Amateur Radio November 2016
Delivery expected from 27 October
WIA Member Digital Edition Download
It appears that many members experienced significant delays in delivery of the October issue of AR, notably in VK2 and VK6. Those who made contact with the office had a new copy sent out promptly.
See the report on page 16.
All members are asked to check their details as recorded in Memnet, and check the entry about if you wish to, or dot wish to, receive a hard copy of the magazine. NOTE: be careful with this entry! The question is in the negative, so answering “Yes” means that you will not receive the hard copy! If you wish to continue to receive the hard copy, answer “No”.
At least one member has noted that the form of the question is poor and has requested that it be changed. I reinforce that sentiment – we should ask simple clear questions, not questions that are negative, which can result in confusion. So please read carefully before you answer!
I must offer my apologies to Joe VK3YSP and Julie VK3FOWL: I failed to download an updated version of the article on the School Amateur Radio Club (SARC). It was totally my error in collating the content prior to production. So I offer my sincere apologies to all involved.
The updated article contains a forward from one of our school principals and a reference to our http://www.sarcnet.org/ website. Those interested in the SARC activities and promoting STEM amongst youngsters will find a number of useful resources on the SARC web site.
Now that some states have moved to Daylight Savings Time (DST), there is at least a perception of more daylight hours being available. Those who do not use DST know that this is simply a perception, as a similar result can be achieved by going to sleep and waking earlier on the “normal” clock.
For those of us using DST, we need to remember to readjust our thought processes to convert log times to UTC, at least for a little while after the changeover. DST does make evening operations in the field more attractive to some amateurs.
For those interested in Park or SOTA operations, this gives additional possibilities.
But the challenge comes with the changing space weather as we move towards the solar minimum, plus the effects that we have been seeing recently of earth-facing coronal holes impacting on ionospheric propagation.
During a recent weekend away, HF propagation was poor, especially for short-haul contacts as NVIS was notably absent. Fortunately, we had several groups on summits in relatively close proximity on the Saturday, so summits were often qualified using VHF and UHF contacts. Another option to consider was to use 80 m, even in the middle of the day. I am sure that these factors will need to be considered frequently in coming months, testing those in the field and those at home attempting to chase the activators.
Until next month,
This month’s cover:
Jenny Wardrop VK3WQ receiving the Chris Jones Award trophy from WIA Director Robert Broomhead VK3DN. Photo by Peter Wolfenden VK3RV. Read the story on Page 21.
WIA President's Comment
The WIA through the looking glass
As you know, the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) is governed by seven elected members who work together as Directors on a Board that meets each month by teleconference. Recently, the Board has been subjected to numerous assertions and allegations by those who seem to want to take the Institute in a different direction, and a lot of misinformation has been published in the process.
The matter came to a head at an extra meeting of WIA Directors in September, where a motion was put by Directors Andrew Smith VK6AS and Paul Simmonds VK5PAS requiring an external audit of the WIA finances, accounting procedures and operations, for the three years 2014 - 2016. The audit would be performed by a registered auditor.
The other five Directors were concerned that this type of audit could incur very substantial open-ended costs, and they voted to amend the motion to refer such a significant decision to a General Meeting of members, in addition requiring at least two fixed-cost quotations obtained by the original proposer and seconder, to be presented to that meeting. The amended motion was passed unanimously.
There is also concern about the time and effort required to attend to an Audit when the WIA must focus significant efforts and resources over coming months on advocating future licence conditions, responding to the update of the Australian Radio Frequency Plan, public consultation on the new Radiocommunications legislation, and the upcoming STEM symposium in Canberra.
By the time this magazine is published, no doubt there will be lots of information supporting the yes case for bringing in the auditors, and/or the no case to forgo the significant expenditure.
Let me give you my personal view about this.
