Receiving Weather Satellite Images

Sean VK7FAZE has recently been experimenting with NOAA APT weather Satellite reception and shares his experiences with us in this article

False-colour image taken from NOAA-18 showing east coast of Australia

False-colour image taken from NOAA-18 showing east coast of Australia

There is not much more fascinating than getting pictures from space.  And with a but of smarts and some cheap bits and pieces it’s possible to do this quite easily.

One of the display pieces at REAST’s stand at this years Festival of Bright Ideas was a display showing how to receive weather satellite photos using some fairly easily obtainable bits and pieces – a computer with a ‘USB TV Dongle’ as the now classic Software Defined Radio, a simple but impressive looking Quadrafilar Helical Antenna, and software freely downloadable from the Internet.

The antenna is built out of PVC electrical conduit and a few fittings, some 75mm PVC storm drain, and some old co-ax cable left over from an old TV installation.  Some cutting and drilling, PVC glue and a couple of lazy hours on a Saturday afternoon and its done.

The software was a current version of Ubuntu Linux and the latest copy of GQRX fresh from the authors repository, with a little gentle post-processing using WxToImg to produce the ‘false colour’ images.  I used the ‘gpredict’ program to track and display the various satellites passing overhead and on the day it went down quite well.

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REAST and TMR Secure Long Term Lease for Wireless Station

REAST Secretary Scott VK7LXX signs sublease with Barry McCann of TMR

REAST Secretary Scott VK7LXX signs sublease with Barry McCann of TMR

Earlier this week members of the REAST Management Committee met with a representative from Tasmanian Maritime radio to sign a long term lease, securing access to the building for ten years, with an additional ten year option.

The signing of the lease ensures that members will be able to enjoy the clubrooms that have been the home of the WIA Tasmanian Division and then REAST for over 25 years.

Particular thanks goes to Barry McCann who has been instrumental in negotiating and securing the lease with the Hobart City Council and ensuring that the interests of REAST members were maintained.

Remote Control Aircraft Presentation Fills Clubrooms for June Presentation Night

Ron Cullen presents on RC Aircraft Controls

Ron Cullen presents on RC Aircraft Controls

Wow standing room only for our REAST member Ron Cullen’s presentation on some very impressive radio control kit.

Ron started with some history of his Radio Control (RC) journey starting in 1979 when he was in the Air Force and they had an Aero modelling club and even showed and RC controller from that era.

Ron was posted all over Australia and he took his RC planes with him. Zoom to 1998 and Ron left the Air Force and shelved his interest in RC. A couple of years ago he started to get back into it. The night Walrus was his first purchase and some VR google was he first foray back into RC. This included some interesting innovations including a Visual Approach Slope Indicator for his RC planes and this mirrors the use of this technology at commercial runways.

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The Dish Mount and Controller Forum had us Spinning!

Richard VK7ZBX's impressive 1.8m mobile dish.

Richard VK7ZBX’s impressive 1.8m mobile dish.

We had a great roll up to our forum with many people coming along with show and tell.

Notable there was a large 1.8m AZ/EL dish that was trailer mounted that Richard VK7ZBX brought along – more on that later.

The night was all about sharing people’s experiences. We started with Rex VK7MO who took us on a picture journey of his adventures in dish mounts starting with 1296 and working through each iteration of the mounts and heading into the 10 & 24GHz telescope mounts with milling machine table used for accurate azimuth adjustment. Rex’s show and tell included the azimuth and elevation measuring devices. Thanks Rex.

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Clubrooms Closed Wednesday 15th March

Dear Members,

We have just been advised that due to planned hazard reduction burn being conducted by the Hobart City Council & Tasmania Fire Service, access will be restricted to the upper domain on Wednesday & Thursday, dependant on weather.

In the interests of general safety and member comfort we wish to advise that the REAST clubrooms will be closed on Wednesday 15th March.

We apologise for the short notice and inconvenience this may cause.

Regards
Ben Short
REAST President

Everybody Loves Wednesday Nights @ The Club Rooms!

Don’t think that because the Amateur TV experimenters group is having a break while waiting for a new studio to become available that things on a Wednesday night have slowed down. This past Wednesday saw a cracking display of activity at the club rooms.

