Amateur Radio December 2017
Delivery expected from 23 November
WIA Member Digital Edition Download
Engaging with younger people
At the local radio club, we have not been engaged with Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) for several years. This is due to a number of factors, including clashing events on the local Scout calendar.
Earlier this year we were contacted by one of the local Guide leaders. After meeting and discussing options, a plan started to form. We decided to hold a brief introductory session about five weeks prior to JOTA at the normal Guide meeting. We had several amateurs arrived and talked a little about “what is radio”. We started the discussion by pointing out that mobile telephones are really just radios, interlinked by significant infrastructure. But what would happen in the interconnecting systems failed? The girls quickly realised that they would not be able to communicate easily! We quickly finished the discussions and after a brief explanation of how to make a contact, we had the girls try talking using some 2 m FM hand held transceivers. All seemed to work well. After the local school holidays, we had the girls come to the radio club rooms for a visit, including some more time on air.
Although the wind was at moderate strength, the weekend turned out to be reasonable weather. We had a doublet erected by early afternoon, together with a trapped dipole for 80 and 40 m and a simple vertical antenna for VHF. The station was set up in the common room of the bunk-house style building on site, with cables running in through the windows.
The Guides were due to arrive at around 1500; we had some contacts with some Cubs at a Scout camp around 70 km away, using 80 m – the band was a little noisy, but we had solid signals. After the Guides arrived, we started making contacts with various groups. It was difficult at times to find other JOTA stations to work, not helped by ionospheric conditions meaning that 40 m had no NVIS. But we encouraged the girls to get on air. Late in the afternoon we briefly tuned around on 40 m, hearing a number of loud European stations calling for DX – but no JOTA stations. Explaining the callsign prefixes together with a world map brought interest from the Guides.
After dinner, we continued searching around the bands and making contacts. We also ran some simple fox hunts on 70 cm. One club member brought along a telescope and the cloud cleared allowing most of the Guides to look at Saturn and Jupiter. Inside, there were other activities to entertain the girls, including making name bracelets using beads and Morse code to spell out their names. The younger girls left for home at around 2100, whilst the older girls stayed overnight. The common room was very noisy at times, requiring those at the radio to listen carefully.
I left after midnight to return home. I understand that the Guides thoroughly enjoyed a Morse activity on Sunday morning, plus the team ensured that every girl had made at least one on-air contact.
One observation was that the art of conversation was not demonstrated by the girls, especially at the noisy HF station. Yet during Saturday afternoon we saw several girls spread out around the grassed area chatting away happily using 2 m FM hand held radios. The conversations were diverse and interesting, probably helped as we had a Guide from Jabiru who had joined in the activity for the weekend. She was very busy talking about the exotic wildlife and vegetation that was common around her home.
Overall, the Guides rated the weekend a huge success and are already talking about next year and perhaps some other joint activities over the coming 12 months.
With a simple approach, it was easy to engage the girls into various activities. They all seemed to enjoy the activities. Whilst we may not have any immediate recruits into our hobby, we have at least engaged some young minds and stimulated them to consider some different activities. Who knows what may come in the future? The Guide leader is already talking about studying for her Foundation licence.
I trust that you all have a safe and prosperous Christmas and New Year. Take care when travelling and I trust that you have some productive time on the radio.
Until the next edition,
Until next month,
This month’s cover:
Erwin VK3ERW on Mount Emu VK3/VE-061, using the lightweight 144 MHz Yagi built by Peter VK3PF. Read the details in the article starting on page X. Photo by Peter Freeman VK3PF.
WIA President's Comment
Accounting and AR magazine revitalisation
Since late May when your new Board took office, we have been coming to grips with the way this organisation operates. It has been a journey of discovery that has taken longer than originally thought. There have been many positive and some not so positive things we have discovered.
