Delivery expected from September 27
Change of seasons underway
Down in Gippsland the weather of late has been extremely changeable, somewhat typical of the onset of spring. The longer days and slight increases in temperature induce faster growth of the grass, which in turn means that one must fire up the mower more often! But the back yard still feels like a wet sponge underfoot, due to the wet winter. It makes for challenging decision making regarding which task to tackle when with regard to home maintenance.
The change in season means that propagation conditions will change. On the VHF and UHF bands, I have already observed some of the locals enjoying enhanced tropospheric conditions under high pressure systems. The fans of the “magic band” are hoping for conditions to improve as the equinox approaches. Lots of amateurs have been chasing the DXpeditions on HF, with plenty of pile ups heard. But it is strange that when the DXpedition packs up and heads for home that suddenly the bands appear to be dead!
Operating by the seaside In this month’s issue, we have a report on this year’s YJ0VK DXpedition by an all-VK team. As can be seen in the cover photo, the team was set up close to the beach in what looks to be a very pleasant location.
We also feature several reports from teams that participated in the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW) in August. As one would expect, most of these operations were close to the water as well as close to the lighthouse. A key feature of the ILLW is the fellowship/camaraderie amongst the members of each team and between the various teams at different lighthouses around the globe. Readers may be interest to note that Australia was the most active country for the ILLW – more ILLW stations were registered in VK than any other country, I am informed: there were 72 lighthouses registered in VK, followed closely by 71 in the US. Participation in the ILLW is steadily increasing, so perhaps you need to start thinking now about your possible involvement in 2013 and start planning by booking a lighthouse early.
The team producing the 2013 edition of the Callbook are beavering away as this issue of AR is being prepared. The plan is to have the Callbook available for sale by late October. Purchasing details should soon be available on the WIA website. It is also likely that it will be available for sale at some of the main hamfests scheduled before Christmas.
Callbook Editor Greg VK3VT is busy finalising all the content and the plan is to include all issues of AR from 2011 on the Callbook CD. The CD is also likely to include the 2013 issue of the NZART Callbook, which usually contains a wealth of additional information.
The data on the number of callsigns issued shows that the amateur population has undergone a small decrease since last year (15153 licences in September 2013 compared to 15270 the previous year).
The number of repeater and beacon licences has increased slightly (474 in 2012 compared to 467 in 2011). Most call areas had a small decrease in the number of callsigns, except for VK1, where the numbers grew slightly.
These numbers are interesting when you consider the President’s Comment in last month’s AR. Perhaps we all need to consider how to attract newcomers to our hobby? Our local club is currently finalising arrangements for a Foundation training and assessment weekend in the near future. Hopefully the course will see a small increase in local amateurs and perhaps also a few successful upgrade candidates.
This month’s cover:
The sun sets on another successful YJ0VK DXpedition. Photo by Brenton Vowles VK3CBV.
WIA President's Comment
The Foundation licence – Time for a Review?
The first Foundation certificates of proficiency were issued in October 2005, after the Determination of the ACA creating the Foundation licence came into effect.
In May 2004 the ACA had published the “Outcomes of the Review of Amateur Service Regulation.” The Outcomes paper referred the Discussion paper that the ACA had published in August 2003 that had led to an extensive consultation process. The Discussion paper had raised the possibility of introducing a new entry-level licensing option in Australia, similar to the Foundation licence in the United Kingdom. The authors of the Outcomes paper concluded that “on balance and after careful consideration of submissions, the ACA has decided to introduce a foundation-style amateur licence, to form part of a three-tier licensing structure.”
From time to time different people have suggested changes to the Foundation licensee’s privileges and recently the WIA Directors have been discussing the issue.
The Directors would like to know the opinion of amateurs generally on the Foundation licence, and whether there should be any changes. We are inviting submissions from amateurs, groups of amateurs and clubs to assist us.
Should the WIA seek any changes to the Foundation licence?
I would like to identify some of the issues that have been raised and also identify some of the arguments advanced for change and some of the arguments against change.
Probably the most regularly raised question is why cannot the Foundation licensee be permitted to use digital modes? The main argument against the digital mode is that it becomes another subject to be included in the syllabus, thus making the Foundation qualification more difficult and is a move away the simple entry level qualification that can be achieved over a weekend. It is said that the previous Novice qualification had ended up being perceived as being quite difficult, simply because over the years more and more privileges had been given to the Novice, requiring more and more matters to be added to the syllabus.
On the other hand, it is said that the absence of digital mode is quite out of keeping with today’s world, that its absence labels the Foundation licence as being old fashioned. In short, it is argued that digital modes would add to the attraction of the Foundation licence.
In September 2007, as the Amateur LCD was being amended to give effect to the “Outcomes”, the WIA submitted that Foundation licensees should be permitted to use digital modes, saying:
The WIA does not wish to change the essential character of the Foundation licence as an entry level licence. In particular, we recognise the risk of adding privileges from time to time, thereby increasing the knowledge required, and therefore gradually changing the qualification from an entry level as described above to a higher level licence. We also think it is important to ensure that there are sufficient privileges associated with the higher level licences to provide a meaningful incentive to upgrade.
We see no reason why a Foundation licensee should be restricted from using the particular mode when in reality there is no difference in operating the currently available equipment in a digital mode from equipment using analogue modes.
