AREG Annual General Meeting: July 17th + Guest Speaker

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Your AREG committee wishes to announce that the Annual General Meeting for 2015/2016 will be held on Friday July 17th starting 7.45pm. All committee positions will be declared vacant and elections for the coming year will be held.

Nominations are now open, so if you would like to become more involved in the running of your club then please notify the secretary.

RTTY Contesting

After the formal business part of the evening is over, we will then have a talk by Chris VK5CP on what he learned at the RTTY Contest University at the Dayton Hamvention. Hopefully Chris will also tell us some stories about what he saw at Dayton 2015.

The meeting will take place at our usual location of the Reedbeds Community Centre, 19 Fitch Rd Fulham. See you there!

AREG activates VK100ANZAC as the WIA National HQ station in IARU Contest

On the weekend of July 11th and 12th, the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will be activating the WIA special vk100anzacevent callsign VK100ANZAC as part of this year’s IARU HF Contest as the official WIA Headquarters station.

The IARU HF Championships encourage amateurs to contact as many other amateurs, especially IARU member society HQ stations, around the world as possible using the 160, 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meter bands. Operation will begin at 1200 UTC Saturday and ending 1200 UTC Sunday (July 11-12, 2015).

Look for VK100ANZAC / WIA during this weekend and give us a call! Better still, why not give the IARU Championships a go yourself. Details are available on the ARRL website

 

VI5MCP Special Event Station

 

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VI5MCP QSL Card

Between the 11th and the 26th of July Members of AREG will be activating a special event station VI5MCP.

The Special event is in celebration of the 100 years of Proclamation of the Morialta Falls Pleasure Resort, which we now know as Morialta Conservation Park.  The 100th anniversary of the park is on Wednesday the 15th of July 2015.

Morialta CP is located in the Hills to the East of Adelaide and is a popular location for Portable operations.  Activations of this park qualify for the SANPCPA – South Australia National Parks and Conservations Parks Award and also for WWFF and VKFF as VKFF-783

The Aim of this special event station is to celebrate the 100th anniversary and to  further promote awareness of portable operations and awards.

We are planning on Activations  from the park over the 2 week period and at the moment we have some confirmed and some tentative activations scheduled, please keep an eye on this post as we will update the schedule in the coming days.

VI5MCP Calendar July 2015

Planned activation dates and frequencies/bands

DATE LOCAL TIME / UTC BAND/FREQ NOTES
Saturday 11th
Sunday 12th 10:00 / 00:30UTC 7.140 SSB /147.500 FM then 14.240 or 14.310 Around 2 hours
Monday 13th
Tuesday 14th
Wednesday 15th 10:00 / 00:30UTC 7.140 / 10.130 /14.240 or 14.310 Around 2 hours or longer if a lot of chasers
Thursday 16th
Friday 17th
Saturday 18th 13:00 -17:30 / 03:30 – 08:00 UTC 14.240 or 14.310 and
7.140
Looking for EU DX on 20M * running a 2Element on 20M
Sunday 19th 10:00 / 00:30UTC 7.140 SSB /147.500 FM then 14.240 or 14.310 Around 2 hours
Monday 20th
Tuesday 21st
Wednesday 22nd 10:00 / 00:30UTC 7.140 / 10.130 /14.240 or 14.310 Around 2 hours or longer if a lot of chasers
Thursday 23rd
Friday 24th
Saturday 25th
Sunday 26th 10:00 / 00:30UTC 7.140 SSB /147.500 FM then 14.240 or 14.310 Around 2 hours

*Note Mode will be SSB unless specifically noted as otherwise.

UPDATE: VK5RSB 6m repeater is back, 23cm Repeater Offline for Repairs

Regular users of the VK5RSB repeater tower clipart23cm repeater may have noticed a deterioration in audio quality when the repeater is in use for an extended period. As of the 15th of June, the  repeater has been removed from service so repairs can be affected.

Many thanks go to Colin VK5ACE for building and continuing to maintain the best coverage 23cm repeater in VK5!

