VK5RWN Internet Gateway Failure – Local Mode Only

Dateline: August 18th 2018 – The VK5RWN D-STAR gateway computer and therefore the D-STAR repeater networking is off line due to a failure of the current computer’s SSHD storage.

Both the 2m and 70cm D-STAR DV repeaters are still on and available for use providing local coverage as D-STAR DV repeaters, however there will not be any access via the VK5RWN gateway to the D-STAR global network until further notice. It will only support local operation for the next few weeks.

The current gateway was very shortly due for an upgrade anyway, so the existing failed unit will not be repaired. The new VK5RWN D-STAR gateway computer will be installed on site, pending some minor works, ie, a new shelf, and the final installation and configuration of the new G3 gateway software. This software has to be installed and configured on site as it needs to see both the D-STAR repeater controller and the respective Ethernet ports during the final configuration.

So sorry folks, the D-STAR gateway system will be down until the new computer has been installed, over the next couple of weeks, pending time available.

If you wish to work outside of the Adelaide area on D-STAR, you will need access to a DV Hot Spot, a SharkRF OpenSpot or JumboSpot, DVAP, Dongle etc.

Please pass this information on to any others who you may hear trying to use the VK5RWN D-STAR system

AREG and the WIA RD Contest 2018

RD Trophy

The Remembrance Day Contest 2018 has come and gone. This year AREG put it’s club station on the air from a new location thanks to Paul VK5PH and his new hills retreat. Just 20 minutes into the Adelaide Hills, this new location was absolutely RF quiet and had an excellent HF takeoff angle in almost every direction. At 548m ASL, it was only 150m below Mt Lofty (the highest peak in the southern Mt Lofty Ranges).

The operation was led by Grant VK5GR who supplied the station, with assistance from Andrew VK5AKH who supplied the main generator and AC power grid. Quite a few AREG club members came up to the site and helped construct the station, as well as Paul,  Gerard VK5ZQV and Paris VK5FPAR from AHARS.

The core operating team consisted of Theo VK5MTM, Andrew VK5AKH, Grant VK5GR, Mark VK5QI, Chris VK5FR, Matt VK5ZM and Paul VK5PH. Construction assistance was provided by Kym VK5FJ, Dennis VK5FDEN and Irene with catering provided by Sharon VK5FSAW. It was  great to see so many members braving the freezing conditions to make their way up the mountain to support the event. Special thanks to Andrew and Mark who also took on towing the rented port-a-loo up to the site.


Preparations began the week before when the first antenna was erected and tested. Paul, Gerard, Mark and Grant erected the 80/40m crossed inverted V antenna and tuned it in horrific wind conditions the previous Saturday (with winds gusting at 50-70km/h). That feat achieved meant that the following weekend things would go more smoothly (or so we thought).

The Friday night before the event saw Chris VK5FR and Grant VK5GR pack the station trailer ready for a 6.30am departure the next day. A huge thanks to Chris for his help.

On Saturday VK5GR, VK5FSAW and their daughter headed out along with VK5QI, VK5FR, VK5MTM, VK5ZQV and VK5PH and arrived on site around 7.30am. The first order of business was to erect the pre-tuned 40/80 dipoles into the air and then build the station. The weather hadn’t improved much over the previous week with conditions still somewhat blustery with rain and biting cold thrown in for good measure.

80/40m crossed inverted V dipoles on a 10m fibre glass mast

Once 40 and 80m was complete, the team turned their attention to the 160m antenna. This antenna was the same one VK5GR took to Vanuatu earlier in the year (that at the time he was able to put up single handed). This time, with the wind, rain, slush, mud and cold it was a very different prospect with numerous false starts and growing frustration as we raced against the clock and the weather. After about 90 minutes the first attempt was shelved as the weather closed in. The crew retreated inside the main shed to complete the setup of the station and get ready at least for 40/80 at the start of the contest. The team planned on returning to the 160m antenna project in the afternoon once the contest was running.

