Older history:

31 May:  Comrades.  This year is an uprun.  Many of our members, together with Hamnet and other KZN amateurs, were stationed along the route, helping with emergency comms.

 

 

1 March: ZR5SEM and ZU5RM travelled up the mountain to Gilboa and reset the circuit breaker which had tripped during a storm on 7 February.  Thanks Stanley and Rachael!

28 February:  From our chariman:
"Today we had our first meeting at our new venue, the Lynwood Sports Club.
16/40 members turned up and were treated to a very hospitable facility, and a superb lunch of either a Hamburger and chips, or Curry and Rice.
The parking lot looked very impressive with all the mobile whip antenna's, and raised a few eyebrows from the regular club patrons.
Thank-you Sasha, for your fine catering skills, and to the Lynwood committee for making us feel welcome. We did feel at home.
We made a decision to meet every 3'rd Saturday morning 11am at this venue, with the club sponsoring the lunch at every 3'rd meeting.
Most of the discussion went around DMR and the new Kloof MotoTRBO repeater that was commissioned last weekend. We have applied to Motorola for a sponsored repeater for WindyHill. ZR5S gave a short youtube demontration of a comparison between FM analogue verse DV digital. You know where my vote went. Hi!
Here is the link in case you want to see it again..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaiohzfvM6Y
ZR5BCB sponsored a USB soldering iron, and around R90 was raised for the club. Thanks Brian.
ZR5SEM volunteered to make the trip up to Gilboa to switch the power back on.
ZR5ZS thanked the club for the Estcourt repeater, so that he could keep in touch.
ZS5LF reported that he is maintaining our two high-sites and they are looking neat and tidy.
ZS5QM volunteered to run the 6m beacon zs5six from his qth. Ben, let us know when you need help for that.
ZS5KDK reported that he got 5 of the 8 club GM660 70cm transceivers programmed, and will be loaning them to members who need 70cm capability.
ZS5V volunteered to co-ordinate the future club meetings.
ZS5CU enjoyed the curry.
ZS5LO says that D-Star and DMR give very similar performance."

19 January: Notice of MARC meeting - 28 February: 
We, the committee of MARC, would like to invite all MARC members to a general meeting at the Lynwood Sports Club at 11am on the 28'th February 2015.
We will meet in the "Sun-Lounge" which is the cozy room behind the hall.
A simple lunch (Hamburger/Chips or Pie/Gravy/Chips or Vegetarian) and cool-drink will be provided by MARC for members. Non-members can pay an optional R50 for the meal if you would like. We hope this will entice you all to attend for a bit of social camaraderie.
Lynwood Bowling Club is located next to the Linpark Highschool 3.5Km up the Sweetwaters Road, from the Botanical Gardens. Here is a map link...
If you drive past the Sunnyside Park Home, carry on a bit..... you're almost there.
For catering, please indicate if you intend to come, by return email.
Shaun Rudling, ZR5S
Chairman, MARC

18 January 2015: RAE courses will be held in Pmb, staring at 13h00 on 25 January.  Please contact Shaun Fisher, 0722496697 for further information.

13 December:  ZR5S managed to sort the echo problem on both the Estcourt and Alverstone repeaters by adjusting a setting on the new RTCM firmware.

9 December: ZR5S, Curtis and ZS5ML went to Alverstone and installed the antennas for the D-Star 145.575MHz repeater and the uhf 439.325MHz repeaters.

   

8 December: ZR5S, Curtis and ZS5ML restored the tripped power and replaced the top antenna at Gilboa in wet misty conditions.  The new antenna also has a bad swr, so we assume that the cable and/or connectors are faulty.  We will have to arrange for another work party to replace the faulty cable/connectors.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 December: Our Christmas year-end function was well attended at Lexden Scout Camp.  The company was good, as well as the food.  Thanks to Des and Gwen for organising the cooldrinks, plates etc, and to Louis for the excellent wood and charcoal for the braai.  More picture can be viewed here.

5 December: ZR5S and ZS5ML installed the new cabinet containing the D-Star repeater and UHF repeater in Alverstone.  Due to the rain, the antennas could not be mounted on the mast.  This will be done as soon as we find time on a dry day.

4 December:  The Hamnet Windy Hill repeater was uplifted for reprogramming

2 November: ZR5S, ZS5LF, ZS5AY, ZS5KDK, ZS5ZS and ZS5ML arrived at Griffin's Hill in wet and misty conditions.  The weather forecast predicted that the weather would clear at 11, but they were out by about 2 hours.  ZS5S and ZS5ML climbed the tower as soon as it was safe enough, and were sometimes obscured by the mist.  2 new LMR400 coax runs were installed, The 5GHz link radio was repositioned and aligned, a new tx X200 antenna was installed on the lower 18m level, as well as a folded dipole on this level for the APRS igate.  One of the new coax runs was connected to the existing rx X200 antenna on the upper level, 26 meters up.  All coax cables were secures with stainless steel cable ties, as required by the tower owners. 
Initial reports are that the repeater is working well.  There is however an echo when listening to conversations originating from the same repeater.  This will be sorted out in due course.

A view down from the upper 36m level, just above the lower big dish.

More pictures can be viewed here

 

 

30 October:  ZS5S called for a work party to the Eskom site on Sunday 2/11 to install new antennas, tie cables to the tower with stainless steel clips etc.  Parties to be at Griffin's Hill at 10h00.

The Gilboa repeater was unlinked from the network again as it was locking up the system periodically.  New antennas have been ordered, and the top receive antenna on Gilboa needs to be replaced.

29 October:  Estcourt Repeater is back on air after Eskom restored power to the MARC repeater enclosure.

27 October.  ZS5S is trying to book the Lexdon Scout's premises on 6 December for our year end function

26 October:  Hot off the press (15h20):  ZR5S, ZR5SEM and ZS5LF went up to Griffin's Hill and removed old RG213 of old antennas, and set up a 5HGz link back to Gilboa.  The link connected! and they chatted on the repeater network.  The electricity is tripped at the site to our MARC box and needs to be reset by Eskom.  Shaun and co powered the repeater and link temporarily via his inverter in his vehicle.  We should be able to finish the job on another day, if we get enough volunteers.  Thanks to the 3 above to get the repeater up and running via the link, even if only temporarily. 

25 October 2014:  ZR5SEM, ZS5LF and ZR5S from Pmb and ZS5ML from Wartburg went to Gilboa today to sort the link and also to attend to the interference on the UHF repeater.

First, the antennas were tested, and it was found that the top antenna was faulty.  It is still receiving but can't be used for transmitting.

To improve antenna separation, the lower antenna was lowered.


On further inspection, it was found that the CAT5 cable from the upper link to Estcourt was damaged.  It looks like the outer black sheath melted every 2 to 3cm, could be from lightning. 

This introduced rain into the cable which then entered the repeater enclosure via the link repeater board, which was not to happy with the water ingress.

All three link cables were replaced, as well as the link repeater board.  Fortunately the link radios were fine - they were all reset to default configuration and had to be reprogrammed.  ZR5S then adjusted the squelch levels on the UHF repeater.

More pictures can be found here


18 October:  Both the Hilton and World's View repeaters are down.  Hilton because of a power issue, and World's View because of a faulty power supply.

18 October:  A meeting was held at Rural Metro, where the financial report was accepted.  The committee held a meeting afterwards and the following portfolios were assigned:

ZR5S: Chairman and Technical
ZS5ML: Vice Chairman, Website and Technical
ZS5BGV: Treasurer, Secretary and Asset Treasurer
ZS5DDM: Clubhouse
ZR5SEM: Digital
ZS5V: Events
ZS5S: Training, Events
ZS5LF: Highsite Maintenance
ZS5KDK: Asset Manager, Hamnet & Disaster Management

The outgoing committee wishes the new committee all the best for the new year

20 September:  The AGM was held at Rural Metro at 11h00 and was well attended. The following committee members were voted in.
Marjoke ZS5V, Louis ZS5LF, Mike ZS5BGV, Mike ZS5ML, Shaun ZS5S, Stanley ZS5SEM, Des ZS5DDM, Koos ZS5KDK, Shaun ZR5S
The committee will meet in the near future to determine individual prtfolios

A meeting will be reconvened on 18 October at 11h00, at Rural Metro, to table a signed treasurer's report.

1 June
Membership subs for the 2014/15 year are now due.  A early bird discount of R20 applies to those who pay their subs before 31 July.
MARC's Banking details can be found on our Contacts page.  When making payments, please use your call sign as a reference.

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)

R150

Affiliate Member
A licensed person residing outside MARC’s repeater network

R100

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


1
June:  We had a very successful Comrades day.  Our members who helped had to make an early start, but this ensured that they were finished early.  Further on in the day the radio operators further down towards Durban were kept vey busy, especially with runners who needed ambulance assistance.  Thanks to all who helped today.

19 May:  It was decided to move the weekly net to Tuesday evenings at 19h30, as it clashed with HARC's Technical Net on Thursday Evenings

17 May:  We had a very successful meeting at Rural Metro, attended by 17 members, followed by a braai on teh premises.  Thanks to Des and Gwen, who organised the buns, soft drinks and made a delicious potatoe salad.

Missing from the photo are ZR5BCB, ZS5K, ZS5RT and ZS5AV



24 April:  After the successful monthly on-air sked on the previous Thursday, it was decided to hold a weekly sked on Thursdays at 19h30.  Tonight's sked was well attended and a success!

28 March: Both Groenekloof and World's View are looking good again after a garden service removed surrounding and internal vegetation growth.

23 February: Our members helped with emergency communications with the Maritzburg Marathon.  It was an early start as operators had to be in position by 03h00.  Many requests for help were made and the event was completed successfully

15 February:  Had a very nice quarterly meeting at Rural Metro at 11h00 today.  It was followed up with a tasty braai.

01 February:  There is a network problem on the internet side preventing the repeaters to be unlinked.  Until this is resolved, the repeaters will operate in stand alone mode

01 January:  We wish all our members and visitors a happy and prosperous New Year, filled with rf fun.

23 December:  ZR5S trundled up Gilboa mountain and reset the circuit breaker which had tripped on 12 December, restoring power to the repeater

22 November: IF YOU HAVE ONLY A ONE-YEAR LICENCE APPLY NOW FOR RENEWAL - ICASA has advised the SARL that persons who have a one-year amateur radio license should reapply before 31 December to renew. Regulation 9 stipulates that radio amateurs must reapply annually for a license renewal unless they opted for a multi-year license in which case they only need to reapply when their license expires. ICASA will issue invoices for renewal during January. If you are a one-year license holder you must complete the new form B . Download the form here 
Complete the form and send it by email to dkuhrau@icasa.org.za before 31 December 2013

16 November:  We had our Christmas function at Lexdon, Athlone.  It was well attended and the setting was great.  The weather played along as well.


14 November:  ZR5S writes: "50.550MHz is the frequency to monitor. Please pass this on to all South African Hams.
We, the Midlands Amateur Radio Club have just finished installing a 6m crossband repeater. This is a very unusual development for Amateur Radio in South Africa and the results are going to be interesting. Please transmit and monitor on this frequency. Signal reports or comments can be sent to admin AT marc.org.za
Details:
50.400MHz FM Simplex 88.5Hz tone required to open it's squelch
Vertically Polarized Omni Antenna in Hilton (Pietermaritzburg)
Diamond V2000 with 2.15dBi gain
Alinco DR-06 at 20Watts cross-banded to four vhf/uhf Midlands repeaters
Includes Echolink on 244279 ZS5PMB-R (connect via internet and talk to yourself??)
Any activity on our vhf/uhf repeaters will go out on 50.550
Voice time announcement every hour on the hour and half-hour
Tail with beep if you trigger the 6m repeater
Sunday 8am is our weekly club net
Sunday 9am to 10am ZS0JPL-R SwapShop
Monday 8pm Amateur Radio Newsline
The repeater controller hardware is a RTCM, the software used is AllStar (a HAM version of Asterix PABX VoIP software)"

10 November:  ZR5S and ZS5ML trekked up Gilboa to sort the power.  Luckily nothing was damaged.  The main circuit breaker outside the Vodacom power was tripped.  The circuit breaker at the MARC repeater was still up.  This is the first time that it had not tripped when the main one tripped.  We can only speculate that someone switched off the 2 main circuit breakers on Monday for maintenance work on one of the other towers, and then forgot to switch our circuit breaker back on when they were finished with their work.  (We could see that someone had opened the york box, housing the circuit breakers, after ZS5ML reset it on 02 Nov)

09 November: ZR5S reports: "I have built and commissioned a X-Band repeater up at Hilton to extend the HARC 145.625 Kloof repeater coverage into the Midlands.
The 2 Alinco transceivers are controlled by a Linux PC running the AllStar software. AllStar is a HAM modified telephone PABX soft switchboard application.
For the end user in the Midlands, you simply would transmit and receive on a frequency of 434.5625MHz (88.5 tone). You will be heard in Durban. Similarly, Durban users on the 625 repeater, will be heard in PMB on 434.5625.
Please use it and report any problems. My next project will be to use this same Durban link to automatically join the HARC weekly evening nets onto our linked repeater network. It will automatically disconnect at the end of the net."

04 November:  Gilboa lost power again at 14h52.

02 November: ZS5ML travelled up the mountain to the repeater and found that the circuit breaker had tripped inside our box, and that there was no damage, which is fantastic news. He installed a big 1kVa 1:1 isolating transformer, and this will hopefully help to absorb the spikes and surges, and prevent damage to the power supplies in future.
This is the first time that a power supply was not damaged after a storm in which we lost power. Hopefully it is not a coincidence that we removed the earth in the box during our previous visit. There is a very good earth outside our box to which we connected our earth. The thinking behind disconnecting this earth was that the damage was probably as a result of this good earth, attracting surges from the main tower and Eskom, finding a good path to earth via our box. Time will tell whether this is the case, and hopefully the 1:1 isolating transformer will help.

