Berri Betta Sponsors RRC!!!

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Berri Betta Home Living – Member Incentive Program

Berri Betta - JaycarWith huge thanks to the team of Berri Betta Home Living our local JAYCAR Authorised Stockist, we can announce a new incentive program for Riverland Radio Club Regular Members.

Regular Members can enjoy a 15% discount on JAYCAR lines, excluding already discounted items.

Head to the “Membership” page and find out more about our membership.

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BRL Gathering 2019

* Announcing *

The Riverland Radio Club Inc.

BRL Gathering 2019

To be held at the Overland Corner Hotel Goyder Highway, Overland Corner, South Australia

Saturday, 6th of April, 2019

Ok Folks, come one come all, it’s on again, the BRL Gathering for 2019 is on Saturday, the 6th of April, at the same sensational location, famous for its picturesque setting, Fantastic Hospitality, Great Food and Cold Beer.

*Please Register online here if you’ll be attending*

(Registration isn’t compulsory, but it really helps out with catering, and you’ll go in the draw to win lunch for two on the house courtesy of the Overland Corner Hotel. It also helps us make sure your visit is the best it can be…)

Breakfast – Bacon and egg Sandwich and coffee will be available from 7:30am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Lunch –  Lunch at the Hotel is a must! Check Printout the menu and get your taste buds excited for April. The Hotel’s food is renowned for its quality and value!

*Dogs are welcome at the Overland corner Hotel*

Mallee

Dinner – Will be at the award-winning Mallee Fowl Restaurant for those wishing to catch up with friends old and new! Please let us know if you wish to attend. Check out their Menu here.

* Getting There *

The Gathering is in the Beautiful Riverland in South Australia.We have more sunshine than the Sunshine Coast!

BRL map

* Accommodation *

Accommodation – The Riverland has many accommodation options catering for all budgets. See here for some ideas. Got an RV, Motor Home or Van? The Overland Corner Hotel has an RV staging area “out back” that is a stones throw close to the Gathering action. There are 4 powered sites. (Bring your power leads) and room for many self sufficient vehicles. Many BRL-ites stay here, and enjoy the added camaraderie!

VK5BRL has planned a fun day of Activities, Awards and guest Speakers. There’s also a

* Home Brew Award *

Have you made something for your shack? Then enter it in the BRL Home Brew competition. There will be two prizes awarded, a “People’s Choice” award, judged by the BRL gathering attendees, and the prestigious BRL “Constructors Award” for the best piece of Ham Radio related gear presented for Judging by our panel. It can be anything radio related, from something simple like a Balun, to a complex microwave transverter!

* Contact us *

If you need any help with any aspect of getting to the venue, accommodation, special dietary requirements or other issues, feel free to Phone the Secretary Andy, VK5LA on 0488778154 or email him.

The 2019 Riverland Radio Club BRL Gathering – The Friendly Gathering!!!

The ALDI Bike Repair stand – A park activators/Satellite Op/Microwavers best friend…

Several Hams have asked me what on earth is , and where did I get, the stand supporting my Antenna?

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The answer will be revealed in these pages! There’s not much to reveal actually, around every 6-9 months or so, the ALDI supermarket stores sell a 5 legged “Bicycle Repair Stand” for $39.99.

It’s a sturdy stand for elevating your push bike to waist level or better to effect repairs and or maintenance to said bike. However, they also double as a brilliant stand for various Ham Radio activities, as I’ll demonstrate here.

In detail, it features a large footprint so that it’s difficult to tip over, either accidentally or by other means, is made of steel, and boasts a height adjustment and a quick release Antenn…I mean “bike” mount,  that allows stuff to be held horizontally…other bells and whistles include a chintzy tool tray and handlebar stay bar.

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So what’s in the box?

You get the stand itself, the centre support with the T adapter, the horizontal clamp bar, the chintzy tool tray, and the handle bar stay. The two straps are for use with the handle bar stay, and the plastic bag contains the bolts and allen key for attaching said chintz. The allen key fits all bolts on the stand.

It comes with a set of instructions and a 1 year warranty. For something ALDI, it actually is quite well made!