By a fortuitous mis-calculation, the team thought it started at 11.30am local and had completed preparations by 11.00am. This was fortunate as then the heavens opened. Down came the hail and sleet, up came the wind and boom went the thunder as antennas were hastily unplugged. It was as though someone didn’t like the teams presence on the hill. The temperature dropped even lower reaching 2 degrees Celsius at midday and the wind chill climbed. The thunder passed by 11.20am so cautiously the antennas were reconnected, only to be met with S7-9 hail static. Finally the worst of the weather passed and things settled down for the expected start at 11.30am. The clock clicked over and VK5ARG started calling CQ – only to see no one else on the band. A hastily recheck of the rules and the mistake was realized. Phew – three was another hour available to further preparations around the site.

The final bugs were worked out of the software system and some tidy up completed before finally opening on time at 0300z (12:30pm).

Mark VK5QI operating VK5ARG

By 0500z (2.30pm) the weather cleared enough that a second attempt at 160m was made. It has to be said that if it wasn’t for the calm arrival of Kim VK5FJ, VK5ARG may not have been heard on top band this contest! Finally, however, the inverted L was rasied into the air and tuned successfully. VK5GR was very happy to see it tune up with a 1.4:1 VSWR around 1840kHz with about 40kHz of bandwidth. It later was proved to work extremely well despite the horrible QRN (storm static) that was to descend across the low bands later that night (due to a large thunderstorm in the Tasman sea).

160m Inverted L built on a 12m Spiderbeam fibre glass pole (8x25m radials)

Back a the operating table, the station itself consisted of an Electaft K3S Transceiver, with a KPA500 Linear and a KAT500 tuner (needed for the CQ section of 80m). The logging and CW keying was provided using N1MM software with a Microham Keyer II. All up a very capable station (with one niggle with a SW fault with the voice keyer on the K3S which is being investigated further).

As night fell, Paul VK5PH fired up the BBQ and all the operators were treated to a great meal thanks to the catering planning and shopping of Sharon VK5FSAW. Operators kept rotating to keep everyone fresh and the contacts rolled into the logs. Since the plan was to run for the full 24hrs, Paul VK5PH took the first shift in the graveyard zone (2200pm-0300am). Grant and Andrew then took over for 0300-0700 just as the temperature fell even further…

Overall, the bulk of the contacts were made on 160 and 80m at night and 40m during the day, with a small number of VK6 and VK4 stations on 20m. Nothing was seen on 15 or 10m despite repeated spot checks and the odd CQ call. None the less, the tally continued to rise, with a final score of over 530 contacts and 880 points. Most importantly, everyone who came had a lot of fun, despite the cold temperatures and the weather.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone from AREG and AHARS who participated and in particular a huge thank you to all of the amateurs across Australia and New Zealand who took part! VK5ARG looks forward to running in the RD Contest yet again in 2019!

(Photos thanks to Mark VK5QI)

VK5ARG in the Trans-Tasman Low Band Challenge Contest 2018

Another TT-Lowband contest has come and gone and this year AREG has set a new personal best score! A huge thanks to everyone who came along and operated, helped set up or sat in the bleechers cheering us on. A huge thanks to Steve VK5SFA who allowed us to setup a 3 seat Multi-Multi station in his home covering all three bands. Steve also fed the team (the BBQ was excellent) and kept us plied with copious quantities of coffee! The unofficial final score was 5360 points for 280 QSOs over the 6 hour event. We now eagerly await the official results.

The Station

The setup consisted of the following:

160m – 2 turn Magnetic Loop Antenna (which is barely 5kHz wide and difficult to tune in hunt and peck mode – much easier when we were running)

80m – we had a choice of 2 antennas – an Inverted V with it’s apex at ~9m above ground as an NVIS antenna and an 80m monopole which worked better for the longer paths such as ZL.

