Been a bit quiet… Update Time!

iciclesOK… it’s been a quiet month for us in the RRC. Perhaps the cold weather has been getting to some of us.

Andy VK5LA has still been busy activating parks up and down the Murray etc, Ivan VK5HS has also been out chasing Sondes and also been putting together chase car rigs.

Rob VK5TRM gave the club a presentation on his tracking station setup and I, Danny VK5DW, am working on putting together a HF APRS iGate, but early days at the minute so we’ll see what happens there. Others have been busy too, Ron VK5MRE has finished his Crossed Yagi and it looks really good so keep an ear out for him on the birds. And of course a number of our members helped out on the Riverland Paddling Marathon.

Speaking of APRS some of you may have noticed a couple extra callsigns appearing on APRS.FI about the Riverland, Andy VK5LA and I (Danny) VK5DW have been playing around in this space. Andy has transitioned from TCP/IP (VK5LA-10) to VHF. While I am still fluffing about on TCP/IP I am interested in setting up a HF (VK5DW-15) system, most likely on 30m I think.

gold-trophy_1284-1735Unfortunately posting to our website has gone a bit quiet but none the less the numbers keep ticking over. We have already surpassed our previous best year to date figures for unique visits, likes and comments… and we’re only 6 months into the reporting year. A really pleasing effort I reckon.

The club has been meeting twice a month as per usual and a sub-committee has been put together to start the ball rolling for the BRL Gathering in April next year. I’m sure Ron VK5MRE, Andy VK5LA and Ivan VK5HS will have this all well in hand by the time April rolls around. We’ve got a couple more Tech Nights planned out and we will be building a couple different HF field antennas, members choice, starting next session on Monday night July 23rd.

With July just around the corner it will soon be time for our Annual General Meeting in September. And so some thought has turned to the currency of our Constitution and Rules. It may be that some amendments are tabled for change.

A few little things on the radar for us includes the acquisition of a banner for use at club promotions and activities such as the upcoming Remembrance Day Contest in August in recognition of VP Day. We’re planning to activate for this special event somewhere, somehow.

Anyway that’s enough of an update for now, hopefully when the weather is a bit more kind to us we’ll be out nd about in force again.

Cheers and 73’s,

Danny VK5DW

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Riverland Paddling Marathon (RPM)

Image result for riverland dinghy club photosThe Riverland Radio Club (RRC) assists the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group (AREG) provide communications and a safety network for the River Murray Marathon (RPM) a canoe paddling event http://riverlandpaddlingmarathon.com/paddling held over 3 days on the June long weekend. The AREG team spend many hours of work planning the event in conjunction with the canoe committee. The event is held over 200Km of river, starting at Berri and finishing down stream at Morgan. High cliffs and the meandering river presents challenges for providing continuous radio coverage.

A total of  87 various class of canoes with 124 paddlers entered the event. One of the AREG senior members had a shock when a race boat practicing for a upcoming event went passed his check point, going at 90Km/h it was a bit quicker than he was expecting 

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RRC members Nat, Peter VK5PE, Andy VK5LA, Ray VK5RR, Rob VK5TRM, Bob VK5FO, Ivan VK5HS participated in the event which provides a very welcome donation for our efforts. This event is our clubs major fund raising event for the year.

The RRC local 2 meter repeater situated at Rob VK5TS property provides Amateur voice communications as well as APRS for the Hams at the various check points. A commercial repeater is also setup to provide communications with the safety power boats. As the event moves further down stream away from the repeaters coverage, temporary communications equipment is deployed to maintain continuous communications coverage. The use of mobile phones is limited because of the cliffs shadowing reception from phone towers. 20180610_105800

This year RRC members, Rob VK5TRM club president, Andy VK5LA club secretary, Peter VK5PE with his wife Nat and  Ivan VK5HS  all operated check points with various activities ranging from spotting and reporting canoe numbers as they passed our check points, to assisting at race control with erecting masts , antennas and tents to operate out off.

Martin the race director at a 100Km start.

It had finally rained in the Riverland prior to the event, approximately 20mm had fallen making the clay mud flats very boggy for all to get to check points Rob VK5TRM had taken delivery of his Rav 4 on Friday and was keen to play in the mud along with a couple of the AREG team. Race control was quickly advised by the trio to tell the entrants to park on the high ground and walk into the start points at a couple of locations. Boys!!!

The teams are a mixture of members from both clubs, meeting people, putting faces to call signs and a lot of chatting about radios and many other subjects fill in the time between waiting for canoes to pass their check point.

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Andy VK5LA & Scott VK2JAX at a check point, they had to put the FT817 mic down for a photo opportunity.

One RRC member managed to make some Parks and Shire contacts on HF during his time at a check point. I am sure I read somewhere we were not to play in the Shires contest !!!

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  The River Murray provides some stunning views for the visiting paddlers. Below Peter and Nat enjoy a quite moment on the river bank

 Thank you to the club members who participated in this great fun event, all the necessary activities were handled well by the RRC members. Several Shire and Park contacts were made. To top the weekend off Andy VK5LA and Ivan VK5HS retrieved a Sonde after completing our Saturdays duties.

 

Thank you for reading my article and please leave a comment,

Ivan VK5HS..

White Dam Conservation Park

On Sunday, 3rd of June, I headed of early to activate the White Dam Conservation Park VKFF-1122.