28 October: Gilboa went off-air late afternoon during a storm.  The link to Gilboa went down as well, but that was to be expected as it is powered by mains, and not by the battery. Then, 2 days on 30 October, the repeater could be triggered again, in stand alone mode as the link was still down. We are not sure why it decided to wake up on battery power, but we were certainly glad that it did.

05 October:  ZR5SF reinstalled the TS-590 at his qth, and it can be accessed with RemoteHams again.  Thanks for moving the rig from Groenekloof back to your qth so speedily!

04 October:  ZR5S and ZR5SF met at Groenekloof, and recovered the TS-590.  ZR4S installed a $11 USB SDR at Groenekloof which can be used to listen to the HF band.  Initial reports are that the noise levels on the SDR are much lower than on the expensive Kenwood HF rig.
A new potential site with low noise levels was identified, and it will be investigated whether this location can be used for the remote ham station sometime in the near future.

30 September:  ZRS5S and ZR5SF installed the G5RV antenna at Groenekloof, the peak suspended between the 2 towers.  The antenna was donated by Etienne, M0ZAN/ZS6ZA.  Etienne also helped remotely with advice and tests to set up the RemoteHam station at ZR5SF's qth, as well as promoting our club on QRZ etc.  Thanks Etienne, we are most grateful! But I digress.  the Station was then moved to Groenekloof, and was attached to the G5RV, and connected to the sponsored internet.
Unfortunately, it turns out that the noise levels are S8/9, and the RemoteHam station needs to be relocated.  The hunt is on for a new location.  In the mean time, the station will be moved back to the QTH of ZR5SF, as soon as volunteers can find time after work to do this.

28 September:  The committee determined the following portfolios:
ZR5SF:  Chairman and events
ZS5AZ:  Vice Chairman and paymaster
ZS5DDM: Hamnet, Disaster Management and Clubhouse
ZR5LLF: Secretary and Treasurer
ZR5S: Repeater Site and Digital Maintenance
ZR5SEM: APRS and Digital
ZS5ML: Website, technical

21 September:  The AGM was held, and it was voted to keep the committee as it is, with the exception of ZS5EL, who stepped down, and ZR5LLF, who officially became a committee member after being co-opted into the committee in mid 2013.

The Gilboa digipeater is working well.  ZR6LJK was tracked going down van Reenen's Pass, on his way to Sani Pass

20 September:  ZR5S writes:
ZS5ML and myself braved the 80kmph wind up at Gilboa to do some repair work today.
439.225 repeater re-installed. 88.5 ctcss activated. Link to Richmond/WorldsView and Hilton activated.
APRS i-gate installed, zs0pmb-2
Replaced dead battery with a new Lead-Acid type.
Replaced faulty 350W power supply.
Replaced faulty 5GHz links x3.
Removed earth-wire to prevent further grid-surge problems.
Note! Greytown 775 repeater can hear us, but we cannot hear them. Upgrade needed at GYT because link radio does not have 88.5ctcss tone.
439.225 performance reports welcome. Please try this repeater when travelling North Coast, or up to Dundee, Ladysmith etc.

 

15 September: Shaun, ZR5S reports:
This Sunday morning, zs5ml and myself went up to the Richmond 145.7875 repeater site to do some maintenance.
We replaced the faulty batteries, (swollen casing)
We replaced the faulty power supply, (it overcharged the batteries with 16v)
Repeater audio level adjusted. (incoming audio was too low)
Installed an APRS i-gate/digi.
Added a network hub.
The new digi after just one day is showing much improved coverage not only around Richmond, but is also bringing in stations from Margate and Underberg.
http://aprs.fi/#!v=heard&call=a%2FZS0PMB-5&timerange=3600&tail=3600
On the way down the hill, I stopped at Malcome's "Atom Museum" as he was having an open day. Many people pitched up for a day of perplexed engine gazing. Malcolm and company had started up many of the old engines. They even blew up an Anvil about 20m into the air with a loud band, twice. (It's a country thang)
Hams where well represented on the day by,
zs5ml
zr5sem
zu5rm
zs5el
zs5rt
zs5geb

There is still one more task for this Richmond site, and that is to increase the vertical separation distance on the tower between the TX and RX antenna's. They are currently too close. Especially important because we do not have VHF cavity filters for this site.
Below are 2 pictures, one showing the old bloated batteries, and the other the new folded dipole for APRS, just to the right of ZR5S on the tower.

14 September:  The RTA in Durban was a success, and a handful of our MARC members attended.  There were were some very interesting topics, which included the cube sat update, effect of antenna height on propogation, Operating your rigs remotely, the Mitra signal chain, the SDR kit explanation and the new 5MHz band.  And as usual, it was nice meeting both old and new faces.

10 August:  ZR5SF installed the new hf club radio, which can be accessed by RemoteHam by the MARC members.  It has a temporary home at his shack for the time being, while antennas are being built for it.

20 July:  It was decided at today's club meeting that all paid up club members, as well as any new members, will receive a black golf or tee shirt, complete with MARC emblem and the member's name and call sign.  Those who prefer cotton shirts will pay the difference in price.  More updates about this will follow

20 July: MARC held t's monthly club meeting at Rural Metro at 11h00.  It was followed by a braai (meat and drinks were supplied by the club), and a swopshop.  It was a most enjoyable outing and was well attended

13 July:  Repeater update:
World's View: 145.750 - fully functional and linked
Hilton:  145.6625 - fully functional and linked
Greytown: 145.775 - fully functional, not linked. 
Hamnet Windy Hill: 145.700 - fully functional, not linked
Gilboa: 439.225 - repeater is down, waiting to be repaired
Estcourt: 145.700 - repeater not functioning.  PS might be faulty, and link to Gilboa is down.
Richmond: 145.7875 - down.  Needs new power supply and batteries

12 July:  The membership subs for the next year (2013/4) have been determined, and will remain unchanged again.  An early bird discount of R20 applies if they are paid by 31 July 2013.  The fees are:

Pensioner

R100

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

R150

Affiliate Member
A licensed person residing outside MARC’s repeater network

R100

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

18 June:  Terry ZS5RT went up to the Richmond (Burn Valley) repeater and reported back that the power supply voltage was too high and that the batteries were "bulged".  This means that we will have to go up to the site with new batteries and power supply.  A date has not been finalised yet.

15 May:  MARC had it's first on-air monthly meeting.  It went very well, and promises to get even better in future.  It was decided to try and have 4 yearly meetings at our club house (or an other chosen venue), combined with other events, like a swop shop and braai, and fill in the other months with on-air meetings, on the third Wednesday of the month, at 19h30.

14 May 2013:  ZR5S installed a new I-Gate (ZS5PMB-6) on the Noodsberg range ("Montebello") for testing.  So far it is operating better than expected, with good coverage along the coast north of Durban, as well as coverage into central and northern Durban.  It is hearing beacons from Underberg, ZS0NUD, 152km away and Paddock, ZS0PDK, 157km away.

 


25 April 2013: The security gate at World's View has eventually been repaired, thanks to ZR5S who organised it.  The hinges broke soon after installation in September 2012 (the galvanizing had not been scraped from the hinges), and we battled to get the original installer to come up and repair it.

15 January 2013: Last year the SARL alerted radio amateurs that in terms of the Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations radio amateurs  (and others) have to re-apply for their license every 5 years. ICASA on Monday published the gazette. The SARL has agreed with ICASA to simplify the form and make it amateur radio specific. The form will make it easier to re-apply. The deadline is 25 January 2013.

There has been a lot of discussion about this deadline, many claiming that this deadline only applies to those who have changed their addresses in the last year, and that 31 March is the deadline for all others. Please complete the forms and send them to ICASA before 25/01/13.  Rather be safe than sorry.  It does not take long to fill in the forms.  The "deadline" in March could be incorrectly mixed up with the expiry date of our current licences, which is 31 March 2013. The actual Gazette mentions 25 January, not March.

You can download the forms here

8 December: We had an enjoyable Christmas lunch at Cumberland Nature reserve.  The weather played along nicely, and it was sunny, but not too hot, and the flies were not a nuisance.  Good company was enjoyed, as well as the pootjie, braai and salads.

More pictures can be viewed here



25 November:  The Gilboa and Estcourt repeaters have been taken off air for reprogramming.  When reinstalled, they will be linked via 5GHz.  The 750 repeater is still plagued by interference, especially when it rains, and as such has been unlinked from the network.  The 6625 repeater has been behaving itself (mostly) and as such will not be tome guarded for the time being.  The Estcourt repeater is still silent due to cable theft on the high site.

29 September:  ZR5SF fetched the equipment which was removed from the carbineers, and will take it through to ZS5AZ for storage

25 September:  The committee finalised the new portfolios:
Shaun (ZR5SF): Chairman, PRO, and training
Ian (ZS5AZ): Vice-Chairman and treasurer
Des (ZS5DDM): Hamnet, Disaster Management and Clubhouse
Shaun (ZR5S): Repeater Site and Digital Maintenance
Eric (ZS5EL): Events
Stanley( ZR5SEM): APRS and Digital
Mike (ZS5ML): Secretary, Website and Highsite help

25 September:  Both the World's View and Groenekloof masts have been scraped down and repainted.  Also, all antennas were removed from the old mast at the Carbineers.

15 September:  We held our AGM at Rural Metro, and it was very well attended.  There were about 20 members.  (At present we have 31 paid up members). The following members were voted in as committee members:
ZR5SEM Stanley Marx
ZR5S Shaun Rudling
ZR5SF Shaun Fisher
ZS5EL Eric Lewis
ZS5DDM Des Mullen
ZS5AZ Ian Pearson
ZS5ML Mike Lauterbach
We are thankful that the above members are willing lead the club forward.

The following awards were handed out:
Cindy Cup:  For outstanding achievement in Amateur Radio: Shaun ZR5S, for his outstanding efforts on repeater and maintenance
Robin Cup: Best Novice of the year: Shared by Tom ZU5TOM and Greg ZU5GDT for their enthusiastic and great radio manners on our repeaters.
Chairman's Cup:  Chairman's choice:  Shaun ZR5S, for his dedication to the club, and many day and night hrs spent on repeater sites and with repeater assemblies
Bennett Cup: For outstanding achievement to MARC for the year: ZS5ML, elected by members at the AGM

After the meeting the members were treated to a table load of snacks, kindly donated by Rural Metro and ZS5ML.  David ZS5JNB also showed us some of the equipment he has completed for his balloon project, which will hopefully fly during the Christmas holidays.  And Des showed the members our new clubhouse, which is very nice indeed.

A big thank you to Rural Metro who are making this room available to us, and also for sponsoring the snacks!

25 September:  The towers at World's View and Groenekloof have been repainted. "Plenty old cables removed. Working cables rebound neatly with cable ties.  And the TH3 antenna was removed from the tower at Natal Carbineers.

11 August:  The 2 stacks on World's View were fitted.  In the next few weeks all equipment mounted at the top of the mast will be moved to these stacks, leaving the tower free for climbing and also clearing it for refurbishment.

03 August:  It is with regret to announce that Joey Lategan, ZS5VV, xyl of OM Jan, ZS5UP, went silent key on Friday, 03 August 2012.  Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

02 August:  ZR5S and ZS5ML went to Groenekloof and Hilton and reconnected the Hilton 145.6625 repeater and installed a 5GHz link.  Thanks to ZR5S for programming and connecting the repeater board.  At the moment World's View, Richmond and the Hilton repeaters are linked via 5GHz links.  The Underberg UHF repeater is linked via a vhf link via Hilton.

28 July:  The Hilton 145.6625 repeater has been removed and a new repeater board is currently being fitted to it.  It will be replaced at the earliest convenience.  When operational again, it will be linked to World's View and Richmond. A 5GHz wireless link also has to be installed between Groenekloof and Hilton

22 July:  Shaun and Mike went up the mountain and installed the link to Groenekloof.  At the moment it is linked to the World's View 750 repeater.  Audio fine tuning will still be needed, but by all accounts it is working well.

21 July:  Terry and his merry gang went to the Richmond repeater site and installed the repeater.  It's frequency is 145.7875MHz, with the normal 600kHz offset tx frequency (145.1875MHz).  It needs a tone of 88.5  It is working well, and we will appreciate feedback from all to determine it's range.  At the moment it is easily access from Pmb and surrounding areas, Wartburg and areas from Durban
.

18 July:  ZR5S writes:
"The 70cm part of the 3-band node stack, has to be changed from
434.500 MHz to
434.5625 MHz.

It is still a simplex node with a 88.5Hz tone encode necessary.

This unwelcome change was due to a strong interference noise on 434.500. If your open your squelch and monitor for about 5min, you will hear it. I did in the Hilton/Blackridge area. It was much lower in the PMB cbd. Please monitor and observe this noise and report back to us.
The signal is intriguing as it would increase slowly to a s3 then drop back out slowly. As if it was a DX signal and fading due to poor skip conditions. It sounds like a data signal, but also can have faint vocal characteristics. Is it louder or more consistent in your area?"

7 July.  It is proposed that our monthly MARC meeting be moved to 28 July so that our members can attend the RTA in Durban on 21 July

16 June:  After considering the budget and health of the club's finances, the committee decided that the subs for the next year stay unchanged:
 

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)

R150

Affiliate Member
A licensed person residing outside MARC’s repeater network

R100

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

20 May: ZU Licensees (class B) will have more time to study and write the class A examination. In a discussion with ICASA the agency confirmed that the rule that class B licensees will loose their licence if they are over 25 years old will only apply once the corrections to the regulation, which were published, on 31 March 2011, have been promulgated. After that date holder of ZU licences who are over 25 years old will get two years to qualify for the class A licence.
There is no indication when the revisions will be published. The revised regulations are being held up pending court action by one of the spectrum users which may affect one of the regulations. ICASA's legal department believes that by publishing the amateur radio portion of the regulations separately will jeopardise their case in court

20 May: DID NOT RENEW YOUR LICENCE AND LOST YOUR CALLSIGN?
Currently if a person has not paid the license fee, the callsign is cancelled. To reapply ICASA charges the application fee plus any outstanding amount on the account. This is not negotiable unless the person can prove that he/she cancelled the license in writing. A copy of the letter is needed.
The SARL has taken this matter up with ICASA. The Agency confirmed that they are reviewing the process. This may take several weeks. If you in the position that you let your licence lapse, the above procedure is the only one to follow.

