Amateur Radio March 2016
Delivery expected from 25 February
WIA Member Digital Edition Download
2016 Annual General Meeting
It seems that some individuals think that my Editorial last month was out of order in that I claimed that some individuals on social media were apparently (in my view) not in possession of some of the facts around the costs of attending the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Norfolk Island. I claimed “In reality, the travel costs for anyone to attend the meeting are unlikely to be significantly different from those of attending the meetings held in Perth or Darwin”.
One particular commentator contends that as I am writing in the official journal of the WIA, I should have justified my comments. As pointed later by WIA President Phil Wait VK2ASD, the Board has given the Editor and the Publications Committee a fairly free reign to produce a magazine that is largely independent. We decide most of the content that will be included in a particular issue, apart from columns such as the President’s Comment.
I was considering ignoring the on-line comments, but thought I would justify my comments on this occasion. Let us first acknowledge that for most venues, the WIA will need to meet the costs of hiring the venue. The costs of food will be variable, but these costs are usually passed on to attendees at cost-recovery. So regardless of venue, such costs will be inevitable. So what prices can one find with a quick online search for a package of seven nights plus airfares, departing from Sydney? I acknowledge that some might choose a shorter visit, but it seems to me that a seven night visit is a reasonable stay duration which makes the travel costs reasonable across the trip duration.
For Darwin, prices range from around $900 per person up to just over $3600. Most prices are in the $1100 - $1700 range. Yes, there may be some cheaper options as well; depending up on the level of accommodation you are willing to accept.
For a similar trip to Perth, the range is from around $1100 to over $4200, with many choices around the $1300 to $1800 range.
In the case of both Darwin and Perth, the online resource was allowed to select the cheapest air fare available. Such fares may include heavy restrictions on baggage or required additional payments for checked baggage.
Similar packages ex Sydney for Norfolk Island around the time of the AGM range in cost $1100 to around $1600, without doing a comprehensive search. There are some more costly options available, as with the other destinations examined.
So we can see that the costs to attend the AGM on Norfolk Island are as I contended last month – similar to or cheaper than some mainland destinations.
I do appreciate that some individuals have concerns about the manner in which the organisation is run. In my humble opinion, complaining about their concerns on social media does little to reveal the facts or to alter the manner in which the Institute is run. To have an impact, you need to become actively involved. The challenge for us all is how to effectively engage with the members and utilise the skills that may be available.
Until next month,
This month’s Cover
The Mt William VK6RMW repeater site was devastated by the recent wild fires in southern Western Australia, yet the repeater survived relatively unscathed. Read about the fire impacts in this month’s VK6 notes. Photos by Mac (William) McDonald VK6MM.
WIA President's Comment
Innovation: getting a head of STEAM
Innovation is the buzz word for this year. Depending who you subscribe to, the federal government’s new innovation policy is either going to “turn fresh ideas into successful products”, ensure Australia’s place in an uncertain global economy and “drive a new boom to generate jobs and prosperity for all” (http://www.innovation.gov.au); or, in the words of Chris Berg, a senior fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs and author of Liberty, Equality & Democracy and Magna Carta: The Tax Revolt That Gave Us Liberty, “the only thing governments can do to the ‘culture’ of innovation is hurt it”.
Being the product of an engineering father, and having developed an early interest in electronics and amateur radio leading to a lifelong career in business, electronics and telecommunications, I am a strong supporter of innovation, especially in an era when Australia can no longer rely so heavily on its mining and primary industries.
Innovation is nothing new to Australians. The development of Wi-Fi, the Cochlear Implant, the heart pacemaker, and the black-box flight recorder are all Australian inventions - not to mention winged keels on racing yachts and Aussie Rules football. I believe, given the right conditions, regulatory and tax settings, and enough interest from institutional investors, Australia is uniquely placed to be an innovative leader in the new era. The government’s new innovation policy may be the right thing at the right time.
So, how does amateur radio and the WIA fit into this?
