News and Commentary

2019 AGM

Well the 2019 AGM has come and gone, and from all reports did not “Go gentle into that good night.” I must point out that my reports are second hand, so I need to be a little careful.

Suffice to say that the meeting was somewhat “orchestrated” by senior members of the club who were not members of the committee, let alone the executive, and that there was an interjection from the floor attempting to wrest control of the meeting from the chairman. John VK2AWJ is to be commended for his handling of the election of officers.

Regretably, yet another keen and active member has been alienated. That makes 4 in 2 years that I know of. It seems that being an “annointed one” is somewhat of a poisoned chalice.

Unconfirmed reports have Brian VK3BBB as President, David VK3ZUA Vice President, Therese VK3FMTT Treasurer and Carol Loag is again Secretary. There are no details of the rest of the committee at this point.

Thanks to the outgoing committee and Good Luck to new one.

E&OE

Ham Radio Digital Modes

At the bottom of Solar Cycle 24, things look pretty bleak for HF propagation. A quick look at the propagation forecast says fair to good for 40 and 80 and poor for all bands higher. Why then am I hearing a plethora of strange signals on 14074kHz? That would be FT8 digital mode. At 50Hz bandwidth it is theoretically possible to fit 50 simultaneous QSOs into a single 2.5kHz voice bandwidth and decode signals with a s/n ratio of -20db. And there are other modes, on all bands from MF to SHF.
Digital is perhaps a misnomer, from the users viewpoint they are keyboard modes, requiring a computer of some sort, suitable software, an interface and a radio.
“A computer?” I hear the traditionalists say. “They’ll be the ruin of Ham Radio. Darned things, never could get the hang of them!”
To which I would reply…
“Goldarn it Elmer, you’re using one of them microphones? What the heck is wrong with a Morse Key?”
And all the time operating the latest Software Defined Radio!

The Craft moves on, and if we want to keep it alive we have to embrace the things that interest young people. Things like computers and texting. Young folk are more insular these days, preferring less intimate forms of communications. The idea of actually speaking to someone they don’t know and can’t see, is pretty scary. Text communication on the other hand is universally embraced.
There is also the technical problem of diminishing available bandwidth. New modes are much more efficient… 50 channels in one voice bandwidth!
“Digital Modes” are to the texting generation, what voice modes were to the telephone generation. They will develop the new techniques and modes, albeit in software rather than hardware. A faster, tighter Fourier transform rather than a new crystal lattice filter. We need them onboard.

See you on 14078, JS8 Mode.
Norm vk3xci



VK3WRM iGate QRT

Regretably, I have had to take the VK3WRM Mildura iGate off air. There are a number of reasons. Much of the equipment is old and unreliable. The latest failure is the 12V power supply. This has been operating at its upper limit for quite some time and quite frankly it surprises me that it lasted this long! Both the FM828 and Tiny2 TNC have intermittant problems and need to be “reset” periodically.
The bad news about all this, is that I’m not going to be here to nurse it all and I don’t want to rely on my “house sitter” to do it.
So, if anyone wants to take it on, they’re welcome to the hardware such as it is. The VK3WRM call has not been renewed so you would have to use your own callsign with a -5 or -9 suffix.
“Leave a comment if you are interested.

On further reflection, having just pulled the hardware down, perhaps a fresh start with replacement hardware would be a better idea! Everything I touch is intermittant! I can contribute a Raspberry Pi 3 with Xastir set up and ready to go. For a full iGate, 2M tranceiver, TNC. power supply and cables are required. A receive only iGate could also be a consideration. aA USB stick receiver apparently does the job.

de Norm, VK3XCI

John Moyle Results.

Congratulations to Steve VK3FSWB who scored 4th Place in the Portable  24 hour Single  Operator HF Phone  Section with 42 contacts for 84 points. Norm, VK3XCI got 7th place in the Portable  6 hour Single  Operator HF Phone Section with 41 contacts for 80 points (1 dupe!). Just behind was John VK2AWJ in 10th place in the Portable  6 hour Single  Operator HF Phone Section with 23 contacts for 46 points. All three have been awarded certificates.
Gary, VK3KYF managed 8th in the Home Station 24 hour Single Operator HF Phone section with 50 contacts for 88 points. Sorry Gary, no wallpaper for you!
Well done to all those who sent in a log. If I missed you here, leave a comment.

HF Net

Only 4 of us made it last night, and one apology. All the usual suspects, hihi, no names or callsigns, but we really do need to show stronger support for our club. What do we need to do to make it a better net? is 80m the right band? I know a few of us (me included) have antenna problems at 80m. The theory is, that 80m groundwave communication is best achieved with a vertical antenna giving a range of around 90km. Well, we all know how theories work out!

I know my little tri-band trap vertical (20 – 15 – 10m) looks horrendous on 80, and only the services of a tuner allow the rig to transmit at all. Remember tho’, the tuner doesn’t fix the antenna problem, it just makes the transmitter think it has!

Perhaps we need a homebrew project to build an 80m vertical?

norm, vk3xci