The WIA has been through a busy period with many government submissions on radio communications issues, and a reform of the WIA office procedures that has delivered improved customer service to members and prospective radio amateurs. What is abundantly clear to me is that everyone involved with the WIA – its Directors, officers, staff and volunteers, are all working in what they believe is in the best interests of the organization. In all the years I have been a Director, I have never seen anything that could possibly amount to fraud or wrongdoing by anyone involved in the WIA.
It is also clear that the WIA is not at any risk of insolvent trading. Although there have been losses in recent years, with a strong asset backing given its turnover, a predictable and regular membership income, and mostly known costs, the WIA is in a strong financial position. Also, the Board has identified potential areas for increased revenue and cost savings in future years.
So what else could be wrong? Could it be a financial mismanagement issue?
The WIA has also been through a challenging period, with the unexpected resignation of two Treasurers and the appointment of a temporary, paid professional Treasurer for the period from February to the end of June. At the time of writing, the WIA’s accounts are in the process of being brought up to date, and simplified, by an external team of MYOB specialists. By the time this Comment is published, I expect the accounts will be up to date and we will be well on the way to having a new WIA Treasurer.
The WIA’s accounts are reviewed each year by a Registered Auditor (appointed by the WIA and ratified by the members at an AGM) and the Financial Statement they prepare states that the financial accounts are accurate and meet accepted accounting practice and the law. As the WIA is a Tier-2 corporation with a turnover of less than $1M per year, its accounts are Reviewed rather than Audited. This is normal practice, and quite appropriate for a small company, as yearly Auditing is a very expensive process – about twice the cost of a Review, I understand. So, are we questioning the authority and competency of the WIA’s independent Auditor/Reviewer or the appropriateness of a yearly Review?
What else could it be?
Some people have challenged the appointment by the Board of a company, in which Fred Swainston VK3DAC is also a Director, to carry out an office review in mid-2015, and the subsequent appointment of Fred as a contractor administering the office to implement a change program in the six-month period up to the commencement of a new Executive Administrator. This has been perceived by some as a conflict of interest. Is the conflict real, or manufactured? There are some important factors here that need to be considered.
WIA Board members stand aside during any decision where there could be a possible conflict of interest, as required by both our Constitution and the Corporations Act. As is normal practice, Fred stood aside (indeed, left the room) during the decision in August 2015 when he was appointed as a contractor to manage the office. This decision was a unanimous Board decision (in the absence of Fred), and no objections were raised by other Directors or officers present at the time.
As Fred has intimate knowledge of the functions of the WIA, the ACMA contract work, and the WIA Assessor system, it was a pragmatic decision to appoint him for a limited period and in the best interests of the organisation. Anyone else with the necessary skill and experience would take many months to come up to speed with the complexities of the WIA’s operations. Over the few months following his appointment, Fred made many significant improvements in the office operations, including increasing security, controlling access and documenting processes and procedures. He wrote over 30 new office procedures in that time.
Working (executive) Directors are very common in all types of organisations and Fred has a very long history of performing this exact type of work. The fee Fred was paid was equivalent to the salary and on-costs of the previous Office Manager role, and far less than what we would have had to pay a contract manager hired on the open market, or indeed, what Fred would have received doing the same type of work for his other clients. In my view, and supported by my own legal advice, Fred did not derive any unreasonable personal benefit. There is no real conflict of interest.
Many of you will be aware that Fred’s company is also the WIA’s training organization for the training and assessment of new amateurs. Fred’s company provides this service on a voluntary basis and Fred does not derive any benefit.
Some of your Directors have also come under criticism because they are doing “too much work themselves and not acting as Directors”. Experts in corporate governance will tell you that there should be a clear delineation between the executive (managers and staff) and the Board. The executive should be responsible for all the work of an organization and should focus on targets, outcomes and achievements. Directors, on the other hand, should be free to take a “helicopter view” of the organisation, without the burden of actually having to produce anything, in order to make unbiased long-term decisions in the best interests of the corporation. Those decisions may be at odds with the short-term view of the executive. That is perfectly correct and appropriate for a larger organization.
