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2015 Magazines

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Amateur Radio May 2015

Delivery expected from 30 April

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Conference time once again

The 2015 edition of the WIA Annual General Meeting and Conference is almost upon us. The last 12 months have gone quickly! The destination for those attending is Canberra, with most planned activities on Saturday.

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) itself is usually a brief formal meeting, but the Open Forum which follows allows for interaction with the Board members and various volunteers. This is your chance to ask that burning question or to share your brick bat or bouquet.

Of course, there is a social gathering on Friday evening, plus many activities in and around Canberra from which to choose to fill in Sunday.

For me, most of Sunday will be spent in the car, driving back home: the weekend is the proof reading weekend for the June issue of Amateur Radio, plus I have classes to deliver on Monday morning. So it will be a quick and busy trip for me, especially when you add in the scheduled meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee on Friday afternoon.

I note that the VK1 SOTA group are planning various activities over the weekend, so there will probably be a chance for those not yet initiated to SOTA to visit a summit, observe what it is all about and probably make some contacts yourself. Hopefully I can squeeze in at least a couple of summits during the trip – in fact this should be very easy, with several summits located within Canberra itself.

Details for the events have been on the WIA website for several weeks now. I am not aware of the closing dates for bookings for the various events. Even if you do not register, you would still be able to attend the AGM and Open Forum, but not partake of the associated meals. Check the website sooner rather than later!

Hopefully I will be able to catch up with some of you over the weekend.

Antennas and supports

I have been operating at home with some rather suboptimal antennas.

I have a 2 m vertical in the roof cavity – completely invisible! There is a 2 m/70 cm dual band vertical erected later, mounted on a “hockey stick” mount bolted to the eaves. For HF, I initially started with a wire help up by a squid pole, tuned with an auto-tuner again a couple of counterpoise wires. Unfortunately, this tends to pick up lots of noise, which at times can mask all but very strong signals.

The next step was to use a star picket in the garden bed to hold up a nine metre aluminium portable mast – very temporary – with a 40 m/80 m fan dipole with the apex at around 8.5 m. From memory, that temporary mast has been up for around two years!

Of late, the fan dipole has occasionally presented a very odd impedance to the transceiver, resulting in the rig shutting down when transmitting when in a hurry to make a contact and not first checking out everything.

Perhaps it is time to make some preparations to erect something more permanent!

Even so, it reminds me that we all should do regular checks of our station installations.

Until next month….


Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover:

Our cover this month shows the Aurora Australis (also known as the Southern Lights) viewed from the upper deck of the AustraliaAntarctic Division’s icebreaker of the same name. See the article beginning on page 32 and the inside back cover. Photo by Craig Hayhow VK6JJJ.

WIA President's Comment

When is a Special Event special?

Phil Wait VK2ASD
There is no issue closer to a radio amateur’s heart than call signs, so I’m approaching this President’s Comment with a good deal of trepidation. Special call signs are issued for the purpose of celebrating significant events, and in Australia the letters AX can be substituted for the VK prefix on a temporary basis, and VI can be issued with a WIA call sign recommendation and ACMA approval.

The AX prefix is permitted to be used by all Australian radio amateurs for events of national significance. These are: Australia Day, Anzac Day and ITU Day, or a major sporting event like the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Use of the AX prefix was permitted over a whole year for the Captain Cook Bicentenary of 1970, a major occasion of national and international significance. In other words, the AX prefix is very tightly controlled and its usage is clearly defined.

The VI prefix on the other hand is permitted to be used by clubs, organizations, or groups of amateurs for occasions of special State or local significance, but only when the prefix is not required for use by other radiocommunications services. Special event call sign recommendations are made by the WIA to the ACMA, and in most cases the ACMA will follow the WIA’s recommendation and issue the call sign. Special event VI call signs would normally only be issued where the Amateur station concerned is actually participating in the event. Generally, only one VI licence would be issued per event.

