Update:

16 September:  MARC held it's AGM, which was well attended.  It was followed by a braai, with the usual additional Lynwood club potato bake, salads etc.
The same committee was elected again with an addition of enthusiastic Bryan Peek, ZS5WTF.

Here are the cup awards:
Cindy Cup: Marjoke ZS5V (always on air when needed, with great organisational skills)
Bennet Cup: Andy ZS5CEY (great help with DMR).
Robin:  Bryan ZS5WTF (proved that RAE self study is possible)
Chairman cup: Shaun ZR5S (repeater technical skills)

15 September:  Craig Smith, ZS5AV, was brutally murdered on his farm in Mid-Illovo.  RIP.

14 September:  ZS5KDK met up with Eskom at Estcourt and restored the 145.700 repeater power

15 June:  Bob, ZS5CU, was awarded honorary life membership last year in September, but we have been unable to hand over the certificate to date.  ZS5KDK and ZS5DDM met him at his house today and handed him his certificate. 

Above is our chairman handing over the certificate. Well done Bob!  This honour is well deserved!

4 June:  Today was Comrades, an up-run this year.  The linked repeaters worked well.  Unfortunately the Hilton repeater was still down, so the Pmb JOC needed to use the World's View repeater with the lower audio level.  It was a busy day for all radio operators, who helped today, especially our MARC members, who manned many of the last busy tables.

 

 

2 June:  The Hilton 145.6625 repeater went off line at 21h38 due to a power issue at Hilton SAPS.

31 May:  The linked repeaters are working well.  At times the audio breaks up a bit on the 145.625 repeater due to the cell internet link, but generally everything is working well.  The audio levels of the Hilton and World's View repeater still need to be adjusted, especially the World's View repeater, which has a low audio,

14 April: ZS5BG removed the repeater for setting changes in the previous week, and reinstalled the repeater again.  The repeaters are linked through again.

Unfortunately, Power was lost at the Estcourt repeater again, shortly after the link was restored about a week ago.  Eskom has been informed, and said that they will restore the circuit breaker next time they are in the building at the repeater site.

1 April:  All ZU licenses are now null and void for holders who are 25 years or older.  This is an ICASA ruling.  Also, all unpaid licenses from 1 April are also cancelled, according to ICASA.

25 March:  At the HARC meeting this week, their members voted to disconnect our loaned MARC repeater from the network for a limited time.  Listening to them on air, a few reasons for this was heard, which include that some don't want to listen to MARC's conversations, don't like the fact that hams world wide can connect to the network via Echolink, and also to improve the voice quality. 
Unfortunately we did have an incident were 2 hams from the States connected via Echolink and proceeded to chat to each other.  They sounded inebriated and did not use good operating procedures, like not using call signs on their overs.  This did not create a good first impression of the linked network, even though there are mechanisms in place to disconnect unwanted visitors.
There was also packet loss at times, which obviously can happen when repeaters are linked via the internet.  But the main reason for the "poor" audio was the narrow deviation of the repeater.  Some could not connect with good signals to the repeater as before with their old radios.
The repeater was disconnected from the network on 23 March and is once again operating in stand-alone mode.  It was also set to wide deviation, which results in much improved audio, similar to the old Storno repeater, when it was still working well. 
Unfortunately, many are attributing this improved audio to the fact that the repeater is now disconnected from the network, and not because of the wide setting on the repeater. 
We will have to wait and see what their decision will be at the end of this trial period while their repeater is operating in stand-alone mode, and evaluate our options afterwards.  Members from MARC would love the repeater to be reconnected again in the future as they enjoy chats there with their friends in Durban, and to be able to listen in to their great evening nets.

19 March:  MARC loaned HARC a vhf repeater with an Allstar module.  It was installed recently, and was connected to the internet last week, enabling MARC members to participate and chat to the Durban guys as our repeaters are now linked to the loaned MARC repeater on 145.625MHz. 

At yesterday's meeting it was decided to do away with our Sunday morning bulletins, and join in to the HARC morning bulletin instead at 07h45 on Sunday mornings.
We also inspected the room offered by Lynwood Club for storage of our bits and bobs.

It was great being to join the HARC Sunday bulletin this morning, and also great to be able to chat to the HARC members using our own repeaters.  Some fine tuning of the audio settings will still need to be done, and the HARC members will need to get used to the "tinny" sound associated to the narrow deviation or 12.5kHz, which should be used on all repeaters according to legislation.

21 January:
Andy Coetzee, ZS5CEY and Ronald Verweerdt, ZS6RVC, joined us today to reprogram our DMR repeater and radios.  During the meeting, Andy presented us with an update on Brandmeister, the platform we are using now.  It was a most interesting talk.  It was followed by delicious lunch, supplied by the Lynwood Club kitchen.

The new fee structure for Amateur Radio licences has been announced, by ICASA. The fees for 2017 will come into effect from the 1st April and are as follows:

. 1 year licence R134.00
. 2 year licence R256.00
. 3 year licence R367.00
. 4 year licence R468.00
. 5 year licence R559.00

If paying for a multiple year licence, you have to inform ICASA in writing.

Warning:  ICASA also warned that if licences are not paid by 31 March, your licence will lapse, and you will have to reapply for your licence, even if you pay only 1 day late!


3 December: We had a very nice year end function at Lynfield Sports Club, with sunny weather. 
From our chairman: "Just a big thanks to everybody that spend some time with us at our year end braai.  Also a big thanks again to Sasha for her arrangements Marjoke if you talk to her. Hope everyone had a great time. 73."

19 October:  From our Chairman, Koos ZS5KDK:
"Our Jamboree on the air Station at 1st Howick Scouts operated by ZR5ZS, ZS5V and myself ZS5KDK. Then there were also Marthin ZS5MJ and Jesse ZU5JDJ from 1st Howick Scouts. The group operated on HF, 2meters and Echolink. On HF there was a lot off qrm till about 11 o' clock but from there the band was open till about 3 o'clock. During this time the Scouts had a great time on HF. Contact was made withZS2HC, ZS6SSG, ZS6BYT, ZS4MJB, ZS3WL, ZU6RAP and C91MS. All Scouts had a change to talk on the radio. Then there was the contact on Echolink where ZS5V had her hands full with the Scouts. Hein ZS4EK (VE5TEN) from Canada kept them busy and when one had the mike it was a battle to hand it over to the next one. The reason for this was that the audio was clear and they were very comfortable to speak to him. A lot of questions were asked and also a lot off answers were given during this time.
We had no success‎ during the night with contacts.
Form this I think this was a great success. A big thanks to Willem ZR5ZS, Marjoke ZS5V for all your help and time and then thanks to Marthin for his help. I think that next year will even be better‎. Greetings from all off us."

More Pictures

08 October:  The committee held a meeting and allocated the following portfolios:
Chairman Koos ZS5KDK
Vice Chairman Mike ZS5ML
Secretary /Treasurer Mike 5BGV
Marc Coordinator Marjoke ZS5V
New Members DES ZS5DDM
Web Site & Hamnet Coordinator Mike ZS5ML
Training Shaun ZS5S
Technical and Repeater Maintenance Shaun ZR5S
Digital Stanley ZS5SEM
PRO and Events Willem ZR5ZS.

17 September:  The AGM was held.  The same committee was retained, with the addition of Willem ZR5ZS.  The portfolios will be determined at the next committee meeting.
Bob ZS5CU was awarded life membership.  Unfortunately he was not there to accept his certificate due to cold and wet weather.
A very sociable braai was enjoyed afterwards, in spite of the rain.  The excellent venue's verandah with roof ensured that this was possible.
It was also decided to have meetings bi-monthly from now on.