Meanwhile, the VK5RSB 6m is now back on the air thanks to the efforts of Rod VK5UDX and Adrian VK5ZBR. The new antenna has been installed and the repeater has been repaired. Thanks guys for your efforts!

Next Meeting: June 19th – RPM200 Show and Tell

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The next meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will be held this coming Friday, June 19th at the Reedbeds Community Hall starting at 7.45pm.

The talk this evening will be a show and tell of all of the events leading up to and during the RPM200 from the communications network’s perspective. There is much that happens behind the scenes to make this event possible. We will talk about much of that as well as showing what the club has now assembled in terms of supporting equipment. The results from things like the APRS experiment will also be presented, and some early thoughts on what we might do in that space next year will be given.

There will also be an opportunity for those who participated to give the committee their feedback on what went right, and what can be improved for next year’s event. Your feedback is invaluable to us as part of our drive to continually improve the event so please come along and share your experiences too!

In addition, there will also be a short business meeting, as well as the usual coffee, cake and chat afterwards.

Visitors are always welcome so come on down! You can find the clubrooms at the address below:

Get Directions

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RPM200 APRS network experiment deemed a success!

aprsOne of the experiments AREG members wanted to try was to see how APRS would fair tracking various assets across the RPM200 event. The idea was to see how much of an improvement we could gain in our situation awareness capabilities back at net control.

To facilitate this, the AREG built and configured 5 Byonics based TinyTrack3’s which were mated to 5W handhelds. Each of these were installed in one of the safety boats as well as various vehicles, which were run as unattended packet radio stations under the club callsign VK5ARG (in accordance with the amateur LCDs).

The biggest challenge we faced was providing enough coverage of the river. This stretch of the River Murray is in many places bounded by 20-40m high cliffs making even VHF radio access difficult, especially for small 5W trackers.

To get the position information back to the communications centre, various members then established mobile IGates from their vehicles or accommodation, which supplemented the local full time gate provided by Larry VK5LY in Renmark. This allowed the received packets to be forwarded into the APRS-IS network from various points along the river.

Members also set up their vehicles as WIDE1-1 local digipeaters whilst they manned checkpoints to provide additional coverage in places where access direct to an IGate or the local VK5RLD APRS digipeater was not possible.

Back at the communication centre, the combined feed was able to be monitored either directly from RF or the APRS-IS backbone via websites like www.aprs.fi

The Results

Coverage was surprisingly good for most of the event. A couple of problem areas were identified where we may look at putting temporary digipeaters next year, however overall we were most impressed with what could be achieved with 5 Watts.

VK5ARG-9 - Race Director

VK5ARG-9 – Race Vehicle

VK5ARG-12 - Front End Charlie 200

VK5ARG-12 – Front End Charlie 200

VK5ARG-13 Front End Charlie 100

VK5ARG-13 Front End Charlie 100

VK5ARG-14 Tail End Charlie 100

VK5ARG-14 Tail End Charlie 100

VK5ARG-15 Tail End Charlie 200

VK5ARG-15 Tail End Charlie 200

From the perspective of how this contributed to the event, on at least one occasion it proved invaluable when a fuse blew on the VHF radio on one of the safety boats, Despite that failure, the APRS kept running, allowing us to track the boat in question to a point on the river where we could send one of our service technicians to solve the problem.

Overall, while theoretically we understood what it should mean to have access to this sort of near real time information, there is nothing like the experience of operating in net control and literally having it available at our fingertips. It is one aspect of the event we are definitely going to look to improve for next year!

River Paddling Marathon 200 Communications Network 2015

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Day 2 Sunrise at Checkpoint E9 / COMMS Centre Kingston on Murray

Introducing the River Paddling Marathon 200

The RPM200 is a community event run MCC Logoeach year along the Murray River from Berri to Morgan in South Australia. Over 120 canoes and 140 paddlers take part in various versions of the event spanning 35, 50, 100 and 200km distances over the three days.

