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Amateur Radio November 2015

Delivery expected from October 22


      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Editorial

Cooperation and teamwork

On the last Saturday in September, I was out in the hills aiming to activate several SOTA summits. On the day in question, it happened that Tony VK3CAT was activating a similar combination of summits. I was starting the day on a different summit to Tony, and the plan was to following him as the day progressed, with me one summit behind. This was unlikely to be an issue, as Tony was planning on activating primarily on CW and I would be mainly using voice, with some CW when chasing Summit to Summit contacts.

Early in the afternoon I decided to omit one planned summit, thereby saving at least 90 minutes. I communicated this change to Tony via 2 m FM simplex. I ended up 10 minutes in front of Tony, with us both heading towards Mt Useful. The road was in reasonable condition, especially compared to an earlier section of road. As I was travelling along, I hit yet another pothole, but heard a pop in addition to the usual thump of the wheel hitting the edge of the pothole. Things then happened quickly: the engine sound changed and then became louder. The oil warning light came on and I noticed smoke behind the car. I was slowing down and looking for a spot to pull over without blocking the road. Then the engine cut out – all this inside a couple of minutes at most.

Once stopped, I pulled on the handbrake and jumped out to attempt to assess the situation. I saw fire under the engine!

I grabbed the microphone to the VHF/UHF dualbander and called Tony, advising that I had issues. I then started emptying my belongings from the vehicle. By time Tony arrived, I had as much out of the car as possible, with the cabin now filled with black acrid smoke.

Tony deployed his extinguisher with little effect: the fire had grown rapidly. No one was injured, so all one could do was be thankful, smile and watch from a safe distance as the fire engulfed the whole vehicle.

With no mobile phone coverage, Tony called from his car on 7.090 MHz for assistance. The only person willing to help was another amateur out activating a Park, but with good mobile coverage. Thus began the teamwork in communicating our location to the emergency services. After about 40 minutes, a home-based amateur called in to assist. Phone numbers were exchanged and instructions given to pass on the home-based amateur’s number to the emergency services if they called back. Together we pinpointed our location more accurately, which was passed on to the emergency services. Between us, Tony and I kept a listening watch on the frequency, answering some later calls confirming details.

The CFA truck finally arrived almost two hours after the incident began. They dowsed the vehicle, which by now was simply a slowly smouldering burnt-out shell. Tony had already packed all of my salvaged gear into his car.

Eventually, we set off together towards civilisation and our respective homes, but we both completed quick SOTA activations of Mount Useful on our way!

Tony dropped me at home, only a short diversion off his route back to Melbourne.

Many thanks to all involved: especially Tony, but also Johnno and Col, and to the amateurs who assisted in keeping the frequency clear and maintaining a listening watch.

You can read a more detailed account on my blog – just search for VK3PF and you should find it. My blog has a link to Tony’s blog for a slightly different account of events.

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF.


Cover caption:

Teamwork in action: Members of the GARC working on a tower at the clubrooms. See the GARC report on page 49. Photo by Tony Collis VK3JGC.

WIA President's Comment

The power of acting collectively

The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) represents the interests of over 160 amateur radio societies like the WIA, worldwide, and indirectly the interests of about three million individual radio amateurs.

The IARU divides the amateur world up into three regions: Region 1 – Europe, the Middle East, Africa and East Asia; Region 2 – the Americas; and Region 3 – most of Asia and the Pacific, including us. These IARU Regions mirror the three regions of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which is the United Nations agency that deals with information and communication technologies, including the amateur radio and the amateur-satellite services. The Radiocommunication Sector of the ITU (ITU-R) manages the international radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.

All Regions are very diverse, with a mix of large and small nations, developed and developing, with varying regulations and operating conditions governing the amateur service in each nation. Our Region comprises nations with very large amateur populations such as Japan (1.3 million - the world’s largest), Thailand (176,000), Korea (140,000), rapidly growing amateur populations, such as Indonesia (27,000) and China (last count about 70,000), mature stable populations like Australia and New Zealand, and small isolated amateur communities like Fiji and most other Pacific Island Nations. The IARU is governed by an Administrative Council consisting of a President, Vice President, Secretary and two representatives from each Region.

It’s important to us that the IARU is strong and able to work effectively within the ITU structure in order to protect the international interests of amateur radio, especially in relation to amateur radio spectrum and the amateur satellite service, and also to promote the value and interests of amateur radio generally. The IARU also maintains an International Monitoring System where a number of operators around the world monitor the amateur bands for intruders, or non-amateur radio stations, transmitting on amateur assigned frequencies, and brings intruders to the attention of the relevant authority. The IARU also maintains a number of international beacons and administers the “Worked all Countries” award, the oldest operating award in amateur radio.

As I write this Comment I’m preparing to travel to Bali, together with Peter Young VK3MV, for the 16th IARU Region 3 Conference, hosted this year by the Indonesia Amateur Radio Organization (ORARI). These conferences are staged every three years around each Region and are a chance for societies to get together and discuss the important issues. This year’s agenda is very full, with intruders and interference, youth and amateur radio, harmonisation of bandplans, digital modes, ARDF, and disaster communications all on the agenda, to name a few. Conference submissions are publically available at http://iaru-r3.org/16th-triennial-conference-of-the-iaru-r3-documents/

It’s going to be a busy week and I’m hopeful that some concrete decisions can come out of it.

