AGM – July 15th – Topic: Road Traffic Control Systems

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AGMThe committee wishes to formally advise members that the Annual General Meeting for 2016 will be held on Friday 15th of July starting at 8.00pm.

The location will  be the Reedbeds Community Hall, Phelps Court, Fulham.

After the formal part of the AGM meeting, there will be a guest presentation by Rod Baker, VK5ZTV. Rod will speak about the technologies used to manage Adelaide’s road transport system. This will provide a fascinating insight into this very complex system.

AREG at the National Foxhunting Championships with VK5ZBR

I thought I would share our weekend at SERG Mt Gambier Fox Hunting Convention.

Team Moose (aka VK5ZBR) had 6 members:VK5ZBR team moose Logo

  • Mike VK5AGI – driver, ARDF
  • Rod VK5UDX – navigator, DF & ARDF
  • Liz (XYL) – navigator, ARDF & back up driver
  • Adrian VK5ZBR – DF & ARDF
  • Kerry (XYL) – navigator & ARDF
  • Alayna (harmonic) – ARDF, collecting sticks and playground critic

Kerry and Liz were learning to navigate as Luke (VK5UDX son) is working in Hayman Island. There was two other VK5 teams: VK5TV (Bevan and his wife who upgraded to a Prado this year) and VK5FAB (Ken and Paul Burns and extended family).

This year we decided if were changing navigators we would try something new with the receiver side of things. After last years 23cm efforts of not even being able to hear the fox we decided to try SDR technology (as the winning VK3 team last year was able to see that the 23cm was way off frequency).

The SDR did work well but it was not what I was expecting. Have you ever tried to DF with a yagi or loop on a SDR using HDSDR? It’s a real mind bender! It’s like you have a rubber band coupling on your antenna. Everything is delayed but by the end of the weekend I got the delay (latency) down quite a bit by lowering the bandwidth to 200KHz and lowering the sampling rates etc. When the going got tough or my mind bent too much I went back to my trusty ammo box DF radio I built in 1994.

Saturday

Rod teaching Alayna to ARDFEvent 1 was the 10 Leg ARDF in Marist Park (crater), very hilly and great to hide foxes. Our team split up into 3 groups (Mike and I were on our own and the rest as a collective group). You have your yagi’s, DF radios and get two hours to complete the hunt. Most of the time you’re at a brisk walk or a jog and you get very quite wet in the tall scrub or rain. I did very well getting 7 after making a mistake that cost me a bit of time. The others did very well as finding 6.

Event 2 is the horrible 4 leg FM transmitters on the same frequency with CW ID’s in any order. They come up at 30sec intervals after each other and sometimes they get out of sync which does strange things to the Doppler. The audio comes out as a horrible ripping sound when they over lapped, which the SDR can see but this doesn’t help with direction. We took too long on the first one and ran out of time to get all 4.

Event 3 was the Wane Kilpatrick Night Hunt (5 Legs) and is the event we all look forward to as it’s fun and can break you or your car (both which has happened in past years). Just to finish the night is a success.

LeChanging antenna night huntg 1 we took ages to find the first 2m leg that was 25km from the start in a forest. The fox did very infrequent transmissions that caused us to over shoot were we should have turned a few times. We felt like killing the fox (some other teams did on air) but we were all smiles when we finally found the fox.

Leg 2 70cm and leg 3 were in VK3 and it’s where our maps kept swapping over. The VK3 maps are not as good as the VK5 maps to start with but Rod VK5UDX and Kerry our navigators did a fine job working out were to go with such poor detail. We basically had to follow our noises through some grass tracks to get to the fox.

Rod and Kerry navigating night huntLeg 4 was the nasty 6m band and ended up being near the Gas pumping station next to a runway strip. The rule to 6m is to get as many good bearing and where the lines cross over is where it is. But if they are play trick on you it’s not. Hmm tricky and not being in the clear makes is a challenge but we found him after an hour looking.

Leg 5 the 10m leg, this band just goes a long way. This was our easiest leg, we had 35min to find him and we did with 5min to spare. He was set up in the car park on the mount it self near town with a 10m squid pole. We were surprise to see Bevan there too on the phone, but he knew where to go as he had found the 10m fox earlier by chance when he was trying to get a fix on leg 2 70cm fox.

Kerry's night hunt markings map

Night Hunt Map Markings

So after finishing at midnight it was back to the room for some green label and royal crown whisky.

Sunday

Event 4 10 Leg ARDF we did brilliant at this leg all sleeping soundly catching up on zzz’s ! … apparently the teams that got out of bed most of them found the 10 foxes. But sleeping in gave us time to repair the rear wheel rim having a few square sides. A nice rock did the trick and lots of heavy hammering with some filing. Tire pumped up and ready to go. Dam night hunt!

