AREG’s 20th Anniversary Event – Horus 50 Balloon Launch – 4th November 2018

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2018 marks 20 years since the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group was formed. To celebrate this milestone, the club is planning to fly a special Amateur Radio focused high altitude balloon in what will be the 50th Project Horus Mission.

The Project Horus team itself is also celebrating 8 years in the air! Project Horus was founded by Terry Baume and continues to perform regular high-altitude balloon launches from locations around South Australia under the auspices of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group.

When will this be happening? Currently it is planned to fly on Sunday the 4th of November (weather permitting). Liftoff is planned for 10AM ACDT. We are going for altitude so coverage will hopefully extend as far as Melbourne at the peak of the flight.

The goal is to engage with amateur radio in as many ways as possible. We want you to talk through the balloon, see the world from the balloon’s perspective and know where the balloon is during the flight! How can you do all this you might ask? The Project Horus team have specifically tailored this flight to include:

  • a 2m (down) / 70cm (up) Cross-band FM repeater. Amateurs within the repeater footprint will be able to make live QSOs with the club station VK5ARG and each other via the FM repeater using relatively modest stations.
  • a 2m SSTV beacon transmitting images from the balloon live during the flight. You will be able to see the world from the balloon’s perspective using a 2m receiver and simple software (you can even use an app on your phone).
  • Track the balloon via a 2m APRS beacon during the flight!

The launch site will be the usual Mt Barker High School Oval. Launch crews should be on-site around 8:30-9AM. If you haven’t attended one of our launches before, this is a great opportunity to come along and see what’s involved first-hand!

As usual, there’s always the chance the weather for the planned launch date may not be suitable, so a backup launch date of Sunday the 18th of November has been tentatively penciled in (the 11th being the AHARS buy & sell weekend).

Cross-band FM Repeater

Likely suspects operating the cross-band repeater on Horus 23

The cross-band repeater will be using the following frequencies:

  • Uplink: 438.900 MHz, with a 123 Hz CTCSS tone required for activation.
  • Downlink: 147.500 MHz  (~1.4W output power).

To transmit to the balloon at the maximum range of 700km (once the balloon reaches >30km) you will need approximately 10-30W and an 10dBi gain antenna and a clear takeoff towards the balloon. Those stations closer to the launch site will be able to get away with much less.

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU can hear the repeater before transmitting
and remember to make sure you SET YOUR CTCSS TO 123Hz
or you will not access the repeater.

As with previous flights, the repeater will be run as a controlled net. Listen for VK5ARG acting as net control and please follow their instructions so that as many people as possible can share the repeater.

FM-SSTV Imagery Payload

Instead of the usual Wenet imagery payload this launch will have a new SSTV transmitter operating on 145.100 MHz FM. It will run approximately 250mW transmit power. The transmitter will have 30 second gaps between image transmissions to avoid overheating the transmitter.

Scottie 2 SSTV Imagery Example

The payload will be transmitting images using the Scottie 2 SSTV mode throughout the flight, and can be decoded using any SSTV software capable of decoding this mode (pretty much all of them!). This is a mode that typically is used on HF but is equally adapted to VHF FM work. (Note it is not the same as the PD120 transmissions from ISS).

Examples of suitable software you can use to decode the SSTV pictures include:

Any FM receiver (including handhelds) should be capable of receiving this payload, though as with the cross-band repeater, a Yagi antenna may be necessary for reliable reception at the edges of the transmitter footprint.

If you do receive images, please post them to Social Media and on Twitter include the #horus50 hashtag so everyone can see them!

Telemetry Payloads

As always, we’ll be flying the usual assortment of telemetry payloads, including:

  • Our usual 100 baud 7N2 RTTY telemetry on 434.650 MHz USB. This can be decoded using dl-fldigi, with a reception guide available here.
  • 4FSK Telemetry decoder

    The new 4FSK Binary telemetry will be transmitting on 434.640 MHz USB. This uses a separate decoder, with setup instructions for this available here. (Previous listeners note that there have been updates to the software – please re-download the latest version!). We would love reports of how the 4FSK signal compares to standard RTTY!

