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2021 Magazines

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March - April 2021

March April - 2021


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Editorial

It’s elections for the WIA will be held this year, I am faintly reminded of a two-year course that I was compelled to attend during my time as a student at RMIT, back in the late 1960s – titled History of Ideas. I recall being introduced to the metaphysical rants of Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th century diplomat, philosopher and writer. We hapless students were also exposed to the theses of Buddha, Marx and John Maynard Keynes, amongst many others. In technical classes, we were exposed to the theorems and hypotheses of Kirchoff, Packard, and Doppler, et al. A well-rounded education.

Machiavelli has been much quoted, but I have found this to be presently apt: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things”.

At this stage, I have to announce that I will be stepping back from my role in editing this journal as I proceed with preparations to move to VK4. I have departed my previous day job and am embarking on a new direction with my family there and cannot for now spare the time. The Publications Committee is seeking someone to fulfil this role in the meantime.

This following item would generally be destined for the news pages, but, as you will see, I have a personal connection and thought it apposite to include it here.

Jaycar founder dies
Gary Johnston, the founder of iconic electronics retailer, Jaycar, died on 10th March after a short illness.

In 1981, Gary bought a small Sydney shop located in a courtyard off a laneway behind Dixon Street in Sydney’s Chinatown precinct. Clearly, a prominent and iconic location! Although named John Carr Pty Ltd, it was known around the trade as Jaycar and owned at the time by an accountant.

The business was advertised ‘for sale’ in a Sydney newspaper. At the time, Gary Johnston was employed at Dick Smith Electronics in a marketing role. Dick saw the advertisement, cut it out and put it on Gary’s desk (a challenge!). Gary enquired and subsequently bought the business as “a going concern”. Read “barely going”.
Gary rented a shop on nearby Sussex Street – a busy thoroughfare – and moved the Jaycar business there. He formalised ownership of the colloquial name, advertised widely and heavily in the Dick Smith tradition he knew so well. A few years into the growth ramp-up of Jaycar, he bought Edge Electrix, another electronics retailer ‘in the DSE mold’.

Gary also made a strategic alliance with Jack O’Donnell, proprietor of the Perth-based electronics retailer, Altronics (there’s that DSE mold, again) to jointly import components and equipment – Perth being closer to South East Asia and thus having logistical advantages for importing electronics. The rest, as is said, became history.

Today, Jaycar has nearly 150 stores (including Road Tech Marine outlets) across Australia and New Zealand, employing almost 1000 people. Wisely, some while ago, Gary put in place a strong management team to run the business so he could step back, not only to enable the business to continue should he be “run over by a bus”, but also to allow him to pursue his other interests outside electronics retailing – Gary was a long-term supporter and sponsor of NSW Rugby League team Wests Magpies, and also delighted in entering bush-bash charity events and such-like tomfoolery with a charity attached.

Gary was “a bloke’s bloke”. He liked to eat, drink, talk and joke with other blokes. But he equally enjoyed the company of women. He enjoyed a yarn and an argument. Beneath a gruff, blokey, hard-nosed, hyperactive businessman exterior lived a basically nice guy. He and I had our disagreements over the years, but Gary didn’t hold grudges.

My condolences go out to his wife and family, the Jaycar crew that make the business what it is, his friends in the Wests Magpies and in other philanthropic interests, and his mates around the trade. Valé to a true character.

WIA President's Comment

WIA Presidents Comment

Hello, this is Greg, WIA President,
ACMA Licence Class Consultation: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) recently issued consultation document which details 3 licensing options concerning the future of Amateur Radio in Australia seeking submissions from the Radio Amateur Service. The significance of this consultation is that the ACMA’s preferred option (Option C) is to transition to a “Class Licence” instead of the current apparatus licence – this option effectively deregulates the radio amateur service!

A consultation working group of 11 volunteers working collaboratively has produced an initial detailed analysis of the implications of a class licence, now published on our website1. The working group will finalise a comprehensive and representative WIA submission to this consultation to the ACMA. This submission will be enhanced using feedback from the WIA secure poll - which hadn’t yet closed as I write this. I wish to sincerely thank the WIA consultation working group for their efforts and wise counsel on this important submission.

It is important to understand the financial context of this ACMA consultation. The ACMA is subject to year on year budget cuts – euphemistically called “efficiency dividends – which means that every year the ACMA have less resources. This budget impact is apparent in the progressive loss of engineering and scientific skills and also administrative resources. The end result inevitably is the ACMA is seeking ways to reduce costs, which underlies the basis for their preferred Option C for deregulation.

