November Meeting – Off Site Visit Planned

The November meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will be a technology site visit. This means that the normal meeting at the Fulham Community Centre will not be run this month.

Members will be in for an eye opening time looking and learning about some modern communications technology used among our community every day. Members who wish to attend the site visit will find the details on the internal club email reflector.

Unfortunately for our regular visitors, due to the security restrictions required by our hosts, this meeting has to be closed to financial members only.

We will return to our regular program in December with the AREG Christmas Party!

 

Fantastic Response to AREG at Maker Faire

The AREG team participated in the Adelaide Maker Faire with a great result last Sunday. Lots of technologies relating to Amateur Radio, showing the creative mind how much opportunity there is to get in and make things that can then be used to communicate with were on display. Interests ranged from making antennas to electronic systems construction and mechanical design and assembly through to software programming. Lots of interest was shown and many cards with contact details handed out. We hope to see some new interest come in through the door of the club as a result!

Some of the highlights included a Software Defined Radio demonstration (which was a huge hit with children in particular). Also on display was  a Satellite Tracking / Balloon Tracking Open source project which demonstrated mechanical, electrical and open source software design aspects of Amateur Radio.

The Project Horus high altitude balloon project was well represented. The Horus team displayed many aspects of the tracking and telemetry systems developed and used by the project team. The display included a demonstration balloon setup hovering above the stand carrying the Wenet imaging payload which broadcast pictures of Maker Faire back to the receiving setup on the table.

Radio direction finding was another popular hands on activity, including 2m, and 70cm sniffer equipment and beacons hidden around the venue. The sniffers were constantly out and about being used, often by the younger generation, as they experienced the fun of the chase looking for the hidden transmitters. Once they understood the tone to signal relationship they were off racing to be first to find the beacon!

Other examples of making things on display included two antenna construction projects, one showing a 6m magnetic loop antennas and the other a portable HF antenna able to be transported on an airline to remote island paradises all to play amateur radio with.

Throughout the day we had a steady stream of visitors, including many amateurs who had come to Maker Faire to take a look at what else was on!

Finally we must thank Kim VK5FJ who led the team and to all of our volunteers who came and helped man the AREG stand including (in no particular order) VK5DGR, VK5CP, VK5ZM, VK5IX, VK5BB, VK5GR, VK5QI, VK5XFG, VK5SFA and VK5TST, plus our visitors from the club VK5FOLG, VK5NAL, VK5FSAW. The team did a great job of promoting Amateur Radio to the Maker community! Thanks for your help.

AREG at Adelaide Maker Faire 2017 – Update!

AREG will again have a stand at the Adelaide Maker Faire on this weekend. The faire runs from 10am to 4pm this Sunday, at the Tonsley Innovation hub in Adelaide’s SE suburbs. The AREG team are planning on showcasing a raft of things that link making and building with Amateur Radio.

AREG is stand number 76!

What will AREG be doing?

 If you have ever wanted to find out more about our Project Horus high altitude balloon program, or radio direction finding, satellite tracking, home built magnetic loop antenna construction and much more then this is an ideal opportunity to come and talk to the club members about some of their regular activities and how they are always “Making Things” within the hobby of Amateur Radio.

One of the new projects on display will be the satellite tracker based on an earlier project by Joe VK3YSP and Julie VK3FOWL from SARCnet in Victoria. As an open source project, AREG members have been adapting it to track balloons based on the received GPS telemetry from our payloads.

 

So why not come on down! We would love to see you there. On site we hope to have a handheld listening on 439.025. We would also love to make QSOs with people on the VK5RSB 6m repeater (53.75MHz / 52.75MHz) which we will be accessing using a magnetic loop antenna from the site.

AREG going to Maker Faire!

After a hugely successful event last year, AREG will again have a stand at the Adelaide Maker Faire, being held next Sunday 5th of November from 10am – 4pm at the Tonsley Innovation Precinct, 1284 Main South Rd, Clovelly Park.

The club will be promoting many different ways that Amateur Radio involves making things, and will have promotional material on how to get involved in Amateur Radio available.

AREG October Meeting: SATNOGs Satellite Gateways

The next meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will be held on Friday October 20th @ 7:45pm at the newly renamed Fulham Community Centre.

Mark VK5QI will talk about the SatNOGS project, an open source project and community which is developing a worldwide network of satellite ground-stations, to help provide downlink capacity for the growing numbers of Low-Earth-Orbit cubesats being launched. Included will be a ‘worked example’, showing how you can set up a SatNOGS ground-station at a reasonably low cost.

After the presentation there will be a light supper available followed by an AREG business meeting. All members and visitors are welcome to attend so why not come along and find out more about whats happening in the world of automated satellite ground station technology?

The clubrooms are located off Phelps Court in Fulham. You can usually find members listening to the club repeater VK5RSB on 439.900 (91.5Hz CTCSS) if you need directions! Hope to see you there!

 

 

VK5ARG on the air OCDX Contest 2017

The Oceania SSB DX Contest is over for another year, and AREG again participated in the Multi-Multi category. The team set the bar very high for themselves this year with a new site and new antennas and equipment to try out. It has taken 4 months of construction work (since the Australian Contesting Technical College event held in May) but the results were worth it, with the club improving over our previous all time best scores. Hats off to the many members of AREG who contributed to this effort.