  • If weight permits, there will be an APRS beacon operating on 145.175 MHz with the callsign VK5ARG-12. This will be received automatically by the APRS network.
Tracking of the flight will be available on the HabHub Tracker, available at this link. (Note that other balloon launches will also be visible on this page, including the Bureau of Meteorology launches from Adelaide Airport).
Follow the #horus50 hashtag on Twitter for updates from the launch and chase teams on the launch day.
Stay tuned for updates closer to the launch date…
73
Mark VK5QI

AREG IRLP & DSTAR Gateways Back in time for JOTA

 

After several months of disruptions due to lightning and HDD failures at both the VK5RSB IRLP node and the VK5RWN DSTAR Gateway AREG is pleased to announce that we have been able to restore both services in time for this weekend’s Jamboree on the Air for the Scouting and Guiding communities.


VK5RSB Internet Relay Linking Project Node #6214

The IRLP Node 6214 will be available for use by users supporting JOTA this weekend, 20, 21 October. The node can be accessed via the VK5RSB 70cm repeater on 439.900 (-5MHz) using a 91.5Hz CTCSS access tone.

In the support for JOTA, the prefix access code has been removed for this weekend, thus allowing free access to the node.

Therefore to access remote IRLP nodes,

  • dial in the 4 digit DTMF node address of the remote node.
  • to disconnect the IRLP connection, just dial “73” a the end of the QSO.

AREG wishes the JOTA teams and other users, to have fun with contacts via the IRLP Node 6214.


VK5RWN DSTAR Gateway Restored for the 2m/70cm repeaters

The VK5RWN D-Star repeater and gateway is also now fully functional after its computer rebuild. It’s new computer has been installed and the gateway configuration is now complete using the new ICOM G3 software.

Currently the configuration is;

  • Port C, the 2m port, is unlinked and available for general use or user linking to reflectors and gateways etc (147.0375 +600kHz)
  • Port B, the 70cm port, is permanently linked to Reflector REF023C and will output any activity on this reflector and will repeat local RF activity on the 70cm channel into the reflector network. (438.400 -5.4MHz)

NOTE: Port B may be disconnected from the link to REF023C with the unlink command, “^^^^^^^U” , (the ^ represents spaces)  then it may be connected by the user to another address.

VK5RWN activity is now being reported to various Dashboards,

D-Star network access seems to fully functional. Ben VK5BB reports that he has tested linking to several reflectors through the local gateway as well as connecting directly to VK5RWN via his JumboSpot hot spot successfully.

So, any members or DSTAR users in Adelaide who have an interest in D-Star, have D-star capable radios and are registered on the D-Star system, please give VK5RWN a try out and feedback will be appreciated please?

73 from Ben VK5BB

AREG Meeting THIS FRIDAY – Member Lightning Talks Round 2

The next meeting of AREG will be held on Friday October 19th starting 7.45pm. The topic for the evening is another round of Lightning Talks presented by you the members. The task is simple, you have 5 minutes to introduce or talk about your latest experiment, amateur related activity or idea. We have 6 slots so don’t be bashful, come along and tell us what has made you tick in Amateur Radio.

One of the talks will be a quick intro on how to decode SSTV using a 2m handheld and a phone – something that might be helpful for Horus 50!

A screen will be available provided you can deliver your talk via MS Powerpoint. Bring props or whatever you wish while the time keeper will keep proceedings lively by holding everyone to their 5 minute time limit.

The general meeting will be held after the talks so come along and meet your fellow AREG members face to face.

Visitors are always welcome too!

The meeting is held at the Fulham Community Centre, Phelps Court, Fulham.

IRLP Node 6214 on VK5RSB 70cm off air!

The Amateur Radio Experimenters Group are sorry to inform the amateur radio community and the users of the IRLP node 6214, that the node is off air for the immediate short term future.

The IRLP node computer, a Raspberry Pi 1, was a victim of the lightning storm over Adelaide Tuesday evening on the 2nd October.

