Oceania DX Contest: VK5ARG will still be on the air!

Given the weather and park access situation we are faced with, the AREG has taken up the very kind offer from one of our members to still participate in the Oceania DX Contest from his remote QTH.

You will still find VK5ARG on the bands, although with fewer transmitters than originally planned. Hope to hear you on the air calling CQ DX CONTEST!

VK5ARG/P Para Wirra Park This Weekend Cancelled

AREG OCDX Contest Field Day Event

CANCELLED!

Due to the unprecedented weather in SA over the last few days, National Parks South Australia have advised that Para Wirra Park will again be closed today. This has lead to AREG making the decision to cancel the planned activities in the park.

Operation in the contest will still go ahead but from a private location. See further reports for updates.


The Amateur Radio Experimenters Group is again entering the Oceania DX SSB Contest over the October long weekend (October 1st and 2nd).

The club is once more mounting a major portable operation from Para Wirra Recreation Park. VK5ARG will be active on all bands from 160-10m during the contest using 5 QRO (high power) stations.

Station Visitors Most Welcome!

As has been the case the last couple of years, the station construction will commence from Friday morning, with the aim of having the major components operational no later than midday Saturday. This provides an ideal opportunity for members, but more importantly general amateurs and members of the community, to come along and “have a try”. AREG will be turning the station over to all takers for the hours before the contest so that people can experience operating the station.

To come and visit, you will need to head to Para Wirra Recreation Park, You will find us here. For those who pre-register, there will be catering available on a “Pay as you Go” basis for modest prices. The station will be active for the full 24hrs from 0800 UTC Saturday to 0800UTC Sunday. Visitors should call the station on 2m (146.550) when you reach the park.

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Para Wirra Park Map

The Station: VK5ARG/P

The station will be substantial with full size rotatable dipoles on 40m, a 3 element beam on 20m, a Spiderbeam for 15m and 10m and full size dipoles on 160m and 80m. All stations will be running 400W. It is certainly impressive to see the arrays of antennas in use during the event…..

Qualification of World Wide Flora and Fauna park: VKFF-1739

Back in May 2016, the Para Wirra Recreation Park was redesignated a conservation park, and so it now qualifies for the world wide flora and fauna awards program as well. As the station is operating in the OCDX contest we wont be conducting the usual publicity of a parks activations. However, contacts with VK5ARG/P will still qualify for the VKFF-1739 park! We will ensure the log is uploaded to the Parks and Peaks database at the conclusion of the activation. You may also find us on air testing from as early as Friday night through to Sunday night.

So look out for us calling CQ during the contest, and if you are in the Adelaide area, come on up to Para Wirra Conservation Park and say hello! We would love to see you!

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10/15m Station illuminated at night – Starlapse by VK5GR

 

Horus 37: Flight Success!

We are pleased to report that the high altitude balloonhorus-logo-black flight of Horus 37 has been a success. The AREG Project Horus launch crew carried out the flight for Launchbox, a group which engages with the STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in schools across the state.

http://www.launchboxspace.com/

Lift off was from Mt Barker High School at 10.00am, with landing occurring approximately 15km east of Mannum about 3 hours later.

8 payloads went aloft this flight. 5 from Launchbox and 3 from AREG. The new one for AREG was the experimental SSDV transmitter, which delivered live images from the balloon for a portion of the flight.

Launch

Launch was conducted under challenging conditions with squalls and wind gusts arriving about 20 minutes before liftoff. This caused considerable consternation from the launch team who were for a few minutes at risk of loosing or damaging the balloon before we had even gotten off the ground. However, through the skillful handling of the balloon by the AREG team, catastrophe was averted.

Once the balloon payload train was assembled, the countdown got underway. The weather eased and the flight finally got away safely.

Images from the Flight Ground Preparation and Launch

The Flight

The flight itself went well, although it had to be terminated earlier than planned. The team did not want it landing in the River Murray.

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Flight Track from half way through the flight

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Final Balloon Track – www.habhub.org

Lots of stations participated in the telemetry collection (thank you for your contribution).

SSDV Experimental Payload – ‘Wenet’

As indicated above, this flight carried a first time payload for AREG. Mark VK5QI and David VK5DGR have been working on a slow scan digital image payload for the balloon system which alternates between 19.2kbit/s and 115kbit/s on a new downlink channel. This system makes uses of the UKHAS SSDV server to stitch together images from packets uploaded by multiple receivers. To help this along during this flight, Andrew VK5AKH and Scott VK5TST headed to the back of the Mt Lofty ranges after launch and collected as much of the SSDV picture feed they could for relay to the internet.

Andrew VK5AKH and Scott VK5TST’s setup for SSDV

The SSDV capture software currently runs under Linux, with a screenshot of it running in a Virtual Machine on VK5QI’s CarPC below. The software is open source and can be found on GitHub. 

(courtesy Mark VK5QI)

In this case, the modem software is still very much under development, without any FEC capability currently. David VK5DGR and Mark VK5QI are continuing to develop the system and you may see it fly again in the near future with some enhancements.

The following is the Gallery of the shots taken by the camera received on SSDV during the flight:

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The following are some of the pictures downloaded from the camera after the flight:

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Landing and Recovery

The chase crew were lucky this time and were able to see the payloads land from about 400m away. It landed in a patch of scrub on the edge of a wheat field. After about a 1km hike we were able to successfully recover them. They landed in a patch of mallee scrub, so there was some judicious nudging required to bring them safely to the ground.

