Amateur Radio May 2013
Delivery expect from April 26
WIA Member Digital Edition Download
Conference time approaches
Late this month will see the 2013 WIA Annual Conference Weekend, including the Annual General Meeting, to be held in Fremantle. For the first time in several years, we will see the announcement of the results of an election for Directors. This is a sign of a healthy organisation, in my humble opinion.
Unfortunately, work commitments will prevent me from making the trip to VK6. I have not heard any news regarding the number of people who have registered to date. Both the formal and partners’ programs look to be very interesting, so I am sure that all who do attend will have a terrific time. I am sure that all involved in VK6 will put on terrific events. Look at the inside back cover of this issue for details of the web site, where you can find further detail and submit registrations on-line.
Unfortunately, the timing of the event means that we are unlikely to have news for inclusion in the June issue of AR – July is possible if we get some reports in immediately after the event.
We have our second SOTA contribution this month, which focusses upon some basics about being a Chaser. You will see that anyone can be a Chaser – just work the Activator who has made the effort to be on a SOTA summit!
You will also see that I have reached 1000 points as a Chaser, so can now claim the title of Shack Sloth. I have not sat down to analyse my logs, but many of those points were earned from portable locations, with many whilst I was on SOTA summits. I can report that a second VK operator has reached this milestone, with another not far from the milestone, but I am sure that Allen and Bernard will report these achievements next month.
SOTA activity continues to grow, aided by the efforts of the Activators in VK1 and VK3 in particular. As conditions cool down and fire risk diminishes, more Activators are venturing into the hills. The SOTA Australia Yahoo group has recently had some interesting exchanges about the planning undertaken by Activators, but this will be reported in the SOTA column next month, so I will not pre-empt the issues raised in the on-line exchanges.
Last month, we published an article Construction of VHF and UHF beams – A simple way by Phil Derbyshire VK2FIL. Unfortunately, Phil became a Silent Key in late December 2012, as announced in the March issue of Amateur Radio (p 59). Unfortunately, all involved in the production of AR missed that Phil’s article was still in our system and we neglected to note that Phil was now a SK.
We offer our apologies to the family and friends of Phil for this oversight. We request that no readers attempt to make contact with the author or his family for any further details regarding the article.
Until next month….
This month’s cover
Our cover this month shows an overview of the station of VK3JNH operating in the Alpine National Park during the John Moyle Field Day. The inset shows a view of the operators during the event. See the story on page 6. Photos by David Warrillow.
WIA President's Comment
Clear policy needed on equipment possession
As part of my real job, every couple of years I attend the Spring Hong Kong Electronics Fair, the world’s biggest, held at the at the Exhibition Centre overlooking Honk Kong Harbour. I also visit the Global Sources Electronics and Components Show held at the same time at Hong Kong Airport.
To say both these shows are huge is an understatement - three or four thousand exhibitors and each taking days to navigate around. I’ve been going to these shows now for about 30 years, but what particularly struck me last year was the number of manufacturers of locally made hand-held amateur radio equipment. Where only a few years ago there was maybe one or two, last year I counted over 30 different exhibitors, all with volume ex-factory pricing around US$20-40.
Most of these hand-helds were ‘open’, that is, not restricted to amateur radio bands, and clearly intended for both amateur and commercial use. One manufacturer proudly pulled out a D-STAR copy, and I believe HF models are well on the way.
It’s little wonder that back home in Australia the ACMA is taking more than a passing interest in “open” hand-held transceivers imported from China. Recently ACMA inspectors have been inspecting amateur stations, and in some cases confiscating equipment or issuing Warning Notices under Section 47 advising that possession of equipment (Commercial Non Standard Devices) was not authorised by the station licence.
In a letter to one of the affected radio amateurs, the ACMA states:
“Amateur Radios are designed and limited to cover internationally recognised amateur radio bands only. Equipment manufacturers such as Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood have been producing Amateur Radios for over 50 years on these bands. Amateur radio equipment operating within Amateur radio bands does not have to meet Australian equipment standards.
“However, if a radio communications device covers commercial frequencies, or has been modified to cover commercial frequencies outside of internationally recognised amateur bands, then it must meet the standards for equipment operating in those bands, as well as carry the appropriate regulatory compliance marking (RCM), such as a C-Tick. Associated power supplies and plug packs must also be tested to Australian standards and carry a C Tick or RCM”.
The possession and operation of old/ex-military equipment provided it use is within the Licence Conditions Determination (the LCD) is not at issue here as there is no Australian Standard in place for military equipment.
