The radio team will be contacted individually shortly. Our bookings in Kingston on Murray have been withdrawn.
Unfortunately yet another victim of COVID-19.
UPDATE: March 22nd 2020 – Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the South Australian government now restricting interstate travel (requiring forced isolation for those arriving in the state), the VEA team has regrettably had to cancel the planned FCC exam session for April 4th in Adelaide.
VEA and AREG hope to reschedule this opportunity for later in the year once the restrictions have been lifted.
Due to the cancellation of our March meeting, we are now hoping we can bring this topic to members in April. Stay tuned for further details
Always of intense interest to Radio Amateurs is what is going to happen to the ionosphere. More recently, the big question on everyone’s lips has been, when is Solar Cycle 25 going to get underway and how strong (or weak) is it going to be.
AREG is pleased to announce that we have a preeminent expert in this field coming to speak at our Friday 20th of March general meeting. Dr David Neudegg (VK5FDAN) from the Defence Science & Technology Group will give us a radio amateur perspective on what is happening with Solar Cycle 25.
The meeting will be held at the Fulham Community Centre, off Phelps Court in Fulham. The meeting will start at 7.45pm. Doors open from 7.15pm. Visitors are most welcome to join us!
We hope to see you there!
The River Paddling Marathon 200 event staged by the Marathon Canoe Club of SA will again be running over the June long weekend from Berri to Morgan in South Australia’s Riverland. Staged over 3 days from June 6-8, this event will see over 100 competitors brave the winter cold to paddle the mighty Murray River downstream for 200km.
Once again, the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group in conjunction with the Riverland Radio Club, is supporting this major community event with a safety communications radio network. Communications is provided via a combination of Amateur and Commercial VHF/UHF radio networks. The radio team operates 20 check points, including 3 locks, 9 starting lines, 3 finish lines, the event command post and provides VHF command and APRS tracking of 4 safety boats plus the event medics. This is all delivered via a 2m/70cm FM network using a combination of local and portable repeater systems deployed specifically for this event.
To cover all of the checkpoints and roles, the group needs a small army of volunteers. Members from both AREG and RRC have been the backbone of the event now for over 5 years. This year, we would love to broaden the engagement further. If you are a member of any of the local radio clubs, WICEN SA, WICEN VIC or just an individual with 2m/70cm mobile capabilities and you would like to get involved, please contact us via email@example.com to express your interest. Registrations are open until the end of March 2020.
We keep the check point requirements simple. Each checkpoint is open for ~3-4 hours and mostly operators are only rostered on for one checkpoint a day.
For most checkpoints a 2WD vehicle and a 25W or higher 2m mobile radio with a car mounted antenna is usually sufficient to reach the comms network. 70cm is used in a limited number of check points too. Minimum teams of 2 are preferred, one for spotting and one for manning the radio. If you wish to participate as an individual we can pair you up with one of the other operators for the day.
If you have never participated in the event before, there will be a briefing night held in Adelaide several weeks before the event. If you are new to the event, our event planners will stage you with one of the more experienced operators to show you the ropes the first year.
The Radio network participants are mostly based out of Kingston on Murray caravan park for the event and many come and stay for the three days. AREG provides financial assistance towards the cost of accommodation and one of the meals during the event. People usually arrive in the area Friday afternoon (and a small team gets to work that day installing the radios in the boats around 4.30pm at Waikerie). The event is over by 4pm on Monday afternoon leaving plenty of time to drive back to Adelaide.
If you cant come for the full three days, on the Monday in particular it has not been uncommon for people to come up just for the day from Adelaide. (Day 3 is centred near Morgan so is within easy reach).
So if a fun relaxing 3 days on the Murray River interests you please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest! We would love to see more members of the Amateur Radio community getting involved and supporting this fantastic community event!
FURTHER UPDATE: The second launch (23rd Feb) was also a success, with even more new callsigns showing up. The following stations were seen to upload telemetry for this launch: VK5BGN, VK5EU, VK5FPKR, VK5KK, VK5KIK, VK5KX, VK5LJG, VK5LO, VK5NE, VK5NEX, VK5NTM, VK5PE, VK5PW, VK5QI, VK5QS, VK5ST, VK5TRM, VK5ZEA. The callsign ‘PLEASE_CHANGE_ME’ also made another appearance 🙂
Thanks to all that received telemetry from these launches, and we hope to see you on the tracker again during future Project Horus launches!