20 May:
AMATEUR RADIO ON MARION ISLAND
Rory Meyer, ZS6RGV, is the new radio technician at Marion Island base, the Daily DX reports. It may be sometime before we hear Rory because he is very busy now helping with the change over from the old team to the new team on the island. Rory has an IC-736 and FL-7000, but does not yet have a ZS8 call sign. Pierre, ZS1HF (ex ZS8M) will be supporting Rory with obtaining a ZS8 call sign and Pierre is planning to be the QSL manager.

20-22 April:  SARL National Convention, Pinetown
The convention starts off with a getting to know you evening at the Highway Amateur Radio Club clubhouse with a finger supper. Also, learn more about how the South African electronics industry started in Pinetown. On Saturday the AGM starts with registration of proxies at 08:00, with the meeting commencing at 09:00.
You can follow the AGM proceedings on 145,750 with ZS6FCS in Pretoria, on 14,250 with Pieter and on 7082 with Quartus, ZS6EE. The audio will also be available on echolink.
On Saturday afternoon there are two exciting presentations. Build VHF antennas with Rob Cohen, ZS5LA, and DXing and Log Book of the World with Chris Burger, ZS6EZ. The annual dinner starts at 18:30 with drinks, with the dinner starting at 19:00.
The guest speaker is Dr Andrew Collier, Manager: Waves and Space Plasma Group at SANSA Space Sciences at the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory and senior lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Every person attending the dinner will take part in the lucky draw for a large number of prizes which include a dual band mobile transceiver, the YAESU FTM-10R sponsored by Verstay, watches sponsored by Natal Jewellery Wholesalers and two J-pole antennas.
The convention ends on Sunday Morning with a breakfast at the Japanese Gardens.
Register for the convention and dinner by visiting www.sarl.org.za and follow the link from the home page or call Mariska at 011 675 2393. Please do it by 16:00 on Wednesday 18 April.
If you cannot attend as a member you can give your proxy to another member who is attending. Full details on www.sarl.org.za.

17 Mar: Howick Scout Hall Mast:  Quoting ZS5QM "Tower was lifted by Boet, Martin's dad using the winch on his vehicle with Shaun and myself guiding it up.
Thanks also goes to Stan and his family for running the extension for electricity and installing the equipment.
We put the equipment in the kitchen on top of the fitted cupboards out of harms way.
The so called 'room' they allocated us was a disastrous store room, couldn't fit a matchbox in there.
Tower: 9 meters
Frequency : 50.321
Call Sign: ZS5SIX
Power: 12 watts
Antenna: Inverted V
Direction: Omni but favors NWN - ESE
Location: 29º 29' 3.80" S - 30º 12' 13.80" E
Grid Square: KG50CM
Height ASL: 1030 meters
Mode: FSK
Data: DE ZS5SIX (3 second interval) repeat.



28 Feb:  Here is a picture of the Richmond repeater which ZR5S has put together

26 Feb 2012: MARC assisted with comms again this year with the Maritzburg Marathon.  It was a successful communications operation again.  ZR5S followed the leaders, and was tracked via aprs and this was displayed on a big TV screen at the command post, which was manned by ZR5SF


27 Nov 2011:  Free SSTV online book: Martin, OK2MNM has made his new book "Image Communication on Short Waves" available free on the web.
You can either read it online or download the chapters in pdf format:
http://www.sstv-handbook.com/

Nov 13:  ZR5S updated the MARC Infrastructure & Frequency ListThank you Shaun!

Nov 5:  Shaun ZR5S went to Groenekloof with a professional tower climber.  First all old antennas were removed from the top pole.  Then a diamond antenna was fitted to the very top for our D-Star repeater for the rx side.  Amazing how he could shimmy up a smooth 50mm pipe...

Oct 20: ZS5CID and ZR5PDL got the Zwartbeg repeater up and running at the new site.  Well done guys - nice to be able to make contact with you again on 2m

 

Oct 15: Jamboree on air at the Scout Hall, Howick.  We had our well attended monthly meeting at 11h00.  This was followed by Jota in the hall.

Oct 8:  A handful of members pitched and moved the shack contents to a store room provided by Ian ZS5AZ.  Present were ZS5EL, ZS5AZ, ZS5DM and YL, ZR5SF and ZS5ML

Sep 17:  We held our AGM at Rural Metro, our first meeting at Rural Metro.  It was most successful, and all found the venue first class.  Thanks you Des, ZS5DDM for making this happen.  The meeting itself was well attended and painless.  The same committee was elected, with the addition of Evert, ZS5EFP.  The committee will be convening a meeting shortly to determine committee portfolios. 
In addition, it was decided to disband the HHN.  The current editor does not have the time to continue with it, and there are no volunteers to carry on with it.  If a volunteer steps forward, it can be continued again.
The following awards were handed out:
Cindy Cup: ZS5EFP, ZR5S, ZR5SF
HHN Cup: ZS5GEL
Robin Cup: ZS5EL
Bennett Cup: ZS5SF
Walter Reid Cup: ZS5JNB
Chairman's Cup: ZS5CU

Eric and Graham managed to secure the Richmond site at Burne Valley.  We will be installing a repeater here as soon as we have secured all equipment.

Sep 15:  Shaun ZR5S made a trip up the mountain and switched the repeater back on.

Sep 13:  Gilboa repeater went off air.  Tripped circuit breaker or blown power supply?

Aug 20:  MARC members helped with comms on the Capital Climb.  Another most enjoyable event for those who participated.  This was followed up by our monthly meeting at the Natal Carbineers.

Aug 13:  Went up to the Burn Valley repeater site.  A very nice site for a repeater!  We will now negotiate space and attend to the paperwork to send things into motion.

Aug 06:  The trip to Burn Valley for a site inspection for our new repeater site was postponed due to adverse weather conditions.

July 16: We held our monthly meeting at the Natal Carbineers.  David ZS5JNB held a fascinating talk on his balloon project.  Watch this space, there will still be a lot of interesting data on this project!

July 16:  The orbiting of ARISSat One has been delayed for a few weeks. According to ARISSat One Project Manager Gould Smith, WA4SXM, the former Suit-Sat will not make an appearance in space until sometime in August. In a news release, Smith said he and ARISS Hardware Engineer Lou McFadin, W5DID, participated in a teleconference call this week with NASA to review the Roscosmos spacewalk procedures for the release of ARISSat One during E-V-A 29. For those who never heard the term before, E-V-A is an acronym for Extra Vehicular Activity and is NASA-ese for describing a spacewalk. Smith now says the discussion centered on preparation procedures including the battery being charged and assembled into the satellite. Also discussed were the procedures to remove the protective quilts from the solar cells and turning on the safety switches prior to deployment. During a later teleconference Sergey Samburov, RV3DR, announced that the ARISSat One battery will be charged in late July and a test of the system will be conducted from the ISS from 30 July at 19:15 to about 12:00 or 14:00 UTC July 31. The standard ARISSat One 2 metre downlink band plan should be transmitted as well as the FM signal also down linked on 437,55 MHz.

July 9:  Had a great family day at World's View!  The work party was a great success, and was well attended.  Photos can be viewed here.

July 3: ZS5ML travelled to Greytown and switched the link back on.  Now the 145.775 Greytown repeater is linked to the rest of the network again.  Hilton is still unlinked, as as is Estcourt.

July 3: Our next work party will be at World’s View at 09h30 this coming Saturday, the 9th of July. The necessary material has been supplied. This work party will hopefully finish the work to be done. The following is on the agenda - the shelving has to be installed. The existing electric plugs and cables will be replaced with new equipment. And the interior will be painted.

It will be a family fun day, so bring the family along. The club will sponsor braai fires and meat. Please contact Shaun ZR5SF if you can come along, so that he can cater for the meat. It does not matter whether you come along to help with the actual renovations or whether you help with your moral support from the sideline - all are most welcome.

URGENT NOTICE TO ALL AMATEUR LICENSEES - ICASA has cancelled over 34 000 radio licenses that have remained unpaid for the past 365 days. This includes all amateur radio licenses that are unpaid. Check that you have paid your license and if you do not have a valid printed license or an official receipt call ICASA at 011 566 3313 or 011 566 3319 between 08:30 - 16:00 Monday - Friday. PLEASE HAVE YOUR LICENSE NUMBER HANDY. If your amateur license was cancelled call now and ICASA will re-instate it if you can prove payment. If you have not paid, do so now using the information and account number on your last license.

A YEAR OF THE MOON IN 2½ MINUTES - And a new on-line time lapse video of the Moon produced by the Goddard Space Flight Centre's Scientific Visualization Studio compresses one month into 12 seconds and one year into 2,5 minutes. Constructed, using data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, the video shows how the Moon wobbles in its orbit, the way that it changes in libration and axis tilt and its numerous phases. You will find the video at YouTube by taking the shortcut of tinyurl.com/3ffmhbe.

July 2:  ZS5EFP is making progress with the repeater set up, but the pin outs on the Motorola radios are different to the documented ones, and the repeater interface boards also need modifications, as they don't function as per documentation.  Thanks Evert for your hard work, especially since this is a lot more complicated that plug and play!

June 29: ZS5EFP made a long trek to Estcourt and switched off the repeater there.  All is quiet now.  The link radio will be replaced.  The faulty Hilton repeater is still in place and will only be replaced once ZS5EFP manages to set up one of the new repeaters.  The Hilton 145.6625 repeater will remain tone guarded in future due to the increased rf experienced.  We will also try and install an additional cavity filter.

June 28:  The lock ups are happening during the day as well now.  ZS5ML travelled to Greytown and switched off the link radio, removing the 145.775 from the equation.  In spite of that, the interference was still there, but we decided to keep it unlocked until we had resolved the matter.

June 23:  The rest of the repeater network is starting to lock up again especially at night.  As Hilton has been unlinked, it is something on the rest of the network. We are hoping that it is not the uhf link, as the uhf repeater at Gilboa is on a high site with lots of RF.  World's View is not suspected, as no input interference is heard.  The likely faulty repeaters are Estcourt, Greytown and then Alverstone.

June 21:  The repeater network has been locking up periodically for about 2 weeks, especially at night.  Hilton was suspected, as was Greytown.  We could not monitor Estcourt direct, but decided to switch them off one by one, starting at Hilton.  ZS5EFP then switched off the Hilton link, and all was quiet!  We can hear the Hilton repeater, no in stand alone mode, lock up from time to time.  It will be replaced with one of our new repeaters.

June 18:  We had our monthly meeting today.  It was great to meet one of our new members, Burl ZS5BRS, and 3 Hamnet members from Highway who came up for the digital presentation by Shaun ZR5SF.  Thanks Shaun for the wonderful demonstration, and for the documentation which you can download here, and here is the link to Ham Radio Delux

June 10:  The work party for World's View was cancelled because of the wet weather still experienced early Friday evening.  The walls would not dry up sufficiently by Saturday morning to enable them to be painted.  It will be reconvened after our monthly meeting.

June:  Membership subscriptions are due once again, as our financial year end is at the end of June.  Membership fees are unchanged, and stay at R150pa. Those who want printed copies of the HHN posted, please add R100 to your subscription.  The normal discount of 33.3% applies to pensioners.  Here is a breakdown of the complete list

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)

R150

Affiliate Member
A licensed person residing outside MARC’s repeater network

R100

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

Posted paper version of the Hams Haywire News (monthly newsletter)

R100

5 June:  ZS5ML and ZS5GEL fetched the Greytown repeater from Pmb today and then installed it at our Greytown site. It seems to be working well.  Please test it (145.775, no tone) and send us your feedback.  A special thank you to Evert for having repaired it

29 May:  10 of our members helped as radio marshals in this great event.  It was a great day in the field as usual.  Thanks to all of you who helped!

More pictures can be viewed here

28 May:  A very well attended swopshop was held in Monteseel at the qth of ZS5JF.  Thanks to HARC for organising these events.

19 May: 9 students wrote the RAE in the new lecture room at Rural Metro - thanks Des for organising this.  Thanks also to Evert and Shaun for organising the RAE classes and exam.

14 May: Work party at World View - quite a bit was achieved.  Quote from Shaun ZR5SF: "we have scraped the whole building, painted the roof and tomorrow the fence will be done. so all that now remains is the painting inside and out and the electrics.  we had a great turn out ZS5AZ, ZS5PJ, ZU5DM, ZU5SAM , ZR5NC and myself all put hands to the grindstone."

17 April:  The 2011 SARL AGM was held.  More details can be found on their website

17 April:  Shaun uplifted the Estcourt repeater.  It is suspected that it has a dry joint - it was locking up the repeater network quite often.  Evert will be attending to it, as well as the Greytown repeater.

16 April:  Had our monthly meeting.  It was a pleasure to meet Ruth, ZS2QK, who joined us.  We will be holding the next work party at World's View on 7 May.  All are invited - there is quite a bit of work to be done (electrics, shelving, painting etc)

2 April: The work party at World's View was a success:  The grass was cut, fence repaired and the building was pressure cleaned.  Those who helped were Shaun ZR5SF, Neville ZR5NC, Des ZU5DM and Gwen and Mike ZS5ML.  David, thanks for popping by.  Here are two before and after pics:





More can be viewed here

1 April 2011:  The new radio regulations have been published in the Government Gazette.  They are effective from today, 1 April 2011.  They are available from the member's section on the SARL website
Please have a look at them and post comments to artoday@sarl.org.za, or on the SARL forum.  They contain errors, but basically they contain two major changes - ZR and ZS will be on even footing, Class A, and the ZU (Class B) hf band plan will be restricted to 40m and 80m while only candidates younger than 20 years will be allowed to sit the exams, and they will have to convert to a Class A licence before the age of 25. 

