AREG Committee 2017/18 Announced

The Annual General Meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group Inc was held on Friday August 18th 2017. At the meeting, the club said thank you first of all to two of it’s long standing committee members who stood down this year after many years of contributions. A big thank you to Ben VK5BB and Scott VK5TST (ex Secretary) for all of the work you have put into the committee and we hope you both enjoy more time now playing with radios and participating in club events!

Next, all positions were declared vacant, and nominations were called. As a result, the following is the committee membership for 2017/18:

AREG Committee 2017/18
Position Person Callsign
President Matthew Cook VK5ZM
Secretary Joshua Morgan VK5JO
Treasurer Grant Willis VK5GR
Andrew Hall VK5AKH
Kim Hawtin VK5FJ
Mark Jessop VK5QI
Theo Marinos VK5MTM
Darin Roberts VK5IX

We wish to welcome those taking up new positions and those joining the committee for the first time in 2017/18!

All members should note that membership fees for 2017/18 will be due at the conclusion of the September meeting!

AREG Members On Air: 2017 Remembrance Day Contest

WIA RD Trophy

The weekend of August 12-13th once again saw the running of the Wireless Institute of Australia’s annual Remembrance Day Contest. While AREG did not mount a club station, the club did encourage as many members as possible to get out there on the air! The members didn’t disappoint with 7 members active over the weekend.

Three members put together a team entry, known as “AREG: Team One”. The teams category is an additional endorsement available for the contest where pre-nominated teams scores are aggregated. Pitched at clubs and groups, it is a great way to foster comraderie among members. The other members each put in individual efforts.


AREG: Team One – Grant VK5GR, Mark VK5QI and Marcus VK3TST (aka VK5WTF)

Sunset over VK5QI’s QTH

Grant, Mark and Marcus joined together to run a team entry this year. Mark VK5QI ran from home, and managed with the help of a borrowed tuner to operate on 160 and 80m as well during the contest. Meanwhile Marcus and Grant elected to run portable operations.

Marcus this year again used an SO2R setup (Single Operator 2 radios) from a location inside the Murray Sunset National Park (hence he used VK3TST).

Meanwhile Grant VK5GR went north west and operated from Tickera on the eastern shores of Spencer Gulf. No SO2R but three different antennas were tried,including a 160m dipole, a G5RV for 80-10m and a elevated feed folded monopole which could be tuned from 40m to 6m. The purpose for the antenna mix was to gauge the effectiveness of the vertical, which is the antenna Grant will be taking to Niue in the South Pacific in September (where he will operate as E6AG – see e6ag.net for details).


Theo VK5MTM Portable

Also out in the field was Theo VK5MTM who operated for a few hours from the back of his car! Now there is dedication for you!


Home Stations

Operating from home, we also had Chris VK5SA who said “62 unique contacts in around 4 hours of operation, in around 6 blocks. Mainly 40m, with some huge signals on 20 from VK6 and VK4”.

Peter VK5KX also put in an effort and was worked several times by Grant VK5GR and others from the club.

Also on air was Chris VK5CP who operated his remote station from the comfort of his lounge room {smile}. Way to go Chris!

Conclusion

All up a lot of fun was had by all, playing what amounts of electronic pokemon where you are competing against the other operators and the ionosphere. Rumour has it a number of points records have fallen this year according to Alan VK4SN, the contest manager, so it will be interesting to see if any of the AREG team place anywhere in the rankings this year.

Thanks to everyone who participated around Australia for making this year’s RD Contest yet another great event.

Annual General Meeting – Friday August 18th @ 7.45pm

The next meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will be held on Friday August 18th, at the Reedbeds Community Hall, Fulham.

The doors will open at 7.45pm for an 8.00pm start.

To start the proceedings, the committee will recap the year’s events before moving into the reports and then the business of the meeting. All positions will be declared vacant and nominations will be sought.

The outgoing committee wishes to thank in particular Scott VK5TST and Ben VK5BB who have both indicated that they wish to step down in 2017/18. We look forward to new enthusiastic members joining the committee and continuing to drive the club forward as we enter the club’s 20th year!

A general meeting will follow the AGM, with a general coffee and cake discussion to be held afterwards. if you have a project you have been working on why not bring it along and show it off during the coffee discussions.

