Australian Contesting Technical College – Friday 19th May 3-5pm

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Have you ever wanted to learn about contesting but didn’t know where to start? Did you ever want to learn the secrets of how the big stations earn their scores? Well now is your chance!

In May, AREG will be hosting a special event immediately prior to the WIA AGM in Adelaide. On Friday 19th at 3:00pm, the club proudly invites you to attend the “Australian Contesting Technical College”, presented by Trent Sampson VK4TS. The venue will be the clubrooms, located at the Reedbeds Community Hall, in Fulham (5 minutes from the airport for those around Australia flying in who would like to attend). This once in a lifetime event is open to anyone with an interest in Amateur Radio Contesting.

Trent VK4TS with Alan VK4SN

Trent Sampson VK4TS is the Contest Columnist for AR magazine and a member of the Lambda Contest Group who operate under the Callsign VK4KW and holds many records in Multi Operator categories in SSB RTTY and CW.

During the 2 hour session, Trent will discuss setting up a modern contest station for SO2R (SIngle Operator 2 Radios) operation as well as Multi operator station considerations, including equipment selection, interfacing, and antenna selection.

The Antenna selection part will include a real life appraisal of a contest location (likely to be one of the AREG sites) and how well it will work using High-Frequency Terrain propagation analysis.

When considering software, Trent will discuss examples of how to use the most popular software and the lessons learned from it.

Topics Covered will include:

  • Multi Operator Stations,
  • SO2R Operation
  • Filtering; Bandpass and Coax Stub,
  • Antenna selection Software usage,
  • N1MM with examples of SSB RTTY and CW.

So organise your Rostered Day Off now, or arrange to get into Adelaide a little bit earlier that day if travelling from interstate and make your way to the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group clubrooms for this once off special event!

AREG Members note: this is in addition to the May Meeting, the hall will close between 5:30 and 7:30 then reopen for the normal monthly meeting. As always visitors are welcome.


Where to find AREG

UPDATE: Overland Corner Balloon Launch – Sat 22nd ~11am

Predicted Balloon Flight Track as at 7am 20th April

Preparations continue for the High Altitude Balloon launch, scheduled for Saturday morning from Overland Corner in the Riverland district of South Australia. This flight is one of the events that is planned as part of the BRL Weekend for the Riverland Radio Club.

The flight track prediction has been quite unstable for a few days but now has settled down into a reasonably accessible area near Renmark. This launch is being conducted in conjunction with the Riverland Radio Club’s BRL Weekend event at the Overland Corner Hotel.

Amateurs from across SA, VIC and NSW are invited to take part in one of the many amateur Radio facets of this flight, from receiving and relaying the telemetry, making contacts through the new balloon repeater and monitoring either direct or via the Internet the Wenet HD imagery payload.

Balloon Repeater Frequencies

This is the first test flight of a new experimental cross band voice repeater that has been built with weight in mind to fly under our balloons.The balloon repeater should be heard on:

  • INPUT: 147.500MHz with 91.5Hz CTCSS (+/- thermal drift of the receiver)
  • OUTPUT: 438.850MHz (+/- thermal drift of the transmitter) – 0.8W into 1/4wave omni

Please note that this repeater is experimental, and may have performance issues during the flight.

To transmit to the balloon at the maximum range of 800km (once the balloon reaches 100,000ft ++) you should only need approximately 10-20W and an 2-4dB gain antenna.

Receiving the balloon at 400km range in a handheld environment should be achievable, but to hear the repeater at the maximum range of 800km you should expect to need a 10dB gain Yagi for a 0.4uV capable receiver and 2dB feeder loss

This setup is much the same as the LEO satellites but without the high speed Doppler shift.

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU CAN HEAR IT BEFORE YOU TRANSMIT!

Additionally, the receiver used in the repeater (a Dorji DRA818) appears to have quite sharp receive filters, which results in the repeater dropping out if the input signal is over-deviated (>4.8 kHz dev). Please talk using a regular speaking voice when using the repeater to avoid issues.

