Progress Through Activity

Amateur Radio Club Inc.




The Westlakes Weekly Broadcast.

The Westlakes news broadcast is transmitted 
every Sunday at 9am on 2 meters at 146.775 MHz




News Broadcast 19-2-2017

Warm again yesterday with another bumper attendance at the club. Again the Air Conditioners were popular.

During the week, Jeff VK2MCD along with Dave Lawrence Collected a very large amount of books and magazines dating back 60 years and some even in the mid 30ís.
These will take some time to catalogue but if anyone is interested then call at the club and see Jeff. There was also some vintage gear which is in the store being sorted.

On Friday, Jeff, with Luke VK2JGW in company traveled to Redhead and purchased an amount of Industrial Carpet Tiles to replace the worn carpet in the Library.
Stay tuned as we will need the help of a number of members to remove the book shelves, seating and old carpet.
The Library will need a coat of paint before the new tiles go down so busy times ahead. Also on Friday the quickly growing lawns were given another haircut to keep the grounds looking good. Dave VK2RD was in charge and the task completed before the storm was upon us.

Next Sunday the 26th February is the Wyong Field Day. Westlakes will have the Bureau cards on hand for those who pick up at the F D. Also you will be able to pay your membership dues at the Westlakes Stand. Barry VK2BZ and Lloyd VK2XAA spent some time last Wednesday checking the status of a number of vintage quality test gear units for sale at Wyong.

Think there was a little bit of sleight of hand in the drawing of the meat tray. Herb, VK2ZVF was tasked to draw the ticket and drew his own ticket in the process. Most in attendance reckon that there should have been a redraw but herb would not hear of it. Ah Well, someone has to win it.

Today as we present this broadcast, a working bee is taking place to repair and reinstall the antennaís at the VK2CW QTHÖ No doubt all will go well as Greg is just a spectator and the work will be done by Bryce, Gregís Son in Law.

Our EZE BEE net continues with a good number of check inís on a Saturday Morning. Call in on two metres and find out what is happening at the club that day. The Stone the Crows net is still going strong under the guidance of Ted VK2UI and can be found on 3.588 MHz at 6:00am. Grab a coffee and sit back and have a chat.

Foundations of Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio as a hobby is one of those activities that covers a wide range of pursuits. A fellow Amateur once referred to it at 1000 hobbies in one. I like that as a description, but it really doesn't cover how wide and extensive this hobby really is.

You've heard me talk about radios and on-air activity, about contesting, about out door activities, about electronics and antennas, about the grey line and about decibels. Today I'm going to talk about the Sun.

Using a hand-held radio you're often using higher frequencies, 2m, or 144 MHz or higher. These radio waves mostly travel along line-of-sight. If you look at the lower frequencies, called HF, 28 MHz, 21 MHz, or lower, then those radio waves also travel line-of-sight, but they also travel up into the ionosphere surrounding the earth. If you manage to hit the angle just right, then some of those will reflect off the ionosphere back to earth.

It's a lot like skipping a stone on a pond. If you get it right, you might make it skip several bounces, if you get it wrong, it will go "plop" and vanish. The same is true for these frequencies.

One of the things that makes the ionosphere reflective to radio waves of a certain frequency is the level of ionisation in this area around the globe. Typically the ionosphere is somewhere between 50km and 1000km above you right now. At different heights the ionosphere reacts differently and the Sun shining on it will alter the properties as the day unfolds.

This is why when night turns into day and day turns into night, special things start happening along the border between day and night, the so-called grey line where it's not quite day and it's not quite night.

One way of looking at this is that the ionosphere heats up during the day. Now heat is an interesting thing. The Sun shining on your skin is experienced as heat, but what's actually happening is that the radiation from the Sun is exciting the electrons on your skin and you experience that as heat. As a matter of interest, the Sun generates about 650 Watts per square meter in the middle of the day coming through the atmosphere. That's about 650 Joules of Energy per second per square meter. Lots of excitement.