20 March:  Gilboa is up again.  We replaced the power supplies there this morning.  This means that the World's View, Hilton and Estcourt repeaters are linked again.  We tested the antennas, and they passed with flying colours.

I uplifted the Greytown repeater so that it can be seen to, at least the tx on the link radio.

The Underberg link is still sick.  Phillip and Craig were hoping that the bad link was due to a deaf Gilboa - unfortunately this is not the case.  Phillip, please check the swr on the uhf antenna at Underberg when you fetch the radio.  I remember that you came through shortly after installing the repeater.  It was a bit scratchy, but not too bad.  It got scratchier with the next overs until you were not triggering Gilboa anymore.  Hopefully the repair will be simple and cheap

The Alverstone 600 repeater sounds like it has gone faulty

Please let me know if you can hear ZS5SIX on 50.321MHz  When it was at Shaun's ZR5SF qth, I could not hear it here - not sure how long the skip distances are with 6m (Joost, do you know?)  Bob could just hear it in the early hours of the morning today.  Hopefully it will be heard from stations further afield.

13 March:  Evert ZS5EFP repaired the Estcourt repeater by replacing the uhf link radio.  It is working very well, as confirmed by Tony in Estcourt and Ronnie and Rod in Ladysmith.  Thanks Evert!

Good news is that Ruth, ZS2QK, has moved to Pietermaritzburg.  Shaun lent her his hand held, and we heard her on air.  He will install her own radios this week, so listen out for Ruth.

Bert ZS5MQ was in his shack at Baynesfield on the open day today.  I know that many went there today, and I trust that Bert had a great day.

 

27 February: Maritzburg Marathon:
 

Shaun ZR5SF reports: "I would like to thank all the Hams that helped at this morning's marathon. We managed to operate with two unmanned stations. I really hope next time we call for volunteers we will have a better response, it must be remembered that it is at events like these that the good name of Amateur Radio is portrayed. A special thanks to Traffic Officer Ian (ZS5AZ), pity we don't have a photo of Ian's hard work in the middle of a really busy intersection. A lot of interest was shown in the APRS System and it was mentioned that we should use it in all the events that take place. Shaun ZR5S did a sterling job at pacing the front runners. Thanks again to all."

Shaun ZR5S:  "Michelle took some photo's of today's event. 5sf said a lot of interest was shown and that amateur radio proved useful in 2 ways, comms amongst the tables, and tracking. 5sf should be sending a photo or two for our website soon. The one photo shows the whole system together. My bike with Skytracker mounted to the back, computer monitor showing www.aprs.fi, 2x Shaun's and the MARC banner. The image attached is of another ham's bike (extremist). Mine was not so well kitted out. I had my handheld clipped to my belt with earpiece/boom mic in my helmet. I used my handheld today for comms for this mornings 42km marathon run. Used the boom mic/ear piece in my helmet. Works fine at low speeds. Noisy when riding fast. We had one ham guy at each table. I had my Sky-tracker connected onto the back of my klr650. zr5sf had a big monitor at the finish and race organizers and the public could see the race progress. We had our M.A.R.C. banner up and lots of people where interested. Race started at 05h00. Woke up at 03h30. Had to be at the start by 04h30. It was dark and chilly (16deg/C). But it was very enjoyable. Lots of fun. Going to do it again. After the first male came in, I then found the first lady runner and came in with her. Then they wanted me to see where the last runner was. After that I went home. The others had to stay longer. We got served breakfast, cooldrink, egg burger and chips. [15:55:01] ZS5JC Jan: now for that i can join you next year on my bike. [15:56:09] Shaun Rudling: Yes, it would be better to track the male AND female at the same time. 1'st gear on the klr650 was suited well for the running paste of the lead runners. Sweeping up the rear with the stragglers will prove difficult on a bike. Even a little scooter would wiggle left and right at that slow pace. One always learns on the day, how to improve things for the next event. We learnt today that the default beacon rate for the Sky-Tracker is not ideal for the slow running speeds of this type of event. The tracker will need to be set to beacon out more often in future."

More photos of the event can be viewed here

20 February: DIGIMODE ACTIVITY IN THE 40 m CW SEGMENT At WRC03, the ITU allocated frequency segment 7 100 - 7 200 kHz to the Amateur Service in Region 1. This extension of the 40 m band allowed IARU Region 1 to modify the Region 1 band plan. These changes became effective on 29 March 2009. Some of these changes include extension of the exclusive CW segment by 5 kHz, and is now 7 000 - 7 040 kHz; the segment for Narrow Band Modes (Digimodes) with a maximum bandwidth of 500 Hz was extended by 5 kHz (doubled) and moved to 7 040 - 7 050 kHz and the segment for All Modes (Digimodes) with a maximum bandwidth of 2 700 Hz was extended by 7 kHz and moved to 7 050 - 7 060 kHz.

Although the separation of the segments is by frequencies that are easy to remember (7 040, 7 050, 7 060 kHz), there is still a lot of PSK31 activity around 7 037 kHz. Radio amateurs are requested to adhere to the guidelines as stipulated in the IARU Region 1 HF Band Plan.

20 February: SA AMSAT this week announced that the main payload on the KLETSkous CubeSat will be a linear UV transponder with a bandwidth of 20 kHz. The UV mode which is 70 cm uplink and 2 metre downlink was chosen in line with internationally recommended practice as it will minimize interference. The aim is to have it operating over Africa without the need of an access tone to open the transponder.

A multi city team is working on the designs and will soon finalise the specifications. Fundraising for the project has started in all earnest and radio amateurs are invited to make contributions to the fund. Visit www.amsatsa.org.za for bank details and more about the KLETSkous project

20 February: RAE. Our RAE courses for both the ZU and ZR courses will commence on Sunday, 6th March. Please contact Shaun ZR5SF if you are know of anyone who is interested. His email is zr5sf at marc.org.za

20 February: Repeaters: Underberg. The uhf link radio has a corroded board which needs to be replaced. The vhf repeater, which belongs to Craig, ZS5CID, has also been removed, as there are no members there making use of it. Once the huf link has been restored, members can get in via the the local uhf link between Underberg and Franklin.
The Estcourt repeater has lost it’s transmit link. The receive is still working ensuring that our members up there can still hear us on 145.700MHz, as confirmed by Tony from Estcourt. Unfortunately they cannot respond as we cannot hear them. We will uplift the link radio at our next opportunity.
Similarly, the transmit link side from Greytown was very distorted, but the receive was working well. But recently the vhf repeater itself died. We need to visit the site to find the cause. This could take a while.
In the mean time I will patch though hf on 3.620MHz when I can. Next weekend I will not be here, and I’m not sure whether Ian, who is up as bulletin reader next Sunday, can read the bulletin as he will be busy with the Maritzburg marathon.
We will be replacing one of our repeaters with a new one in the near future. Our repeaters are very old and some have been repaired so often making further repair more difficult.

15 February : Founder of the SA Maritime Mobile Net Silent Key.  For the past twenty six years his voice kept yachtsmen and women company as they sailed the oceans, providing them with regular weather reports and assisted those who ran into trouble. Alister Campbell, ZS5MU, went silent key on the afternoon of 14 February 2011.
Alistair's interest in marine matters started many years ago when Alistair helped a friend build a yacht. Once the yacht was completed and on the water they kept in contact via amateur radio. It wasn't long before other yachts started checking in with Alistair and the South African Maritime Mobile Net was born in October 1979.
With Davina, ZS5GC, at his side they devoted themselves tirelessly to the building up of the South African Maritime Mobile Net which is now internationally renowned and held in high regard in the yachting fraternity.
Alister believed so much in the importance of the net that he groomed Graham Griggs, ZS2ABK, and others to carry on the tradition and when his health started failing handed the reigns over to Graham.
In 2000 Alister and Davina were awarded the ICOM Excellence Award by the SARL. This award is bestowed annually by Council on the amateur who through his/her activity in the Amateur Service has brought international recognition to South Africa.
In 2005 Alister was awarded the Nokia Siemens Community Service Award by the South African Amateur Radio Development Trust, and, on the 25th anniversary of the net the SARL awarded a special certificate.
We extend our sincere condolences to Davina and family. The couple showed South Africa and the world what real amateur radio spirit is about. Alister's voice is silent but will live on in our memories and in the memories of those whose lives he saved through his action on the daily net.

MAJOR FLARE: Earth-orbiting satellites have detected the strongest solar flare in more than four years. At 0156 UT on Feb. 15th, giant sunspot 1158 unleashed an X2-class eruption. X-flares are the strongest type of x-ray flare, and this is the first such eruption of new Solar Cycle 24. The explosion that produced the flare also sent a solar tsunami rippling through the sun's atmosphere and, more importantly, hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth. This raises the possibility of geomagnetic storms in the days ahead. Visit http://spaceweather.com for images and updates.

13 February:  We held our SARL HF Field competition at Albert Falls Dam.  Evert, Wendy and family and Gudrun and Mike camped over from Friday afternoon, and we were joined by the Marx and Jacobs families, as well as Shaun and Michelle and Craig, ZS5CID who camped over on Saturday night.  Day visitors included Joost and Marjoke, Eric and Graham from Richmond, Tony from Estcourt and Ian - there were 19 hams with family members on Saturday.
Many contacts were made and conversations carried on well into the night with the great company.  It was a really good weekend.  Thanks to all who came along, an missed those who could not come along.  Have a look here for more photos

24 January: Shaun went up to Groenekloof during a break in the weather and retrieved some faulty equipment.  Internet is restored there which means that APRS, D-STAR etc is working again.  Thanks Shaun!

22 January: Groenekloof. Shaun ZR5S and I, ZS5ML went up to Groenekloof yesterday where Shaun installed the new pc, plane and ship plotter, APRS and D-Star. When I left there at 18h45, all was working well. I left Shaun the to finish the settings. At home I saw that my aprs tracks stopped 45 minutes later and phoned Shaun. It turned out that he was still on site - the 12V charger was faulty and the battery voltage had dropped too much. This also affected the internet connection. Shaun was still there after 21h00! It will need another visit to complete.

RAE -
We are looking at running another RAE course. Please contact Shaun ZR5SF if you are know of anyone who is interested. His email is zr5sf@marc.org.za

Club Shack - We are still waiting for a date when they will commence with the roof and ceiling replacement. The latest news is that work will start in the next 3 months.....

ICASA licence fees. You have to pay R6.75 for January - March 2011 when your receive your account. Do not attempt to pay the April 2011 to March 2012 fees as the it has not be finalised. You should have received your invoice by now. If you have not, please contact Peter Leonard at ICASA. If you have outstanding amounts with ICASA, they will not send you an invoice. As such you could loose your licence. Surprisingly, if you have a credit balance big enough to cover the interim fee of R6.75, you will not receive an invoice either. If you are unsure of the state of your account, please contact Peter

1 January 2011: The radio amateurs and the Lions Club of Eshowe are planning to observe Saturday 15 January as an opportunity for Lions Clubs to exchange greetings on the air via Amateur Radio. The birthday of the founder of Lionism, Melvin Jones, born in 1879 at Ft. Thomas, Arizona USA is commemorated on 13 January.
The Eshowe Lions will be on the air from 14:00 CAT and want to exchanging greetings with other Lions and radio clubs in South Africa and/or the rest of the world - no prizes - but exchange QSL cards and 'make friends.'
If there are Lions and radio clubs around the country interested in joining the radio amateurs and the Eshowe Lions Club on Saturday 15 January 2011, please contact Willie, ZS5WI, at zs5wi@telkomsa.net, and give him your information.

 

27 December 2010: Shaun ZR5SF and Ian ZS5AZ went up to Gilboa today and restored the power.  It looks like both power supplies are U/S, and need repairs.  Thanks for your efforts and speedy repairs!  The network was down for just over a day (it was back on air at 14h40)

26 December:  Battery power carried the Gilboa repeater until 08h00 today.  The link is now off and the repeaters are in stand alone mode.  Unfortunately our visiting travellers can't enjoy the safety of our linked network until we can get up the mountain to rectify the problem.

23 December:  Gilboa power was lost during the night, probably due to the storm.  Hopefully it is just a tripped circuit breaker.

4 December: We held our year end function at the Cumberland Nature Reserve, off the Table Mountain Rd, a few km NE of Pmb on the Umgeni River.  The weather and setting could not have been better, not to mention the fine company.  It was well attended by 27 in total.  Shaun ZR5SF and Ian ZS4AZ did a superb job in organising the meat, rolls and soft drinks.  Ian's chicken pootjie was also really great, just like the company (yes, I know, it was mentioned before)
Getting there was a bit of a mission for some, as the northbound traffic on the N3 was routed through Pmb, causing all kinds of problems and delays.  But all made it in the end, and the general consensus was that we should use this venue again next year.  If it does, I will definitely be also camping next to there next to the stream, as Ian and Shaun did this weekend
The raffle for the new 15A power supply, generously donated by Brian ZR5BCB, was won by John ZS5GB from Gilletts.
Some more pictures of the day can be viewed here

1 December:  The SARL presentation to ICASA at the public hearing was well received. The Chairperson, Dr Marcia Socikwa, thanked the SARL for the input which  she described as of  great assistance in preparation of the final regulations.
ICASA did not confirm nor deny  if only the Amateur section and the general section applied to radio amateurs, the SARL is therefore preparing a supplementary submission to ensure that  other sections of the draft regulations do not adversely impact. The SARL will submit the supplementary submission on Wednesday 8 December. It will be available for comment on Monday 6 December.
Download the SARL presentation here

21 November  We had a successful weekend at Midmar Dam.  Only 2 MARC members (one party) camped over this year, and three parties from HARC.  The hf competition side was secondary this weekend as there were only few volunteers, conditions were not that great and our long wire antenna was not that successful.  The positive side was that those who were there had a very relaxing time, catching up with news of our different clubs.

