20171217 - NewsWest for Sunday 17 December 2017

Post date: Dec 16, 2017 2:00:58 PM

Welcome to today’s NewsWest broadcast, brought to you by the team at WA Amateur Radio News.In this broadcast:

- Bob talks digital modes and band plans

- Andrew gives us a Ham College wrap-up for 2017 and gives you a mission for 2018. He also takes time to provide intent behind the recently-formed RASA.

- Onno brings us news for the week that was, and best of all…

- It’s New Hams week, so Bob will lead you down the road of getting started in the hobby. I’ll help celebrate new and upgraded licenses here in VK6.

- There’s our regular segments reminders, and well put it over to Roy with Helpline

You’re listening to NewsWest, broadcasting weekly news and commentary since 1931 for VK6 radio amateurs, shortwave listeners and radio enthusiasts.

Speaking of things regular, let’s kick it off with Onno…

Foundations of Amateur Radio…


NewsWest is produced and presented by WA Amateur Radio News and opinions expressed in this a news may not reflect the opinion of the news team, the broadcaster, or the WIA - and are share in the open spirit of amateur radio.

New Hams Episode 50 Digital Modes - Let’s Do it

Welcome to New Hams. Last time I spoke about getting into Digital Modes. I told you a bit about what’s around and what you may like to try, however I didn’t tell you how to go about it.

I try to keep this series non technical, and I’m about to give to a non technical treatment of a technical topic.

Setting aside newcomers to the computer world such as raspberry pie, arduino and specialised small kits for certain modes, I’ll be talking about connecting your Amateur Radio Transceiver to a computer, be it desktop or laptop.

Firstly, there must be some sort of interface. Yes, I know you can put speaker to microphone and vice versa, however if you want to do this thing properly, you’ll need to build or buy an interface between the computer and the radio.

You can buy an interface to suit your radio, and mostly these are quite good, and they seem to start at about $100, and go uphill from there, depending on how many bells and whistles you want.

Let’s talk about building an interface. What does one of these things do? We’ll make a list.

    1. Takes sound from the computer’s sound card to an input of the radio. This may be the microphone input, or a data input

    2. Takes sound from the radio to an input of the computer. This could be the microphone or line in connectors on the computer.

    3. Operates the transmitter by triggering the push to talk. The push to talk is usually triggered by grounding a pin in the microphone socket or data portt.

A very simple audio interface from computer to radio would be a cable from the computer soundcard speaker socket to the microphone socket or data port of the radio. Similarly a cable from the external speaker of the radio, or the data port, to the microphone or line in port of the sound card will do the trick. And it may work, however radios tend to have a bit of RF wandering around, and this can travel down the cables and upset the computer. To fix this, you can use 1:1 isolating transformers. These are available from electronics suppliers or you could take one out of an old modem. You may or may not have to do something to match impedances, but you can usually get away with not doing that.

Now for the push to talk. If your radio has Computer Aided Transmission, better known as CAT, and you already have a serial or USB cable that does the trick, you’re done, if the CAT cable can operate the PTT. You merely have to tell the software which COM port the cable is using.

If your transmitter doesn’t allow the CAT to operate the PTT, you can build your own using a small handful of components. If your computer has a serial port, that’s great. Find or make a cable that plugs into it. Or purchase a USB to Serial adapter cable. I won’t bore you with how to build the PTT interface, other than to say it is triggered by the DTS and/or RTS signal on the serial port, depending on how you build it, and you utilise this signal to operate a transistor that grounds the PTT pin. There is a lot of information on the internet on how to build this small circuit. A simple version uses a transistor, a couple of diodes and a couple of resistors. I’ve seen designs where this circuit is contained within the DB9 Serial Port connector.

A simple interface like this will allow you to use any of the so called digital modes that utilise a computer’s soundcard. There’s a wealth of different modes out there for you to try. Let me know how you get on.

I’m Bob VK6POP

The Radio Amateur Society of Australia

The 23rd of November 2017 saw the launch of a new Australian organisation dedicated to the

growth of our hobbyAmateur Radio and representation directly to the Australian Government

Regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority – The Radio Amateur Society of Australia (RASA). In the short time since RASA’s launch, responses from around Australia have been very high.

RASA’s objectives are to:

- provide evidence based research and strategic direction for issues related to Amateur Radio to third parties involved in the administration, management and regulation of the hobby;

- promote Amateur Radio and its role in facilitating emerging communication technologies;

- educate and encourage the next generation of Radio Amateurs; and

- lobby the regulator to protect and enhance the privileges of Australian Radio Amateurs.

