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2017 Magazines

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Amateur Radio September 2017

Delivery expected from 24 August


      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Editorial

Innovation and change

We continue to see advances in technology all around us, be it in matters affecting our hobby directly or in our broader lives and society. Unfortunately, some of the resulting changes may cause us grief…

For some amateurs, change never comes fast enough. I received an Over to You contribution only a few weeks after the WIA Annual General Meeting. The writer was expecting that significant changes in the direction being followed by the organisation would have already been implemented! He made personal attacks on at least one individual involved in the WIA organisation. As a result, his “contribution” was rejected. His expectations as articulated were unreasonable of themselves, but when combined with unwarranted personal attacks, he was clearly in breach of the draft WIA policy on the publication of contentious comment.

Speaking of the draft WIA policy on the publication of contentious comment, many may not be aware of its existence. The draft policy was developed by the outgoing Board earlier this year. Publications Committee had the opportunity to make comment on the draft. I understand that the new Board has approved the policy, subject to endorsement by Publications Committee (PubCom). We do not formally meet again until late September, when I would anticipate that the policy will be endorsed by the Committee. The policy should be added to the WIA website shortly after PubCom notifies the Board of our endorsement. The policy spells out what can and cannot be included in material submitted for publication in this magazine and largely codifies current editorial practice.

The new Board is releasing more information about how it intends to operate, together with outlines of some of the issues being considered. Clearly, finances are important and you will see reference to the costs of producing and distributing this magazine. The Board is also seeking feedback from you, so please spend the time to visit the WIA website and complete the survey. Having looked at both the short and long surveys; I would recommend completing the longer survey instrument, as it may tease out some more information which the Board may find useful.

In the past few weeks, something in the local environment at home has changed which has resulted in a steady strength 5 or higher noise level on the 40 m band. I have not yet thoroughly investigated, but nothing has changed that is under my control. I anticipate that it is something radiating noise in the local neighbourhood. I guess that it is time to organise a small directional loop antenna and to searching for the noise source!

Combine the new higher noise level with the mediocre propagation, and you can imagine that it has made chasing SOTA and Parks stations much more difficult! Fortunately, the weather is slowing improving and the days are lengthening. I guess that there is a message in all of this – time to consider getting out into the great outdoors more often!

On a positive note, we are seeing a rapid uptake of the new FT8 digital mode (Franke-Taylor, 8-FSK modulation) recently released. The mode uses only 15 second periods but requires reasonable time synchronisation of the PC clock for reliable operation. I have listened briefly on air to some of the frequencies nominated and have found many are well off the correct time synchronisation and those stations therefore do not decode correctly. Others are reporting many stations using the narrow nominated channels, making it difficult to make a contact. The FT8 made can be found in a beta release of WSJT-X, version 1.8.0-rc1. By time you read this Editorial, the mode may well have moved into a full release version of the WSJT-X software.

Once we have this edition of the magazine completed, I must improve the digital interface arrangements at home and explore the mode. I may even consider trying it out in the field at some stage in the near future.


Until next month,

Cheers,

Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover:

The Plastic Fantastic – a magnetic loop antenna for 40 m that you can build at low cost, using metallised plastic tubing designed for flammable gas delivery. See the story commencing on page 14. Photo by Jim Tregellas VK5JST.

WIA President's Comment

Moving forward

It has been a full couple of months with many changes starting to happen across the WIA. By the time this comment goes to print, the various submissions to the ACMA on Spectrum Reform would have been finalised and submitted and we will be keeping members informed of progress and discussions with the ACMA.

Engagement with members and the broader amateur community on what you would like to see from your National representative body has commenced and in the words of Director David Ford VK4MZ we are embarking on a major strategic analysis and planning exercise. This includes the first stage of discovery, understanding and keeping the business running. The next stage is building capability and readying the organisation for change – more on this little later. The third stage is developing a roadmap for success and sharing that vision and strategy and the last stage is implementation and achievement of goals set.

In the discovery phase we are listening and gathering as many ideas, opportunities and opinions as we can from members, amateurs, industry, government/regulator, educational institutions and the general public to capture as much information as we can to inform the strategic analysis and planning exercise. Associated with this stage is ensuring that the organisation continues to deliver the services that existing members expect to the level they expect it. This is a definite balancing act between operating in an increasingly financially tight environment and rising member expectation levels in an organisation predominately run by volunteers.

Then stage two – building capability – part of this exercise is bringing new volunteers into the organisation and empowering existing volunteers through the operational committees to take responsibility and control of their specialist areas. Through this process committees contribute and gain an understanding and capability of how to improve the broad range of WIA services for members.

There has been some confusion about the difference between operational committees and Board advisory committees. A Board advisory committee is an extension of the Board and has delegated authority from the Board and these advisory committees are led by a Board member and include at least two Board members. These advisory committees are only about the effective running of the Board and to assist the Board to meet its fiduciary obligations. There are currently two advisory committees – Strategy Advisory Committee and the Audit and Risk Advisory Committee. We are currently calling for volunteer non-Board members of these two advisory committees. Volunteers on the Board advisory committees must be truly independent and cannot have other volunteer roles within the WIA to avoid any perception, real or perceived, of conflict of interest.