At the end of the day, here was the crew that undertook the payload recoveries

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Flight Statistics

Horus 37 - Launchbox STEM Flight September 2016
Metric Result
Flight Designation: Horus 37 – LaunchBox STEM Sept 16
Launch Date: 18/9/2016 00:46:14 UTC
Landing Date: 18/9/2016 02:57:10 UTC
Flight Duration: 2 Hours 11 Minutes
Launch Site: -35.07628 138.85695
Landing Site: -34.9198 139.4287
Distance Traveled: 55.1 km
Maximum Altitude: 27,917 m

Conclusion

AREG would firstly again like to thank Launchbox for the opportunity to be part of the STEM program in schools. We also want to thank all of the team who came out today in somewhat cold and wet conditions to get the launch off the ground. The team included: Matt VK5ZM, Mark VK5QI, Grant VK5GR, Andrew VK5AKH, David VK5DGR, Scott VK5TST, Kim VK5FJ, Gary VK5FGRY, Josh VK5JO and Scott VK5TST.

Thanks also to the amateur ground stations who made the effort to receive telemetry and provide it to the tracking data pool online:

VK5QI, VK5ZM, VK5KJP, VK5KX, VK5ZRL, VK5NEX, VK5APR, VK5ZEA, VK5AKH, VK5FJGM, VK5FLEX, VK5HS

Without you these flights are that much more difficult!

73’s de Project Horus

AREG FreeDV WIA Sunday Broadcast not going to air this week

AREG wishes to advise that the FreeDV HF digital voice WIA Broadcast relay will not be run this week due to the team being fully engaged with the Horus balloon flight. Service should resume next week at 10am ACST on 7177kHz.

Horus 37: Flight Currently GO for tomorrow morning!

Preparations are continuing to fly a large helium balloon this coming Sunday from Mt Barker in South Australia. AREG will be flying the balloon on behalf of LaunchBox who are undertaking a schools science education program.

Lift-off is planned for 10am, with a flight path that currently looks like it will orbit the eastern Adelaide hills.

The only risk to the launch currently is the low level weather forecast. The Adelaide Hills area has received yet another significant rain band this evening. If this hasnt cleared by morning the flight start could be delayed. Watch this website for the latest news.

Predicted flight path, as per 2016-09-17 06Z GFS model. (5m/s ascent rate, 3.5m/s descent rate, 34km burst altitude)

Amateur Radio operators across SA and western Victoria as far east as Melbourne should be able to hear the telemetry transmissions on 434.650 MHz using 100 baud RTTY (7N2). If you decode the transmissions using the dl-flDigi program, you can contribute your received frames to the global pool of tracking data enabling us to follow the flight.

You can find a guide to tracking the balloon flight using the dl-fldigi software at the following link: https://ukhas.org.uk/guides:tracking_guide

As usual, the payloads can be tracked live on the Habhub Tracker, available here.

As an added bonus, this flight will be carrying an experimental payload transmitting 115kbaud FSK on 441.200MHz, downlinking live images from the payload. This payload has been in development by David Rowe (VK5DGR) and Mark Jessop (VK5QI) for some time, and utilises an open source modem stack. If all works as expected, images should appear on this page: http://ssdv.habhub.org/VK5QI

Next AREG Meeting: Microwave Equipment and Operation

The next meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will feature an introduction to Microwave Amateur Microwave Equipment and Communications, presented by guest lecturer, Iain Crawford VK5ZD. Iain will be talking about the gear he uses and some of the basic operating tips involved.  This will provide the ideal opportunity to whet your appetite for these bands just as the sunspot cycle draws to a minimum on HF, and coincidentally right before the VHF/UHF contest season!

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Iain has been experimenting with these modes for many years, and has constructed transverters for 23cm, 13cm, 9cm, 6cm and 3cm.

The meeting will be held at the Reedbeds Community Hall, Phelps Court, Fulham on Friday 16th September. Doors will open at 7.45pm with the presentation starting at 8.00pm.

After the talk, there will be coffee and cake and an opportunity to socialise with fellow amateur radio enthusiasts, followed by a short AREG business meeting.

All amateur radio operators and people with just an interest in radio in general are welcome to attend! We hope to see you there!

Project Horus Balloon Launch – Advanced Notice!

AREG members will again be involved DSC_6524with Project Horus, undertaking another high altitude balloon flight for some high school students on Sunday September 18th.

The Launch time will be 10.00am from Mt Barker, in the Adelaide Hills.

Amateur Radio operators from across SE Australia can get involved in the flight by contributing to the telemetry gathering effort. Tune your 70cm SSB radios to 434.650 and decode the RTTY telemetry using the dl-fldigi software.

Keep watching the AREG website for further details and confirmation of the flight day (flights can be cancelled up to 24hrs before liftoff if adverse weather is predicted).

VK5RSB Repeaters undergoing Maintenance – COMPLETED

The VK5RSB 70cm and 23cm repeaters may be off air for a period today whilst the mains power wiring at the site is worked on. Apologies for the short notice!

The 6m repeater should remain active as it is connected to the battery backup system on site.