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2016 Magazines

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Amateur Radio October 2016

Delivery expected from 29 September


      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Editorial

To support or not?

As an Assessor, I well know the need to be supportive of trainees and new licensees. After all, every one of us was a beginner in this diverse hobby at some stage, even if that was many years ago.

Every amateur should be supportive of each other, even if it is an amateur who may not be acting in the expected manner. In such a case, we should politely, and in a supportive manner, advise the amateur of the errors being made. This could be a simple as pointing out that the microphone gain and/or compression settings appear to be set to high, resulting in a wide and distorting signal which causes issues with nearby users.

You might express your support in other ways: an obvious example for me is to call an amateur who is activating a Park which I already have in the log. I do not personally need the Park, but the Activator needs 44 different callsigns in his/her log to qualify the Park for the international WWFF award scheme. In VK, it can be hard work to reach the required quota. There is no benefit for me, but a significant benefit for the Activator if I make the contact – a simple way to support the Activator. Of course, I could simply continue tuning on the band: no one other than myself would know that I was aware of the Activator calling repeatedly with few responses. It is your choice – to support or not.

These are simple examples. Yet I occasionally here of instances of some individuals who go beyond simply ignoring of a station calling (being passively unsupportive) to become an active denigrator (really, acting as a bully, if the action is repeated). I am not talking about the odd poorly considered comment, but comments that are deliberately directed against an amateur on more than a single occasion. I do not know why some behave in such a manner. What does such behaviour achieve for the perpetrator? Perhaps some ill-conceived self-satisfaction? In reality, all such behaviour only diminishes the perpetrator and causes angst for the recipient of the poor behaviour. Some find the experience so disturbing that they decide to exit the hobby, because of the actions of one or a few individuals who act as bullies.

We should all fight against such behaviour. We should all be supportive of others in our hobby, if not by actively showing our support, then at least by not taking actions which will harm the other operator/s. Preferably, we should stand up for an operator who is subject to bullying. In fact, the WAARN website has a page concerning bully in amateur radio, which includes an Amateur Radio Bully Report Form: http://www.vk6.net/bully

We can see in this month’s President’s Comment that there are some dissenting views amongst the members of the WIA Board. We should not be surprised that a group of individuals will not always agree, especially when they are required to act as a Board of Directors. In addition to the normal differences of opinion, they are also required to act in accordance with the Constitution of the organisation (in this case the WIA) but also in accordance with any other applicable legislative instruments.

Over recent months, we have seen information which notes that WIA Board members will be required to complete Corporate Governance training. One would expect that all the individuals will become aware of their formal responsibilities once such training is completed.

Until that training is complete, I believe that we should support the Board and the Institute as they attempt to guide the WIA through our current difficulties. On the financial front, members are asked to consider if they wish to support the organisation by opting out of the receipt of a hard copy of this magazine.

How else can we support the organisation? We can provide input on the occasions that input is requested. We can maintain our membership of the organisation: even if you are unhappy with some aspect of how the WIA works, seriously consider if you wish to no longer be a member. We already have the majority of amateurs in the country not supporting the WIA by being members, for reasons that are rarely specified. Perhaps this is due to financial constraints, perhaps due to some perceived slight against the amateur at some time in the past, or simply through laziness. Yet all amateurs benefit from the higher level actions of the WIA, even if they do not use (or wish to use) some of the more tangible benefits of membership (magazine, QSL bureau, etc.).

But some individuals, both members and non-members, continue to attack the WIA, especially on social media platforms. I guess that is their prerogative, but consider if it really moves us in the right direction? Some claim to supportive of the WIA and that they simply wish to bring about reform within the organisation. Whilst such goals may be noble in intent, are the actions of these “reformers” really helping? One suspects that all the discussions, factual or not, does not assist. Some resort to simple sniping at the organisation – such action helps nobody.

I suggest that you all consider carefully the manner in which you choose to support the hobby, by your on-air behaviour towards others, in off-air interactions and all other actions. Support your local club and our national organisation: be a financial member, provide considered feedback via the appropriate channels, and become more actively involved.

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF.

This month’s cover:

Primary school students participate in amateur radio as part of a School Amateur Radio Club (SARC). Julie VK3FOWL and Joe VK3YSP tell how they have set up SARC activities at several schools in Melbourne. See the story commencing on page 6. Also on the theme of engaging students with radio and electronics, see the report on the Science Week activities undertaken by REAST in Hobart, on page 22. Photo by Joe Gonzales VK3YSP.

WIA President's Comment

Don’t let Elephants stand in the way

It’s impossible to start this month’s President’s Comment without mentioning the “elephant in the room”. That is, at the 16 August Board meeting, two WIA Directors proposed and seconded a motion of no-confidence in the WIA Board.

The Director moving the motion expressed the view that the Board was not acting in the best interests of the WIA, and therefore proposed that in view of its incapability of acting properly, it should resign, an independent administrator be appointed to run the business of the WIA, and elections be held. The motion was put and defeated five votes to two.

Only the members in a general meeting can remove Directors, as provided by the WIA Constitution or the Corporations Act. Secondly, motions of “no confidence” have no effect or validity in corporate law, according to a text on company meetings compiled by HA Davidson, a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW. A judgement in a modern-day case said: ". . . the Parliamentary convention which required a government to resign on the passing of such a motion was not applicable in corporation law, and there was no convention 'that a board of directors against whom a no confidence motion is passed must tender their resignation . . .'; And: ". . . it does not appear . . that a motion of no confidence would be a motion which could be validly passed by the appropriate meeting." [Stanham v The National Trust of Australia (NSW)].