This is an endurance race in the middle of winter, often with paddlers spread out over up to 30km of the river at a time. Monitoring the welfare of everyone involved and helping those in need when called requires an extensive communications network.

The combined Amateur Radio Experimenters Group (AREG) and Riverland Amateur Radio Club (RARC) became involved with this event after AREG was approached directly by the Marathon Canoe Club of SA in 2014. Following that invitation, we set about designing a radio network to cover the 20 land based check points, 4 boats, 2 medics and the race director, and then provided an army of volunteers to run it all. The network consisted of a mix of 2m and 70cm Amateur VHF/UHF voice and APRS stations as well as a 164MHz commercial network to facilitate communications from the non-amateur event assets (such as the saftey boats). From AREG’s perspective, it was a great way to give something back to the community from our hobby, but also it provided a very interesting platform for carrying out various networked radio experiments.

 

So, how do it all play out in 2015? Read on to find out!

Day 1 – Berri to Moorook – Foggy then Fine!

Highlights of the first day included a very early and foggy start across much of the river. The paddlers on Day 1 Depart Berri, from where they paddle downstream. Matt VK5ZM and Josh VK5JO drew the short straw this year and manned the start at Martins Bend. The first major hurdle is traversing Lock 4. Considering the temperatures and conditions battling the cold is a serious issue we have to contend with during this event. AREG staffed the lock with 4 operators, Andy VK5AKH, Dennis VK5FDEN, Paul VK5JG and Scott VK5FSKS while Scott VK5TST and Grant VK5GR ran the opening COMMS net control from a hill overlooking Lock 4.

Downstream at Loxton, the Riverland Radio club team consisting Ivan VK5HS, Peter VK5FLEX, Rob VK5MRE and Grant VK5GR from AREG helped run the M100 Start line where roughly an additional 60 paddlers entered the race for the 100km challenge.

Meanwhile back at Moorook, the AREG COMMS team ran net control from the finish line. Other members including Mark VK5QI and Gary VK5FGRY ran the checkpoint at Pyap while Ben VK5BB and his wife Olga, plus Loius VK5FLY and Rob VK5TRM from the Riverland radio club ran the MiniMarathon start line at New Residence.

Josh VK5JO, Matt VK5ZM, Andy VK5AKH, Scott VK5TST, Grant VK5GR, Paul VK5BX and most importantly Peter VK5KX with helo from others built and operated the primary net control at Moorook. Peter’s bus made an excellent radio comms base and it’s facilities were very much appreciated by all involved!

Event Support Activities

The other critical activity is of course feeding the troops. The AREG crew however was at no risk of going hungry as the Sharon VK5FSAW catering team was on hand, assisted by Irene (VK5AKH’s mum) and Amelia (Sharon and Grant VK5GR’s daughter). Lunch boxes for 20 were made each day with cake and sandwiches and Saturday dinner was a hearty beef stew with apple crumble for desert. The food was widely praised by everyone!

We did also have to break out the mobile AREG radio repair lab. Matt VK5ZM toiled late into the night the Friday before the event tuning radios!

matt tuning radios friday night resized

Day 2 – A Cold Start – Moorook to Waikerie

IMG_1475Day 2 began with more early starts. Net control started at sunrise from the banks of the river at Kingston on Murray run by Scott VK5TST and Grant VK5GR. It also doubled as Checkpoint E9.  Meanwhile, Mark VK5QI and Gary VK5FGRY attended the start back at Moorook. Matt VK5ZM lead the lock crew of Bob VK5FO, Ben VK5BB and Ben’s wife Olga at Lock 3 while Rob VK5TS from RARC staffed Wigley Flat with his wife Sandy.

Ivan VK5HS teamed up with with PeterIMG_1477 VK5FLEX, Andy VK5AKH and Scott VK5FSKS to run the Devlins Pound M100 start checkpoint. Peter was truely dedicated as he actually camped out at Devlins Pound overnight!

The next checkpoint was run by Mark VK5QI, Gary VK5FGRY, Louis VK5FLY and Ron VK5TRM while the finish was staffed by Chris VK5CP and family.

