Amateur Radio August 2014
Delivery expected from July 24
WIA Member Digital Edition Download
Your digital Amateur Radio
The August edition of Amateur Radio is being prepared a little over a week after the July edition reached member’s letterboxes in the south eastern states. In that first week, the new digital edition was downloaded by approximately 500 members. The Webmaster is tracking download times, which will feed additional information to the Board when it considers the results of the recent survey.
Several members have sent in comments about the digital edition; basically all that I have seen have been very positive. Some readers have made some suggestions about presentation format and one queried if back issues might eventually be available electronically. The Publications Committee will consider all suggestions.
Delving into the digital domain: SDR
I have been slowly building up a software defined radio (SDR) over the last few years. It all started with the hpsdr project. Phil Harman VK6APH gave a very stimulating presentation at GippsTech Special Edition back in 2009. GippsTech Special Edition was the first of the new format WIA AGM and Annual Conference events. Phil has played a major role in the hpsdr projects over the years. I read an early series of articles published in Radio Communications (our sister publication from the RSGB) and Phil’s presentation was the final stimulus: I started ordering the various boards as they became available through TAPR. As each board arrived, I started assembling the various modules to make a radio. (That reminds me – I must actually fire the system up sometime soon!)
Between work pressures, playing a little radio and editing the magazine, the digital side was not cooperating for me. The project moved lower on the “to do” list. The Hermes board was announced, so I purchased one. This board will be integrated into a case, hopefully soon. I intend to use the Hermes in a couple of ways: as a transverter driver for higher bands, and as a Vector Network Analyser using the VK6APH (VK6PH) VNA software.
Then Apache Labs released the Anan series of radios. I decided to spend some more money. Workloads and a recalcitrant PC prevented me gaining much joy, so it joined the other system to be explored at a later date.
I recently purchased a new PC and last week hooked up the Anan 100D. But again the PC and software would not talk to the radio, so I sent of a query to the support team. I received a prompt reply with instructions on how to update the radio firmware. Once that task was completed, instant success! Initial use has only been on receive, but I am very impressed with the performance. The next task is connect a microphone (and perhaps even a CW key) and to use it on-air. Another task is to become more familiar with the software interface, as the radio has only one button – the power switch. Everything else is controlled via the software.
That only leaves one other major task for the shack/study: get the old PC to a suitable technician to sort out some issues with updates not loading!
Several key members of the local club are hard at work this week preparing for the annual GippsTech conference. As Conference Chair, I too am busy with preparations, but am looking forward to the event: catching up with friends that you usually only chat to on-air or via email, plus listening to the many presentations. It will be a great weekend of camaraderie and sharing of technical information.
Given the weather forecast for Victoria, I doubt that I will be missing much SOTA action: Saturday was forecast to be very wet and cold, with high winds and snow down to 500 m. Such conditions are not compatible with operating portable on the summit of any hill.
Until next month,
This month’s cover:
This month features the spider beam antenna at NH2T, used in the Oceania DX Contest in 2013. See the story of the Oceania DX contest beginning on page 19. We also feature the first of a series of articles featuring Australian amateurs involved in the armed forces (page 6). The story of the ZC-1 receiver also links to conflicts past, as will the Remembrance Day Contest this month. Photo by David Mueller N2NL / NH2T.
WIA President's Comment
Announcing a new WIA Grants Scheme
Earlier this year, the WIA Board was approached with a generous offer from Alan Devlin VK3XPD. Being a keen VHF/UHF/microwave operator with significant experience in weak-signal operation and the pursuit of distance records, Alan was very aware of the advantages of GPS-locking transmitters and receivers to enable very narrow band communications techniques. Alan also knew that many privately owned amateur stations were GPS-locked, but Beacons – the very things intended to support weak signal operation by providing a propagation indicator and a frequency reference - were not.
In Alan’s words, “as an active amateur radio enthusiast, I want our beacon network upgraded to GPS-locking for the benefit of all amateur radio operators in Australia...” and he proposed that he and the WIA should share the cost of the Beacon upgrade, to a total of $5000, half provided by himself and half paid by the WIA.
That gave us a bit of a dilemma. Although it was clearly a worthwhile project, the WIA Board is very conscious that members’ money needs to be spent in an open, transparent and proper process, and although the offer was very generous, it was a one-off and ‘out of the blue’ proposal.
Around the same time, the Board had been discussing the future of the WIA Club Grants Scheme, which provided about $6000 per year to WIA Affiliated Clubs in a competitive arrangement for almost a decade, where clubs submitted their proposals to an independent selection committee. However, the Club Grants Scheme seemed to have run its course, with fewer submissions received in recent years, and sometimes for fairly low-grade project proposals. The WIA Board was looking for a better alternative.
Alan’s offer to part-fund the Beacon GPS-Locking project, and his obvious enthusiasm to see it happen quickly, accelerated our thinking, and I can now announce that the WIA has introduced a new WIA Grants Scheme, similar to the old Club Grants Scheme, but with some important differences.