Our meeting was well attended.  Brian ZR5BCB donated a new 15A power supply which is being raffled off.  Please contact Ian ZS5AZ if you want to buy a ticket or two.  Thanks Brian! 

At the meeting we voted for the winning logo and slogan.  "We do it wirelessly" and the following logo:

were chosen, both submitted by ZS5ML.  There were many great designs and slogans, and more will be used.  We will still decide on a final design (or designs).

Ian ZS5AZ and Lara's kids, Holly-mae and Morgan, sent in most designs (26, I think).  For their sterling efforts they were awarded the two prizes!  Thanks for the dedication.  It was just unfortunate that only 25% of our members bothered to vote.  One indicated that he could not download all the designs due to bandwidth limitations on his internet connection.  Maybe more had this problem?

I hope that all those who could not attend this weekend will be able to attend next year's event - you really missed a fantastic day/weekend.

14/11/10 Logo and slogan design competition.  Please click here to view all the entries.  Please select you 5 favourite logo and slogan entries, ie 10 in total, and send these to competition@marc.org.za by Thursday, 18 November.  The winning logo design and slogan will be announced at our next meeting on Saturday, 20 November, at Midmar dam at 11h00

12/11/10  Call signs have been allocated to our successful RAE candidates.  Looking forward to hearing these new call signs on air:

 

Graham Bowles

ZU5GB

 

Jesse Jacobs

ZU5JDJ

 

Liesel Jacobs

ZU5LJ

 

Marthin Jacobs

ZU5MJ

 

Eric Lewis

ZU5EL

 

David McCash

ZU5SAM

 

Fred Strauss

ZU5AS

12/11/10  Brian ZR5BCB restored the power at 09h15 - thanks!  It looks like lightning took out the power supply.  The spare one is now installed.

12/11/10  Gilboa Lost power at 22h47 CAT on 09/11/10.  On 12/11 at 06h25 battery voltage is 11.8V  - it will shut down today when the voltage drops to 11.5V

05/11/10  Well done to the following candidates who passed the RAE exams.  Hope your call signs will be issued soon so that we can hear you on air :-)

Exam No Surname_Init
1010010 Bowles.G
1010040 Jacobs.JD
1010042 Jacobs.L
1010043 Jacobs.M
1010057 Lewis.E
1010067 McCash.D
1010089 Strauss.AF

4/11/10  The radar weather page is back on the weathersa site.  Here is the link for Dbn

31/10/10: The MARC competition for a slogan and emblem design for banners, letterheads etc will end on 12 November.  The designs will then be published here, and you will then vote for the best design and slogan.  The winners will be announced at the meeting at Midmar on Saturday 20 November, and the winners will receive R200. 

18/10/10: Shaun ZR5SF: "Howick JOTA was a huge success, so much so that we have been asked if we would do it again next year. All the participating scouts were very keen and interested in how and why radio operates ( I think we might have a few new hams here). A very big thank you to Stan and Rachel, Joost and Marjoke for all their help in making this a successful event. There is talk of the 1st Howick Scouts hosting the regional JOTA next year, this will be a huge event and I will be calling on hams to help out. Lastly, to all the scouts that participated, WELL DONE!! "

12/10/10: To all MARC members, past members, friends of the club and to any person who has been affiliated with MARC at some time.  We need your help!!!

The committee has embarked on an exercise to update all the past and present members' recorded details as well as the details of any one who was or is affiliated with the club in any way. Please take the time to open the update form and complete it as fully as possible. All that is required thereafter is that you click on the submit button at the top and your details are then captured. You will see that we have asked for family details (for birthday greetings as well as getting to know your family better), there is a section for recognising the club membership focus in respect to common modes of operation and interests, and at the end there is a section where you can tell us, your committee, how you would like us to steer this club in order to best suit your needs.

9/10/10: The Following list provides the Examination numbers of students that are going to be writing their RAE Examination on the 21st October 2010.
Please give Shaun ZR5SF a ring if you have any queries.
All candidates will receive an examination registration form confirming their details, please check this form and notify the Office immediately of any errors.

Exam No Surname_Init
1010010 Bowles.G
1010040 Jacobs.JD
1010041 Jacobs.J
1010042 Jacobs.L
1010043 Jacobs.M
1010057 Lewis.E
1010067 McCash.D
1010089 Strauss.AF

7 October 2010: ZS5HL's memorial service took place at Oakleigh Funeral Chapel cnr of Wilkes and Fernbank Road, Prestbury, Pietermaritzburg at 14.30 Hrs.

3 October: ZS5MQ writes:
It is with deep regret that I wish to inform all amateur radio stations that om Hill Mason ZS5HL became a silent key at 20.45 Hrs. Sunday 3 rd October 2010,
He had been very ill for the past nine weeks, he is survived by his xyl Iona and his Germen Shepherd, Tommy.

1 October: Krish writes:
I would like to share my experience to one and all.
On Friday 01/10/10 I took my Kenwood 2m Transceiver to work and the response I got from my colleagues was amazing. Some of them thought that I was spying for the Police and some of them thought that I was just fooling around with a toy. Many did not have a clue what Amateur Radio was and after I explained to them about our FASCINATING hobby, they were quite amazed that there actually was such a hobby. I got some weird looks when I tuned to the NPC frequency, which was quite busy, but I think all in all those who never knew about radio was quite informed. Thanks to TAKE YOUR HANDHELD TO WORK DAY.
 
Here is a photo of me trying to make a contact while standing next to a machine, I could not even key the repeater due to all the electrical interference there.

 

27 September:  The committee was asked if pensioners and family members could receive a discount, and has come up with the following tariffs:

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

R150

Affiliate Member
A licensed person residing outside MARC’s repeater network

R100

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

Pensioners can deduct 33.33% from their applicable category

26 September: The recent poll indicated that most were happy top leave Echolink on the repeater linked network.  Shaun ZR5S has started an experiment to see how this works:

"Since I have moved the Echo-Link off the linked rptr network and onto its own simplex freq of 145.450Mhz, I have been able to release a lot more features of this VOIP program. This freq is now very busy with all sorts of automated broadcasts and conference server hook-ups.

Mainly (by default) this node is linked to an international reflector where you will be able to listen and /or participate in discussions amongst hams from around the world. There is always someone there to talk to. The weather forecast, current wx conditions and severe wx warnings (if any) will be read out to you periodically. The time will also be read out on the hour and half hour.

Then, on Sunday mornings at 08h30 this node will automatically connect to zs6fcs for the SARL English weekly news broadcast. Then a series of prepared weekly bulletins from the ARRL, RSGB and WIA will be automatically broadcast (30min ea) after that. This repeats on Wednesday nights.

The odd INTECNET and such can be scheduled for automatic broadcast, but you will need to email me the times so that i can set it up. Email me any other local and international nets that you would like to be automatically broadcast.

Here is the current table of events.

Sundays:
08:30 South African Radio League weekly news broadcast
09:00 Amateur Radio News-line
09:30 Wireless Institute of Australia weekly news
10:00 Radio Society of Great Britain 1
10:30 Radio Society of Great Britain 2
20:00 Amateur Radio News-line
20:30 Wireless Institute of Australia weekly news
21:00 Radio Society of Great Britain 1
21:30 Radio Society of Great Britain 2

Wednesdays:
09:00 Amateur Radio News-line
09:30 Wireless Institute of Australia weekly news
10:00 Radio Society of Great Britain 1
10:30 Radio Society of Great Britain 2
20:00 Amateur Radio News-line
20:30 Wireless Institute of Australia weekly news
21:00 Radio Society of Great Britain 1
21:30 Radio Society of Great Britain 2

So tune into 145.450 for news, weather and discussions. Please do also PTT now and again. They love to speak to ZA stations.

 

26 September 2010:  ICASA has published the draft radio regulations, Gazette #33590.  It is available here for download.
It contains significant changes to the existing regulations, and the implications are serious and include:
The ZR licence will disappear, as will the requirement of one of the present 5 upgrade criteria.  A person who passes the class A licence will receive a ZS licence.
The Class B licence will only be available to persons under the age of 20, and they will loose the licence at the age of 25 if they have not written the class A exam.

Please send your comments to armi@sarl.org.za before 10 October
A discussion about this will be held during the President's net on Sunday, 17 October 2010, at 19h30
ICASA will be holding a public hearing on 1 & 2 December 2010, and the final regulations will be promulgated soon after that.

21 September:  The committee held their first committee meeting at the clubhouse.  The following portfolios were discussed and assigned.
Chairman, HHN, Web, Email - Mike Lauterbach ZS5ML
Vice Chairman, Technical - Shaun Rudling ZR5S
Secretary, Treasurer - Ian Pearson ZS5AZ
Events, Training, PRO - Shaun Fisher ZR5SF
Disaster Management - Des Mullen ZU5DM
Club house manager - Gavin Claasen ZR5GAV (non committee member)

18 September:  We held our MARC AGM today.  Comments like "what a wonderful, "pain free" AGM was held today" were made.  A special thank you to Mike ZS5BGV, our past chairman, and his committee, for holding the club together, and taking it a step further from where they picked up the reigns.  I trust that the new committee will pick up from where the past one handed the reigns over.  I feel that the club voted in the new committee members wisely, looking at who was voted in.  I just hope that we (as a committee member) will live up to the club's expectations and more.

The new committee members are, in no particular order:
Shaun ZR5S, Ian ZS5AZ, Des ZU5DM, Shaun ZR5SF, Gavin ZR5GAV and Mike ZS5ML

Also a special thanks to Gayle, XYL of ZS5BGV, who organised a fantastic spread of eats, which was "demolished" after the meeting

16 September:  Des ZU5DM, arranged that Rural Metro donated a 2m Kenwood rig for our shack, in appreciation of what Amateur Radio contributes to our community.  We are very appreciative and humbled by this donation - THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

14 August:  The Capital Climb was a rounding success.  Special thanks go to Roger ZS5EV for organising the comms from our club for the event.  Thanks also to all the operators who sacrificed their time and petrol, and they are in no particular order, Shaun ZR5SF, Peter ZS5PJ, Gudrun ZS5GEL, Des ZU5DM, Ian ZS5AZ, Neville ZS5NC,  and Mike ZS5ML.

12 August:  We are running a ZU RAE course shortly.  Please contact Mike ZS5BGV or Shaun ZR5SF if you are interested.  Their contact details can be found on the member page.

5 August:  ICASA has taken occupation of their new offices in the Durban CDB, and the address is 15th Floor Victoria Maine, 71 Margaret Mncadi Avenue (ex Victoria Embankment), Durban,4001.
Peter Leonard's (ZS5PHL) details are pleonard at icasa.org.za, 031 3349515

2 August 2010:  ZR5S posted a link for D-RATS (reverse for D-Star).  Quite an innovative program to enable you to be part of the D-Star network.  Have a look at www.d-rats.com

26 July:  Power was restored at Gilboa at 13h00 by Brian ZR5BCB.  The cause of the tripped circuit breakers is unknown

26 July: The Gilboa repeater shut down at 00h36 after running for 2.5 days on battery power

25 July: First African D-Star repeater.  Shaun ZR5S assembled a D-Star repeater and got it working on his test bench.  It will be installed at Groenekloof as soon as reliability has been proven on the work bench.

23 July: Groenekloof lost power at 10h00.

15 July:  MARC renewal notices were sent out.

13 July:  Shaun ZR5S asked for someone to take over the project of recording the MARC history from our records.  Gudrun ZS5GEL volunteered if there were no takers, and got the job without a chance to pull the offer back.

09 July:  Lots of discussion what a real radio amateur is, ranging from the opinion that only technical minded and capable persons are to including others with limited technical skills but superior operating skills.  Ed. is of the opinion that it caters for all, not just the technical advantaged, some of whom have poor operating procedures by nature. 

03 July:  Evert ZS5EFP kindly went past the Estcourt repeater and set the link radio squelch with the help of Craig on the other end of a cell phone and a pot inside the radio.  It has been working well when I monitored it today.  Thanks to Evert and Craig!  I'm sure our members in the Ladysmith area will be grateful, as well as our visitors travelling on the N3.

30 June:  ZR5SEM, ZR5S and ZS5ML did some work at Groenekloof, removing the 6m magnetic loop, which needs to be relocated to Greytown, and installed the 30m dipole for hf APRS:
ZR5S:"We have finally brought back to life the ZS5PMB-4 HF APRS I-Gate here in PMBurg. She is resting in her final layout up on the mountain. Our KZN hf i-gate is situated up at Hilton on our repeater site. From this same location, we receive the ships you see off our KZN coast, The aeroplanes you see buzzing around KZN on googel earth, the 2m aprs i-gate, the zs5pmb echo-link and E-QSO.
We will soon be installing our APRS SatGate on 145.825Mhz using an eggbeater antenna. And our latest edition to our MARC family, a D-Star node HotSpot (internet gateway) with 1x D-Star home-brew repeater.
Talk about all one's eggs in one basket.....sheeezzzz! Rain Rain, go away........take your L/bolts elsewhere.
"


28 June 2010 : 
"Today, ZS6JCL (Fritz) was mobile through Pietermaritzburg and listened to a conversation between two hams in Washington DC on his D-Star enabled icom 2820.
How? We have installed a D-Star HotSpot Node adapter here in Pmb on a simplex freq. of 433.700Mhz using the Satoshi dv Node Adapter V7 (Available Now!) from his website for only 12000 Japanese Yen. Don't be frightened, that only equates to about 1028 South African Rond.