At the outside of the earth, there's about 1300 Watts per square meter. The difference, 650 Watts, is absorbed by the atmosphere.

So, the equivalent of the heat you feel on your skin is also heating up the atmosphere.

Now, this "heat" is really energy that's exciting electrons and thus also exciting the ionosphere. At the simplest level this is making the ionosphere more reflective to radio waves. I'm deliberately simplifying this because I don't want to get bogged down into how precisely, because my point is about the Sun and more specifically about Sun-spots.

There I said it, Sun-spots. What are they and what do they have to do with anything?

Well, a Sun-spot is a cool place on the Sun. When I say cool, it's about half as warm at a Sun-spot than the area around it, only 3000 degrees Celsius, instead of 6000 degrees. Sun-spots appear in pairs on opposite sides of the Sun and represent a point on the Sun where an intense magnetic field comes through the Sun. You can think of it as a huge race-track through the Sun that accelerates particles from the Sun into space. These particles represent energy and if they happen to hit the earth, they add a whole lot of extra energy to the ionosphere, making it much more reflective. The more Sun-spots, the more energy, the more excitement of the ionosphere, the more reflection, the better radio communications.

Sun-spots generally appear in groups and the density of these groups varies over time. To get a uniform sense of how much energy there is around, scientists came up with a Sun-spot number. It's indicative of how much activity there is, not an actual count of the number of dots on the Sun, since some spots are large and others are relatively small.

The increase and decrease of solar activity repeats over time. Using carbon dating we can get well over 11,000 years of solar activity which has lead us to say that we have a solar cycle that lasts about 22 years. Of course that isn't exact, since this is nature, but it gives us a simple way of better understanding a very complex topic.

The final bit of information you need is that when the amount of solar activity has peaked we have hit solar maximum and when it's hit the bottom, we have hit solar minimum. Since you cannot see those while you're in the middle of it, you can only really look back in time to determine what the exact point in time was that this occurred.

Another way to detect that we've hit a minimum is that the magnetic pole of a Sun-spot reverses. As I said, they come in pairs. One is the North Pole of the magnetic field, the other is the South Pole. When these reverse, that's an indication that we're starting the next solar cycle.

All that being said, it means that Sun-spot activity is strongly related to your ability to use HF over long distances and if you're a QRP operator like me, using 5 Watts to get around the globe, then you really want to know when the Sun is helping you and when it's taken it's bat and ball and gone home.

I'm not going to go into Solar Flares, Coronal Mass Ejections and the Solar Wind, since that's a whole new topic to cover for another day. Suffice to say that too much of a good thing is harmful to Radio Communications.

The Sun and the Solar-Cycle is an amazing topic that is just another aspect of our wonderful hobby of Amateur Radio.

I'm Onno VK6FLAB

Well, it's only a week away now, "the big one", the CCARC Fieldday at Wyong.

Everything is coming together for another great field day. Put it in your calendar now - next Sunday the 26th. of February from 8:30am. Just $10 entry and those under 17 years of age have free admission. Don't forget, flea market spots are free this year, so expect a lot of sellers.

The main raffle prizes are impressive. We have two of the latest transceivers from ICOM, the ID-51A handheld and the ID-5100 mobile, both operate on D-STAR and FM on 2m and 70cm - certainly worth buying a few tickets at only $3 each to increase your chance to win one of these rigs.

For those wishing to understand the very latest trend in digital voice we will have BrandMeister and MMDVM Host systems on demonstration at the Field Day. Ian VK2HK, will have a Yaesu DR-1X repeater working on the BrandMeister DMR  Network along with a SharkRF Openspot unit, DVMega and DV4Mini operational. This demonstration can be found on the second floor of the main building next to the Amateur TV display.

As we are running two streams of lectures this year please make sure to plan to attend those of interest to you and be there in time as there are so many lectures, they must all start at their scheduled times, no delays. The list of lectures and their times can be found in the show notes of this broadcast and on the field day website.

