Amateur Radio January 2014
Delivery expected from January 27
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Happy New Year to all
I trust that all had a safe and happy festive season and hope that all have a happy and prosperous New Year.
I ended up spending three weeks away from home, staying with family members in north east Victoria. The time was spent as a mixture of family time, some touring and some SOTA activity. I believe that regardless of your beliefs, one thing that most enjoy at the period at the end of the calendar year is reconnecting with family. In my case, the trip started earlier than expected with a trip to help celebrate a significant birthday. Given that the trip involves a drive of several hours, I decided to stay until Christmas and beyond.
From a radio perspective, there was plenty of SOTA activity following Christmas. For the Chasers sitting at home, there was a veritable feast of summits on offer. Many Activators feasted on the available Summit to Summit contacts. It really became a juggling act for those Activators who chose to activate more than one summit on a given day, often missing some activations whilst in transit from one summit to the next. I am sure that we will see a more detailed account of activity in the next issue – the action was still happening as the publication deadline loomed.
Possible changes for Amateur Radio
In the December 2013 edition, our President raised number of questions involving the future of this magazine, particularly around production costs and, more broadly around reviewing costs within the organisation.
Some of the issues were discussed at the December meeting of Publications Committee (PubCom). We were fortunate to have Phil Wait present at the meeting, and lively discussion occurred. PubCom is not against moving to an electronic magazine. All agreed that all costs and implications need to be identified. It was also noted that we must seek input from WIA members on the issues that were discussed. Other than confirming that a survey was needed, no definite decisions were made – it was decided to await the survey results. It is likely that the survey will be included in the March issue of Amateur Radio.
When collating the material for this issue, I raised the question of the Annual Index with PubCom members. All agreed that using 4 or more pages of the magazine for a printed annual index was a poor use of costly page space. We have therefore decided to NOT include the 2013 Annual Index in this issue. The index will be collated in the normal manner and will be available to download as a pdf file from the January/February 2014 Amateur Radio page on the WIA website.
Whilst not yet at a critical level, our stock of articles ready for publication is diminishing. Please do consider writing up your latest project or sharing an account of a recent personal or club activity for the magazine. As always, we prefer articles with good quality, high resolution images. Guidelines are available on the WIA website: http://www.wia.org.au/members/armag/contributing/
By the time this issue reaches readers in late January, the Ross Hull Memorial VHF/UHF Contest will be drawing to a close. There may still be time for you to participate, even if it only making a few contacts with some of the keen participants. John VK3KM will be starting his task of reviewing logs submitted from operators after the Summer VHF-UHF Field Day. Coming up in March will be the John Moyle Field Day – now is the time to start planning for your participation in this event. The John Moyle can be a fun event. I have fond memories of weekends spent on the top of Blue Mountain near Trentham with fellow members of the Melbourne University Radio & Electronics Club back in the late 1970s, when we would mount a multi-operator, multi-transmitter station covering all bands from 80 m through to 23 cm for the event. The Rules for this year’s event are included in this issue.
For those interested in SOTA, I am sure that operators in VK1 will be out and active on February 1 to celebrate the anniversary of the start of the VK1 Association. Many SOTA operators in VK3 will be gathering at the Moorabin & District Radio Club in Highett for a celebration and barbeque lunch – I guess that there may be many stations set up in the grounds to chase those VK1 stations that will be on-air.
Until next month,
This month’s cover
This month’s cover shows Greg VK5ZGY operating from Gower Conservation Park in the south east of SA. Portable operations appear to be booming at present, helped by the increasing participation in SOTA and the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award and the South Australian National and Conservation Parks Award. Such operations are often also valid for other awards, including the WWFF, VKFF and awards for local government areas. Photo by Colin Huon VK5HCF.
WIA President's Comment
Christmas Presents for Eastern States
Radio Amateurs in the Eastern States received two welcome Christmas presents this year – firstly, with the announcement of a new regulation amending the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) on exempt and complying development, which includes specific coverage of “Aerials, antennae and communication dishes”, and secondly, advice from the ACMA that “amateur operations in the 50-52 MHz band will no longer need to be curtailed in order to avoid interference to Channel 0 stations.”
Erecting amateur radio antennas in NSW has been a bit of a fractious affair for decades, with local councils often applying different interpretations of the development codes, even within their own local government areas! Announced on December 19th, the “State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) Amendment (Commercial and Industrial Development and Other Matters) 2013,” now clarifies many development matters and imposes a single development code across the State for a whole range of specified minor development, including antennas, masts and dishes. The SEPP cannot be overridden by a local council.
Amateurs should carefully check pages 17-19 of the new Code before they think of putting up a mast or antenna, or perhaps even modifying an existing installation. Basically, and in the simplest terms, if your antenna/mast is located at the rear of a private lot not affected by a Heritage order, is no higher than 10 metres above ground level or no higher than 1.8 metres above peak roof height if attached to your dwelling, is 100 mm diameter or less for solid structures or 500 mm or less if an open-frame mast, is located at least five metres from the property boundary and is soundly constructed and anchored in accordance with relevant Australian Standards, your antenna/mast is deemed a Compliant Development by the Code and no development application is required. Even microwavers are catered for with allowance for dishes!
It seems that, at a later stage, more substantial antennas/masts will be subject to a fast-tracked development application and approval process limited to a period of 10 days.