ZS6JCL tried to join the conversation but my interfacing was not up to scratch as the adapter never heard the GMSK audio from his radio. So I will have a look at that. This same module can be put into "stand-alone" repeater mode by attaching 2x mobile rigs. Motorollas will do but we are using Alinco's. You need an audio feed before the discriminator for 9600bps. No PC or software required.
So you get a fully featured D-Star repeater for R1028 if say, you are given 2x mobiles.

We here at MARC challenge other clubs to put together similar D-Star systems for all our enjoyment as we are mobile around the country. It would also be nice to link these nodes on a semi permanent basis.

Our repeater looks like it will be on 438.200Mhz (-7.6Mhz) in about 4 weeks time."
     ZR5S

26 June:  At 23h08 Shaun ZR5S posted an email saying "I am pleased to announce that Pietermaritzburg now has a D-Star node on a simplex frequency of 433.700Mhz (no tone).
So, if you have a D-Star capable radio, you can use the ZR5S D-Star internet Gateway on 433.700 to connect to anywhere in the world.
This signal emanates from Blackridge and covers the PMB city. In order to increase coverage I will be installing a D-Star repeater at Groenekloof. I have the D-Star repeater kit but await (4 weeks) the 2x Alinco transceivers that will complete this D-Star repeater.
This is a first in Africa and if their is enough interest shown, it could stay here for a very long time. Lets set the standard and get the other clubs to offer this facility to it's members.  The kit only costs R1028incl. fully built and tested. All you need to add is 2x FM mobile radio's to build your repeater.
Have fun
"
Ed:  Thanks and congratulations Shaun! 

24 June:  The new call signs have been allocated.  You can start using them with immediate effect.  Thanks to Mark Zank for organising these so quickly!  and congratulations to the new call sign holders!

Gavin Classen ZR5GAV
Neville Collins ZR5NC
Shaun Fisher ZR5SF
Gudrun Lauterbach ZS5GEL
Andy Orsmond ZR5LC
Ian Pearson ZS5AZ
Farhaadh Rahim ZR5FHR
Krishenchun Ramsaran ZR5KRN
Des Mullen ZU5DM

20 June: The call signs of the RAE students have not been issued yet.  It is understandable since the person responsible for this is also in charge of of sorting applications for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, having to focus on dealing with all spectrum licensing requests.  A bit more patience is necessary, and SARL has asked that the candidates not contact them or ICASA directly, as it will bring nothing, and possibly only add to the frustration and delay things further.

19 June:  Evert ZS5EFP installed the repeater this morning - thanks - it's working very well.  Thanks to Craig for repairing it and brining it up to Pmb!

13 June:  The Estcourt repeater is repaired.  It will be brought up to Pmb this week, and can then be installed when someone goes past Estcourt.  Craig is also waiting for a gap so that the repaired Underberg repeater can be reinstalled.

10 June:  Call signs for the RAE candidates can now only be reserved after the examination, and not before as in the past.  Mark Zank ZS6YES reports that this was done on Monday, and that he is doing his best to be able to issue the new call signs before 16 June, Youth Day.  Hopefully he will get it right - it is not an easy task.  A special thank you goes to him and his helpers for organising the RAE so efficiently!

8 June:  ZR5S and ZS5ML went to Gilboa to install the newly acquired power supply for the UHF repeater.

5 June: The SARL announced that all our RAE candidates passed their exams.  Congratulations to the students and also to Evert ZS5RFP, who tutored the candidates!

1 June: Reminder: The SARL subscription invoices have been sent out.  If you are a member, and have not received your invoice, please contact the SARL directly.

30 May: Comrades Marathon, in which some of our members provided communications to the race organisers.  5 operators are from our club, and 26 are from Durban.

29 May:  RTA in Durban, at the University of KZN

28 May: The funeral of ZS5NC took place at 13h00 at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Hayfields.

23 May:  ZS5ML and ZU5GL went to Gilboa to replace the battery charger, and installed a loaned power supply for the repeater.  The power supply did not have enough capacity and was returned.  A new one will be installed shortly.

21 May: Silent Key
Milne Buchan ZS5NZ became a silent key on the morning of 21 May 2010.  He was a Honorary Life Member of MARC and also of of SARL.
He is survived by his daughter Anne.
Funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as they are known.

20 May:  9 club members sat the A and B class RAE exams tonight.  It seemed to be a fair exam, but to achieve top marks would have required exceptional students.  Here is a picture of some of our candidates sweating it out.  Good luck to all of you!

13 May:  The exam numbers for our RAE candidates are out:
1005013  Classen.G       
1005015  Collins.N         
1005035  Fisher.S         
1005063  Lauterbach.G 
1005087  Mullen.D        
1005093  Orsmond.L.A  
1005094  Pearson.I.A    
1005098  Rahim.F.H     
1005099  Ramsaran.K   

24 April:  The SARL had their AGM in Port Elisabeth.  A new committee was chosen, trophies awarded and the new constitution was approved - it is basically a re-write of the old one.

24 April 2010:  Power was restored in Hilton.  ZR5S and ZS5ML visited these sites today, installing a 12A battery charger at World's View, reprogramming the Didi there and then switching the computer back on at Groenekloof.

24 April:  Had a very good MARC meeting.  We had an open discussion on repeater etiquette, ZS5PJ showed us his radio kits which he takes along on his trips, and Bert brought along an old Heathkit radio and talked a bit about it and touched on radio repairs.

21 April:  ZR5S went to Estcourt repeater.  The battery and power supply were tested and are fine.  The repeater has been working very well lately, and was not fading away.  When the uhf link radio was turned on it's side to read the serial number of the radio, it lost it's TX!  it was also running extremely hot.  It was left in place to see if it would recover, bur alas, it did not.  So it will have to come out and be repaired.  It looks like the linking problem was the uhf link radio.

20 April: Power failures in the Hilton area resulted in the World's View repeater and fill in Digi going off air.  The battery was drained down to 0V - not good for the battery.  Will need to source a battery saver.
Groenekloof also lost power resulting in the Echolink computer and APRS digi going off air

19 April: ZR5S went up to World's View and connected a temporary power supply.  The 750 repeater is up and running again.  Thanks Shaun!

17 April:  A few attended the most informative AMSAT Space Symposium in Durban
                The World's View 750 repeater went off air for some reason.

27 March:  Had a most enjoyable morning at the joint swop shop in Monteseel

24 March: ZR5S and ZS5ML went up to Gilboa this afternoon and replaced the power supplies which were damaged by lightning on Saturday.  All's working well again

23 March:  Gilboa switched itself off this morning (with the battery saver).  Telemetry shows that it tripped out during Saturday's storm on 20 March

5 March:  ZR5S and ZS5ML installed the Windy Hill Hamnet repeater.  It belongs to Hamnet, and has no tone guard at this stage.  It is also not linked to our repeater network.

14 February 2010: We concluded a successful SARL HF Field weekend in Illovo (Villa Spa), just south of Durban, together with HARC.  The setting and camaraderie was great, and good contacts were made, even though 20 & 80m were flat from there.  40m was also not as good as it was last time from Midmar.  There were enough trees to string our antennas from.  Pictures can be viewed here

 


Some old photos submitted by Bob, ZS5CU can be found here

If you have some old photos, please send them - I would love to display them here.  If they are old paper photos, I can scan them in if necessary, as I did with Bob's photos. 


13/14 February 2010 SARL HF Field Day

The first leg of the SARL Field Day for 2010 took place at Villa Spa in Illovo on Saturday 13 February to 12h00 on Sunday 14 February.  A number of members from MARC and HARC attended.  Some camped and some stayed in the Bungalows.

The picture above from our veranda, showing some of the vehicles, and the one below of Ian in the back of his Land Rover

A lot of fun was had, and many contacts were made, even if the bands were not as good as on the last event at Midmar Dam


30 January 2010: The standby 750 repeater was removed as the tx side had gone faulty.  ZU5DF also cleared the World View site of grass and weeds - thanks Shaun!

26 January: ZS5EFP is manufacturing tone boards for the older radios in our club.  Please contact him or the committee if you would like one.

24 January: The Bacar launch in the Worcester Airport, Western Cape was postponed because of ATC issues

22 January:  The standby repeater has been installed at World's View.  Please note that it is not linked.  The original repeater will be sent to Craig for repairs

20 January: "The 750 Worlds View repeater was recovered as the intermittent squeal it suffered from, got more prominent and regular. I will have a go at it first to try find a dry joint as when I tapped the heat sink, the fault cleared. If I fail, zs5cid will have a go at it.
The Worlds View fill-in digi lost its settings when i disconnected the power from the equipment. I will have to go back and reprogram it. This only affects PMB CBD aprs coverage marginally.
The PC at Hilton was reset and all seems to be working again wrt the aprs igate, echolink, e-qso, shipplotter and planeplotter. I recovered my d-700 and put in an Alinco radio and KAM tnc to perform the igate duties. A tk-80 was also installed onto the KAM duall-port tnc for HF igate duties. I just need to erect a 30m di-pole now."  Shaun ZR5S

16 January:  We had a successful MARC meeting, with 20 attendees.  Honorary members of our club were announced, and they are: Hartwig Hillermann ZS5WA, Hill Mason ZS5HL,  Milne Buchan ZS5NZ and Rod Radford ZS5RK, now ZL1RK. 

Peter ZS5PJ held a very good talk on repeater deviation and Shaun did a presentation on APRS, incorporating quite a few programs like UIView, www.aprs.fi and Google Earth.
 
The radio donated by Brian ZR5BCB was raffled and the winner was Roger O'Neill ZS5EV.  A special thanks to Craig, and congratulations to Roger.
 
We will be looking for 7 volunteers for the Carbineers Road Race (Postnet Marathon) on the 28th February.  The race starts at 05h30, as far as I can recall.

16 January:  Bacar 2010 is set to launch on 24 January from the Worcester airport at 11h00.  More details can be found at http://www.amsatsa.org.za/bacar.htm

15 January:  News from HARC:  Ch6, the Kensington uhf repeater is back up and running.  It overlooks the Mosas Madiba Stadium to the east and Makro Springfield to the west.  is is on 439.275/431.675MHz, encode 88.5.  More can information can be found here

13 January:  Meyer Koch ZS5MMK became a silent key today.  "Meyer had been a stanch member of our club having served on the Committee for several years. He had not been well for some time. Our condolences are extended to his xyl Norma and family. R.I.P."

12 January: ZS5S reinstalled the Hilton 145.6625 repeater, which had it's deviation set correctly by ZS5CID.  Thanks Craig and Shaun!

9 January: ZR5S is organised a work party to go to Gilboa to change the rx antenna and test the ac feed cable. ZU5DF tested the cable with a Mega, and all is 100%.  We changed the rx X200 antenna, which was full of water again.  Upon investigation  it was found that there were pin prick holes in the top section.  We are awaiting answers from the suppliers.
Unfortunately Gilboa tripped again just before 19h00 the same evening!

1 January 2010:  ZR5S and ZS5ML went to Griffin's Hill, Estcourt, and replaced the receive antenna with a X200, connected the correct tx antenna (phased folded dipoles), and connected the 700 repeater with link.  Click here for some photos.
ZU5DF went up to Gilboa and reset the tripped circuit breaker - thanks Shaun!

27 December 2009:  A work party converged on Gilboa to provide moral support for Shaun, ZR5S, who installed the new UHF repeater.  Present were the Marx family, Shaun ZU5DF, Mike ZS5ML and of course Shaun ZR5S.  It was misty, but thankfully the rain kept away.

The Shauns and Mike then traveled to Greytown, where the repeater was modified to prevent the repeater from being tone activated by accident.

The repeaters are working fine.  The receive antenna at Gilboa however is off-spec, and we suspect that the antenna contains water again.  Another work party will be needed to change the antenna.  As a result, the Underberg link battles to open the UHF link at Gilboa.

More pictures can be found here and here

Click here for a schematic diagram showing the linking of the repeaters

24 December:  The SARL has confirmed that ICASA has extended the grace period to 28 February 2010 for license payments.

23 December:  It looks like ICASA will only send out license renewals in the second or third week of January (possibly later).  License payments are due on 31 December, with a grace period of 1 month.  There are negotiations underway to extend the grace period to the end of February, but please do not bank on this happening.  Please make your payments as soon as possible, with your correct license number as reference.

The banking details are as follows:
Acc. Name: ICASA,
Bank: Nedbank
Type of account: Deposit Account
Branch: 14-62-45-00
Account No: 1462002927
Reference No: The license number


Also, the new members who have recently passed their exams will have to pay a pro-rata fee for next year.  They paid the full license fee of R27, and of this a pro-rata rate, probably from the date when they passed their exams, will apply to this year.  I estimate that they will have to pay in about R3.50 for next year,  but obviously this can only be done once they receive their licenses, as payments cannot be done with call signs as a reference number.

20 December.  Midmar hf field day results:  Congrats to the HARC/MARC team!  We achieved 4th place.  Here are first 10 places :
1st Jan Botha, ZS4JAN, 116 412 points;  2nd West Rand ARC, ZS6WR, 77 712 points; 3rd Boland ARC, ZS1TB, 71 504 points; 4th Highway ARC, ZS5HAM, 61 048 points; 5th Sandton ARC, ZS6STN, 31 120 points; 6th Pretoria ARC, ZS6PTA, 30 488 points; 7th Hibiscus Coast ARC, ZS5HAC, 24 072 points; 8th Zululand ARC, ZS5ZLB, 19 542 points; 9th Oakdale ARC, ZS1OAK, 16 632 points; 10th Bloemfontein RAC, ZS4BFN, 2 760 points.

18 December: We uplifted the Hilton repeater today, and ZS5ML took it up to ZS5CID, together with the old repeater for retuning. 

