January - February 2021
WIA Member Digital Edition Download
Happy New Year!
I say that with a dose of cautious optimism that I find difficult to conjure up, given the events of 2020.
In any event, I hardly need to remind any of you about the events of 2020 as the print, broadcast and online news media reminded us all hour-by-hour, day after day. Hands up those of you who are wracked by news-cycle fatigue? The COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedentedly relentless in reminding us of the fragility of life and the seriousness of such infectious diseases.
But COVID-19 has engendered some upsides, too. Many amateurs have used the community lockdowns to tackle long put-aside projects, or to spend more time on the air, among many possible activities during the times when public mobility was not an option.
While I was not personally impacted directly by COVID-19, I certainly feel for those that were. My day job moved from a city office to working-from-home last March. I took me back to the 1990s when I worked as a contract editor and freelance journalist and spent at least half the working days of each month working from a home office.
Over the last nine months of 2020, I swapped from working in a CBD office, commuting the 20 km from home to work and back again via public transport five days a week, to working from home and commuting from one end of the house to the other five days a week! LOL.
For the end of year break, I flew from Sydney to the Gold Coast to stay with my son and granddaughter, as has now become usual for me. I was able to cross the NSW-Queensland border without challenge.
Naturally, I took the opportunity for some ‘face time’ with old friends and colleagues from the amateur radio world, joining a gang of contesting enthusiasts for a rowdy lunch post-Christmas – no face masks, just a little social-distancing and logging-in when entering public premises. I have no quibble with such things.
I have to admit to some anxious moments, however, when it came time to return home to Sydney late in the first week of January. With only days to go, my return flight was cancelled as a result of changing pandemic conditions in both my home state of NSW, and southeast Queensland. Grump! Get on the website and book again. Hmm. Had to choose a later day. Fine. OK, then. But, that too was cancelled.
Suffice to say that, to secure a reliable flight home I had to change airlines and port of departure. Phew!
Booked the flight. From Brisbane, not the Gold Coast. But, waaiit a minute! The Greater Brisbane area was then sent into lockdown. Checked. Still OK to fly. Caught the flight. Phew (again)!
On the descent into Sydney, the flight captain announced that our flight would be met by NSW Police! And they did. Staff from NSW Health interrogated every passenger while the Police observed. I was told to “go straight home”. Do not take public transport. Take a taxi or an Uber. Remain isolated until the Brisbane lockdown was lifted. So, for the price of two years’ amateur licence renewals, I went straight home, to emerge from lockdown on the third day after. Just as AR’s deadlines loomed.
WIA President's Comment
Hppy New Year
Welcome to the first issue of AR magazine for 2021. I will start with wishing everyone a happy New Year for 2021 – and hopefully a better year than 2020.
So far, 2021 does seem to be shaping up with the potential for a much better year. Of course, given 2020, that’s hardly a stretch goal! However, drought and high temperatures are now impacting Western Australia and have resulted in ideal conditions for bushfires this season. To WA members, we hope you and your families keep safe.
Science rules!: Australia has fared well relative to other countries in the handling of the pandemic, even with the recent outbreaks causing havoc for many. Science in this time, rather than political ideology1, has been brought once again to the fore in both the guiding of suppression of the pandemic and with the amazing speed of development of effective vaccines. Applied science – electrotechnology – is so much a part of the Radio Amateur Service, that it is never top of mind. It is important to be aware that an Amateur licence is fundamentally an experimental licence – the reason we continue to have access to radio spectrum.
The list of contributions to science from innovations pioneered by Radio Amateurs is long. And, because science is exciting, we need to find more ways to share that excitement with the younger generation – of such things as communicating with satellites or the International Space Station. Or the application of Software Defined Radios (SDRs) and/or low-cost computer technology – such as the Raspberry Pi and Arduino – to various aspects of Amateur Radio.
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has done much in this endeavour of engaging with youth. IARU initiatives such as YOTA – Youth on the Air – are gaining traction now after a slow start two or three years ago. The YOTA goal is introducing a new generation to electrotechnology and Amateur Radio – and showing them that science can really be fun.
But for YOTA to work, we need to recruit and support what are best called “YOTA Evangelists” – younger amateurs that can interact and “spread the word” in the context of the language of the already technology-enabled younger generation. This is a “train the trainer” approach that works – some earlier YOTA approaches were not so successful – primarily due to the “generation gap”!
Unfortunately, IARU Region 3 (that includes Australia) had to cancel its international YOTA event last year due to COVID-19, but we are hopeful for this year. It is early days with YOTA, but it is a worthwhile initiative. So, if you or your local club is interested in becoming involved with YOTA, I encourage you to visit the IARU Youth in Amateur Radio website: www.iaru.org/on-the-air/youth-in-amateur-radio/
ACMA January 2021 update: The ACMA has just released an “E Bulletin” for January 2021 clarifying the processes the ACMA will follow in future for Amateur Radio in regard to callsigns. The WIA would like to thank the ACMA for considering favourably the proposal from the WIA to remove the Foundation callsign series and implement the “callsign for life”. The proposal was a direct result of surveying the Amateur radio cohort and an overwhelming number of existing amateurs endorsed the move; almost 60% of licensees polled were in favour of the changes.
We note with interest for DXers that the old format for our VK9s can be reintroduced, albeit on a voluntary basis. For many years, the various external territories used VK9 with a suffix suggesting the location. The series was abandoned after changes to the callsign structure as it was impossible to implement, the prefixes were: VK9C Cocos, VK9L Lord Howe, VK9N Norfolk, VK9W Willis, VK9X Christmas, VK9M Mellish.
The WIA recommends that future stations operating in these locations follow the old callsign suffix identifier system to help those seeking a contact to identify your location. For more details, see our news item on the WIA website, which includes a link to the ACMA E-Bulletin: www.wia.org.au/newsevents/news/2021/20210119-1/index.php
Extract from ACMA Amateur Radio update – January 2021 State/territory identifiers for call signs:
“As part of the July 2020 changes, we clarified operational policy so that amateurs can, if they wish, keep their call sign if they gain additional qualifications and/or move interstate.
Our policy is that, when an amateur obtains a call sign for the first time, it will indicate their state/territory of residence, as per the call sign template.
However, this practice, and state/territory identifiers in general, are not regulatory requirements2.
Our policy represents a long-standing practice, which is consistent with our ITU obligations, and allows amateurs wanting to participate in things like amateur radio hobby competitions (that require state/territory identifiers) to do so.
If amateurs want to enter competitions that require competitors to have call signs indicating their geographical location, they can obtain a new call sign (if required) that has their new state or territory of residence to comply with competition rules.”
In closing: The WIA today, almost 111 years since it was founded, exists entirely due to the continuing contribution of many volunteers over many generations – consider becoming one of these volunteers and contribute, even in a small way, to the future of the Amateur Radio Service.
We are currently seeking two or three volunteers for our marketing and media group. If you have skills and experience in this area (including social media), or are keen to expand your skills, please let us know. Send expressions of interest to the NationalOffice@wia.org.au
Greg VK2GPK, WIA President
Table Of Contents
Digital Amateur TV: Which. What. Why.
Dale Hughes VK1DSH
A Digital Amateur TV station usingDVB-S.
Dale Hughes VK1DSH
How I stubbed my allegorical toe on a digital amateur TV rig and finally found “my path” in amateur radio – you can, too
Roger Jordan VK5YYY
A vertical beam for 7 MHz in suburbia
Dr David ‘Doc’ Wescombe-Down VK5BUG
Visualising your electromagnetic radiation limits with Google Earth
Martin Luther VK7GN
How to mount a VHF-UHF Field Day multi-operator station and win your category without losing friends, breaking the bank, or going bonkers
Kevin Johnston VK4UH, Scott Watson VK4CZ and Colin Cortina VK4MIL
Page Last Updated: Saturday, 06 Feb 2021 at 11:16 hours by Webmaster