Net control had a number of people rotate through during the day including Peter VK5KX and Josh VK5JO. Again everything ran smoothly, with one small wrinkle when the power supply for one of the course safety boats failed (blown fuse). Mid course repairs were effected thanks to Paul VK5BX who met them at one of the intermediate checkpoints with the spares to restore service.

Day 3 – Early Starts – Waikerie to Morgan

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Andy VK5AKH and Grant VK5GR operating Net Control from Sunlands west of Waikerie

Day 3 saw the paddlers start before Dawn from Waikerie. Net Control was online from 5.30am overlooking the river from the cliffs west of the town thanks to Andy VK5AKH and Grant VK5GR. Dennis VK5FDEN and Paul VK5JG manned the start while Scott VK5TST manned the Sunlands checkpoint.

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Canoes in Lock 2

By sunrise, the paddlers had made it to Lock 2, the last of the lock transits for this year. The lock crew this time consisted of Matt VK5ZM, Bob VK5FO, Chris VK5CP and Leena VK5FUNN. Unlike Day 2 there were no holdups at the lock and the race progressed efficiently through this stage of the event.

After Lock 2 the paddlers proceeded down river to Hogwash Bend. Here we had to perform some emergency repairs to one of the medic car commercial VHF radios which had failed. Once that was replaced, the combined Riverland Radio Club and AREG teams successfully oversaw the start of the 100km Day 3 event.

Molo Flat was the next checkpoint staffed by Mark VK5QI and Gary VK5FGRY while the Mini Marathon Start was managed by VK5BB and his wife Olga, VK5TST and VK5JO.

The comms centre for Day 3 was located on a hill overlooking the Cadell Ferry. This location was chosen to provide good VHF coverage of the river from Lock 2 through to the finish line. Principle staffers today were VK5BB, VK5KX, VK5BX, VK5ZM and VK5GR.

The final checkpoint was E20 in Morgan. Andy VK5AKH and Scott VK5FSKS were the principle operators at the finish.

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Conclusion

At the end of the day all of the paddlers had been accounted for, and of the incidents closed out. All of the VHF Commercial and 147/438MHz Amateur network had been deployed and then recovered and most of all, the organizers were very happy with the service that AREG, RARC and the amateur radio operators who participated provided to support this event. The feedback received was that this event has achieved an extra level of safety through the communications capabilities and skills that Amateur Radio has been able to bring to the community. A great demonstration of the value of Amateur Radio and it’s relevance to today’s society!

Thank You!

The AREG radio communications team organizing committee would particularly like to thank all of the members and their families of AREG and RARC who participated in this event. Without your efforts not only during the event but in the many weeks leading up to it, the communications network would not have achieved the quality that it did.

A special thank you to Matthew VK5ZM is also in order who lead the organisation of the event for AREG and who undertook the principle liaisons with not only the Marathon Canoe Club but also the many other support and official organisations required along the way.

Thank you all! See you next year!

River Paddling Marathon 200 – Radio Network Ready

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After three weekends of consecutive working bees that have been very well attended by club members, plus many late nights spent by the organizing committee on the logistics and planning, AREG is ready to deliver the communications network to the River Paddling Marathon 200 over the June long weekend. The committee sincerely wishes to thank all of the members who have volunteered to help each weekend. You have, as a group, helped sustain the pizza shops in the NE suburbs it seems…although the home made lasagna on Saturday definitely hit a cord with those who were in attendance.

MCC LogoOn Friday night, it was great to see most of the participants at the clubrooms for the operator briefing. Many thoughtful questions were asked. It was encouraging to see people thinking carefully and clearly about why AREG was there and what we needed to achieve for the event organizers. Thanks in particular to the MCC organizers who attended and provided the extra insights into the event, in particular Martin Finn and Peter Schar.

All of this build up now leads to the main event. Looking forward to seeing everyone in the Riverland and meeting up with our additional operators from the Riverland Amateur Radio Club!