Professional Volunteer communicators linking the community in time of need

 

WICEN NEWS for MEMBERS

This is a news page for WICEN Bundaberg members to keep up with activities within the group

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Do check back on this NEWS page for the latest information and if you need assistance contact the WICEN Controllers via the contact information below

 

2017 Storm Season approaches

WICEN Operators have commenced their Storm Season training sessions

Training includes theory and brushing up on techniques and procedures

We've also begun the on-air training from our own QTH utilizing the Mt Watalgan 70cm repeater.

This gives operators a chance to check batteries and equipment and to play follow the leader around the Club's repeaters.

It's nice to know your home station can reach all the repeaters.

Big news for upcoming December training

We have a field trip organised, we're heading south east to a member's property, and will turn it into an overnight camping trip.

We plan to run on 40M in the afternoon and switch to 80 M after dark, we want to test out some new antennas and compare results. Should be a fun getaway with some productive results.

Anyone on HF on Saturday 16th December, listen out for the WICEN callsigns VK4EOC & VK4EWC.

 

 

May 2017

WICEN Operators provide Comms for Trail Ride Event

Curtis Coast Trail Riders Club annual event at Clarkeys Petrolhead Paradise was held 20/21 May and once again a team of WICEN Operators made the trip up to the hills behind Lowmead to provide the Comms for the event.

Some photos taken over the weekend:

 

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Plenty of bush to bash... this is Paradise for some

Sweeprider confirms the course with SES traffic control and the Quad rider (rescue vehicle) gets his bearings

 

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David VK4DN at his post at '3-Ways'. I's a difficult part of the track and SES assist with directing the riders through the fencing, into the dense bushland.

 

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Isaac also has a difficult location. The track covers property on both sides of a road, so it requires signs (see the blue arrow on the tree) and riders often stop to take a drink and get their bearings.

It's not a race, it's 40km of really tough terrain which can break bikes and the riders.

 

 

Meanwhile back at Base Camp, it was all happening in the hayshed.

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Riders wander up the hill to hear the briefings and to register for the event.

We set up the WICEN base station and we also control the CB base station for the sweep riders and organizers.

Our newest recruit VK4FLASH was in attendance and helped with P.R. in the hayshed.

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It is a really great location and the 3 courses allow riders of different skill levels to push themselves to their limits.

 

 

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We camped the night and you can see varying levels of comfort. David loves his bus, he just pulls in and goes to sleep. Isaac only has to 'pop' his up and he's set... Ross roughed it in a swap and Gail and Flash had a tent. The air was heavy with moisture and next morning the ground, vehicles and gear was really wet.

What a great view of sunrise. Thanks Ross.

The team is definitely committed to next years event.

 

 

 

 

Weather watch - rain event - Ex Tropical Cyclone Debbie

Keeping our Operators up to date with the latest weather tracking.

Some useful link for those who would like to know more;

Bureau of Meteorology: BOM - bom.gov.au

To view the current weather warnings for QLD

River watch - Qld river systems - select the 4th group of rivers - Burrum, Burnett, Kolan - to check the river gauge data

Bundaberg Regional Council - LATEST Updates

BRC 30th March 8.30am

BRC 29th March - Weather event update

 

Our members are no longer on Alert status but we thank them for being on call and vigilant during the past 4 days.

 

 

We watched Tropical Cyclone Debbie

WICEN Operators know that Cyclone tracking is a mathematical projection and that in reality winds can rapidly change direction and speed.

TC Debbie wasn't a threat to our region, however we monitored it's path and prepared for heavy rainfalls as it became an Ex Tropical Cyclone.

Bundaberg was spared the worst but not so our friends to the North and South.

 

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Official BOM Tracking map - TC Debbie 7am 27th March

 

 

 

WICEN Prepares for 2016/17 stormseason

As another year draws to a close and most begin to think of taking a break, our WICEN operators begin to stir and get things ready for the approaching storm season.

Theory refresher and practical training is taking place each month and we're delighted to have FIVE new members join us this year.

