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20170423 - NewsWest for Sunday, 23 April 2017

posted Apr 21, 2017, 9:58 PM by News Team

This Week
Welcome to a special ANZAC Themed broadcast, brought to you by the team at WA Amateur Radio News.

There's quite a variety for you in today's broadcast:
  • Onno's "Foundations of Amateur Radio" and other regular segments
  • an update from the WA VHF group
  • some upcoming contest information
  • an update on some recent SOTA activities
  • news from around the ‘net
  • reminders from Ham College and News Call Backs
  • Roy's has a quick line-up in Helpline
  • and Glynn ends with something for you to reflect on for ANZAC Day.
You can listen to this edition on-air, on-line or on-demand and it's available for download every week from the http://vk6.net/news/ website where you'll also find broadcast schedules for many repeaters across the country in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, VK7 and VK8. You can also subscribe to the podcast which you'll find on iTunes if you search for our callsign, VK6WIA.

Producer: Glynn VK6PAW

20170423 - From the desk...

posted Apr 21, 2017, 9:54 PM by News Team

VK6ARN
There were turbulent times when the WIA divisions were amalgamated into a single national body and some of you are still smouldering over what happened.  Somewhat similar to what has just happened with the recent election at the WIA. Despite the history and wrongs that can never be righted it is more important than ever that we have a united front when there is such pressure on the radio spectrum.  I have heard cynics suggest that as amateurs we will only have 2 metres and 70 cms in the VHF UHF and above frequencies as the government will tap the rest of the spectrum to the highest bidder. Conversely we may get access to more HF bands as they are considered unreliable.  Experiments by amateurs in the realm of HF digital modes both for data and speech suggest that the write off of HF may not be factual.  All in all now is the time for change.

So this brings me to the role of the WIA.  At present the Institute has two roles, that of education and assessment  and the other of political lobby both within Australia and world wide.  Maybe it’s time for the roles to be more clearly divided.  Perhaps put up some Chinese walls to separate politics and lobbying from education and assessment..

Which brings me to the position of this news.  We have proudly been broadcasting as VK6WIA or VK6WI since 1931.  For a few years now there has been some structure put in place with the formation of WA Amateur radio News incorporated.  Is it time for change by acknowledging that the role of this news is to inform all of you that are interested in radio about what is of interest to us in VK6 and not to be seen as an agent of the Wireless Institute of Australia.  By using our own call sign VK6ARN we can signal an editorial independence and a reaching out to all of those interested in Amateur Radio and not just those who are members of the WIA.  To some extent this is happening already with this broadcast being delivered by many media outlets and to a far wider audience than just Western Australia.

Please let me know what you think via newswest@vk6.net

This is Andrew VK6AS

20170423 - Amateur News

posted Apr 21, 2017, 9:49 PM by News Team   [ updated Apr 21, 2017, 9:50 PM ]

Amateur News
In the news this week Tad JA1VRY, Sergio VK3SFG, Sergei RA1OW and Steve VK7CW are the latest addition to the VKFF awards honour roll. Of course the way to get on that roll is to actually work people activating parks. So, Paul VK5PAS and Marija VK5FMAZ will be activating Cooltong Conservation Park, Hogwash Bend Conservation Park and Morgan Conservation Park. John VK5PF will be on the air from Snowy River NP and Lake Tyers State Park. Check Parks n Peaks for further details. [http://parksnpeaks.org]

Paul VK5PAS has also let us know that if you're activating in VK5, Drones are not permitted in National Parks in South Australia in an effort to curb their impact on animal behaviour. If you are doing an activation of a National Park, consider using the World Wide Flora and Fauna Agenda. Check vk6.net for details. [http://wwff.co/agenda/]

The Hills Amateur Radio Group have been experimenting with the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network or WSPR using 100mW from the club. If you'd like to see what making contact with a rotatable dipole looks like on 10 MHz, check out the WSPR site and look for VK6AHR. The link is on vk6.net [http://wsprnet.org/]

Will VK6UU has been scanning historic issues of Amateur Radio Magazine. He's let us know that if he has access to the original colour photographs that were included in the black-and-white editions, he's been adding those to the scans. Check out the March 1999 issue on page 25 for an example. You'll find a link on the vk6.net website. [http://www.armag.vk6uu.id.au/1999-march-AR.html]

And before we go, David VK5BUG has sent us information that his latest book, "Cellar-Dwellars" on the Go, Operating 2200m, 630m & 160m away from home will be released on 20 May at the WIA AGM. You'll find 242 pages chock full of resources, articles and projects for portable and transportable operation on the LF-MF amateur bands. Check out the flier for this on the vk6.net website.