The WIA is a strong supporter of the IARU and the critical role it plays within the ITU. Over the past few years the Institute has directed a significant amount of member’s funds towards supporting the international work of the IARU, such as investigating the feasibility of a new amateur allocation at 5 MHz, harmonising the 7 MHz band, HF bandplanning, cooperation on regional disaster communications and so on. WIA past President Michael Owen VK3KI was the Chairman of Region 3 prior to becoming a Silent Key, and the three HF WARC bands came about from an IARU initiative, championed by David Wardlaw VK3ADW.

Australia has always punched well above its weight internationally, considering its population, and it’s no different in international amateur radio circles considering the WIA has only about 4500 members. Nationally, the WIA is yet another example of how a representative organisation can exert significant influence in a pluralist society, much greater than the power of its members acting individually. However, in acting collectively, every now and then the WIA must make a stand for what it believes is in the best interest of amateur radio and its members, and sometimes not everyone agrees.

Recently the WIA Board became aware of a campaign, circulated by email, to lobby the new Minister for Communications to “review the pricing of amateur radio licences, to bring them into line with other countries” . WIA Director Roger Harrison was tasked with preparing a news item for the weekly VK1WIA news broadcast explaining the facts and warning of the negative consequences, and Jim Linton VK3PC followed up with a news item entitled Danger! A no-fee amateur licence fee could mean no service.

The other countries cited in the lobbying email are the United States, where “amateurs are issued a licence for 10 years, requiring revalidation after expiry, with no fee” ; the United Kingdom, where “amateurs are issued a licence for life requiring revalidation five-yearly, with no fee” ; and “in New Zealand, amateurs are licensed under a General Users Licence, with no fee” .

The proponents of this lobbying campaign are asking the Minister to direct the ACMA to drop Australian amateur licence fees to zero. They suggest writing a personal letter to the Minister in your own words, arguing that amateur radio's past and possible role in disaster communications deserves to be valued, as it is in “many countries of the world” , then citing the three examples above, along with the argument that a large number of Australian amateurs are pensioners, for whom “the annual licence fee has seen some simply abandon their hobby due to the cost, and to the detriment of the nation” .

As Roger explained, “At first blush, the proponents of this lobbying campaign seem to have the interests of Australian radio amateurs at heart, particularly those living on a pension. However, in Australia, it is government policy that ALL spectrum users pay a tax for the use of spectrum - even defence; that is, the armed forces” .

Let’s be very clear about this: In no small way, since the introduction of Radiocommunications licensing almost one hundred years ago, the protection and status the amateur radio service has enjoyed under apparatus licensing has allowed us to have a seat at the table in the negotiations about the legislation and regulations that control us. If amateur radio was afforded the same status as the Citizens Band Radio Service, or garage door remote controls, the situation would have been very different.

The WIA believes the recent email campaign is counter-productive and against the long-term interests of amateur radio. In fact, the NZART has told the WIA that they and many amateurs in New Zealand regret their introduction of the no-fee licence. It is obvious the outcomes of the Department of Communications Spectrum Review will impact amateur radio and change is in the wind, but we need those changes to be orderly and considered, and the WIA needs to be a strong advocate in that process.

Phil Wait VK2ASD
President, WIA

PS. Last month I encouraged you to log into MEMNET and check your email address and personal information was up to date. Well, what an embarrassment! The volume of database queries unearthed some interesting technical issues with the MEMNET Lost Password Reset feature, which emails a link to reset passwords, and also the password reset function. Thankfully all that now appears to be fixed, so for those who experienced difficulties, please try again and see if you can break it now. That’s software development!

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

Disaster recovery helped by radio amateurs Jim Linton VK3PC
The ANZAC Hostel Receiver Jim Linton VK3PC

TECHNICAL

A really good 8-digit 600 MHz Frequency Counter for around $30 Jim Tregellas VK5JST
An introduction to PCB design using free electronic design tools, as applied to a VK3BHR LC meter Erich Heinzle VK5HSE
A 7 MHz wind up transmitter: not just for cranks Peter Parker VK3YE

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Disaster recovery helped by radio amateurs

Jim Linton VK3PC

The author outlines some recent and past examples of the roles played by amateur radio operators during recovery from natural disasters.

The ANZAC Hostel Receiver

Jim Linton VK3PC

Another account of amateur radio activities in relation to World War I. In this case, how a radio receiver was installed with multiple outlets in a hostel for returned servicemen.

A really good 8-digit 600 MHz Frequency Counter for around $30

Jim Tregellas VK5JST

Another simple kit from Jim VK5JST, this time a low cost frequency counter. hard to beat at this low price!

An introduction to PCB design using free electronic design tools, as applied to a VK3BHR LC meter

Erich Heinzle VK5HSE

Eric presents a thorough workflow of the development of a new printed circuit board design for the VK3BHR LC meter. Whilst the example uses software in Linux, the workflow should work regardless of the computer operating system used.

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Files For Download

LC meter front view - PCB design by Erich Heinzle VK5HSE
weatheralert-lc-meter-cap-test.jpg

LC meter pcb view - PCB design by Erich Heinzle VK5HSE
weatheralert-lc-meter-back.jpg


Page Last Updated: Saturday 10 September 2016 at 20:31 hours