All this is a significant advance on what prevailed in NSW previously, and comes after a keen – and effective – lobbying campaign from the State’s amateurs and amateur radio clubs that began in October 2011 and led by the WIA. It’s also good news for wireless hobbyists and budding radio amateurs – those people once universally known as “shortwave listeners”. Grass roots action can work!
Although some amateurs will think the requirements are still too restrictive, they balance the right of radio amateurs to pursue their hobby from their home and the rights and expectations of the community. NSW has now been brought into broad alignment with the antenna/mast height requirements that apply in other States such as Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
After several approaches to the ACMA by the WIA, just before Christmas we received notification that Advanced licensees could again use the 50-52MHz segment of the six metre band, without the geographic and power restrictions imposed many years ago in order to reduce the potential of interference to 45-52 MHz Channel 0 television services.
The good news is that all Advanced licensees can now use the first 2 MHz of 6 m, run powers up to 400 W Px (pep) or 120 Py (carrier power), and use any permitted mode as per the LCD.
The WIA also asked for reallocation of 50-52 MHz to the Amateur Service on a primary basis and access for Standard Licensees. The ACMA responded by saying that these requests will be kept in mind during a proposed review of the vacated segments of the spectrum between 45 MHz and 144 MHz following the closure of channels 0 - 5A VHF analogue television services; the so-called “Digital Dividend”.
The ACMA went on to say that they recognise “. . . that one possible outcome of the proposed review of the VHF spectrum may be that changes are proposed to the amateur arrangements . . .” In other words, don’t get too comfortable, because the WIA will still need to defend vigorously our full spectrum holding at six metres in that review.
More information on these two developments can be found in the News section of the WIA website.
The Foundation licence and the amateur licence examinations system are now nine years old. While a review of the Foundation licence examination syllabus and licence conditions has been progressing for some time, the current examinations system has been in place generally without change.
While it has served the Institute and the Australian radio amateur community well to date, I know that many amateurs and would-be amateurs and assessors consider it over-burdened with procedure and paperwork. The WIA must ensure a robust audit trail of actions and responses, all meeting expectations and requirements of the ACMA and the Commonwealth Government. However, the WIA Board and our RTO believes the process can be improved significantly by placing much of the administration component on-line. This would speed the processing of materials, reduce costs and also avoid instances where the paperwork is filled out incorrectly and needs to be returned by post to the assessor.
What if? What if . . . a candidate could sit the licence examination and receive, if successful, a Certificate of Proficiency, their licence and a callsign. We are currently working on reaching that goal.
Phil Wait VK2ASD
Table Of Contents
The VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award – six months on Paul Simmonds VK5PAS
Is Riley Sebastian Kurtz VK3FRSK Australia’s youngest amateur? Tony Boddy VK2ADQ
Icom makes Strictly Ham Bayswater’s Grand Opening a day to remember Jessica Brinsdon - Icom (Australia)
VK QRP club celebrates 30 years Garry Cottle VK2GAZ
A DXer is born! Jean Fisher VK3VIP and Donna Ireland VK3FRET
Archive activities - An occasional report on collecting our history Peter Wolfenden VK3RV
SummerLoop II: an improved magnetic loop for 21 – 50 MHz pedestrian mobile Peter Parker VK3YE
PSK31: The digital mode worth trying Jim Linton VK3PC
A transverter for the 472 – 479 kHz frequency band Dale Hughes VK1DSH
A homebrew switched attenuator for radio amateur applications Erich Heinzle VK5HSE
Plus all the usual Club news and columns
The VK5 National and Conservation Parks Award – six months on
Paul Simmonds VK5PAS
The VK5 National and Conservation Parks award was established a short six months ago – and to celebrate the occasion a special activation weekend was planned in October.
This article details the efforts of those involved with making this event so very successful.
A DXer is born!
Jean Fisher VK3VIP and Donna Ireland VK3FRET
This is a short article that records a recent HF QSO made by a newly licenced Foundation amateur, her first and which was made to a major DXpedition complete with the (almost) mandatory pile up of callers, and identifies the joy felt by a number of her friends when the chore was accomplished.
Although a seemingly lightweight subject, most amateurs can easily recall their very first venture onto the HF bands, because many of them turned out to be quite emotional for the operator, and difficult to accomplish until the experience became somewhat well entrenched as a habit.
SummerLoop II: an improved magnetic loop for 21 – 50 MHz pedestrian mobile
Peter Parker VK3YE
This is another article from this prolific homebrew experimenter – this time, an improvement on his original design, designated SummerLoop II, for 21 MHz to 50 MHz operation, with an option to add both the 17 and 20 metre bands if desired.
The unit is simple in concept and to build, and suitable for those who may consider mobile HF operation in one of its many facets.
A transverter for the 472 – 479 kHz frequency band
Dale Hughes VK1DSH
The allocation of a new low frequency band is an exciting time for amateur radio, opening up many opportunities for propagation experimentation as it does.
Commercial equipment is not generally available and so most is home brewed by the amateur community from published designs or is designed by the amateur himself (herself).
One such design is presented in this article – and those interested in this new band, in home-brewing and with some significant technical knowledge will be delighted to read what is presented – and perhaps take the issue further!
63 Cookson (Jackson Bros)
63 Hamak Electrical Industries
63 NBS Antennas
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