History making on-air SERG meeting

On Friday evening of March 3rd 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic where all gatherings and meetings are banned, SERG held its first ever meeting over its 2m repeater network.

Chaired by the President, Peter VK5BE, and assisted by Secretary Col, VK5HCF, a total 24 stations participated, plus 1 apology.

As the first Friday of each month is normally an “Activity Meeting”, the meeting commenced with an episode from the ARRL podcast “The Doctor is In”, chatting about various antennas, following by the latest VK6 News Broadcast, which discussed numerous topics.

This was followed by all those present having an opportunity to comment about the meeting and forward suggestions about future meetings. It was agreed by all that this format should become a regular feature of our Clubs activities and now look forward to different ways of presenting activities via the repeater network.

Peter VK5BE

Added note from VK5DJ

David VK5HDW made a suggestion we should have a get together each Friday night that is not an activity night or business meeting.

Next Friday 10/4/20 at 7:30PM there will be a quiz night. A mixture of general knowledge and ham questions. Have a pen and paper handy to write your answers. We’ll mark our own at the end of the quiz.

First prize a roll of toilet paper to be awarded at the first face to face meeting after the crisis. You’ll have to hold on till then.

Clean up of VK5RMG grounds

Tom, VK5NFT has been busy on his day off. His trusty whipper snipper has cleaned up the yard.  A poison follow up will happen soon from those with a supply of suitable poison.

The webmaster is told that no hippopotamuses or giraffes were found in the long grass, not that they would have survived Tom and his whipper snipper.

Our new VK5RMG home can be seen on the right.

Much better
Tom VK5NFT, surveying his work

Naracoorte antenna working bee

At long last the Naracoorte 2M antenna has been replaced. It was almost a year ago that we discovered that the SWR on the 2M antenna was 2:1. Almost certainly one half of the system was broken away or corrosion had affected the system.

Late in 2019 the Naracoorte Club (NARC) agreed to pay for a new commercial  antenna and this was purchased and tested at VK5BE’s shack. It worked fine and was then disassembled and prepared for installation on a length of aluminium scaffolding purchased by SERG.

Finally the big days arrived with two possible dates for the crane, 13 or 20 March 2020. Winds were high on the 13th so the crane was booked for the 20th. The crane arrived on site at 9:00AM. The cost of the crane will be paid by SERG, safety was the prime consideration.

After checking the coax was fine by placing a dummy load at the top of the coax and testing for SWR from the bottom, the working bee began in earnest. Norbert VK5MQ was in charge and worked in the basket with the rigger.

By 10:45AM the pole was in place but winds had become too high to work safely so it was decided to call it off until 3:00PM in the afternoon.

Work continued at 3:00PM. By 5:00PM work was completed.

The antenna was tested from ground level with an immeasurable return loss and the repeater was put back on air. The LimeFM FM transmitter was also put back on air. LimeFM rent some tower space from the Naracoorte Club and their two folded dipoles can be seen lower on the tower and a 3 element Yagi for their link from the Bluff.

Here are some photos of the action taken by Peter VK5BE.

Ready for the dismantle, the 4 old dipoles can be seen at top, below these the 3 element yagi for the LimeFM link and below this the 2 folded dipoles of LimeFM. The VK5RNC vertical link antenna to the Bluff can be seen to the right and half way down the tower the UHF link yagi to Wilalooka.
Old antenna off. Examination at ground level showed considerable corrosion for the 30 year old antenna
The support pole for the new antenna installed
Our two new phased dipoles in position
The finished job. Our two link yagis can be seen near the bottom of the photo. The Bluff link is vertically polarised while the Willalooka link is horizontally polarised.

Surprisingly there does not seem to be any interaction between our installation and the LimeFM 100W transmitter/receiver. A condition for the LimeFM owners use of the site is they do not cause interference to us. So far they don’t.

It’s a good outcome and signals around the area do seem to be up. Time will tell.

The Bluff now on our own power

Peter VK5BE and Col VK5DK travelled to the site today (Friday12/3/20) and switched on the 230VAC from our own meter. We now have lights and power for the repeater which is now completely out of the Gambier Electronics building. It’s nice to be independent.Thanks for arranging the power Norbert VK5MQ.

Door is master keyed the same as Mt Benson and the power box cover repaired. Thanks to Tom VK5EE we have the lock fixed on the cabinet too.

We are planning to put a chair, broom and rubbish bin in the building and we are looking at a few basic bits and pieces for repair jobs – mostly to be prepared as we often go on site and then find we don’t have a Phillips head screwdriver, a meter or a thingamejig.

Col will be returning to mow and poison the grass to make things look better in the yard, currently there could be a rhinoceros or giraffe hidden in there somewhere, not to mention the tiger snakes.

Current plan is to seek permission to put a separate gate in the perimeter fence to separate us completely from the GE building.

Working bee postponed

The working bee to install the new antenna at Naracoorte on Friday 13/3/20 has been postponed due to high winds predicted.

