This article was penned by Mark Bosma (VK2KI / VK6QI) and was printed in Issue 5 of Amateur Radio 2020.
Peel Amateur Radio Group
Spring has sprung, and the Mandurians in the Peel Amateur Radio Group continued to be very active, despite a Spring storm in September caused damage to five members’ antennas.
Don VK6DON went out after the storm to chase Gullahs from his hex beam and thought "surely a couple of Gullahs couldn't do that!" The antenna had turned itself into an inverted-umbrella beam – the centre support post had snapped off and was floating in free air, supported by only the coax and antenna terminations. I’m sure the neighbours were even more impressed than usual at his antenna. What’s more, the Windom antenna was also tangled up with the usually 30+-cocky hex beam. A team of Group volunteers soon headed over to Don’s wind-swept antenna farm to lend a hand.
Taking Carmel’s advice from AR Magazine Edition 3, Maurice VK6HLY had tried using his Bunnings clothesline Off-Centre Fed dipole to stop his trees from swaying too much in the storm; didn’t work. Maurice was hoping that Tony VK6DQ as a nearly 80 year old qualified rigger (we actually have two in the Group – Martin VK6EEE is a professional rigger) would squirrel up some of the trees on his property and put up permanent pulleys for on-going antenna work.
And having just cracked the code on getting a squid pole helical to radiate well on 80m, Martin VK6MJ came out after the storm to find he now had two poles – one long, and one very short. Back to the drawing board. Up Rockingham way, Michelle and Warren also sacrificed their antenna farm to the wind gods – clean sweep – time to start afresh!
When not watching SSTV from the International Space Station, Martin VK6MJ took a break from his PhD studies to help get two more members operational on the 2.4GHz mesh network – VK6HLY and VK6FAAJ. PARG now has 17 members with VOIP speaker phones connected; the network is also connected to the VK6RMH 2m repeater via a conference number, allowing multiple members to access the repeater irrespective of how far away they are. Martin and Mark VK2KI were recently heard experimenting on the 2.4GHz mesh network and 3.600 MHz to identify the source of overload interference from Martin’s HF transmitter that was triggering the repeater via the mesh-to-repeater link. The Mandurah repeater also has an Echolink connection, via VK6MJ-L – all welcome to call in and say g’day to the Mandurians.
The terrific PARG nets on 3.600 MHz have continued, with a number of members re-discovering the joy of HF operation. At times, all stations have been 5x9 at the VK6XT Broomhill remote HF station that I use, and on good nights, with the increased use of noise-cancellers, everyone can hear everyone.
Several members have built or are building the VK5TM noise-canceller kits, and the November TechTalk night on November 17th will see a discussion on the theory of anti-phase noise cancellation, and a comparison of the MFJ-1026 noise canceller with the very simple VK5TM kit.
Both Terry VK6TTR and Maurice VK6HLY continued to be impressed with the 80m receive audio on their Kenwood TS-920 and TS-520 respectively. The rest of us enjoyed the nostalgia of following the slow drift of the non-synthesised rigs… in my case, VK6XT’s IC7300 at the remote HF station didn’t have a clarifier control, so we all had fun chasing each-other around the band.
Tony VK6DQ went out to the shed during one net and swapped the feed configuration of his antenna – his signals went down a little, but his audio quality improved – go figure! Tony also came up with a new term: “as an experiment”. "As an experiment", he tried not transmitting through his antenna tuner. A few of us could use that one from time to time. Tony also went out on a limb and claimed that his antennas would never succumb to the weather – but would he tell us if they did? Perhaps they’d become another “experimental configuration’? Tony’s been motivated to write another antenna article for AR Magazine – go Tony – we’re looking forward to learning more!
One evening we had to move the net from 3.600 MHz – there was a station on 3610 who may have been over-driving his PA into a non-linear region (no-longer Class AB1 = non-linearity = production of intermodulation distortion = splatter). He sounded like he was about 30kHz wide – normally we could have slipped from 3600 down to 3595 (our alternative net frequency) – but the splatter was causing problems to everyone, even 15KHz from his suppressed carrier frequency.
Also on 80m, President Geoff VK6GHD managed to avoid neighbourly consternation with his semi-stealth squid-pole helical, using a water-weighted beach umbrella base. Nice signals from his balcony – just needs a noise canceller and he’ll be able to hear as well as he gets out. Amazing how much fun it is to operate nets on 80m compared to the ever-reliable on-air nights on 2m. Pity not everyone can operate on 80 due to neighbourhood covenants – but where there’s a will…
In September, Paul VK6LL and Martin VK6MJ gave a presentation to the Mandurah PROBUS group on amateur radio, including a demonstration of 2 metres and Martin gave a brief on the Amateur Radio International Space Station Schools program and his role as a Telebridge station. There’ll be lots of grandparents now pestering local schools to join the ARISS program.
President Geoff VK6GHD visited the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse and following discussions with the manager, PARG has received an invitation to operate portable at that location. Geoff has also sought clarification on the status of the Foul Bay lighthouse from the International Lightship and Lighthouse Weekend authority. Irrespective of its status for the ILLW, Foul Bay remains a good option for a pedestrian portable expedition to coincide with a future simultaneous portable activation of Capes Naturaliste and Leeuwin.
The Group has decided to run a trial 80m Slow CW Contest in February. The WA Division of the WIA ran a similar contest back in the mid-80s, which turned out to be a real hoot for those of us who hadn’t touched a key since the AOCP exam. There probably won’t be time for the rules to be formulated and advertised in AR Magazine so the first one may be held within the Group. However, if you’d like to be looped-in on this exciting event, contact our Secretary David VK6FAAZ email@example.com
Well done to the brave souls who ventured to Mount William in March for the John Moyle Field Day contest - third in the 24 hour multi-op, all band, all mode category. Bruce VK6CX also came first in the 24 hour home station VHF all mode category.
PARG meetings are now at 1900 WA time on:
· 1st Tuesday of the month – 2m net on VK6RMH
· 2nd Tuesday of the month – 80m net on 3600 kHz with 3595 as a backup
· 3rd Tuesday of the month – Technical Talk / Workshop meeting at the SES HQ in Greenfields and via Zoom Videoconference – links to YouTube videos of the TechTalks are available in the Workshop/Technical area on the Group’s website: www.parg.org.au
The Group is keen to encourage new members. People new to Amateur Radio who would like to find out more about the hobby, or perhaps get a helping hand toward getting an amateur license are most welcome. More experienced amateurs will find that the Group is a terrific way to share both technical and social aspects of amateur radio. Contact the Secretary David VK6FAAZ firstname.lastname@example.org or check the website www.parg.org.au for more information.
VK6QI / VK2KI
The VK6DON inverted umbrella after the September storm.
The VK6GHD operating his magnetic loop from the Blackwood River, Augusta.