The ACMA rejected the proposal.
The ACMA said that the entry-level licence is meant to be easy to obtain, the amendment proposed to permit digital voice mode “would require expansion of the current syllabus and add a level of complexity to the qualification.”
The ACMA also contended that adding digital voice modes would erode the difference between the Foundation and the other higher levels of licence, and that the digital voice mode would require the transmission of digital data, incompatible with the Foundation licence.
Those in favour of this change argue that the extent of the expansion of the syllabus is greatly exaggerated. They point to the Foundation syllabus and how much of that is devoted to the two modes, AM and FM, and say that the additional training would be minimal.
On the other hand, it is not clear what different people mean by digital mode in this context.
Another issue raised by a number of people is the 10 watt PEP all modes power limit. It is argued that the power limit really restricts the Foundation licensee, particularly when competing against stations using much higher power.
The power level for the Foundation licence was an issue during the consultation process leading to the Outcomes. The Outcomes paper said this on the question of power:
In deciding to permit a maximum transmitter power of 10 watts PEP, the ACA has followed the UK model for its foundation licence. Although the majority of submissions suggested that a maximum transmitter power of 100 watts PEP should be permitted, it was considered that the need to limit the occurrence of interference and exposure to EMR, in circumstances where licensees are required to possess little technical knowledge, far outweighed the claimed operational advantages provided by allowing the use of 100 watts PEP. The claim that 100 watts PEP should be permitted on the basis that commercially manufactured 10 watts PEP equipment is not available was not accepted. At least three models are available that are known to meet this specification.
Against this view is put the view that the power of 10 watts PEP is a disincentive and more would seek the Foundation qualification if the power was higher, that even the grey nomads with their land mobiles use 100 watts PEP, and a power of 25, 50 or even 100 watts would be more appropriate for the Foundation licensee.
Another issue that has been raised is the structure of the Foundation callsign, that is, a four letter callsign. It has been said that overseas amateurs are confused. In the UK the Foundation callsign is identified by a different prefix. It is not known whether the international prefixes allocated to Australia, namely AXA-AXZ, VHA-VNZ and VZA-VZZ, have all been used, but is it thought desirable to explore the option of a different prefix? Or, is the VK so recognized as Australia that the present system is preferred?
Is there any other matter that should be reviewed?
Please do bear in mind what the Foundation licence is meant to be, an entry level licence achievable over a weekend, to give those who are interested a taste of amateur radio, and hopefully, to provide incentives to upgrade.
May we have your opinion, with your reasons for your conclusion? Even if you think that there should be no change, it is important that you communicate that view to us.
You can send your submission by mail to the WIA at PO Box 2042, Bayswater, Victoria, 3153, by fax to (03) 9729 7325 or by email to email@example.com
Table Of Contents
Vanuatu 2012 – YJ0VK – DXpedition in a box Chris Chapman VK3QB
Activation of Port Adelaide Lighthouse Museum (AU0107) - ILLW 2012 Keith Gooley VK5OQ
East Gippsland Radio Group VK3EG participates in the ILLW 2012 at Point Hicks AU0027 Rob Ashlin VK3EK
ILLW 2012, Cape Willoughby, Kangaroo Island – AU0095 Paul Simmonds VK5PAS
JOTA-JOTI 2012 Bob Bristow VK6POP
International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend in VK7 2012 Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW
Amateurs supporting the community Steven Heimann VK2BOS
ILLW 2012 – Cape Schanck Glenn Alford VK3CAM
Portable beams for VHF and UHF Fred Baker VK2FWB
80 m or 40 m to 10 m - just one loop fits all! Ray J. Howes G4OWY
Usability and complexity Peter Parker VK3YE
Power supply requirements – surplus equipment Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW
Plus all the usual Club news and columns
Vanuatu 2012 – YJ0VK – DXpedition in a box
Chris Chapman VK3QB
This is the ‘inside’ story of the latest of the ‘YJ0VK’ Vanuatu DXpeditions, in early 2012, told wonderfully well from the perspective of the planning side of the adventure, rather than just detailing what happened when they got there.
This is the story of what they did in the planning stage and the reasons why they did it – for all DXers, this will make a very fine, and most thought provoking read.
We present several reports from around the country of clubs enjoying the challenges and camaraderie of the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW).
If the reports stimulate thoughts of participating in the 2013 event, you had best start planning now, as many have already registered!
Portable beams for VHF and UHF
Fred Baker VK2FWB
The author shows us how to plan and construct two portable beams, one each for two metres and 70 cm, that can be easily stored while travelling yet are easy to erect when required, are robust enough to survive many such applications in a variety of situations, and that give acceptable results.
80 m or 40 m to 10 m - just one loop fits all!
Ray J. Howes G4OWY
Here is a design for a multi band loop that will operate very acceptably on a number of bands (subject only to the options that you choose for it) that may be a useful addition to any amateur’s station but particularly if they are space or finance challenged.
The loop is simple in design, is straightforward to build and the cost is modest, it is multi band but does not require the use of an external tuner, all of which indicate that it may be a very useful addition to the active amateur’s antenna farm.
An interesting read.
63 Cookson (Jackson Bros)
63 Hamak Electrical Industries
13, 63 TTS
Page Last Updated: Sunday 21 October 2012 at 17:0 hours