Event 5 triple leg – another tough hunt. Multi Morse code 4 leg hunt 2mWe thought we started out well but we had some crazy reflections. I still don’t understand what happened here. After figuring this out we headed in the correct direction 20km north instead of west of the mount and found the fox. The next leg was 2m but we could not find him. We tried different locations and nothing and then we heard a few hounds call up on the repeater saying that couldn’t hear 2m leg either. With a few hints we travelled north and could just start to hear the fox on 2m. Looking at the time we knew we would not find the second fox before time was up, especially after hearing he was another 20km north. We reluctantly decided to pull out and head back for lunch for our radio purchases and free Yaesu hats from Ross. Lots of teams bailed too.

Event 6 triple legs, this hunt requires quick antenna changes. 2m and 70cm we can do with a switch but also requires yagis for loops. To help Rod VK5UDX has leg 2 6m-loop ready to go.

Leg 1 – it was a traffic jam but we were a close 4th on this leg.

Leg 2 – I changed to my multi band loop quickly but after moving off I couldn’t hear anything but Rod VK5UDX could! I was a bit confused and checked all the receivers then I reconfirmed the frequency and all looked good. I looked up out the window and realised I didn’t connect the dam coax. We just keep going as we were in a race but little did we know the 6m fox had a nasty trick he was playing. He was close by but he was set up near a hill range with a large deposit of iron. It had the effect of a big reflector. The signal got stronger quickly but we ran out of track. The track was on our navigator computer and paper maps but not in real life. Dam we have to back track. I now had the first chance to connect my loop to help Rod VK5UDX out. We were now in territory of confusing signals, my loop is like a yagi but because I had not been able to see the signal progress as we honed in I had no idea which way the signal direction average out to be. Rod VK5UDX could tell but had the 180-degree ambiguity issue now. We picked poorly and went the wrong way. Because of this reflector effect we only knew of our mistake when we drove out of the beam. That was the end of that hunt as we ran out of time.

Event 7 23cm hunt, this is another Mike read for the multi 2m CW huntfavorite as the fox can do evil stuff with the signal. They use a tin can radiator and can beam the signal to appear in totally different places. But our yagis are like a torch, nice and sharp and are great to DF with. Every body took off but we took our time. Taking quite a few bearing from the top of the Mt Gambier crater to make sure it wasn’t in the crater and these bearings confirmed it was a distance away to the west. The signal was towards the horrible part of the Mount Gambier forest but being 23cm the fox it must be in a clear shot of the start point. We headed in the general direction out of town and then got a massive signal near a school. For about 5 minutes we thought he was around that location. Rod VK5UDX went for a quick run and worked out the fox was doing his trickery. So off we headed due west, down an infrequently used grass track for a few Kms (cleaning the belly of the car) and once in the clear we nearly overshot him, quick reversal and up the top of a hill where we could see him with his tin can and finished 4th.

The Convention was capped off with a presentation and dinner at the Scout Hall attended by about 80 people. As part of the presentation VK5PAS gave a talk about the WIA and VK3BLM was announced as the winner over VK3FAST by 2 points. SERG put on a great dinner and allows for a lot of war stories to be swapped and for foxes to let us in on their tricks.SERG Sunday dinner

It was a great learning experience with the SDR and for the navigators. I think a panoramic display for my DFing receiver will be a better way for me but I still will use the SDR play and dopplerSDR play for overall signal strength and signal confirmation.

To be noted we are the only team with a two-wheel drive vehicle and we get there on the good tracks, which are faster. We just made lots of small mistakes this year and had rookie navigators. We don’t take it as seriously as the VK3’s, who are well trained and quick. To have a chance of winning you need to get very good scores on both of the 10leg ARDF and a few first placings. Also, as ARDF is a running type of sport just like orienteering, you need to be fit too. The top teams have young members to help them out.

All in all it’s a lot of fun and we will be back again next year. Regards Adrian VK5ZBR

Major Community Communications Exercise: River Paddling Marathon 2016 Underway

The AREG is again providing the safety 11150467_978562678823296_1590281837710590802_ncommunications network covering the River Paddling Marathon 200 event from Berri to Morgan in South Australia’s Riverland district over the June long weekend. Run in conjunction with the Riverland Radio Club on behalf of the Marathon Canoe Club of SA, this event provides emergency and safety communications coverage for over 100 paddlers participating in the event.

Updates as the event unfolds will be posted to our website!

Next Meeting: Parks ‘n’ Peaks Operations with Paul VK5PAS

AREG is always looking for avenues to encourage amateurs out into the field to operate their stations. One of the unique ways to do this is to go and operate from a conservation park. Several awards systems have been established to promote this type of portable operation. These have been very effective in stimulating activity on the HF bands domestically particularly during daylight hours on 20 and 40m.

There are various forms of these awards including Summits On The Air, World Wide Flora and Fauna and other National Parks awards both in Australia and abroad. Paul VK5PAS has been a major champion of this type of operation and in particular is the founder of the VK5 National & Conservation Parks Award.

http://www.vk5parks.com/about-the-award.html

Sample VK5 Parks Award Certificate

At AREG’s next meeting on Friday June 17th, Paul VK5PAS will give a presentation on the Parks ‘N’ Peaks movement and the VK5 award in particular.

Everyone is most welcome to attend. The meeting will be held at:

Reedbeds Community Hall
Phelps Crt, Fulham

The doors will open at 7.45pm and the presentation will get underway at 8.00pm sharp.

After the meeting a short debrief will be given on the outcomes from the River Paddling Marathon that many AREG members are involved with this weekend.

Log Book Of The World

In addition to Parks n Peaks, Paul is now able to assist with the certification process for LogBook of the World. We hope to hear more about how to become registered for LOTW from Paul during the meeting as well.

River Paddling Marathon 2016: Operator Briefing 8pm Thursday 2nd June

Matt VK5ZM running the 164MHz commercial net

Matt VK5ZM running the 162MHz commercial net

The River Paddling Marathon 200 is about to be held again in 2016 over the June long weekend. The Amateur Radio Experimenters Group in conjunction with the Riverland Radio Club is pleased to again be offering communications support to the Marathon Canoe Club of South Australia. Preparations are almost complete and it is now time to have the final operator briefing.

This year the briefing will be held on Thursday evening, June 2nd, at the Reedbeds Community Hall in Fulham (Adelaide). The start time will be 8.00pm (due to prior hall bookings). All operators are asked to attend if at all possible.

There are changes to some of the procedures for this year’s event that you need to learn about. We will also be distributing your checkpoint information and logging packs and will discuss the communications protocols for this year (including the trial 6m packet AX.25 score collection system).

Martin Finn - Race Director

Martin Finn – Race Director

We will have representatives from the Marathon Canoe Club present and time permitting there will also be a controlled net communications exercise held across the hall (bring a handheld).

If you have any questions, please contact either Grant Willis VK5GR (logistics) or Matthew Cook VK5ZM (Safety Officer).

Next Meeting: Transmitting Magnetic Loop Antennas for 160-40m

The AREG is pleased to announce that our guest speakers for our next regular monthly meeting will be Steve Adler VK5SFA, Leigh Turner VK5KLT and Paul Lawson VK5SL. They will be talking about their work on Transmitting Magnetic Loop Antennas for the lower HF bands including both the theory and practical aspects of their operation and construction.

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VK5SFA 160-75m Transmitting Magnetic Loop Antenna

Steve has been using one very successfully on 160m and was kind enough to loan the AREG SPDX RTTY contest team his 40m one for use up at Morialta this past weekend.

stf002

VK5SFA 40m TMLA (used by AREG in the SPDX RTTY Contest)

These are fascinating antennas in the way they work and in the way they perform. Their noise immunity is something in particular to consider in urban environments where amateurs are space and electrically environmentally challenged.

Full details of how to build these antennas and the theory behind them are available via Steve VK5SFA’s website.

When and Where?

You can meet Steve and the team who designed and built them in person at our next meeting on Friday May 20th, starting at 7.45pm (for an 8.00pm start). You can find details of where the AREG meet on the contacts page.

Visitors are most welcome to come along! A short business meeting will be held after the presentation.

AREG Member Training Day for the RPM200 Comms Event – This Saturday!

The Radio operator training day for the River Paddling Marathon 200 event which AREG supports in June, will be held on the eastern banks of the Murray River, just north of the Swanport Bridge by the boat ramp on Saturday April 30th 2016! This training will coincide with the running the Marathon Canoe Club’s Back-To-Back event held along this part of the river each year.

The operator training day will pitch checkpoint team against checkpoint team to see who can spot the most valid number of canoes.

Operators will need to get to the river by 12.00pm. The first paddlers are due around 1.00pm . (It is typically only an hour’s drive up the freeway).

BacktoBacktrainingDay-finished

Everyone will be broken into teams of two. You will need to bring “optical magnification” apparatus, pens and something hard to write on (folding table and chairs recommended). You will be presented with paddlers from the Marathon Canoe Club’s Back to Back paddling event and will be asked to track paddlers, numbers, descriptions and will be graded in friendly competition with your fellow spotters spread out over the boat ramp park.

Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a day by the river watching (intently) the world float by! It is recommended that participants bring binoculars, chairs, snacks and insect repellent.  There is not much shade, so umbrellas, hats or marquees  will make the day more pleasant.

Just Visiting?

For those who don’t want to spotting canoe’s but want to come for the social day, there is room to also set up HF portable by the river!

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Evening BBQ at Swanport Sailing Club

At the end of the event, we will adjourn back to the Swanport Sailing Club for a BYO BBQ dinner and a chat/de-brief with the Marathon Canoe Club. It is just a short drive back over the Swanport bridge.BBQ After the event

Please note:  No dogs allowed at Swanport Sailing Club, so please leave the hounds at home!

Conclusion

If you are participating in the RPM200 in June, we would very much encourage you to come along on the 30th of April as well! Accurate canoe spotting is an important aspect of providing the safety net at the RPM200 so this training/practice is vital to improve the way AREG supports the main event in June. Hope to see you all there!