Assembly is very straightforward 

just clamp it up tight or as loose as you like…

But for a park activation with a squid pole, I remove the T head and just use the pole out the top to slip the squid pole over…

For a Satellite pass, I attach the Bike head and use the clamp to hold the X-Yagi. It’s easy to turn the Yagi to adjust the AZ EL to suit the pass…The clamp is plastic and I can’t measure any increase in SWR or pattern distortion in use…

For Microwave Field Day work, the Bike Stand is a cheap way of getting a sturdy stand for Ex Sat. dishes and Gridpacks.

The stand would also do well as a sturdy portable Satellite dish mount for Caravan users and RVers.

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A nice touch is the holes in the feet, ready for tent pegs as tie-downs…

So there you have it. These bike stands are a cheap way to get a sturdy stand for Amateur radio related activities, use your imagination! Keep an eye out in your local ALDI catalogue for the next sale date, and grab yourself a bargain!

*Disclaimer* – I have no affiliation with ALDI stores whatsoever!

Swan Reach Conservation Park VKFF-0832

On Friday, 16/11/18 I planned to activate the Swan Reach Conservation Park VKFF-0832 for the Murray River Parks Award that is administered under the umbrella of the World Wide Flora & Fauna in Amateur Radio (WWFF) Program,  so popular with Amateur Radio operators world wide now days.

My Chauffeur (my affable 16yo son Riley) and I left our home location at approximately 8:15 am for the journey to Swan Reach. We followed the conventional route from home via the Sturt Highway, and stopped to stretch our legs at the look-out above the town, just before you ascend into the town  itself from the Blanchetown Rd cliffs. It was then the chauffeur’s first go at navigating us across the Ferry, over the mighty River Murray, and onwards to the park,

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The Parks is located about 15km from Swan Reach heading west on the Stott Highway towards Sedan and Adelaide. We accessed the park after turning off the the Stott Hwy onto the Old Punyelroo Rd and into the Park entrance itself. It is all clearly signposted. The blue dot on the satellite image was our operating spot, in a nice clearing, a short drive into the Park under some trees.

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It was a beautiful day, wall to wall blue sky and a slight, cool southerly breeze, the temperature about 22 deg C. The Chauffeur expertly parked our Millennium Falcon under the nearest shade shrub, and I wasted no time in setting up the portable antenna. For drive-in activations I have settled on my trusty ALDI bike stand tripod, 8M squid pole and 40-30-20 M inked dipole. It goes up in minutes, and radiates my signal very well. I have opted for the tripod instead of tying to a tree or support, as I have usually found that the available centre antenna supports like posts and tress don’t suit where I want to set up. The tripod takes that unknown out of the equation, and allows me to have my  squid pole supporting the antenna, right next to the operating position. I have a couple of heavy sandbags to stop the lot tipping in strong winds, but its not often needed. certainly not today in the perfect weather! Coupled with my Icom IC-7300 Transceiver, this setup is a pleasure to use on the air.

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I was soon on the air and calling CQ Parks on 7.144Mhz, the 40 Meter band. First in the Log was Gerard, VK2IO with a lovely 55 signal into Swan Reach, followed by numerous stations in VK2 and 3, including Peter VK3TKK/M and Brad VK2BY/M who were both very readable from the mobile, Paul, VK5PAS/3 and his wife Marija VK5FMAZ/3who were enroute to Bendigo, also called in. They were easily worked 56 and It was nice to get them both in the log. After about an hour I decided to change bands by removing the 1st link on either side of the dipole (quick and easy when the antenna is supported by the bike stand) and started calling CQ again, but now on 14.244, the 20 Meter band. This only resulted in 3 contacts, including Geoff, VK3SQ, who had a massive 59++ signal into my location. I was equally strong at Geoff’s end. There weren’t any other takers so I headed back to 7.144 on 40 Meters after about 10 minutes to finish up my activation. This time John, VK4TJ, was obliging along with Marija and Paul, who had found a park to operate from and popped up for a park to park from the Barrett Flora & Fauna Reserve VKFF-2264. Thanks Guys!

By this time, my Chauffeur was starting to eye off the Falcon’s upholstery he was that hungry! Likewise, I was also keen for a feed as well. We packed up, left nothing but footprints, and headed straight for the Swan Reach Hotel.

 

 

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Swan Reach Hotel – a bit of history

The Swan Reach Hotel wasn’t actually purpose built to be a hotel , but morphed from original Swan Reach Station homestead built circa 1865.

