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2013 Magazines

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Amateur Radio September 2013

Delivery expected from August 29


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Editorial

Frequency usage

In early August, the WIA News broadcast included an item titled: The contesters versus the others. It seems to have stirred up a storm! The item was also published on the WIA website at the end of July.

I do not see why some amateurs became upset at the content, which was basically pointing out that no one individual or group can lay claim to a particular frequency and that we all need to work cooperatively on air. It also made reference to some past instances where an over eager contester may have forgotten simple courtesy and tried to bully non-contest operators into making a contest exchange with the contester.

The context of this piece was in the lead up to the weekend of the Remembrance Day Contest, which this year again fell on the same weekend as the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend.

In my view, the issues raised by the author were completely valid ones. No single person or group “owns” a particular frequency. Certainly, if a contact is taking place on a given frequency, then the participants in that contact have first claim to the frequency at that time.

It comes down to basic courtesy – we should operate as we have all been trained: First listen carefully on a frequency for a reasonable time before hitting the PTT button (or starting to key the transceiver). Only if the frequency seems to be clear, then one should politely announce your callsign and ask “Is this frequency in use?”, perhaps more than once. There may be someone operating QRP that you cannot hear. If that is the case, then another operator is likely to let you know of the situation. Only then can you start to call on that frequency. Yes, sometimes we all forget….. I did it myself recently when activating a SOTA summit – I had been listening for several minutes on a frequency as I finished assembling the portable station after having climbed to the top of the hill, so Iwas fairly sure it was clear when I grabbed the microphone and started calling CQ, then I remembered! I quickly asked the question…. No response, so I was safe, and went back to calling CQ SOTA. Then the pile up of Chasers started!

Although it is not in our VK band plan, 7.090 MHz is recognised around the world as a centre of activity frequency for QRP voice operators. Locally, it has become the centre of activity frequency for SOTA; so on weekends there are often QRP and SOTA (usually QRP) operators calling on that frequency or nearby. It can become crowded in the segment 7.080-7.100 MHz, especially if there are several SOTA activators out at a given time.

A long established net usually commences mid-afternoon on a Saturday on 7.090 MHz. This is not usually a problem. I have frequently heard the net control station come up during a break to announce that the net will move nearby, having heard the existing traffic on the frequency. Occasionally the net does move nearby, but often the SOTA operator comes back to indicate that he will QSY to allow the net to start and continue on the regular frequency. It is pleasing to listen to the friendly exchange and cooperative attitudes on both sides.

On the other hand, I often hear unidentified stations simply tuning up on top of the existing activity, or even worse, playing odd sounds or music on air. Clearly, we should all recognise that such behaviour is unacceptable and in breach of the LCD.

In my opinion, there is only one situation when someone owns a frequency: when there is an emergency occurring, with a frequency being used to pass emergency traffic. The frequency may not be actively used at all times, but under such circumstances it is entirely reasonable for one or more of the operators to request that the frequency be left clear.

So what is my take home message?

I recommend that we all try to maintain a clear head and a calm attitude at all times. If someone is making it difficult by their actions, it is always easier to simply ignore them, attempt to find a clear frequency and then QSY to the new frequency.

Life is too short to do otherwise! Becoming agitated does not help anyone; it simply increases your stress levels.

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover

Main photo: The WICEN Communications Trailer attached to the rear of the tow vehicle, set up for the recent Blue Mountains search. See the story starting on page 21. Photo by Compton Allen VK2HRX. Inset photo: Carmel VK2CAR with her new toy – the KNQ7A 40 metre SSB transceiver. Read all about this kit project on page 6. Photo by Carmel Morris VK2CAR.

WIA President's Comment

High Power Trial Disappoints

By the time this President’s Comment is read, the High Power Trial will have ceased and the output power limit available to Advanced licensees will be back to 400 watts PEP for SSB and 120 watts for all other modes. So, what went wrong? Why didn’t the ACMA see fit to at least extend the trial with a view to making the higher power limit a permanent feature? What are our options now?

Let’s not spin the issue; rather, I’ll call a ‘spade’ a ‘spade’.

The ACMA reached its decision following an assessment carried out on 90 of the 297 Advanced licensees holding high power permits. The ACMA collected data in a number of areas: a desk-based audit of knowledge of and compliance with electromagnetic energy (“EME”) requirements; site visits; complaints of interference; impact on other radio communications services; and an examination of other countries’ regulatory arrangements.

According to the ACMA, from the evidence obtained a decision was made about the “benefits and risks of permanently implementing regulatory arrangements for higher power” and, at the end of the day, their conclusion was that the ‘risks’ outweighed the ‘benefits’.