One that you have already heard about on the weekly WIA National Broadcast from fellow director, Greg Kelly VK2GPK, is the financial status of the WIA. This WIA is currently cash-flow negative, and has been for a number of years – that is where expenses exceed revenue. At the time this Board took office, the WIA was on average spending approximately $11,200 per week when revenue was only $10,000 per week.
This is an area where I want to focus on for this comment. On the positive side we identified key areas of focus to place the organisation on a much more sustainable platform and are continuing to work to further improve the financial position of the organisation. By the end of first quarter 2018, with the initiatives we have instigated to date, we expect to see the cash flow to look much healthier, approaching cash flow neutral and cash flow positive by mid-year.
The 2017 FY end of year deficit is projected at around $65,000. This doesn’t mean we are insolvent – the WIA is able to pay its employees and bills on time, however, to do this we are using our provision account and this needs to be reversed. That provision account has around $300,000 in it and although not related to cash-flow, our property assets are worth well over $400,000.
How did we get into this situation, I hear you ask? One day at a time over many years!
This is a complex historic picture about a voluntary organisation. It has taken the Board the best part of six months to unravel it. It is a mixture of both discretionary and non-discretionary costs. Let me start at the beginning of this financial year with the previous Board quoting costs incurred that included legal, accounting and additional auditor costs to react to the demands raised by a small group of agitator members. The quantifiable costs are over $13,000 without taking in to account the opportunity costs of the time spent by Board members, volunteers and staff and the decrease in membership. However, in comparison to the organisation going into paid voluntary administration because of a Board spill as was being lobbied by these few members for a special general meeting– the costs would have been much, much higher and probably fatal for the WIA. These few members hold strong views and believe they are acting in the best interests of the WIA, but many of their actions just divert Board attention from more pressing WIA issues.
The next body of discovery work involved the ACMA Performance Reporting that the WIA is obligated to provide under its agreement with the ACMA to provide services on its behalf. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis for the ACMA using a financial model established in 2009 and this model and charges have not been updated since 2009. Last year there was an under-recovery of approximately $12,000 for services rendered; this year will see a similar under-recovery. Couple this with falling examination rates and increasing callsign administration and this makes for a cumulative loss of approximately $60,000 over the life of the ACMA contract. This service is supplied to all radio amateurs in Australia and yet the administration cost sits with the WIA. WIA members are effectively cross subsidising all amateurs for the delivery of some of these services, e.g. licence database management. The costs historically attributed to ACMA activities do not currently reflect true lifecycle costs, such as infrastructure refresh and security management.
The annual IARU payments for both 2016 and 2017 were both paid earlier this financial year, including an administrative overpayment of around 350% using all Australian amateurs rather than just the WIA transmitting membership. Attendance at IARU overseas meetings has also added to the financial pressure to the tune of $8,000, although the recent Strategy Advisory Committee survey respondents rate this function as one of the main reasons they are members of the WIA.
AR magazine publishing 11 issues a year is projected to have an annual ongoing expense of $198,000. This is based on most recent payments and is by far the largest expense this organisation has. It is the printing and distribution costs that have contributed to this increase along with falling advertising revenue. For completeness of the picture, I cannot leave out that employment and insurance costs have increased by at least CPI if not more each year.
What is the Board doing to rectify this rather negative situation outlined above?
The Board has sought operational plans for reducing the number of 2018 AR magazine issues from 11 to 6 and started an AR magazine revitalisation process. Budget saving approx. $50,000 pa.
The Board has proposed a new fee structure to ACMA for the ACMA contract to eliminate under-recovery beginning 2018. This already has in-principle support from ACMA. Budget saving approx. $12,000 pa. This will result in higher costs for some assessment and callsign / licence management to reflect the real costs of providing these services.
Recruitment for a volunteer person/team to undertake a Media Advertising role to start to attract higher levels of advertising in the magazine and other WIA publications.
The WIA is in credit with the IARU for the next two to three years and therefore will not incur this expense for the next few years. Budget saving approx. $3,000 pa.
