Current weekly news from Northern Tasmania

For older news please check out the NTARC News Archive

NORTHERN TASMANIAN AMATEUR RADIO CLUB INC.

News for Broadcast – Sunday 18 February 2018

Note for readers – The preferred pronunciation of NTARC is the acronym “En-tarc”.

Silent key

NTARC is deeply saddened by the passing of member Stephen John Terris VK7BI SK, late of Wynyard. Stephen passed away in his sleep on Sunday 11 February 2018, nine days short of his 53rd birthday.

We will remember Stephen as a gently spoken man, with a quiet unassuming manner but also with a cheeky sense of humour. He was actively involved in amateur radio. He loved the building side of the hobby and he regularly attended club functions, notwithstanding the distance from his Wynyard QTH and our clubrooms. He was always ready to assist at JOTA events, while his presentation at a club BBQ on his visit to Gallipoli was a particularly memorable event and one warmly received by all.

Stephen was essentially a private person but we now know that he was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on 20 February 1965. He moved to Adelaide in 1988 and was employed as a welder at the General Motors Factory, Elizabeth. Stephen moved to Tasmania from Adelaide some 10 years ago.

Stephen adopted the call sign VK7BI after the death of his father, who had been the previous holder. Stephen’s entry into amateur radio meant that his father and all three siblings held amateur radio licences. Stephen also learnt to fly at Parafield, South Australia. Here again, his brother Craig tells us that Stephen was following a family tradition, with both him and his sister also having held pilot’s licences. While away from aviation for some years, Stephen had recently taken up flying again and was doing some refresher training and an ultralight conversion at Smithton just a matter of a week before his sudden death. He was actively looking forward to finishing that training and then purchasing a light aircraft with which to continue his exploration of his adopted VK7. Stephen was a member of the Wynyard Aero Club, where he will also be sadly missed.

Stephen was the youngest of three children and leaves behind family in Nelson, New Zealand, principally his mother Winifred aged 90 years and his elder siblings, sister Adrienne and brother Craig, along with the wider family. We extend our deepest sympathy to them all on the loss of their family member and our very good mate. 

Stephen will be privately cremated and his ashes will be returned to Nelson, New Zealand. Vale Stephen.

AGM roundup

The NTARC Annual General Meeting held last Wednesday 14 February saw an attendance of 30 voting members and 2 visitors. 

Extensive reports by the President, Treasurer, each of the club activity leaders and the all-important Auditors statement were tabled and each well received by the membership, leaving all with the sense that 2017 had been another great year for NTARC.

The elections saw the return of Idris VK7ZIR as President, Peter VK7KPC as
Vice President, Yvonne VK7FYMX as Secretary, André VK7ZAB as Treasurer, with
Roslyn (no call sign) as the incoming committee member. 

We wish to thank Kevin VK7HKN for all his many years as our Committee member and Treasurer before that. Kevin will continue on in the role as NTARC QSL Coordinator.

Roger VK7ARN was re-appointed as our internal auditor and Bill VK7MX was appointed as our Public Officer

All the club activity co-ordinators were again appointed to their respective tasks;
Tony VK7YBG as Northern Repeater Officer, David VK7JD continuing his role as Project Manager for Mt Arthur, with both being assisted by Paul VK7KPA as Assistant Repeater Officer. Further afield, Hayden VK7HH continues as our Repeater officer (South), assisted by Michael VK7MRS.

We thank Peter VK7PD for agreeing to continue as our Education Officer and appointed WIA assessor; Tony VK7YBG as weekly WIA broadcast facilitator and IRLP Coordinator; Peter VK7KPC as our JOTA/JOTI Coordinator and Norm VK7KTN as our Safety Communications Coordinator. 

The business of the meeting proceeded at a good pace, with the agenda completed by 2040hrs. President Idris therefore brought matters to a close and quickly opened the February General Meeting which was completed by 2110hours. This was followed by a very heavily laden supper which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Once again our lady members excelled themselves. The last members departed the club room about 2230 hours.