 

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Our newest recruits; [top] Isaac VK4FIBN, Tom VK4FORD & Stu VK4FSTU
[lower] David VK4HAX & Graeme VK4MOO

 

 

WICEN operators at 2016 LOWMEAD Trail Ride Event

A year has passed and we're back at Clarkeys Reloaded event at Lowmead

The Curtis Coast Trail Ride Club brought together over 300 riders to traverse the rugged hills on Clarkey's property and it was another great event.

We operated a base station in a hay shed !

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Darrall VK4FABF operated the base station over the weekend while Ross used his 4X4 to ferry people and equipment around the arduous track.

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Gary VK4MDZ and Stu VK4FSTU set up a semi-permanent camp to operate at the 3-Ways

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And David VK4HAX worked the main road crossing with SES

 

 

2015 WICEN does Comms for Motorcycle Event @ LOWMEAD

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In mid-May we supported SES Rosedale at Clarkey's Petrol-head Paradise, North of Lowmead for the 10th anniversary motorcycle event.

Called Clarkey's Reloaded, it's a 2 day event organised by some very capable bike enthusiasts from Gladstone, and attracted 400 riders in the Open class, another 150 riders in Novice and more than 50 juniors in the PeeWee group. That sea of campers, caravaners and day-trippers in the photo above was repeated on the other side of the hill, so it was huge success.

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SES operate the Road Crossings and local comms but the event was staged in rugged, hilly terrain where their UHF handhelds couldn't reach and that's why we filled the gap

A base station at Race control was the centre of our controlled net and we placed a temporary 2M repeater on a high ridge, running on battery and with an antenna thrown up into a big old gum tree. Then we addressed the black-spots around the course and placed the 2 other portable stations at the extremities of the course.

On day one Race Control discovered another black spot and luckily we had our portable ICOM station in the back-pack so we could send another operator high into the hills at 3-ways.

Was it a lot of fun? Yes, but more importantly our Network and set-up worked brilliantly. The temporary repeater used a 1.7MHz split and covered the whole course with everyone running on 5 Watts to prolong battery life.

The portable stations did exactly what they were supposed to do and were very much admired by everyone, the backpack station proved to be robust as it operated sitting in the grass and the operators adapted to every situation which came their way.... from "Rider Down", to "there is a 'flock' of cows on the course"... yes they were cows! but apparently the riders are used to the cows popping out anywhere along the track and more importantly the cows are used to the motorcycles and casually step out of the way!

At the end of the event the organisers said they'd never had such perfect comms so they were highly impressed and asked how far "we'd travel????" Apparently these crazy riders do it all again somewhere near Monto and Biloela, and comms is always such a problem for them.

We may become a very sought-after group.

It was thanks for the following members who gave up their weekend to work on this community event: Ross VK4JRO, Marg VK4FHAM, Bob VK4UD, Gary VK4MDZ, Gail VK4ION, Lorraine VK4FCCW and David VK4HAX. You all did a tremendous job in showcasing WICEN, the Club and the hobby of Amateur Radio.

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On Saturday the backpack was deployed in a pretty rough location but on Sunday the camp was a little more civilized.

 

 

During the STORM SEASON

Our WICEN members don't need to be reminded to charge batteries and check their gear.

We monitored Tropical Cyclone Marcia and kept in touch in case of regional experience power failure.

We maintain a listening watch on the 2M Town Repeater at 9am on any morning when there is power outage.

Then we begin our rotation: To 70cm Mt Watalgan repeater and then to 2M on Mt Goonaneman.

Town 147.800MHz - Watalgan 439.775MHz - Goonaneman 146.800MHz - in that order

By cycling through the three repeater sites we're sure to pick up all our members.

During times of activation WICEN take precedence over all Club equipment and club member and the public leave the repeaters free for emergency work as required.

It's times like this that we say thank you to our Club members who had had the foresight to build such a robust repeater network enabling the WICEN group to communicate under any conditions.

Thank you WICEN Operators for stepping up again this week and letting us know you were out there, listening and preparing to help as part of the Bundaberg Regional Council's Disaster Management Plan.

 

 

 

We're getting ready for the STORM SEASON

Our WICEN group held a terrific October-Five exercise on Saturday 11th using 5 stations and undertaking a real exercise, simulating equipment break-down and finding other stations... just like in an emergency.

Next it was Saturday 18th and we put our equipment on show to support the Bundaberg Regional Council's Disaster Preparedness Expo.