YearScoreCategoryOperating Location
20171,907,423Multi-MultiKoch Hill
20161,388,251Multi-MultiYounghusband
20151,662,552Multi-MultiPara Wirra
2014959,616Multi-OneYounghusband
20131,073,252Multi-TwoYounghusband

(Video by Gary VK5FGRY of activity inside the main station hut)

It was all made possible by Steve VK5SFA who negotiated access to the new site on behalf of the club at a dis-used microwave site ~70km north of Adelaide. Ordinarily we would have operated from Para Wirra conservation park but it wasnt available this year. Having seen what this site can do on HF now with noise and take off angles I suspect we have found a new home for AREG Club contesting

Theo VK5MTM has made the following summary video of what we ran at the station which gives a very good idea of what was going on (and the conditions we faced with the wind on site).

Band by band we had the following

160/80m – Led by Grant VK5GR and Steve VK5SFA

1x Elecraft K3 Transceiver + KPA500 Amplifier + KAT500 ATU
1x Dual-Band 80/160m dipole at 25m oriented NE/SW towards North America (resonant on 3790kHz/1850kHz)
1x Tri-Band 40/80/160m Trapped dipole at 27m oriented NW/SE towards Europe (resonant nearer 3640kHz and mis-behaving at 160m likely due to the microwave tower right next to it).

40m – Led by Andrew VK5AKH

1x Icom IC7600 + Acom 1000 Amplifier
1x Elevated feed 1/4 wavelength vertical (19m high to the top)
1x Inverted V (10m high for domestic NVIS coverage)

Both antennas were switchable via a remote WiFi link and were down range 250m to provide some isolation to the rest of the stations. Mark VK5QI provided the WiFi switching control while Andrew achieved a fantastic feat of engineering standing up a 6m mast with another 14m mast on top of it to support the 40m antenna.

20m – Led by Darin VK5IX & Peter VK5KX

1x Elecraft K3 Transceiver + Elecraft KPA500 Amplifier
1x 20m Monoband 3 element SpiderBeam
1x 20m Elevated Feed 1/4 wave vertical (designed by Steve VK5SFA)

Darin coordinated the construction of this station and allowed others to do much of the operating. We had some spectacular openings on 20m particularly short path in the evening hours to Europe with this setup with S9++ reports being received from Switzerland.

15m & 10m SO2R – Led by Matt VK5ZM and Peter VK5KX

2x Elecraft K3 Tranceivers + 2x KPA500 Amplifiers
1x MicroHam MK2R+ SO2R Controller
3x 25A SMPS PSU’s
2x RFSpace SDR’s (SDR-IQ & CloudIQ)
3x HP i7 SFF PC’s & 24″ Monitors
3x StackMatch (designed VK5ZM)
1x 6×2 Crossbar Remote antenna switching matrix (designed VK5ZM)
1x Low Band Systems 20/15/10m Triplexer
3x Low Band System 500W Filters
1x Tri-Band 20/15/10m SpiderBeam + Alpha Spid rotator + 7.5m pump-up mast
1x 15m elevated feed vertical (by VK5SFA) + 1x 10m elevated feed vertical (BudiPole)

This station would not have been possible without borrowing equipment or assistance from the following AREG members; Chris VK5CP, Peter VK5KX, Matt VK5ZM, Scott VK5TST, Steve VK5SFA & Andrew VK5XFG.

This was by far the most complicated of all of the stations, and the most fun as you can see in the following video showing the “Dueling CQ” call pattern to have one operator run both 15 and 10m simultaneously.

Everyone wanted a turn at running what can best be described as “The Beast”. You certainly had to have your wits about you when operating it. The addition of antenna control where combinations of beam, vertical or both in parallel on both 15m & 10m also added additional spice.

Once you got the hang of it however, it was a lot of fun and helped keep VK5ARG visible and active on both 15m & 10m. A more detailed description of the setup will be on Matt VK5ZM’s personal blog soon.

On top of all of the radio activities was the logistics of supporting the nearly 20 person team on top of a very exposed hilltop for 4 days.

The first setup day was Friday before the contest. On site we battled 20-30 knot winds all day over very rocky terrain. To offset the hardships, Scott VK5TST volunteered to lead the camp logistics, and in conjunction with Sharon VK5FSAW (offsite) undertook the catering and most importantly the coffee supply role (the team consumed over 1.5kg of coffee beans over the weekend). Portable toilets, tents, cooking facilities and most importantly on Sunday a TV viewing area to watch the Bathurst 1000 motor race (an iconic race on the Australian motorsport calendar) were all part of Scott’s domain. No one went hungry and everyone was very happy with the facilities!

It was great to see some members also come up for the afternoon on Sunday to see what we were all up to. We hope to coax Olga VK5FOLG and Ben VK5BB to do more operating next year!

Conclusion

Everyone who took part had a fantastic time. I will attempt here to name everyone who contributed and apologies if I missed someone out:

VK5AKH, VK5ZM, VK5KX, VK5GR, VK5SFA, VK5FDEN, VK5MTM, VK5TST, VK5NAL, VK5IX, VK5QI, VK5CP, VK5FGRY & VK5FSAW. Thanks also to our visitors VK5BB and VK5FOLG plus VK5DGR and Sheree and most importantly thanks to the land-owners (3 of them) who allowed us to sprawl our station across the top of the hill for the contest.

Finally thanks to everyone who worked us and made the effort constructing the station worthwhile!

VK5ARG’s Big Build – OCDX 2017 Koch Hill

This year AREG has a new site to trial for the OCDX Contest. With exceptional HF take off angles in all major directions this site could be something special. Work installing the 160-10m station started today with 160-40m complete (mostly) and work begun on 20 + 15/10m. That will be completed in the morning!

Here are some of the shots from today thanks to Mark VK5QI