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2017 Magazines

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Amateur Radio November 2017

Delivery expected from 26 October


      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Editorial

Technology advances and the “joys” of noise
We all know that technology advances and that suppliers/retailers will sell anything that they believe will give them a profit. Combine these factors with a lack of tight regulatory conditions and we see potential impacts on the noise floor, especially in urban environments where one has many neighbours with many devices in their homes. One often hears comments on air about “plasma TV noise” and other QRM sources.

I seem to have had one noise recently disappear. One consistent but long term interference source here was the ADSL modem, which produced a birdie at 7.100 MHz. If a station that I was chasing was at a low receive level here, I would turn off the ADSL modem. Often that was sufficient to be able to complete a contact with the station that I was chasing. Back in mid-March, NBN became available in the local area. I initially declined invitations to sign up for the new service, delivered here as Fibre to the Node (FTTN). Part of the delay was that I had been reading accounts of interference to amateur communications due the VDSL technology used for FTTN. I was aware that the traditional “landline” service delivery would eventually be withdrawn, so telephone and ADSL internet services would no longer be an option. This withdrawal of the older technology is reported to occur within 18 months of the commencement of availability of NBN services.

This all sounds reasonable. I voiced my concerns with my ISP on a couple of occasions about potential interference which might affect my hobby – amateur radio. I recently finally made the decision to move to NBN, knowing that the decision would eventually be enforced. It took a couple of weeks for all the arrangements to fall into place. Almost three weeks later I was connected via the VDSL technology at a much higher download speed than previously experienced. Initially, all seemed to be good.

Expecting some delays in restoring all services, I was not initially concerned that the telephone service was not working. I later called the ISP support staff who assisted me to change the modem settings so that the telephone worked, now over VOIP.

One minor issue a couple of days later was that my main PC was suddenly experiencing very slow internet connectivity. The tech support team at the ISP was very helpful, sending me a series of tests to conduct. The results were poor on the “main” PC, but excellent on another PC. Logic suggested an issue with the PC. The tests indicated a marginally acceptable upload speed, so I have just received a new modem to try – on the list of tasks for tomorrow.

This all sounds okay. BUT, whenever the modem is switched on, I have S5-6 noise across the whole 40 m band! Occasionally, transmitting on 40 m will cause the modem to drop out and reset, requiring several minutes to reconnect the various services. My solution for chasing weaker portable stations (SOTA and/or Parks Activators) is to actually turn off the modem – and the noise disappears. Once a contact has been completed, I switch the modem back on and wait for internet services to be reinstated. Not really a satisfactory situation! I have raised these concerns with the ISP. I am not hopeful of a satisfactory resolution soon, given the operating band used by VDSL. I am aware that the RSGB is collecting information from amateurs in the UK regarding VDSL interference.

This is different to a common issue of poorly designed and filtered switch mode power supplies, as the VDSL system uses frequencies up to 12 MHz.

We have also seen reports from overseas of interference from “in-home internet over powerline” or “Ethernet powerline” systems.

Regulators around the world seem to be willing to allow such equipment to be imported, sold and installed, thereby allowing significant increases in the noise floor, especially in urban environments. All of this bodes poorly for the amateur radio operator, as we appear to be insignificant in the eyes of the regulators; we simply have to suffer increased noise levels.

The IARU and several major member societies have been active in the past in raising concerns regarding intrusive technologies. A notable challenge occurred with regard to Broadband over Powerline (BPL) technologies. A likely battle coming in the near future will be over the use of “wireless charging” technology proposals, where RF signals from high power generators are proposed to be used to charge electric vehicles whilst they are stationary or in motion. The likely transmitter power levels are sure to be high, thus creating the potential for significant increases above the ambient level of radio frequency “noise”. IARU is already closely watching proposals and developments.

More challenges for all amateurs!

Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover:
The Australian contingent at the Eleventh IARU Region 3 ARDF Championship in Mongolia pictured in local costumes in front of the large statue of Ghengis Khan. L to R: Kristian VK3FDAC, Peter VK3ADY, Jenelle VK3FJTE, Ewen VK3OW and Jack VK3WWW. See the story starting on page 18. Photo supplied by Jack Bramham VK3WWW, photographer not identified.

Safety Warning: Lithium Batteries

ALARA notes page 45, AR magazine November 2017
Glen English VK1XX has identified a point of confusion found in the Adelaide Hills Amateur Radio Society report: specifically in the section headed “The September topic” on page 45.

About LiFePO4 cells: there is also a reference in the same paragraph to LiPo cells, which are quite different beasts. The article appears to be about LiFePO4 cells.

For the record:
LiFePO4 cells have a nominal 'float' or full voltage of 3.25 V per cell, and a max charge of 3.65 V. They are FULLY discharged at 2.7 V.

LiPo, or Lithium Polymer cells, have a max charge of between 4.1 and 4.3 V per cell, depending on the anode material, and are discharged at approx. 3.2 V per cell.

The way the article reads, it encourages users to charge the LiFePO4 cell to 4.23 V, which is a recipe for disaster!

They are very different cells with very different chemistry and must not be confused.

Thank you Glen for alerting us to the confusion which was missed during proof reading.


WIA President's Comment

Volunteering opportunities abound

In 2016, Volunteering Australia commissioned a major research report on the state of volunteering in Australia (1). The report confirms statistics from the ABS that found volunteering rates declined for the first time in 20 years.

More than 95% of the WIA’s work is undertaken by volunteers and volunteer committees. The committee structure is currently being reviewed and over the next few months many committee opportunities will be advertised. The research from Volunteering Australia is being considered to ensure we use best practices to attract and match the right roles with the right skill sets and provide not only solutions for the WIA but also opportunities for the volunteers.

The research identified that there was a major disconnect between the volunteering roles that people are interested in and the roles that organisations are offering. Systems are needed to make better connections between organisations and these volunteers. The WIA is addressing this through the development and advertising of Role Descriptions that enable it to match volunteers with the skill sets required.

In the research, 46% of volunteers undertook volunteering in the last 12 months. The WIA is looking for teams of volunteers to address single point sensitivity and will provide flexible support structures for volunteers.

One finding of concern is that 86% of organisations involving volunteers are struggling to get the volunteers they need, with volunteers deterred by factors such as personal expense, onerous compliance requirements, red tape and a lack of flexibility. A positive result from the research includes that 99% of current volunteers indicated they intend to continue to volunteer in the future.

The WIA is looking to reduce red tape and administrative over heads, provide easy insurance coverage and promote virtual volunteering where possible (e.g., helpdesk function and video conferencing) and where reasonable, cover out-of-pocket expenses. The WIA is also willing to consider how it breaks down barriers that may inhibit volunteers from helping the WIA.

Many volunteers are not getting timely responses from organisations and this is deterring them from volunteering. This is one reason why the WIA is using Seek Volunteer (https://www.volunteer.com.au/) as this allows a more timely response and contact to be maintained with the volunteer pool. Online recruitment linked with social media was identified as the preferred method of recruitment for a high percentage of volunteers. Other engagement mechanisms are being developed to ensure a pool of suitably skilled volunteers is available.

The WIA has had some recent success with the Strategy Advisory Committee, Privacy and Complaints Team and QSL positions and is about to advertise many more roles. I encourage you - members and non-members - to take a look at the roles as they are advertised and to seriously consider how your skill set matches that being sought.

It is good to see that the recent Board decisions on AR magazine are being discussed on various forums. The first decision to move to six issues a year from January 2018 will enable the Board to start to address the WIA’s financial situation. It also provides an opportunity to transition the content in the magazine. The second decision the Board took was to ask the Strategy Advisory Committee to start engaging with the membership and Amateur Radio community on a revitalisation of AR magazine. There are many ideas flowing in about how to improve the magazine, make it more engaging to a wider audience, provide a range of different formats and media, and attract and harness higher levels of advertising and revenue. This second revitalisation phase is on a longer time frame with a number of stages and proof of concept steps in the mix.