We were invited to share a table with Council and had plenty of interest from passers-by.

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The WICEN team at the Disaster Preparedness Expo... VK4FHAM, VK4FCCW & VK4ION.
Pictured at right is Matt Dyer from Council who organised the day

Other groups who exhibited were Ambulance, Fire & Emergency Services, Rural Fires and many welfare agencies who work tirelessly in Welfare and Recovery roles

 

 

May 2014 - We went to WARTBURG

Our WICEN group was invited to display at the Emergency Open Day organised by Rural Fire groups in the Northern region.

Four WICEN members travelled up to the Baffle Creek area to take part and we displayed a Portable Emergency Station case and our new ICOM mobile back-pack.

We also showed some older gear which is built into a cradle and used at the Winfield WICEN station. We showed a variety of antennas and we had plenty of brochures and material for interested people to take away.

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Peter VK4FPDG is chatting on the Bundaberg Town repeater, demonstrating how easy it is to use a small whip antenna and still break into Bundy repeaters. He's using the Yaesu FT-857 from the Portable station case. Insert on the left shows the new ICOM IC2820 mobile kit which is housed in a padded laptop backpack and insert on the right is the Winfield cradle which houses older equipment but shows that the old gear still works quite well and could be a viable, cheaper alternative for anyone contemplating Amateur Radio

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We talked to everyone who showed an interest in our display... and Yes Gail does appear to be doing the Chicken Dance to the amusement of a Rural Fires guy & our own members. During the day we chatted with locals who who live on rural bush blocks in some very isolated country. Many locals volunteer in the community organisations on display and they're all interested in good communications, so we had plenty to chat about.

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Just a couple of the displays by Emergency service groups on the day

 

The event was held at Wartburg on a large community oval behind the SES and Rural Fires buildings. It was quite a large affair and well attended by Emergency Response organisations. Other community groups like Red Cross and Ozcare were on display as well.

While the aim of the day was to show the community that each household has a responsibility to be prepared, most organisations were also on the lookout for new members.

It was a fun day to get the community involved and give them advice on what help is available for those affected by a disaster.

WICEN Member Gary VK4MDZ [who also wore a Rural Fire hat on the day] erected the tent and ENVIS Dipole for us, so we only had to drive in and set up our gear. Judy Ferrari of Rural Fires did a great job of putting the Emergency Day together and we hope the community learned more about Emergencies; Response organisations and what they can do to be more prepared.

Special thanks go to our WICEN Members, Margaret VK4FHAM, Lorraine VK4FCCW, Peter VK4FPDG, Gary VK4MDZ & Gail VK4ION. [ thanks to VK4FHAM for taking the photos....we have a terrible reputation for forgetting to take a camera to record our efforts. So thanks Marg for remembering this trip]

 

2014 What else has WICEN been up to?

We began with a February training session on our new ICOM IC2820 transceivers and a refresher on Risk Assessments in the field.

The next BIG thing was April 12th - an OPEN DAY for the general public

We operated as part of the WIA's PR4 Amateur Radio open day and we set in the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct.

We set up 3 portable stations as well as 2 Morse Code desks which sent to each other.

Over 30 members of public make the effort to come down and see us and from that we had quite a few who've asked for more information.

We hope that they'll become Amateurs and build the hobby. WICEN members enjoyed the day, supporting the club and A.R. in this way

 

 

2013 Xmas Field Day

On Saturday December 14th we had 12 members form into teams and travel to various parks around Bundaberg.

The objective of this xmas exercise was to test our reliability on battery power and to ensure our equipment was capable of following our Net Control to each of the Club's repeaters.

Team 1 was Ross VK4JRO and Lorraine VK4FCCW - no photos of their team yet.

Team 2 was Bob VK4UD, Jenny VK4YL and John VK4YQ - John and Jenny made the trek up from Burrum Heads to take part and they went to Norville Park.

Team 3 was Gail VK4ION, Peter VK4FPDG, Gwen VK4FCAD and John VK4FJMM and they travelled to the lowest spot in Bundy... Baldwin Swamp.

