What Do I need to get on the air? The first thing you need is a license. Without a license, you cannot use the Amateur Bands.
The Foundation License:
This is the entry level license, which is fairly easy to obtain, and doesn't break the bank. You are restricted to 10 Watts Transmitting Power and certain bands, but it is capable of getting you on the air and talking to amateur radio enthusiasts all around the world.
The Wireless institute of Australia (WIA) has great information about the Foundaition Class license and how to obtain it. Click here to read all about it.
Our Club Members are happy to discuss your needs and help in any way possible. To get into contact, please Contact Us or visit the Committee page for more contact details.
Transceiver A transceiver is a combination of a transmitter and a receiver. They come in a variety of shapes, styles, and capabilities. There are walkytalky looking things called HT's, or portables, which run off of batteries and have limited range. Mobile transceivers can be operated from your home or from your vehicle. They do require a 12 volt power source.
Base stations are designed for your home. You can spend a LOT of money on a high powered base station, but the reach is also much further then the smaller units. There are a LOT of used radios for sale in this world. The advice I received is most used radios cost as much as a new radio, and are being sold for a reason.
I suggest you buy your first transceiver new from a reputable place and your learning curve will be somewhat shorter. Another piece of advice I received is to buy your first transceiver from one of the big three manufacturers in the marketplace: Icom, Kenwood, or Yaesu.
Antenna I recommend when you buy your transceiver you buy your antenna from the same place. Buy the cable that connects the two at the same time. HT's come with a small antenna. A decent mobile antenna can be purchased for under $50 bucks. The sky is the limit on home base antennas, although many make their own high powered antennas for under $50 dollars. You can, for example, build a squid pole vertical antenna yourself. Download the instructions here.
The antenna needs to match the radio you are using, which needs to match the frequencies you are trying to receive and transmit on. Again, http://www.eham.net/reviews/ reviews antennas if you don't trust your sales person.
The Club's Gear
The Mt Kiangarow Site Situated at 1,145m above sea level, this is the highest point of the Bunya Mountains. Back in the 1990's, there was no tower or communications infrastructure at this site. Park Rangers at the Bunya Mountains relied solely on simplex communications (direct radio to radio). With all the hills, hollows and points up there, radio dropouts were a normal part of every day. When fires were ravaging through the Bunya Mountains National Park, maintaining contact between Park Rangers and their associates was critical as they fought these fires, but their existing radio system was not up to the task. Upon hearing about their communication troubles in these tough times, the Club offered to set up a "temporary" repeater on the highest peak of the Bunya Mountains, Mt Kiangarow. Compatible radios were given to the Rangers and their associates.
This greatly improved their communication abilities throughout the entire National Park. This was noticed by the Park Rangers and their associates, and upon careful consideration, it was decided to make this a permanent addition to their infrastructure.
With the help of the Club and the Park Rangers, a hut was built, a tower was assembled and a fence was put up. The Club members hard work paid off, as an agreement was signed which allowed our Club to use this new site for a set of Amateur Repeaters. Our Club is forever grateful for being granted the use of this site. The site is owned and controlled by the National Parks division of the Queensland Government. Some members of our Club visit the site every couple of months to rid the site of tall weeds, clean the solar panels and give everything a check over.
There was no mains power at the site back then, and there still isn't today. During the initial setting up of the site and with the permission of the Park Rangers,some of our Club's members used modified ride-on mowers and small garden trailers to take our equipment up to the site via the walking track. This was much easier then taking it all up by hand.
We utilise 6 x 170W Mono Crystalline Solar Panels, 2 x 6V 330aH AGM Batteries (wired in series) and a TriStar 60A MPPT solar Controller. This setup keeps our 2 Repeaters running smoothly. I guess you could call the site "off grid". It's also a 1.1km walk uphill to the site, which is a reminder for us to keep fit and healthy nowadays...