The WIA acknowledges that Option A at this time does not meet the objectives of the ACMA. The WIA also notes that the ACMA states that they want to “preserve the current operational utility for licensees”. The WIA asserts that this objective has not been met within the ACMA’s current proposals and that the Option C proposal, as presented, fails any sort of “no disadvantage” test. And the prospect of a “free” licence goes nowhere near offsetting the negative impacts.

An Option D: However, the WIA firmly believes that there are potential opportunities for either Apparatus or Class Licence types - or more likely a hybrid thereof - to deliver mutually beneficial outcomes for both the Australian amateur and amateur-satellite services and the ACMA. Of course such an option must “preserve the current operational utility for licensees”. Hence, the WIA submission will explore the scenarios of what would effectively become an Option D by addressing the shortfalls of the ACMA proposed Option C. It is important to NOT dismiss outright a Class Licence option which retains essential regulatory protection but allows scope for self-regulation. There are working examples of class licences for amateur radio in other jurisdictions which have not been detrimental. For instance, our near neighbour across the ditch, namely New Zealand.

There are also examples in Australia of self-regulation that are useful to examine, such as how the relationship between Air Services Australia, Recreational Aircraft Australia and Australian Sport Rotorcraft Association. Here Air Services does the overarching legal and international regulation, treaties, etc. The accredited “self regulation” entities ASRA and RAA are delegated all technical standards, testing, pilot licensing, aircraft accreditation and registrations, and accident investigations. The precedent set in the aviation context2 is in an environment where the risk of injury or death is much higher than the Amateur Service. I personally believe that a Class Licence is ultimately inevitable in the mid-term, even if not in the near term, and it is worth considering different scenarios and the opportunities that may ensue of co-regulation and/or self-regulation. The implementation of a hybrid arrangement where there is an appropriate split of regulation between the ACMA and the Amateur Service is clearly non-trivial. Frameworks would need to be in place to support full self-regulation, benefit radio amateurs and ensure a low cost, not-for-profit solution.

WIA 2021 Election: If everything has gone to plan, your mailed issue of the magazine should include your voting material as an insert under the direction of the WIA Returning Officer. If you have elected to receive only the digital copy of the magazine, this material will be posted to you directly. Note that due to concerns about postal delays, the time period to return your votes has now been extended past the already printed date on the voting forms to April 28. Refer to separate MemNet advice for details.

It is pleasing to see that we have a well contested election this year with 8 candidates for 4 vacant director positions on the board. As a nationwide organisation, a wider spread of candidates from all state jurisdictions would be desirable for overall membership representation- but that is entirely up to those who nominate.

In Conclusion: When I first nominated for the board I was given some sage advice by the then WIA President which can be summarised as “you have no idea of how tough a gig you are in for”. That was in early 2017 and that advice has proven very true. Despite being a director of my own company since 1997 and holding very senior executive prior positions in the corporate world such as Chief Manager of Research & Development for a major bank, IT Development Manager for International Business for one of the largest Telcos, leading IT and IT compliance projects of up to 350 people and budgets of over $50Million plus being a director of a community radio station – I initially underestimated the range, scope of challenges and the learning curve faced particularly in the first year.

For me, it has been a great learning experience, rewarding sometimes, thankless at other times and certainly not fun. Taking on the president role 18 months ago, has added to the learning experience especially in direct interactions with the regulator, the ACMA. Even though it is a tough gig as a director, I have renominated as I believe that continuity of corporate knowledge is vital to avoid repeating history. There are 3 current directors that have re-nominated and are 2021 candidates, please give careful consideration to the aspect of retaining at least some corporate knowledge when you make your voting selection. And please make the effort to vote3 – the WIA is a democratic organisation – so exercise your right as a financial member to vote for those candidates you think best represent you on the board for the ongoing stewardship of the WIA.

Until next time, this is Greg VK2GPK

1 News Item Link
2 My thanks to John Dalton and Aidan Mountford for bringing the aviation precedent to my attention.
3 The last WIA election had approximately 50% voting response rate.

Table Of Contents

Technical
Practical communications at 30 THz
Andrew Anderson VK3CV, WQ1S

An Arduino-controlled WSPR transmitter with a Class-E 
output stage
Dale Hughes VK1DSH

WSPRing on HF – no rig required
Grant Symons VK3ZTE

SWR and the meaning of life
Jim Tregellas VK5JST

How I gave up HF ‘black box’ operations and took up with a 
‘White Box’ on microwave
Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW

Curious antenna coupler has no variable capacitor
Peter Parker VK3YE

Escapade with a downed radiosonde
Peter Wolfenden VK3RV


General
Get out of our hair — 
Class licensing for all?
Spectrum Strategy Committee

Collection of historic QSLs 
continues growing
Fred Swainston VK3DAC/VK4FE

 


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