40m – we had a rotatory dipole as part of Steve’s SteppIR  Beam

The transceivers this time it was an all ICOM affair with:

An IC7600 and SPE-1.3KFA Amp on 40m,

An IC7610 and Elecraft KPA500 on 80m

An IC7700 and an AMCOM1000 on 160m

All stations were running 400W PEP simultaneously thanks to a set of 500W rated filters from Low Band Systems loaned to us by Peter VK5KX (thanks Pete!).

The Team

We had a great turnout from the club with lots of people contributing. Thanks must be given to Grant VK5GR, Mark VK5QI and Andrew VK5AKH who together with Steve provided the station equipment. Chris VK5FR also helped with installation on the day. We were also visited by Ben VK5BB and Olga VK5FOLG whom we are trying to recruit as future contest operators – great to see you drop by!

The operating team then consisted of Theo VK5MTM, Darin VK5IX, Steve VK5SFA, Grant VK5GR, Mark VK5QI, Andrew VK5AKH. Between the 6 of us we kept all three stations manned running CW and SSB for the full 6 hours – a fantastic result.

We also had Matthew VK5ZM and his son Daniel along with Darin’s son Cameron and Steve’s wife Linda as the cheer squad. It was all most pleasant being able to sit in the lounge chairs with the contestors going hard at it all around us. A fantastic atmosphere and a great night.

The Contest

So how did it go? 80m was the stand out band of the evening with it generating the majority of the contacts. 40m was great early on but once the sun set across the contest area the band filled up with stations from across the Pacific with the hum of several other contests running at the same time. Unfortunately the TT Low Band contest doesn’t allow you to log calls from other than VK & ZL so 40m became very hard going later in the evening. 160m saw a steady stream of signals throughout the night and was a lot of fun, although challenging to work search and pounce as it would take 2-3 minutes to change even 5kHz in frequency to call someone new on SSB.

All up the following map tells the tale of where we managed to work in the contest

Map processed through tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/

Conclusion

Overall it was a great night and this year has cemented this as a regular fixture in the club’s contesting calendar! We now eagerly look forward to the results to see how we did!

Next Meeting: AGM + IT Security in the Shack – do you know who’s watching?

The next meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will be held on Friday July 20th 2018, at the Fulham Community Centre, Phelps Court, Fulham. Doors open at 7.45pm for an 8.00pm start.

This will be the clubs Annual General Meeting. More importantly, it marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group! Cake and refreshments will be served befitting our 20 year history!

At the meeting all positions will be declared vacant and the elections for 2018/19 will be held. Come along and join us in celebrating this milestone achievement for the club!


“IT Security in the Shack – do you know who’s watching?”

Our special guest presenter for the evening is Derek VK5TCP who will be talking with us about  IT security and what the risks really are!

Derek is a director of  a specialist cyber security group called CyberOps and has greater than 30 years expereince in IT and business risk.

He will cover:

  • How The Cyber Security Landscape Is Changing?
  • What the criminals are getting up to?
  • What are your risks at home?
  • Hardware hacking tools, techniques and devices.
  • What does a penetration test involve and what does it find?
  • How can I protect my own Internet connected devices?
  • Where can I find the best practice guides?

In this modern era where everyone has more IT infrastructure around them than they perhaps even realize, the importance of IT security can not be under estimated. This fascinating talk will at the very least arm you with knowledge and tools you can use to safeguard your own online activities.


Where to find us?

Everyone is most welcome to attend! You can find us at 1 Phelps Court, Fulham in the Fulham Community Centre (formerly known as the Reedbeds Community Centre).

 

AREG June Meeting tomorrow night!

The June meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will be held Friday June 15th, starting at 7.45pm. There will be no formal presentation this month. Instead, after the business meeting to be held at 8.00pm there will be an opportunity for a members show and tell.

Bring along your latest gadget and give people a chance to look and see!

The meeting will be held at the Fulham Community Centre, off Phelps Court, Fulham. Hope to see you there!