However, the question often arises as to what constitutes a “special event”. According to the regulation, a special event is an event of international, national, state/territory or local significance and of broad interest to the Amateur or wider community. A special event call sign would not normally be issued for a recurrent event unless it is a particularly significant occasion, or for a 25 year, 50 year, or 100 year anniversary. Notably, special call signs are available for the annual Jamboree on the Air (JOTA), the VKnGGA-GGZ block for Guides and the VKnSAA-SDZ block for Scouts. A special event call sign cannot be issued in a situation where a competitive advantage may be obtained, such as in a contest or for use during Islands on the Air (IOTA) competitions, DX expeditions, or fox hunts etc.

Recently, the WIA has received applications for special event call signs that fall outside the defined requirements of a “special event”. For instance, one was for a 30-year anniversary of a radio club and another was for a DXpedition. The WIA’s view is that these occasions do not meet the definition of “special”, and the applications for the requested special call signs were not recommended to the ACMA.

However, in the past, the WIA has not been very consistent in its definition of “special”, and VI callsigns applications have been received for DXpeditions, for example. On one occasion, a single-letter 2x1 call sign (VI2R) was recommended by the WIA, and issued by the ACMA for an amateur station associated with the Rotary International Convention held in Sydney in 2014, even though its issue did not meet the regulatory requirements.

In order to apply a more consistent approach to the recommendation of special event call signs, the “specialness” of an event will now be determined by at least one WIA Director and a member who is knowledgeable about these matters, following receipt of an application. Consequentially, the Directors will be applying criteria for each VI call sign issued. Your thoughts in what warrants a VI prefix would be appreciated.

Each administration around the world has its own requirements regarding special event call signs. For instance, in Australia, we have been permitted to use commemorative call signs for very special events, such as the use of VK100WIA for the centenary of the WIA, and the current use of the commemorative ANZAC call signs; however, the FCC and some other administrations do not allow commemorative call signs, so our current use of the VK100ANZAC call sign would not be permissible. A good summary of call sign application and usage in Australia is in the WIA Callbook.

PS: By the time you read this, the WIA’s AGM will be only a week or so away. The Open Forum reports, submitted by each WIA committee, are placed on the WIA website a couple of weeks prior to the AGM, so please take a look at what has happened at the WIA over the past year. If you are coming to Canberra, please come up and say ‘hello’ to the WIA Directors, and let them know what you think (politely!).

Table Of Contents


The first DXpedition to Macquarie Island Rob Gurr VK5RG
ARDF 2015 Jack Bramham VK3WWW
Rosebud Kite Festival John Fisher VK3DQ
Frank Miller VK5BF: Pioneer radio experimenter in Murray Bridge Lloyd Butler VK5BR
VK0JJJ/mobile marine aboard the ice breaker Aurora Australis Craig Hayhow VK6JJJ


The stealth antenna grows wings Ron Holmes VK5VH
A modelling approach to antenna construction (Part 3) Stephen Ireland VK3VM/VK3SIR
Add amplifier and antenna switching to your Yaesu FT-857/897 Albert Gnaccarini VK3TU

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

VK0JJJ/mobile marine aboard the ice breaker Aurora Australis

Craig Hayhow VK6JJJ

Craig VK6JJJ reports on the trials, tribulations and delights of the return voyage after a year in Antarctica.

The first DXpedition to Macquarie Island

<bRob Gurr VK5RG</b

In another story related to travels to southern lands, Rob outlines the very first DXpedition to Macquarrie Island.

An interesting historical piece.

A modelling approach to antenna construction (Part 3)

Stephen Ireland VK3VM/VK3SIR

We come to the conclusion of this 3-part series on modelling antennas before you start any actual measuring and cutting.

The author explains how to optimise the antenna in the modelling software and examines how we can use the software to examine the radiation pattern - useful as part of the assessment of electromagnetic emission safety of the station.

Add amplifier and antenna switching to your Yaesu FT-857/897

Albert Gnaccarini VK3TU

The article describes a useful addition for controlling and switching amplifiers and antennas attached to these Yaesu multiband transceivers.

Of particular interest to those working on the VHF and UHF bands, but worthwhile reading for any owner of these transceivers.

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