|There have been VK6WI broadcasts from March
1931 for radio amateurs, as reported below. More research is needed to
piece together the history before WWII.
|Broadcast Officer Douglas VK6ZMG
interviewing Alyn VK6KWN (SK) for the VK6WIA news, at a WARG raffle
draw, while leaning on Jill's (VK6YL) tower. Photograph taken
Photographs, circuits and text descriptions of the VK6 WIA news broadcast network and news broadcast transceiver (FM880) can be found on buttons below.
The VK6 WIA have broadcast a news service for decades and began in earnest after WW2.
See Don Graham's (VK6HK) recolections below.
List of past VK6 WIA Broadcast presenters..more information needed
Beginning after WW2
Ted Doddy VK6WH (SK)
Wally Coxon VK6AG (SK)
Bob Elms VK6BE
George Moss VK6GM...? (SK)
George Hayman VK6GH
David Couch VK6WT
Don Graham VK6HK (SK)
Harry Pride VK6HP (SK)
Alan Austin VK6MA
Chris Carter VK6FC
Don Reimann VK6DY (SK)
Douglas Gordon VK6ZMG
Nick Morgan VK6ND
Aaron Petch VK6BK
Alyn Maschetti VK6ZGA - VK6KWN (SK)
Harry Atkinson VK6WZ (SK)
Tony Savory VK6TS
Dennis Muldowie VK6KAD (SK)
And Roy Watkins VK6XV running VK6 Helpline for decades
The first issue of Helpline was born on Fathers' Day 1985 on NewsWest.
HELPLINE is now in its 26th year of operation and all being well will be around for many more years of Service to Amateur Radio Operators and other Radio and Electronic Enthusiasts.
A history of the VK6 WIA news broadcasts after 1970
Broadcast on 40 metres
Up until the 1970s the broadcast originated on the high frequency band, particularly 40 metres. As the news was primarily for VK6 and most amateurs lived in the Southern part of VK6, 40 metres was an ideal band to provide good coverage to the intended area.
Amplitude modulation was of course used up until the 1960s when SSB took over. The VK6 news then continued to originate on 40 metres, with some relays onto other bands. However the 40m broadcast did continue for a number of years, as it was considered important for short wave listeners.
My early memories of the 40 metre broadcast was with Harry Pride VK6HP originating the transmission from Como. The broadcast was live and Harry did a great broadcast for several years. It was during Harry's time as broadcast officer, that the news changed to being pre-recorded.
Broadcast on 2 metres FM - VK6RAP
During the 1970s the VK6WIA news was re-broadcast onto VK6RAP 2 metres. This was primitive in the beginning, as the 40 metre SSB transmission was received and re-transmitted onto VK6RAP's input. There were a number of issues with this, particularly the time out on VK6RAP. The way around this was to interrupt the 2 metre transmission from the re-broadcast station every 4 minutes. Along with the poor SSB to FM repeat the resulting quality was not good. However at least the news was available to a growing number of 2 metre FM users. Particularly amateurs who had 2 metres FM in their cars. They could now receive the news while mobile and not need a bulky HF transceiver on board.
But the time out was a real annoyance and Neil VK6NE came up with a electrical-mechanical clock with relay that could be used to inhibit VK6RAP's time out. The relay contacts just shorted out the timing capacitor on the repeater's control board. The clock was powered from the mains but had a built in spring backup, so mains failures did not change the clock's timing.
Electrical - Mechanical clock to remove time out during VK6 WIA news
The question was being asked more and more...Why not originate the VK6 WIA news on 2 metres FM direct to VK6RAP...? Rather than relay from 40 metres SSB onto 2 metres FM and other bands, why not reverse this and have better all round audio quality..?The evening re-broadcast
There was considerable opposition in the early days, even to relaying the news onto VK6RAP at all. Perhaps it was just a change too far. The news had been on 40 metres AM and then SSB for decades and had served amateurs well.
Originating the news on 2 metres via VK6RAP
After considerable debate the decision to move the news originating transmission from 40 metres SSB to 2 metres FM was taken. The time out problem had been solved with the mechanical clock and this was modified to remove the CW ident on VK6RAP so relay stations did not re-transmit VK6RAP's ident.
All these changes back then had to be okayed by the ACMA. Any new relay onto any band had to get the okay from the ACMA in writing.