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It was a very frosty -2.1 degrees when I got up to get ready to head out to the White Dam Conservation Park, VKFF-1122. First things first, COFFEE STOP!!! No affiliation, but Pit Stop in Barmera, SA is a favorite place of mine to grab a traveling caffeine fix when heading past…

20180603_072707The Park is located around 115Km from my home, just west of Morgan, on the Morgan -Burra Rd. It was a beautifully crisp and clear morning, perfect driving conditions for the 1 hour 20minute drive. I stopped at Waikerie to have a look at the low cloud/fog  in the river valley.

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Then on to Morgan and across the ferry…

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Then a short drive up the Goyder Hwy on the Burra Rd for about 14km until you get to the park…

The maps show the location of the park and my operating position just off of Powerline Rd, in the north west corner. This was one of the few places I could gain access to an area that looked suitable to set up. X marks the spot!

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The Park is described in DEWNR website as such, and I quote:

“Habitat: The landscape is flat to gently undulating, with much of the park comprising low open woodland of Black Oak (Allocasuarina cristata) with an understorey dominated by Bluebush (Maireana sedifolia). Other understorey species present include spear grass (Austrostipa sp.), Emubush (Eremophila sp.), Bullock Bush (Alectryon oleifolium), False Sandalwood (Myoporum platycarpum), Quondong (Santalum acuminatum), and Nitrebush (Nitraria billardierei).”

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I will now give you the description in layman’s terms:

“Hard Sand. Small, dead looking bushes . The few short trees look like they will die soon, and it’s too cold for Kangaroo’s or birds!

This is harsh country. The Park is intersected by the Goyder highway and there a a set of ruins in visible from the road in about the middle of the park on the northern side. It’s quite obvious that the park hasn’t seen a decent drop of rain for many, many months.

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It was still quite fresh when I parked the car and began to set up the station. I decided to run the 80M End Fed Half Wave (EFHW) again, as I have had good luck with it so far, and wanted to give any VK5 operators a chance to work me, as the close in propagation isn’t working too well at the moment on 40 M. Rob, VK5TRM was the first in the log, and I soon had the park qualified on 80M. I went to the 40M band after about 22 contacts in the log on 80M.

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40M was quite busy with the usual suspects calling me.

These stations made it P2P, most on several bands.

VK2JNG/P, VKFF-1165

VK4HNS/P, VKFF-1675

VK4AAC/3, VKFF-0622

VK3ZPF/3, VKFF-0622

The big surprise for me was 20M. The 80M EFHW Antenna is 2 wavelengths on this band and seems to work well. I had several contacts this activation and some quite close in VK3, not what I’m used to.

I finished the day with 55 contacts across 80,40 and 20M in the log.

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As it was a beautiful day I decided to stop again in Morgan for lunch. Last weekend, in between activating 2 parks, I went to the Terminus Hotel.

This week, I thought Id try the pub directly opposite…The Commercial Hotel…Not Bad!!!

 

 

VK5LA Murray Activator 10

I recently received my Murray River Parks Award 10 as an activator. This is a great motivator for me to get out and add to the tally. I am enjoying the activating in this nice weather, lets hope it lasts!

Thanks for reading,

Andy VK5LA

 

Fox / Sonde hunting

sonde7After 3 previous day time successful sonde recoveries, Peter VK5PE  and myself Ivan VK5HS thought we would attempt a night time sonde hunt using the chase car software. This was the first time I had used the software and Peters first attempt at a recovery.  I had been using a home brew 5 element yagi with a R10 Icom receiver, which can be seen in the below picture along with a phone antenna used for internet access in the vehicle, the old chassis houses the raspberry pi, RTL-SDR and antenna switch.  A quarter wave vertical and a home brew crossed dipole, is some of my other equipment I use.

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I decided to make a new directional antenna. After some research on the net,I decided on the HB9CV design. http://www.qsl.net/dk7zb/HB9CV/Details-HB9CV.htm   There is also a handy online calculator,https://www.changpuak.ch/electronics/HB9CV.phpWith the dimensions from the calculator I set about sourcing the necessary components all from the junk box.Some 10mm alloy tubing for the boom, a couple of stainless steel tapered whip sections which were off cuts from commercial whips, and a wire joiner terminal strip. I removed the brass wire joiners from the plastic housing and cut them in halves, a small screw and eye terminal for the coax ground.I drilled the boom as required by the plans.

sonde6 The element holes were drilled  to 1.5mm. The tapered elements are then tapped into position until they locked tight into the boom, the elements start at 1.2mm and finish at 2mm.  I then constructed the matching section from another off cut of whip.

Next I installed the matching section using heat shrink to lock the screws into place. Then the variable capacitor was installed to aid in tuning the antenna.

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I made up a coax to suit and then tuned the antenna for 402.00 MHz.

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The next test was to see if I could hear the sonde signals from Renmark, I started with listening for the Adelaide sonde which was a good signal at approx 6000m. Next I listened for the Melbourne sonde which I received with good signals at approx 20,000m. Then a test to compare front to back and vertical and horizontal polarization. All appears to work as I had hoped, now to wait for a sonde to travel towards the Riverland so the real test can be conducted. And yes we were successful in recovering our first night sonde.

I hope you enjoyed this article.  Ivan VK5HS.