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2015 Magazines

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Amateur Radio July 2015

Delivery expected from 24 June.


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Editorial

Winter has arrived
In the southern states, winter has clearly arrived. As this piece is being prepared, we have a slow moving high pressure system moving across Victoria. The first days of the high brought sunny skies and mild (for winter) temperatures for the afternoon, but very cold mornings. Looking out the window, I see blanket low cloud, with low air temperature. In a couple of days, we expect to see a cold front work its way across, hopefully bringing some more snow to the higher peaks. Many skiers would have been happy, as the main snow resorts in Victoria actually had sufficient snow to run lifts on the season opening weekend – Queen’s Birthday weekend.

The teaching semester is winding up for me, but that brings examination scripts to be marked. Once those tasks are completed, it will be time to finalise arrangements for the second semester courses. In the middle of the break that the students will enjoy, I shall be busy. In addition, the local club has its annual GippsTech Conference to run. Several club members, including myself, are busy with the final arrangements and starting to process registrations.

It looks as if we will have an interesting program of presentations and anticipate a good number of attendees, which should result in lots of interesting discussions, especially during the tea/coffee and meal breaks.

On the radio front, things have been fairly quiet for me: a little SOTA and Parks chasing when I get the opportunity. Weekend and after-hours activity will depend on other tasks at hand. During the week, I may occasionally make a dash to the car from the office to make a SOTA contact, if I am working on a task that can tolerate a brief interruption. I really must start looking for an iambic paddle suitable to use in the car: at present I do make some CW contacts from the car, simply using the Up/Down buttons on the microphone as the dit/dah buttons. My CW skills are slowly improving, but I really should spend more time practicing. One recent CW contact made me happy – a CW QSO with a station in Arizona, giving me my first US SOTA contact.

I am hoping to see some more snow on the ground so that I can pull out my cross-country skis and get some exercise, combined with some SOTA activations during the bonus point season. In several states, the winter attracts a seasonal bonus, increasing the summit points for the Activator only. The logic behind the bonus is the weather conditions combined with more difficult access. As a result, the Activator gains additional points for activations of summits above 1200 m. We simply need some more snow to fall and some nice weather on some weekends free of other commitments, and I will be able (I hope) to get that exercise by skiing to some summits to then play radio!

As noted in the President’s Comment this month, new draft band plans have been released for comment. The published deadline for comments is in mid-June, but I am sure that the team will also consider any comments that arrive in the week or two after the nominal closing date. If you have any thoughts, you had best make then quickly.

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF.


This month’s cover:
Lee VK6TY operating 10 watts portable south of Wagin on the regular afternoon 40 metre sked with Brian VK6LO in Gidgegannup and trying a new magnetic loop made by Geoff VK6YR with excellent copy both ways despite an approaching thunder storm. Photo courtesy of Geoff Griffiths VK6YR.

WIA President's Comment

Postcard from Dallas

This has been quite a month, and I’m struggling to know exactly where to begin, but since I’m sitting in Dallas Airport with a few hours to spare, I’ll start at the beginning.

The WIA’s 2015 AGM and Open Forum in Canberra highlighted several areas of strategic importance that will occupy the WIA Board’s attention over the next year.

The Friday afternoon prior to the AGM was devoted to finding a way forward to the many difficult issues surrounding the 2 metre and 70 cm bandplans. Happily, consensus was achieved at the meeting (no, it wasn’t a ‘done deal’) and over the next few days, John VK3KM, Peter VK3APO and Grant VK5GR refined the few outstanding issues and finalised the draft plans. When this magazine hits your mailbox, the new draft 2 m and 70 cm bandplans would have been published in the Hot Issues section of the WIA website for comment.
Importantly, the revised bandplans do not force any existing users to change frequency, but they do make some very fundamental and wide-ranging alterations to improve our band usage and efficiency and we are keen to hear from any special interest groups or repeater licensees who believe they are adversely affected.

After going through the necessary corporate matters in the formal AGM, which this time took about 20 minutes (thankfully, our AGMs are short affairs), we moved on to the Open Forum. This is where the rubber hits the road in WIA affairs and where members present are encouraged to air their views on subjects close to their heart. Initially, we heard a presentation from Dale Hughes VK1DSH about the IARU and his work at the ITU (Dale is chair of ITU Working Party 5, which is attempting to achieve a 5 MHz allocation for amateur radio within the ITU rules), and then we heard from Peter Young VK3PV about the impending changes to Australian Radiocommunications legislation and how it could affect amateur radio – more on that later.

Then, members were encouraged to ask questions of the Board and to air their views. A number of issues were discussed, but the biggest take-away opinion was that the WIA could improve and broaden how it communicates with members and the wider community. Although not a real surprise to the Board, it is something of a perennial issue – the more we do, the more people want! Constrained by resources, available time and to some extent cost, I am nevertheless amazed at the volume and frequency of WIA news produced and delivered via this magazine, the weekly broadcasts and the website, especially when compared against other societies having greater resources. That said, I recognise that it’s a constant battle getting the message out, especially to those members who may not listen to WIA broadcasts, carefully read this magazine or spend little time online, but we do need to find or make more avenues and opportunities to tell members what is going on, and extend that effort to the community.

In our defence, some readers may recall that two recent President’s Comments asked for suggestions about how we can improve the interface between the WIA and the affiliated clubs. Well, we only received two comments from individual members and none from the clubs themselves, so we won’t ask that one again. However, the WIA Board has taken notice, and with the help of Jim VK3PC, by the time this edition hits your mailbox, you should have noticed some early improvements.

Additionally, over the past year we have introduced a “Hot Issues” section on the WIA website home page where members can follow the most important current issues, and a summary of monthly WIA Board meetings is now published on the WIA website (in the “About the WIA” section) and emailed to members who have registered on MEMNET. These notes are also being emailed to the Presidents and Secretaries of all affiliated clubs.

During the Saturday night annual dinner, Mark Loney, Executive Manager, Operations and Services Branch at the ACMA, discussed the changes occurring within the ACMA and some of the possible outcomes from the Spectrum Review. At the time of writing this President’s Comment, the Department of Communications has only just released their recommendations in the Spectrum Review Report into spectrum management, which will now go to Government for their approval or modification. This is a very fast-moving area, and I will again refer readers to the Hot Issues section on the WIA website for the latest up-to-date information. The WIA has been working very positively with the ACMA over the last few years and, more recently the Department of Communications, in the lead-up to the release of the Spectrum Review Report. Although the recommended changes are far-reaching, advocating as they do a complete re-write of the radiocommunications legislation and spectrum management practices, they have not come as a surprise to us because we’ve paid close attention to what’s happening and participated in the public consultation. In fact, if things work out as we anticipate, the outcomes for amateur radio and for the WIA promise to be quite beneficial.

I’ve been trying to get to the Dayton Hamvention in the USA for about 10 years, but the WIA’s AGM date has always clashed. This year was different, so I took the opportunity and cashed in some points and headed off to Dayton, Ohio. Dayton is anything but a tourist destination, but if you ever get the chance, don’t hesitate – go! There was a healthy contingent of VKs there, judging from the pins placed on a world map at the ARRL stand, and I was joined by Co-Director Chris Platt VK5CP. Dayton is an amazing collection of people and amateur radio suppliers, with just about everything you can imagine to do with amateur radio, from the latest software defined radios to a healthy collection of “boat anchors”. The flea market itself takes almost a day to walk around and there was even a 180 foot tower on display. I bought a Heil microphone, some rig remote control equipment, and a 150TH valve (sorry, vacuum tube) for the mantelpiece.

The sign in the street leading into Hara Arena, which houses the Hamvention, was reassuring – “Per Ohio law, concealed weapons are prohibited on these premises for this event” – and the front-page item in today’s newspaper here in Dallas was a debate on whether university students should be allowed to carry their handguns into classes for self-protection, rather than leave them in their car. Only in America!

Several other societies were represented at Dayton, including the RSGB (UK), the DARC (Germany), the RAC (Canada),the Qatar Amateur Radio Society, AMSAT, ARISS, and of course the IARU. The ARRL contingent was very impressive, with all the major ARRL activities represented, and I spent quite a bit of time talking to their various leaders. It’s both impressive and envy-making to see what can be achieved with about 100 paid staff! Although their level of activity is way beyond the resources of the WIA, I believe there may be opportunities for us to leverage off some of their initiatives, especially in promoting a modern image of amateur radio to youth.

Before coming to Dallas, I spent a couple of days in Chicago, my favourite US city, with very late nights at Blue Chicago – a must-visit blues bar on Chicago’s north side – and a visit to the museums of science and technology and broadcasting, plus a few days in Austin Texas, now my second favourite US city. I’m about to board the A380 for the 16-hour non-stop flight back to Sydney, and back to work. Drat, it’s all too short!

PS. Don’t forget to register your support on the WIA website for Norfolk Island for next year’s AGM and Open Forum venue. As I write (end of May) we have over 100 people who have indicated they would attend, which is encouraging, but more would be better; we want to spread the excitement around!

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

“Snow” Campbell VK3MR, International DXer, Prisoner Of War Peter Wolfenden VK3RV
Jamboree of the Air 2014 at the Rochedale Scout Den and BARC Les Neilson VK4FAEB
SOTA on Black Mountain Monique Faulkner VK6FMON
Results John Moyle Memorial Field Day 2015 Denis Johnstone VK4AE/VK3ZUX
Results from the Easter Urunga Radio Convention 2015 Ken Golden VK2DGT

TECHNICAL

Perytons: A case of UHF-SHF interference Peter Ellis VK1PE
Arduino based antenna rotator controller Dale Hughes VK1DSH
Mount Duncan Repeater VK7RMD site upgrade David Cleland VK7DC

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

“Snow” Campbell VK3MR, International DXer, Prisoner Of War

Peter Wolfenden VK3RV

We have another interesting historical article. The author details some of the radio activities of “Snow” Campbell and his activities during WWII.

SOTA on Black Mountain

Monique Faulkner VK6FMON

A brief account of some of the Summits On The Air activities that occurred in Canberra following the holding of the WIA AGM and Annual Conference. Many interstate visitors ventured out to activate one or more of the VK1 summits. See also the SOTA column for further comments.

Perytons: A case of UHF-SHF interference

Peter Ellis VK1PE

The author explains how a mysterious phenomenon which had many astronomers baffled was finally solved by a Melbourne-based postgraduate student, using “The Dish” at Parkes.

Arduino based antenna rotator controller

Dale Hughes VK1DSH

Do you have a rotator without a controller, or perhaps wish to automate the rotator by interfacing to software? Here is one solution, using an Arduino microcontroller. The unit can control both azimuth and elevation if you desire.

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