Their major concern was that the assessments demonstrated a significant lack of understanding of, and compliance with, the electromagnetic energy EME/EMR requirements within the Amateur Licence Conditions Determination (the LCD):
“during the desk-based audit… the responses received from some Advanced Licensees did not meet expectations. The responses raised doubts as to some Advanced Licensees’ awareness of ongoing licence obligations and electromagnetic energy requirements….. and in some instances, the ACMA received no response to its letter in the statutory timeframe”.

Clearly, a disappointment to everyone.

Additionally, the 297 amateurs who applied for the high power permit was a fairly small number compared to the total Advanced licensee population of 10,690. Also, the WIA submission to the ACMA earlier this year contained a limited number of contributions from trial participants (and I must say we were also disappointed at the response to our call for comments). That said it could not be reasonably expected that a large number of Advanced licensees would commit to the necessary investment to assemble a high power station, given there was no certainty as to the outcome of the trial.

The ACMA also said that the results of the trial demonstrated there is a need to raise awareness among all amateur licensees of their licence conditions, in other words, EME/EMR issues should be of greater concern to all radio amateurs, no matter what licence grade and power they are running.

Significant interference issues due to use of the higher power, either on the amateur bands or to other services, were not evident.

A summary of the ACMA assessment results can be found on their website at www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Spectrum/Acquire-alicence/Apparatus-licences/trial-ofhigher-transmitter-output-power-forlicensees-i-acma

It is important to realize that radio amateurs are not being singled out here. Compliance with electromagnetic energy requirements applies to all apparatus licensees, including broadcasting, maritime services and others. It’s also important to realize that electromagnetic radiation is not just a technical issue, it’s an emotive and political issue within the community, and we all need to be very mindful of that fact.

The trial also highlighted ambiguities and inaccuracies in ACMA material, and the lack of information provided about the assessment criteria, which we believe also had a detrimental effect on the outcome.

Some may wonder why other countries’ administrations (USA, NZ etc) don’t seem to have any concerns about having a higher power limit for radio amateurs. The answer goes to the various legislative and regulatory arrangements present in those countries, and when administrations do not have EME/EMR regulation within their policy charter, they are less constrained.

So, what now? Firstly, at the Institute’s request, the ACMA has indicated that this issue is not closed, and the WIA intends to re-open negotiations with the ACMA, hopefully in about one year, if the amateur community can demonstrate a general increase in EME/EMR awareness and compliance. Secondly, the WIA intends to do whatever it can to increase awareness within amateur radio circles of the EME/EMR compliance issues. The ACMA has indicated it looks forward to working with the WIA to achieve that objective, and is also working to improve their published material and other issues highlighted during the trial.

As I said, this is a disappointing outcome. The trial was initiated by Michael Owen VK3KI and has since taken a lot of work from a very few people. I would like to thank the following members of the Spectrum Strategy Committee for their diligent work over the course of the High Power Trial: Peter Young VK3MV, Doug McArthur VK3UM, Noel Higgins VK3NH and Roger Harrison VK2ZRH.

Phil Wait VK2ASD
President, WIA

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

Tail wagging wireless Steve Mahony VK5AIM
WICEN NSW assists in large scale search in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney Compton Allen VK2HRX and Steven Heimann VK2BOS
VK1 celebrates six months of SOTA Andrew Moseley VK1NAM
WorldWide Flora & Fauna in amateur radio Paul Simmonds VK5PAS

TECHNICAL

Another fun QRP project - KNQ7A+ 40 metre LSB transceiver Carmel Morris VK2CAR
Little transmitters around the shack Peter Parker VK3YE
AR88 receiver capacitor rebuild David Williams VK3RU
A dipole story Noel Ferguson VK3FI
A review of the 2013 Gippsland Technical conference Roger Harrison VK2ZRH

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

WICEN NSW assists in large scale search in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney

Compton Allen VK2HRX and Steven Heimann VK2BOS</b

This article details the efforts of WICEN NSW in assisting in a large scale search of the Blue Mountains.

It describes some of the activities undertaken by these WICEN volunteers (and others) and some of the effort required. It is a most interesting read of some search and rescue activities most of us take for granted.

VK1 celebrates six months of SOTA

Andrew Moseley VK1NAM

The group of SOTA enthusiasts in VK1 decided to set aside a day to celebrate the six month “anniversary” of the start of SOTA in VK1.

The author gives an account of some of the planning, activity and following celebratory lunchtime gathering.

Another fun QRP project - KNQ7A+ 40 metre LSB transceiver

Carmel Morris VK2CAR
An interesting article from an interesting author – and one that will find favour with all homebrew aficionados, a modest 40 metre QRP transceiver with several well planned and well-constructed ‘add on’ features that take the project to a significantly higher plane.

A dipole story

Noel Ferguson VK3FI

This is an article directed at our Foundation level readership, although it is likely that all amateurs will remember their own first efforts in antenna design and modelling as they work their way through the story.

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