Beginning 1861 the original Swan Reach Station was just of a couple of huts, workers’ and shearers’ quarters, some shedding and ramps. You can still see the remnants  of some of the buildings located in the beer garden. On the other side of the fence are the remains of the loading ramp, where wool bales from the shearing shed were loaded on to the small tramway that sent the bales down to the river’s edge via wooden slides, and on to the waiting barges that made their way to Goolwa.

In 1896, a Mr Paul Hasse from Lobethal purchased 520 acres of land which included the Homestead. His wife, Emma, applied and was given a licence on the 12th September, 1899. Unfortunately Emma passed away the following year, then Paul continued to run the hotel until 1909.

There have been many major additions to the Swan Reach Hotel over the years of its operation. The stone, single room public front bar was built after 1907,  and the second storey added in 1912. Around in 1940s the block form of the hotel evolved with its rendered finish. The grand dining room was added in 1996. The hotel boasts a spectacular view overlooking the Ferry as it completes its never ending to and fro crossing across a lazy river.

Most importantly , the food, drinks, service and view were first class, and my chauffeur pronounced his Chicken Parmy ( we’re from South Australia, so deal with it) one of the better ones he’s had. My rump steak was delightful, and cooked to perfection! We bid Swan Reach farewell, we’ll be back!

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New Site Page – ‘Foundation Course & Assessment’

flcoverWe thought we might try and make entering into the world of Amateur Radio and radio experimentation a bit simpler, so we have added a new page to our site.

The new page provides all (we think) the information an interested person might need to understand how to go about getting into radio.

The page talks about the process, how much everything costs, where to get the learning material, how you can be supported. As I said we think we’ve got it covered.

If your interested have a look by clicking on the book image or click HERE. Or you can hunt it down under the ‘Callsigns and Licencing’ menu heading above.

Horus 50 Repeater & SSTV

201811040104Peter VK5PE and Ivan VK5HS monitored the Horus 50 launch today. We concentrated on the cross band repeater and Slow scan TV modes. Normally we would track the flight, but as there was a good number of stations setup to track the flight and 5 chase cars we decided our input was not required. There is  strong interference in the Riverland area on 434.640MHz which affected our receive stations on the new telemetry mode. Peter and I set up our tracking gear on Saturday and found one of the irrigation, moisture monitoring  transmitter stations, now to try and resolve that problem before the next launch!

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We traveled out into the scrub to get away from the interference just west of Renmark to monitor the flight. soon we were hearing the cross band repeater and we both made 20181104_111441contact with the net control station VK5ARG operated by Grant VK5GR.  Ivan had a contact with VK5IX mobile, thanks Grant and Darrin. We used an Icom dual band radio running 50 watts and a diamond dual band vertical for access into the repeater.

The SSTV station consisted of a laptop running MMSSTV, coupled to a Icom R10 scanner. The antenna was a dual band crossed Yagi, constructed at a earlier Club practical night (the build details can be found on our web site)

Both Peter and I enjoyed our time today, we would like to thank the Horus team for all their efforts in planning and running the Horus 50 flight.

Regards Ivan VK5HS

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BRL Net goes Portable

This morning Ron VK5MRE took the Riverland Radio Club BRL Net portable with his newly home brewed linked dipole.

Ron made the linked dipole as part of a Club tech night project for himself, and with a helping hand from Rob VK5TRM to get it all tuned up a few days back Ron thought it time to test out his handy work. So linked dipole and squid pole in one hand and radio under the arm off he went.

VK5MRE Portable - Lake BonneyAs you can see from the photo here he was in a beautiful location along side the terrific Lake Bonney, Barmera. What a view!!!

Based on my very quick and flying check in to the group this morning it seemed to working an absolute treat, probably better than from his home QTH but we won’t tell Ron that!

Gotta say though I can’t see a deck chair, I think he might have had a bit more comfort than that!

I trust Ron had fun out there near the lake with the 16 stations that checked in, congratulations Ron on building the antenna and getting it on the air, and in a terrific setting too boot. Well done mate!

Danny VK5DW

UPDATE – Business Meeting with Presentation!