UPDATE: The first launch (16th Feb) was a success, with quite a few new stations uploading telemetry. The following stations were seen to upload telemetry this flight: CT1EGC/VK5, VK5APR, VK5CV, VK5FPKR, VK5HS, VK5KIK, VK5KX, VK5LJG, VK5NE, VK5NEX, VK5NTM, VK5PE, VK5PW, VK5QI, VK5ST, VK5TCP, VK5TRM. Also a special mention goes out to callsigns ‘PLEASE_CHANGE_ME’, and ‘DONT_CHANGE_ME’, who might need to go edit their configuration settings 🙂
The next launch will be this coming Sunday, the 23rd of Feb, also from Two Wells. Launch is expected to be around 10AM again. The payload will be a cut-down RS41 Radiosonde, and we will be launching as a ‘Small’ balloon (<= 50g payload).
If you’ve been following the last few Project Horus High-Altitude balloon launches, you may have noticed the new ‘Horus Binary‘ telemetry payload is making a regular showing. This payload uses a high performance 4-FSK modem specifically designed for High-Altitude Balloon flights by David Rowe (VK5DGR) and Mark Jessop (VK5QI).
After resolving some issues experienced on the first few flights, the Horus Binary payload has now proven itself to be well suited for high-altitude balloon tracking, with fast position updates and high robustness to weak signals and fading. It has considerable advantages over the ‘traditional’ RTTY payload in both reliability, reception range and speed.
As such, it’s time we start to say goodbye to the RTTY tracking payload we’ve been flying for the last 54 flights. It may still make an appearance on a few more flights, but it is long overdue to be phased out, and the weight budget used for more interesting things!
To help regular listeners make the transition, and help new listeners get set up to receive this new telemetry, Project Horus will be performing a series of small (not-so) high-altitude balloon launches over the next few weekends. These launches will each fly a single Horus Binary transmitter, which consists of a reprogrammed Vaisala RS41 radiosonde. It is expected that each flight will remain in the air for approximately 2 hours, giving ample time to test receiving setups.
Getting setup to receive the Horus Binary telemetry is no harder than receiving RTTY – if you have a 70cm SSB receiver, or even a Software-Defined-Radio like a RTLSDR dongle, you can get involved and help contribute to the tracking of Project Horus balloon launches, and the success of our future flights.
We have recently re-vamped the documentation for Horus Binary, and there are now reception guides available for both Windows, OSX and Linux available here: https://github.com/projecthorus/horusbinary/wiki#how-do-i-receive-it
Follow the linked instructions prior to the scheduled flights, then during the flight tune your SSB receiver to 434.660 MHz USB – our standard Horus Binary frequency. Listeners in the greater Adelaide region should be able to receive the signal from the payload shortly after launch, with those further afield following as the balloon and payload ascend to higher altitudes.
If you have issues with setting up the software, please contact Mark Jessop (VK5QI) at vk5qi (at) rfhead.net .
The following launch times are planned:
All are welcome at the launches – though unlike most Project Horus launches, these launches are expected to be over with very quickly! Launch crews are expected to be on-site approximately 30 min before the launch time, and may depart to chase the payload depending on flight-path predictions.
The latest must have gadget in any Amateur Radio station has got to be the range of new “Mini-VNA” devices taking the market by storm. Now touted as the ultimate replacement for the humble VSWR meter or antenna analyser, and at a fraction of the price, have you succumbed and bought one too?
More importantly, do you know what to do with it?
Steve VK5SFA will attempt to answer the question “So you bought a VNA, now what?” at the next AREG Meeting – to be held on Friday February 14th. Steve will demo the NanoVNA that he purchased for sub AUD $100 and provide some practical examples of how you can use this technology in your ham shack!
The meeting will be held at the Fulham Community Centre, Phelps Court, Fulham on Friday February 14th (note this is one week early due to the hall being booked for a Festival Fringe show the following week). Doors open at 7.15pm with proceedings getting underway at 7.45pm.
All members and visitors are most welcome! Come down to the AREG and say hello!
For the past 4 years, AREG has been involved in the International Space University’s Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program (SHSSP) through the launching of High-Altitude balloons – this year was no exception! The Stratospheric Balloon component of the SHSSP allows participants to get hands-on experience in planning and conducting a high-altitude balloon launch. Previous years flights have seen the launch of camera payloads, various sensors, and lots of mission patches!
