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2017 Magazines

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Amateur Radio June 2017

Delivery expected from 25 May


      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Editorial

Road trips

As I reported in my Editorial last month, I purchased a new vehicle. It spent the week immediately prior to Easter having some extra “goodies” fitted. I picked the vehicle up late on Thursday afternoon. A road trip coming up soon, so it would be an opportunity to give the new vehicle a good run.

Easter was time to attempt to fit some radios and antennas. But that had some extra challenges: a couple of public holidays and several local suppliers were taking a long weekend! On top of that, there was the issue of proof reading the May issue of AR!

At least I had arranged with the organisation doing the supply and fit out of the extra goodies to run some lengths of coaxial cable to the new bull bar at the front – one task that I did not need to complete.

I installed a couple of antenna mounts on the bull bar and terminated the coax runs. Then there was the task of considering how to mount the radio bodies and remote heads…

Saturday morning was spent visiting the local aluminium supplier – closed, of course! I compromised with some 2 mm plate from a well-known hardware warehouse operation.

The next challenge was to decide on how to do the job! Step 1: measure and consider options. Step 2: mark out the selected material and then cut, file edges smooth, bend and drill in preparation to installation. I do not have access to sheet metal tools, so resorted to rather simple techniques, but achieved an acceptable outcome.

By Sunday evening, I had the radio bodies mounted on the newly fabricated custom frame and fitted into the allocated space.

Sunday evening and Monday were devoted to proof reading, with some small allocation to fit the radio control heads with the assistance of some windscreen vacuum mounts. Any spare time in the afternoon was devoted to organising other bits and pieces, in preparation for departure the following morning.

Monday evening and the May issue of the magazine was sent to the printer. Tuesday morning was spent loading gear into the vehicle for the first trip: a short trip to Traralgon for a long chat over coffee with a visiting amateur. Then the real trip began: off to north of Brisbane to attend Redfest and to present at Q-Tech about portable operations, including SOTA and Parks operating.

Such a road trip presents too many possible activation sites, so I needed to be selective. Four days for the trip north. Saturday devoted to the Q-Tech conference. Sunday was spent activating three summits on the D’Aguilar Range. Monday was the start of the trip towards home, with the requirement to be back by Sunday evening.

The results: almost 6000 km covered; 23 SOTA summits activated; eight WWFF references activated: plus some time spent with family once back in Victoria.

So here we are, finalising the June issue of AR magazine and only a week to go until the AGM in Hahndorf… Which will require another road trip!

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

PS: Apologies to Steve VK5AIM: we incorrectly had another author listed for his article in this month's magazine Table of Contents. We have corrected the error in the Digital Edition.

This month’s cover:

Nick VK3ANL during his activation of Mt Beckworth VK3/VC-024 on his way to achieving Mountain Goat. See the SOTA and Parks column starting on page 33 for accounts of the recent VK amateurs to achieve Mountain Goat status. Photo courtesy Nick Lock VK3ANL.

WIA President's Comment

Handing over the reins

This President's Comment will be read after the AGM in Hahndorf, so you will now have a new Board of directors with a new President and new Vice-President.

So, this Comment is both a farewell from the old Board, and a summary of Board activities up to May, so members can be informed about the status of major issues on which your WIA Board of 2016 was working.

ACMA

The Board and Spectrum Strategy Committee have spent considerable effort over recent years to “prepare the ground” with key people in the ACMA on the proposed changes to Amateur licence conditions and the principles underlying the proposals set out in several submissions, in particular, the submission of April 2016. Those efforts continued through 2016, and early 2017.

The key principle is that future licence conditions should not unnecessarily limit the breadth and depth of experimentation amateurs can explore and the technologies capable amateurs may wish to adapt and exploit. Additionally, the limitations and anachronisms inherent in the three licence grades, particularly those affecting the Foundation licence, have been raised with the ACMA to engender some awareness of them so that these issues are addressed in the next licence conditions determination. The ‘standout’ issue is Foundation licensee callsigns – planning for three-letter, rather than four-letter, suffixes while enabling the callsign to identify that the operator has a Foundation licence.

Amateur licensing must not only “move with the times”, it must move ahead if it is to remain relevant in our increasingly digital, always-on society. The proposals being advocated by the WIA have been gauged to create a framework to do just that. The consultation program, for members and the Amateur community, currently under way is to provide the ACMA with further evidential support for the proposed changes to the Amateur licence conditions.

A number of regulatory and operational issues have been resolved with the ACMA over recent months. Licensing for repeaters and beacons has been streamlined, smoothing the process and improving interaction with the ACMA’s SPECTRA licensing database. The ACMA conducted stakeholder consultation on the matter of reciprocal licensing, to which the Board responded. The ACMA subsequently changed the Table of Equivalent Qualifications and Licences.

As advocacy is a major object of the WIA’s existence, this part of the Institute’s work must continue with what has been established, and build on it for the future of Amateur radio in Australia and for the future of the WIA.

Spectrum Review

The federal government’s Spectrum Review continues apace, albeit rather slower and well behind the timetable originally envisaged. It will bring in a new Radiocommunications Act – an exposure draft will be published shortly – along with new regulations and a new, single, licensing regime known as parameters-based licensing.

