AREG Beginners Series: Introducing HF Wire Antennas – April 21st

Next AREG Meeting: Friday April 21st – 7.45pm

Continuing with our beginners series presentations this year, this month we have Chris VK5SA who will talk us through the basics of the simple wire HF antenna. He will explain the characteristics of a set of simple to build yet effective HF antennas that anyone can make, often for less than $100 worth of materials. He will show you the merits and limitations of several of them, including:

  • Basic Dipoles
  • Offset Centre Fed Dipole
  • Inverted V
  • Fan Dipole
  • Terminated Folded Dipole

Samples of how to build many of these will also be on hand for people to take a look at.

Meeting Time & Location

The meeting will be held at the Reedbeds Community Centre, located off of Phelps Court, in Fulham. The clubrooms will open at 7.45pm with the meeting to commence at 8.00pm sharp.

Tea, coffee and cake will be available for a small donation after the presentation. Following that, the monthly business meeting will be held.

As always, AREG meetings are open to everyone, so if you are interested in starting out on HF, then this is a great opportunity to hear about some simple antennas to get you underway!

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

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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

AREG March Meeting: Space Weather and Ionospheric Prediction

The Amateur Radio Experimenters Group is proud to announce our guest lecturer for our March general meeting is David Neudegg, Principal Space & Radio Scientist, Space Weather Services (Australian Federal Govt). David formerly worked for the Ionospheric Prediction Service before that agency was reconstituted inside of the Bureau of Meteorology.

David brings a wealth of knowledge about the ionosphere and how it works and will provide a fascinating insight into how it’s behavioral predictions relate to people’s real world experiences when using HF radio communications.

Meeting Details

The meeting will be held on Friday March 17th at the Reedbeds Community Centre, off Phelps Court in Fulham. Doors will open at 7.45pm, with the presentation beginning at 8.00pm.

Visitors are most welcome! We hope to see you there!

 

Next Meeting: How to track Project Horus Balloons!

The next meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group will be held on Friday February 17th, starting at 7.45pm.

This month, Matthew VK5ZM will be showing everyone how they can get involved in telemetry tracking during a Project Horus balloon flight. Matt will explain the basic equipment any amateur can use to receive and decode the RTTY telemetry from the balloon.He will also discuss the value to the project team you can bring by taking the time to decode the telemetry for us, as every frame collected and relayed to the Internet is added to the data being used by the recovery teams seeking to retrieve the payloads at the end of every flight.

The next launch that you can then try out your new skills is the following weekend, so this is very timely! Horus 43 which is being flown for Rostrevor College is planned to launch Sunday February 26th at 10.00am.


The presentation will be followed by a business meeting. Visitors are most welcome to attend! Come on down and find out this and many other aspects of the activities being undertaken by the AREG!

You will find the club at the Reedbeds Community Centre, off Phelps Crt, Fulham.

Next Meeting: 20th Jan – Radio Beginner Series: The art of QSLing

During 2017, the AREG is planning a set of presentations to be known as the “Radio Beginner Series”. The intention is that every 4 months, the evening will be dedicated to something simple, but which any beginner starting out may not have been exposed to before. Ideal for foundation licensees, but also equally applicable to old hands trying out a new aspect of the hobby that they haven’t engaged with before.

The Art of QSL Cards and Confirmations

This month, the topic of sending and receiving QSL cards will be introduced, including all of the ways that you can achieve confirmation of your contacts, particularly if you are chasing awards. The talk will cover things like:

  • QSL card design – what to put on your cards
  • Ways of sending physical cards
    • Bureau
    • Direct – IRCs and “Green Stamps”
    • via QSL Managers
  • How to get electronic confirmation
    • ARRL’s Logbook of the World
    • eQSL.cc
    • ClubLog Log Matching & OQRS QSL Request Services
  • How do you manage Multiple Logs on these services?

The doors will open at 7.45pm, with meeting starting at 8.00pm. After the main presentation, tea coffee and supper is available followed by a general meeting. Hope to see you there!

Merry Christmas and HNY 2016

The AREG executive and committee would like to wish all AREG members and Amateurs world wide a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Until next year stay safe and enjoy the Holiday DX Season.

AREG at the WIA STEM Symposium – November 2016

The Amateur Radio Experimenter’s Group has taken an active role in promoting STEM in Schools programs for a number of years now, particularly through our involvement with LaunchBox, who work with us and our Project Horus sub-group to fly high altitude balloons. Our recent foray into the Maker Faire and HackerSpace community through our participation in the Adelaide Maker Faire also has been an area where we see a great potential to improve the link between Amateur Radio and STEM in schools, particularly with secondary and tertiary level students.