20170416 - Serval Project – Keeping Mobile Phones Connected When the Network is Down.

posted Apr 14, 2017, 2:08 AM by News Team

Serval Project
As radio amateurs, we are in a unique position with our skills, competency and equipment during a time of emergency to assist in recreating communications networks. I can’t think of very many states that don’t have an active WICEN group.

Recently when Tropical Cyclone Debbie hit the Queensland coast, of the biggest impacts was the outage of mobile phone communications in the areas affected.

The effect of this weather which is more likely to affect the North-West of WA, is similar during times of bushfire or flooding. Once tower infrastructure is damaged, or mains generator power is lost, it’s not long before the mobile network falls.

In Australia, we are a [reasonably] developed nation. These phone towers provide a great solution to providing communications on a large scale, to the point where there are now very few alternatives. The impact of losing a mobile phone network on less developed countries, many of which has swapped wires for the air waves – has an even bigger impact.

But.. if you focus on a solution to bring communications back to a smaller community – there are other alternatives

Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen, Senior Lecturer at Flinders University, and President of The Serval Project here in Australia, has spent the past seven years designing low-cost devices and free software to try to solve this problem. The concept is simple: they create Mesh Extender devices that act as communications hubs.

Mobile phones connect to Mesh Extenders using ordinary Wi-Fi. The Mesh Extender devices then relay communications between other mobile phones using an app that can be downloaded from the Mesh Extender itself. No internet or cellular network is required.

Installation of the app is all that is required to connect a mobile phone to the Mesh Extender system, and all communication that takes place on the network is encrypted, so the user’s privacy remains secure.

They system currently operates within a closed network, only connecting with mobile phones that already have the app installed. To connect with existing phone networks, partnerships with existing mobile operators would need to be formed in the future.



The advantage of using Wi-Fi is that it is already in almost every mobile phone on the planet. Its range, however, it still quite limited.

So to make their system work over useful distances, the Mesh Extenders have a second radio installed. That radio can communicate over several kilometers, as long as there are no significant obstacles.

By linking to a VHF or HF radio, there is a possibility here this could even be hundreds or thousands of kilometers.

At the moment, this idea is still experimental. They have built prototype devices and apps, but have not yet been widely tested.

This is starting to change. In 2016, the Serval Project was selected as one of five winning innovators to take part in the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge, which aims to rethink the Australian response to humanitarian disasters in the Pacific.

They are now getting ready to test their technologies in Vanuatu later this year. Their goal is simple: to understand how useful the solutions are today, and to identify the areas where the can be improved.

The pilot is an important step in their quest to provide effective communication alternatives.

Not only will it help to meet the needs of vulnerable Pacific Island populations during times of disaster, but it will also help to better understand how this technology could be used locally in Australia.

I mentioned cyclones and bushfires earlier. But the technology could also be used to assist remote, isolated Australian communities with little to no communication options.

Would you like to know more – head over to VK6.net and look for this story related to the SERVAL project.

It contains links to:

Glynn VK6PAW

20170416 - VK6WIA NewsWest for Sunday, 16 April, 2017

posted Apr 14, 2017, 1:03 AM by News Team

This Week
In the news this week we have an update on SOTA activities around the country, a flurry of VKFF awards, New Callsigns on the Air, Roy's Helpline, news from the Directors Corner, World Amateur Radio Day and a look at a project that we as Amateurs could use to provide services in case of emergencies when Glynn takes a look at the Serval Project.

Producer: Onno VK6FLAB

20170414 - SOTA news

posted Apr 14, 2017, 12:58 AM by News Team

SOTA news
Glenn VK3YY operating in Japan reports that the squid pole stopper mountain recycling phenomenon is alive and well in Japan and suggests visiting a hardware store to replace the missing item with a chair leg stopper instead.