AREG in the 2017 Trans Tasman Low Band Challenge

UPDATE: The results have been published – VK5ARG came second in our multi-op division! Well done team!


On Saturday July 15th, AREG members VK5GR, VK5QI, VK5MTM and VK5IX gathered together with Steve VK5SFA at his QTH to participate in the Trans Tasman Low Band Challenge Contest  as VK5ARG. Originally planned as a portable operation, the portable activity was cancelled at the last minute due to a critical piece of equipment not being ready (the new club portable 160m loop antenna). The change of venue was deemed a fantastic outcome by all who participated as outside temperatures plummeted into the low single digits. Steve and his wife were fantastic hosts and we were able to operate the full 6 hours in luxurious conditions.

The station consisted of Steve’s IC7700 running either 80 or 160m on the Magnetic Loop antenna, while Grant’s K3 ran on 160/80/40m either on the 40m rotatable dipole or the 80/160m trapped dipole, depending on the combination we selected. We had hoped to also have a IC7000 dedicated to 40m, however the RFI from the MagLoop (one of their drawbacks it seems) was severe and rendered the second 40m station unusable. Something to learn from there when using the loop in later contests.

Four of us operated whilst one was there for moral support (guess which one (chuckle)). Activity came in bursts although there were times when the pickings were very slim and we called for many minutes without a bite. 40m was completely dead after dark, but not for want of propagation. When we did find someone (VK4HH) they were easily workable. It seems that 7MHz is forgotten in this contest after dark – perhaps unwisely so.

We also ran CW (having two gun CW operators helped) which filled in the dead patches  calling on SSB. We were going to try RTTY, but were still configuring the MicroHam keyer and hadn’t cracked the code of how to make it run with MMTTY and N1MM in time for the contest.

A highlight was the a number of contacts made with New Zealand stations this year. ZL contacts were achieved on 40, 80 and 160m, although on 160m it was often hard going.

The Transmitting Magnetic Loop Antenna we used for this contest on 80/160m

All up we made 211 contacts. Here is the map of where we worked

Thanks to everyone who participated from AREG and thanks also to all of the stations across VK/ZL who participated in this unique contest!

July General Meeting: Introduction to Antenna Modelling

The next AREG meeting will be held on Friday 21st July, starting at 7.45pm at the Reedbeds Community Centre, Fulham.

We are pleased to announce that the speaker for the July meeting will be Paul Lawson VK5SL. Paul will be introducing you to the basics of Antenna Modelling, and will demonstrate how to get started using the 4NEC2 program to examine antenna performance (4NEC2 is freely available on the Internet). He will take 3 of the antennas that Chris VK5SA described in his wire antennas for beginners talk a few months ago and show how you can visualize their radiation patterns and what their characteristics are on various frequencies.

In particular, Paul will show you how to model a basic dipole, a Windom (OCF Dipole) and an inverted V antenna, explaining how to define these in the software, what the components in the software do and how to set them to produce useful models of how the antenna is performing. This will be a great simple introduction to the topic of antenna modelling.

For those who then want to delve deeper, Paul has agreed later in the year to run a tech night where more complex antenna modelling will be examined for those who want to take it further.

We hope to see you at the club on Friday July 21st. Doors open at 7.45pm with the presentation getting underway at 8.00pm sharp.

AREG’s New 160m/80m Contesting Portable Antenna – Progress

Update – July 12th: Mounting of the tuning capacitor and motor drive is complete. Just a few more things and we will be ready for final assembly and tune up!


A group of members inside AREG, inspired by Steve VK5SFA’s success with his transmitting magnetic loop antennas have banded together to construct for the club it’s own 160/80m TMLA, specifically designed to be portable. It is able to be knocked down into components that can be packed into the back of a station wagon.

Significant progress was made today in assembling the antenna as we had hoped to have it ready to try at the IARU HF contest next weekend. We didn’t quite make it unfortunately, running out of daylight before we completed construction. However, we are now planning another session next weekend with the goal being to have the antenna finished and ready to run for the Trans Tasman Low Band Challenge contest the following weekend.

The club’s version of Steve’s antenna is using LCF78 coax instead of the wave-guide, with the vacuum capacitor mounted inside a water proof ex-camera case (great for transport and moisture proofing). The frame is made out of laminated bamboo broomsticks and a timber hub arrangement with the frame held together through compression provided by 8 ratchet straps. The aim is for the antenna to be suspended from a tree (or trees) at least 1 loop diameter above the ground (to increase it’s efficiency). It has been designed to accept 400W input power as well to overcome the efficiency issues these antennas can have.