AREG Road Trip to Canberra

It was against this backdrop that the group endorsed it’s President, Matt VK5ZM and Treasurer Grant VK5GR to make the 2400km round trip from Adelaide to Canberra to attend the inaugural WIA STEM symposium.

AREG saw this as an opportunity to firstly share it’s own experiences with others, as well as build networks with other like minded amateurs who either were already engaged in their own contact with the STEM programs in schools or who were wanting to initiate programs of their own. The group also saw this as a way of tapping into the resources of the WIA to help facilitate the communications between affiliated clubs engaged in these activities, and also as an opportunity to contribute to resources that the WIA could develop to support the regional clubs in their STEM endeavors.

The speakers at the Symposium

The event itself, enabled through the hard work of the Canberra Region Amateur Radio Club on behalf of the WIA, provided a fascinating insight into the world of STEM and the challenges STEM faces in schools. (Thanks in particular to Amanda VK1WX, CRARC president).

The WIA Introductions

AREG received presentations firstly from Fred Swainston VK3DAC on the WIA’s vision of STEM, followed by one technological idea from Phil Wait VK2ASD on kits that could potentially be made available to schools based around cheap RTL-SDR Dongles as a way of introducing radio spectrum and communications studies into schools.

Geffory McNamarra wins PM’s Science Prize

STEM from a Science Teacher

Next up was a presentation by Geoffrey McNamara, a science teacher from Melrose High in the ACT who has been doing amazing work encouraging students to take an interest in science based investigations in secondary school. Geoffrey has implemented a program along an apprenticeship model where he has brought in experts from their fields to work with students one on one in a field of research. Many of those who are lucky enough to go through that program have gone on to a career in science.

Two principle points however came out of talking with Geoff that any initiatives need to take into account.

  1. You need to show students the “Wow Factor” behind any scientific endeavor, to spark their interest and light the fire to drive them to take it further.
  2. Science Teachers are incredibly time poor and severely under funded.

Radio Astronomy and STEM

The Lewis Center provides the gateway to this program via JPL

Next the participants received a presentation from Dr David Jauncey, talking about programs like GAVRT (Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope) where students in the USA can access a decommissioned radio telescope at the Goldstone Deep Space Network station in California. He also discussed how Tidbinbilla in the ACT is engaged in some schools programs (although not to the extent that Goldstone is). Out of this it was again clear that the principle aim of STEM programs is to garner that spark in students that science is “wow” and has something genuinely interesting and inspiring to offer as a career or at the very least as a life skill and perspective.

Practical Science and Physics Experiments enabled by Amateur Radio

Next up was Dr George Galanis VK3EIP, who is attempting to construct a system that could be used to demonstrate practical physics experiments using radio at schools. His idea is that you take a portable EME station to a school and conduct experiments such as measuring the echo delay from the moon, and even bouncing SSB voice off the moon and letting the students gain a real appreciation of the time delay involved in transmitting radio waves that far into space.

Other uses of the same equipment were also discussed in the field of radio astronomy. The ability to look at the microwave radio noise from the sun and show how to calibrate the dish, as well as other radio astronomy experiments are all practical demonstrations of radio that are relevant to the classroom. Again, the underlying theme to come out of this was to find ways to spark an enthusiasm in students and give them a memorable ‘wow’ experience, to implant science and technology as something worth following up later in life through tertiary studies and beyond, was the core theme of Dr Galanis’s presentation.

Accessing STEM through the Maker and Hacker-Space Movements

The final formal presentation was given by Matt and Grant from AREG. Matt opened with a story about a conversation he had once with a good amateur radio friend, Harro VK5HK (sk). Harro once asked Matt “What is radio?” Matt gave a very engineering focused answer about Maxwell’s equations etc, to which Harro politely pointed out “Yes, but no…. What is it really?” he asked again rhetorically? “Magic” was his answer.

It is the magic of radio, and getting people to the realization that it really is a form of magic that was the “wow” moment amateur radio can bring – when presented in the right way. It is the magic of being able to talk into a box on one side of the globe, and have someone on the other side talk back. When you think that there is no other infrastructure in between, and yet this is still possible, then you again have that hook or spark that leads to a “Wow” moment in young people that you hope will stick with them throughout their years. Undertaking that sort of communications in inventive and awe-inspiring ways, such as talking to ISS, or via live TV where the internet is not involved is a definite opportunity to “light the fire of imagination” in young people today.