10 September:  ZS5MAB organised a station at the Air Scout weekend, based at the Wartburg Kirchdorf High School.  There is a lot of interest from the scouts.   From the left, Des, ZS5DDM, ZS5MAB (that's Mike, who organised the radio side of the event), Richard ZS5RB, Charlie, ZS5DU, and one other)

1 September: The cross-band repeater for 145.625 has been powered down to test whether it was responsible for interference on the Highway 145.625 repeater.

7 June: The Estcourt repeater lost power again at 06h40 :(

5 June: The Estcourt repeater lost power on 23 May.  ZR5S sent Eskom a message about this a few days ago, and the repeater is up and running again as of 03h22 this morning :)

29 May:  Some of our club members helped Hamnet with radio communications for the Comrades marathon.  It was a down run, so it was an early morning for those who manned the stations in the beginning of the race, like Willem, ZR5ZS, who was JOC in Pietermaritzburg. 
There were no major incidences, but the operators further done the race were kept busy, as is the norm.

21 May:  Our monthly meeting was well attended.  Koos handed out the Comrades paraphernalia (stickers, shirts etc) for the next weeks event.  Charlie ZS5DU then showed showed us his antenna setup for us in apartments and in the field.  It was interesting to see how he made his coils and fittings, and the presentation was most appreciated!

4 May:  ZR5S reprogrammed the World's View RTCM and reinstalled it.  The 750 World's View repeater is connected once again.  Thanks Shaun!  The audio levels still need to be finetuned.

24 April:  Hamnet still requires radio marshal volunteers for the Comrades Marathon on 29 May.  If you can help, please contact one of our Hamnet or committee members.

31 March:  Your ICASA licence is due today.  Chances are that you have not received your renewal licences from ICASA - they seem to be late again in sending these out this year.  This should not present a problem though as all you need is your licence number to use as reference when making your payment via eft to the ICASA account.  Alternatively, you can pay your licence at the Post Office.  The code for ICASA is 0026.  The licence cost is R126.  If you want to save and pay R525 for a 5 year license instead, send an email to dkuhrau@icasa.org.za to request a conversion from a 1 to 5 year license. 
The ICASA bank account is Nedbank, branch code = 146245, account number = 1462002927

20 March:  ZS5KDK sorted the Estcourt Repeater.  The link was restored on Friday, which means that the repeater is up and running, and linked.  Have not heard Tony from Estcourt yet...
Thanks Koos for sorting this!

3 March:  Replacement RTCM and APRS Digipeaters have been ordered and paid for.  Hopefully they will not take too long to ship, so that the World's View repeater can get back on air.

26 February:  A few of our members helped with the Maritzburg Marathon, which was concluded without a major hitch. Here is a pic from the vehicle of ZS5GEL and ZS5ML showing the lead vehicle with the lead runner on the second round at table 4:

23 February:  Koos, ZS5KDK, went to Groenekloof to cut the long grass.  Here are the before and after pictures - it looks much better now, thanks Koos!



It was also discovered that someone tried to break into the shack.  Luckily they were unsuccessful.

20 Feb 2016:  We held our first meeting at Lynfield Sports Club.  Various issues were discussed in the committee meeting, like replacing the ageing fence at Groenekloof.  The general meeting was not well attended (one extra member joined the present committee members) and the meeting adjourned not long afterwards.

20 December:  The SARL Diary of Events for 2016 can be downloaded here.

5 December:  The club held it's year-end function at Lynwood Sports Club.  In spite of many apologies, about 30 of us attended with family members.  A good time was had by all, and the catered braai was as good as always!.

29 November:  Lightning strike at 16h42 at World's View damaged the RTCM on the 145.750MHz repeater.  ZR5S and ZS5ML went up on Monday morning, and found that there was a lot of other damage as well to the others on the tower.  It looks like the damage came through the electrical supply, rather than from a strike on the tower.  It will take a few weeks to get a new RTCM unit, as they need to be imported.  The 750 will be down until then.