Today’s construction efforts were led by Steve VK5SFA, Grant VK5GR and Scott VK5TST. The project wouldnt have been possible without generous donations from Steve VK5SFA, Peter VK5KX and Trevor VK5YFR.

The next steps are to complete mounting the motor tuning drive, do some structural adjustments to the frame, assemble the coupling loop and then test the antenna. This work will be completed next weekend, so keep an ear out for us during the TTLBC Contest on July 15th on 160 and 80m using our Transmitting Magnetic Loop Antennas!

AREG operating WIA HQ Station VK5WIA in IARU HF Championships

UPDATE: Over night crew working hard, band conditions difficult as usual…


AREG is pleased to announce that it will be fielding the operators to again run the WIA

VK5WIA in 2016

Headquarters Station for the 2017 IARU HF World Championships. The station will be run from the QTH of Chris VK5CP in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia. It is planned to have 2 transmitters on the air continuously at least. This year we are also hoping to get a 160m antenna and a couple of options for 80/75m antennas working from the site as well.

So look out for VK5WIA during next weekend and work us for headquarters station multiplier points! The Contest Rules are available from the ARRL Website.

Horus 44: Flight Report – Riverland BRL Field Day

On April 22nd 2017, the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group conducted an Amateur Radio focused balloon launch from the Riverland Radio Club’s VK5BRL Weekend event at Overland Corner Hotel in the Riverland. This launch was carried out to bring some interesting amateur radio based experiments to a new audience, and also to encourage more tracking stations to take part in Project Horus from the Riverland region (which is often a landing ground for the flights from the Adelaide Hills).

Ground Control

The launch campaign began at 9.00am with Bob VK5FO and Ray VK5RR helping Ivan VK5HS set up the balloon ground control station at the BRL Weekend event.

Horus 44 was the first flight of a new 2m/70cm voice repeater so we also were making contacts through the balloon using the VK5WOW special event callsign throughout the flight, promoting the Wireless Institute of Australia’s AGM which was being held in VK5 a few weeks later.

Launch Crew

Meanwhile the ground crew started preparations to launch the payloads. AREG members Matt VK5ZM, Mark VK5QI, Grant VK5GR, Darin VK5IX and Kim VK5FJ worked on assembling the payload train and filling the balloon with helium.

The predicted flight track was to take us east, to land tot he north west of Renmark. We certainly hoped is would follow that track, as there were many inaccessible obstacles in the Murray River marshlands area.

Lift Off

We were going to find out soon enough! Lift off was a text book effort, and straight away people were accessing the repeater, able to make contacts with VK5WOW. The only issue noticed early on was that the repeater’s receive filters were very narrow, enough to cause the mute to shut if you spoke to loudly. Even with that issue, contacts streamed through think and fast.

Once in the air, the repeater ran hot. The following stations made contact with VK5WOW via the balloon:

VK5WOW Log via Horus 44
Call Date-Time Mode
VK5ZD 2017-04-22 03:28:00 2M PH
VK5SFA 2017-04-22 03:26:00 2M PH
VK5GR 2017-04-22 03:25:00 2M PH
VK5APW 2017-04-22 03:19:00 2M PH
VK5DJ 2017-04-22 03:14:00 2M PH
VK5ZEA 2017-04-22 03:08:00 2M PH
VK5KC 2017-04-22 03:01:00 2M PH
VK5PJ 2017-04-22 02:59:00 2M PH
VK5ST 2017-04-22 02:55:00 2M PH
VK3BQ 2017-04-22 02:50:00 2M PH
VK5LOX 2017-04-22 02:40:00 2M PH
VK5AKH 2017-04-22 02:39:00 2M PH
VK5FDJW 2017-04-22 02:38:00 2M PH
VK5DF 2017-04-22 02:37:00 2M PH
VK5SFA 2017-04-22 02:35:00 2M PH
VK5QI 2017-04-22 02:33:00 2M PH
VK5KX 2017-04-22 02:32:00 2M PH
VK5FANA 2017-04-22 02:30:00 2M PH
VK5MTM 2017-04-22 02:29:00 2M PH
VK5SA 2017-04-22 02:25:00 2M PH
VK5ZTJ 2017-04-22 02:24:00 2M PH
VK5TS 2017-04-22 02:23:00 2M PH
VK5ZEA 2017-04-22 02:22:00 2M PH
VK5DJ 2017-04-22 02:21:00 2M PH
VK5ZX 2017-04-22 02:20:00 2M PH
VK5GR 2017-04-22 02:18:00 2M PH
VK5ST 2017-04-22 02:16:00 2M PH
VK5DF 2017-04-22 02:15:00 2M PH
VK5ZAR 2017-04-22 02:13:00 2M PH
VK5BB 2017-04-22 02:12:00 2M PH
VK5OI 2017-04-22 02:10:00 2M PH
VK5AW 2017-04-22 02:09:00 2M PH
VK5ZK 2017-04-22 02:08:00 2M PH
VK5SFA 2017-04-22 02:06:00 2M PH
VK5ZTJ 2017-04-22 02:04:00 2M PH
VK5FANA 2017-04-22 02:01:00 2M PH
VK5LOX 2017-04-22 02:00:00 2M PH
VK5NE 2017-04-22 01:57:00 2M PH
VK5ZT 2017-04-22 01:55:00 2M PH
VK5DJ 2017-04-22 01:52:00 2M PH
VK5MRE 2017-04-22 01:50:00 2M PH
VK5FD 2017-04-22 01:50:00 2M PH
VK5PAS 2017-04-22 01:49:00 2M PH
VK5FMAZ 2017-04-22 01:48:00 2M PH
VK5LA 2017-04-22 01:47:00 2M PH
VK5AW 2017-04-22 01:46:00 2M PH
VK2EF 2017-04-22 01:45:00 2M PH
VK5ZAI 2017-04-22 01:44:00 2M PH
VK5FO 2017-04-22 01:43:00 2M PH
VK5PE 2017-04-22 01:42:00 2M PH
VK5AHZ 2017-04-22 01:41:00 2M PH
VK5FTAZ 2017-04-22 01:40:00 2M PH
VK5FBJC 2017-04-22 01:39:00 2M PH
VK5RR 2017-04-22 01:38:00 2M PH
VK5TRM 2017-04-22 01:37:00 2M PH
VK5ZM 2017-04-22 01:36:00 2M PH
VK5GR 2017-04-22 01:35:00 2M PH

The repeater footprint continued to expand, and just reached Melbourne before the balloon burst.

WENET brings Superb Pictures

In addition to the voice repeater, the WENET camera payload also flew collecting stunning images of the Riverland region from the air.

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Chase & Recovery

Meanwhile the chase teams had driven to Renmark and were watching intently as the balloon progressed along its path.  The two AREG teams were joined this time by Peter VK5PE and a crew from the Riverland Radio Club. The local knowledge they brought to the chase was invaluable!

At one stage we became quite nervous as it appeared it may actually land in the marshes. However, the winds once again became favorable and the landing zone looked very good indeed.

Recovery occurred after a short hike into a local conservation park, but not before we watched the balloon descend gracefully from about 1500m elevation!

Flight Statistics

The fight track for Horus 44 shows that there were fairly light high altitude winds on this day. Once clearing the ground winds the flight profile was remarkably vertical.

The detailed flight statistics are:

Horus 44 - BRL Weekend Amateur Radio Launch - Flight Statistics
Metric Result
Flight Designation: Horus 44 – BRL Weekend
Launch Date: 22/4/2017 01:36:17 UTC
Landing Date: 22/4/2017 04:25:41 UTC
Flight Duration: 2 Hours 49 Minutes
Launch Site: -34.153467 140.339623
Landing Site: -34.107695 140.651783
Distance Traveled: 29.1 km
Maximum Altitude: 29,953 m

This time we saw major contributions from many of our ground stations too. The following pi-chart shows who collected telemetry for this flight.

Conclusion

It was a very successful flight! A huge thank you again to everyone who was involved, and in particular to the Riverland Radio Club for the invitation to come and fly from their back yard. Thanks also to the AREG members who traveled and stayed in the Riverland to fly Horus 44, with a special thanks to Sharon VK5FSAW who once again helped with logistics through catering the lunches for those chasing the balloon!