There are widespread concerns in the Australian amateur community over issues like allocation

of new bands, changes to licensing conditions and excessive noise levels on the HF bands.

RASA will listen to the needs and concerns of all amateurs and will make submissions to the

ACMA on Australian amateurs’ behalf.

RASA is a streamlined organisation focused on representation

We use using modern technology to manage our operations and communicate with members.

We intend to open lines of communication with as many Australian Radio Clubs as possible to

draw from their local knowledge and the experiences of their members. Clubs are the backbone

of Amateur Radio, and it is very important to provide a path for every Club to help define the future of our hobby.

To ensure we properly represent our members, we will be conducting on line surveys soon.

RASA also seeks to open lines of communication with our sister organisations in other


Please provide this information to the relevant officers in your organisation and

include us in any of your publicity material.

We have no direct affiliation with the Wireless Institute of Australia, although we do share many

of the same objectives and will co-operate in achieving positive outcomes for Australian radio


Our website and social media outlets provide more details and these can be found at http://vkradioamateurs.org or of course via vk6.net

Have a look and decide if you would like to join us.

This is Andrew VK6AS on behalf of The Radio Amateur Society of Australia.

Myths 07 Band plans are enforceable

When listening around the Ham bands, reading comments on social media and email reflectors, even talking face to face with Amateurs, I sometimes hear things said that are simply wrong. In this series I seek to address some of these myths.

In order to provide some form of order in the ham bands, most countries have adopted and adapted the International Amateru Radio Union’s suggested bandplans.

So there’s nothing mythical about the bandplans - they are adopted and implemented in most countries. What does enter into the realm of mythology is the interpretations of the band plans by some people.

Firstly, let’s be clear on bandplans. Bandplans are not law. They are not implemented by the Government or it regulator. Bandplans are adopted by the Amateur Radio peak body in the countries that use them.

You can’t be prosecuted for operating outside of a bandplan. You could, and possibly will, receive criticism from other amateurs for operating contrary to the band plans.

What makes us stick the bandplans in the most part is our sense of decency and fair play. That should be enough, and it uually is. Common courtesy is worth its weight in gold.

Another factor is stupidity. Let’s say you want to work CW, and you choose to do it on a frequency that’s earmarked for phone or some digital mode. Apart from annoying other people, you’re unlikely to find someone to respond to your call, because they are listening in the correct part of the band.

The bottom line is all about fair play and respect for other users.

I’m Bob VK6POP

In the news this week:

Peter VK3YE published a seven minute YouTube video called the Foundation Guide to Amateur Satellites with special focus on AO91, he has also posted part 2. The links are on vk6.net [https://youtu.be/astteV2umOg] [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNB7Nc4HFYs] [http://n2yo.com]

Staying with the AO91 satellite, the AMSAT-BB mailing list points out that because it's relatively simple to operate this satellite, care should be taken to listen out for rare stations activating rare locations, rather than make a contact to your mate which you could do on the next pass. So, listen, listen and listen some more. There are several stations operating from rare grid-squares, specifically, wet-squares, think boat, so listen out.

If AO91 isn't you're thing, then listen out for AO73, FUNcube-1 which is now also doing the orbit thing.

If operating a satellite isn't to your liking, but you want to know how it works, then that too is covered. Check out the YouTube videos on the subject. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3ehDw5Yfhs] [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjGAYvMyz4Q]

If you want to do some experimentation then the uBITX kit has just gone on sale. An SSB/CW radio that covers 3-30 MHz with a pre-built and tested board that "you just wire up to a few connectors and pots and put into a box". The radio manages 12 Watts and is perfect for portable operation. Until Christmas it's $109 US, afterwards it will be $129, including shipping. The link is on vk6.net [http://hfsignals.com/]

Andrew VK1AD and Andrew VK1DA, I'm not making that up, are discussing the idea of stimulating 23cm SOTA activations. If you'd like to join in the fun, perhaps you have a 23cm station that you'd like to use to talk to a summit, check out the SOTA mailing list for more detail and discussion.

If you're in VK3, Andrew VK1AD will be attempting to activate Federation Range on 1296.150 SSB sometime between 18 and 21 December, so turn on your radio and listen out.

VK6RIB, the Ham College Information Beacon which is situated on Wireless Hill at the WA VHF Group on a frequency of 145.575 MHz was off the air for a bit, but thanks to some sleuthing from Bob VK6KW the beacon is back on air. You'll find a two-hour repeating cycle with this news, the national WIA news, and information about amateur radio, clubs, the calendar and other information.

