APRIL FOOLS: AREG Launches new “World Wide Car Parks” awards program!

Are you an Awards chaser?

An urban worker?

Have a young family that takes up all of your waking weekend hours ?

Do you find you just don’t have the time to go bush or climb
those lofty summits to participate in programs like WWFF or SOTA?

Then this new award is for you!

Many amateur operators today live in situations that prevent them accessing the great outdoors either during the week or the weekend. Perhaps your commute is your only radio activity, or maybe you are lucky and you’re “mobile” whilst at work but only have 2m/70cm FM on board. So much of our lives are spent driving to and from car-parks that there has to be another way to have the same amount of fun as the park and summits activator. So, the “Awards Team” at AREG put their thinking caps on and asked themselves – how can we enhance the amateur radio experience for those who find themselves in such circumstances?

Introducing the World Wide Car Parks Award!

The aim is to contact at least 42 points worth of contacts to qualify the car-park for an award. Points are awarded per contact based on a number of factors outlined in the rules below. The more car parks you qualify multiplied by the sum of all contact points accumulated then contribute to your leader-board score. It is as simple as that!

Once you have made and logged the contacts, you can submit them to our new awards site (details below). Once your contacts are confirmed you will automatically be emailed your award.

The Rules

VALID CONTACTS

  1. you must be located in a car park when making the contact to qualify for the award. Car park in this definition means a formal area/building set aside for parking cars that is not part of a street or road. (I.e. must be in a parking station – street parking is not accepted). There is an exception however to this rule which is if you are on a designated freeway (where parking is not normally permitted) and are moving at less than 5 kilometres/hour (3.1miles/hour).
  2. a contact must use some form of Amateur Radio somewhere in the process of communicating and include an exchange of call-signs, signal reports and car-park identifiers.
  3. a car park identifier will simply consist of the program prefix for your country, the first 4 letters of your grid square and then the street address of the car park. For example, VKCP-PF95-67FranklinStAdelaide+07. (we thought of serialising each car park like they do in WWFF however there are so many that we felt we would never keep up). The last number is important as it is the level of the car park you are operating from and affects the points awarded.

CONTACT POINTS

This is where the challenge lies. How many contacts you need to make to qualify a car park depends on the type of car park you choose and how you make the contact.

4. You get a bonus points for the type of car park and the floor number you operate from. So a contact made from an indoor parking station earns you:

  • Level 5 and above is worth 1 point
  • Level 4 is 2 points
  • Level 3 is 3 points
  • Level 2 is 4 points
  • Level 1 is 5 points (this is the ground floor)
  • 1 level below ground is 10 points
  • 2 levels below ground is 20 points
  • 3 or more levels below ground is 50 points

If you make a contact from an open air ground level car park each contact is only worth 1 point.

Contacts from a freeway moving less than 5km/h (3.1mph) count for 2 points always unless they are in an underground tunnel in which case they are worth 10 points x the length of the tunnel you are travelling through in kilometres.

5. Multipliers are available based on the nature of the contact. Scoring is then calculated based on the number of points total multiplied by the sum of all multipliers.

(a) Simplex contacts are worth 2 multipliers

(b) Use of repeaters, Hotspots, Echo link etc is allowed but do not add any multipliers.

  • in addition, the use of a DMR/Fusion/DSTAR hotspot over cellular provided internet to make the contact will only qualify where the car park in question does not have a cellular in building coverage antenna system inside it.
  • use of EchoLink only qualifies if connected over Cellular Internet and there is no in building cellular antenna system in the car park.

(c) The sum of all DXCC worked per car park can be added as a multiplier. (Note a special talk group on DMR will be established for the awards program plus new Fusion, DSTAR and Echolink conference channels so that the program does not impact day top day repeater operations).

6. Additional multipliers are available for the following activities:

  • Getting Locked in the car park over night – 50 multiplier points
  • Using car park infrastructure as an antenna – 20 multiplier points (Note 1)
  • Operation on MF from an indoor car park – 100 multiplier points (Note 2)
  • Operation on HF and 6m from an indoor car park – 10 multiplier points (Note 3)
  • The following is then a sliding scale as you move up in frequency:
    • 2m = 1 multiplier points
    • 70cm = 3 multipliers points
    • 23cm = 5 multiplier points
    • 13/9 and 6cm = 10 multiplier points
    • 3cm and above = 20 multiplier points
  • Car park to Car park contacts are worth 2 multiplier points

Note 1 – setting off the building fire alarms when transmitting using car park infrastructure will result in a disqualification!
Note 2 – only qualifies if the contact made from levels that are below ground
Note 3 – double points if doing this while driving in the car park and NOT destroying car park lighting infrastructure

AWARD ENDORSEMENTS

7. Special endorsements are available for types of vehicle and transmitted power level as well. These are expected to be sought after additions to your awards certificate.

  • RV and Van category – but only if the applicant has made indoor car park contacts from these vehicles without damaging car park infrastructure. (Indoor Car parks with high clearance are rare hence the value of this endorsement)
  • Motorbike MF category
  • QRP Category – less than 5W
  • Self Powered QRO Category – more than 100W PEP
  • Assisted Power QRO Category – more than 400W PEP – only valid from Tesla charging stations – see notes earlier about the fire systems
  • Hi-Rise Rooftop Parkour assisted Handheld Operation (qualifies for a special Hi-Rise on the Air (HOTA) award endorsement)

LOG SUBMISSION AND CERTIFICATES

To obtain your award, you need to work the required contacts and submit a log to the following web page. http://www.areg.org.au/Logs

If your log is accepted you will be emailed your certificate of achievement!

All logs must be received before April 1st each year in order to be considered for each year’s Honour roll so get cracking and see how many stations you can work!

Good Luck!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

A. AREG is in no way to be held liable for your actions or behavior in a car park. You are expected to follow the rules of the car park operators at all times and always comply with the directions of security staff. If you have the SWAT team called on you for suspicious activities that is your issue.

B.AREG is not liable for any car parking fees you incur in acquiring contacts for this award. All parking costs are your own responsibility.

C. Self spotting is permitted. The committee is considering a bonus points scheme for the number of social media outlets one individual can find to alert people to their presence. There is a special trophy available if you manage to self spot by calling a commercial radio talk-back show and talking about what you are doing provided you get your operating frequency broadcast over the respective AM or FM station concerned.

D. Disputes with award scoring or validity will only be considered by the AREG committee once a year on April 1st before midday. Disputes must be forwarded to the correct galaxy and be filed in the cabinet at the bottom of the broken stairs in the draw above the one marked beware of the leopard in order for them to be considered by the committee. Don’t forget to take a torch as the light is broken.

Next AREG Meeting: March 23rd – Introducing FT8 Mode

The next meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will be held  1 week later than usual this month, on Friday March 23rd. The date has been delayed as the SA State Election is being held on the 17th and the hall is being setup as a polling booth the night before (our usual meeting night).

The presentation for the evening will be “Introducing FT8 Mode, what is all the hype about?” by Grant VK5GR.

Grant has closely followed the development of FT8 since it’s inception and was an early user of it in DXpedition environments during his activation of Niue last year.

Areas to be covered will include:

  • a brief description of the FT8 protocol
  • the basic hardware and software requirements to get on air
  • how to get that little bit more out of FT8 – add on packages like JTAlert
  • a look at FT8 operating practices
  • how to chase rare DX using FT8 – a practical tips guide
  • a discussion about the new Expedition mode that has been developed

Currently a live demonstration is also being planned. Grant will be available for questions after the presentation during supper.


The meeting  will be held at the Fulham Community Centre (previously known as the ReedBeds) with parking accessed from Phelps Court, Fulham. The venue will be open from 7.45pm with the meeting starting at 8.00pm. Following the technical presentation there will also be the usual club business meeting.

Visitors are always welcome! So come along and meet the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group!

AREG IRLP Node 6214 Off Air

The following news comes from Ben VK5BB, the custodian of the 6214 IRLP node that is connected to the VK5RSB 70cm repeater


Due to a failure of IRLP node 6214’s computer hardware,
it is off line until further notice!

History:

I took on the management of the IRLP node 6214 sometime around 2012. Prior to this it was managed by Adrian VK5ZSN. Under his management it was all OK until the HDD died.

I volunteered to take on the project and rebuilt the computer using an IDE to SATA adapter and a solid state HDD. A bit of jiggling but it worked and to date has been very reliable with minimum of hands on support to keep it on air. 

Current Status:

I am not sure what is going on but it appears that the computer that manages the IRLP node 6214 is having severe problems. It seems that the computer is unstable and keeps shutting itself down and rebooting. The machine running the system is now over 10 years old, which is a contributing factor.


Right now, the ultimate fate of the IRLP node is undecided. The club members have been asked if they wish to see the service continued. That discussion is ongoing. If the service is to continue, it could be some time before it is restored as new hardware will likely need to be obtained.

If you would like to see it rebuilt and placed back on the air, why not consider becoming a member of AREG and showing your support for the project? Details of how to join are available on our membership page .

VK5RWN DSTAR Repeater Damaged – Repairs Pending

In the wild weather over the past few weeks the VK5RWN repeater system has sustained some structural damage.  The original tower section is currently bent at a rather alarming angle and will require replacement.

In the past few days we have had our repair crew up there to shore up the tower section and make temporary repairs until a more permanent solution can be found.

There is still internet connectivity to the site and the D-Star repeater is still operational for the time being.   Users may find that the coverage of the repeater is somewhat disturbed however.

In the coming weeks the antenna system will need to be upgraded, so there will most likely be a prolonged period where the system will be off air while repairs are being made.

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 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!

 

 

VK5RSB Repeater Extended Outages

Photo of downed powerlines courtesy ABC News

AREG’s VK5RSB Summertown repeaters  have been off air since Tuesday evening’s violent storm which has taken out power lines that feed the site. The restoration work according to SAPN is still progressing. The latest estimate for restoration is now 1.00pm today (31st December)..

We apologies for the outage on these major Adelaide repeater services, and are looking to see what can be done to reinstate the battery backup at the site which has failed.