Special Event Callsign via the Balloon

As part of the WIA AGM & Convention weekend promotion, we also hope to activate VK5WOW, the special event callsign for that event, via the Balloon Repeater!

Contacts with the special event callsign via the balloon will qualify towards the Convention Award. The flight payloads will be one of the topics presented at the convention by Mark VK5QI, so make a contact through the balloon and then come on down to Hahndorf between May 19-21st to hear about how Project Horus flys and how you too can get involved in this fascinating aspect of the hobby!

Other Balloon Payloads

Other payloads being flown on this flight will include:

  1. our standard 100bps 7N1 RTTY telemetry transmitter on 434.650MHz, and
  2. the Wenet imaging payload which will downlink on 441.2MHz at 115Kbit/s, and which will stream HD photos during the flight.

Images can be seen (here).

Tracking will again be available via www.habhub.org

If you would like to learn more about how to get involved in tracking the balloon, take a look at the following resources on the club website.

Caveats – The weather may beat us

There is a small wrinkle in the plans currently and that is the weather. There have been significant rainfalls across the region in the last few days which may have made many of the dirt roads we might need to use impassable. The team is monitoring the situation and will advise if we have to call it off due to access. It currently depends on where the landing zone ends up. Stay tuned, and understand we are trying to plan a way to ensure we do get into the air on Saturday!

AREG Beginners Series: Introducing HF Wire Antennas – April 21st

Next AREG Meeting: Friday April 21st – 7.45pm

Continuing with our beginners series presentations this year, this month we have Chris VK5SA who will talk us through the basics of the simple wire HF antenna. He will explain the characteristics of a set of simple to build yet effective HF antennas that anyone can make, often for less than $100 worth of materials. He will show you the merits and limitations of several of them, including:

  • Basic Dipoles
  • Offset Centre Fed Dipole
  • Inverted V
  • Fan Dipole
  • Terminated Folded Dipole

Samples of how to build many of these will also be on hand for people to take a look at.

Meeting Time & Location

The meeting will be held at the Reedbeds Community Centre, located off of Phelps Court, in Fulham. The clubrooms will open at 7.45pm with the meeting to commence at 8.00pm sharp.

Tea, coffee and cake will be available for a small donation after the presentation. Following that, the monthly business meeting will be held.

As always, AREG meetings are open to everyone, so if you are interested in starting out on HF, then this is a great opportunity to hear about some simple antennas to get you underway!

“BRL Gathering” Balloon Repeater Launch – April 22nd – UPDATE

The Amateur Radio Experimenters Group is please to announce that it will be supporting an Amateur Radio focused balloon launch, to take place at the Riverland Radio Club’s VK5BRL Weekend event at Overland Corner Hotel in the Riverland.

This event is aimed at bringing together members of the Riverland Radio Club and amateurs from across SA & Victoria, in particular those who participate in the VK5BRL bi-weekly net on HF (heard on 7115kHz  at 8.30am Wednesday and Saturdays).

The morning festivities start off with an early breakfast of coffee, tea and of course bacon,  eggs and sausages.  This is then followed by the BRL net.   The AREG are looking to launch the balloon some time around 11am (to be confirmed) when the NOTAM is raised later this week.

AREG & Project Horus Involvement

The AREG will be marking this weekend with a special balloon flight. It has been some time since the flying repeater was heard on air, so it was felt that it was time to put some more amateur radio back into the balloon flights.

Balloon Repeater Frequencies

The balloon repeater will be heard on:

  • INPUT: 147.500MHz with 91.5Hz CTCSS (+/- thermal drift of the receiver)
  • OUTPUT: 438.850MHz (+/- thermal drift of the transmitter) – 0.8W into 1/4wave omni

Please note that this repeater is experimental, and may have performance issues during the flight.

To transmit to the balloon at the maximum range of 800km (once the balloon reaches 100,000ft ++) you should only need approximately 5-10W and an 2-4dB gain antenna.

Receiving the balloon at 400km range in a handheld environment should be achievable, but to hear the repeater at the maximum range of 800km you should expect to need a 10dB gain Yagi for a 0.4uV capable receiver and 2dB feeder loss

This setup is much the same as the LEO satellites but without the high speed Doppler shift.