In relation to Operational committees, the Board has clearly articulated that it is and will be extracting itself from these committees to allow them to better function. The Strategy Advisory Committee deliberations will include the strategic analysis, testing, alignment, definition and strengthening of the operational committee structure. As this structure becomes clear many vacancies will be advertised and filled and this is even more opportunity for members to become involved in the running of their National organisation and build its capability. Without volunteers, we cannot move forward. Keep an eye and ear on the website, WIA facebook page, volunteer.com.au and broadcast for these volunteer advertisements.

The other part of stage two is readying the organisation for change and as you may have heard on the broadcast, the Board has analysed the financial position and has expressed some concern about the long-term financial trajectory of the WIA. At this point in time the revenue from memberships, publications and other sources does not equal or exceed expenses. This doesn’t mean we are insolvent, far from it. However, if we do not remedy the situation then we may be in a more serious situation in about five years’ time.

The Board is looking at a range of options of cost saving including our major expense which is this magazine. Don’t worry, the Board is not going to make any sudden decisions as we have heard the feedback from members loud and clear about the magazine.

However, we as organisation need to seriously consider some changes and members will be asked through the Strategy Advisory Committee surveys for input into what their preferred options would be. The first of these surveys will explore the products and services mix that members and amateurs would like to see from the WIA.

Of course the other major improvement would be a 10-15% (~500) increase in membership taking us from 4200 to 4700 members or 28% to 31% of the amateur population in Australia. So, I encourage all WIA members to reach out to another non-WIA amateur, invite and convince them to become a member of the organisation that advocates, represents, educates, trains, assesses and supports amateur radio in Australia. We really need all amateurs to support the WIA at this time to enable us to provide and improve those services that amateurs and members are looking for.

You will hear more about the struggle that the Board is having with keeping the WIA viable throughout this strategic analysis exercise.

Stage three is where the Board brings together all the above and shares the vision and strategy or the roadmap for success. This is where all the discovery, survey analysis, exploration, scenario analysis, projections, feedback and discussions are brought together into a coherent and structured plan for the future. This roadmap, vision and strategy is then validated with the membership to confirm that it represents what members and amateurs have told us and want from their National body.

Stage four is the implementation stage where all the preceding preparation and planning has resulted in a strong and capable organisation that is eager to realise its potential and position itself for the future of amateur radio in Australia for the next 3-5 years. This process is an opportunity for all amateurs to be involved in shaping your hobby for the future and we encourage you to become involved in making this hobby a strong, healthy and attractive option for all age groups in to the future.

On another important matter I remind all amateurs about is the Australian Band Plan which is available on the WIA website at: http://www.wia.org.au/members/bandplans/data/. The Band Plans are constantly being updated to reflect changing needs and international alignments and it pays to refresh your knowledge as things may have changed. The Band Plan is an agreement that divides the RF spectrum into different bands or segments for different uses. It follows the same pattern as international and national band planning and aims to make the best use of the available spectrum and avoiding clashes by setting aside different band segments for each amateur radio activity and reduces interference to each other.

Finally a reminder that the WIA Facebook page is now live at: https://www.facebook.com/wiavk/ and this provides another important communications and media channel along with the WIA website, regular RF broadcasts and recruitment opportunities on https://www.volunteer.com.au/

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

Table Of Contents

GENERAL

Norfolk Island, South West Pacific: an autobiography John G Anderson VK9JA
IARU Liaison Report #4 Jim Linton VK3PC
Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet Brett Nicholas VK2BNN
GippsTech 2017 Review: art, science, technology and tomfoolery Roger Harrison VK2ZRH
GippsTech 2017: An organiser’s view Peter Freeman VK3PF

TECHNICAL

Tech Review: LD-5 HF Ham Radio QRP Transceiver James Hannibal KH2SR
The Plastic Fantastic: a Magnetic Loop costing around $54 for 40 metres Jim Tregellas VK5JST
Oh Danny boy, the pipes are calling Joseph Kasser VK5WU

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Norfolk Island, South West Pacific: an autobiography

John G Anderson VK9JA

The author presents an interesting short autobiography, recounting his years working and living on Norfolk Island.

Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet

Brett Nicholas VK2BNN

The author outlines the upcoming JOTA and JOTI event in October. The event gives us all an opportunity to give an introduction to our hobby to Scouts and Guides.

The Plastic Fantastic: a Magnetic Loop costing around $54 for 40 metres

Jim Tregellas VK5JST

The author describes a single turn magnetic loop antenna for the 40 MHz band, utilising plastic gas pipe. The description includes a cheap and novel variable capacitor using the main loop itself and some additional parts.

Oh Danny boy, the pipes are calling

Joseph Kasser VK5WU

The author outlines his introduction to digital modes and JT65 in particular, giving some useful guidance on using this popular mode.

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