Amateur Experiences, Comments and Proposals from Lou VK5EEE

The following is an excerpt from the International Amateur Radio Union Monitoring System (IARUMS) Region 1 December 2016 newsletter which can be read in full here.  The IARUMS monitors the state of the Amateur bands and reports on interference and Intruders.  See their website here.

VK5EEE offers the following opinion piece on the state of the Australian Amateur scene:

[Commenting on previous reports of South American Fisherman using the Ham bands]

I’m not surprised to hear this about Latin American region.  My antennas seem to favour that area but I almost never (at least on CW) hear any active radio hams there.  I think it could be useful to report findings from around the world about the general state of QRM on our bands, and what could be done short, medium, long term to forecast and reverse these trends.  In our area our 40m CW band is useless in the evenings due to strong SSB QRM every 5kHz USB and LSB — which thus covers the entire CW band — from powerful Indonesian pirates.  These pirates also seem to occupy a great many frequencies between 10000 and 11400kHz – there are huge number of them in a population of 200 million.


But we can contrast Indonesia to Thailand where there are a total of ZERO pirates on HF.  In HS-land you cannot buy any gear without showing license.  You cannot import either without inspection.  And you cannot operate in any location without a location license in addition to your operating license, and this system clearly works, no matter it is a bit slow to get a ham license.

This even though the HF population of HS amateurs is quite small, perhaps 200 or less, while the VHF population of HS amateurs is high, a quarter million or so.  The radio amateur license density per population in Thailand is at a rough guess 10 times what it is in Australia.


For CW operators, the problem is pirates which almost invariably use SSB, of course use the CW band, because there, they hear no other SSB. They don’t use the SSB parts of the band because then they would be afraid when they hear a strong local SSB radio amateur telling them off, or even direction finding them potentially.  So some CW operators, myself included, have gravitated to the SSB part of the band, which after all is shared CW-SSB it’s fine for CW, and due to radio amateur inactivity, it is also often empty.  Right now, 20m and 17m are open — and yet tuning the entire bands from top to bottom and bottom to top several times, I did not hear ONE radio amateur signal on CW nor SSB, nor Data.


During the week day, and remember a great many hams are retired, I can more often than not tune the entire 40m band also without hearing any SSB, Data, nor CW.  And this even though the now manifestly corrupt national society seeks in a misguided effort to make amateur radio a public CB social media extension, they have not succeeded.  They have taken the view that amateur radio is in decline and the way to reverse that is to make it easier to get a license at least at lowest level (which still gives 100W, though officially 10W, to anyone sitting a short course without possibility of failure, and then access to 80m, 40m, 15m, 10m) and yet the vast majority of these don’t get on air since amateur radio offers little to them compared to internet social media. Continue reading →

United Kingdom: RSGB Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) 2017

Via Stuart VK2FSTU, who adds:

Perhaps this is a way we could think beside JOTA of gaining more young bods into Amateur Radio ranks?  Bears thinking more about me thinks.

The RSGB Youth Committee is delighted to announce that the bid to host the IARU Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) 2017 summer camp was successful.

We are proud to be hosting this prestigious international event at Gilwell Park, the UK Scouting HQ, from 5-12 August 2017.

What is it?

It’s a fantastic chance for young people to build relationships with like-minded people from other countries and develop international friendships through amateur radio.

Around 100 young people under the age of 26 from all over IARU Region 1 will come to the UK to take part.

There will be a week-long range of wireless technology activities including a special event station, a buildathon, antenna building, an Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) contest and a Summits on the Air (SOTA) activation.

There will also be an opportunity to visit Bletchley Park—including the National Radio Centre—and the Science Museum, and to take part in some other non-radio activities such as kayaking, raft building and assault courses.

No NBN In Your Street? Just Set Up A Wireless Bridge

Via Lifehacker, from the SMH.  Original posts here (and here)  By Liam Mannix, 13/1/17

Paul VK2ICQ adds:

Ubiquiti Wireless equipment mentioned in this article is what ORARC will be using for the linking of our repeater sites.

Like countless other Australians, Haywards Bay resident Daniel Saffioti did not have access to the NBN.  So he decided to do something about it.

His solution was to set up a wireless bridge and mini radio dish to beam the NBN directly into his own home – all for a few hundred dollars.  Here’s how he pulled it off (and overcame a big bump along the way.)

The last straw for Saffioti came in mid-2014 when the NBN installed a fibre pillar right in front of his house – but refused to connect him.  The Commonwealth public servant had endured years of “awful” ADSL in Haywards Bay, south of Wollongong, and now NBN was right on his doorstep but still totally inaccessible.

“It runs right past my house, and it goes to the new people in the estate, and it does not go to me at all,” he told Fairfax.