Paul VK5PAS has released the latest issue of Out and About in VK5. It's the second last issue ever after three years, so if you have a story for the final one, get in touch with Paul. [http://www.vk5pas.com/out-and-about-in-vk5.html]

During the week Peter VK3TKK and Peter VK3PF managed 17 VKFF activations on a single day between them. We look forward to receiving their travel and activation reports for the news.

If you have a suggestion for an additional park to add to the list here in VK, then contact Paul VK5PAS with your suggestion. Bear in mind that he can only add 500 per year for all of VK, so be selective.

If you have a story that you'd like to share, get in touch. The address is newswest@vk6.net.

VK6 Notes for Steve

A quick note from Steve – VK6SJ – contributor, storyteller and journalist extraordinaire for AR Magazine

Steve have just realised that the submission date for the Jan/Feb addition of AR is due in on the 22nd December, crikey, that’s next Friday!

If you club hasn’t already – please provide your submissions as soon as possible. The issue will go to print around the 18th January, but Steve needs your contributions THIS week.

Steve would like also to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support throughout the year. Western Australia have consistently had the most contributions of any state in the magazine and that is testament to the commitment and passion of ham radio clubs in VK6 that you all represent. Steve wishes you all a happy and safe Christmas break and looks forward to working with you in the new year on the VK6 Club news for AR.

Roy’s Helpline

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Please have your items in by 10PM Thursday for inclusion the following Sunday broadcast. Don’t forget phone number and HELPLINE as "subject"


Hi Roy, name is Allan from Narrogin.

I'm wondering if anyone has the hf side board on the Icom ic R2500 receiver or is there someone that can repair these boards.

Email: vk6tdf@gmail.com or phone 040 6714 719

Thanks. Regards & God Bless. Allan VK6TDF


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VK6 Calendar

If you'd like to catch up with fellow amateurs, then there are several opportunities to do just that this week. The Peel Amateur Radio Group is hosting their workshop night on Tuesday at 7pm at the clubhouse, located at the new SES HQ, 31 Education Drive in Greenfields.

The Perth Radio Amateur Wireless Noodle House Eating And Discussion Society, is holding a Christmas lunch at Murphy's Tavern in Mandurah on Wednesday at noon. You'll find it on the foreshore at 43 Mandurah Terrace. Catch public transport since parking can be tricky. The bus stops right outside the door.

The Bunbury Radio Group Ham and Coffee meet this Thursday is on at 11:00am, but you'll need to get in touch with the club to find out where, they're keeping their cards close to the chest on this one.

If you want more activity, more meetings, more opportunity to geek out with fellow amateurs, then organise a party, set up a BBQ and let us know so we can put it on the club-calendar.

If you can't wait until this news to find out what's on, we've got you covered. The calendar is online right now, at vk6.net and if you like you can even subscribe and add it to your own diary.

The address for new and updated information is as always newswest@vk6.net

Next Week is Contesting

Next week NewsWest is taking a look at contesting. Next week is also Christmas Eve. So it may be the right time to make a last ditch appeal to Santa for some new contesting equipment. However, for the NewsWest programme, we’d love to hear what you or your club either has been up to, will get up to, or is up to right now, on the contesting front. Send stuff to newswest@vk6.net

Producer’s Final

That’s just about all for NewsWest this week, but before we go.

WA Amateur Radio news would like to really thank the broadcasters who regularly volunteer their time every week to put the NewsWest broadcast to air. It’s a big commitment.

Producer’s FinalThanks this week to the WA Amateur Radio News Team:

Bob, Onno, Andrew and Roy - and thans to Michelle for her contrribution.

Don’t forget in two weeks time we’re having an ON-AIR wrap-up of 2017. We’d love contributions from You.

If you’d like to submit an audio file, it works best as a 256 kilo-bit MP3.

At NewsWest use and recommend Audacity,

It’s FREE, and available for Windows, iOS, and Linux platforms.

If you need a bit of help getting started – just let us know – we’d be happy to assist.

The more variety of voices we get, the better it is for You – the listener – C’mon… get involved.

Also send us a text of your transcript – which allows us to publish your story on the VK6.net website. Due to a number of requests, we are looking at compiling a text edition – but it’s going to take some time – and the team is currently stretched with other commitments.

The magic address for contributions: newswest@vk6.net

If you missed anything in the broadcast, it is available via podcast, and is waiting for you right now at VK6.net

I’m looking forward to our pre-Christmas show next weekend, In the meantime…

Get on air, make some noise - and most importantly – ENJOY!