The QTH from where the equipment operates, was directly under a large lightning bolt, which did not strike the ground or local area. It appears though, that the Electro Magnetic Pulse from the lightning bolt did impact immediately below and caused inducted currents in the LAN Ethernet cables connecting the Raspberry Pi to the QTH computer LAN system and the NBN.

The effect of this induced current on those Ethernet cables, took out the QTH modem and the Ethernet ports on the IRLP Raspberry Pi and the shack computer. All other equipment was or does not appear to have been affected.

A call has gone out for a replacement Raspberry Pi 1 as it would be a drop in replacement. If a Raspberry Pi 1 cannot be obtained then later models can be used but, a new operating system image will need to be built up.

So, until a replacement Raspberry Pi is installed, unfortunately the IRLP node 6214 will be off air.

We will keep you posted when updates are available.

OCDX Contest Low Band Antenna Test & Tune Day

The Low Band station team for the AREG OCDX effort this year are planning a working bee this Sunday (Sept 23rd) starting at 1pm. The aim is to erect, tune and test the 160m vertical that we plan on using for the contest. We will be using the vacant paddock on Lyons Road in Dernancourt just west of the Hope Valley reservoir (opposite the community hall).

If you would like to come and help, offer words of encouragement or go for a walk laying 700m of radials out, you would be most welcome. As the wavelength suggests, everything is big at 160m. The vertical will be 17m tall and have 16x40m ground radials so it will take a bit to get it in the air. Any help will be welcome.

We also plan on doing a verification test of the 80m vertical as well time permitting.


Update: 24th September – we had the antenna in the air on Sunday after a couple of mechanical hiccups. Tuning was proving a little complicated and an alternate matching network is being drawn up to overcome this.

Here are some photos from the tune and test day. A big thanks to everyone who came along and helped (VK5FGRY, VK5FO, VK5RR, VK5TST, VK5XDX, VK5SL, VK5GR, VK5SFA, VK5ZAR).

VK5ARG RD Contest Results 2018 – 1st Place Multi-One

The Remembrance Day Contest Results are out for 2018 and we are pleased to announce that VK5ARG scored first place this year in the Multi-One category with 875 points. Thank you team for all your efforts in the freezing conditions and we look forward to running it again in 2019! A special thanks also to Paul VK5PH who let us use his hills QTH for the event.

AREG September Meeting: Bends & Hitches not Knots!

Have you ever tried to put up a mast but struggled to tie things up so they stay in the air? Have you tried to sling antennas from trees but had them fall down faster than you could get them up? Have you struggled with rope craft in general but never had anyone to show you the right way?

As amateur radio operators, this is an important skill that will allow you to safely tie off ropes and guys so that your antennas and masts stay erect! So, why not come along to the next AREG meeting on Friday 21 September and learn from our resident rope expert how to do it right the first time.

After the presentation, there will be a break for a light supper of tea, coffee and cake where you can mingle and rag chew on the current events. This break will then be followed by an AREG club business meeting.

So remember folks, this coming Friday, the 21 September for the next AREG general meeting, everyone is invited.

Meeting time & Place: Friday, the 21 September at the Fulham Community Centre, off Phelps Court Fulham. The doors opening at 7:45 pm with the presentation starting at 8:00 pm.

AREG welcomes newcomers to the hobby!

Today AREG ran a foundation and license upgrade exam service at the club rooms. We are pleased to announce that we have 4 new amateur radio operators now joining the ranks!

The club would not have been able to offer these exams without the support of our examiners, so a big thank you is due to Ivan VK5HS, Chris VK5CP and Paul VK5PH for taking the time to come and facilitate for us.

The club would also like to thank those AREG members that popped into visit and offer support and take the time to assist our participants in feeling welcome, relaxed and even participate in the practicals. It was great to see everyone chipping in… To Gary VK5FGRY, Darin VK5IX and Chris VK5SA again a big thank you. A special thanks also to Leslie Levingston who took the time to bake a serious number of cupcakes as “brain food” for all to enjoy.

Once again a big congratulations to everyone that passed their examinations today and we look forward to seeing you get started on air. Your amateur radio journey is now beginning so please consider dropping in to the AREG at future meetings – you will find many people willing to help you along your way!