It was this theme of “Radio is Magic” that Matt and img_3237-mediumGrant spoke to, explaining how they had brought amateur radio to young people through things like Amateur Television at JOTA, or through High Altitude Ballooning via Project Horus that members of AREG have been involved with now for nearly 6 years. The very recent foray into the Maker Faire and the group’s contacts with people in the Hackerspace movement were also discussed.  It was shown how lighting that spark even as people are in their tertiary studies was a way to leave a lasting impression and would and does lead to people taking up Amateur Radio in their twenties – a key demographic that AREG sees as fertile ground to recruit into amateur radio and to also promote the ongoing relevance of amateur radio today.

The high altitude ballooning in particular was discussed in some detail as a way of engaging with schools programs. The AREG representatives explained how that had worked through LaunchBox as a great way to inspire even primary school children to develop a wonder of science. The example of how the Project Horus balloons have been used to fly simple experiments to answer a child’s question of “will my corn kernel turn into popcorn in the near vacuum of near space?” hits home to how activities like this can spark someone on a journey of scientific curiosity that will potentially stay with them for the rest of their lives. (By the way, sadly the answer was no – the corn stays as a corn kernel).

One particular STEM area that was then discussed was that there are multiple facets to how you engage with STEM in schools. The obvious way is to undertake direct interactions with students, and you can also take the second tier approach and market amateur radio as a tool to the science teachers themselves. There are conferences and science fairs around the nation completely untapped by amateur radio where with the right presentation, the magic of radio could reach the classroom by recruiting the teachers who are already there. As a result, there was discussions around 1) trying to identify existing teachers who hold a license and 2) looking further at avenues and support requirements to recruit new teachers into the hobby, so as to enhance that conduit into the classroom as well.

Where to from here?

After the presentations the symposium broke for lunch, during which many useful discussions were had. After the break, we went back into the hall and broke into three working parties. The aim was to develop initial ideas around the following three questions:

  1. The Way Forward to further develop the concept
  2. Promotion and Marketing that can be developed by the WIA
  3. Other Technologies not identified at the Symposium

Lots of good ideas were put forward and are now being collated by the WIA for distribution. The WIA indicated that all of the presentations that were made, the papers that were received and the data generated from the three working parties will be made available in due course via the WIA website.

Conclusion

Overall, Matt and Grant came away feeling that the WIA had made some good first steps into addressing how to get amateur radio engaged with STEM in schools. It also was clear that this is not an initiative that can be driven solely by the WIA. It will take the formation of teams of people in each state and territory who can then begin the work of building local responses in alignment with a national Amateur Radio in STEM framework. The WIA can play a facilitation role here that will be positive for both Amateur Radio and STEM education in Australia.

The next step AREG see’s is that the WIA needs to establish an Amateur Radio in STEM advisory committee, made up initially from the general WIA members who attended the symposium plus others who couldn’t make it but still wish to contribute. This committee needs to take the work already started and complete building the national frame work for Amateur Radio in STEM. It can then turn that into a set of individual regional initiatives driven through the radio clubs network so that collectively the Amateur Radio Service can set forward on the task of tackling this multi-faceted arena.

AREG would like to thank the WIA for taking the time to run the symposium and in particular would like to thank all those who made the effort to attend and participate, as well as thank those who contributed papers and inputs. It is hoped that this is only the beginning of a new focus on how to demonstrate to a new generation the ongoing relevance and importance not only of Amateur Radio to the country, but also STEM education in general in Australia. Getting everyone together in one place was a fantastic start to this as it has established new networks and shared many different perspectives on how to tackle the issue. There very much is an exciting future ahead for Amateur Radio and STEM studies nationally.

 

Next Meeting: Friday Nov 25th: Live Balloon Imaging System

Note: Changed meeting week this month – 4th Friday (not the normal 3rd)

SSDV Experimental Payload – ‘Wenet’

Mark VK5QI and David VK5DGR have been working on a slow scan digital image payload for the balloon system which transmits at 115kbit/s on a new downlink channel. This system makes uses of the UKHAS SSDV server to stitch together images from packets uploaded by multiple receivers. You can read more about the system on Mark VK5QI’s blog.

Unlike analog SSTV, SSDV sends down compressed JPEG images via some form of data link. Written by Philip Heron, the SSDV software converts a JPEG image into a set of packets which can be transmitted via a radio link and then re-assembled on the ground. Unlike regular JPEG images, if a packet is lost, SSDV will still produce a full image, albeit with some portions missing.

Wenet RX software running within a Ubuntu Virtual Machine

At the meeting Mark and David will give you an insight into how it works. This system will be demonstrated in the field as well during coming Horus flights.

Meeting Time

The clubrooms will be opened from 7.45pm with the presentation starting at 8.00pm. Visitors are most welcome! You will find us here: