April Meeting – Amateur Radio Direction Finding 101

The next AREG meeting will be held on Friday the 19th of April at the Fulham Community Centre – Phelps Court, Fulham, with doors opening at 7:00 PM, and the presentation kicking off at 7:30 PM. Everyone is welcome!

Building on the success of AREG’s fox-hunt antenna group build, this month Mark VK5QI will be talking on Fox-hunting for beginners. No, we’re not talking about small furry animals, we’re talking about the sport of Amateur Radio Direction Finding. The talk will explain the equipment you need to get started, and some basic techniques that will help you find that first fox transmitter! There’ll be plenty of live demos showing various hunting equipment in action.

If you’ve never come along to one of our meetings, we’d love to see you there, all guests are welcome. For our remote members, the meeting will be broadcast via Zoom, and should also be streamed live on Hayden VK7HH’s HamRadioDX YouTube channel.

After the talks we’ll all be given an opportunity to have an eyeball QSO among ourselves whilst enjoying a tea or coffee and a biscuit.

73, Mark VK5QI

Bluetooth Earbud systems take on CW and FT8 Decoding

In this age of miniaturization it is amazing to consider what has been achieved with modern technology. With that thought in mind, a dedicated group of members within AREG has been exploring what could be done using the various models of Bluetooth connected earbud headphones that are currently available. Originally the thought was to see how they could help our fox hunting teams gain an advantage over the VK3 teams at the national championships, but then one of the team members made an amazing discovery. Hidden inside certain manufacturer’s products was a surprising amount of compute power, far more than would ordinarily be needed to convert a simple Bluetooth signal into audio.

On further probing and exploration, the team finally found a way to hack into the EarBud operating system and access the boot loaders. Now these operating systems and compute capabilities were completely unexpected, and so not only was this an eye opener, it was also a game changer as the team pondered just what might be possible! (It also posed the question, what on earth were the manufacturers planning in the future and why such compute capability was even required in these devices, but these are questions for later exploration).

Amateur Radio Applications?

Having opened up the operating system, the team made short work of learning how to load software into the earbuds, and then the creative juices started flowing. One of the early thoughts was whether there might be a way to connect one of the modern Bluetooth capable HF transceivers to these earbud systems. A quick look at the IC-705 from ICOM confirmed that this was simple enough to do.

The trick then was to see what the earbuds could do!

Morse Code – Music to your ears – with Speech Conversion technology!

The first simplest idea was to simply relay CW signals to your ears. The challenge however wasn’t to just relay the raw audio. Given the amount of compute power discovered in these ear buds it became clear much more could be done. The team then built a CW decoder and speech encoding routine that could take a HF signal straight from a Bluetooth transceiver and turn it into synthesized speech. The achieved results were impressive indeed.

CW Input Signal

Earbud Processed CW to Speech

Further work was then undertaken to work on the decoder’s ability to separate out individual signals in a pileup. After some experimental AI routines there was success! Morse Code finally entered the digital age!

Digital Operators delighted by FT8 success

Following on from the CW experiments, the FT8 devotees in the club got together to see if it would be possible to port the WSJT-X FT8 encoder/decoder into the earbuds. After some consternation about running out of memory, the following was achieved! Using additional AI routines to help select which signal to decode, the team was able to convert this:

into this!

Needless to say we believe this is the most unusual compute platform that FT8 has ever been ported to, but the results were simply stunning, with decode rates as good as any of the popular programs currently in use on the PC market today.

SSB Operators were not left out!

Of course AREG is all about equality and accessibility. We do not tolerate discrimination in the group. So, it was important that the SSB voice folk felt they were part of the project too. Of course, then it dawned on us. They were already included, as all we had to do was turn off the decoded software and the pure sound of SSB HF radio could once more be relayed straight to their ears.

How can you get involved?

The system is still in it’s infancy, and so far only a couple of models of Earbuds have been cracked. However as soon as we have stable supplies and have completed licensing the software on git-hub, we will make it available to amateur radio operators to experiment further with!

Next steps are to be able to have the reverse direction function as well, so an operator can simply speak and the earbuds can then turn that into what ever CW or digital modulation system you desire!

Meanwhile, if you would like to know more, please contact us via the project page!