David VK3IL has been busily documenting his efforts and has written a blog post about experimentation with a 160m kite antenna and a 160m/80m vertical. [http://vk3il.net/projects/experiments-with-160m-antennas/] If that's not enough, he also added an article about the 160m AM expedition last week. See the links on vk6.net. [http://vk3il.net/sota/]

Lewis VK6LDX activated Mount Randall VK6/SW-039 on Sunday and while he was there he created an amazing video with his Quad Copter. As John VK6NU puts it, crank up the volume, watch it on a full screen and enjoy the summit like you've not seen it before. You'll find the link on the vk6.net website and on the NewsWest YouTube Channel. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oceEOEj1ryM]

The VKFF awards fairy has visited and bestowed awards on Gerard VK2IO, Peter VK3PF, Marija VK5FMAZ, Ozran 9A7W, Bill VK4FW, Neil VK4HNS, Jim VK1AT, Mark K1RO, Les VK5KLV, Mark VK4SMA and Adrian VK5FANA. Congratulations to all.

Wade VK1FWBD is planning to activate VK1/AC-031, Mt Rob Roy on Monday, weather permitting. Check the SOTA website for confirmation. Andrew VK3JBL is also planning to be in VK1 during Easter, so keep an ear out for him when he activates one or two of the local summits, family permitting.

Brett VK2BNN has also caught the SOTA bug again and activated VK2/CW-017 Beloygery Split Rock. He managed a contact with Peter VK3PF, despite having several issues. Congratulations.

Paul VK5PAS attended Antennapalooza, hosted by the Gippsland Gate Radio & Electronics Club. The theme this year was "operating portable". Paul delivered 3 short presentations on operating portable from parks. Other presenters included Peter VK3PF, Tony VK3XV, Joe VK3YSP, and Ian VK3BUF. You can read more about Paul's adventures on his web-site where he also covers the two activations he did along the way. [https://vk5pas.org/] Check vk6.net for the link.

Speaking of Paul, he has also let us know that Victorian State Government has officially changed the name of Mt Eccles National Park to Budj Bim National Park, restoring the Aboriginal name and recognising the area’s Aboriginal history and significance. The WWFF Australia website and Logsearch database have been updated to reflect this change and it should appear in the next release of the WWFF Directory. [http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/new-aboriginal-name-for-mt-eccles-national-park/] For details, click the link on vk6.net.

Changing the name acknowledges the cultural importance of the Budj Bim area, which has been identified by scholars as the world’s first engineering project, dating back at least 6600 years and preceding Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Egypt.

While we're on the subject of changes to names, Greg VK5GJ has let us know that South Australia now has a new Conservation Park. It is the Lawari Conservation Park and was gazetted on 21st March 2017 and it's located on Hindmarsh Island near the mouth of the Murray River. It is an important breeding ground for Magpie Geese. It's been added to the WWFF directory and is waiting for approval to be referred to as VKFF-1767.

That's it for SOTA and WWFF news this week. If you wanted more VK6 news, then you should have climbed up a mountain, or activated a national park and bragged about it. Better yet, record a segment and email it to newswest@vk6.net.

20170414 - Amateur News

posted Apr 14, 2017, 12:56 AM by News Team

Amateur News
The ARRL has now prohibited so-called "Duelling CQs" in all ARRL contests, bringing it in to line with the CQ-sponsored contests which already prohibit the practice where a station calls CQ on two frequencies within the same band. The IARU HF Championship Contest bans the practice for multi-operator entries. The ARRL reviewed the rules after a multi-operator station successfully used the technique to substantially boost their score.

Steve VK3JA shared with us his participation in the JIDX CW Contest. Operating from rural Melbourne, he said: "Only a couple hours of operating but good fun on ten meters.  With SFI 74 and K index at 4 the band was amazingly open.  Lots of good sigs about S7 all afternoon." With 224 contacts overall, 110 of them on 10m, Steve managed to collect a flurry of stations before a local power failure stopped the fun. Well done.

Matt VK6QS is looking for anyone who has an Ultrabeam UB-50 antenna. Get in touch with Matt who would like to discuss a problem he's experiencing.

