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