But, many amateurs are keen to see the release of the new band at 5.3 MHz, or 60 metres, allocated by the ITU back in late 2015. The ACMA updated the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan, which came into effect on 1 January 2017, but made only minimal changes, to the disappointment of many amateurs. The Spectrum Strategy Committee has committed to work with the ACMA and the primary service currently occupying the segment at 5.3 MHz to enable access for Australian amateurs. Perhaps it may be of some comfort to know that Australia isn’t the “last one off the block” in releasing the new 60 m band.

The telecommunications industry, globally, has a tremendous thirst for spectrum to provide mobile communications for consumers and to build “the Internet of Things” – wireless-based internet connectivity for commercial and industrial services. There will be ongoing pressure for spectrum that will have an impact on a variety of our bands in different parts of the spectrum, particularly those bands where Amateurs are the secondary service. Vigilance of the Spectrum Strategy Committee has proved its worth in responding to ACMA consultation programs recently.

The beachheads established by the Spectrum Strategy Committee need to be maintained and built-on as the federal government’s new radiocommunications regime comes into being.

AR magazine

Producing AR magazine is the primary tangible benefit of membership and the Institute’s greatest expenditure item. Its cost is offset to a small amount by advertising revenue and non-member sales through magazine retailers, but it still represents the largest single expense to the WIA, ahead of running the Bayswater office.

In 2016, the Board asked the Publications Committee to look at options for cutting the cost of producing AR magazine by at least 25%. Late last year, the Publications Committee forwarded an options paper to the Board which gave a number of options for cost reduction including, amongst other things, more use of digital distribution and/or less frequent publications. The Publications Committee's report has been forwarded to the new Board for consideration.

As highlighted above, for most members, the print edition of AR magazine is the one tangible benefit of membership. Reducing the frequency of publication will likely create a feeling among members that this particular benefit of belonging is diminished and some members, perhaps many, will ‘vote with their wallets’ and not renew. Likewise, moving to digital-only publication in or over the near future is seen to be a high risk strategy as it removes that tangible membership benefit and a solid link with members and the affiliated clubs. There is evidence aplenty where publications, specialist technical publications included, have lost readership dramatically after moving to digital-only publication. The take-up by members of digital-only AR subscription is low at present, unfortunately.

Publications and the Bookshop

The WIA bookshop has been very successful for many years but, like most other book sellers, is coming under extreme price pressure from on-line re-sellers. Many people have said that they can save 20-30% of a book’s cover price using an on-line overseas re-seller. That makes the WIA Bookshop un-viable when it comes to selling books such as the ARRL and RSGB publications. The Board has been aware of this for some time and has entered discussions with a local seller of amateur radio publications, and has been negotiating an MOU whereby the WIA would act as a shop-front only, and pass all orders on to the other bookseller for a small commission.

The WIA would then concentrate on producing, publishing and selling its own publications, such as the Foundation licence manual, the callbook, and “one-shots” like the new historical publication Wireless Men and Women at War, for example.

Youth and STE(A)M

The outgoing Board was very supportive of the STEM initiative, and originated some STEM activities, such as the STEM conference held in Canberra last year. I expect the new Board will continue and build on that initiative, which generated a strong, positive reaction.

Office and Accounting

The office continues to be under a great deal of pressure with too much work for too few staff. However, the realities are that the WIA cannot commit to additional staff costs at this time. The use of a contracted book-keeper and temporary staff has relieved the pressure somewhat and has allowed us to bring the WIA’s accounts up to date after a difficult period during 2016. Our recommendation to the new Board is that they continue to simplify processes as much as possible and continue to use 2-peas for the bookkeeping services.

There are many other new initiatives and “works in progress”, such as the Volunteers Charter and the new Member Consultation portal on the website. One other initiative worth mentioning is a new voucher system that will provide a period of free digital download of AR magazine. The vouchers could be given to all new radio amateurs, or used as a general promotional tool, and will hopefully encourage more new radio amateurs to join the WIA.

No doubt the new Board will set its own initiatives and priorities, but the ground work has been done on many important issues.

On behalf of the 2016 Board of Directors

Phil Wait VK2ASD

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

They will never die! Steve Mahony VK5AIM
VK Shires QSO Party VK Shires Contest Committee
A Touch of Spice Phil Wait VK2ASD

TECHNICAL

International Open Source at its Best! High Performance Software Defined Radio Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW
Two transistor inductor-less ceramic resonator regenerative receiver Peter Parker VK3YE
20 m WSPR Beacon Richard Burden VK6TT

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

They will never die!

Steve Mahony VK5AIM

The author recounts some of experiences in using the venerable AVO 8 multimeter, together with an account of finding and restoring one such meter.

A Touch of Spice

Phil Wait VK2ASD

The author gives an account of the Spice Race ocean yacht race, along with the role of radio.

International Open Source at its Best! High Performance Software Defined Radio

Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW

The author outlines the links between radio amateur and maker/hacker communities, arguing that radio amateurs could be considered as the first open-source hackers/makers of the modern era. He then describes the hpsdr open source SDR project.

20 m WSPR Beacon

Richard Burden VK6TT

The author outlines the development and construction of a WSPR beacon transmitter.

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