RRC Presidents Message

Well what a year it’s been for our modest little Riverland Radio Club.

This year we have seen our Club members engaged in all sorts of cool stuff, WX Balloon chasing, Project HORUS chases, more activity in the Parks’n’Peeks program, project building, and even back into JOTO. There’s been Satellite activity, we’ve run a successful Foundation Course, assisted in the Riverland Paddling Marathon, and of course the staples of the RRC BRL Gathering, BRL Riverland Nets, WIA re-Broadcasts and so on. For such a modest club I think we punch well above our weight, for which I am proud.

All this good stuff must come with acknowledgements to all those that call into the nets, join our members on air when out and about in the parks, jump into chase cars, run tracking stations, etc. So thanks to all those both members and non-members who have been a part of this year for us.

On the administrative front we’ve almost finalised implementing a new Club Constitution, the website saw a rework, we’ve introduced Berri Betta Home Living – Jaycar as a Club Sponsor (where Regular Members can enjoy a 15% discount), we now have a new structure that includes a number of coordinators, we have ran Foundation course and started new HAMs on their own exciting journey, there is now free Club Membership to new HAMs that undertake a RRC facilitated assessment, just to name a few things.

Our website continues to grow in popularity. We have smashed all previous records, and not by just a little bit! These numbers show some awesome growth… take a look:

  • gold-trophy_1284-1735Views:
    • 6538 – YTD
    • 3180 – 2017
  • Visitors:
    • 1687 – YTD
    • 476 – 2017
  • Likes:
    • 209 – YTD
    • 0 – 2017
  • Comments:
    • 84 – YTD
    • 1 – 2017

Gotta be happy with that growth!

All in all a pretty good year for our Club I reckon, which brings me to a heart felt and special thank-you to our members. I recognise that each member has contributed what they could and I ask for no more that that. Well done all of you.

In closing I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone the happiest possible holiday season, and hope that 2019 brings everyone a very safe and joyful year.

Cheers and 73 from Riverland Radio Club, and

VK5DW Danny, President

Merry Christmas all

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2019 BRL Gathering Registrations

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.

Register online here and be in the running for a free lunch for 2

from the Overland Corner Hotel.

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Lunch –  Lunch at the Hotel is a must! Check out 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*

More 2019 Gathering details here.

RRC Welcomes 3 New Hams

On December 1st the Riverland Radio Club held a Foundation course presented by Rob VK5TRM and Ivan VK5HS.

Robert VK5TRM delivered the Foundation course to the 3 eager potential new Amateur operators. The power point presentation was delivered, as the candidates had all been sent the study material prior the course and had all purchased a copy of  the Wireless Institute of Australia ” Entry into Amateur Radio” the course proceeded along in a timely manner. The candidates asked for explanations to clarify anything they had trouble understanding as we progress through the course. The mentoring of the candidates prior the course helps towards running a successful course.

Mid afternoon the time came for the serious part of the day, the exam papers were presented to the candidates, Rob explained the process on how the exam was to be conducted. With the clock set for the 30 minute exam the 3 very nervous candidates proceeded to attempt to answer the 25 multi chose questions (I am never sure who is the most nervous, the candidates or the examiners).

The time was up pens down Ladies and gentlemen, Ivan collected the papers and proceeded the check and mark them. Rob setup the practical component of the course and commenced the session demonstrating the various requirements of operating a foundation station. Once I had completed the marking of the papers we swapped roles and Rob doubled checked the results. I continued on with the practical session.

With the practical session completed we were able to advise the candidates of the outcome of their attempt to join the hobby of amateur radio. We are please to announce all 3 were successful in obtaining a ‘F’ call. 

Rob and I then started the paper work, with this all filled out we congratulated them on a job well done.

IMG_4443Rob and I then announced to the successful 3, the RRC offers free membership for the remainder of the member subscription year to persons undertaking a RRC Facilitated Assessment activity. With this membership comes the added advantage of receiving a RRC Membership Card, which when presented at Berri Betta Home Living, a JayCar Authorised Stockist, a discount will apply on non-discounted JayCar product.

It is our job as seasoned hams to mentor the new hams to the hobby, it is easy to get new ‘F’ calls. It is much harder to retain their interest long term and assist their journey through our great hobby.

RRC would like to thank  Peter VK5PE whom provided the venue in Renmark & assisted Rob & myself.

RRC would like to introduce Sandy, David and Stephen to our great hobby. Please listen out and welcome them when they get on air with their new call signs.

Regards Ivan VK5HS.

Note: Due to recent changes to exam and licensing arrangements we currently can not offer exams. We are hopeful that we will be able to rectify this as soon as possible.

Berri Betta Sponsors RRC!!!

***  NEWS FLASH  NEWS FLASH  NEWS FLASH  ***

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.

***  NEWS FLASH  NEWS FLASH  NEWS FLASH  ***

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.

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 

Another Benchmark Achieved!

gold-trophy_1284-1735

This year is looking pretty good for our website, so far this year we have over 1000 visitors. That’s more than double last year already. Not only that we’ve hit over 50 countries.

We try to have our site ticking over with new content as much as possible, not easy for a little club like ours but we think we do ok.

Our content is always changing, if not new stories we are updating and freshening up various pages.

Please drop back from time to time and leave a comment here and there… we really do want to hear your feedback.

Thanks,

Danny VK5DW

VK5FO’s OCDX Contest Journey

Hi all,

Bob VK5FO here, I just wanted to share a little about something that I do in Radio …

I enter the OCDX Contest each year. A bit more info here: http://www.oceaniadxcontest.com/index.html

This is the contest where all beams are pointed to VK and… you work em!