Amateurs who took on the broadcast position used their own 2 metre equipment to transmit the news to VK6RAP. As long as the clock did its job, there were no time outs and the VK6 WIA news had its biggest change in decades.
Some re-broadcast stations took the signal direct on 146.100 MHz rather than receive VK6RAP's output. Provided the direct signal was noise free, this was a good addition to reliability for the growing network of the VK6 WIA news broadcasts.
The move to using FM and VK6RAP resulted in many new relay stations springing up. We now had re-broadcasts at times on all HF bands and VHF bands of 6 metres, 2 metres and 70 cm.
(There is a mention in the VK6 WIA President's report for 1986-1987, that the news also went out on 23cm. I don't have a recollection of this.)
The mechanical clock worked well but had a limitation, it could not do more than one time setting. The RD broadcast could not go out without time out problems on VK6RAP, along with a new proposal to re-broadcast the news Sunday evening.
CTCSS (continuous time codded squelch system) was the obvious solution. If the news broadcast was encoded with a CTCSS transmission then this could be used to remove the time out and CW ident on VK6RAP at any time. However this required all broadcast equipment originating the news to have CTCSS. Remember this was way back when many 2 metre radios did not have this option and a CTCSS encoder would have to be added, usually home brewed.
A CTCSS decoder was installed on VK6RAP and amateurs who originated the news had to install a CTCSS encoder in their equipment, to switch off the time out and Morse ident. This was before the present FM880 news transceivers were constructed by Don VK6HK.
The early days of this transition were not without their problems, in particular remembering to turn on the CTCSS encoder. Several times the news timed out and the broadcast operator was unaware of the situation. This encouraged monitoring of another band that was taking the news from VK6RAP's output. However even this had the odd problem, in that some relay stations who received a better signal direct from the broadcast transmitter, rather than the output of VK6RAP, continued to transmit the news even if VK6RAP had timed out due to no CTCSS encoded tone. If the broadcast officer was monitoring this transmission he did not know VK6RAP had timed out. Many frantic phone calls were made from time to time to alert the broadcast officer of the problem.
To help the broadcast officer know he had the CTCSS tone turned on, a pulsed tone was placed on the carrier tail of VK6RAP, that was heard by all during the test transmission before the news. This overcame the problem of forgetting to turn on the CTCSS tone.
Automatic linking of the news
Once the basic news system had been established, the broadcast using VK6RAP 2 metres, and the time out and Morse ident inhibit, thoughts turned to using the CTCSS logic to link VK6RAP to the on site UHF repeater VK6RUF. This was done, along with a transmitter installed to link the news down to VK6RMW at Mt. William.
An interesting and confusing situation occurred with the evening broadcast. The news had only been broadcast in the morning, at the usual 9.30, but there was interest from some amateurs to have a re-broadcast on the Sunday evening. Remember this was way back in the early 80's when the fantastic array of digital options via the Internet were not available. Not all amateurs could listen to the morning broadcast.
The evening broadcast was done by a different broadcast officer. The problem was, how to obtain a copy of the morning broadcast for re-broadcast in the evening. Sometimes a tape was physically transported from the morning broadcast officer to the evening broadcast officer. This obviously was time consuming, so a simpler way was for the evening broadcast officer to record the morning broadcast from VK6RAP (or direct on RAP's input frequency) and replay it that evening.
In and out of phase
One evening when Chris, VK6FC was re-broadcasting the evening news, the various links, such as the UHF output on VK6RUF, and the link to VK6RMW at Mt. William turned on and off at a regular interval of about 10 seconds. The news continued out on VK6RAP 2 metres, but the other links turned on and off. This was real strange one. The CTCSS tone system was working, as VK6RAP 2metres remained on air, just the links dropped in and out at a precise regular interval.
A look at the signal from Chris showed the CTCSS tone was slowly going up and down. It went low enough, that the CTCSS decoder at Roleystone would drop out, and this would turn off the linked system. What was causing this...?
After much head scratching, the answer was the mixing of the CTCSS tone, that had managed to be recorded on the morning tape, being transmitted along with the normal CTCSS tone on the broadcast transmitter. Yes the recording system from the morning, particularly if it was recorded from the direct input frequency to VK6RAP, recorded the CTCSS on the tape and hence re-broadcast. As the two CTCSS tones were not from the same source, they were on slightly different frequencies and this resulted in the two tones adding and subtracting, as the phase of the two tones changed. The fix was firstly to reduce the low frequency response of the recording system. This worked and as a further fix the CTCSS news lone was notched out within VK6RAP. What an interesting problem...!
