Amateur Radio December 2015
Delivery expected from 26 November
WIA Member Digital Edition Download
Apologies and Farewells
First up, I must offer my sincere apologies to Keith VK6RK and Justin VK7TW. Somehow I missed downloading their respective contributions for the November issue, so they did not reach the publishing house and therefore the magazine itself. Sometimes things just get very busy and I try to keep on top of magazine contributions, but this time I slipped up twice! Both were alerted very early after publication and have been able to incorporate the most germane of the missed content into their columns for December.
Three of our regular columnists have announced that this month will be their last contribution to Amateur Radio.
The first to advise me of his retirement was David VK3HZ. He has been compiling our VHF column VHF-UHF – An Expanding World for the last 12 years – a sterling effort. David has always endeavoured to deliver the latest news of happening to the magazine. At times, he has pushed the deadlines to the limit, but the column was always there. David sought expressions of interest for someone to take over his role and found an “old timer”. Welcome back David Minchin VK5KK! David compiled the column prior to David VK3HZ took up the role.
Robin Harwood VK7RH is also stepping back, after 30 years of contributing Spotlight on SWLing. Robin has soldiered on with his updates on the activity on the shortwave broadcast bands despite a series of changes, not the least being a change of location and ongoing issues with his hearing. On top of these challenges, the number of broadcasters has undergone significant decline in recent years.
Contests columnist James Fleming VK4TJF has also announced his retirement. James took up the challenge a couple of years ago and ensured the continuance of our Contests column, giving his perspectives of the contesting arena along the way. He feels that he has run out of new things to say, so is stepping down. That means that he will now have a little more time to devote to preparing for and participating in the contests – good luck to you James. The result is that we are now looking for expressions of interest for a new identity to accept the challenge of providing regular updates about the contesting scene. Please flood our Inbox with emails and make our job a hard one to select the best candidate!
Sincere thanks go to all Club and Column contributors, but especially to those who are retiring: your ongoing and regular efforts help this magazine to maintain its character. It has been a pleasure to work with you all.
It is almost December again, which means that the Christmas – New Year period is rapidly approaching. That usually means time with family and friends, plus extra travel for many. Do be careful if travelling on the roads and remember that you need to drive for yourself and your passengers AND also key a close eye out for all those other vehicles on the roads. Keep safe.
A merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
Until next time,
The latest offering from Jim VK5JST: a HF/VHF Aerial Analyser covering 160 to 2 metres. The price of the kit will be attractive, so seriously consider building this project. Read the detail in the article commencing on page 6. Photos courtesy Jim Tregellas VK5JST.
WIA President's Comment
What have the Romans ever done for us?
In the November edition of this magazine, two “Over to You” letters were published that warrant a response from the WIA.
The first is from Rob Cummings VK3NBC. Rob shares his thoughts on why people do not join the hobby, breaking it down to three broad categories of “Difficulty”, “Expense”, and “Old Fashioned”. When I was young, amateur radio had a very high entry barrier indeed; I can remember studying for my Z-call amateur licence in high school economics classes –“Samuelson Economics” was a very large text and could nicely hide the ARRL Handbook. Thankfully, all that changed with the introduction of the Foundation licence over 10 years ago. But, there is still more to do to make the hobby more accessible and attractive.
We would all like to see more youth attracted into the hobby, but my personal view is that they are unlikely to be attracted by the traditional aspects of amateur radio, such as contesting and chasing DX, etc. Rather, I think, they will come into the hobby when they see a benefit in using amateur radio as an educational or communications tool to enhance some other interest, such as space, satellites, robotics, ballooning, yachting, orienteering etc. - think SOTA-type activities. Also, I think there is a strong vocational and educational component to amateur radio which is yet to be fully recognised or developed.
So, if Rob reads my President’s comments over the past couple of years, and takes a look at the various WIA submissions in the “Hot Issues” section of the WIA website, he will see that the WIA largely agrees with him. However, actually progressing these issues is much more difficult due to the rigidity of the legislation and regulations that control us, including the examination syllabi. Hopefully, the current Spectrum Review processes will enable us to have greater control over our own destiny.
As far as membership of the WIA is concerned, at 34% of the total amateur population the WIA does a lot better than most other societies, even the ARRL or the RSGB, which are both running at about 24%. I have always thought that, at any one time, about 50% of licensed amateurs are either not active, or for some other reason (such as their financial status, or something the WIA did many years ago, or maybe they would never join a member organisation anyway), are unreachable and would never join the WIA. If I am correct, the WIA’s penetration of the available market would be at much higher levels.