This year, participants were split into three teams – Earth Observation, Sensor Payload, and Mission Planning. Their roles were as follows:
All of the preparation activities occurred over workshops in the week prior to launch, guided by the team leads. By the Thursday before the launch the mission planning team had decided on a flight profile targeting a burst altitude of 36km. The sensor payload was completed and tested the night before launch.
The following payloads were launched on this flight:
This year saw the use of a new launch site at Taylors Winery, just outside of Auburn in the southern Clare Valley region. While being further away from Adelaide, this site offers advantages in that we have much greater flexibility in what flight profiles we can fly, unlike the Mt Barker launch site where we can essentially only launch to the east. As this area is within RAAF Edinburgh restricted airspace, a new agreement with CASA had to be obtained, requiring us to coordinate our activities with the Edinburgh Tower (453 Squadron). Thankfully there was very little activity in the area on our launch day, and launch approval was granted with no issues.
The AREG and SHSSP teams started to assemble at the launch site around 10:30AM, well ahead of the planned launch time of 12:45AM. The weather was perfect – a nice sunny day, not too hot, and with only light winds.
A few payload issues were encountered in the lead-up to launch:
Ground winds did increase somewhat just prior to launch, but not enough to cause issues, and the balloon and payloads were released slightly after the planned launch time, at 12:53 AM.
The balloon and payloads ascended to a higher-than-expected altitude of 37936 metres before bursting and landing to the east of Tarlee.
|Flight Designation:||Horus 54 / SHSSP 2020|
|Launch Date:||2020-01-25 02:22Z|
|Landing Date:||2020-01-25 05:21Z|
|Flight Duration:||~3 hours|
|Distance Traveled:||31 km|
|Maximum Altitude:||37,936 m|
Thanks to all those who assisted with the launch, in particular the SHSSP mission planning team who did a great job with balloon wrangling!
Once again the Wenet payload (at least, the one that was working!) showed its worth by capturing some amazing images throughout the flight:
A big thanks to those running receive stations for the Wenet imagery! If you would like to set up a receive station for the next launch, information on how to set up using a RTLSDR and a Linux computer is available here.
|Callsign||Packets Received||Total Data Received (MiB)|
To ensure we would have good reception of the imagery downlink, Peter VK5KX and Matt VK5ZM set up in Peter’s bus at a high spot to the west of Tarlee, with a high gain tracking antenna. Peter and Matt were able to receive telemetry from just after release, all the way down to landing.
This flight had the most chase teams we’ve seen in a while, and it was great to see a few new faces out on the hunt. The teams consisted of:
Most of the chase teams were at the launch site, and set off shortly after launch, with the exception of Steve VK5ST, who travelled up from the Barossa region. Derek and Liam’s teams headed out into the field to test out their chase car software and equipment, while Mark and Andy’s teams dropped in to see Peter & Matt at the bus while they waited for the balloon to burst.
As all of the chase teams were running the same software and using the same flight data, they naturally converged on the predicted landing area, where they were able to watch the payloads descend the last few hundred metres to a soft landing in a recently cut paddock. Recovery followed shortly thereafter, with all payloads in good condition.
We had a good showing of telemetry receivers this flight, with the usual suspects, along with a few new callsigns – including some from interstate! Thanks to all listeners who upload telemetry – your contributions ensure we have live tracking for all those following the flight online.
|Callsign||Received Packets||Percentage of Flight Received||First-Received Altitude (m)||Last-Received Altitude (m)|
|Callsign||Received Packets||Percentage of Flight Received||First-Received Altitude (m)||Last-Received Altitude (m)|
As the Horus Binary payload has been performing so well, we are hoping to retire the RTTY payload sometime this year. To assist with this, we will be launching a few small Horus Binary-only flights so that listeners can test out their tracking systems. Information on how to decode the new telemetry is available here.
Even with the payload failures this flight is still definitely considered to be a success! The SHSSP participants enjoyed the experience, and were able to obtain the necessary data for their post-processing activities.
2019 was a bit of a slow year for Project Horus, with only 2 launches. We are always looking for new payloads to launch, so if you have an idea, consider submitting it for the member payload launch program!