Special event day VI3KIAH
The Yarra Valley Amateur Radio Group held a special event station on February 7 to recognise the efforts of Amateur Radio operators and others in providing service during the February 7th 2009 Victorian bushfires. During these fires many radio amateurs were impacted and many others provided services in the form of emergency communications operators.
Fred Swainston - VK3DAC
The station was operated between 2 pm and 8 pm on February 7th 2010 this significant time span chosen as being when the fires were at their worst in the Kinglake Ranges, Murrindindi, Bunyip, Churchill, Bendigo and other areas across Victoria. The operating site was chosen as Kinglake due to its significance and the Frank Thompson Reserve at Kinglake is a great radio operating location. The call sign KIAH was chosen as it is an aboriginal word meaning ‘beautiful place’ and Kinglake most certainly is.
The Club decided to operate to a schedule which was a first for our club members. This required the discipline to QSY at specific times to the next frequency on the list. The intention being that we would operate on all HF bands except 160 metres as well as VHF and UHF on both FM and SSB. This meant two stations in close proximity, one being HF and the other being VHF/UHF and the potential for interference between the two. The antennas used were a half wavelength dipole on 80m, ¾ wavelength dipole on 20m and dipoles for the other HF bands as well as a multiband helical. For 6m and 2m we used end fed dipoles and a collinear for 70cm. Yagi’s are under construction for the next field day.
We invited all club members to attend as well as visitors and friends. On the day we had 15 club members attending. Over the day we had about 15 visitors as well as 5 or 6 radio amateurs from clubs including, EMDRC, NERG, and ARVIC. Several of the interested visitors who came to the station were new to amateur radio and took away brochures with the view to getting their licence in the future. WIA Director Peter Young and past director Robert Broomhead also attended the station.
Over the course of the 6 hours of operating we made just under 400 contacts and worked all States and Territories with the exception of VK0 and VK9. No overseas contacts were made which was a little disappointing but as this is the result of propagation conditions there will be opportunities next time. This is one disadvantage of working to a schedule. The advantage of the schedule is that we did have contact on all the nominated bands. Many of the amateurs who contacted us conveyed congratulations on the station and its purpose in recognising the services that amateurs provide in the community. The Yarra Valley Amateur Radio Club members wish to express our thanks for the good wishes that all those who contacted us conveyed.
The 30, 17, and 12 metre HF bands had the fewest contacts and yet some of these had great propagation characteristics. Encouraging people to use these bands was one of our objectives for the day and although achieved it would have been great to have many more stations come up on these frequencies. Many of our club operators had not worked on these bands before so it was a new experience for them.
One of our other objectives on the day was to commission our new field caravan a replacement for our communications trailer burned in the fires at Steele’s Creek. The caravan had been renovated by club members to make it suitable for field use. It functioned perfectly on the day. We now have a list of minor improvements for the future. We had two technical difficulties on the day, one of our HF transceivers failed and needed to be replaced. This was a finals (RF output) failure. A replacement was on hand highlighting the need to have replacement equipment available during such events. Our second failure was an antenna that we intended to use on the 30 metre and the 12 metre bands, although tested produced a very high SWR in the field. It took some time to identify the problem and come up with a solution where we used a helical whip for those frequencies and even though this was a compromise we were still able to come up on air and operate on these bands.
A special QSL card will be provided for those who we contacted on the day, by the person sending a stamped addressed envelope to YVARG, PO Box 346, Healesville Vic. 3777. This card will confirm the contacts made with the special event station VI3KIAH.
The Yarra Valley Amateur Radio Group wish to thank all those associated with the day especially those who promoted the event, operated the station and took the time to contact us on the day. It was a great day with beautiful weather and lots of fun.
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