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2014 Magazines

Other years

Amateur Radio October 2014

Delivery expected from September 25

      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Conflict within our hobby?

Following on from the OTY item about conflict between ILLW stations and contesters included in the September issue, this month we publish a follow up from Kevin VK2CE, the local ILLW coordinator.

Our hobby can be viewed as a very broad ‘church’: there are many niches that attract some of us to a particular niche. For example, I have always had an interest in VHF, UHF and microwave weak signal activities. Over the past two years or so, I have been heavily involved in SOTA, chasing other SOTA Activators, plus combining trips with both SOTA and National Parks activations.

I believe that the “problem” alluded to in the original OTY item was that some contest operators were calling ILLW stations and attempting to force the ILLW station to give a contest exchange. In my humble opinion, such actions are totally against the spirit of our hobby! Certainly, a contest station can request a contest number, but should respect the right of the non-participant to refuse. After all, the non-contest station was NOT calling “CQ Contest”, they would have been calling “CQ Lighthouse” or something similar (or in my case, perhaps “CQ SOTA” or “CQ Parks”). There is nothing in our amateur code that requires us to give a contest number to a contest station. In fact, it is my humble opinion that the contest station is being very forward in calling another station not calling “CQ contest” and then requesting a contest exchange.

I am not trying here to paint all contest operators as behaving in this manner. It is probably only a very small proportion of contesters that behave this way.

Yes, we can all get “caught up in the moment”. But being impolite is just that – impolite, probably rude, perhaps even totally inconsiderate! Okay, some may simply respond with a “59001” to get rid of the contester, but this does not solve the issue for the rest of us. The contester will still try to force himself/herself (mind you, I have not yet heard such behaviour from a YL operator) on others looking for a new log entry to add to their contest score.

Such operators are not, in my view, operating within the true ethics of our hobby, as described by “The Amateur Code”. Rather, they are totally self-obsessed and selfish, thinking only of their own personal gain, in the form of a higher contest score.

Expressing a logical extension to my thoughts above, perhaps this is a case for the WIA to consider establishing a complaint mechanism whereby the non-contest operator can lodge a complaint with the relevant contest manager, which would result in the offending operator’s log being penalised in the contest, perhaps even exclusion for a repeat offender? Drastic action perhaps, but for some, drastic action is perhaps needed to modify the inconsiderate behaviour of the contest operator.

As individual operators, perhaps our only other option is to return to calling “CQ Lighthouse” and refuse to answer the pushy contester, or to hit the “off” button and go for a coffee break?

Volunteer needed

As I discussed in the September and July Editorials, Ernie Walls VK3FM has resigned as Secretary of Publications Committee. Whilst we have an acting Secretary to fill in, Publications Committee is seeking a suitable and willing person to take up the role for a longer period, though perhaps not the nine years of service provided to the Committee by Ernie! Any interested person can find an outline of the tasks undertaken by the Secretary in the July 2014 Editorial. Anyone interested can be contact me at

In the interim, Evan Jarman VK3ANI has agreed to add the Secretary role to his existing Technical Editor portfolio. Evan has indicated that this can only be an interim measure due to other plans in the medium term future. Thank you to Evan.

Finally, I must express my thanks to Ernie for the sterling job he has done for the whole of my term as Editor. He certainly made my job bearable – without his assistance, I doubt that I would have been able to fulfil my editorial duties at the same time as holding down a full-time job as an academic. Ernie, I am sure that you will enjoy your new-found free time and the removal of the strains of publication deadlines. Good luck for the future.

Another volunteer retires from AR

Last month I neglected to acknowledge the efforts that have been contributed to this magazine from a stalwart from Queensland.

Mike Charteris VK4QS has contributed to our hobby in many ways, including being the VK4 correspondent for this magazine. As Mike noted in his column last month, he feels that it is time to relinquish the job. The September QTC column was his last. As Editor, I can report that arrangements are being finalised for Mike’s replacement. Clubs in VK4 should listen out on the local News bulletins for details. Of course, such a person requires input from the Clubs in VK4, or they will have no material to report!

Many thanks for all your work and for your contributions Mike.

Until next month,


Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover:
Our cover this month shows the Table Cape Lighthouse in Tasmania, together with the squid pole forming part of the station of Eric VK7EK, Dick VK7DIK and Marlene VK7LDY for their participation in the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend. Perhaps they were also getting in early for the MWRS Flagpole Contest with the pirate flag! Photo courtesy of Marlene Gardiner VK7LDY.

WIA President's Comment

Spectrum Reboot

I have just returned from the first day of the Radcomms 2015 conference, convened by the ACMA and held over two days in the Sydney Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour. The title of this year’s conference, “Spectrum Rebooted – Taking Stock” is appropriate, given the overriding theme of how to maximise the overall public benefit of spectrum, how to reduce the regulatory costs to business, how to align spectrum allocation with the greater public interest, and how to integrate future spectrum reforms into the Australian radiocommunications environment.

ACMA Chair Chris Chapman opened the conference and discussed the outcomes and resulting productivity gains from the 1800 MHz and 400 MHz reviews, the latter affecting our 70 cm amateur band. He highlighted how the public’s increasing thirst for instant wireless connectivity, in a world where we are now accustomed to doing things in very different ways, is putting immense pressure on spectrum and spectrum management.

In Chris Chapman’s words “Demand is emerging for access to bands that are traditionally allocated to, or used by, other services”.... “especially for bands below 5 GHz and in high population density areas”. Telling words.

The opening address was delivered by the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, the Federal Minister for Communications. The Minister highlighted how rapidly advancing digital compression technologies were increasing the information capacity and efficiency of spectrum at a rate of about 10% per year, and its positive effect on broadcasting and telecommunications services. The Minister also discussed the need to make spectrum management arrangements simpler and more flexible; citing that in the six years to 2013 mobile broadband alone had contributed some $33 billion to Australia’s GDP. In his words, “Spectral efficiency and harmonisation have obvious economic benefits”.

The following three broad ideas were canvassed by the Minister:

1. A clearer and simpler policy framework, with clear distinction between the processes of policy formation (in the hands of government) and technical regulation (in the hands of the ACMA).

2. Encouraging innovation and reducing regulation by moving to a single licensing framework, where the current arrangements of spectrum, apparatus and class licensing, could be replaced with a single more flexible licence type.

3. Recasting the current broadcasting policy framework to allow more flexible use of broadcasting spectrum, and moving to the more spectrum efficient MPEG4 standard for broadcast television.

Against this background of spectrum scarcity and pressure for change, most of the day was devoted to Industry and government representatives presenting their new technologies, all of which require more spectrum, not less: Ultra High definition TV broadcasting, machine to machine, mobile telecommunications, wide area cattle tracking systems, LTE wireless systems, unmanned aeronautical vehicles (drones), battlefield communications systems, seaborne defence, and airborne warfare systems on the new Joint Strike Fighters were the stand-outs.

All these new developments need either more spectrum, or greater spectrum efficiency to make their business models work and all users including ourselves are also looking for certainty in spectrum allocation and more flexibility in how they use their allocation. One example would be a technology neutral approach to amateur licensing, where the licensing of permitted transmission modes would be replaced by a simpler restriction on maximum occupied bandwidth.

In early September, and prior to the Radcomms Conference, the WIA lodged a submission to the Department of Communications review into the Australian spectrum policy and management framework. The Department stated the review is necessary to “modernise spectrum policy to reflect changes in technology, markets and consumer preferences that have occurred over the last decade, and to better deal with increasing demand for spectrum from all sectors”.

The WIA highlighted amateur radio’s long history of not-for-profit public service to the Australian community, through providing emergency communications and as an educational resource, and discusses ways that the public benefit of the amateur radio spectrum can be leveraged in the future.

We argued that public-usage spectrum needs to be valued in quite a different way to for-profit commercial spectrum, and that public interest, or public benefit, is difficult to quantify, is constantly changing and is often highly political in nature. In our view, public interest spectrum has an imputed value which cannot be measured by the same set of tools used for commercial services, and that certain spectrum bands and uses having an intrinsic or “intangible” value as a social good and not everything can, or should, be reduced to monetary value.

In short, the WIA believes public usage spectrum cannot be measured using a conventional market oriented-valuation approach. (The same situation would apply for, say, defence, governmental or emergency services, research, meteorology and safety of life services).

I was pleased to hear the Minister also talk in terms of the overall public benefit of spectrum, which puts a value on all spectrum uses, including those uses that do not provide an immediate financial return, but it remains to be seen how the value of public interest spectrum is to be measured.

I was also pleased to hear a number of speakers express their concern about the rising levels of interference from noncompliant imported consumer equipment. Radio amateurs are also experiencing increasing levels of interference from electrical and electronic equipment such as solar power installations, low-cost LED lighting and many other consumer items. The WIA also argued in its submission that the ACMA needs to be adequately resourced to protect the spectrum against a rise in the radio noise-floor, from noncompliant electrical and electronic equipment, which will ultimately affect all spectrum users in some way, regardless of technology.

In such a rapidly changing environment it’s not possible to predict the future, but the WIA is taking a very proactive stance in the government’s spectrum review and is committed to achieving the best possible outcome for amateur radio. Roger Harrison is attending Day 2 of the conference on behalf of the WIA, but it is magazine deadline today, so that will have to wait until next month.

Phil Wait VK2ASD


PS. A link to the Department of Communications Spectrum Review, and the WIA’s submission is in the Hot Issues section of the WIA website. The Hot Issues section also has a link to the WIA’s recommendations to the ACMA concerning the upcoming “remake” of the amateur service LCD.

Table Of Contents

SOTA sidelines in the Mother Country Andrew Ryan VK3ARR
VHF UHF band plans – are they working? Grant Willis VK5GR
Gil Miles’ letter - Gilbert Thomas Miles, RAAF Service No. 369, A3II, VK2KI Peter Wolfenden VK3RV
Cruise ship radio - A case study Peter Ellis VK1PE


A modelling approach to antenna construction - Part 1 Stephen Ireland VK3VM/VK3SIR
Making printed circuit boards Kevin B G Luxford VK3DAP/ZL2DAP

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

SOTA sidelines in the Mother Country

Andrew Ryan VK3ARR

An interesting article for all SOTA enthusiasts where the author tells about his, and his XYL’s, holiday travelling around the old country, and the sheer fun and excitement generated throughout their visit when an opportunity arose to activate a number of local summits – sometimes with success, sometimes not, but with the adventure always thoroughly enjoyed.

Gil Miles’ letter - Gilbert Thomas Miles, RAAF Service No. 369, A3II, VK2KI

Peter Wolfenden VK3RV

This is the latest article in the series about people involved in the early, developmental years of amateur radio in Australia, depicting their contribution to the hobby and, where known, tell us all a little of their private lives and attributes.

This article gives insights into the technical achievements of Gil Miles, particularly in the realm of television and facsimile and, before that time, in many and various aeronautical experimentation projects in what is now the RAAF.

A very interesting read.

A modelling approach to antenna construction - Part 1

Stephen Ireland VK3VM/VK3SIR

Antenna fabrication is one of the last bastions of significant amateur homebrew potential, and the use of modelling software now has the capability of producing results in the finished product of near commercial levels.

This article attempts to explain the use of such software and highlight its functionality to allow amateurs to better understand their antennas.

Recommended for all who are likely to acquire, or are interested in, one of these software packages.

Making printed circuit boards

Kevin B G Luxford VK3DAP/ZL2DAP

The art of producing professional quality printed circuit boards (PCBs) has been discussed by very many people for a very long time, and the application of these discussions has produced boards to a variety of standards, if not always ‘professional’.

Here is another discussion paper on the matter – those interested in home brewing may like to try the methodology presented – by all accounts very high quality PCBs eventuate.

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