However, much like in a small-sized business, the WIA evolved over time to meet the conditions of its environment; short on cash and short on people able or willing to put in the hard yards. In the WIA, Directors have performed much of that executive role themselves. That does put a strain on Directors and some things do slip, and some decisions are made expediently, but, unless we either win the lottery, have a large increase in membership, or find many more skilled volunteers who are willing to totally manage particular functions (not that we haven’t tried flushing them out), I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
Some people have even called for the resignation of several Directors. However, if the end-game is the removal of some WIA Directors and some as-yet unannounced new direction for the WIA, that doesn’t make any sense either, as elections for three Board member positions occur over the first quarter of next year, with appointments confirmed at the AGM next May. So the membership will get ample opportunity to make that decision for themselves.
So, what else could it be?
The WIA has always had its detractors – that’s just the nature of the beast – but, more recently, there has been an orchestrated campaign against the WIA, both in social media and elsewhere, which, quite frankly, doesn’t seem to have any cohesive focus.
Personally, I think all this is to do with personalities and perceptions; the perception that something serious and hidden must be wrong with the WIA. The WIA’s detractors have been very actively promoting this and, together with some heightened sense of corporate grandeur and of injustice, it makes for a bit of a storm on the horizon.
Voluntary organisations are never perfect and, no doubt given a large enough looking-glass and the benefit of hindsight, an auditor will probably find some things that could have been done differently, and some things that could have been done better, but nothing so critical as to threaten the organisation. When I go to the dentist, there is always something to fix and it’s usually expensive, with some pain involved. I’m sure any outcome from the proposed three-year comprehensive audit will be no different.
Will it be expensive? – Naturally, very. Will they find anything serious? – No, I’m certain they won’t. Will it be worth the expense? – I very much doubt it.
That’s why the motion was amended, so that the members should decide how to proceed.
P.S. Don’t forget the WIA STEM symposium in Canberra. I have just heard that Australia’s last TAFE course providing RF training in Australia is in danger of closing. If we ever needed to spark an interest in wireless technology, which is so pervasive in our modern lifestyle, it’s now. Check out the WIA website for details.
Table Of Contents
Some Amateur fun in the wilds of Papua New Guinea Ewen Templeton VK3OW and Michael Wakefield P29WA
Australia Remembers: The Battle of Long Tan 50th Anniversary Jim Linton VK3PC
WIA Merit Award recipient most worthy Jim Linton VK3PC
International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet Stephen Ireland VK3VM / VK3SIR
What they say and what they mean: Decoding the lingo of ham radio ads Peter Parker VK3YE
The versatile Icom AH-4 auto antenna matching unit Tony Boddy ZL3DQ, VK2ADQ, VK6DQ
A balanced antenna coupler for portable use Peter Parker VK3YE
Monitor Sensors 630 m Transverter Review Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW
Plus all the usual Club news and columns
WIA Merit Award recipient most worthy
Jim Linton VK3PC
A brief account of the presentation of the Chris Jones Award to Jenny Wardrop VK3WQ. It includes a brief statement of the background of the Award.
Some Amateur fun in the wilds of Papua New Guinea
Ewen Templeton VK3OW and Michael Wakefield P29WA
The authors outline their experiences of using amateur radio in Papua New Guinea. They experienced high levels of interference at their operational base, so made a trip into countryside to set up a portable station.
Monitor Sensors 630 m Transverter Review
Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW
The author reviews a new transverter, designed and developed in Queensland. The transverter can be left in-line with your HF transceiver. It converts a signal in the 160 m band to the 470 kHz band and delivers 50 W output in transmit.
A balanced antenna coupler for portable use
Peter Parker VK3YE
The author presents a balanced antenna coupler for QRP/portable use after discussing some of the antenna options available to the portable operator.
64 Cookson Controls
11 Ham Radio House
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Page Last Updated: Thursday 27 October 2016 at 8:50 hours