Net Control was Rusty VK4JM, Gaynor VK4FGAY and Bill VK4XZ they remained at the shack and called the stations in order following a prearranged schedule as we tested the 2M Town Repeater, then 70cm Mt Watalgan Repeater, then on to Mt. Goonaneman 2M & 70CM repeaters and finally a check on the Simplex 146.500MHz (the old Ch.50).

We're delighted to report that the Exercise was a resounding success, the equipment performed well and we had sufficient time for all the operators to learn and become familiar with the gear during the time intervals between check-ins.

Congratulations to our WICEN members and thanks for taking the time to prepare for our upcoming storm season. We have fingers and toes crossed that we won't be needed this year but we are prepared.

The next scheduled WICEN training will be Saturday 15th February.

 

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A picturesque spot in Norville Park

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Jenny VK4YL & John VK4YQ finding their way around the Portable Station on 12V (Motorcycle) battery power

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VK4UD & VK4YQ

 

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VK4FPDG seated with VK4FCAD & VK4FJMM on the Mic

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There were laughs aplenty in the swamp although there was a threatening gang in evidence!
Ok.. they were a gang of geese arguing with the black swans!

 

 

Introducing our WICEN WINFIELD Field Station!

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Meet VK4FCCW

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The car was packed with everything we thought we would need.

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Lorraine has an 'end room' with external window... just where we needed to put the temporary Yagi Beam and using a sturdy piece of bamboo it was up in no time.

And Victor Kilo 4 Fox Colonial Cove Winfield was on air!

Testing was carried out and thanks to Margaret VK4FHAM in Bundy who had time to follow us to each of the 3 repeaters.

Results: ALL GOOD. Winfield Community now has triple redundancy so if the 70cm Mt Watalgan link fails the fallback is the Hummock and even Mt Goonaneman.

The equipment is pretty old but it should serve until we can source something a little more modern. The old Philips FM92 seems to overheat a bit when left on for any length of time but the Motorola on 2M seems to be quite stable.

Being on the water they get good coverage on all the simplex frequencies so the two Amateurs will be able to chat from their homes and up to the Fire Station where an additional antenna will be installed.

During an emergency Lorraine can unplug the cradle and take it to the Fire Shed where batteries and permanent antenna will be waiting. By the way... Thanks to Mark for making the custom Cradle to hold the two units so they take up minimal space.

They will now advertise around the village so everyone knows what they have available and Lorraine will travel down to Bundaberg to continue with her WICEN studies.

Well done Colonial Cove/Winfield, great to see your community spirit

... and thanks to Mark & Heinz for erecting the Yagi... Now Heinz is keen to work on permanent antenna solutions and take care of earthing the station! Neither of the husband's have any interest in Amateur Radio, they're just the best support crew!

 

October 2012

Exercise "WICEN FIVE-NET" was a great success

Four WICEN Teams went "bush" and participated in a 5 station net on Saturday 6th October


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The Teams set up at Gin Gin Showground, Goodnight Scrub Hall and Boolboonda Hall. There was also a station at Pacific Haven proving the southern end of our region could also be covered. The four teams attempted to call back into the VK4BW Base at the SES HQ in Bundaberg.

Photos of the exercise teams are on the Five-Net page.

 

We travelled to Baffle Creek to introduce WICEN & our Portable Cases

Thanks to those Members who made the trip -VK4FHAM, VK4UD, VK4UO & VK4ION - and the two local residents who have come forward for Amateur Radio Training.

We're hoping they will form a WICEN-Like group on the North Side of the Baffle in the near future.

 

Next stop, WINFIELD and the small community of Colonial Cove on the South side of the Baffle Creek, which was also badly flooded.

They're a very close group and quite resilient however being without power and communications for 2 weeks had exposed a weakness in their location.

We went up and talked to some residents, a Ham (with WICEN experience) who had just moved there from the Toowoomba area and an energetic local who immediately saw the big picture and how they could overcome their isolation.

With great trepidation Lorraine Heyes undertook the Foundation training while the other Ham, David, set about proving what worked from their area and scouring his supplies for equipment he could donate to the community.

 

contacts

 

WICEN Controller,controller
Ross Orpin
Phone: 07 4155 2665

 

Deputy Controller,deputy
Gail Lidden
Phone: 07 4152 6482

 

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Postal Address:

WICEN Bundaberg
P.O. Box 129
Bundaberg Qld 4670