The Board is also undertaking a discovery process and is asking each of the existing WIA committees to outline its role, composition, activities and contributions. This will enable the Strategy Advisory Committee to analyse the current organisational and governance structures and see how they fit into the future. This is all about making the organisation more effective and efficient with a principle that if it is not broken and it fits with the new structures then we won’t be “fixing it”! However, there are some principles we are employing along the way, these include: addressing single-point sensitivity, clarifying Terms of Reference, getting a diversity of membership views from the widest demographic possible and spreading (and balancing) the administrative load.

The Board is always focused on improving the membership situation and as part of this focus it has reviewed past records and activities to inform actions going forward.

The following chart shows the total membership numbers since the creation of the National WIA. The peak of just under 4700 was the result of the successful WIA centenary year in 2010.

The Board is seeing a slow improvement in membership numbers now, but we all need to do much more. The Board is working on developing membership engagement mechanisms that include:
• making amateur radio a more attractive and valued hobby
• discovery of membership processes, systems and statistics
• analysis of the capability of the Memnet system automation and integration
• refinement of the membership entry and growth processes
◦ enhancement of the new member process and information packs
◦ encouragement to gain higher qualification licences
◦ improvement of the membership renewal, reminder, final notice processes
• identification of lapsed members and initiation of a re-engagement campaign
• review of incentives to join or rejoin
• web and social media campaign to encourage members to rejoin and re-engage
• regular communications with Affiliated Clubs
• regular communications with members via Memnet, Amateur Radio magazine and social media.

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Robert Broomhead, VK3DN, for his many years of service and dedication to the WIA. Robert has decided to step down from the IT Services role and leaves a substantial legacy that the Board would like to build on and enhance.

To assist in this process the WIA will soon be advertising for volunteers to join the IT Services Committee. The Board is seeking skill sets in Information and Communication Technology including website design and maintenance. The Board realises that the revitalisation of the WIA website, membership and supporting systems is a major and complex body of work. This project will need careful management to ensure ongoing level of service and to introduce new functionality for members.

Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW on behalf of the WIA Board.

(1) https://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/research-publications/stateofvolunteering/

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

Amateur Radio from a retirement estate Paul Roehrs VK5NE
ACMA Inspector inspecting my J-Pole Carsten Bauer VK6PCB
STEAMing ARDF Jack Bramham VK3WWW
International ARDF Competitions 2017 Jack Bramham VK3WWW
Winter 2017 VHF-UHF Field Day results – bingo! Roger Harrison VK2ZRH
IARU Liaison Report #5 Jim Linton VK3PC
WIA QSL Bureau John Seamons VK3JLS

TECHNICAL

A 35 to 4400 MHz Signal Generator Jim Henderson VK1AT
Use for a Bread Bag Clip Peter Parker VK3YE

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

International ARDF Competitions 2017

Jack Bramham VK3WWW

Jack VK3WWW gives an account of international ARDF competitions where Australian amateurs participated, including the IARU Region 3 Championships in Mongolia.

Amateur Radio from a retirement estate

Paul Roehrs VK5NE

The author describes how he dealt with the move into a retirement village. He considered his hobby for the initial steps of exploring the move and now has a functional station.

A 35 to 4400 MHz Signal Generator

Jim Henderson VK1AT

The author describes how he created a very useful VHF, UHF and microwave signal generator from low cost boards available over the internet..

Use for a Bread Bag Clip

Peter Parker VK3YE

The author presents a simple method of preventing a switch being activated whilst in transit, using a simple bread bag closure.

Advertisers Index

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Page Last Updated: Sunday 19 November 2017 at 14:34 hours