As time goes by
The VK6 WIA news link system does a lot. However it was designed and built with limited options, equipment wise and money wise, way back in the 1980's. It is surprising that the equipment at Roleystone has worked, largely without any major problems for so long. It is long past its use by date and does need a re-build along with improved design and more options.
The following recollection from Don Graham VK6HK
WIA news broadcasts after WW2 began around 1946-7 with Ted Doddy VK6WH (SK) running a session on 40m AM. There was no special WIA callsign as such. Sessions were live, unscripted, ad lib and unrecorded. There were no practical ways of recording then apart from some home brew disc cutters in other states.
Amongst other news presenters in the 1950's were Wally Coxon VK6AG, an early pioneer of Radio Broadcasting and George Hayman VK6GH. The latter in professional life later became Director of Technical Education in WA. Hayman Hall in the Bentley campus of Curtin University is named after him. George introduced magazine reviews in the news which continued for many years. He also arranged for meeting accommodation for the WIA in rooms at Perth Technical College and later influenced the introduction of an AR training courses at Perth Tech College campus and the at Mt Lawley campus of TAFE.
I often relayed the 40mx AM broadcast on 6mx AM in those days when Wally VK6AG was the originator.
Around 1950 a special WIA call was licensed with the callsign of VK6WI. No three letter allocation in VK6 in those days; that came much later.
Around 1952-3 yours truly even took a turn running the news on 7MHz AM for one year (under VK6WI). As a result I still have a sample blank QSL card for VK6WI somewhere.
In those early times News operators all worked from their home stations invariably using there own, usually home brew, transmitters.
Around 1959-60 the News still originated on 40mx with Bob Elms VK6BE (then in Kalamunda) as newsreader. I recall preparing a VHF segment and reading that the night before on 6mx AM so Bob could record it and insert it the next day.
During the 1970s Harry Pride VK6HP was perhaps the last news presenter to originate the VK6 news on 40 metres SSB and was the first to start pre-recording the news.
During the early 1980s the VK6WIA news made the transition from originating on 40 metres SSB to originate on 2 metres FM.
Other newsreaders that come to mind are Alan Austin VK6MA, Chris Carter VK6FC, Don Reimann VK6DY (SK), Douglas Gordon VK6ZMG, Alyn Maschetti VK6ZGA-VK6KWN (SK) and of course Harry Atkinson VK6WZ (SK). Tony Savory VK6TS in more recent times followed by Dennis Muldownie VK6KAD.
The following recollection from Bob Elms VK6BE
Harry Pride, VK6HP took over the news service from me when I transferred to Albany in 1971. I took over from Wally Coxon (VK6AG), who had some sort of 40 metre disposals TX, and sometimes broadcast out of band. We had to ring him up and tell him to move up into the band and hung onto the phone till he was legal again!
When I took over the news, the Division bought a disposals AT 20 which put out 400 watts AM on 40 metres, a legal entitlement for WIA news broadcasts. I had built an audio unit, which went via coax leads to the moving arm of the mic gain control of my own home brew phasing type SSB tx. Later the WIA bought a Swan 350, so we could scrap the AT 20, which had parallel hi powered tubes in the final, modulated by two more. I forget the type number of the tubes. The heaters took enough power to toast the breakfast toast, so when the broadcast was running no one could turn on anything in the kitchen or the house fuses would blow. The AT 20 was a full load. When the Division bought a Swan 350 for the broadcast we junked the AT 20.
I fed the audio from my home brew audio unit into my own phasing SSB TX at first but then the Division bought the Swan 350, so I fed the audio in there for 80 metres. My audio unit had several outputs and I transmitted simultaneously on two bands 80, 40 (through a Geloso AM tx bought by the WIA for the 40 metre news which was needed for country areas). Rolo VK6BO relayed on 144 AM and Jim Rumble (VK6RU) put it out on 14 megs for the hams in the north. We never mentioned what we were doing so the Radio Branch left us alone. At one time another amateur put it out on 160 but I can't recall his name and the transmission was not very successful. For a while I put a transmission out on 50 FM but none was very interested so I closed that down.
I can't recall how many years I put out the news but it must have been more than a few.
When Harry Pride took over he rebuilt the audio unit but could not make it work so he went back to using the microphone.
How things have changed!