Tag: Australia

Australian Amateur Radio Callbook 2018

This WIA publication is expected to be in sale in early November, with final pre-press work having been under its Editor Peter Freeman VK3PF and in the final printing and binding stages. The Callbook is produced each year with the agreement of the Australian Communications and Media Authority

Original Article

NewsWest 12 November 2017

This weekend we paused to remember those who suffered or perished through wars.  The 11th November marks the end of World War One, the Great War, ninety nine years ago.  This global war was also called the war to end all wars.  How little did they know.  Even so, we remembered them, and will continue to remember those who have suffered war.

This hobby of ours has been around for a bit over one hundred years, with lots of history.  This week we share some of that Amateur Radio History by taking a look at what was happening in Australian Amateur Radio sixty years ago in 1957.

There’s been a bit of chatter about the Solar low – are we there yet? Today we explore that possibility.

You will also hear the regular features of  Onno’s Foundations of Amateur Radio and Roys Helpline, and I will deliver part two of Myths I have known.

NewsWest can be heard on a variety of frequencies and at  variety of times, as well as online via download or podcast. Visit vk6.net to find out how.

I’m Bob VK6POP, the NewsWest producer for this week.


The text edition of this week’s news can be viewed here

Foundations of Amateur Radio #127 – What did you hear last week?

Last week I spent a little time talking about the Weak Signal Propagation Reporters network, or WSPR, pronounced Whisper. You might remember that I set up my radio to receive these signals to see what I could learn. Turns out, I learnt quite a bit.

I left the software running for a week. During that time my station reported 456 signals received with a total of 54 stations in 27 call areas.

The longest distance 14,000 km, PC1JB in Veenendaal in the Netherlands who was using 1 watt.

The best performance based on km per watt is R0AGL in Siberia, 10,000 km, with 2 milliwatt.

Highest power heard, one station with 100 watts, but from a performance perspective, only just squeaks into the top 10 contacts. Typically stations used 5 watt or less.

My 10m quarter-wave vertical antenna was pretty good in hearing things across all bands. I heard stations across the frequency range, from 160m through to 10m.

It heard 1 station on 160m, VK7MF, using 5 watts, 3,000km away.

The most prolific band was 40m, accounting for 41% of the signals, 30m was pretty close at 35% and even 10m was respectable with 5% of signals heard on that band. Which brings me to a comment about propagation. The Solar Flux Index this week was pretty abysmal. It’s been the lowest it’s ever been, 66 and still I was able to hear signals across all HF bands.

Just think about that for a moment.

All the solar numbers say the bands are dead, all the listening in the world says the bands are dead, but using WSPR reveals that this isn’t true, it’s not even close to being true.

My station in a very high noise environment still heard signals across all bands.

Based on a visual comparison with other stations, signals were generated in all directions, but for my station, I didn’t hear anything coming from the North East Quadrant, that’s between North and East. It could be that the signals are being suppressed by the distortion in my antenna pattern, which might be caused by a metal gutter in that direction, or it might be that signals coming from that direction, mainly Japan and the United States, are too weak to be heard above the noise level at my station. I’m investigating that further, but that’s for another day.

Speaking of other stations, in total during the same period as my station listening, there was a total of 6.9 million reports, representing 2490 listeners and 4463 transmitters. That means that I heard just over 1% of stations on my radio. Not bad given my meagre set-up and minimal configuration and installation.

On to things that I was attempting to learn about the performance of my radio. Every WSPR transmission includes the frequency and location information, which allows you to determine what the difference is between what frequency the other station reports and what frequency your radio sees.

Of course, there can be variation across both radios and to make things more interesting, this changes over time. This drift is likely to be distributed pretty evenly across all stations, but then I didn’t hear all of them, so my results are not completely definitive, but overall the drift reports show a frequency drift of minus 3 to plus 2 Hertz. Slightly skewed down. That’s not yet conclusive proof that my station is slightly off frequency, but it seems to indicate that my new crystal is slightly low. I’ll be investigating that further.

And that neatly brings me to why I have been doing this.

You might not be surprised to learn that many things inside your radio are frequency controlled. Those frequencies come from a single central location, a master oscillator that in my radio vibrates at 22.625000 MHz. The crystal that does this is affected by temperature. When you transmit, the radio heats up and the frequency of the crystal changes slightly. Normally this isn’t an issue, but if you’re working on being on a particular frequency, especially on the 2m or 70cm band, then this starts to matter. If you leave your radio running for a few hours, things are likely to be more stable, since the temperature in your radio becomes more stable.

