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.

AREG in the 2017 Trans Tasman Low Band Challenge

UPDATE: The results have been published – VK5ARG came second in our multi-op division! Well done team!


On Saturday July 15th, AREG members VK5GR, VK5QI, VK5MTM and VK5IX gathered together with Steve VK5SFA at his QTH to participate in the Trans Tasman Low Band Challenge Contest  as VK5ARG. Originally planned as a portable operation, the portable activity was cancelled at the last minute due to a critical piece of equipment not being ready (the new club portable 160m loop antenna). The change of venue was deemed a fantastic outcome by all who participated as outside temperatures plummeted into the low single digits. Steve and his wife were fantastic hosts and we were able to operate the full 6 hours in luxurious conditions.

The station consisted of Steve’s IC7700 running either 80 or 160m on the Magnetic Loop antenna, while Grant’s K3 ran on 160/80/40m either on the 40m rotatable dipole or the 80/160m trapped dipole, depending on the combination we selected. We had hoped to also have a IC7000 dedicated to 40m, however the RFI from the MagLoop (one of their drawbacks it seems) was severe and rendered the second 40m station unusable. Something to learn from there when using the loop in later contests.

Four of us operated whilst one was there for moral support (guess which one (chuckle)). Activity came in bursts although there were times when the pickings were very slim and we called for many minutes without a bite. 40m was completely dead after dark, but not for want of propagation. When we did find someone (VK4HH) they were easily workable. It seems that 7MHz is forgotten in this contest after dark – perhaps unwisely so.

We also ran CW (having two gun CW operators helped) which filled in the dead patches  calling on SSB. We were going to try RTTY, but were still configuring the MicroHam keyer and hadn’t cracked the code of how to make it run with MMTTY and N1MM in time for the contest.

A highlight was the a number of contacts made with New Zealand stations this year. ZL contacts were achieved on 40, 80 and 160m, although on 160m it was often hard going.

The Transmitting Magnetic Loop Antenna we used for this contest on 80/160m

All up we made 211 contacts. Here is the map of where we worked

Thanks to everyone who participated from AREG and thanks also to all of the stations across VK/ZL who participated in this unique contest!

AREG’s New 160m/80m Contesting Portable Antenna – Progress

Update – July 12th: Mounting of the tuning capacitor and motor drive is complete. Just a few more things and we will be ready for final assembly and tune up!


A group of members inside AREG, inspired by Steve VK5SFA’s success with his transmitting magnetic loop antennas have banded together to construct for the club it’s own 160/80m TMLA, specifically designed to be portable. It is able to be knocked down into components that can be packed into the back of a station wagon.

Significant progress was made today in assembling the antenna as we had hoped to have it ready to try at the IARU HF contest next weekend. We didn’t quite make it unfortunately, running out of daylight before we completed construction. However, we are now planning another session next weekend with the goal being to have the antenna finished and ready to run for the Trans Tasman Low Band Challenge contest the following weekend.

The club’s version of Steve’s antenna is using LCF78 coax instead of the wave-guide, with the vacuum capacitor mounted inside a water proof ex-camera case (great for transport and moisture proofing). The frame is made out of laminated bamboo broomsticks and a timber hub arrangement with the frame held together through compression provided by 8 ratchet straps. The aim is for the antenna to be suspended from a tree (or trees) at least 1 loop diameter above the ground (to increase it’s efficiency). It has been designed to accept 400W input power as well to overcome the efficiency issues these antennas can have.

Today’s construction efforts were led by Steve VK5SFA, Grant VK5GR and Scott VK5TST. The project wouldnt have been possible without generous donations from Steve VK5SFA, Peter VK5KX and Trevor VK5YFR.

The next steps are to complete mounting the motor tuning drive, do some structural adjustments to the frame, assemble the coupling loop and then test the antenna. This work will be completed next weekend, so keep an ear out for us during the TTLBC Contest on July 15th on 160 and 80m using our Transmitting Magnetic Loop Antennas!

AREG operating WIA HQ Station VK5WIA in IARU HF Championships

UPDATE: Over night crew working hard, band conditions difficult as usual…


AREG is pleased to announce that it will be fielding the operators to again run the WIA

VK5WIA in 2016

Headquarters Station for the 2017 IARU HF World Championships. The station will be run from the QTH of Chris VK5CP in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia. It is planned to have 2 transmitters on the air continuously at least. This year we are also hoping to get a 160m antenna and a couple of options for 80/75m antennas working from the site as well.

So look out for VK5WIA during next weekend and work us for headquarters station multiplier points! The Contest Rules are available from the ARRL Website.

Australian Contesting Technical College – Friday 19th May 3-5pm

Have you ever wanted to learn about contesting but didn’t know where to start? Did you ever want to learn the secrets of how the big stations earn their scores? Well now is your chance!

In May, AREG will be hosting a special event immediately prior to the WIA AGM in Adelaide. On Friday 19th at 3:00pm, the club proudly invites you to attend the “Australian Contesting Technical College”, presented by Trent Sampson VK4TS. The venue will be the clubrooms, located at the Reedbeds Community Hall, in Fulham (5 minutes from the airport for those around Australia flying in who would like to attend). This once in a lifetime event is open to anyone with an interest in Amateur Radio Contesting.

Trent VK4TS with Alan VK4SN

Trent Sampson VK4TS is the Contest Columnist for AR magazine and a member of the Lambda Contest Group who operate under the Callsign VK4KW and holds many records in Multi Operator categories in SSB RTTY and CW.

