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2011 Magazines

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Amateur Radio January 2011

Delivery expected from January 28


Happy New Year

Welcome to 2011 – we have finally ended the first decade of the century.

With the New Year comes the next round of field day/hamfest events. I try to attend such events when I have the time available, but travel adds significantly to that time. I do plan to attend the Centre Victoria RadioFest in Kyneton, even if it requires six or more hours of driving. I find the personal interaction with fellow amateurs makes the travel all worthwhile. And who knows, you may find a new or second-hand item that catches your eye. Or you may wish to attend one of the presentations on offer. The Central Coast ARC event at Wyong also offers such talks to pass information to newcomers or old hands on aspects of our hobby. Alas, I am unlikely to make it to Wyong, as for me the teaching semester starts at 0900 on the following morning, making it a little too tight time wise.

As I prepare this column, it is raining and another humid day. I expect the coming week will bring more of the same, as a system works its way down the east coast and interacts with troughs coming from the west. After a week of media attention on the floods in Queensland, especially around Rockhampton, the media are now giving saturation coverage (excuse the slight pun) of the events around Toowoomba, Ipswich and Brisbane. I am sure that all readers are thinking of those impacted and assisting in whatever way they can contribute. We certainly live in a continent which has weather extremes.

The downside of the warm, wet weather locally is to slow progress on the re-establishment of a radio shack at VK3PF. I have started to set up a room, with the radio gear on one side and the “study” on the other side. I have commenced the paperwork to gain the necessary permissions for erecting a tower and am considering my options of how to get the feedlines into the shack. The Nally tower support pole is at a local engineering workshop to be refurbished prior to replanting and I have purchased new winches for the tower.

All of this means that I am unlikely to be participating in the Ross Hull Contest, other than perhaps using contacts from the Summer Field Day contest. I will need to decide the manner of my participation in the Field Day – probably on a hilltop somewhere, perhaps for only a few hours? But first I will need to check the microwave transverters and find all the portable equipment.

A new production system for AR

On behalf of the Publications Committee, I welcome Sergio Fontana VK3SFG to Amateur Radio. Sergio has a long background in graphics design and has an excellent skill set that will be put to work in the layout of each issue of this magazine.

Sergio has been busy over the last few weeks, becoming familiar with our requirements, establishing contact with the printer and mail house and starting to layout some of the articles for this issue.

Hopefully all will go as planned, and all involved will move to our new arrangements. Regular contributors will already be aware of the new schedule of deadlines. I do hope that everyone was paying attention during last year and remembers the new submission arrangements for all content, be it a regular column, an article or just an item for Hamads. If not, you can always check the lefthand column on page 1 of each issue.

This issue is a combined January and February issue, with 64 pages of information for you to read. Next month, we will be back to the standard 56 pages.

Until then.


Peter VK3PF

Our cover

The VK3TXO fox hunt team, who won the Melbourne December fox hunt event, which was covered by the Norwegian production team from “The Golden Goal” television show. Read all about it on page 24.

Photo by Robert Broomhead VK3DN.

WIA President's Comment

Many Places, Many People, Common Themes

November and December 2010 were very special months.

I visited Darwin, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Rockhampton and Perth.

In Adelaide, Rockhampton and Perth, I attended meetings of clubs. In Darwin (apart from working with Darwin Club President Spud Murphy to organise the next Annual Conference, as we are now calling the Annual General Meeting weekend), I really had the same sort of discussion as I had with the clubs.

Basically, the theme at each of these meetings was the same:
• what the WIA was doing,
• the Centenary year and VK100WIA,
• the next Annual Conference,
• the financial pressure on the WIA without even a CPI increase since the subscription rates were set in 2004,
• the WIA’s representation and advocacy role, including preparation for WRC-12 with Dale Hughes first in Geneva and then in Hong Kong,
• the WIA’s representations to ACMA in respect of amateur transmitter power limits and the 50 – 52 MHz band, the changes to the LCD,
• the National Field Day and what could we learn from the first Field Day,
• this magazine Amateur Radio, and
• my inevitable plea for new members.

In addition, I was able to meet with many members of the various advisory committees, and hear their views and discuss their roles, particularly important as we try to put a new emphasis on their role by Mal Brooks, the WIA Manager, becoming their point of communication.

No, I do not want to turn this into some sort of minute of all of those meetings. What I want to do is to synthesise my overall impression of what came from those meetings.

One thing that struck was the very real support of the WIA by some clubs – the Rockhampton and District Amateur Radio Club asked me to present on their behalf a special medal that they had struck for members of the club who had been WIA members for 25 years. I was presented a very handsome medal that had been produced by the Ipswich and District Amateur Radio Club, marking the WIA’s Centenary year.

In Perth I presented the Jim Rumble Award for outstanding contribution to amateur radio in Western Australia by Heath Walder and Monique Faulkner – an award that had since 1977 been presented by the old WIA Western Australia Division, became a responsibility of the restructured national WIA and was revived by Christine Bastin and WIA Director Bob Bristow.

Wherever I went there was a general acceptance of the WIA’s advocacy role, particularly at the ITU/APT/IARU level. The WIA’s role was seen as important, and (as long as I didn’t try to go into too much detail) an important reason for membership.

Another matter discussed at all these meetings was the National Field Day. Some common views emerged. Let’s have it earlier, let’s use things like IRLP so we can get reliable communications, and let’s be better at communicating our message to people who know nothing about amateur radio.