The minutes of the AGM and the General meeting will be posted on the NTARC Yahoo in the coming days

Do you use WSPR?

The following item is courtesy of Phil VK7JJ and he asks the question;

“Do you use an SDR or a scanner for listening to local Tasmanian services around you?

If the answer is "yes" to either of the above questions then Phil VK7JJ has something that might interest you.

Firstly, WSPR.

The map page on the WSRPnet site is delightfully entertaining but has been increasingly problematic with slow load times and occasional total failure. It has other drawbacks too, for example its random colouring of links between spots could more usefully show frequency and link information when clicked on. Scrolling round the map trying to find who the links go to is also annoying. Their database page requires multiple reloads, etc etc.

Phil has created an alternative WSPR map page that addresses some of those shortcomings. Because it relies on "scraping" the WSPRnet database page for information Phil was reluctant to make his page public but it has been stable for long enough to prove useful and is now located on a fast Linux server in Sydney where it is hosted using an SSD drive and node.js.

Of course there are no promises it will survive any changes made to the WSPRnet site but in the meantime it's a bit of fun.

If you would like to have a play with Phil's WSPR map the URL is: wspr.vk7jj.com

Now for the SDR or scanner information.

Lots of you have been using SDRs for some time. They are great for use on the amateur bands and also great for snooping round listening to the vast array of commercial and government services as well as a surprising number of local specialist FM stations.

The specific frequencies of your own local fire, ambulance, marine, yachting, SES, council, air services, forestry and hydro transmitting sites are sometimes hard to come by. Phil recently acquired a list containing around 5,900 entries of Tasmanian frequencies along with their licensee names.

He's built a Google Map interface that allows you to drop a Pin on the map and search within a radius of 2, 10, 20 or 40 kilometres of the pin so you can find all the licensees and frequencies in use around you regardless of who they are.

You can also search for them by licensee name, by spot frequency and by frequency range. The page also generates a "found list" that can be copied from your screen and pasted into a text document as tab delimited text to make it easier to program your radio with the frequencies of your choice.

If you would like to try Phil's Tas frequency map the URL is: tasfx.vk7jj.com

Of course they are just hobby sites and come with no business guarantee. Phil has only used the sites with Chrome and Safari and the great new browser called "Brave", so if the sites break in your browser then you get to keep the pieces.

73 from Phil, VK7JJ

PS. Phil also says that anyone looking to play with Australian based fast Linux hosting with their own pet software - his is Node.js - then you may be interested to check the speed of these two sites, especially the WSPR scraper which fetches the HTML database data from the WSPRnet pages in the US in real time. The hosting is with BinaryLane in Sydney at just $4 per month.”

Are you on the NTARC Members Yahoo Group?

Yes, another reminder that the NTARC yahoo site remains the main vehicle for advising members of events, minutes of meetings, for sale and wanted items etc. So if you are not a member of this site and want to keep abreast of happenings then I urge you to join. It will make your Secretary’s life much easier. If you wish to join then please email the treasurer@ntarc.net or the secretary@ntarc.net and we will be only too happy to send you an invitation to join.

Wednesday Evening Technical sessions

As mentioned over the past two weeks, the Committee has been considering commencing a mid-week evening technical or practical night. We can now confirm that this will happen and it will be held on those Wednesday evenings which do not coincide with our general meetings. Starting time will be from 7.30pm and running through to perhaps 10.00pm or 10.30 pm.

As mentioned over the past couple of weeks, the concept is very flexible, with possible topics including regular show and tell sessions, fault diagnosis and repair, project design and/or construction, antenna classes, practical operating tuition, especially in new or emerging transmission modes, radio set-up and programming, and perhaps an occasional technical lecture or other training. In short, the evening can be just about anything attendees want it to be

We are hoping to commence these nights on Wednesday 7 March but will confirm this in next week’s news, so keep listening

2018 Membership fees – a final reminder notice will be sent out this week to those who haven’t as yet renewed their 2018 membership. Your membership for 2017 expired on 31 December and your name now appears on the membership register as an unfinancial member. It will remain as such on that register until renewed or until 30 June, when your name must be removed if your annual subscription remains unpaid at that date.

