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2012 Magazines

Other years

Delivery expected from June 28


WIA Annual Conference – an enjoyable trip

The WIA Annual Conference was a success. The team from the Sunraysia Radio Group did a terrific job for all who attended, regardless of which activities one participated. The technical program on Saturday afternoon was an interesting mix of topics, with two presenters making their contribution from afar through the use of technology. From all accounts, the Partners’ Tour was also a resounding success.

The social activities were well attended and enjoyed by all. Good food, great company and some liquid refreshment was accompanied by much discussion about all sorts of topics, not just radio. The Friday and Saturday dinners had excellent local speakers who entertained all present.

Despite the early hour and the brisk morning, there was a good turnout of people at the Old Aerodrome Sporting Complex to watch the launch of the two Horus balloons. Several people had a variety of equipment set up, either to monitor the progress of the balloons or to simply “play radio”. Once the first balloon (Horus 26) was launched, many amateurs used their hand held radios to make contact through the balloon-borne cross-band repeater, even if it was only with the control station.

As I had been discussing my portable antenna with several people on Saturday, I quickly erected the system – a multiband switchable inverted V dipole supported by a squid pole, fed with RG-58 to a FT-817 powered by a Lithium Polymer battery. The system is relatively lightweight and was used during the trip to activate several National Parks and SOTA summits.

Those that had arrived at the launch site just before the release of Horus 26 were able to watch the preparations of the balloon and payloads for the second launch – Horus 27 with an imaging payload. We watched the balloon disappear from sight and wished the chase teams good fortune prior to making our way back to our hotels or other activities before heading to the jetty to board the Paddleboat Mundoo for the cruise on the Murray River.

With a good crowd on the Mundoo, the atmosphere was a very social one. I was able to occasionally check the progress of the Horus flights and the chasers by looking over the shoulder of one of several people on board who were monitoring via tablet devices.

At the rear of the vessel, a squid pole vertical antenna was lashed to the guard rail, with an antenna tuner at the base. The coax led into the rear cabin, where a station was set up and operated using the special event callsign VK102WIA. The operators were kept busy with a steady stream of callers, including a couple of operators on board the Mundoo who did not let the lack of an antenna stop them from making contacts – the FT-817 was simply held progressively closer to the VK102WIA antenna until sufficient signal was coupled to the antenna from the rear connector of the FT-817!

The cruise included some commentary on the sites of interest as we progressed upstream. The call for lunch was announced; again the meal was enjoyed by all. Once again, discussion continued amongst friends old and new and perhaps too early for some we arrived back in Mildura to disembark.

The formal events for most concluded with an even more social barbeque at Fergus Park, the home of Noel VK3FI.

I met with the Board on Monday morning to discuss aspects of the work of the Publication Committee prior to departing on my trip toward home.

During my travels to Mildura, I had activated four National Parks and one Summit on the Air (SOTA) summit using the FT-817 and inverted V antenna. The plans for the trip home had a similar theme. More National Parks to add to my tally of Parks activated towards the Keith Roget Memorial National Parks Award, plus some SOTA summits. The plan was a little loose – basically head towards the south with a meandering route to allow entry into most of the National Parks in the west of Victoria. Then to head back toward Melbourne along the coast.

The end result of the overall trip was that I activated 16 National Parks and five SOTA summits over an eight day period, with three days spent at the Annual Conference in Mildura during those eight days. I thoroughly enjoyed the break from the usual routine.

DX News columnist to retire

I have been advised that John Bazley VK4OQ will be retiring from his role as the compiler of the DX News column in the near future – his last column will appear in the August issue of AR. John has undertaken this role for the past eight years. The Publication Committee thanks John for his outstanding contribution over this period. We are currently exploring options to ensure that the column will continue.


Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover
Horus 8 launch with Terry VK5VZI, Chris VK5CP, Joel Stanley and Alan Kovacs at the QTH of Graham VK5GH. See the story of Project Horus commencing on page 22. Photo by Scott Testi VK5TST.

WIA President's Comment

A Code of Conduct

At its meeting in February 2012 the WIA Board prepared a first draft of a Code of Conduct, a code of on-air conduct, which was released on the WIA website and in the April 2012 issue of Amateur Radio, inviting comments, with a view to further discussion at the Open Forum at the WIA Annual Conference 2012 at Mildura.

We received a number of thoughtful responses, but all, interestingly, supporting the concept of a Code.

One of the suggestions received was perhaps that we should be clearer about why we have a Code, perhaps a reminder of the unique privileges of the amateur service and even a reminder of the spirit of amateur radio.

I must say that I was initially a bit reluctant about that. Perhaps it was a feeling that in today’s world we are doers, and many people could think that in today’s world what we regard as a right was in yesterday’s world regarded as a privilege. Perhaps it was all a bit too old fashioned for an organisation desperate to attract a younger generation.

Then, in an entirely different context, I received an email from a Foundation licensee, who told me that he is an undergraduate student, but thinks that amateur radio is being killed by having the level of knowledge for both Standard and Advanced certificates of proficiency too high.

That brought me full circle, back to the issue of privileges that the comment about the code had raised.

I drew my correspondent’s attention to the fact that the Australian syllabus for Standard and Advanced certificates was not higher than the rest of the world. For example, the Australian Advanced level conforms to the CEPT (The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) HAREC (Harmonised Amateur Radio Examination Certificate) syllabus, which enables Australian Advanced amateurs to operate without doing more while visiting some 32 other countries.

Why is the level of knowledge required for an amateur certificate what it is?