Hey all,

The Riverland Radio Clubs next Business meeting is on Monday night coming, November 4th 2018. Club members Bob VK5FO and Ray VK5RR are both staying in the Riverland after our Club Christmas luncheon and will be joining us for the meeting.

SES Berri MapWhile they are here we are taking advantage of a presentation that Bob has offered us on antenna modeling, which he did as part of the Oceania DX Contest recently.  As a result the meeting is being relocated to the State Emergency Service Headquarters training room at 11 Hughes Street, Berri.  I’ve got a map here for those in need.

Bob will be demonstrating antenna modeling software and is encouraging attendees to download and install the 4nec2 (link: http://www.qsl.net/4nec2/) software for those that would like to have a crack at it first hand.  Take advantage I say!  What an opportunity!

As always non members with an interest in radio experimentation are welcome.  With a bit of luck Rob VK5TS will bring along some cake and I’ll make sure the kettle is hot.

Hope to see you there,

Danny VK5DW

JOTA 2018 – Loxton Scout Group

20181020_113007What a great day we had with a few of the Loxton Scout Group. Andy VK5LA, Pete VK5PE and myself, Danny VK5DW, got together this morning to join up with the Scouts for some radio fun.

In negotiating the days activities with Sam, one of the Loxton Scout Leaders, we discussed a desire to do a bit more than just talking on the radio. Given propagation is problematic lately we also wanted to ensure the kids had other amateur radio things of interest.

I visited the scout group Monday night and we settled on a couple activities we and the kids thought would be a bit of fun. So in order for the kids to get on the air they were offered a challenge of building and erecting a 40m band antenna. Andy VK5LA led the 20181020_100742group through a bit of theory fundamentals and much to our surprise these kids were really switched on! OK time for the kids to build a dipole. After a bit of math of they went and cut a couple of wire elements. Andy had a bit of plastic suitable for the centre insulator and I handed over a bit of coax. Next thing you know they had a 40m dipole built ready to hoist, OK it didn’t have a balun… in fact the wire elements were simply twitched onto the coax but we had a dipole!

Right, let’s get this thing in the air. A couple kids had come up with a few ideas and so to simplify the process we offered a 7m Squid Pole. Up she goes… the kids were soooo engaged with the build it was quite exciting to see! A quick lesson on how to use an antenna analyser and a bit of supervision the kids learnt the wires were a bit long, so time to make a minor adjustment. One adjustment and we were resonant… that never happens for me, I usually fiddle around and fiddle around but not these kids.

20181020_100725Time to get on the air! We only had a small keen group so now we thought we could split into 2 smaller groups. Half the group stayed with Andy VK5LA for on air time while the other half went with Pete VK5PE for a bit of FOX Hunting. Pete had bought along some re-purposed WX Radio Sondes as FOXES along with some directional antennas and receivers. After a bit of training and a slice of supervision they got the hang of that pretty quick.

20181020_100813Pete also talked with the kids presenting a bit of information about weather balloons along with some HABHUB tracking info and website demo.

I bought along my Satellite Cross Yagi kit and the kids were interested that we even used our own amateur satellites. They and the leaders were fascinated about the compact size of the satellites.

The kids kept swapping around and everyone had plenty of time on each of the activities. Even the Leaders were having a great time. To round out the happiness the three of us Club members also had a good time as well.

After the Loxton Scout Group presenting the three of us with our ‘Communications Proficiency Badge’ and ‘JOTA Badge’ we wrapped up the day all smiles, but before leaving we and the leaders started to chat about next year. I’m pleased with the impact we made and interest we generated, needless to say we intend to do this again.

Thanks to the other scouts we had the chance to make contact with and the amateurs that made themselves and their equipment available for the kids. JOTA is a really good Scouting initiative.

Thanks for reading,

Danny VK5DW 

Update on VK5FO’s Contesting

In a recent post, Bob, VK5FO described a bit of the background and his upcoming efforts in modelling antennas and then putting them into use during the OCDX (Oceania DX Contest).

Bob participated in the OCDX last weekend and he enters the contest as a Single Operator Single Transmitter All Band QRP – a real challenge indeed.

He has made a full write up around his activities and participation and goes on to explain in detail how he modeled his antenna’s, then went on to build them and how they performed for him in the contest.  Jump over to his blog to read his very interesting post OCDX – Of Contesting and Antenna’s