During the 2 hour session, Trent will discuss setting up a modern contest station for SO2R (SIngle Operator 2 Radios) operation as well as Multi operator station considerations, including equipment selection, interfacing, and antenna selection.

The Antenna selection part will include a real life appraisal of a contest location (likely to be one of the AREG sites) and how well it will work using High-Frequency Terrain propagation analysis.

When considering software, Trent will discuss examples of how to use the most popular software and the lessons learned from it.

Topics Covered will include:

  • Multi Operator Stations,
  • SO2R Operation
  • Filtering; Bandpass and Coax Stub,
  • Antenna selection Software usage,
  • N1MM with examples of SSB RTTY and CW.

So organise your Rostered Day Off now, or arrange to get into Adelaide a little bit earlier that day if travelling from interstate and make your way to the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group clubrooms for this once off special event!

AREG Members note: this is in addition to the May Meeting, the hall will close between 5:30 and 7:30 then reopen for the normal monthly meeting. As always visitors are welcome.


Where to find AREG

John Moyle Field Day Contest 2017 – Get Out There!

The John Moyle Memorial Field Day Contest is fast approaching, due to be held on the weekend of March 18th and 19th this year. While AREG is not mounting a major club station this year, it is, as it did last year, encouraging as many members as possible to take to the road and activate portable for the contest.

The contest runs from 0100 UTC (11.30am ACDT) Saturday to 0059 UTC Sunday (11:30am ACDT). Full details of the event’s rules can be found on the WIA’s website: www.wia.org.au

At least two members have indicated that they will be on air portable (VK5GR and VK5AKH). Even if you cant mount a portable station, why not enter the home station category? Activity on the bands is the name of the game from 160m to Microwave! Dont forget digital modes and CW as well, as there are categories for them too.

Looking forward to working everyone during this years field day event!

Report: AREG Participation in OCDX SSB Contest

Oceania DX Contest VK5ARG Field Day station Cancelled

Despite the weather, AREG members still made sure that the club call-sign VK5ARG was heard on the bands for the Oceania DX Contest, albeit from the QTH of one of our members and not from the planned portable operation. The unprecedented weather system that rolled through South Australia in the days before the contest, coupled with the storms that arrived Sunday meant that the field day activation simply wasn’t possible this year.

Courtesy Bureau of Meteorology

Courtesy Bureau of Meteorology

Relocation to the Murray Mallee activated as plan C

In order to get VK5ARG on the air, a hasty retreat was made to the Murray Mallee where Chris VK5CP has his remote station. There we had access to two stations covering 20-10m and 40-10m respectively. On the Friday afternoon we also erected a temporary antenna to give us access to 80m and 160m for the contest!

Getting ready to raise the 80/160m dipoles from the top of the cliff (Photo courtesy VK5MTM)

Getting ready to raise the 80/160m dipoles from the top of the cliff (Photo courtesy VK5MTM)

Most of the crew who planned to activate Para Wirra Park made the journey out to the Mallee and so we were able to man 3 stations when required. Those who participated were:

ocdx-operator-list

The contest itself was also hard going. The sun and the ionosphere did not cooperate well. This was reflected in the score achieved. At one point during the contest the T-Index map looked like this:

T-Index Map during the OCDX Contest 2016 (courtesy BOM Space Weather Division)

T-Index Map during the OCDX Contest 2016 (courtesy BOM Space Weather Division)

It made for some peculiar propagation. 15m was open for a time when no contacts could be had on 20m during the day on Sunday. At night, we also had some great signals on 80m including contacts to the US West coast and the Mariana Islands. 40m however was our standout band, having extended openings to the USA Saturday evening and to Europe Sunday early morning.

Conclusion

Campfire during OCDX 2016 (Photo Courtesy VK5MTM)

Campfire during OCDX 2016 (Photo Courtesy VK5MTM)

Overall, a great time was had despite the difficult propagation. Everyone enjoyed themselves.

The final score achieved was:

AREG Oceania DX Contest Points (Provisional)
Band QSOs Pts Pfx Pt/Q
1.8 9 180 4 20.0
3.5 37 370 14 10.0
7 448 2240 254 5.0
14 104 104 63 1.0
21 213 426 109 2.0
28 2 6 1 3.0
Total 813 3326 445 4.1
Score: 1480070
1 Mult = 1.8 Q's

A very special thanks must be expressed to Chris VK5CP who bailed us out when the weather threatened to scuttle our participation completely. Thanks also goes to all of the contest organizing committee, band captains, operators and support crew who did make the trek out to the Murray Mallee to operate and support VK5ARG, including: VK5AKH, VK5ZM, VK5XFG, VK5GR, VK5MTM, VK5KX, VK5QI, VK5IX, VK5FGRY, VK5FSAW and last but not least VK5CP!

Thanks also goes to everyone who worked very hard preparing the station over the preceding 3 months. Don’t fear, your efforts have not been in vain as a suitable activation of the park will be planned in the near future (so that all of the work can be put to the test).

Till next year! 73s de VK5ARG!

Oceania DX Contest: VK5ARG will still be on the air!

Given the weather and park access situation we are faced with, the AREG has taken up the very kind offer from one of our members to still participate in the Oceania DX Contest from his remote QTH.

You will still find VK5ARG on the bands, although with fewer transmitters than originally planned. Hope to hear you on the air calling CQ DX CONTEST!