The second item, on page 39, was a copy of letter from Stephen Ireland VK3VM, sent to the new Minister of Communications, Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield. The crux of the letter was that amateur radio licensing fees should be abolished, or at least significantly reduced, and that the WIA is incorrect in suggesting that the level of service from the ACMA would be affected if fees were reduced.
I refer readers to both the OTY letter from Dale Hughes VK1DSH on page 32 of November, and my President’s Comment, also in the November issue, discussing the long-term benefit amateur radio has derived as a licence fee-paying service. Mr Ireland omits to say that the Commonwealth has in fact just reduced the cost of our amateur licence fees to $51 - not an insubstantial cut.
Changes to the amateur service are expected to be an outcome of the review processes currently underway within the Department of Communications and the ACMA, but at this stage we don’t have a clear view of what those changes will be, and the impact that they will have on the amateur service. The WIA remains opposed to any outcome which diminishes the relative status of the amateur service in relation to other radiocommunications services and, for now, that also involves licence fees.
Where I do have serious issue with Mr Irelands’ letter is where he expresses the view to the Minister that the WIA no longer represents the interests of radio amateurs in Australia, and he states that WIA membership is declining at the rate of 100 members per month. This is deplorably incorrect. The WIA’s membership declined slightly from 4,465 members at the end of last year to 4,425 members at the end of October 2015, i.e. less than six per month! The rate of new memberships, or lapsed members returning to the WIA, almost compensates for departing members and the increasing number of silent keys.
I think everyone would raise an eyebrow when Mr Ireland raises a view, though he carefully doesn’t actually say he shares it, that the fees the WIA charges for reinstating accidental licence drop-offs and renewals (late payers) benefits the WIA, or persons within the WIA, and this could be the real reason the WIA goes soft on pushing licence fee reductions (i.e. a conflict of interest). Naturally, the WIA charges for the work it does under the Deed with the ACMA, and is independently audited with respect to costs and charges under the Deed. To include such an unsubstantiated view in a letter to the Minister begs readers to draw their own conclusions about Mr Ireland’s intention in stating it.
At the end of 2015, there is a view circulating, particularly on social media channels, that the WIA has not been effective enough in its recent dealings with government and the ACMA. I’m reminded of the scene from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” (said to be the motion picture destined to offend nearly two thirds of the civilized world, and severely annoy the other third), when Reg, aka John Cleese says: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
I do have some sympathy for those who think change in amateur radio is happening too slowly. However, as I said previously, we find ourselves in a period when the entire radiocommunications landscape in Australia is being re-crafted, and amateur radio is only a very small part of that very big picture. The WIA has recently resubmitted to the ACMA our list of proposed changes to the amateur licence conditions (the LCD), first submitted in 2014 and recently updated for the latest submission. Change will come, but we must be patient, and we need to make sure it’s compatible with amateur radio’s longer-term objectives.
So another year has passed. As I always say, have a very safe and happy Christmas, and see you in 2016, whatever that year brings!
Phil Wait VK2ASD
Table Of Contents
NARSA Rally, Blackpool, NW England Julian Sortland VK2YJS / AG6LE
Are you being heard? Graeme Scott VK2KE
Japan ARDF Championships Jack Bramham VK3WWW
Closure of the ANZAC Centenary Jim Linton VK3PC
Summer VHF-UHF Field Day 2016: fun in the sun! Roger Harrison VK2ZRH
WIA navigates ‘perfect storm’ in the spectrum Jim Linton VK3PC
VI0ANZAC to try again Jim Linton VK3PC
A VHF/HF Aerial Analyser Jim Tregellas VK5JST
Plus all the usual Club news and columns
Closure of the ANZAC Centenary
Jim Linton VK3PC
Jim Linton describes the plans for the closure of the ANZAC Centenary celebrations over the period 12 to 20 December, with ANZAC suffixed callsigns expected to be active from several states. This will be your last chance to catch these special callsigns, so read the article and check the WIA website for the latest details.
Are you being heard?
Graeme VK2KE (aka Scotty) discusses some of the issues that may affect the intelligibility of your on-air signals. This short item is worthwhile reading for, new to the hobby or an old timer.
A VHF/HF Aerial Analyser
Jim Tregellas VK5JST
Jim VK5JST presents his latest antenna (aerial) analyser, this time a unit covering the HF bands and up to 160 MHz. This is another example of the author’s writing and design capabilities. A kit will be available for sale soon, making this an attractive proposition for those who do not yet have an antenna analyser in their test equipment arsenal.
63 Cookson Controls
13 Ham Radio House
15 Kuhne electronic
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Page Last Updated: Saturday 10 September 2016 at 20:32 hours