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU CAN HEAR IT BEFORE YOU TRANSMIT!

Additionally, the receiver used in the repeater (a Dorji DRA818) appears to have quite sharp receive filters, which results in the repeater dropping out if the input signal is over-deviated (>4.8 kHz dev). Please talk using a regular speaking voice when using the repeater to avoid issues.

As we will be flying from Overland Corner instead of near Adelaide, coverage at apogee should almost reach Canberra. Contacts from Melbourne to Adelaide through the balloon should definitely be possible.

Other Balloon Payloads

Other payloads being flown on this flight will include:

  1. our standard 100bps 7N1 RTTY telemetry transmitter on 434.650MHz, and
  2. the Wenet imaging payload which will downlink on 441.2MHz at 115Kbit/s, and which will stream HD photos during the flight.

Images can be seen (here).

Tracking will again be available via www.habhub.org

If you would like to learn more about how to get involved in tracking the balloon, take a look at the following resources on the club website.

WIA AGM & Convention Special Event Callsign to be Net Control on the balloon repeater

The Riverland Radio Club will be activating the WIA AGM & Convention special event call sign VK5WOW via the balloon repeater during the event. Contacts with VK5WOW through the balloon will qualify for the award certificate.

Full details of the Convention 2017 award are available via  www.wia.org.au/members/wiaawards/agm2017/

Stay tuned for further details as the flight is finalised. We will announce the final flight time later this week as well as the predicted balloon track.

 

AREG Develops new DX Pileup Defeating Technology

Introducing the DX Buster(tm)!


SORRY! ALL SOLD OUT on APRIL 1st 2017 – Stay tuned next year for more Amateur Radio products from the mad scientists division of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group!


After months of rigorous testing, the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group Inc is pleased to announce the beta version of our new DX Buster(tm)! is nearly ready for initial release. What is it you might ask? Well, it is designed to help you to break through pile ups during DX Contests and DXPeditions, ensuring your signal is the one heard clear and true, first time, every-time!

There will be no more disappointment that the DX got away when you are using a DXBuster!(tm), even if you are only a small 100W pistol or 400W VK “high power” station located more than double the distance from that rare DX station compared to the majority (as is often the case when comparing VK to Europe, North America and Japan where they run 1kW or more). Now, with DX Buster!(tm) on your team, you can rest assured your signal will always be clearly heard among the pileups at the DX stations end, guaranteeing you will get that rare one in your log, even with modest power.

How does it work?

DX Buster!(tm) is a DSP device you insert into your microphone audio stream, and then also connect to the Internet. It works by mixing your transmitted audio with an anti-phase, time correlated / corrected version of the signals that the DX station is listening to, based on what is being received via any WebSDR located close to the major source of the DX calling pile-up stations.

Using patented Flux capacitor technology, and augmented by feeds from the Reverse Beacon and PSK Reporter systems tuned to the WSJT JT65 networks as well as space weather predictions from the NOAA and Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the propagation channel between your station and the rare DX is computed. Then, the anti-phase signals matching the majority of the pile up stations within 4kHz of your signal are delay matched to your station and then injected into your audio. The rest follows the laws of physics! When the out of phase signals are combined at the DX stations receiver with the other pile up traffic, that traffic is attenuated, while your own audio laid over the top passes through unaffected. The end result is a minimum 10-30dB improvement in your apparent signal to noise ratio as measured at the DX station.

Don’t quite believe it? Take a look at the following waterfall charts and sample audio streams to be convinced!

How can I get one?

Currently only a prototype of the unit is available, as a number of technical details are still being refined to make it adaptable to as many transceivers as possible. As soon as these are resolved, we will open our books for orders!

Keep watching the AREG website for further details!

 

 

Project Horus Flight #43 Report – Sunday March 5th 2017

AREG finally had the weather smile on us today with a near textbook launch for Horus 43. This flight, conducted for Rostrevor College through LaunchBox, had been previously delayed multiple times due to either ground conditions, upper atmosphere conditions or both, so it was great to see it finally in the air.

