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2014 Magazines

Other years

Amateur Radio December 2014

Delivery expected from November 27


      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Editorial

Another year almost done

Christmas is fast approaching, with the end of year following shortly afterwards. Is it just me, or is everything speeding up?

On the radio front, things seem to have been reasonably busy for me. The production of this magazine takes a significant time commitment. I have made no progress towards approval and installation of my mast at home. I guess I have had little incentive, as my SOTA activities have been most satisfying: if one is busy at the computer at home, I can chase any activation by a quick move from one side of the room to the radio desk on the opposite side. Of course, I have made some time to get out onto some summits myself. I really do find activating summits pleasurable: out in the open air on a hill top (or mountain top) after having had a walk to gain the summit, followed by a pleasant walk back off the summit. Well, at least that is the theory, provided the weather is reasonable and the scrub is not too thick!

Many of the WIA team have also been busy with internal WIA issues and preparing responses to issues raised by the ACMA. News of all these can be found on the WIA website, some under the News items, and others under WIA Hot Issues. Planning is progressing with the commemorations associated with the centenary of World War I and especially of the Gallipoli landings in April 2015.

We have had some changes in the Publications Committee, the most notable being the retirement of Ernie Walls VK3FM from the role of Secretary. In addition, we are now producing a digital edition each month, which members can download from our server on the day that the magazine arrives in letter boxes in greater Melbourne. This issue also sees the last DX News column prepared by Luke VK3HJ – many thanks for your efforts Luke! We have a volunteer to replace Luke, but I will leave the details until the next issue.

Articles and photographs needed

Our pool of articles for publication is slowly dwindling. We have had a couple of articles in recent issues about how to work amateur satellites – excellent articles for someone new to this area, regardless of how long they have been licensed! More articles of a similar style (i.e. written for beginners to the subject matter) on other topics. Perhaps topics like:
• An introduction to digital modes (perhaps start with PSK?)
• How to set up APRS
• Simple antenna ideas (yes, we have had many of these in the past)
• Amateur television.

These are just some topics. I am aware that we cannot probably cover everything here, but perhaps we could start with a short descriptive item with guides as to where on the internet readers can find additional introductory information?

The other thing that is needed along with more articles is well-composed, well exposed high resolution images that may be suitable for use on the cover of this magazine. Be sure to only send in images at around 1 MB file size for jpg files, but do try to set your digital camera to record at its highest resolution so that the best quality image is available if we think that the image is possibly cover material.

You can find information on how to contribute on the WIA website:
http://www.wia.org.au/members/armag/contributing/

Please do all take care over the coming couple of months. Things can become hectic, especially on roads during the festive season.

I look forward to catching at least some readers on air, perhaps from a summit or a national park. Enjoy the seasonal celebrations and I trust all have a prosperous and healthy New Year.

Until next month,

Cheers,
Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover:

Our cover this month shows a newly-licensed Reuben Giles-Clark VK7FREU activating his first SOTA summit as a licensed amateur. Reuben was activating the summit together with his father, Justin VK7TW, our VK7 columnist. Congratulations on gaining your licence Reuben! Whilst the VK7 column only gives passing mention to the activation, the image was the best candidate for the cover this month! Photograph by Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW.

WIA President's Comment

Christmas, again?

Christmas is always a good time to reflect on the achievements of the past year, and possibly the disappointments, so let’s look at what the WIA has achieved during the year, compared to what we said we would achieve.

It seems like only yesterday - not last December - when I reflected that 2013 had “largely been a year of consolidation” and that the new year (this year) would be one of working towards “improving the social/community relevance and accessibility of amateur radio, bedding down the new WIA Volunteer Committees and turning around the finances”.

In 2014, the Federal Government’s Spectrum Review process gave us a once in a generation opportunity to promote the value of amateur radio to government and policy makers, and to highlight how spectrum allocated to amateur radio can be used to greater public benefit for education and research, emergency response, and as a “spectrum park”.

The Department of Communications has recently released the "Spectrum Review – Potential Reform Directions" paper for public comment, containing a number of proposals of interest to amateur radio, such as: a single licensing framework in place of the current spectrum apparatus and class licences; delegation of spectrum management and licensing functions to other entities; strengthened interference protection resolution and enforcement tools; greater transparency in radio communications policy formation and application; and strengthening available ACMA enforcement measures. Many of the proposals contained in the Directions Paper are consistent with the recommendations in the WIA submission.

The Spectrum Review coincides with the scheduled “remake” of the Amateur Licence Conditions Determination, the LCD. The WIA has submitted to the ACMA a list of recommended changes to the amateur LCD, such as digital modes for Foundation licensees, new frequency bands, a minimum 5-year licence term which would reduce the administrative component of the licence fees, higher power for all amateur licence grades, and transmission restriction by bandwidth rather than mode (technical neutrality). We believe all these initiatives would make the hobby more attractive to newcomers, especially the “makers” and experimenters.
The WIA’s pro-active participation in the Spectrum Review, and to the recommendations to the remake of the Amateur LCD, all serve to improve the social/community relevance and accessibility of amateur radio.
I also said last December that “by far the greatest challenge facing the WIA right now is financial, with another loss projected for this year.” ” In February this year the WIA raised membership fees by about 18% - quite a large increase in percentage terms. Commentary at the time was pretty mixed, especially on social media with some people shouting the WIA was going to hell in a hand-basket, and that we were all doomed (many of these types of comments were from non-members anyway), and others suggesting the increase was justified under the circumstances.