Mr Saffioti’s solution to slow internet may be the most creative yet.

Bugger it, he thought. I’ll just beam the NBN 12 kilometres to my house – right over that range of hills.

Mr Saffioti is the chief information officer for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, which means he gets to play with some exciting technology.

In the past, he’d messed about with installing wireless bridges.  These devices, which come with their own mini radio dishes, allow internet signals to be beamed for up to 50 kilometres.

For hardware built for business, they are “incredibly effective at an amazingly ridiculous price point,” Mr Saffioti writes on LinkedIn, where he detailed his DIY-NBN project.  You can pick up the dish and access point for under $400

They worked so well, Mr Saffioti decided to buy a few for his own use.

With those in hand, the other thing he needed was someone willing to share their NBN connection.  Luckily, he had a friend based in nearby Kiama, one of the first towns in Australia to be connected to fibre.

That friend was good enough to agree to let Mr Saffioti share his connection, if he could work out how to.

While he and his friend were within the 50-kilometre range of the wireless bridge, they had a big problem: a big hill.

Or more specifically a patch of hilly country directly between their two properties.

The wireless bridges need line of sight for fast speeds.  If Mr Saffioti couldn’t find a way to get line-of-sight, the connection wouldn’t be much quicker than his slow ADSL, making all his effort worthless.

Luckily, Mr Saffioti’s friend had a cousin, and he just happened to live right in between the pair, elevated on a hill in Oak Flats.  And he couldn’t get NBN either.

That meant he was only too happy to have a wireless bridge set up on his house to bounce the signal – while also getting fast speeds himself.

Fully installed, the project beams NBN about 12 kilometres from Kiama to Oak Flats, and then about another three to Mr Saffioti’s place in Haywards Bay.

The link has been running well ever since, with regular download speeds of about 70mbps down and 35 up.  Total cost of the project: about $1000.

Originally, the high-speed broadband network only connected new homes in Mr Saffioti’s area.  However, late last year the NBN got in contact with him to let him know he was now, finally, eligible to connect to the fibre network.

He’s considering it, he says with a laugh.

QYT KT-8900D Mini-Mobile & Bluetooth Radio Mic

Quite a few members (myself included) have been tempted by the new QYT KT-8900D.  $109AUD (shipped) buys you a Dual Band Quad-Standby Colour Screen Mini-Mobile rig that puts out a healthy 25W in a tiny package, complete with little cooling fan, a great little speaker and (from all the ones we’ve used) good quality transmit audio.  I was fortunate enough to get mine with a $20 discount coupon (thanks eBay!) that made it a $90 purchase.  How can you say no?

Side note: Yes, these model numbers are getting ridiculous.  How many 8900 radios can there be?  As many as there are 9800s?  What about the 7800s?  Argh!

Lyle VK2SMI spotted an interesting accessory specifically for this radio today – a Bluetooth Radio Speaker Mic!  Integrated Bluetooth options in higher-end radios like the Icom ID-5100A and the Yaesu FTM-400 aren’t uncommon these days – but if you opt for those (stupidly) expensive options you get yourself a Bluetooth headset – not something in the form factor of a traditional radio mic.  $59.99AUD (shipped) is the right price too!  Check out the BT-89:

Included is a 1400mAh battery in the mic giving a quoted 2 days usage (with 1 week standby).  Usable range is quoted to be 10 meters from the supplied dongle, and the dongle gets its power from the radio itself.  As pictured, the unit is supplied with a USB plug pack and a USB to 3.5mm cable for charging the mic.  No more mic cables in the car (or less cables across the bench) sounds enticing doesn’t it?  I’m not sure how good the radio will look with that short dongle cable leaving the dongle dangling 2cm in front of the mic port though…

Compatible radios are listed as the QYT KT-7900D, KT-8900, KT-8900R and KT-8900D (see aforementioned comment about model numbers).

Conversation turned to how easy it may be to adapt this unit to other radios – different mic pinouts would be one hurdle to overcome (which should be relatively easy with a small home-made adaptor), supply voltage from the radio to the dongle may be different (less easy to overcome, but doable) and finally the impedance/output that the Bluetooth receiving dongle presents to the radio’s mic input may also be an issue.

Food for thought.

Now if someone could get to making an adaptor that lets you use your in-car (factory) Phone Bluetooth connection with (any) mobile rig (along with a nice cordless PTT), I’d be eternally grateful!

January Oxtales

January Oxtales has been released – and what a bumper edition it is this time around!

Our regular thanks to John VK2AYQ and Trevor VK2TT for another excellent read – and thank you to all contributors.

Members should now have received their copy by email, but website copies of the current and past editions can always be found here.