AREG Autumn Daytime Fox Hunt & BYO Picnic – Sunday April 14 @ 11am

The next AREG hosted fox hunt is planned to be a daytime family “hand held, on foot” style hunt and BYO picnic event, held in Drage Reserve, Felixtow, just 6km north east of the city centre (near the Klemzig O-Bahn bus interchange). Members and visitors are welcome to join us in the park from 11.00am, on Sunday the 14th of April, 2024. This event is open to anyone who would like to join in.

NOTE – There will not be a car-based hunt on the 1st Friday in April – We will be running the on-foot hunt instead.

AREG members recently participated in a club group build event which saw around 50 fox hunt yagis made, so we’re keen to get out and give them a try!

For those who dont have any equipment, take a look at (this design) by NT1K! It is very simple and quick to put together! Add a variable attenuator and a receiver and you are away!

If you don’t have any gear but want to give it a try, AREG will have at least one or two loan sets of gear available, based on the very popular VK3YNG sniffer receivers, or we can arrange to buddy you up with one of the club members who do have equipment so you can get a first taste of fox hunting ARDF style.

If you’re not into fox hunting, but would still like to gather with all of us from AREG, we are also promoting this event as the AREG Autumn BYO Picnic for 2024. Just bring your own rugs, chairs, and food and drinks.

AREG has picked this location as it has lots of amenities for all of the family. There are public BBQs, a kids playground and public toilets in the area as well as ample parking in the Drage Reserve car park. The check-in point will be marked with AREG Flags and will be located on the south side of the river Torrens near the Riverside Park western BBQ area (west of the play ground closest to the Drage Reserve Car Park).

This will be a family freindly event with people of all ages welcome to join in, however children must be kept under the supervision of an accompanying adult at all times.

We will also endeavor to have someone monitor the VK5RSB 70cm repeater on 439.900 (91.5Hz CTCSS access tone) to help guide anyone in who is having problems finding us.

For those who want to be prepared and setup their receivers ahead of time, the fox frequencies will be:

Transmitter NumberFrequency (MHz)
1145.300
2145.700
3144.250
4144.500
5144.750
6145.000
7144.390
8439.400

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

March Meeting – Hermes Lite SDRs by Scott VK2JAX

Update: This presentation was recorded and is available on Youtube.

The next AREG meeting will be held on Friday the 15th of March at the Fulham Community Centre – Phelps Court, Fulham, with doors opening at 7:00 PM, and the presentation kicking off at 7:30 PM. Everyone is welcome!

This month’s presentation will be from Scott VK2JAX, on the Hermes Lite SDR, an open-source and open-hardware direct conversion transceiver.

If you’ve never come along to one of our meetings, we’d love to see you there, all guests are welcome. For our remote members, the meeting will be broadcast via Zoom.

After the talks we’ll all be given an opportunity to have an eyeball QSO among ourselves whilst enjoying a tea or coffee and a biscuit.

73, Mark VK5QI

February Meeting – Club Member Lightning Talks!

The next AREG meeting will be held on Friday the 16th of February at the Fulham Community Centre – Phelps Court, Fulham, with doors opening at 7:00 PM, and the presentation kicking off at 7:30 PM. Everyone is welcome!

This month will see a return of the “Members Lightning Talks” format where members from the floor are invited to step up and give a short 5 minute talk about something that they have been doing or experimenting with.

If you’ve never come along to one of our meetings, we’d love to see you there, all guests are welcome. For our remote members, the meeting will be broadcast via Zoom.

After the talks we’ll all be given an opportunity to have an eyeball QSO among ourselves whilst enjoying a tea or coffee and a biscuit.

73, Mark VK5QI

January Meeting – “Contesting – a 10 year journey, from Foundation to 2×1 call sign” by Andy VK5AKH

The next AREG meeting will be held on Friday the 19th of January at the Fulham Community Centre – Phelps Court, Fulham, with doors opening at 7:00 PM, and the presentation kicking off at 7:30 PM. Everyone is welcome!

This month’s talk is by Andy VK5AKH, titled “Contesting – a 10 year journey, from Foundation to 2×1 call sign”.

A look back on the last 10 years of contesting, from being bitten by the bug as a Foundation Licence holder, to VHF/UHF/Microwave, grid square hopping, to large multi-op stations.

Where to from here, Ideas and thoughts on contesting going forward, then open discussion from the floor.

If you’ve never come along to one of our meetings, we’d love to see you there, all guests are welcome. For our remote members, the meeting will be broadcast via Zoom.

After the talks we’ll all be given an opportunity to have an eyeball QSO among ourselves whilst enjoying a tea or coffee and a biscuit.

73, Mark VK5QI