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2014 Magazines

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Amateur Radio September 2014

Delivery expected from August 28


      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Editorial

A new Secretary for Publications Committee?

Within a few days, the Publications Committee loses its long-standing Secretary. Ernie Walls VK3FM has been Secretary the whole of my tenure as Editor, which began back at the end of 2005. Having recently passed a significant birthday, Ernie has decided to retire from this role, leaving him free to indulge other interests without the burdens of dealing with all the correspondence associated with the production of Amateur Radio magazine.

Ernie signalled his intentions back at the June meeting of Publications Committee, noting that the September meeting would be his last. I noted this in my July Editorial and called for expressions of interest for anyone who might be interested in taking up the role. On that front, there has been deafening silence! No volunteers have yet put up their hand.

All input for the magazine – articles, regular columns, Club news items and Hamads – are processed by the Secretary. All the articles, columns and Club news items are recorded on an Article Register. The Secretary undertakes an initial editing of the material before it is sent on to the next step for processing.

For all technical articles, the material will go to one of the technical editor team for checking of the technicalities. Of course, there may need to be communication back to the author, another role undertaken by the Secretary. Occasionally, he may need to “crack the whip” with a technical editor to finish processing an article.

The articles are collated by the Secretary and then sent on to me as Editor. I will read through all material and hopefully find any errors that may have been missed. When I am happy with the article, it will be added to the collection of material ready for publication, and I will send the Secretary an email indicating that the status should be recording as being at Production – another entry onto the Article Register.

There are also the tasks of taking meeting Minutes and preparing each Agenda for the quarterly Publications Committee meetings.

I am sure that Ernie will introduce a new Secretary into the role. But first we need to find a person willing to contribute some time and energy. Ideally, we need someone located within comfortable driving time of the WIA Office in Bayswater. A reliable internet connection is also required. Feel free to contact me if you are interested.

Articles needed

We always need articles for publication, both general and technical. Details on how to contribute can be found on the AR magazine page on the WIA website – look under “For Members”. The articles may take several months to work their way through our review system, but we usually publish almost all contributions – rarely do we reject a contribution. So tell us about your latest project, or encourage your club to report on their activities. Of course, you might also encourage the knowledgeable speaker at your club meeting to consider preparing an article for publication….

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover:

Our cover this month shows the station set up by Joe VK3YSP and Julie VK3FOWL outside the Melbourne Museum for the International Museums Weekend. Read all about the preparations and execution of this activity which promoted our hobby to the broader public in the story commencing on page 6.

WIA President's Comment

Repeaters and Beacons – Again

Back in April this year, seemingly an eon ago, I asked the question “should amateur repeaters run 120 watts”, largely in response to a few comments received criticising the way the WIA handles amateur repeater applications. Several people had difficulty with the fact that WIA Coordinators were modifying their application for a repeater licence to show a lower power delivered to the antenna, typically from 120 watts (pY) to 50 watts (pY), and asking (often in fairly blunt terms) why the discrepancy, and why shouldn’t an amateur repeater be allowed to run the full power specified in the amateur LCD for Advanced licensees.

At the time I explained that the WIA had been able to avoid a very large fee increase for amateur repeaters and beacons by having volunteer WIA Coordinators doing much of the evaluation work that would otherwise have been done by the ACMA, so the ACMA would only have to check the repeater or beacon application for potential site interference prior to issuing a licence. The WIA is not a delegate of the ACMA as far as this work is concerned, so the WIA can only make recommendations about an amateur repeater or beacon licence application.

Responses to my April President’s Comment were fairly mixed, some suggesting that the WIA had overstepped the mark and had been implementing an overly restrictive policy, and others suggesting that the issues of spectrum reuse and the protection from cross-interference were the most important considerations. Tellingly, the responses tended to mirror the location of the responders, with those in rural or low usage areas arguing for less restriction, and those in urban or high usage areas thinking the policy setting was about right.

The issues are certainly complex, and go to the principals of spectrum management that attempt to allocate scarce spectrum in a way that provides the greatest overall benefit. The WIA believes the limited spectrum allocated in the amateur band plans for repeaters should be available to as many groups as possible, and power should be used as a tool to limit the range of repeaters and maximise spectrum reuse, especially in high density areas. Most clubs have gone to considerable trouble and expense building and maintaining their repeaters, and are now paying quite expensive site fees, so understandably they would be quite upset if another repeater was causing them interference, even if only occasionally.