Did you know about the facility for group meet-ups in the tea and coffee area on the second floor - let the field day organisers know before the field day so that announcements can be made over the public address system to gather your group together at the appropriate time.

There's a lot of organisation that goes into the Wyong Field Day each year and
the CCARC expect this, in the clubs 60th. year to be one of the best yet.
Come and make new mates and meet old ones at the Wyong Field Day next Sunday the 26th. of February from 8:30am.

Foundations of Amateur Radio

Recently I was told that Amateur Radio as a hobby is dead. This isn't news. It's often repeated and the story goes like this.

The hobby is full of old dying men who when they finally shuffle off this mortal coil, or as we like to say "become a silent key", will take their hobby with them. There is anecdotal evidence to back this up. An organisation that tasked itself with the preservation of Morse Code in the tradition of Telegraphers and Seafarers is forecasting their demise due to the age of their membership.

Other comments along these same lines talk about the futility of Amateur Radio in the face of other communication tools such as the Internet, Mobile Phones and the like. Emergency Services often ignore the Amateur Radio Service because they have all the communication infrastructure they need. People point at the declining numbers of Amateurs and say: "See, I told you, the numbers don't lie!"

If you listen to this you might wonder why it is that you're fascinated by this endeavour and what it is that these tales of doom and gloom for the future of our hobby mean for you.

Let's start with the numbers. In Australia in 2005 a new class of Amateur License was introduced. It's called the Foundation License and the purpose was to attract new people into the hobby of Amateur Radio. Looking at the numbers we see a year on year increase in the number of Foundation Calls. Many of those go on to gain extra responsibilities by getting a Standard or Advanced License. Some Amateurs let their Foundation Call lapse, so the increase of people entering is actually higher than a simple count of callsigns might suggest.

So, we're getting more and more people into the hobby every year.

But the overall numbers are declining. How can that be?

Well, simple really. We don't have a problem with growth, we have a problem with retention. This means that as a community we're doing great things about getting new people into our wonderful hobby but doing a poor job at making them feel welcome and keep coming back.

Those are numbers, but there are other things happening as well. The Internet today is a connection, actually an Inter-connection of networks. You might be surprised to learn that these networks started when we figured out how to use Morse Code on wires to send messages across the globe. While the original copper is probably not being used, though that in itself would be an interesting research project, the Internet today has its roots in the Morse Code driven Telegraphy network. The very first one of those was set up over 200 years ago in 1816.

There is a long history of explaining the relationship between wire Telegraph and Radio Communication, featuring long cats, dogs and a war between Austria and Prussia. Suffice to say that Telegraphy and Radio Communications both form part of a symbiotic relationship. It still does today. The Wired Internet and the Wireless Internet are the same animal dressed up with fancy technology.

Amateur Radio is the experimental arm of Radio Communications, so as long as humans want to communicate with each other we're here to stay.

Time and again, Emergency Services need operators in the case of an actual emergency and historically they have been drawn from wherever experienced bodies could be rousted, suffice to say, the Amateur community keeps on giving.

As for the old and dying men. Sure, we have some amazing history that senior members of the Amateur community have to contribute, with many lessons to be learned for the likes of young'ns like me, but I'm getting older every day and with me the rest of the population too. At some point we'll all be older and wiser, perhaps we'll even be Amateurs. Another way of looking at this is as the global population gets older with more free time on their hands, the more opportunities exist to introduce people into our hobby.

As for the retention. As a community we really need to investigate what it is that makes people leave, since that's where the growth of our community is working against our achievements to promote and encourage new entrants.

If you're not an Amateur today, I'd like to encourage you to investigate. If you are, then I'd like to encourage you to welcome new members, tell your stories and use your experience in this amazing hobby to share your excitement and sense of wonder. Perhaps consider if there is something you can do to help new Amateurs flourish in our community.

I'm Onno VK6FLAB


Well thatís all the news from Westlakes that I have for this week.







Westlakes Amateur Radio Club Inc. York Street, Teralba NSW