8 December:  Shaun, ZR5S, removed the old repeater at Hilton, and installed the new Kenwood repeater.  The deviation on the old repeater needs to be set - it is too wide.  The deviation on the stand in repeater also seems to be too wide.  Please don't use this repeater too often so that the DARC members are not inconvenienced by this.  The repeater will be disconnected when Shaun goes past there again.

6 December:  Shaun, ZR5S, drove up to Gilboa and restored the power.

5 December:  11 members made it to the Christmas braai.  Many had other prior commitments.  It is always difficult to find a date at Christmas time convenient to most.  The radio donated by Brian, ZR5BCB,  will be raffled at the next meeting, on 16 January

29 November: The SARL reports that ZU5DF and ZU5FHR, Shaun and Farhaadh, achieved 100% in their RAE exams.  Well done!

 

SARL HF Field Day Camping Weekend at Midmar Dam
21/22 November 2009

Once again, we had a fantastic and successful weekend at Midmar dam, organised jointly by HARC and MARC.  Three parties already pitched up on Friday night, in spite of the wet weather.  Luckily the weather was dry on Saturday, and Sunday was a glorious sunny day.

We had quite a few visitors on Saturday.  Two radio stations were used, and consisted of an Icom 706MKIIg and an Icom IC-728, both with antenna tuners.  The antennas used were a 40/80 dipole, strung high (15m) between tree trees, and a NVIS connected to Mike's Landrover (ZS5ML).  Both setups were run off vehicle batteries.  Band conditions were good, and well over 300 contacts were made on various bands.

Craig, ZS5CD, gave an interesting talk and demo on antennas, and brought  many of his projects along.

A special thanks to Brian, ZR5BCB, who donated a new handheld radio to each club!  It is being "raffled off" at R20 per ticket.  The draw will be at the club's Christmas Braai at the clubhouse on 5 December.  Should you wish to buy some tickets, please contact Mike, ZS5BGV, or come along to the Christmas braai, where you will be able to purchase a ticket or two before the draw. 

Peter, ZS5PJ, also donated a uhf radio to the club.  This can be used as a link radio.  Thanks Peter!

Thanks to all who came along to make the outing a success.  Hope to see you all again on the next outing  - possibly for the next HF field day in March next year.

More photos can be found here.


13 November:  The RAE results are out!  Please click here for the full results.  Well done on passing your examinations, and please call in on air when possible - we would love to hear you.

Gavin Classen  ZU5GC
Neville Collins ZU5NC
Shaun Fisher ZU5DF 
Pierre Hodgins ZU5DX
Gavin Marx ZU5GM
Jason Marx  ZU5JM
Rachel Marx      ZU5RM
Andy Orsmond ZU5A
Ian Pearson    ZU5AZ
Juan Pieterse ZU5JP
Farhaadh Rahim ZU5FHR
Krishenchun Ramsaran ZU5KRN

Congratulations to all of you!  you are now licenced to talk on air!

8 November:  The RAE results are out!  Congratulations to our candidates who passed! 
"
As we are in the process of obtaining your call signs, we would like you to please be patient for a few more days. The SARL has been requested by the authority only to submit the call signs of those that have passed the RAE. The reservation of these call signs will then be done.
As soon as we have received your reserved call signs we will then supply them to you and you may then go onto the air and start transmitting without delay. The SARL would like to request that should you have not yet completed your HF assessment, you do so immediately so that we can complete the examination process.
Your results letters will shortly be mailed to you with your relevant certificates.
Should your name not appear on this list, then you have unfortunately not passed the examination, but you will have a chance to re-write your RAE examination in May 2010.
All enquiries on the results should be made to the SARL office at 011 675 2393 or by email to admin@sarl.org.za."

5 November:  The Hilton 6625 repeater's deviation was too wide, so we reset it with the host's help and a deviation meter.  But alas, it is now wider than before.  So, please only use the repeater when you have to, as it might cause frustration to fellow hams trying to listen in on 650.

17 October.  Held our SGM, and agreed to a new amended constitution.  Des Mullen, from Rural Metro held a talk about their organisation.  It was well received, and the possibility exists that we could help in times of disaster. 
3 of us proceeded up to World's View to assess what we need to bring along for the next work party

16 October.  Shaun installed the 145.6625 repeater at Hilton - all is working very well so far

15 October. Shaun visited Gilboa, and found all 3 circuit breakers had tripped.  Our 10A 3 stage power supply was u\s, and even though he managed to power up the uhf link repeater, it seems to have lost its finals.  He installed a temp 3A charger

12 October.  A late afternoon storm hit us.  Gilboa went off air, and the Pmb 750 repeater started making funny sounds, and is motor-boating periodically.

10 October.  Glad to report that Gilboa is still up.  Craig has been busy with repeater repairs as per normal.  The Estcourt 700 repeater is nearly finished.  The Hilton 6625 repeater is repaired, and Craig is just awaiting the receive xtal to come in the post.  We are hoping to have all these repeaters back in position within the next two weeks.
Craig and Phillip have now linked the Underberg repeater to our network via UHF - the link radio had to be taken down however on 10/10/09 for repairs.

03 October.  The power at Gilboa is still up, despite the cold and wet weather experienced.  We left the tone guard off on the 750 repeater, and only switched it back on late on 02/10, due to excessive break through.  It seems that tone guarding is definitely necessary.  Tone bursting was discussed, but is impractical and expensive to implement at the moment, as the present control boards in the repeaters will have to be replaced and new software written to accommodate both CTCSS and tone bursting.  We are still awaiting quotes for CTCSS tone boards which we can retrofit into old rigs.

Craig has finished repairing the Hilton repeater, which needed a new receiver board.  The xtal for this board should arrive within the next two weeks.  This repeater can then be reinstalled.  Craig is also busy rebuilding the 700 repeater for Estcourt, and fitting a DTMF control board.

25 September.  Shaun, ZR5S, and Mike, ZS5ML went to Gilboa to make some changes.  up there we found Brian, ZR5BCB, who had switched everything back on after he replaced his cable - rats had started eating his cable underground!  So it is possible that the rats have taken a liking to our cable as well, causing the circuit breakers to trip.
We removed the earth from our cable, and introduced a separate earth at the repeater box.  Shaun had bought a circuit breaker earlier in the day, and it was installed in the repeater box.  This will hopefully show whether the fault is in the cable or in our repeater set-up.  The surge arrestors were also removed, just in case they were at fault.  A cut-off timer, which gets activated with spikes, was left in place, however.  The uhf squelch was tightened slightly in an attempt to filter out the signals which opened the repeater yesterday

24 September.  Stanley, ZR5SEM, went up to Gilboa to reset the tripped circuit breaker.  He switched it on at about 09h00, and the repeater switched back on at 09h09 when the voltage was high enough.  Unfortunately it tripped again at 10h29.  The battery managed to keep the repeater going until 20h09 that evening, and then went to sleep once again.
After the repeater came on air, it was periodically opened by some interference.  In trying to find the source, I switched on the CTCSS tone on the Greytown repeater, which then became non responsive.  When I phone Craig, he made me aware that the repeater does not have a tone board, and this is why it will not respond anymore.  It will need a hardware fix (resistor) when next we are there.  It still transmits whatever is transmitted on the linked network, but cannot receive.  The repair might have to wait until we install the Estcourt repeater

19 September.  We had a successful meeting at the Groenekloof site, with a good turnout.  A few brought some antennas along and these were analysed with a miniVNA analyser.  Some redundant antennas were taken down, with Shaun climbing the mast.  Some photos can be viewed here

We have 14 students doing the ZU course.  Special thank to Mike, ZS5BGV (logistics and admin), Craig ZS5CD, for organising the tuition, and Evert, ZS5EFP, for helping and concluding the lectures (Craig was struck down by Malaria). On behalf of the club, we welcome our new student members, and hope to hear you on air soon.  You certainly have joined a great club and hobby!

07/09/09  ZS5S and ZS5ML proceeded to Groenekloof, and fitted the Aircraft receiver/plotter after organising an internet link there.  We took down a uhf antenna to make space for the new antenna.  The APRS VHF IGate was also transferred there.

10/09/09  Shaun met with ZS5JC, Jan Coetzee, from the Hibiscus coast,  at Groenekloof  to discuss alarming the room there.  I then joined them at World's View, where Shaun installed an IGate "repeater" to cover the CBD.  We then proceeded back to Groenekloof, and installed the X700 for the EQSO and ship plotter.  Two more old antennas were removed from the mast, with the old coax.  The remaining coax cables were then re-routed and tidied up

12/09/09 ZS5ML drove up to Eshowe and met with Willie, ZS5WI, who had looked after the two donated Polyscops.  The two heavy units were loaded into my Land Rover, together with old copies of HHN dating back to about 1998.

I then proceeded to the New Germany Nature Reserve where I attended the Hamnet meeting where we displayed our readiness wrt to vehicles and equipment.  Not every one could attend, but 10 fully self stainable stations were on show.  Not a bad showing!  The individual stations were very impressive and ranged from fully equipped 4x4s to fully equipped sedans, ensuring that Hamnet here in KZN is well prepared for most eventualities wrt to communications.  All stations are self sustainable, and do not relay on repeaters for communications, but have access to all should the need arise, whether tone guarded or not!  Some stations had their own repeaters, which could be used where necessary as on some of our regular yearly events.

19 September  MARC held their monthly meeting at Groenekloof.  It was well attended, and the topic was the testing of antennas using the miniVNA antenna analyser of Shaun and Mike.  For shade on this glorious day we used the awning on Mike's Land Rover and a gazebo, in the fenced tower area.  Shaun did the hard work again by climbing the tower and removing 3 old antennas, one of them a heavy phased uhf antenna setup.  The 6m mini loop was also lowered as it showed an open circuit on the miniVNA.  It became apparent that the matching stub had broken off.  It was resoldered using Mike's inverter and soldering iron (Eskom decided to stay away during our meeting).  The antenna was resealed with silicone and self amalgamating tape.  I climbed the tower, but ran into an uncomfortable height, resulting in Shaun taking over again to re-install the antenna.  It was connected to the repaired beacon (thanks, Craig, ZS5CID!) and is operational again.

20 September  It was discovered that the power had tripped again at Gilboa on Thursday, 17 September.  It could possibly have something to do with the wet cold front which swept through there at the same time


The MARC Vision by Shaun Rudling, ZR5S

Clubs and individuals need goals and visions to be progressive or else we stagnate. MARC has a dynamic vision and that is to stimulate “out of the box” thinking amongst its members and to be a benchmark for other clubs to follow.

Imagine this, communicating with each other with light frequencies. Why not? It gets done with optic fiber with glass as a medium. Lets try it with air as a medium. In fact, hams are doing it right now using a torch parabolic reflector to add some gain to the transmitted light and using a digital camera pick-up as a receiver. Imagine the scene at night with light communications between each other. Even better would to be using laser lights.

Aligning your antennas would be a cinch.  Light is electromagnetic radiation just like the radio spectrum we use. Just a bit higher in frequency than what we are familiar with.  This also applies to microwave, Gamma, infra red and ultra-violet radiation. Your eyes are sensitive antenna’s that receive a narrow bandwidth of this spectrum.  We call it “visible light”.  Really, your eyes are narrow-band, co-phased antenna’s capable of receiving electromagnetic radiation. Do your eyes have a bad SWR?  Spectacles can help you align your eyeball antennas. Pause here a bit and exercise your brain before you move on.  Visualize what you have just read with your antennas.  Your eyes are reading this text in an analogue format.  Digitize and pulse this light and with a bit of practice your brain could receive and decode digital signals.  We challenge you to challenge us on these ramblings. Your thoughts and ideas will be published in the next HHN. 

What about upgrading our aging analogue vhf linked repeater network to a digital voice linked system.  Icom have offered us a D-Star repeater that will seamlessly link repeaters to a network. Digital voice communications is how cell-phones work. We code your analogue voice into a digital format, then we modulate an analogue radio frequency with the digital data and it gets received by a repeater. The target destination receives and decodes the data and you hear a synthesized voice which should sound similar to the original source.

D-star makes repeater linking easy. It allows crystal clear audio without interference. It allows a easy way to link up with other D-star repeaters around the world. Only listen to voice traffic destined for you.  Send Text msgs.  Send data files. See what call-sign is calling you on the display. The flexibility of this system allows for new ideas to be implemented by flashing a new firmware.

Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? With a bit of effort we could have our first D-star repeater installed and working within 2 years. It will be the first one in Africa.  Do not stagnate. Dream and visualize long enough and it will materialize. Amateur radio is not your granddaddy’s hobby. It is a rapidly developing science and often leads ahead of the commercial sector.  Let our youth see the new technology we embrace. Explain to them how we acknowledge our forefathers achievements of the past, but always look forward for new ideas to quench our thirst for invention.

Think this is far fetched?  Think back to the time when SSB was introduced, and many swore that they would never embrace it.....