New FreeDV 700D HF Digital Voice Mode

Many amateurs are experimenting with various digital voice modes, such as Yaesu System Fusion C4FM, D-STAR and DMR etc, mostly on the VHF and UHF bands. Did you know, however that there is also a digital voice mode for HF radio operation that was specifically designed by amateur radio experimenters?

FreeDV, based on a fully open source codec known as Codec2, has been created by David Rowe VK5DGR in collaboration with a team spread across the globe.

FreeDV is enabling amateur radio enthusiasts to experiment with new open source digital based voice transmission techniques on the High Frequency (HF) bands.  While text based HF digital modes are common, FreeDV is the first new VOICE mode for HF since SSB was introduced in the 1950s and 60s.

New version of FreeDV – 700D announced

Over the past 18 months or more, David and his team have been busy working to improve the lower bit rate versions of FreeDV. The original system, released as FreeDV 1600, was based on a 1600bits/sec data stream, but was a few dB off being equal with SSB. Now, David is pleased to announce that the new FreeDV 700D mode is ready for wider trials.This new version uses a 700 bit/s speech voice codec, powerful forward error correction, and a new modem to send digital speech over HF radios.

What is really exciting however is that testing of FreeDV 700D has demonstrated that it is outperforming SSB on poor channels! Here is a demo of SSB, followed by FreeDV 700D, on a poor quality 3,200 km path between Adelaide and the Bay of Islands, in New Zealand.

Where can I get it?

You can run FreeDV using any PC set up for digital modes, using the FreeDV 1.3 GUI program, which you can download from freedv.org.

Where can I find FreeDV activity?

Australian FreeDV activity is typically on 7.177 and 14.236 MHz. You can also coordinate FreeDV QSOs using the FreeDV QSO finder at qso.freedv.org

So why not try the new FreeDV 700D mode, and join us in experimenting with it on the HF bands!

Next AREG Meeting Friday May 18th – RF Connector Myths Dispelled

Like most Amateur Radio operators your shack probably contains a plethora of different RF connectors linking radios to tuners, antennas, amplifiers, receivers etc. Have you ever wondered why there are so many varieties? Have you ever wondered which ones are the right ones to use in a given situation? Do you run high power and have you considered whether your connectors are up to the task, especially if you are dealing with high VSWR leading towards your tuner?

Our guest speaker this month is Matt VK5ZM, who will take you through the different types of connector and provide an insight into their design and the criteria to consider when choosing them for your installation.


The meeting will start at 7.45pm at the Fulham Community Centre, off Phelps Court in Fulham (formerly known as the Reedbeds hall) with the presentation starting at 8.00pm. Following the meeting, tea coffee and cake will be served followed by a club business meeting.

Visitors are most welcome to come along – the meeting is open to everyone. We would love to see you down at the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group!

River Paddling Marathon 200: Practice Day This Saturday!

In preparation for the RPM200 there will be an opportunity to run through the practice for checkpoints at Murray Bridge this Saturday the 5th May.

Why are we getting together? We are honing our skill at spotting paddlers on the river for their back to back event, which in turn is a practice for the RPM. Getting the opportunity to practice scribing the paddlers numbers while they are on the far side of the river will help prepare us for tracking at checkpoints. This event will also help us understand what equipment we will need for the RPM. An afternoon sitting  beside the river isn’t a bad thing either, with a sausage or two sizzling on the BBQ.

What time: Arrive at the reserve at 12:00pm for the BBQ, with the first paddlers arriving around 1:00pm, through until around 4pm.

What to bring;

  • Lunch, offerings to the BBQ, drinks etc.
  • Hat, sun screen, jumper
  • Table and Chair
  • Optical amplification, ie binoculars
  • Pen & paper
  • Hand held radio

Where will you find us? Under the shelter at the Murray Bridge Foreshore Reserve;

Liaison on 439.025MHz FM Simplex.

If you are coming to participate, please let us know; kimhawtin@gmail.com