Will VK6UU has been spending his time doing more research and found that in 1980, the WIA represented 50% of Licensed Amateurs, just over 6000 of them. Membership numbers increased by 22% from the previous year.

David VK5DGR asked the CODEC2 community for recommendations on a Windows Integrated Development Environment to write software for an STM32F4. The popular suggestion was to use System Workbench STM32. [http://www.st.com/en/development-tools/sw4stm32.html] [http://embeddedprogrammer.blogspot.com/2012/09/stm32f4discovery-development-with-gcc.html] You can find a link to setup tutorials on the vk6.net website if you're interested, or check out the CODEC2 mailing list. [https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/freetel-codec2]

Bob VK6ZGN has published the latest AllStar Simple User's Guide and it's available from the vk6.net website, the f-troop website and all good news agents - sorry, that's not right - a printer near you after download. Check it out, a whole page with everything you need to know to make contact with AllStar.

That's all the things we know about. If there was more, and we're sure there was, then you need to let the news team know. The email address hasn't changed in years, it's still newswest@vk6.net, so get writing.

20170414 - Allstar Link Commands

posted Apr 14, 2017, 12:53 AM by News Team

Allstar
Bob VK6ZGN tells us that some while ago the DTMF commands on the AllStar system were updated. Attached are the latest set of commands. These should work on all the AllStar systems in WA with any luck!

20170409 - VK6WIA, NewsWest for Sunday 9 April 2017

posted Apr 7, 2017, 10:46 PM by News Team   [ updated Apr 14, 2017, 12:50 AM ]

This Week
Welcome to the latest edition of NewsWest.

We have our regular segments such as Onno's Foundations of Amateur Radio and Roy's helpline.

There's news about the VK6Microwave group and a request for help for you to assist by becoming a satellite tracking station.

Paul VK5PAS tells you all about World Wildlife and Fauna for Amateur Radio.

There's news about the upcoming ALARA meet in Far North Queensland and Diane VK4DI is very keen to see some VK6's over there.

No WIA or other politics this week, if you're listening to this on the road to, or at HARGfest, if you're a seller, hope you have an empty stall by the end and if you're a buyer I hope you find exactly what you need. Enough of me, here's Onno...

You can listen to this edition on-air, on-line or on-demand and it's available for download every week from the http://vk6.net/news/ website where you'll also find broadcast schedules for many repeaters across the country in VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, VK7 and VK8. You can also subscribe to the podcast which you'll find on iTunes if you search for our callsign, VK6WIA.

Producer: Andrew VK6AS

20170409 - Amateur News

posted Apr 7, 2017, 10:14 PM by News Team

Amateur news
In Amateur Radio News this week, the Midway and Kure Islands are now Deleted DXCC Entities, effective August 26, 2016. Essentially because they now form part of a national marine park and are no longer separately administered.

Peter VK3YE has launched Amateur Radio Success Education to help you climb the amateur social ladder. If you want a DX station to call you by name in a pile-up, you can get yourself rewards, glory and esteem. You become one of them. See vk6.net for details. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iesX5TUwa7Q]

Mick VK3GGG, Greg VK5GJ, Geoff VK3SQ and Rob VK4AAC are the latest recipients of VKFF awards, congratulations.

The IMD or International Marconi Day is on April 22 from 0:00 UTC for 24 hours. IMD is observed each year on a Saturday close to Marconi's birthday. Many special event stations - some operating from Marconi-related sites - will be on the air. Marconi Award certificates are available for both transmitting stations and short-wave listeners.

The ABC reminded us that in 1967, University Students from the Melbourne University Astronomical Society came up with the idea to build and launch a small amateur radio satellite. Their efforts mark the launch of OSCAR 5 into space. Have a look for Stargazing on the ABC Radio Adelaide website or click the link on vk6.net. [http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-06/how-uni-students-got-nasa-to-launch-australias-first-satellite/8421480]

The VK Shires QSO party is on again in June. Get your station in order, polish your car and go roving. The contest runs for 24 hours on Saturday June 10 from 06:00 UTC. You'll find a link to the details on the vk6.net website. [http://www.vkcc.com/2017/04/08/vk-shires-qso-party-june-long-weekend/]

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