However, where I live in Sydney, our 2 metre repeater spectrum is supposedly quite full, but when I tune across the band it’s mostly vacant space - even though there are probably ten repeaters within range of my QTH! The obvious question is, by applying a fairly rigid policy regarding spectrum reuse, have we manufactured our own brand of spectrum scarcity?

There is no use-it-or-lose-it element to a repeater licence, and a licensee will normally have exclusive use of a frequency pair as long as the yearly fees are paid. So if a club sits on a repeater licence without actually building one, or if it maintains a repeater with very low usage, that club will effectively tie up a valuable frequency-pair forever, within several hundred kilometres of the repeater site.

So, when you consider the spectrum engineering issues, and the fact that many amateur repeaters are located on co-shared sites with commercial services where issues such as cross-interference and inter-modulation are serious concerns, you can see that the job of a the WIA repeater and the ACMA in balancing all these competing issues is not easy, and not helped by a good deal of public criticism.

On the other side, somebody living in Kalgoorlie WA might think that this is all academic, and they should be able to do whatever they like within the provisions of the amateur LCD, given that the nearest big town is 550 km away.

To clarify the position we have released a draft WIA Repeater and Beacon Recommendation Policy for comment. The draft policy attempts to achieve a flexible balance between spectrum reuse and interference protection, and uses the ACMA spectrum density maps, (which divide the country up into high, rural and remote spectrum density areas), to tailor the policy to the differing regional requirements.

The requirements for beacons are altogether different, as beacons act as propagation indicators and attempt to achieve the greatest possible range. Also, beacons are typically located near major population centres where the greatest numbers of radio amateurs live. For those reasons spectrum reuse with beacons is not really possible, but luckily there are not too many of them.

I encourage readers to take a look at the draft WIA Repeater and Beacon Policy in the “Hot Issues” section on the WIA website, and also take a look at the other issues such as the Amateur Band plans review and the 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum re-farming. Please do let us have your comments on these all critical issues.

Phil Wait VK2ASD
President, WIA

Table Of Contents

GENERAL
The International Museums Weekend at the Melbourne Museum Joe Gonzales VK3YSP & Julie Gonzales VK3FOWL
The Oceania DX contest - a competition within a competition Tony Burt VK3TZ
The Garlands of Brisbane: an interesting father and son Peter Wolfenden VK3RV

TECHNICAL

Using inexpensive TV USB dongles and VideoLAN (VLC) to view amateur digital TV Steve Ireland VK3VM/VK3SIR
Digital amateur television in the upper Spencer Gulf David Carwana VK5DMC
A brief description of the VK3AQZ EMR measurement demonstration Lou Destefano VK3AQZ
Foundation Corner 26 - Chasing down interference Ross Pittard VK3CE

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

The International Museums Weekend at the Melbourne Museum

Joe Gonzales VK3YSP & Julie Gonzales VK3FOWL

This article describes the reason for the activity, the planning of the activity and the subsequent operation thereof, being a portable station set up in the gardens adjacent to the Melbourne Museum and participation in the International Museums Weekend.

An interesting story well told about one more opportunity for amateur radio to present itself to the general public.

The Oceania DX contest – a competition within a competition

Tony Burt VK3TZ

This article promotes the Oceania DX contest/s held each year in October, and specifically recommends that VK amateurs at club level organise themselves to see who is the best contest club in the country.

A worthy endeavour to support the one real VK/ZL HF contest still capable of garnering a useful level of DX participation.

Foundation Corner 26 - Chasing down interference

Ross Pittard VK3CE

This article identifies the types of interference amateur radio operators may come into contact with, explains how they may determine the source of the interference and how it may be resolved or, at the very least, reduced to an acceptable level.

This subject is always a good read because it covers a topic that most amateurs will experience (or, horror, will even be the source of) during their amateur experience – and it is a subject to which all amateurs should be significantly conversant.

Using inexpensive TV USB dongles and VideoLAN (VLC) to view amateur digital TV

Steve Ireland VK3VM/VK3SIR

How do you get on to ATV – or perhaps, simply view it on your home equipment.

This article gives the reader some excellent information on how to get oneself underway using just a ‘normal’ TV/set top box, very ably assisted by a simple and relatively cheap dongle.

Excellent reading.

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