At this stage the crane has been booked for next Friday the 20th March. Attendance by the workers by 8:00AM with the crane arriving at 9:00AM.

Mt Eckersley repeater project

Progress Report 8/3/20

Since the inaugural meeting on 16th February at Denis VK3VET QTH, much has been achieved, and still plenty more to be done.

On the RF side of things, John VK5DJ & Brian VK5VI are progressing well with the Tait 2m Repeater and the TAIT UHF equipment for each end of the link, together with a repeater controller for Heywood, plus a new custom controller for The Bluff.

All the VHF & UHF antennas have been acquired and tested, with sufficient coaxial cable (LDF4-50), with N type connectors, lightning protection, & earthing etc. The cavity filter / diplexer has been acquired, but has yet to be tuned.

A 30ft tilt-over Southern Cross windmill tower has been donated by Ian VK3DNQ, and he is currently refurbishing it with new galvanised bolts and replacing some sections with new steel-work. Ian will arrange the shipping of the tower to the Mount Eckersley site.

Norbert VK5MQ has offered to assist with the design & installation of the Solar panel system, together with the controller & battery.

Following our request to the WIA for frequencies for the 2m repeater & the 70cm UHF link, we have received a response back from the WIA, seeking our preference for a call-sign, to add to the request for the frequencies. We have responded requesting VK3RSW as our preferred call-sign

Progress regarding the hut is still stalled. As the preference is to build a brick or masonry block structure on a concrete slab, we have not yet received a final answer on whether a Shire Council permit is required. If a permit is not needed for a structure less than 10 square metres of floor area, then we can proceed quite quickly, BUT, if a permit is required, then it may take some time before construction commences. The hut size will be determined partly by the roof area needed to mount the three solar panels, although advice from Norbert is that some overhang is permissible.

Phill VK3FDAA has offered to lay the concrete slab, and Andrew VK3LTL has generously offered some bricks to build the hut. We are still searching for a brick-layer prepared to construct the hut. I have been trying to contact Brad Koenig, a bricklayer in Heywood, but he is not answering my calls.

Similarly, if the tower requires a Shire Council permit, then it too will stall things until we receive council approval.

Gus McLean, the property owner at Mount Eckersley, has agreed to assist with the laying of the slab, and construction of the hut by providing a concrete mixer and a water cart. He also will erect a fence around our facility, that will include a gate donated by Ron VK5AKJ. Gus also has offered to assist with the standing up of the tower using his big 4WD tractor.

Thanks to Paul VK3HJV, the Portland & South West Radio Group facebook group has been created, and is working very well. As it is a closed group it is restricted to people contributing to the project. If that describes you then simply request to join to allow you to read or comment on the project.

Finally, at the SERG General Meeting held on February 21st, the SERG members present voted unanimously, to allow for up to $3000 expenditure of SERG funds for the project.


Peter VK5BE

SERG President

VK5RMG moved

VK5RMG has a new home. It’s only moved 5 metres from the Gambier Electronics hut to the neighbouring ATCO hut abandoned by the previous owners and now made available again courtesy of Gambier Electronics. We are very fortunate to gain their continuing support.

The move was made 1 March 2020. Some of the antenna arrangements will change over the next weeks as we have to move from one tower to another but this will give us the chance to refresh the coax on the 2M antenna which is showing signs of water ingress.

A big thank you to Leon (Lion’s friend of John) for the provision of a teacher’s desk (not visible in the photo), to Norbert VK5MQ for the Antenna Coax redirection and temporary power connection and to Peter VK5BE for his help with the moving and cleaning.

The move seemed to go without a major hitch. The permanent power connection is being arranged by Nobert – a matter of getting a provider as there is already a meter etc to the building.

The desk with its 4 drawers will be handy for storage and the surface for placing test gear and any soldering if required.

John VK5DJ
Repeater coordinator

BLUFF repeater to be relocated elsewhere on the Bluff

Due to a request from the owners of the site we will be moving from the brick building to the ATCO hut next door. We appreciate the continuing support of Gambier Electronics.

This has necessitated us arranging to put power onto the ‘new’ hut. This was approved at the meeting on 21/2/20. We don’t know how long this will take as the power was disconnected several months ago.

Because the antennas will temporarily remain as they are we will need to make adjustments to their cables – their entry is currently on the east of the brick building and they will need to come in on the south of the ATCO hut. Secondly the VK5RMG VHF antenna may have to be moved sometime soon, so we may have to put a temporary antenna on the old tower. It is possible that range will be initially compromised and it is possible that the repeater may be off air for a week or two awaiting power and working bees.

Working bee to move VK5RMG will be held this Sunday at 1:30PM. We hope it will be back on by 5:30PM. Antennas will remain in their current position for the moment. Hopefully you won’t tell the difference.

A big thank you to Leon (a Lions friend of John’s) for the donation of a teacher’s desk as a workbench in the ATCO hut.

Check this website for updates.