3 and VK5 – I managed to work seven summit to summit contacts from one of the local summits. I think that I worked all the VK1 summits except for the summit which was only activated with 2 metres FM.

Activity has continued to be at a good level in VK1.

There was also a lot of activity in VK3 on the day of the Centre Victoria RadioFest, with several operators activating summits before, during or after the RadioFest. Part of the idea was to enable people at the event to make a SOTA contact from the event site. This did not eventuate due to the high level of noise at the RadioFest. It also made it harder to qualify a summit – many of the regular chasers were at the event.

Work is progressing with the surveying of summits in Tasmania and New South Wales. These states should hopefully become live in the SOTA system later this year.

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover

Tony Hutchison VK5ZAI with his certificate of recognition from AMSAT. Photo courtesy of Tony Hutchison VK5ZAI.

WIA President's Comment

Our Volunteers: The Backbone of the WIA

As I write this President’s Comment, some bush fires are under control and the flood waters in southern Queensland and northern NSW have receded. These catastrophic events seem to be coming around all too often in Australia and, as our climate is ever-changing, this pattern may continue or even get worse.

A big thank-you to all those radio amateurs who helped out by devoting their time and effort to the Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades, the SES, WICEN, NGOs, or simply lent a hand. You have done the very best thing possible for the future of amateur radio.

Last month I announced that the WIA was adopting a new Cloud-based Membership Management System called MEMNET. As I said, we expect this arrangement will help improve member services and also help to contain the WIA’s costs in the medium to long term.

I now want to tell you about a second initiative: one which we hope will encourage more members to participate in the workings of WIA, and to make the WIA a more transparent and open organisation.

The WIA is a membership organisation with a very wide range of specialist functions and member services. For such a small organisation the range of complex activities is truly remarkable.

Core functions and services are administrative in nature, (membership administration, examination and call sign management, product sales, etc.), and are mainly performed by salaried staff.

Volunteers then perform the diverse range of highly specialised functions: publications (you’re reading one of them) and the website, the WIA Broadcast, licence training and assessment, contests and awards, QSL card distribution, repeaters and beacon co-ordination, the club grants scheme, ITU, IARU and ACMA liaison, general technical advice, interference and Standards, etc.

These represent the majority of the WIA’s more visible activities and without doubt our volunteers do a terrific job, often inadequately recognised, balancing their family life and work commitments and many other activities against the demands of the WIA.

In order to reduce the workload on volunteers, and to improve the member experience, we need to attract more people into the workings of the WIA, and we believe to do that we need to structure things a little differently.

We are proposing to group the WIA’s non-core activities into 10 broad functional areas, each comprising a team of volunteers with a Leader, Deputy Leader, and a WIA Board member. The WIA Board member will not act as the committee Leader, rather is there to ensure the committee acts in line with the Objectives stated in the WIA Constitution and that WIA Board policy is enacted. Existing volunteers are expected to take leading roles in the new committees, at least initially.

We will encourage the committees to interface closely with members and Affiliated Clubs, and to formulate recommendations for the WIA Board.

It is hoped that this structure will spread the workload on our volunteers, improve communications and interaction between members and the WIA, improve services and responsiveness, and encourage more people to become involved in the WIA.

Hopefully, with time, it will also encourage more people to join the WIA.

So, we have our work cut-out for us this year with the introduction of MEMNET and our proposal for restructuring volunteers. We have now entered into the formal agreement with OmniSoftware for access to the MEMNET Membership Management System, and we are now entering the implementation stage.

We have circulated our proposals for the new volunteer system amongst our current volunteers, and we plan to circulate the proposal more widely after we have reviewed and incorporated a number of their excellent comments and suggestions.

A recent change to Australian Corporations Act 2001 means public companies and associations with less than $1 million turnover can elect to have their financial accounts ‘reviewed’ rather than ‘audited’ (for details of this change, see www.asic.gov.au). Although the process of investigating the accounts is similar, the less formal review process is significantly less expensive. The changes also allow small corporations such as the WIA to make financial accounts available to members on request, rather than having to mail every member a printed set of accounts. These two changes will provide savings of almost $4,000 annually to WIA.

The financial report will also be placed in the member’s area of the WIA website and distributed at the WIA’s Annual General Meeting in Perth. Members who would like a printed copy of the financial report should request a copy from the WIA office.

I must say I have been encouraged by the number of registrations for WIA Directorships this year; so many that we need to hold elections. Election and candidate information can be found in this edition, so please do take the time to vote, and choose very carefully. WIA Directors have significant responsibilities to the members and to the law, and should be chosen carefully for their relevant skills and experience.

Phil Wait VK2ASD

President

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

Australian given an AMSAT accolade Jim Linton VK3PC
Handy cable organiser Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW
Woody Island OC-170 – the easy one Nigel Dudley VK6NI
Pennyroyal Propagation Party, 31 August – 3 September, 2012 John Fisher VK3DQ
Adding a visit to the Dayton Hamvention® to a European holiday Julian Sortland VK2YJS/AG6LE
It makes me feel old! Steve Mahony VK5AIM
Volunteer radio amateur honoured Jim Linton VK3PC

TECHNICAL

The Summer Loop: an ultra-light magnetic loop antenna for pedestrian mobile Peter Parker VK3YE
QRM from in-home data transfer products using the electrical mains wiring Gilbert Hughes VK1GH and Rob Milliken VK1KRM
The ‘Split 40’: a split frequency QRP CW transceiver for 40 metres Peter Parker VK3YE
Tips for getting the best out of your HF full wave (vertical) loop antenna Felix ScerriVK4FUQ
Reuse and recycle…your antenna Dale Hughes VK1DSH

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Australian given an AMSAT accolade

Jim Linton VK3PC

Tony Hutchison VK5ZAI is an internationally known and well respected volunteer within the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, and has effected most ISS contacts to Australian groups, most of whom are schools.

This article details Tony’s experiences with ARISS, in announcing his receipt of a most prestigious award from ARISS for all his endeavours.

A nice story about a nice bloke.

Handy cable organiser

Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW

This is a short article on how to build a useful item that would probably find favour in most ham shacks, an organiser for keeping those many and varied patch cables tidy.

A simple project, but one that would provide an extremely useful addition in almost all shacks.

QRM from in-home data transfer products using the electrical mains wiring

Gilbert Hughes VK1GH and Rob Milliken VK1KRM

This is an article that examines the electromagnetic compatibility of devices that use in-house electrical wiring to transfer data between two points in the home, and amateur radio, and particularly the effect, if any, in the HF radio spectrum.

The methodology described, and the results obtained, will likely make interesting reading to all amateurs who are concerned about the on-going defence of the amateur spectrum from threats from any and all similar devices.

Reuse and recycle…your antenna

The author, one of our better amateur technical minds, describes his method of ‘manipulating’ his one external wire antenna for use on a number of non-related (harmonically) bands, with results that are generally quite acceptable, and which allows him to utilise this one antenna for all his LF and HF amateur operating.

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