Now, I do it the hard way, I enter the Voice QRP Single Operator Category and in 2016 I was 1st in Australia, 3rd in the World. In 2017 I was 1st in Australia and 2nd in the World. Here’s hoping that the first weekend of October 2018 is kind to me and I can jump up to Number 1.

Now, the last couple of years I have been pretty casual about my set up and not really hitting it too hard, but this year, I have been doing a whole lot of stuff with Antennas. And let’s face it, QRP means that I need to best possible Antennas. I concentrate on 40M, but contacts on 80, 160, 20, (and 15) all help give multipliers, with the points favoring the lower bands.

The last couple of years I have just used very basic antennas:

  • a ~55M end fed wire for 160/80/40;
  • a 40M inverted V (also used on 15M);
  • a 20M dipole; and
  • the Multi-band vertical which covers from 160 thru 10.

So, this year, I have already started to go “all out” in the antenna department and this weekend just gone, I put up a monster 40M antenna that has already proven to be awesome, onto that a bit more in a minute.

What I have done is taken a bit of time and learnt a tiny bit about modelling Antennas with 4nec2 software, available from: http://www.qsl.net/4nec2/. And yep, it’s free software.

So I learnt just enough about how to use 4nec2 and do some modelling and started off with simple inverted V which I used as a basic “reference”, basically confirming that what was modeled is what was happening… which is pretty close.

From there, I then put in the details of the end-fed wire I used last year and modeled it across the 3 bands I used it on. And this is where I learnt what a crap antenna it really is and started looking at what I could do within the confines of what I had to work with, space wise and of course elevation for the Antenna itself.

That end-fed wire was so rubbish on 40M it is a wonder I made as many contacts as I did; with massive lobes and nulls and horrid very high angle radiation.

So, a few weeks ago, I did a log analysis from last years contest and looked at where in the world I needed to send RF and started to work on a 40M Model. I came up with something that I am very happy with… 40M Bob OCDX Special

40m_Bob_OCDX_SpecialLet me explain a little about this pattern:

The red line is the horizontal pattern and there is a very nice lobe sitting towards the 90 on the plot (which I have pointed North); within the 3db points of the lobe it nicely covers EU for the morning greyline and the US for the evening greyline, as well as all of Asia due north as well.

By not transmitting out the back and pushing it forwards, where it is needed, already compared to my model of last year’s antenna there is around 12 to 14db more signal where I need it compared to last year. Or effectively taking my 5W signal and running around 120W – equivalent!

That is not the whole story… look at that wonderful blue elevation on that plot, it peaks at around 30 degrees and again a nice null off the back where It is not needed, but still “just enough” high angle signal so that the NVIS contacts during the day can be made.

We put this antenna up on the weekend and used it on Saturday night, when we were swapping it in and out against our reference antenna it was chalk and cheese – Massive improvement! US voice went from 3×7 reports to 5×9 +20+ and we could also hear all the other stations on the net as well!

So we will be giving this a bit of a work-out over the coming weekends!

Now, the next challenge is 80M and as I cannot get a dipole up to 40M high (nor can many people) I set about doing some further modelling and I will be putting up an 80M antenna on the weekend and seeing if the model actually does what I see on paper.

80m-REF-Inverted-VJust like the 40M model, I worked with what I had and looked for how I could do something with what space I have.

See the 80M REF Inverted V plot – this is an 80M dipole at 8M high – something along the lines of what most of us can do – and as you see – it is ONLY an NVIS antenna – everything is up baby – not much below 45 degrees – and of course – the lower the better for DX.

Now look at the 80M low and low plot – This is what I 80m-Low and Lowam going to install this weekend and try.

First off – the Red line – horizontal pattern – it has to nulls off to the sides of around 4db, which I can position such that my signal goes where it is needed in the other direction.

The big 1 here is of course the Vertical pattern – you will see that I have managed to create a pattern that is pulled right down low – right down to about 30 degrees – so a LOT more signal is going out and not straight up!

Now, if this works as modeled, and if we look at 30 degrees elevation vs the reference it is around 4 or 5db better – which should be a big improvement.

The best part is this antenna is NOT BIG! and not tall, but does need a fair bit of open and clear space (being 80M and all!) It is not a lot bigger than the inverted V – and yes it is only 8M high as well!

On 80M, the reference dipole is very similar to my end-fed wire used last year – with it being mostly a sky warmer.

So far, my modeling for 160M means I am going to be stuck with pretty much whatever length of wire I can put up that doesn’t interfere with the other antenna’s – this is a harder one to improve, but hey, if I can managed 10 or more contacts on 160, then that is about what I expect.

20M well, I have a suitable antenna – and 2 elements that I use when portable will be put into play – and it is a known performer.

If you have got this far thru my ramblings – congrats!

What I am hoping is that I can get along to the Nov meeting and show you guys some 4nec2 modelling and how you might be able to do some basic things such as putting in your antenna, then we can play around and see if we could improve it – no promises, but I hope I can make it.

And…. If you happen to hear me on the contest weekend – I would love extra contacts on as many bands as you can muster for me.

Also, given that I do this contest from the Riverland (where I have the space to put up a very large antenna on 40M) There is an open invitation to pop along and see what it takes to set up and run a contest station like this – We just need to know if you plan on coming and when over the weekend.

And as a final footnote – whilst my callsign has a certain schoolboy smut amusing factor to it, it is an absolute nightmare in a contest!

So I have applied for and been granted a new callsign of VK5HC which I will be using for contests only.

Cheers,
Bob,
VK5FO