The new WIA Grants Scheme will be open to both affiliated clubs and individual members. It will also be open to non-members and non-affiliated organisations, so long as the project is for the benefit of amateur radio and the non-member or non-affiliated organisation contributes at least 50% of their own funds, with the WIA contribution paid retrospectively on completion of the project or at an agreed project stage.
But most importantly, the WIA will only fund projects that are in accordance with a strategic direction set by the WIA Board, and announced yearly, prior to the call for project proposals.
Each project will be vetted by an independent committee comprising Peter Freeman (Committee Leader and your AR Editor) VK3PF, Scott Watson VK4CZ, Gary Beech VK2KYP, Drew Diamond VK3XU and Peter Hartfield VK3PH, bringing a diverse range of skills and perspectives. The committee will evaluate proposals based on: benefit to the amateur radio community; not for-profit or non-commercial nature; stage of completion at the time of the application; likelihood of being completed within 12 months; and consistency with the WIA Board’s specific criteria (i.e. strategic direction).
The committee quickly determined that Alan’s Beacon GPS-Locking project met all the above criteria, and that it should be approved as the first project funded by the new WIA Grants Scheme. We expect there will be some interesting projects in the years ahead.
If Alan’s GPS-locking proposal is fully-subscribed, at least 25 individual beacons will gain GPS-locking; more than that quantity if a number of multi-beacon sites gain the facility. I urge all beacon owner-operators – don’t be shy, please apply!
On other matters, as I said in my last President’s Comment, the WIA is going through a very busy period with change quickly occurring on a number of fronts, including: the Australian Spectrum Review; the review of Radiocommunications legislation; the remake of the Amateur LCD; and a newly-initiated Amateur Band Plan review. Make sure you check out the new ‘Hot Issues’ section on the WIA homepage, where the WIA activities with the highest importance are listed, and you can track their progress.
P.S. Alan’s Beacon GPS-Locking project is featured in this month’s AR magazine.
Phil Wait VK2ASD
Table Of Contents
An inspired experimenter and leader: Walter Hannam – his part of the jigsaw! Peter Wolfenden VK3RV
The ZC1 radio revisited Norm Bergen VK4ANB
AM and CW on ANZAC Day 2014 Johnno Karr VK3FMPB
A proposal to implement GPS locking of VK beacons Alan Devlin VK3XPD
The Oceania DX contest – 2013 results Brian Miller VK3MI/ZL1AZE
Boat anchors with a bite Frank Grimshaw VK1VK
The YL juggernaut rolls on - A special report Jean Fisher VK3VIP
Keep your callsign in sight – at all times! Ernie Walls VK3FM
Road to Kazakhstan Jack Bramham VK3WWW
Gridsquare Standings at 13 June 2014 Guy Fletcher VK2KU
Temporary changes in use of the 440 - 450 MHz band WIA
A weak signal source for 1296 MHz Dale Hughes VK1DSH
The rebirth of a repeater – the Drouin 70 cm repeater VK3RWD Albert Hubbard VK3BQO
Plus all the usual Club news and columns
An inspired experimenter and leader: Walter Hannam – his part of the jigsaw!
Peter Wolfenden VK3RV
The article is a relatively detailed synopsis of the contribution of Walter Hannam XQI, 2YH VK2AXH in the development of ‘wireless’ in Australia, both amateur and commercial (military) as the new technical science slowly developed to the point where today, in all its forms, it completely dominates the capacity of the human race to communicate with one another.
From an amateur viewpoint, this is wonderful reading, and is very highly recommended.
The Oceania DX contest – 2013 results
Brian Miller VK3MI/ZL1AZE
The Oceania DX contest is the last remaining internationally relevant contest emanating from VK/ZL, and as such deserves support from all VK/ZL contesters.
The results of the 2013 contest are published and, together with information contained on the website, many details from this, and prior contests are available. For all local contesters, almost obligatory reading.
A weak signal source for 1296 MHz
Dale Hughes VK1DSH
This well-credentialed author provides those who are interested and who participate in the 23 cm band a low signal level source that will be of benefit both in the home QTH shack as well as out in the field on a field day type operation in determining the qualitative performance of the receiver in question.
As this author’s reputation attests, this will be a quality performing addition to any amateur’s shack.
The rebirth of a repeater – the Drouin 70 cm repeater VK3RWD
Albert Hubbard VK3BQO
The Drouin 70 cm repeater VK3RWD was totally destroyed in the bushfires that ravaged the area a few years ago.
This is the story of how a group of amateurs from one of the local clubs got together and re-instated the service.
As is frequently the case, an interesting read about a matter that many amateurs simply take for granted – that a repeater service will ‘always be there.’
63 Cookson Controls
63 NBS Antennas
11, 63 TTS
Page Last Updated: Thursday 24 July 2014 at 13:19 hours