Another way to do this is to control the crystal temperature directly. You can insulate it, or heat it in a little oven, or a combination of both. This is a so-called Temperature Controlled External Oscillator, a TCXO. It’s more stable and thus over time the frequency shouldn’t change much.

In my case, the range is 5 Hertz and as I said, it’s slightly skewed down.

The next step is to measure the actual frequency that my radio is tuned to. This will require a little more effort. I’ll talk about that next week.

In the mean time, I’m doing some more analytics to compare how my noise-floor affects my station, how it compares to other stations across the same time-range and how little changes in volume, antenna and the like affect what results I get.

There is lots of data to digest, lots of knowledge buried among the stats and I’ll be spending the coming weeks seeing if there are things here of a wider interest.

One thing’s for sure, this is the simplest way you can measure and compare your station against a whole globe of other stations. Of course it doesn’t actually get you on air to make noise, and that is the ultimate test of the success of a station.

I’m Onno VK6FLAB

Listen to the weekly podcast at http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/, or search for my callsign VK6FLAB on iTunes or where you get your podcasts.

NewsWest for Sunday, 5th November, 2017.

In this broadcast:
It’s our CLUB FOCUS week, and we’ll hear from Ham College, the RATOC, the Bunbury Radio Club, F-Troop, and of course – what we’re up to at WA Amateur Radio news.
Bob brings us a few amateur radio myths – for what may become a new regular segment – we’d love your feedback.
We’ll also hear from Paul, VK5PAS, on what coming up for World Wide Flora and Fauna – and how YOU can get involved.
There’s our regular reminders, and well put it over to Roy with Helpline
NewsWest, broadcasting weekly news and commentary since 1931 for VK6 radio amateurs, shortwave listeners and radio enthusiasts.
Producer: Glynn VK6PAW
Duration: 29m21s

Foundations of Amateur Radio #126 – Hearing very weak signals

This week I’m going to talk about a Digital Mode you can use with any Amateur License, or even without an Amateur License. You can set-up your radio, hook it to a computer and the Internet and after installing some software, you can join the Weak Signal Propagation Reporters.
So how do you start, what does it do and how can it help you?
First of all, WSPR, pronounced Whisper, is a way of encoding information and transmitting it across the spectrum. At the other end a radio receives that signal, sends it to a computer where a piece of software attempts to decode and then log it.
This Digital Mode, invented by Joe K1JT, is one of several modes that are gaining popularity across the Amateur Radio community because the beauty of this mode is that it’s so unobtrusive that you’re unlikely to actually hear it if you were to tune to a dedicated WSPR frequency.
If you want to find out what your station can hear, you can set yourself up as a dedicated receive-only station and report your findings to a central database where others can share your information and learn what propagation is like at that particular point in time.
Of course, it also means that you can use the same information to learn what propagation looks like in your neck of the woods with your radio and your antenna set-up.
There’s even an option that allows you to have your radio automatically change frequency – known as band hopping – and listen for WSPR signals across the bands that you allocate.
If you like, you can go to the wsprnet.org website right now and do a search for my callsign, VK6FLAB and see what stations I’ve heard since I turned it on. Go on, have a look, I won’t mind.
My station is set-up to do band hopping across all HF frequencies all day and night and during the grey-line it only listens to 80m, 40m, 15m and 10m, since those are the frequencies my license allows me to transmit on and I’m particularly interested how they work at sun-rise and sun-set.
You might have heard me before talking about how the noise at my home is atrocious. Nothing has changed, it’s still abysmal, but WSPR signals are coming in and being decoded.
If you want to do this, you’ll need a radio – any radio will work, a computer with a microphone socket and a way to pipe the audio from the radio into the computer, I’m using a 3.5mm male plug to 3.5mm male plug – you don’t need a fancy audio interface, you’re only listening. If you can connect an interface cable, your computer can also change frequency for you, but that’s not needed to get started.
Make sure that you turn the volume right down before you plug anything in. Connecting a headphone output directly into a microphone input can blow up the port if you’re not careful and WSPR doesn’t need much in the way of volume. The software helps you get it set right, so read the manual before you start.
Once you’ve set-up your radio and your computer, you can watch the signals coming in on a waterfall display, a graphical representation of the audio and frequency that shows strong signals in red and no signal as blue. You’ll find that turning up the volume too high will actually reduce the ability to hear signals.
I’m keen to learn what I can hear and how many stations my simple 10m vertical antenna can hear across the Amateur Radio spectrum.
I’d love to hear your weak signal stories and see what you can hear. As I said, it seems I’m becoming a short-wave listener after-all.
I’m Onno VK6FLAB
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