6 November:  The new committee has decided to keep the portfolios the same as last year, with the exception of Louis Friedemann, who became silent key last month:

Chairman, Technical Shaun Rudling ZR5S
Vice-Chairman, Technical, Website Mike Lauterbach ZS5ML
Secretary, Treasurer, Asset Treasurer Mike Boast ZS5BGV
Clubhouse Des Mullen ZS5DDM
Digital Stanley Marx ZR5SEM
Events Marjoke Schuitemaker ZS5V
Training, Events Shaun Fisher ZS5S
Asset Manager, Hamnet & Disaster Management Koos de Kok ZS5KDK

September:  The DMR radios eventually arrived and some portables have already been distributed to club members.

19 September:  The AGM was well attended.  The same committee was elected.  The committee portfolios will be elected at the next committee meeting.  A braai followed the AGM - very nice facilities!

8 August: Shaun moved the DMR repeater to Groenekloof for testing.  The city centre is shielded from the Windy Hill tower, and the uhf signals were not good there.  First impressions are that signals in Pmb are now stronger from Groenekloof.  More testing is required.

17 July:  DMR communications have been disappointing, as we battled to trigger the repeater.  We hoped that this was due to a faulty antenna.  Also, the routing problem was still there as we could not be heard on the Durban DMR.  We (ZR5S and ZS5ML) went to the repeater this afternoon armed with connectors and another second hand antenna. 
We found that the tx connector was faulty - badly corroded, and it looked like the cable on the outside had a nick in it.  We cut back the braiding until it was acceptable - still some corrosion but not too bad.  The cable will need to be replaced sometime in the future. 
After the new connector was fitted, the swr was good once more - about 1.5:1 on uhf and 1.1:1 on vhf.  Shaun also reprogrammed the repeater to change the time out timer (TOT) from 1 minute to 3 minutes, and change the tx power from 10W to 25W.
It certainly is working much better now.  I can trigger it from my yard using 4W.  It's not line of site.

10 July:  Our chariman, ZR5S writes:  At short notice, I decided to go up to the Windy Hill high site to install our new Pietermaritzburg MotoTRBO DMR repeater. I was lucky to have ZS5ML Mike to join me.  We had it fired up within an hour. On the trip back to Pietermaritzburg, I tried many times to work someone but was unsuccessful. Later that evening it started working and I spoke to ZS6MSW and ZS5GR with crystal clear audio for over an hour using just 1W on a portable from Blackridge (25Km).

Today, I spoke to various hams around the world and to Div6, but the Durban DMR repeater does not repeat my transmissions. So I cannot quiet say that all is well, but these teething problems should be sorted out in due course. It is just an internet networking routing issue.

Now that we have a DMR repeater, I need to get an order together for some DMR portables for our members to try out this new mode. But the choice of radios is overwhelming. Big brand names like Motorla, Hytera come with a price tag to make one shudder. Chinese portables are out in the dozen at good prices, but lack product support. Some have GPS, full text keypad, large colour screens, while others look rather boring with only a PTT button and speaker and are more suitable to your average shop security guard.

Will our efforts suitably impress our members... I think so. DMR has firmly seated itself in the corporate sector and hams will manipulate it to suit our needs. DMR_MARC is a fast growing network.  What will become of D-Star? I am sure it will run in parallel with DMR and be just as popular. There are a lot of Icom radios out there that are D-Star ready.

Either way, digital voice is the winner, and is here to stay. FM repeaters will diminish like the first analogue cellphones did. Who remembers SPACE TV, our first satelite TV service. The picture went grainy when overcast because it was analogue. Digital DSTV packs in so many more channels with less drop-out.

Note in the picture, Mr HAM guy, ZS5ML plugging away at his laptop getting the network configured. An image of the modern HAM.