In other words, a motion of no confidence moved by a Director against the WIA Board has no effect, but in this instance I chose to allow the motion to be put in the interests of open discussion. The two Directors have more recently publically announced they have obtained legal advice and say they will be making further announcements, though at the time of writing the Board is not aware of what those “announcements” may be.

No doubt this issue will continue to play out as the year progresses, but the Board is determined to act in good faith in the best interests of the corporation, and that its advocacy work and the services it provides to its members and to the wider Amateur Radio community, and its important international work, should not be affected during what is shaping up to be a fairly difficult period.
Now that’s said, let’s get on to what I really wanted to talk about: The diversity of Amateur Radio.

One of the great things about Amateur Radio is its diversity. Amongst the fraternity you will find a huge variety of people and interests, from highly trained technical and engineering specialists to people who have simply taken amateur radio up as a bit of light entertainment, and everything else in between.

For some, Amateur Radio is about building, experimentation and learning, or working DX and entering competitions, or education, or being part of a community or, for some, seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they achieve their licence and first get on-air.

This diversity is what makes Amateur Radio strong and enduring in the face of other rapidly advancing communicating technologies, but it makes the job of the WIA all the more difficult. The WIA can’t possibly be all things to all people, and it shouldn’t try. In my mind, the role of the WIA is to be an advocate for the diversity of Amateur Radio and to work to improve the regulations, conditions and opportunities for individuals to do whatever they want to do in the hobby, within the law and without causing problems for others, naturally. That is the major role of the WIA; to advocate, facilitate, encourage and support, rather than promoting some type of activity or technology over another.

My particular interest is building things and experimentation, though I’ve had precious little time to do any of that lately and it doesn’t look like getting any better! If (when) I get the time, I would like to see where I can take the low power LORA technology on 433 MHz, which is basically a chirp modulation scheme that allows decoding a digital signal way below the noise floor, without the usual critical frequency control. Google ‘LORA wireless’, you will be surprised what you find.

Speaking of facilitating, the WIA is holding a STE(A)M education symposium in November, where we hope to get together the various people already involved in youth and vocational education through Amateur Radio, and to try and come up with some strategies and ideas for Amateur Radio’s involvement. There is not likely to be a one-size-fits-all approach to STE(A)M, but rather a diversity of approaches to meet local needs, which the WIA may be able to help facilitate.

Some people seem to have the impression that the WIA has a 10-story building at Bayswater with steam coming out the top, with operators sitting by the phone ready to take your call. Anything is further from the truth: with two full-time staff members, one who works almost solely on the examination and callsign work, and the other doing just about everything else, the WIA’s National Office is a very small and very busy place. Most current issues relate to a lack of resources, rather than any lack of will, energy or enthusiasm.

A recent example where the WIA primarily acted as a facilitator was during the ANZAC Centenary Commemorations, where the WIA organised and issued special event callsigns that were then taken up and used by a very large number of amateur stations. That job alone was a major exercise in organisation and logistics done on behalf of the Amateur Radio community.

As I said above, the WIA cannot be all things to all people, and again I emphasise – frankly, it shouldn’t try. If Amateur Radio is going to be relevant in tomorrow’s society it’s going to be individual amateurs following their individual passions that take it in new directions. The WIA can represent amateurs internationally, and advocate for the necessary regulatory environment, and facilitate, encourage and support, but it can't pull some magical rabbit out of a hat that makes it all happen without grass-roots innovation and support.

P.S. Please check out the advertisement for WIA Treasurer on the website (and, soon, elsewhere); this is an opportunity to really help your hobby and the Institute. Next month I will be visiting the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, which I attend every few years for my work, and will be spending some time in China. So, Vice-President Fred Swainston will step-in and give me, and you, a break.

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

School Amateur Radio Clubs Julie VK3FOWL and Joe VK3YSP
Murray-Sunset NP solar lighting project John Williams VK2AWJ
Festival of Bright Ideas Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW
DX Awards Marc Hillman VK3OHM
IARU Liaison Report Jim Linton VK3PC

TECHNICAL

What is so special about 50 Ohms? Gary Gibson VK8BN
Digital Transmission Done Properly Stephen Ireland VK3VM / VK3SIR

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

School Amateur Radio Clubs

Julie Gonzales VK3FOWL and Joe Gonzales VK3YSP

The authors explain how they set up several School Amateur Radio Clubs in Schools where Julie works. They outline the student engagement and some of the activities undertaken with the Clubs.
We have previously published two reports of activities by the Clubs. Due to several circumstances, this initial report has been delayed.

The Editor offers his apologies to Joe VK3YSP and Julie VK3FOWL: he failed to download an updated version of the article on the School Amateur Radio Club (SARC). Sincere apologies to all involved.

An updated article contains a forward from one of the school principals and a reference to the SARC website: http://www.sarcnet.org/

Those interested in the SARC activities and promoting STEM amongst youngsters will find a number of useful resources on the SARC web site.


Festival of Bright Ideas

Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW

The author outlines some of the activities undertaken at the Festival of Bright Ideas in Hobart, part of National Science Week. The team was kept busy with a new group of students every 15 minutes. A variety of interactive equipment was set up to display different communications technologies.

What is so special about 50 Ohms

Gary Gibson VK8BN

The author outlines why we use 50 ohm transmission lines.

Digital Transmission Done Properly

Stephen Ireland VK3VM / VK3SIR

The author presents an methodology which ensures that your digital transmissions are transmitted as clean signals, thus helping to ensure that those attempting to receive your signal have the best chance possible to decode them.

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