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Amateur Radio March 2015

Delivery expected from 26 February


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Editorial

A trip south

Most readers are by now aware that I am a keen participant in SOTA. I have been participating since late February 2012, almost a month after the commencement of the programme in VK3. It was not until late May 2012 that I really started chasing and activating – prior to that time, I had mainly chased activations that were also in National Parks.

January 2013 was another hot, dry summer in Victoria – many days were too hot to safely head for the hills to activate any summits. I used some of my leave time to muse over electronic maps of Tasmania, thinking about areas I had visited 30 years earlier on bushwalking trips. Thus I started the mapping required to get VK7 registered in the SOTA programme. I continued on with the task over the next few months, ultimately mapping several of the regions in Tasmania and forwarding all the information to the now VK7 Association Manager Justin VK7TW.

Word finally arrived in late September that the VK7 Association would commence on 1 October 2014. Given the short notice and falling in School holidays, there were no cheap airfares available, plus it was a busy time for me at work and with the preparation of the November issue of this magazine. I did manage to catch the three activations of Tasmanian summits on the first day.

In late November, I spotted an advertisement for cheap fares on the Spirit of Tasmania, so I booked myself a two-week trip for late January and early February. The focus of the trip was to be twofold: Activate SOTA summits in National Parks as a first priority, with activation of a small number of higher value summits where I had already chased a previous activation.

How was the trip? Excellent! Unfortunately, the weather in the middle of the trip was poor as the result of an East Coast low giving strong winds and plenty of rain. Despite the poor weather, there was only one day when I did not go out to operate portable. Overall, I activated 10 National Parks, with eight of them from SOTA summits. I activated a total of 13 SOTA summits, with five of the summits being first activations. My SOTA Activator score received a healthy boost and I was able to also chase other activations. If my counting is correct, I qualified all 10 National Parks for the VKFF award scheme, with four Parks activated with enough contacts to qualify the Parks for the WWFF award scheme.

I did not have sufficient time to activate all the Parks and I still need more contacts to qualify the other National Parks for the WWFF awards, so I guess that means another trip south in the future. And there are, of course, plenty of SOTA summits still to activate!

I big thank you to the amateurs in Tasmania who welcomed me, with special thanks to Joe, Rex and Justin.

I am now back at work and finalising details for the teaching tasks that will occupy my time for the coming months. The mental refreshment after the trip is already waning. Such is life.

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF


Cover caption:
Our cover this month gives a spectacular view of part of the VK3KQ Summer VHF/UHF Field Day Contest. March is time for the John Moyle Field Day Contest – details are in the previous issue of this magazine and are available on the WIA web site. The John Moyle covers all bands, so check the rules, get in there and participate, be it from a field location or from home. Photo courtesy of Ralph Parkhurst VK3LL.

WIA President's Comment

Improving Connections

In early 2004, under the stewardship of Michael Owen VK3KI (SK), the WIA changed to a single national organisation, away from the model of State and Territory Divisions subscribing to a not-for-profit federal company, each Division having a Federal Councillor, with the seven-member Federal Council conducting WIA business that was in the national interest – producing AR magazine, liaising with the licensing authority, international representation etc.

The Divisions either dissolved (transferring their assets to the new national organisation for the benefit of the Australian radio amateur community) or agreed to continue as large radio clubs (e.g. AR NSW, AR Victoria).

WIA National is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, with seven Directors who are elected by the membership Australia-wide and responsible for ensuring that the company operates in accordance with the Corporations Act and within the Objects of its Constitution.

The WIA Board now meets monthly by teleconference, and one or two times a year face-to-face, responding to issues quickly as they arise; very necessary in today’s rapidly changing technological and regulatory environment. This is a much simpler and more efficient structure than the old Divisional system, which was plagued by a variety of operational issues, not to mention the difficulty in making timely decisions. In fact, I think many of the achievements of the past 10 years would have been very difficult, if not impossible, under the old Divisional system.

However, there is a rub – the Divisional system had one good thing going for it: for many decades, the Divisions held regular meetings and were therefore close to the grass-roots membership, and perhaps better understood the particular needs and concerns of their State or region. This held up pretty well until the amateur radio club system expanded rapidly over the 1970s and 1980s. In response to this development, some Divisions organised regular club conferences to discuss and thrash out issues facing radio amateurs in their regions. Over the 1990s, the devolution of amateur exams, the rapid and frequent developments in radiocommunications licensing and regulations, along with industry expansion, strained this organisational model; the formation of WIA National can be seen as a response to these considerable pressures.

Currently, the WIA has three Directors from New South Wales, two Directors from Victoria, and one each from Queensland and South Australia. However, no Directors come from Tasmania, Western Australia or the Northern Territory (although our previous Director, Bob Bristow VK6POP, has agreed to act as an emissary for WA).