On a side note, I think Kenwood's NEXEDGE and Yaesu's SYSTEM FUSION are two digital voice modes that will not take a foothold. A bold attempt to stay with the leaders, but too little too late. They should rather sell a radio that will be compatible with DMR. It is after all, an open protocol for anyone to use.

5 July: ZR5S, ZS5RT, ZS5S, ZR5BR, ZS5SK and ZS5ML travelled up to our Richmond repeater to separate the antennas, hoping to eliminate the RF feedback problem at this repeater.  Shaun (ZR5S) and Terry climbed the tower and raised the top antenna to the top, after the "ground crew" fitted a new longer cable with new connectors to the top antenna.  We also changed the connector on the lower tx antenna.

It looked like the problem was solved and it looks like we were receiving the repeater signal better on the way back to Pmb.  Later, however, the interference returned.  The next plan of action will be to tighten the squelch settings.


Shaun and Terry on the tower                                              Finished - box is being closed

20 June:  We had a very interesting meeting at Lynwood Sports Club, where Pravin, ZS5LT presented an interesting talk about his balloon launching.  He was accompanied by Chris, ZS5CGW.

2015/6 membership fees will be due by the end of July - our year end is 30 June.  Here are the subscriptions for the next financial year:

Pensioner
Pensioners can deduct 33.3% from the relevant subs below

Subscription

Full Member
A person holding an Amateur Radio licence issued by ICASA (licensed person)

R160

Family Member
Licensed spouse of a Full Member

R100

Student
Fulltime student or scholar under 23 years old

R60

Disabled Member
A licensed person, suffering from a debilitating condition.

R100

Listener
Unlicensed persons who have an interest in radio and electronics

R60

Overseas Member
A PayPal account will be set up shortly for payments

$20

 

SARL Contest Manual


Members' Antenna Analyser location:  3 December, ZS5S


Quick-Links


The Amateur's Code
(originally written by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA in 1928)

1. The Amateur is always Considerate...
He never knowingly uses the air in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of other persons.

2. The Amateur is Loyal...
He offers his loyalty, encouragement and support to his fellow radio amateurs, his Club and to the South African Radio League, through which Amateur Radio is represented.

3. The Amateur is Progressive...
He keeps his station abreast of science. It is well built and efficient. His operating practice is above reproach.

4. The Amateur is Friendly...
Slow and patient sending when requested, friendly advice and counsel to the beginner, kindly assistance, co-operation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the marks of true Amateur Spirit.

5. The Amateur is Balanced...
Radio is his hobby. He never allows it to interfere with any of the duties he owes to his home, his job, his school, or his community.

6. The Amateur is Patriotic...
His knowledge and his station are always ready for the service of his country and his community.


Views expressed on this website do not necessarily echo those of MARC's members, in general


At MARC we are always looking for a new challenge, whether it's looking for new repeater sites to increase our footprint, helping new/old hams set up their hardware/software or simply finding a way to get away from work/family to spend some time with friends with the same technical interest!

On this site you will find links related to MARC and sister amateur radio clubs. Please feel free to browse around and be sure to come back for regular updates. Remember to click your "Refresh" button periodically.

This clubs members are mainly located in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands on the east coast of South Africa.


 

 

You can read some older history published here

Some of our sponsors, who make our hobby possible:
Mr Bundy Shaw, who kindly allowed us to locate our Gilboa repeater on his property, Eskom, for allowing us to locate our Estcourt repeater on one of their towers,  Jirah Tech, who allowed us to have our Richmond repeater on their tower, Wartburg Farmer's Association, for allowing us to locate our Hamnet repeater on their Windy Hill tower, Infotrunk, for making tower space available for our D-Star repeater and Durban link at Alverstone, Rural Metro, who make their premises available for our club meetings, and Edelnet, who link part of the repeater network, provide internet connectivity for D-Star, Echolink etc and sponsor this website.

 

Copyright 2015 M.A.R.C.  All rights reserved.