The amateur service has access to a family of frequencies across the spectrum. The Standard and Advanced radio amateur can modify a transmitter built for other purposes to be used on an amateur frequency. Indeed, not only does the radio amateur not have to use type approved equipment, he or she can make his or her own transmitter. And it does not have to be checked by the regulator before it is used. In addition, there are not many other spectrum users who can be frequency agile.

In short, since radio all began, the extent of regulatory control of the radio amateur has been minimal.

Pretty obviously, the radio amateur has to know enough not to cause interference to other users of the spectrum, whether it be the reception of entertainment or a safety service.

So, the more I have thought of it, the more a Code of Conduct is really appropriate, and so, the decision of the Board to adopt a code at its meeting following the Annual Conference was right.

One of the really useful contributions to the discussion came from a very respected amateur who pointed to the much more detailed IARU Region 1 publication “Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur” written by John Devoldere ON4UN and Mark Demeuleneere ON4WW.

That is readily available on the IARU Region 1 website, as well as the IARU and IARU Region 3 websites.

While it contains much useful material, I think it may be a bit too detailed and a little too European to be really accepted as the ultimate guide in Australia.

But I do accept that the Code is necessarily brief and for certain uses parts could be enhanced by either further explanation or examples to clarify the meaning. I accept that the Code is only a starting point for the new or aspiring radio amateur.

But as it is, it is a reminder to all of us that how we operate our station is seen in a very public arena and that if one of us ignores proper operating techniques, uses inappropriate language, transmits matter that should not be transmitted on amateur bands, defames individuals or otherwise abuses our privileges, we all suffer.

Remember the value of the radio spectrum. It may be a reusable resource, but it is a very finite resource. Many compete to use it.

How we use the spectrum allocated to the amateur service may be watched by those who covet the spectrum we occupy.

I do not believe that I live in some long departed time rather I live in today’s seriously competitive world when I say “Let the Code guide us all.”

Code of Conduct

Recalling amateur radio’s proud history as a self-regulating user of a unique family of frequencies;
Recognising the value of maintaining the “Spirit of Amateur Radio” so valued by generations past, and
Acknowledging the importance of a continuing justification for access to spectrum and the special privileges enjoyed by radio amateurs:
The Wireless Institute of Australia adopts the following Operating Principles to guide all Australian radio amateurs.
Australian radio amateurs will:
• act with integrity;
• ensure that our station is safe for ourselves and for visitors;
• show respect and courtesy to our fellow amateurs and all who use the spectrum;
• comply with our licence conditions and all laws and regulations that govern the installation and operation of our station;
• strive to promptly resolve any problems arising from the operation of our station;
• be mindful that we should not transmit anything that may cause offence to others;
• strive to improve our technical and operating skills;
• use our skills to assist our community in emergencies;
• promote the benefits of amateur radio to our community, and
• encourage others to participate in amateur radio.

Table Of Contents


WICEN (Vic) Communications at the Arthurs Seat Challenge Paul Whitaker VK3DPW
Report on the WIA Annual Conference Mildura Onno Benschop VK6FLAB
The SCRC (VK3KID) play the VK/trans-Tasman 80 metre phone contest Michael Romanov VK3CMV
VK4ILH Cape Moreton Lighthouse AU0009, Moreton Island IOTA OC-137, ILLW 2012 Derek Toreaux VK4MIA
A squid pole antenna mast Richard Cortis VK2XRC


Introducing Project Horus: High altitude ballooning in South Australia Grant Willis VK5GR, Matthew Cook VK5ZM, Mark Jessop VK5QI and Alan Kovacs
Magnetic loop for HF pedestrian mobile Peter Parker VK3YE
Review: The Icom ID-31A 70 cm handheld transceiver Peter Freeman VK3PF, Michael Carey VK5ZEA
A transceiver control and audio interface using USB components Dale Hughes VK1DSH

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Report on the WIA Annual Conference Mildura

Onno Benschop VK6FLAB

Regular listeners to the weekly WIA News broadcast will be familiar with the “What use is an F-call” segment written and presented by Onno VK6FLAB.

Onno presents a summary of the various activities that occurred during the Annual Conference held in late May in Mildura for the perspective of a relatively new amateur attending his first Annual Conference.

The SCRC (VK3KID) play the VK/trans-Tasman 80 metre phone contest

Michael Romanov VK3CMV

This is a short article of the adventures of a club and their participation in one of the local radio contests at a regional park in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

And, as is usual in these contest based adventures, the fun and camaraderie experienced by all participants is evident in the writing.

Introducing Project Horus: High altitude ballooning in South Australia

Grant Willis VK5GR, Matthew Cook VK5ZM, Mark Jessop VK5QI and Alan Kovacs

This is a wonderful adventure article concerning high altitude ballooning in South Australia, the story of an idea bought to actuality through the endeavours of a small number of passionate amateurs who have themselves been assisted by many more people to produce the outcome so admirably described in the article.

This is highly recommended reading of a significant technical contribution by the Australian amateur movement.

Review: The Icom ID-31A 70 cm handheld transceiver

Peter Freeman VK3PF, Michael Carey VK5ZEA

This is a review of the latest Icom 70 cm D-STAR handheld transceiver, from the perspective of an experienced VHF/UHF enthusiast seeing the radio for the first time, and an amateur who actually owns one of the units and has become very proficient in driving the unit to maximise its many features.

For anyone who is contemplating a further move into the intricacies of D-STAR operation, this review will make a very interesting and informative read – for those about to make the D-STAR leap for the first time, the review gives a very useful indication of where the technology is going and what applications may be enjoyed in this very high-tech unit.

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Page Last Updated: Tuesday 26 June 2012 at 10:56 hours


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