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Amateur Radio September 2015

Delivery expected from August 27


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Editorial

Cooperation
A little cooperation between individuals or different groups can lead to very beneficial outcomes.

Just over a year ago, my local club found a new home-base after around three years of searching. A chance conversation between a committee member and a representative of another group resulted in an offer that warranted exploration by the committee. The outcome was the development of an agreement between the club and a new landlord to gain access to a building that was currently unused and somewhat run down. We came to agreement over terms and signed a five year lease agreement.

So perhaps this is not very interesting…. A key part of the agreement is that the radio club has committed to mowing the grass at the property, saving our host a significant sum of money over a year. The club purchased a ride-on mower (it is a large block!) and one particular member regularly mows the grass. We occasionally hold working bees, doing work around the grounds to assist the host organisation which also relies on a small core of volunteers themselves. Yes, it is extra work for a relatively small core that regularly participates. In return, we have been given a lot of latitude in tidying up and modifying the building. We have built in a radio room and are building workbenches in one corner of the building. We still need to build a small kitchenette area and have committed to building a new section of boundary fence, so we still have lots of work ahead.

As a result of goodwill on both sides, both groups are happy and cooperation continues. Hopefully all of our work will result in a long term relationship and an almost permanent home for our club.

In a different example of cooperation, I recently made the trip to Cranbourne to assist the Gippsland Gate Radio & Electronics Club (GGREC) with an assessment event. The host Club had two assessors in attendance, with me and another Latrobe Valley assessor making up a team of four. Whilst it was a long day, with almost three hours of driving involved plus the time to run all the assessments, it was a rewarding day. The assessors had some time to chat in breaks, plus we also chatted with the candidates, especially after all the stress-inducing assessments were concluded and all the paperwork was completed. The day was a success for all, with three new Foundation, one Standard and two Advanced licensees to hopefully be on-air in the very near future. All candidates started from scratch – there were no upgrades. So well done to all involved! I anticipate that at least one of the GGREC assessors will return the favour when our local club runs an assessment event later in the year. A little cooperation usually makes life easier for everyone.

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF.

Cover caption:

Behold the Yagi! In the second half of July, the Eastern & Mountain District Radio Club activated the VI3ANZAC callsign as part of the ANZAC Centenary celebrations. As part of the activation, the Club set up an impressive portable operation at the top of the Kokoda Memorial Track (1000 steps) at Ferntree Gully in outer-east Melbourne. Photo by Andrew Scott VK3BQ.

WIA President's Comment

Even the WIA needs change

By the time you read this, the seven WIA Directors will have met at Melbourne airport. The WIA Board meets monthly by teleconference and, due to the considerable cost of flying Directors around the country, even if it’s only for one day, in recent years we have only met as a group once per year at the AGM. However, this time we needed to discuss some important changes at the WIA, and we really had to meet in person.

It’s now 11 years since the formation of the National WIA, heralding in a period of improved operational effectiveness and stability, especially in the WIA’s core roles of advocacy and representation, both locally and internationally, and the training and assessment of new radio amateurs.

However, many things have changed over those years, such as increasing competition for people’s time, the ageing of the amateur population, the pervasiveness of the internet, mobile devices and social media, greater regulatory complexity, increasing requirements for preparing submissions with very short response times, an increasingly complex technological environment, and immense pressure on the spectrum (especially between 400 MHz and 10 GHz), to name a few.

The work of the WIA has become more complex and demanding, and some of our volunteers are finding themselves doing way too much and more often than they planned or expected. Although there have been significant advances over the years in how the WIA functions, improvements have been incremental and member expectations are now challenging resources.

The traditional ivory tower style “command and control” corporate leadership is a thing of the past, and these days the most successful organisations have an open structure that is more social and engages people differently. The national WIA was formed along the lines of an ‘operations’ business model, which served us well during the establishment years. Now, it has become apparent that the WIA has to adopt a pro-active customer service business model to address current and future business issues facing the Australian amateur radio community.

The WIA Board met in person to discuss how the organisation can become more responsive to the changing needs and expectations of its members in the face of changing social conditions. Naturally, as I write this Comment, I don’t know what the outcome will be; however, I can tell you about three new initiatives that the WIA Board has already put in place.

The WIA website now contains over 2500 pages of information, and attracts over one million page visits per year. Vital information to radio amateurs, such as training and assessment resources, amateur licence regulations, band plans, affiliated club details, contest and award details, etc., all need to be kept up to date and readily accessible. Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of that information, sometimes pages have not been updated or are difficult to find.

We do not believe there are major structural problems with the WIA website, or that we need to throw the “baby out with the bathwater” and start again, and do a total redesign, but we have identified that information retrieval and site navigation can be improved, and it could become rather more mobile-device friendly. The WIA has embarked on a re-tune of the WIA website and, who knows, with that many visits per year it could provide a modest income stream in due course.

Over the past few years, the WIA membership has declined slightly. In actual fact, there is about 7% membership churn per year, with the number of new members almost replacing the number who cease to remain members. Naturally, age is a major contributor, with an increasing number of silent keys each year, but we don’t really have an accurate idea why other members simply don’t renew. Some may dislike us for some reason, some may simply forget to renew, others may believe that they can no longer afford it; we don’t actually know.

By the time you read this Comment, the WIA will have commenced a pilot project phoning lapsed members, in order to either sign them up again, or at least determine the real reason for their non-renewal. This process will be done with sensitivity and tact by an external contractor, and the information gained will be very useful for better targeting member services in the future, and we just may reverse the membership trend.

Those of you who have read my President’s Comments over the past few months will know that I am keen to improve the social relevance of amateur radio, particularly in the fields of education and technical experimentation. The WIA has just announced the second round of Special Purpose Grants for commencement in 2016. Unlike the previous Club Grants Scheme, WIA Special Purpose Grants are available to any club, individual or group and their selection will be aligned with the WIA’s development strategy of the time, with a focus on the benefit to the wider amateur community. In some circumstances, especially where there is developmental risk, the grant may be staged.

So, change is in the air at the WIA. Change is always difficult for any organisation, and I fully expect there will be difficulties and unexpected expenses, but every organisation needs to regularly take stock of itself and move forward – even the WIA. I hope to have more to say after our Directors meeting in Melbourne.

PS. Watch out for the WIA Special Purpose Grants information on the WIA website.

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

What’s in the new 2 m & 70 cm band plans? Grant Willis VK5GR
Band Plan Notes John Martin VK3KM
Amateur Licence Conditions re-make – 2015 Roger Harrison VK2ZRH
80 metre Loop Skywire antenna Waratah Swainton VK4BQ
Winter in the Blue Mountains Rob Demkiw VK2TG & Ron Griffey VK2NZL
Air Marshall Sir Richard Williams KBE, CB, DSO: ‘‘Father of the RAAF’’ Peter Wolfenden VK3RV
VI3ANZAC Event – Eastern and Mountain District Radio Club Peter Hartfield VK3PH & Andrew Scott VK3BQ
VK CW Survey Lou Szondy VK5EEE

TECHNICAL

FM simplex transmitter range tester Peter Parker VK3YE

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

VI3ANZAC Event – Eastern and Mountain District Radio Club

Peter Hartfield VK3PH & Andrew Scott VK3BQ

The authors present a brief but informative report on their Club’s activation of the VI3ANZAC callsign, with an overview of the World War 2 campaign fought on the Kokoda Track. A focus of activation was a portable operation in the Dandenong Ranges at the top of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk.

What’s in the new 2 m & 70 cm band plans?

Grant Willis VK5GR

The author describes the outcomes and the logic behind the deliberations of the review of the 2 metre and 70 centimetre band plans. The plans look forward without causing disruption to existing users.

FM simplex transmitter range tester

Peter Parker VK3YE

This article describes a simple circuit to test the range of their VHF/UHF FM equipment. You need only four components to build this device.

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