One thing that really encouraged me was this: the support for the next AGM in Darwin on 27, 28 and 29 May 2011. That support by the Darwin club was probably the real reason why the Board chose Darwin. But the support for going to Darwin by many people across the country was really encouraging. (I just hope that is translated into early registrations, as we will not be able to hold bookings as easily as we have in the past.

A gratifying issue was this magazine. It was seen as very valuable, and a number of clubs thought that they should contribute more about their own activities.

But of course, this is a case of success producing its own problems. Yes, everyone wanted the technical articles (though different people wanted the articles at different levels), everyone wanted up to date news and information, as well as their own club news. Why not just add more pages? Oh, cost. Obviously we need to cut down, but not any of the things we value.

What the WIA should spend its money on emerged in a number of different ways. More repeaters was one suggestion. Subsidising very small, otherwise non viable clubs was another.

Once people accepted (if they did) that the WIA did not have unlimited funds, deciding what to save money on was a bit hard.

Another message that was delivered in a number of contexts was that people will accept delays and understand that much of what we all do is done on a voluntary basis, and we just cannot be too demanding. But people will not accept just hearing nothing. They want to know what is happening.

If they have sent an email or letter to the office or to an individual, they want a response.

If they have sent an item for the magazine, perhaps about a club activity, they don’t want it just not published, they want it acknowledged, and better, why it wasn’t published.

If a club has lodged an application for a repeater or beacon licence, or the variation of such a licence, they don’t want it all to just disappear; they want to know what is happening.

That message was very clear.

And so we have been talking about systems in the office to ensure adequate follow up.

Against this, many people went out of their way to acknowledge the people they saw as making a special contribution to the WIA. That included the WIA office staff, always friendly, and things happened, the contribution of Peter Wolfenden, and his historical articles, Peter Freeman as Editor. Another matter regularly the subject of favourable comment was the Media Kit.

I hope that in writing this Comment I have been able to convey to the many people who contributed to these meetings how valuable it all was, and how much I really appreciated their valuable input.

For me, to participate in all those meetings in all those places was a great privilege.

Table Of Contents


Zone 29 Award Keith Bainbridge VK6RK
Cheap as chips Nigel Andrews VK4FNA
JOTA weekend October 2010 Eddie Tomes VK4TJE
Contesting for beginners Alan Shannon VK4SN
The 160 metre Coffee Break Net John Fisher VK3DQ/VK3ARK
Golden Goal fox hunt Jack Bramham VK3WWW
Spinifex and dust storms Barry Miller VK3BJM
WIA National Field Day 2010 Results Philip Adams VK3JNI
A safer antenna mast from an old war machine design Ian Simpson VK3GPL
Amateur LCD amended WIA
Amateur Radio Annual Index 2010 Don Jackson VK3DBB


A polarity protection circuit using a power FET Dale Hughes VK1DSH
An introduction to antenna modelling Ron Sanders VK2WB
Unwanted mast/antenna interaction, and the potential effects on performance Felix Scerri VK4FUQ
A combined capacitance meter and spot frequency generator Paul Anderson VK2GPT
A non-kinky slinky antenna – with a 1:1 balun Raffy Shammay VK2RF and Allan Hirschel VK2VEC

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Golden Goal fox hunt

Jack Bramham VK3WWW

Our cover story for this month describes the events that resulted in a production team from Norway came to Australia to participate in a fox hunt, recording the event for future showing on the locally popular Norwegian television show “The Golden Goal”.

Spinifex and dust storms

Barry Miller VK3BJM
This is an article about a DXpedition with somewhat of a difference.

It was domestic, based across the 144, 432 and 1296 MHz amateur bands, with one of the major goals being to discover whether aircraft enhanced propagation (AEP) contacts could be made with amateurs back in Melbourne.

Of course, DX contacts with anyone, anywhere, were also warmly welcomed – indeed much hoped for.

Although distances worked, or hoped to be worked are, ostensibly, short compared to the goals of a typical HF Dxpedition, the planning, equipment, dedication and execution, indeed the ‘perspiration’ required to achieve one’s major goals at these frequencies lose nothing in comparison with any other Dxpedition, other than being, sometimes, less rewarding in terms of QSO numbers, simply through the lack of opportunities often available.

An interesting story told, and of interest to all amateurs who enjoy reading of an amateur radio adventure.

A polarity protection circuit using a power FET

Dale Hughes VK1DSH

Some time ago the author injected a dose of reverse polarity power to one of his projects, much to his surprise and distress.

This article describes a small project he then proceeded to develop to prevent such an event in the future – it is a short and simple project for all but the very inexperienced amateurs to build, and is recommended for most, and certainly new, amateur shacks.

An introduction to antenna modelling

Ron Sanders VK2WB

As has been mentioned in many amateur radio journals recently, antenna design and construction constitute one of the last areas within the hobby where almost everyone can participate, to a greater or lesser degree.

With the introduction and gradual finessing of software to optimise performance, these homebrew efforts often produce outstanding results.

This article is an introduction to one such piece of software, that the author trusts will lead to a better understanding of antenna theory and practical performance, and thus will be a real assistance to the beginner operator’s antenna inventory.

Advertisers Index

 63 ATN
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 63 Av-com
 26 Central Coast ARC
 19 Com-an-tena
 63 Cookson (Jackson Bros)
 63 Hamak Electrical Industries
 OBC Icom
 17 Jaycar
 63 Silver Springs
 37 TET-Emtron
 63 Tower
 10, 63 TTS
 IFC Vertex Standard (Yaesu)
 25 WIA Callbook
 49 WIA Membership brochure


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