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2016 Magazines

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Amateur Radio August 2016

Magazine delivery expected from 28 July


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Editorial

anchora imparo

Those that have been involved in education, especially at the tertiary level, may recognise the term “ancora imparo” as part of the “brand” of Monash University. It is commonly interpreted as meaning “I am still learning”, “Still I am learning” or “Still I learn”. Yes, I am a graduate of Monash University and was an employee for many years, but those facts are not directly relevant here.

So why begin an editorial with some Latin interpretation? I believe that as radio amateurs, we all must embrace this phrase. After all, part of the definition of “amateur radio” includes reference to self-education! Be it learning the material and skills required to display competency for the Foundation licence, or discovering the intricacies of techniques for our explorations into a new aspect of the hobby; even if we simply choose to purchase a stack of equipment, we must learn something that extends our pre-existing knowledge, thus we learn something new, if we are to transform that collection of equipment into a functional station.

Of course, many of us really do extend our knowledge as we explore aspects of our hobby. Some assist newcomers to the hobby as trainers and assessors. Many pass their learnings on to others through talks to their local club members at formal meetings or informally through mentoring club members.

A few assist the learning of others by contributing technical articles to this journal. Most of us learning through exploring material published in the various amateur journals, handbooks and the vast amount of information published on the web. We must learn to distinguish good information from the not so good, especially if browsing the web – we must develop the skills to distinguish quality material from that which is of poorer quality. This is often very difficult.

Our recent technical forum following the WIA Annual General Meeting saw several amateurs sharing their knowledge with other amateurs. The response from the audience members was the same as at most, if not all, similar events: appreciative of the efforts made by the presenter. Be it Club meetings or conferences, most amateurs in the audience find something of value, some new learnings, from the presentations made by the contributors.

Many such conferences around the world make the information available to those that could not attend the actual event. Perhaps by publishing printed or web-based Proceedings, or placing video on the web, perhaps via YouTube. Even if such Proceedings are not available, many of the speakers make material available for those interested. All of this requires considerable effort by the presenter and/or the event organisers, all with the goal of educating other amateurs. I trust that you all appreciate those efforts!

I prepare this issue of AR in the days following the annual GippsTech conference. Over 100 amateurs spent the weekend engaging in learning from fellow amateurs who were willing to share their knowledge. Along the way, we had far too short opportunities for social interaction and further technical discussions. From the comments that I heard, everyone enjoyed the event, including those that participated on the partners’ activities.

I extend a huge thank you to all involved in organising, running and presenting at such events: a conference, a club meeting talk, a Foundation or upgrade course. You all are playing very significant roles in helping other amateurs to extend their knowledge, thus helping us all to continue learning.

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover

The main photo shows part of the crowd watching a party balloon with its radio payload just after launch at the combined SARC and Scout event conducted in Melbourne on ANZAC Day. The upper inset image shows two of the SARC members building a simple electronics project. Photos by Julie Gonzales VK3FOWL. See the story commencing on page xx.

WIA President's Comment

Ideas from Paradise

At the WIA’s Open Forum this year on Norfolk Island, which immediately followed the AGM, there were a number of good suggestions with the potential to increase membership and to improve the WIA’s financial position.

Both these issues are of intense and current interest to the WIA Board as, like most other community organisations with an aging membership profile, we find ourselves in a period of rising costs, rising member expectations, and slowly declining membership numbers.

I expect to have more to say about those issues and the WIA’s financial outlook next month, but for now, let’s concentrate on two suggestions from the Open Forum: the ability to opt-out from receiving the paper copy of AR magazine; and free WIA membership to new radio amateurs for a limited period.

It appears that many WIA members do not read the paper copy of AR magazine now that the digital version is available. On a show of hands at the Open Forum, about 40% of attendees indicated that they do not read or want to read the paper copy of AR, and would be more than happy to only receive the digital version that they download from the WIA website. Importantly, most also indicated that they would not expect a membership fee reduction as a consequence. Clearly, 40% is a high number, and in the wider membership that figure is more likely to be around 20%, but even if only 20% of members chose to opt-out of receiving a posted paper copy of AR magazine each month, the saving to the WIA in postage alone would be about $15,000 per year. That single initiative could wipe out the type of operating deficit we experienced in 2015.

The Board is considering how such a paper magazine opt-out scheme could be put in place. We can commence the AR digital-only immediately, but will announce the initiative and then request members email the Office to take up this offer.

