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2017 Magazines

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Amateur Radio April 2017

Magazine delivery due from 23 March 2017

      WIA Member Digital Edition Download


Almost too lateā€¦

This issue of the magazine is due for delivery in VK3 and via the Digital Edition on 23 March. It is almost too late for you to post your ballot papers, which need to be received at the National Office by 27 March.

If you have sent off your ballot papers, I suggest that you pay the small amount for an Express Post envelope, insert the completed papers in the appropriate completed envelopes inside the Express Post envelope and send it today. There is then a chance that your votes will be received in time, but only if you take this late action TODAY.

Proxy forms for AGM

There has been some confusion about the Proxy Form for the Annual General Meeting (AGM), mainly because one form was included with the March edition of this magazine, and an updated form was later posted on the WIA website.

If you are considering using a proxy to present your views at the AGM, it would be prudent to download the revised form from the WIA website and use that form. Note that the revised form is also included on the obverse of the mailing sheet for this issue.

An enjoyable weekend in the hills

In late February, I had the pleasure of joining eight other amateurs in a weekend based at a ski lodge at Mount Hotham – a reprise of a similar event a year earlier. You can find a brief account in this month’s SOTA and Parks column, which will also point you to some more detailed accounts in individual blogs.

The days were spent split up in different groups visiting mountains in the region. The evenings were enjoyable social occasions, with some time spent planning the activations for the following day and discussing various items of gear suitable for SOTA.

There was also discussion about another event next year, perhaps based at a different location in the north east of Victoria to entice the Activators to some new summits.


One might say “What propagation?” On the Mt Hotham weekend, we had very poor propagation on HF on Saturday. As a result, many of the summits were qualified using VHF between the various groups at different locations. Conditions were a little better on the Sunday, with several 40 m contacts made. By Monday afternoon, when I activated some summits during my return trip, HF conditions were reasonable. I even managed contacts to Germany and Croatia with my 5 W signal from the last summit.

The ARRL Letter for 9 March reported no sunspots on 4 March, and only a single spot on 5 March. As I am preparing this Editorial, I can only hear an occasional chaser making contact with an amateur out activating a Park. The Space Weather Systems HAP Chart shows much of Victoria covered in yellow, indicating an optimal frequency for contacts in the region was estimated to be 4 MHz or lower. There is no NVIS to allow contacts at around 190 km range. Contacts were possible into NSW. I have not really been looking at other bands over the past week, but suspect that propagation is likely to have been patchy. On the other hand, whenever a major DX Contest is happening (it seems like most weekends at present), it can be difficult to find a clear spot on any band which is delivering some propagation.

This leads to some clear options for those wanting to play portable radio when the weather is not too hot: try a lower band, or try some VHF/UHF bands. Good luck!

Until next month,


Peter VK3PF

This month’s cover

Our cover photo this month shows the impressive antenna installations at the contest station of Tim Duffy K3LR in Pennsylvania USA. Read a little about Tim’s station in this month’s Contest column on page 37. Photo by Tim Duffy K3LR.

WIA President's Comment

Preparing for Hahndorf

As this election period draws to a close we are all very keen to see the makeup of the next WIA Board, one that will guide the WIA into the future in interesting times. It’s certainly been a very difficult and personally draining year and I, for one, will be very glad to see the end of it. Hopefully the new Board will settle down quickly and can get on with what we all want them to do – provide effective and stable administration of the WIA, and light the way forward.

I would like to thank everyone who has nominated for WIA Director. There are some talented folks, and from what I can gather from their public information releases, there is a good variety of skills.

This week I have been working on the Directors’ report to be presented to the AGM in Hahndorf, SA. The Directors’ report shows the state of the Institute’s affairs at the end of our financial year, which is the 31st December each year. The report includes a tally of the number of licence assessments by licence grade. In 2016 there were 578 certificates of proficiency issued, about 40 less than the previous year. Of these 385 were Foundation grade (an increase of 17 on previous years), 101 were Standard (a decrease of 35), and 92 Advanced (a decrease of 22). The numbers show a small growth in new Foundation certificates, but a decrease in the numbers of new Standard and Advanced certificates. There are always relatively small changes in the numbers each year, so speculative conclusions about increases or decreases cannot sensibly be drawn, although I’m sure some will do so!

An important measure of the success of the Foundation level is the number of Foundation licensees that upgrade to Standard or Advanced levels. During the year, 90 people upgraded from Foundation to Standard, and 30 direct from Foundation to Advanced. The Foundation licence is certainly encouraging new people to enjoy the hobby of Amateur Radio, and it’s acting as a feeder into the higher licence grades.

Another interesting statistic this year comes from Marc Hillman VK3OHM. Marc has been tracking the numbers, and the transmission mode used, for contacts submitted for DX awards, and has produced a bar graph going way back to 1947. Marc’s work can be seen on the WIA website at:

The chart very clearly shows how Amateur Radio has dramatically changed over the last decade or so. Up to ten years ago, phone (SSB) dominated the bands, followed by CW, and a very small number of digital contacts (presumably RTTY), but in the last ten years, digital modes have really taken off. Now, phone and CW each represent only about 20%, with digital modes making up a whopping 60% of all contacts counting towards awards.

The other major activity at this time of year is preparing the WIA’s accounts for submission to the AGM. The WIA does not currently have a Treasurer (one not being required under the WIA’s constitution), and we are currently using the services of a commercial Book-keeping firm (2-Peas) to maintain the day-to-day accounting functions. A Melbourne-based accountancy firm has prepared the year-end accounts for the Auditor. It is the Board’s intention to release the audited financial report to members well in advance of the AGM, and to take questions relating to those accounts in advance of the meeting. Answers received from the accountants will be presented to the meeting in Hahndorf.

One thing I will impress upon the new Board is the value of using paid professionals to manage the WIA’s accounts. Largely due to the use of professionals this year, the WIA’s accounts will be in perfect condition to hand-over to the new Board. Contrary to what some believe, or perhaps have hoped, this has been a very smooth process and my strong suggestion to the new Board is going to be that it retain the services of paid book-keepers, rather than rely on volunteers. The WIA’s trading position will be disappointing this year, but not as bad as some have suggested.

So, that’s it from me in an election month. We will soon know who will be running the show for the next year. If you possibly can, you should make every effort to come to this year’s AGM in Hahndorf. The guys in Adelaide have put together a ripper of a weekend - it’s bound to be one of the best ever. See you there.

Phil Wait, VK2ASD

Ps. This issue contains a new proxy form for voting at the upcoming AGM. The form distributed with the election pack in the last issue contained an error. Although we expect all proxies to be accepted by the meeting Chair, we cannot make that watertight guarantee. If you have already submitted your proxy on the old forms, please re-submit using the new form with this magazine. The Board apologises for this mix-up, which we think has gone unnoticed for many years past.

Table Of Contents


Radio Theory Handbook – Beginner to Advanced: New theory textbook released Jim Linton VK3PC
TAC Notes John Martin VK3KM
An unusual antenna Steve Mahony VK5AIM


A super simple 40 metre receiver from available parts Peter Parker VK3YE
AIS Saves Lives! Julie Gonzales VK3FOWL and Joe Gonzales VK3YSP
‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ Part 2: an Arduino Slow Scan TV receiver Dale Hughes VK1DSH
Kite lifted antennas Tino Pavic VK3EGN
VK5RSE Mt Graham Beacons John Drew VK5DJ

Plus all the usual Club news and columns

Radio Theory Handbook – Beginner to Advanced: New theory textbook released

Jim Linton VK3PC

The author reviews a new textbook offering for those wishing to study for the Australian Amateur Radio licence at Standard or Advanced level.

An unusual antenna

Steve Mahony VK5AIM

The author spins a tale about the use of an unusual antenna. Fact or Fiction?

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ Part 2: an Arduino Slow Scan TV receiver

Dale Hughes VK1DSH

The author presents the second part of his article on sending and receiving SSTV signals using an Arduino – this time he describes the receiver.

AIS Saves Lives!

Julie VK3FOWL & Joe Gonzales VK3YSP

The authors outline the requirements to receive marine AIS signals and the role of the AIS system in the maritime services.

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