  • 30/08/09 Shaun and Mike, accompanied by Joost, ZS5S, left for Gilboa to sort the fault.  To our relief, our circuit breaker was still up.  The other station had tripped, together with the feed circuit breaker in the Vodacom distribution board.  Brian has been in contact with Vodacom, and power will be restored tomorrow.  We replaced the battery with a fully charged battery, enabling members to use the linked network again.
    29/08/09 The battery saver kicked in at 19h11, giving us just over 2 days of airtime from the battery.
    27/08/09 Gilboa lost power again at aprox 11h40, after exactly 3 days since it's "repair".  It was raining and this could have something to do with it - just hope it is not the cable.  The charging voltage did not drop down to 13.8V even after 3 full days of charging, and this could possibly be related to the tripped circuit breaker?  We will try and get there on Sunday to find the fault.
  • Gilboa, 24/08/09 - Shaun, ZR5S, Mike, ZS5BGV, Peter, ZS5PJ and myself, ZS5ML, braved the wet conditions and thick mist, and proceeded into the permanent cloud layer, enshrouding Mt Gilboa. We replaced the top X200 antenna (water-filled from a bad joint), circuit breaker, surge protector and stays with stainless steel stays, while boost charging the battery.
  • 17/08/09 - The Gilboa repeater lost power again 4 hours after it was restored.  We suspect that the surge protector might be faulty.  As a result, the network will go off air again today when the battery voltage gets too low.  Due to work commitments, this repeater can only be attended to at the earliest by Friday, possibly even later.  Volunteers are required to help with lowering the mast so that the faulty top antenna can be changed at the same time.  Please contact Shaun if you can help
  • 6/08/09 - The Gilboa repeater went off air, and telemetry data showed that power was lost on 12 August, at 23h00, the battery supplying power until 20h00 on 15/08/09.  ZR5S and ZS5ML went up to the site, and found that the circuit breaker was down.  No fault was found and the system was restored, with a boost charge for an hour.
    We tested the antennas, and found that the top Diamond X200 antenna was resonant at 142MHz, and had an swr of about 4 at 145.5MHz.  So, something is wrong with the antenna. To protect the repeater, we changed to transmit antenna to the lower one, who's swr is fine.  The plan is to change/repair the antenna on our next visit.
    At 19h00, I noticed that the power at Gilboa had failed again, shortly before 18h00.  This means that another trip is needed to Gilboa.  The most likely scenario is that the battery charger is faulty.  Let's hope that it is not a faulty cable, which trips when there is enough moisture from weather conditions.  A battery charger is much easier to replace than the cable.
    Just an example to members who are not in favour of paying the increased yearly membership fees of R140:  To sort the repeater today, we had to drive 332km, at the cost of over R1000, at our own expense, labour cost is of course not taken into consideration.  Even the transportation cost cannot be borne by the club, and is thus expected yo be sacrificed by the committee member you have elected to look after our repeater sites.  I just mention this to our members who complain that the membership fees are too high...And we still have to visit the repeater again, after buying a new battery charger.
  • 15/08/09 - 6 of our club members assisted with communications for the Capital Climb race.  It was a glorious day, and the communications were a success.
    The monthly club meeting was also held today.  It was very well attended and the constructive meeting was followed by 3 presentations:  The aircraft tracking on Google Earth by ZR5S, modifications to a simple Eveready FM radio to shift the frequency band into the airband section by ZS5QB, and a demonstration of the miniVNA antenna analyser by ZS5ML
  • 29/07/09 - the 750 repeater is up and running again, and is working well.  It is tone guarded with a tone on 88.5 on it's input.  The Hilton 145.675 repeater has been removed from the linked network, but is still in position and is operating in stand-alone mode.  It will be taken out for tweaking once the 145.700 repeater is repaired and back in action. 
  • The AGM was held on 18/07/09 at 11h00 with a good turn-out.  The new committee is Mike Boast, ZS5BGV (chairman), Peter du Plessis, ZS5PJ, Shaun Rudling, ZRS5S, Brian Lourens, ZR5BCB, Rob Billing, ZU5ROB, Mike Lauterbach, ZS5ML, Craig Dagleish, ZS5CID
  • Craig, ZS5CD, donated a UHF and a VHF radio.  The UHF radio will be used as the link radio at Estcourt.  Craig, ZS5CID, will order the right crystals for this set, and the VHF could be used for Echolink.
    A big thank you to Craig, ZS5CD, for the donation.  It is especially appreciated since you are not even a club member here, but a valuable one at HARC.  Hopefully we can return a favour in the future as well. 
  • 06/07/09 - Both the 700 and 750 repeaters have found a lift with Erica, XYL of Phillip, ZR5PDL.  Thanks for that lift, and to Shaun for meeting her in Howick.  Shaun also returned the power supply for the beacon at Groenekloof.  He repaired it recently at his own cost
  • The 700 repeater at Windy Hill was also removed for repairs on 02/07/09.  It will be sent in for repairs together with the 750 repeater.  Once repaired, it will be installed in Estcourt on a trial base.  If the 675 performs well at Hilton, then the 700 will possible stay at Estcourt.  Hamnet is taking over the Windy Hill site with their own 700 repeater.
  • 1/7/09 The Alverstone repeater (145.600MHz) has been linked to our network.  It is a split repeater.  It has a CTSS tone guard of 103.5  and transmits at 150W. Thanks Brian, ZS5BG!
  • 24/06/09 The Hilton Repeater is up and running again!  Here are extracts from an email from Shaun, ZR5S, who you can see on the tower:
    "ZS5ML (Mike), ZR5SEM (Stanley) and myself, arrived at the Hilton SAPS station this morning at 09h00 as planned. We installed the Estcourt 675 repeater here on a trial basis.
    The packet digi (ZS0HIL) was moved to the Groenekloof site today as well. Try connect to it on 144.625Mhz on ZS0HIL-1. It is using a slim-jim antenna."
    "We had hoped to be finished by 13h00 but unfortunately the cables underground had been corroded through (bad idea to have a joint here sealed with tape!) and i got home exhausted at 18h00. Clinging on to a swaying mast 30m up in the gusty wind today, was tiresome.
    We routed the 60 odd meters of LMR400 through the ceiling and came to 5m short of the radio room! @#$%^&*() MARC was now fresh out of cable and we had to make a join in the ceiling. New LMR400 for the RX antenna at the top, and we kept the existing 3/4 inch Helix cable on the TX antenna (bottom). Two new Diamond X-200 antennas where fitted and we now have a much neater looking tower. The station superintendent nodded an approval on completion as the old home-brew slim-jims where falling apart and looked tatty.  We also removed about 8 dead coax runs."
  • 16/6/09 The Greytown repeater is up and running on 145.775MHz.
    Shaun, ZR5S, reinstalled the Greytown repeater this afternoon (16/06/09).  We tested it, and seems to be working 100%.  A special thanks to Craig, ZS5CID, for repairing it, and to Shaun for installing it and organising the logistics!
    Craig has also repaired the Estcourt repeater.  Both repeaters have additional features: their links and time-out timers can be switched on and off, as required!
    The World's View repeater was silent this morning.  Shaun, yes the same ZR5S, went to inspect it and found the power supply to be US.  He installed one of his own power supplies for the mean time, and retrieved the repeater at the same time, as it needs to be sent to Craig for modifications - it will need CTSS tone guards to prevent it from being locked up by all the rf on the hill.  This CTSS will be switchable by DTMF tones, so that all with old rigs can still listen to various happenings, such as the Sunday morning net.
    The Estcourt repeater might be installed at the World's View site for the time being until the 750 repeater comes back.   This will give our members repeater access in the mean time, and at the same time, the Estcourt repeater will be tested in the field before being installed in Estcourt .
    A big round of applause needs to go to Shaun, who goes beyond his "voluntary call of duty", to keep our repeaters in top condition, and to Craig, for his expertise in repairing and modifying these repeaters.
    The present committee has strived to get the club back to modern technical levels.  Keeping up-to-date with equipment and technology will be ensure growth and interest in our hobby.  We are slowly, but surely getting there!  Once the Estcourt and World View repeaters are installed, we can boast of an unrivalled networked repeater network, not only allowing to be able to converse on VHF from Durban to Harrismith, but also providing excellent APRS cover.  Stay tuned, there is more to come in the future....
  • The SARL 2009 Radio Technology in Action Symposium was held on Saturday 30 May 2009 at the School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal.  As usual, the tioics covered were awesome, and the event was well attended.
  • Barbara Buchan, ZS5TZ,  passed away on Monday, 25 May 2009.  Her memorial was held on Friday 29 May.  Rest in Peace
  • On 19 April, Shaun and Mike went to Greytown, and successfully replaced the antennas and repeater (145.775MHz), complete with UHF link. 
  • We had a successful club meeting on 18 April.  thanks to Robin for the talk on old radios!
  • The swopshop at John Fielding's QTH in Monteseal on 27 March was well attended, like last year.  We will be looking forward to the next one.
  • Our web site is now ranked 18th when you do a world wide search of "MARC".  It seems that we are back on the map!  There are few clubs called MARC, like Montgomery Amateur Radio Club, Marc's Amateur Radio Center, The Mississauga Amateur Radio Club etc.  This study could be a subject all on its own....
  • A couple of our club members attended the PIC course on Saturday, 21 February.  The course was very well presented and full of interesting information.  Now it's time to practice and the implement some of the numerous projects...
  • SARL HF Field Day 14/15 February 2009
    MARC and HARC joined up at Midmar Dam for the SARL HF Field days on Sat 14 and Sun 15 February 2009.  What a success!  It is a pity that some members had to miss out this event, but there will be more of these in future where they can come along and join in the fun.
    Collin and family, Brad and family, and Mike and Gudrun made the trek to Midmar on Friday afternoon, where they set up camps and spent a very relaxing afternoon and evening at the dam.
    After breakfast, the rest of our MARC members (bar one apology) arrived to attend our committee meeting at 10h00, which we held under the Land Rover's gazebo.  What a setting - we had to concentrate not to get distracted from the great setting at the water's edge! 
    After the committee meeting, the other present members from both clubs joined in and we had some great discussions and ideas - seems that both clubs suffer from inactive members and lack of new members - hopefully this will be resolved in the future.
    The meeting finished just in time for the contest start at 12h00, and Brad and Collin took the first stint on 40m.
    Quite a few members from both Durban and Pietermaritzburg arrived, and many had a turn on the radio.  Later that evening we made a few more contacts on 80m.
    The wind picked up a bit during the afternoon, and both Brad and Collin took advantage of this by sailing up and down the dam.  The weather turned for the worse late afternoon, becoming quite windy, prompting us to erect extra tarpaulins to keep the wind out.
    Sunday morning arrived with cold wet mist, driven across the dam by a stiff breeze.  It was rather uncomfortable and we eventually turned the Land Rover around for more protection.  Brad finished off on the radio in style, and we made 81 contacts in total!
    Similar weekends are definitely in order - great settings with great company!
    More pictures can be found here
  • Shaun, ZR5S, organised APRS digis to be installed in Paddock (ZS0PDK) and in Harrismith (ZS0HRS)Thanks go to ZS4JR (Jannie) and ZR5JAN (Jan) who collected the equipment from PMB and promptly installed it the next day.  Both are communicating well with Gilboa! 
    Now the N3 is covered from Durban to Villiers, from where the Gauteng digis take over.  The N2 is also covered all the way south to possibly Port Edward and northern Transkei.  All what is needed is to get one on the north coast (Jo, are you listening:-), and somewhere in the southern Drankensberg region.  Well done Shaun!  Quite an achievement!  Hopefully the club will buy the equipment from you one day when they realise the value of APRS :-)
  • The SARL HF Field weekend at Midmar dam was a great success.  Thanks to all who came along!  We definitely need more of these outings.  Click here for some pictures.
  • Shaun connected the MARC 750 repeater to the President's Net tonight (25 Jan)  It worked very well.  Thanks Shaun!
  • Stanley, ZR5SEM, went past Griffin's Hill (25 Jan) to have a look at our Estcourt repeater antennas.  The repeater has had an audio defect for a while, but recently it started cutting out completely.  The antennas look fine, so  we need to get a work party going for this repeater as well and sort the problem, which might be radio related.
  • The Gilboa repeater is working very well after the antenna replacement, probably better than ever
  • The Gilboa repeater came back on line at 19h50, 16 January!  Thanks Brian for powering it up again.  It took a couple of hours before the batteries eventually reached 12.5V and kicked the repeater back in.
  • World's View "Antenna straightening"  On 12 January, Shaun, ZR5S, and Mike, ZS5ML, went up to World's View to straighten the top antenna, which had swiveled through 45 degrees in the strong winds.
    Shaun climbed up to do the job, while I stayed below, well out of harm's way.
    Luckily there was no damage to the X-200 antennas, and hopefully the tightened bolts will do the trick.  More photos can be viewed here

  • Gilboa Repeater  Repair #2  The uhf hub repeater at Gilboa was starting to become a bit scratchy again, after our initial temporary repair, using the original shortened pole which had snapped.  The good thing about this was that it ensured that the temporary repair did not become a permanent repair...
    Shaun, ZR5S organised a work party for 27 December.  3 vehicles then converged on Mt Gilboa on Saturday morning: Stanley (ZR5SEM) with family, Shaun with his son, Errol (ZS5EGW) and Mickey (ZS5QB) in his vehicle, and Mike (ZS5ML) in his Land Rover. 
    It was very windy and a bit chilly on top, and we immediately saw why the repeater was not operating too well - the lower transmit antenna had settled at 30 degrees off vertical.  Shaun had brought a sturdier cross beam and new U-bolts to sort this.
    We then removed the old pole, inserted a sturdier galvanised pole with the new Diamond X200 on top, in place of the old X700, which was too long for the winds experienced here.
    While we were busy, Shaun cleaned the battery terminals and connected the new battery protector, which will isolate the battery when it drops to below 10.5V, to ensure it's longevity.
    Stanley's wife, Rachel, managed to get a fire going in the strong wind and braaied some sausage, and provided us wors rolls.  These went down extremely well - thanks Stanley and Rachel!
    We eventually left the mountain Just after 15h00 after testing the radios and antennas.
    Click here for more photos..
    Epilogue:  On the following morning, when I switched on my radio to join the Sunday morning net, I noticed that the UHF link repeater was dead.  On checking the Gilboa telemetry on the internet, I saw that the power to the repeater had tripped at 01h00 on 28/12/08, probably due to lightning (we experienced thunderstorms and rain throughout the night). 
    The APRS side was still working though, so we were confident that it was not a direct lightning strike.
    Shaun then went up to Gilboa at midday.  The circuit breakers were tripped, including the one in the locked Vodacom DB board - hopefully they can restore it on Monday.  After Shaun removed and replaced the radio cards in the UHF repeater, it came back to life.
    A special thanks to Shaun and family for sacrificing their Sunday to sort the repeater.  We can be grateful that the damage was not more serious

 

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