The second suggestion was about how to encourage a greater number of new radio amateurs to join the WIA when they enter the hobby. This issue is more complex, and there could be unintended consequences to the WIA’s income and costs.

The proposal was to give one year’s free non-voting Associate WIA membership to all new radio amateurs, with access to the digital-only edition of AR magazine, not the paper edition. Prior to the expiry of the free period, each Associate member would be contacted and “encouraged” to renew their WIA membership at the normal membership fee.

The advantage for new amateurs is that they can get involved in their representative organization quickly, without the additional burden of forking out another $95 after having just spent hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars gaining their licence and callsign, buying equipment and getting on-air.

The advantage for the WIA only comes if those people choose to follow-on and become full-paying members. The unintended consequence of this suggestion is that: (1) new Radio Amateurs who would have joined the WIA and paid the membership fee, will now delay joining until after the free period, and (2) there would be increased administrative costs to the office in setting up a free Associate membership and then cancelling it at the end of the free period. These costs have to be weighed against the potential for increasing the number of full fee-paying members in the longer term.

The WIA Board is investigating the effect of the free initial membership suggestion on the WIA’s finances.

Currently, the WIA sends promotional material to new licensees, and some do join the WIA at the time, though it seems the ‘strike rate’ is not high. This is understandable, as they’re keen to make the most of their time, effort, emotional and monetary investment and the first instinct for most is “why do I need this?” To encourage new members, the Board is considering including a membership application in an envelope with the examination material so the new amateur will be able to take this away at the end of their exam.

Another suggestion is that, instead of giving away free WIA Associate memberships, we simply give free access to the digital edition of AR magazine for a limited period. That would allow new amateurs to become familiar with the WIA and the Club network and, as it could be an automated process, it would certainly reduce the administrative overhead.

So, we have a couple of good suggestions from the WIA’s Open Forum. There were others, such as improving youth participation through the WIA’s involvement in science, technology and maths vocational training STE(A)M education initiatives, and the production of special subject magazines (termed one-shots in the industry). In this regard, the WIA is already advanced in the production of an ANZAC one-shot for release later this year.

One thing is for sure, we need to increase the income to the WIA and finesse the expenditure. That invariably means having more attractive offerings, and simplifying processes and systems, wherever possible. In my view the suggestions from the Open Forum would be a step in the right direction and worthy of thorough consideration. To be continued….

PS: Don’t forget that you can pay your membership fees in quarterly instalments, if that would make things easier, and to all those racing yachties out there – be very careful of the big rock off Edwards Beach in Middle Harbour… ouch!

Phil Wait VK2ASD
President

Table Of Contents

GENERAL
Antennapalooza 2016 Ian Jackson VK3BUF
A day in the country – presenting the 2016 Wilkinson Award Roger Harrison VK2ZRH
The Norfolk Island technical talks Peter Freeman VK3PF

TECHNICAL

The Oz MDT DSB QRP Transceiver Kit. A User Review Peter Parker VK3YE
A simple butterfly capacitor for a magnetic loop Ron Holmes VK5VH
2016 ANZAC Day Amateur Radio Special Event Julie Gonzales VK3FOWL and Joe Gonzales VK3YSP
Product Review: FTM-400DR 144/430 MHz Dual Band Transceiver Peter Hartfield VK3PH
A $10 antenna for 2 metres that anyone can build Jim Tregellas VK5JST

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Antennapalooza 2016

Ian Jackson VK3BUF

The author outlines a weekend of practical explorations and information exchange held on a rural property. Activities included the construction of a rhombic antenna.

A day in the country – presenting the 2016 Wilkinson Award

Roger Harrison VK2ZRH

WIA Director delivers an account of his trip from Sydney to visit Dave VK2JDS at Gowan. The prime purpose of the trip was to present the certificate for the Ron Wilkinson Award for 2015 to Dave. A shack and antenna farm inspection was also undertaken.

Product Review: FTM-400DR 144/430 MHz Dual Band Transceiver

Peter Hartfield VK3PH

The author presents his finding of another of the Yaesu System Fusion transceivers and explores the WIRES-X internet linking system.

A simple butterfly capacitor for a magnetic loop

Ron Holmes VK5VH

Interest in magnetic loop antennas for use on the HF bands seems to be increasing. The author outlines the construction of a simple butterfly capacitor as a low cost solution to tuning the loop to the frequency of interest.

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