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2016 Magazines

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Amateur Radio April 2016

Delivery expected from 24 March


      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Editorial

Face to face contacts

Our hobby is fundamentally about communication. Most of us communicate on-air regularly, regardless of the mode used during transmission. It is interesting to note that many (most?) of us enjoy the opportunities to make face to face contacts. Be it the monthly radio club meeting when it can be difficult to bring those gathered to order to commence proceedings, or attending a “Hamfest” event, where looking at items to possibly purchase can often be secondary to catching up with other amateurs in person.

I attended two SOTA related events in February: the VK3 SOTA Conference at Moorabbin & District Radio Club Inc. and the informally organised SOTA gathering at Mount Hotham. There are brief accounts of both events in this month’s SOTA and Parks column. At both events, lots of ideas and experiences were shared.

I also travelled to the EMDRC Hamfest later in the month. Circumstances this year forced the host club to move the event to a date which clashes with the annual Wyong event hosted by CCARC. I have read some accounts of both events and each seemed to have its own success. At the EMDRC event, we were able to see the new IC-7300 on display but without any antenna connected. It certainly looked interesting. There is much discussion occurring about the new radio, including some very animated expressions of opinions regarding features, selling price and likely delivery dates. I understand that the first delivery is likely to occur in Australia in late March or early April, perhaps soon after this issue is available.

At the Hamfest, I did spend a lot of time catching up with many amateurs who I have not seen for some time. A large variety of topics were discussed.

It is great to interact on the closer terms permitted by face to face encounters, where many more aspects of communication are experienced than can be conveyed via radio waves: in particular, body language and facial expressions.

For me, February finished with a less pleasant opportunity for face to face contact: I was able to attend the funeral service for long-term friend Doug VK3UM. Since his departure, many amateurs have expressed their respect and admiration for Doug and his achievements over the years. I have received three SK notices already! One of those is included in this issue. As Convenor of the annual GippsTech event, I know that this year’s conference will be very different without Doug’s presence in person. Doug was a regular attendee and contributor to the event since it began in 1998. He will be missed.

Moving forward

Structural change in the WIA Office is hopefully nearing its conclusion, with the Executive Administrator role having been filled. I met Bruce at the March Publications Committee meeting. I am sure that he is working hard to come up to speed with the new role. This month’s Comment outlines some of the challenges that have confronted the Board. I am sure that the Board members will be working hard to progress the changes within the organisation. In addition, we have a Board election in progress, so we may see additional changes following the Annual General Meeting…

Farewell

At the March Publications Committee (Pub Com) meeting, the resignation of Evan Jarman VK3ANI was announced. Evan has served on Pub Com since September 1978. His major role has been as a member of the technical editorial team, and he filled in as Acting Secretary following the departure of Ernie Walls VK3FM until Kaye VK3FKDW joined us. As was noted last night, his service has been “longer than two life sentences”.

Many thanks for your contributions Evan. I trust that your travel plans come to fruition.

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s Cover

Our cover this month shows the station set up by Andrew VK1AD/3 on Mount Hotham: an inverted V dipole and a 10 m vertical with ground plane. Andrew is seated and attempting to work a SOTA station in OE. Watching is Adan VK1FJAW/3. Others were enjoying drinks and nibbles nearby, with low cloud rolling across the ridges from the south. Read about the gathering of SOTA operators in the SOTA and Parks column. Photo by Peter Freeman VK3PF.

WIA President's Comment

Life as a WIA Director was never meant to be easy

Italian philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli, made some sage observations about change and reform: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things”. It would be fair to say that last year was difficult for the WIA, with an office restructure, the appointment of a new Executive Administrator, the resignation of one Director, and the resignation of two Treasurers, one after a very short term. Last year, life as a WIA Director was never going to be easy.

In this issue, you will see a Letter to the Editor from Chris Chapman VK3QB. Chris raises a number of issues in his letter concerning governance and financial practices at the WIA. The Board is addressing several issues Chris has raised, including instigating a full review of the WIA corporate governance and procedures. I refer readers to the WIA’s reply.

A couple of days after Chris resigned, I attended a meeting at the WIA office with Fred Swainston, our new Executive Administrator Bruce Deefholts, our accountant Murray Leadbetter, and the WIA’s Auditor to get to the bottom of the financial concerns.

We spent several hours analysing the accounting system and the financial records and determined that the WIA did not appear to have any major accounting issues. Accounting processes and record keeping has been very much improved in the last few months, and major problems with the WIA’s upcoming annual financial review are not anticipated. On the information available at the time of writing, it seems the WIA has no major financial issues. We expect the Auditor’s review to go smoothly and the financial result for 2015 will be available after that.

Governance issues like those raised in Chris’ letter to the Editor are now extremely important, much more so than a few years ago. The WIA continues to function on the goodwill and considerable time and effort put-in by volunteers, but all Directors and Officers of the WIA now carry a considerable burden.

Our society is a very different place in 2016 to what it was in, say, the 1980s and 1990s. An organisation now has to devote a great deal of attention to process and, sometimes, achieving the actual outcome seems secondary. I guess that is just symptomatic of our increasingly legalistic society.

Under the WIA’s Constitution, WIA members are elected to the Board of Directors by popular vote. There are no qualifications required, and I think it would be fair to say that most WIA volunteers have not had a great deal of experience with corporate governance issues. I am an outcomes driven person myself, and I do tend to focus on the end result. To improve that situation I have directed all WIA Directors to attend a short course on corporate governance issues (myself included).

This begs the question: why would anybody want to become an Officer of a volunteer organisation these days anyway? I must admit I’m asking myself that same question right now. However, I am very much encouraged by the number of people who have put up their hands this year to be a WIA Director – I might get to have a holiday after all!

Issues affecting us all

On a totally different issue, last month, in March, the WIA made a submission to an ACMA discussion paper about in-home BPL/PLT modems. These are the power-line modems that can be purchased from retail outlets, or supplied with a broadband entertainment service. The supply and operation of these devices is largely managed under the ACMA’s electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements. Up to now, the ACMA has required compliance to the International Standard CISPR-22.

The development of specific EMC requirements for in-home BPL/PLT technology has been highly contentious and, despite extensive work over many years, agreement has not been reached anywhere in the world. Australia, through Standards Australia technical committee TE-003, of which the WIA is a member, has consistently opposed the inclusion of BPL/PLT-specific requirements in CISPR 22.

As a result of the unsuccessful attempt by CISPR to amend CISPR-22 to introduce specific limits for BPL/PLT equipment, the European Standards organisation CENELEC has developed an alternative standard, EN50561-1, which is more accommodating. The limits in EN50561-1 are the same as CISPR 22, but because it classes the modem as a telecommunications device, and the modem is not required to be in active mode when testing emissions on the mains connection (they may as well test a toaster). However, EN50561-1 does require ‘notching’ of the transmitted signal to protect various radiocommunications services including amateur, aeronautical and broadcasting.

The ACMA recently undertook an audit of suppliers of BPL/PLT devices in Australia and assessed that there is a systemic non-compliance issue, they say, caused by confusion about the application of the Standards.

However, despite the widespread noncompliance of equipment they report “in practice, the associated interference risk has not materialised” and “to date, the ACMA has not received any complaints regarding interference to radiocommunications services from PLT devices”. The ACMA has now implemented an interim approach to allow the continued supply of in-home PLT devices, while attempting to manage the interference and any consumer risks. A longer-term decision is expected to be made by the ACMA by the end of June.

The introduction of transmission masks that notch the amateur bands have no doubt reduced the interference experienced by radio amateurs. However, we are surprised about the apparent lack of interference complaints about BPL/PLT devices from Australian radio amateurs. Could it be due to the difficulties identifying and finding the source of BPL/PLT interference, is the interference reporting process through the ACMA website too difficult, has a complaint about BPL/PLT interference received no attention or, as some contest, is there simply no problem?

Let’s call it for what it is – Electromagnetic Pollution, where every unwanted noise source just adds to the pollution level. It is the WIA’s view that, in order to protect existing and emerging technologies, we must maintain the strongest vigilance against radio noise pollution from all identifiable sources. If you do have a confirmed case of interference from a BPL/PLT modem, and if you have subsequently lodged an interference complaint with the ACMA, we could be pleased to hear from you.

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

The spark gap signal that changed ANZAC history Michael J. Charteris VK4QS / VK4XQM
Improved Battery - William Bleeck History - Part 2: Experimenting Don Marshall VK4AMA
WIA talks about amateur radio - past, present & future Jim Linton VK3PC

TECHNICAL

Review of the GAP Titan II or Filling a GAP in antenna experiences Peter McAdam VK2EVB
Length matters: fun with coaxial cable Peter Parker VK3YE

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

The spark gap signal that changed ANZAC history

Michael J. Charteris VK4QS / VK4XQM

The author describes the efforts of the crew of Australian submarine AE2 in travelling through the Dardanelles and the role of the wireless operator in conveying their position immediately prior to the ANZAC landings.

Improving primary batteries: William Bleeck. Part 2: Experimenting

Don Marshall VK4AMA

The author presents the second of three historical articles which explore the development of a primary battery early in the 20th century. It is partly an item of family history, but is of both historical and technical interest and complements the other articles publish over the past year in relation to amateurs serving in the military.

Review of the GAP Titan II or Filling a GAP in antenna experiences

Peter McAdam VK2EVB

The author presents an account of his assembly of this commercial antenna and his experiences in using it on-air.

Length matters: fun with coaxial cable

Peter Parker VK3YE

The author presents a simple construction project – a noise source – and how it can be used as a simple item of test equipment in checking the electrical length of coaxial cables.

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