VK5ARG ILLW Activity 2015

On Saturday 15th Members of AREG participated in the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend event. AREG reserved the Marion Rocks Lighthouse – AU-0118 to operate as VK5ARG, while Peter VK5KX went over to Edithburgh on Yorke Peninsula and activated Troubridge Hill lighthouse.

Marino RocksDSC_6285

Bob, VK5FO and Ray, VK5RR arrived onsite at around 1pm in the cold and light rain. They took a walk from the carpark up to the Lighthouse in the Marino Conservation Park looking for a suitable place to set up the station.

DSC_6293A 5 minute walk up the hill to the Lighthouse – which is in a fenced enclosure in the middle of the conservation park, a bit of a walk around to admire the view to the West across the Gulf and to the North along the coast towards Adelaide, they could see that the rain was clearing. There was a suitable spot to set up a portable station about 50M from the lighthouse overlooking the Gulf.

Back at the Carpark, Gary, VK5FGRY had arrived and everyone made their way back up and set up the station. The station for this operation was a KX3 and an inverted V on 40M and also a 1/4Wave vertical on 20M

As we were setting up the weather cleared and we were lucky enough to have even better views towards the city and across the Gulf.


Peter VK5KX at Troubridge Hill (Yorke Peninsula)

Once set up, we started looking over the bands and came across another Club Member – Peter, VK5KX who was at Troubridge Hill Lighthouse – AU-0105 and made the first contact for the day at 0455UTC

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Peter VK5KX operating from Troubridge Hill near Edithburgh

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Peter VK5KX Station

Even though the bands were busy with the RD contest it was fairly steady going – conditions were only average.  The staion mainly worked 40M and tried 20m for a little while at around the time we would expect and EU activity – but only worked a single station on 20M.

Across the afternoon we had a relaxed time and worked a total of 18 stations with the mix of 2 RD contest stations, 7 other ILLW stations and 9 chasers.The team worked the following Lighthouses: AU-0105, AU-0029, AU-0017, AU-0107, AU-0110, AU-0079 and AU-0007 before packing up around 5pm local time.

All up a fun day was had by everyone involved. It was a great opportunity to undertake some portable operation from some unique landmarks! Congratulations to all involved who braved the wintry weather!

Photo Gallery

Gallery Photos courtesy Gary Hamilton VK5FGRY

Hints & Tips for getting started on FreeDV

The AREG FreeDV QSO Party is getting closer and now would be a great time for you to start setting up their radios so that you can join in on the weekend of September 12th and 13th! More information about the QSO party is available here (click).

The following are some resources you may be interested in to help get your FreeDV station up and running on the air.

What does FreeDV Sound Like?

Firstly, what does a FreeDV Contact sound like in comparison to SSB? Here is an excellent demonstration of this by N4DVR.

How to setup a FreeDV Station?

You can start operating on FreeDV by downloading a program for your computer, and then connecting it to your HF radio via your sound card. The software is an open source program available from the following links:

Next, you need to get your FreeDV software installed on your PC and configured. The following video tutorial is great for explaining how to set up the software.

Once you have the software configured it is time to connect it to a transmitter! The next video is from a presentation made by David VK5DGR at the AREG club meeting where some of the factors to consider when driving a HF radio with FreeDV were discussed.

In summary:

  • Less Power is usually better
  • Do not run any compression on transmit
  • Back the transmitter power off such that the ALC function is barely being activated
  • Do not run any receive filtering

The main reason for these tips is that distortion of the signal leads to bit errors. While you may get more transmit power, the signal quality being transmitted will be degraded to the point where even under very good HF path conditions decoding the signal will be very difficult indeed.

Where to go for more support?

If you want more information about FreeDV please visit the www.freedv.org website or log onto Internet Relay Chat (IRC) on irc.freenode.net. (http://webchat.freenode.net/?channels=freedv) and connect to the #freedv channel.


AREG General Business Meeting: August 21st + Guest Speakers !

The next meeting of the Amateur Radio Experimenters group will be held on Friday 21st August. The venue as always will be the Reedbeds Community Hall, 19 Fitch Rd, Fulham SA 5024.

This month there will be two guest speakers giving short presentations interrupted by a short business meeting.  Doors open 7:45pm, first talk starts at 8pm sharp !

Everything 6m!

The first speaker will be Ben VK5BB P1020591who will give a 10 minute  talk on the Amateur 6m band and what it has to offer in the summer time months.  With summertime on the horizon (finally) it’s a good time to dust off the low band VHF 6m gear and get it ready for the upcoming summer months !!!

This will be followed by a short general business meeting.

FreeDV – getting it working!

The second  short technical presentation will be by David VK5DGR on the practical aspects of  alignment, use and getting a FreeDV signal to air.  With the AREG FreeDV QSO Party (click) just around the corner, now is perhaps a good time to get that SM1000 or PC Interface at the ready !   As is typical with all of David’s talks it certainly should be a good time to sit back and watch or hear Digital HF Voice first hand.

This of course will bearegmap interspersed with coffee, cake and opportunities for technical chats around the kitchen bench.  Should be a good night to get out of the house and come and play radio.

Look forward to seeing you there

73, Matthew VK5ZM

International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend 15/16th August


This annual amateur radio event was started in Scotland by John Forsyth, GM4OOU, and the late Mike Dalrymple (GM4SUC), both members of Ayr Amateur Radio Group (AARG). Through the years the event has grown probably far beyond what John and Mike envisaged for it all those years ago. The fact that some 85 countries have been represented in this event since inception clearly shows that it is well on its way to becoming a premier event on the ham radio calendar.

The basic objective of the event is to promote public awareness of lighthouses and lightships and their need for preservation and restoration, and at the same time to promote amateur radio  and to foster International goodwill.The Lighthouse weekend is fairly relaxed and usually has a decent turn-out of chasers and participants. It is genuinely a good fun day out!

VK5ARG at Marino Rocks Lighthouse

Image courtesy http://www.weekendnotes.com/marino-conservation-park/

Bob VK5FO is organising a station to activate VK5ARG from Marino Rocks Lighthouse. The plan is to meet at the Carpark at the end of Nimboya Rd, Marino, at around Midday on Saturday 15th. From there, we will set up in the park up towards the lighthouse, in the Marino Rocks Conservation Park – which also qualifies for the SANPCPA.

The station will consist of a 40M inverted V and a FX-4A QRP tranceiver for the VK contacts and a pair of phased Verticals on 20M beaming long path Europe using an Elecraft KX3.

The plan is to operate the station until dark on the Saturday before finding somewhere local to eat before driving home. Please let Bob VK5FO know if you are planning on coming out to operate the AREG station. Note if you do want to come, you dont need to bring anything except a chair.

Note: The ILLW event does does co-incide with the RD Contest.  While VK5ARG will not be participating in the RD contest, we will give out numbers to those who are :).