Michael Owen VK3KI (SK) was very aware of these issues when writing the new National WIA’s Constitution, and proposed that State Advisory Committees should advise the Board on the various issues affecting members in each State. However, in practice, that did not develop to any great extent.

More recently, the WIA formed a number of specialist functional committees to carry on much of the day-to-day work and to advise the Board on matters in their specialist areas. This has been quite effective, and some advisory committees have been very active over the last year. For instance, the Spectrum Strategy Committee has been working on the 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum re-farming proposals, the Commonwealth Government’s Spectrum Review, the new Repeater and Beacon policy, the amateur band plans review, and the possibility of a new amateur frequency allocation at 5 MHz.

That said, I believe we can do more to improve the connections between the WIA, individual members and affiliated clubs.

Last year, the Board introduced a couple of initiatives which should also help: a “Hot Issues” section on the WIA website now tracks the top-most important issues the WIA is working on; a public comment and review process better informs members about policy reviews that may affect them and invites comments and suggestions; and a monthly newsletter is now being sent to all affiliated clubs summarising the discussion and decisions from the most recent WIA Board meeting.

But I still think we need to do more.

In the November 2014 President’s comment, Vice-President Chris Platt raised the possibility of reinvigorating the WIA Advisory Committees, either on a State or regional basis, where representatives from local radio clubs could meet, discuss, and coordinate activities relevant to their geographical area. This might include repeater coverage, maintenance and support, coordination of ham fests, club projects (or kits), Foundation licence and upgrade courses and promotional events such as field days, maker fairs, etc., and help to better connect the WIA to its members.

Chris asked for feedback on how the Advisory Committees could work. Unfortunately, the response was underwhelming.

On the other hand, when we have asked for feedback on other issues – contesting, the digital edition of AR magazine, issues with the Licence Conditions Determination, for example – we received gratifying levels of response. But then, I’m aware that these issues are heartfelt among many amateurs, a proportion of whom never hesitate to speak up. Is it that too few members care about Advisory Committees?

So, let’s ask again: How, without revising the past structures that outgrew their usefulness, can the WIA improve the “connections” between individual members, affiliated clubs, and the WIA Board? As President, this is one of the key areas I want to explore over the coming year. Give me your views through one of these ways: email: president@wia.org.au; Fax: (03) 9729 7325 or snail mail to PO Box 2042, Bayswater Vic 3153.

Phil Wait VK2ASD

PS: The next WIA AGM and conference weekend to be held in Canberra over the weekend of the 9-10 May. Check out the WIA website and inside this magazine for more details.

Table Of Contents

GENERAL
The CW Operators Club James Fleming VK4TJF
Operating KH6BB on the Mighty Mo Lance Martin VK6DU
Further Analysis of the 2014 WIA Survey Christopher Platt VK5CP
Special event callsign VI110ROTARY Phil VK2MCB
Arnold Holst XPH / VK3OH WWI wireless operator Peter Wolfenden VK3RV

TECHNICAL

A simple solder fume exhaust unit Peter Stewart VK5PET
The Wadetenna: An eight band vertical antenna for HF pedestrian mobile Peter Parker VK3YE
Is it a BUG or a faulty engine management system? Jack Bramham VK3WWW
10 GHz across Great Australian Bight & new World Record Rex Moncur VK7MO, Derek Zeck VK6DZ, Colin Hutchesson VK5DK & David Minchin VK5KK

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Operating KH6BB on the Mighty Mo

Lance Martin VK6D

A short article about one VK’s adventure whilst on holidays in the USA when the opportunity to operate KH6BB on the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbour was realised.

Further Analysis of the 2014 WIA Survey

Christopher Platt VK5CP

Board Director Christopher Platt VK5CP describes in more detail the responses to the Member Survey conducted last year.

A simple solder fume exhaust unit

Peter Stewart VK5PET

This is quite a brief article that describes the construction of a simple exhaust unit to be used when soldering in the shack (or anywhere else, for that matter).

While certainly not high tech, the unit is a very practical, and would be a most useful addition, to any amateurs shack.

The Wadetenna: An eight band vertical antenna for HF pedestrian mobile

Peter Parker VK3YE

The author is a well-known homebrewer of items that can be used in operating low power mobile or portable, and ideally pedestrian mobile.

This latest contribution offers an alternative to those who try this mode of activity, noting a likely better, or at the least, more consistent, antenna performance.

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Files For Download

WIA Spring VHF-UHF Field Day Contest Results 2014
WIA Spring VHF-UHF Field Day Contest Results 2014.pdf


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