My high school radio club operated in a partitioned-off area in one of the science labs. The school was one of the first to introduce the Rex Black Youth Radio Scheme in the late 1960s and, although more of a social club come extortion racket (Sydney’s Oxford Street disposal stores were just around the corner), many of us kids followed through into successful careers in science and technology. I know how a little encouragement early-on can go a long way, and some of those guys are still active radio amateurs.
There is a new initiative in schools across Australia that also has the potential to spark an interest in science and technology amongst our youth, and hopefully provide many of the new innovators as a result. Originally called STEM, for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, but more recently called STEAM with the addition of Arts (yes, there is technology in art and even art in technology – think ‘design’), and may possibly be expanded into STREAM to include Rocketry (!), STEAM is a curriculum course with each of the modules taught as part of a total package.
STEAM is basically about “applying creative thinking to real-world technical and scientific challenges through a more hands-on approach to learning”. The hope is that learning outcomes and information retention will be improved through STEAM’s experienced-based learning.
It’s very early days, but along with other engineering elements, such as computer projects and coding, I think there is a place for students to also learn about wireless technologies, so they can become something more than just consumers of pre-packaged technology.
The WIA is interested in exploring the potential. It would not be anything like the old Rex Black Youth Radio Scheme, where the end-game was to acquire an amateur radio licence. The end-game with STEAM is to spark a much wider interest and knowledge in technology, and naturally to meet the relevant curriculum requirements. Maybe some students would be interested in amateur radio, but only as a spin-off, and then probably only if the Foundation licence permitted digital modes and use of self-constructed kits, which took student’s learning experiences much further.
What amateur radio may be able to provide is a pre-packaged, simple, out-of-the-box learning resource in wireless technologies, with a very simple hands-on project or two. We may also be able to provide some willing and educationally experienced volunteers to help teachers in the classroom.
These are very early days, and it’s not something the WIA has any expertise in itself, but we are looking to get a group of interested and experienced people together to progress this idea. Some members have expressed an interest in forming a group for Youth education and I believe there is an opportunity there. There you go – innovation in action!
PS: There’s no truth to the rumour that Amateur Radio magazine is going to feature each Board member, one by one, on the cover over the year, now that a Board member appeared on the cover of the January/February issue!
Table Of Contents
Improving primary batteries: William Bleeck. Part One: Experimenting before World War I Don Marshall VK4AMA
IARU Liaison Report Jim Linton VK3PC
Band Plan Notes John Martin VK3KM
Mt Fatigue to Mt Tassie Ron Cook VK3AFW
H.H. Blackman XOE/VK3HA Deane Blackman VK3TX
Urunga Radio Convention 2016 Ken Golden VK2DGT
A Simple VFO Project Erich Heinzle VK5HSE
Building VK3YE’s Knobless Wonder the easy way? Peter McAdam VK2EVB
GippsTech Review: Australia’s premier amateur radio technology conference Roger Harrison VK2ZRH
From BACAR to Pico Ballooning - Part 2 Jim Linton VK3PC
Plus all the usual Club news and columns
Improving primary batteries: William Bleeck. Part One: Experimenting before World War I
Don Marshall VK4AMA
The author presents the first 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.
Mt Fatigue to Mt Tassie
Ron Cook VK3AFW
The author describes his diversions whilst en route to attend the GippsTech 2015 event: he manages to activate two SOTA summits, some sightseeing activities and a museum visit, thus maintaining family harmony.
Building VK3YE’s Knobless Wonder the easy way?
Peter McAdam VK2EVB
The author presents an account of his attempts to reproduce the VK3YE Knobless Wonder QRP transceiver, including the design of a dedicated printed circuit board.
A Simple VFO Project
Erich Heinzle VK5HSE
The author presents a simple construction project describing his design of a pcb for a VFO for his BitX transceiver.
63 Cookson Controls
11 Ham Radio House
63 TTS Systems
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