In the interim, a reminder that NTARC’s 2018 membership fees are $30.00 for a Full voting member and $5 additional for each Family member that the voting member wishes to add to his or her primary membership. 

Coming events

Technical sessions – Wednesday 7 March from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm Club room Archer Street, Rocherlea. Note -to be confirmed next week.

March general meeting - Saturday 10th was to be a BBQ meeting. Just for a change, due to a number of key players being absent and the need to free the garage/BBQ area for the Scouts annual telephone book distribution, this will now be a BYO picnic hamper lunch, commencing at noon. The meeting will follow at 2.00pm and this in turn by a Show and Tell session. More information as we get closer.

Equine event – 30 March – 1 April Easter Marathon, Santarena Park Scottsdale. NTARC has been invited to provide Comms at Base station and checkpoints as well as RFID tracking for this event. There will be a number of rides that require safety comms including the 240k marathon, 120k marathon as well as the 80k, 40k and 20k events.

We shall be somewhat busy at this event and due to a number of our key players being missing in action on the mainland, we require extra bodies to provide the quality service that has been the NTARC tradition now over a considerable number of years. So, if you feel like having a beak away and putting your amateur radio skills to good use assisting a Community event then please contact Norm VK7KTN be email safetycomms.ntarc@gmail.com as soon as you can. He will be able to provide you with further information. This invitation is extended to all amateurs in the State who may be able to assist.

Forthcoming Repeater Changes

Listeners will probably recall that NTARC announced back in November that it had decided to split the VK7RAA licence by re-licencing all the 70 cms services on Mt Arthur as a separate entity and that the callsign VK7RJG had been requested for those repeaters. This was chosen to recognise the extraordinary effort that Joe VK7JG has put into not only NTARC’s repeaters but the repeater system generally within VK7.

After a delay of just 3 months, we can now advise that VK7RJG now appears on the ACMA database, although the actual licence grant can’t be finalised until such time as the requisite fee can be paid. Unfortunate timing saw this long awaited development coincide with our financial records being away with the auditor but that minor hurdle should have been overcome by the time this segment goes to air. From that point, VK7RJG will officially exist and should be referred to as such, although physically changing the actual repeater idents will necessarily have to await trips up the mountain etc. In the interim, these services remain on the VK7RAA licence and are thus still licenced.

With that legality out of the way, NTARC will now apply for a licence variation to the new VK7RJG. As users in the north will know only too well, the analogue voice repeater 438.550/433.550 Mhz has long been plagued by LIPD interference, mainly emanating from the Launceston area. In the hope of providing a permanent cure, we will seek to have the input frequency amended to 431.550 MHz, taking advantage of the newer 7 MHz split offered by the current WIA bandplan and thus getting us outside the LIPD band. Obviously this will take some time to arrange, possibly months since it too requires approval by the ACMA, but we will try to give as much advanced warning of the change as possible, once we can program the actual work involved.

Coffee morningsA reminder that our twice-weekly coffee sessions are normally held every Monday and Friday commencing at 10.00 am and running through till about noon or longer if members want to linger longer. 

Please remember that aside from the good company, freely offered philosophical views, maybe less than expert political analysis, tall tales and genuinely good fare on offer, these coffee events are normally a good opportunity to collect your QSL cards. At the moment we have no cards awaiting collection. 

Please demonstrate your appreciation of all the effort that goes into operating the club and its facilities and other services we provide by joining us at these sessions, enjoying the company, coffee and the cake and leaving a gold coin or two, or even a small bank note, in the jar to assist in our on-going operations. 

Finally

A reminder to all members that if you have any items of news you would like added to the weekly roundup, then please email the secretary@ntarc.net .

As always I look forward to seeing you at Rocherlea. 

73 

Yvonne VK7FYMX 

Secretary NTARC Inc