Building in the provision for technology refresh of antiquated equipment and systems. This includes implementation of a service desk system and ongoing maintenance and support over the life of the equipment.
Membership engagement processes to attract and retain more members and engage with existing members more effectively and efficiently. Licence analysis shows that since 2005 approximately 40% of newcomers to the hobby do not renew their licence so, retention needs to be the main focus.
The Board has resolved to draw down the provision fund to provide bridging funding as this is a cheaper option than the current overdraft arrangements.
Recruitment for an Operational Management group that will undertake the day-to-day management of the organisation enabling the Board to focus on steering the organisation.
Sustainability is the key word that describes what the current Board is attempting to implement to setup the WIA for the future. It will not happen overnight but it is happening.
Given this is the last issue of AR magazine in its 11 issue format, I would like to finish off with some of the ideas that are being put forward in relation to the revitalisation of AR magazine. With the move to 6 issues we have an opportunity to refocus the magazine. Summarised below are some key ideas put forward so far:
More technically focused publication by moving the club news and obituaries to a professional AR magazine dedicated website along with sourcing and contributing technical articles from/to other IARU societies.
Move to eBook digital format with lower cost for concession and digital only subscribers including print on demand editions. eBooks have global distribution and well established business and advertising models which the WIA can utilise.
Advertising sustaining the magazine directly – thinking laterally e.g. retirement industry advertising.
Move to the concept of a paywall – you need to be a member to get through the paywall. Facilitates moving to a full digital version sometime in the future.
Cooperation with Silicon Chip / Diyode / Makers / Hacker space magazines. Focus the articles for younger, first time readers and different market sectors.
Publish compilations of technical articles from each AR year into an eBook compilation.
Attracting experienced authors, reducing lead time and possibly rewarding them in some way.
We will be seeking member feedback regarding possible changes to AR magazine via a new survey in the near future.
Exciting times ahead for our flagship magazine and I look forward to seeing more of these ideas developed and realised.
Have a safe and RF filled festive season and see you in 2018.
Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW on behalf of the WIA Board.
Table Of Contents
JOTA in Far North Queensland 2017 Mike Patterson VK4MIK
JOTA in Coffs harbour Russell Ashdown VK2VK
Third Annual SOTA SUMMIT @ Mt Hotham Brian McDermott VK3MCD
TAC Notes John Martin VK3KM
YLs at JOTA Christine Taylor VK5CTY
Australian presented with Yasme Foundation Excellence Award Jim Linton VK3PC
PL259 connectors and 4.95 mm coaxial cable Kevin Parsons VK2JS
A lightweight Yagi for 2 m Peter Freeman VK3PF
The SharkRF OpenSPOT review coaxial cable Ben Broadbent VK5BB & Peter Jung VK5JP
Why use FT8? Ron Cook VK3AFW
Plus all the usual Club news and columns
Reports from JOTA 2017
Mike Patterson VK4MIK, Russell Ashdown VK2VK, Christine Taylor VK5CTY and others
This month we have three main articles reporting on JOTA activities, together with several reports included in Club News contributions. Some faced challenging propagation, but all had fun interacting with the Scouts and Guides.
Australian presented with Yasme Foundation Excellence Award
Jim Linton VK3PC
The author reports on the recently announced Yasma Foundation Excellence Awards, including one for WIA delegate Dale Hughes VK1DSH for his work at the last ITU Conference.
A lightweight Yagi for 2 m
Peter Freeman VK3PF
The author discusses some options for portable operations prior to describing a lightweight 6-element Yagi for the 2 m band.
The SharkRF OpenSPOT review
Ben Broadbent VK5BB & Peter Jung VK5JP
The authors review the flexible SharkRF OpenSPOT unit, capable using of multiple digital modes as an interface to the internet.
64 Amidon / TTS Systems
64 Cookson Controls
11, IBC Future Systems
13 Ham Radio House
Page Last Updated: Thursday 23 November 2017 at 23:5 hours