However, in practical terms there does not seem to be much difference between an amateur possessing a hand-held radio capable of transmitting from 400 – 480 MHz and say a Collins ART13 general coverage HF transmitter. Both are capable of wreaking havoc on other radio communications services, but only if the operator chooses to ignore the LCD and break the law, for which there are strict penalties.
To make matters even more complicated, as there is no Standard for amateur equipment in Australia, amateur licensees (except for Foundation licensees) are permitted to modify ex-commercial equipment for use on amateur spectrum, therefore rendering the device as non-standard. However, because the transceiver is then made non-standard, but still capable of transmitting outside amateur bands, it is illegal to possess it. Catch 22.
It is not clear whether or not modifying software/firmware for programming purposes is a modification or not, but I suspect it would be.
So, where do we go from here? It is clear that ACMA inspectors need to be vigilant about equipment Standards in the light of the new wave of low-cost products. In the past ACMA inspectors seemed to take a fairly pragmatic view in a situation where no clear policy exists, but now some amateurs are being deemed as acting illegally in possessing a device even though the device is being operated in accordance with the LCD.
The WIA believes the ITU definition of amateur radio, and the definition under the Radcom Act 1997, should be the foundation of a policy that a licensed amateur - of any grade - may possess any radiocommunications technology without fear of confiscation or any other penalty, simply in satisfying their non-pecuniary interests under the definition of Amateur Radio.
However if a radio amateur operates such equipment in contravention of the LCD, then the full force of the law should be applied.
In other words, we believe the focus should be on operation, not possession.
At the end of the day, most amateurs want to be compliant but find it exceedingly difficult to achieve this where the regulator cannot articulate a clear policy.
This is a very grey area and it’s not fair for anyone, inspectors or radio amateurs, to have to rely on an individual’s interpretation of an undocumented policy.
Phil Wait VK2ASD
PS. Our long suffering Treasurer, John Longayroux VK3PZ, would like me to tell you that the 2012 Directors Report including the Financial Report has been placed in the Members Only section of the WIA website.
Table Of Contents
Technical Advisory Committee Notes: Changes to IARU Region I 40 metre band plan John Martin VK3KM
Team VK3JNH JMFD 2013 Stephen Warrillow VK3SN
First outing for my Elecraft KX1 Grant McDuling VK4JAZ
Eastern Zone Amateur Radio Club celebrates 75 years Chris Morley VK3CJK
Designing for aesthetics and usability in homebrew equipment Peter Parker VK3YE
EMDRC heads to Mount Cowley Jack Bramham VK3WWW
Build your own ‘Screwdriver’ antenna for portable or mobile use Simon Freegard VK3UTE
The i-KAKTUSSS - an iambic keyer and Koch trainer using a seventeen segment screen Erich Heinzle VK5HSE
Measurement of relativity between the longitudinal and the differential currents in the transmission line Lloyd Butler VK5BR
Plus all the usual Club news and columns
Team VK3JNH JMFD 2013
Stephen Warrillow VK3SN
The first of the several JMFD 2013 stories – this one telling the tale of a couple of keen JMFD contesters, and intrepid outdoor adventurers, located at their portable JMFD QTH in the Victorian High Country.
This is quite a short story – but one that quickly allows the reader to ‘imagine’ the location, conditions and the adventure itself very well.
Designing for aesthetics and usability in homebrew equipment
The author is quite experienced at the homebrew ‘art’, specialising in simplicity of design whilst maintaining a respectable performance outcome over a broad range of amateur equipment.
In his article he explores the design aesthetics as it effects both visual satisfaction and electrical functionality, and offers quite a lot of advice to those who may be new to homebrewing and who don’t really know many of the obvious pitfalls to be addressed in the typical homebrew project.
Build your own ‘Screwdriver’ antenna for portable or mobile use
Simon Freegard VK3UTE
An amateur with a desire to build a superior mobile/portable antenna, with some engineering experience, a bit of spare time on his hands, and (so it seems) a Dad who manages to collect any number of useful junk box items and you have the theme behind this article, an interesting read on exactly how to make such an antenna but with a most professional finish, and a performance characteristic to suit.
The i-KAKTUSSS - an iambic keyer and Koch trainer using a seventeen segment screen
Erich Heinzle VK5HSE
This lengthy article describes the design and build of an electronic keyer that can be used in many modes (a code practice oscillator, random generation of code, a practice code generator, a trainer) for the enjoyment of Morse code.
The kit detailed is cheap to buy and simple to construct, yet still provides quality performance.
63 Cookson (Jackson Bros)
63 Hamak Electrical Industries
13, 63 TTS
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