Every Wednesday evening the REAST clubrooms are open for members to attend, being up their projects to work on, or just sit down and have a bit of chat about the week with friends.

Tom VK7NTK was busy tuning an analogue filter to boost frequencies in the 1000Hz – 1500Hz range. It is hoped that this board will help improve the attenuation issues being seen with the raspberry pi based IRLP node that is a whole tale in itself!

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REAST AGM and 2017 Committee

Last Sunday REAST held it’s AGM. A modest number of members attended and reports from President, Secretary and Treasurer followed by reports from Ex-Officio officers. Members heard that the Association is currently started a path of change with an increase in activities and further changes will occur this year as a result of the changing lease arrangements and introduction of NBN at the clubrooms. The financials for the Association were in good shape, with a loss for the year attributed to the purchase of new assets.

A committee was elected, with the only change from last year being Scott VK7LXX appointed as secretary as Sean VK7FAZE has stepped down for the year to focus on other projects. Congratulations to all members of the incoming committee. The REAST Committee for 2017 is:

President:            Ben Short VK7BEN
Vice-President:       Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW
Secretary:            Scott Bragg VK7LXX
Treasurer:            Alan Jeffrey VK7KAJ
Committee Members:    Larry Hower VK7WLH
                      Barry McCann 

Draft Minutes for the AGM & reports will be placed on the members only section of the website shortly.

From Maxwell to Marconi – A History of Electrical Radio

February Presentation by Mike VK7MJ

February Presentation by Mike VK7MJ

Last week REAST held it’s first major presentation for the year with Mike Groth VK7MJ taking the audience through a history of radio from Maxwell up until the time of Marconi, where signals were largely generated in the form of electrical spark and modulation of the spark. This was the time of spark gap transmitters and who knew it would be so interesting!

Mike presentation took us through how a spark transmitter was tuned, how a coherer, magnetic, electrolytic and crystal detectors worked, and the role wireless played in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. We learnt about the early attempts at wireless telephony, the development of the HF alternator and the infamous Pousen Arc converter, and Fessenden’s pioneering Christmas broadcast of 1905.

For those who missed the presentation, we will soon have it up on our Youtube Channel, so watch out for that!

NBN to Improve Member Services

Contractors installing conduit

For those visiting the REAST Clubrooms in the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed that there have  been some rather significant trenches being dug outside and down the hill. This has been to install the conduit for the National Broadband Network (NBN) Fibre.

There have been quite a few difficulties in being able to install the NBN to the REAST clubrooms given the location on top of the Queens Domain – The eventual solution has been an aerial installation of the fibre along  powerlines that come near to the clubrooms before completing the distance with underground conduit – no small feat considering that after about 2 feet you hit solid dolomite rock!

The NBN will allow us to provide many new and exciting services to members via the internet, mainly through the much improved network speeds that will enable the ability to use many of the online streaming services to provide live streams. The REAST Committee also have a few other tricks up their sleeve so be sure to watch this space!

 

LCA2017 Open Radio Mini Conference

LCA Casino by @taniawalker

Last Monday members of REAST were proud to be able to take part in and present at the Linux Conference Australia 2017 as part of the Open Radio Mini Conference at Wrest Point Convention Centre.

Linux Conference Australia is a weeklong event, with a number of 1 day mini conferences held over the first days of the event followed by 3 days of main event and selected presentations.

There were a number of fantastic talks at the event on Satellites, Getting into Amateur Radio, HPSDR, 10GHZ EME, Hamlib along with a panel discussion. One of the fantastic things about LCA was that all the sessions have been recorded and placed on Youtube, with the links below:

 

All Sessions were well attended with anywhere between 30 and 50+ people sitting in the room listening to the presentations

Also at the conference was Steve Conklin AI4QR who presented as part of the main conference on the Phase 4 Geosynchronous Satellite Efforts in progress with AMSAT. This was a fascinating presentation and can be found by following this link.

Special thanks to Scott VK7LXX who was the organiser of the successful mini conference. Scott was also one of the core conference volunteers being responsible for mini conference liaison and maintaining the Linux.conf.au Website. Well done Scott!