I can now happily tell you that the WIA is on track to show a small profit this year, and the current membership is running about 4550, only very slightly down on last year and about on trend for the last few years. Inevitably, some members did not renew for a variety of reasons including the membership fee increase, and some had no choice due to age…, but it was very pleasing to see a strong number of new members and many lapsed members re-joining.

So, at this early stage we appear to have turned the finances of the WIA around without too much long-term pain, and there are further (though more difficult) opportunities for operational savings if required in the future, and we have some ideas to boost membership.

The third strategic target for 2014 was the WIA Committee system. WIA committees are currently operating mostly on an ad-hoc, issues driven, basis. Committees become very active when there is an important issue to address. In particular the Spectrum and Administrative committees have been very busy this year, as have others such as Radio Activities (contesting and awards), Marketing and Publicity. I would certainly like to see the committee system strengthened next year, but we must remember that volunteer time is precious and we don’t want to waste it on following process rather than solving important issues.

Detailed information on all these and the many other hot issues such as the band plan review, the WIA repeater and beacon policy review, our work with the ITU on the proposal for a new band at 5 MHz, and all the various spectrum issues such as 2.3 and 3.5 GHz, can be found in the Hot Issues section of the WIA website. Oh, and I hope you are all enjoying your digital AR magazine.

So, did we meet our objectives for 2014? I’ll let you decide. The most important thing the WIA does is advocacy, and next year looks to be largely be a continuation of the Spectrum Review process and following-up on the WIA’s proposals for the remake of the Amateur LCD, and importantly the 100 year celebrations for ANZAC.

Finally, I would like to sincerely thank our two staff members Mal and Dianne, our team of dedicated volunteers, my fellow WIA Directors and all WIA members for supporting us through a fairly difficult year. Have a safe and happy Christmas and see you all in 2015.

Phil Wait VK2ASD

PS: Please do make sure you have registered for MEMNET. Go to www.wia.org.au click on ‘For Members’, then click on ‘Log into MEMNET’, and register... it’s very simple.
If you are changing your email address, please remember to update your information in MEMNET.


Table Of Contents

GENERAL
Titan Missile Museum discone antenna, Arizona Geoff Atkinson VK3TL
Stalwart takes leave from top ARISS job Jim Linton VK3PC
YLs at War Jennifer Wardrop VK5ANW/VK3WQ
An introduction to amateur radio Rob Norman VK5SW
VHF UHF band plans – are they working? Grant Willis VK5GR
Foundation success story Ted Thrift VK2ARA
An education role for amateur radio Jim Linton VK3PC
Gridsquare Standings at 17 October 2014 Guy Fletcher VK2KU
Band Plan Notes John Martin VK3KM

TECHNICAL

Ham satellites SSB portable - the next step after working the satellites with your HT! Malcolm Pizzey VK2MAL
A class-D 100 W AM transmitter for 1.8 MHz Drew Diamond VK3XU
Remote Ham Radio: A dream station from a suburban lot Craig Valosin VK2KDP/KB2KDP

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Titan Missile Museum discone antenna, Arizona

Geoff Atkinson VK3TL

A short article about the authors trip to the USA to visit several airplane sites, both historic and otherwise, that ends in a very large discone antenna becoming the feature of the story.

There would not be many DXers that would not welcome the chance to try out this somewhat unique antenna.

Check out this most interesting article.

VHF UHF band plans – are they working?

Grant Willis VK5GR

This article is a three part series that discusses in detail the current VHF and UHF band plans in Australia, their strengths, weaknesses and potential for change given the appropriate parameters being met, and agreed upon.

At the least, all VHF and UHF users should digest this entire article and form an opinion for the future, and make their opinions known through the appropriate channels.

This is part 3. Note that some of the proposals contained here are not consistent with current practice.

A class-D 100 W AM transmitter for 1.8 MHz

Drew Diamond VK3XU

This article explains the premise behind the need for, and the subsequent fabrication of, a 100 watt AM transmitter for the 160 metre band.

Designed by one of Australia’s best known and successful amateur home brewers, the completed unit has a commercial performance capability, and is sure to interest any amateur seriously interested in home brewing, especially if they are also interested in the 160 metre band.

Ham satellites SSB portable - the next step after working the satellites with your HT!

Malcolm Pizzey VK2MAL

Working the various satellites is an interest dear to many amateur’s hearts, and many do so using, particularly, CW mode from a variety of station specifications.

Working them SSB mode is considered a more difficult task, and particularly if you are using a HT radio – but this was a challenge considered and accepted by one such amateur, and this article details the outcome of his endeavours.

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