Ground Preparations

The ground crew saw some new faces get involved today which was great. Balloon filling and handling was undertaken by Mark VK5QI, Darin VK5IX, Gary VK5FGRY, Grant VK5GR, Will VK5AHV, Marcus VK5WTF and Kim VK5FJ. Filling and liftoff went without a hitch!

Payloads

The payloads flown on this flight included:

  • 100bps RTTY FSK Telemetry Beacon
  • LoRa Telecommand
  • Wenet Imaging
  • LaunchBox Student Experiments

The images collected from Wenet were again spectacular – we never get tired of looking through what the balloon can see during it’s flight.

On the Ground before Liftoff

Ascent

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Landing

Note how close some of the shots of the River Murray are towards the end of this set!

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Chase & Tracking Teams

Two primary chase teams set out this time to recover the balloon payloads. Mark VK5QI lead the first team with Gary VK5FGRY and Will VK5AHV, while Darin VK5IX and his son headed out in the second.

Marcus VK5WTF meanwhile carried out his first shakedown attempt at kitting his vehicle out as well. After launch, Marcus headed to Bear Rock lookout near Palmer to join Peter VK5KX who again provided our primary Wenet downlink station. Grant VK5GR also paid Peter a visit and got to see the ground tracking side of the operation for the first time! We were also visited by Tim VK5ZT who decided to pay us a visit – great to see you out and about Tim!

Recovery went well in the end, with the teams being there for landing. They captured photos of the balloon moments before touchdown. 

Tracking Network

The tracking network continues to grow as well. We saw some new ground stations participate in collecting the Wenet image telemetry for the first time this flight! Stations who contributed to the image collection this time included:

VK5FJ, VK5QI, VK5EU, VK5KX, VK5DF

Welcome aboard to our first timers!

On the RTTY tracking side, there was a large group of participants. The following give you an idea of the magnitude of each station’s contribution – some from as far away as 300km from the launch site!

Flight Path

The flight path itself was pretty much textbook, with one minor wrinkle. It was planned for the flight to exceed 28-30km, however this time the balloon burst early. This caused some tense moments during landing when it started getting very close to the River Murray! There were some thoughts that it might go swiming at one stage, however thankfully that was averted.

Flight Statistics

Horus 43 - LaunchBox Flight Statistics
Metric Result
Flight Designation: Horus 43 – LaunchBox for Rostrevor College
Launch Date: 04/3/2017 23:37:09 UTC
Landing Date: 05/3/2017 01:52:53 UTC
Flight Duration: 2 Hours 15 Minutes
Launch Site: -35.07628 138.85695
Landing Site: -34.944965 139.318289
Distance Traveled: 44.5 km
Maximum Altitude: 25,907 m

Conclusion

Another successful flight and one we are happy to finally be able to complete.

Til next time – 73 from the Project Horus team

Horus 43 Balloon Launch – Sunday March 5th 10.00am

The fourth attempt to Fly Horus 43 is going to be made for LaunchBox and Rostrevor College this coming Sunday. The predictions look good and the ground conditions are currently forecast to be favourable. This time we hope to have a successful liftoff!

Tracking by stations in Adelaide and beyond will again prove most valuable for the flight. Beacons to look for will be:

  • RTTY 100 bps 7N1 telemetry – 434.650MHz
  • Wenet Imagery – 441.2MHz – Images can be seen (here).

Tracking will again be available via www.habhub.org

Liftoff is planned for 10.00am Sunday morning.

More information will be posted as we get closer to liftoff!

AREG Navy Day! Members take radio onto the water

An intrepid group of members decided to take radio to the water this weekend with the first inaugural AREG Navy day. Sailboats and runabouts took to the waters around Outer Harbor and the Port River off the coast of Adelaide today all in the name of a bit of fun. APRS of course was mandatory!

More members at Snowdens Beach for a lunch picnic later this afternoon! Sausages, salads, cakes and more were provided by several members. The dogs chased the seagulls and everyone sat back for a relaxing afternoon watching the racing sailors dodge and weave on the Port River! The event was such a success, it is likely we will bring it back next year…