Saturday, May 25, 2019

Attended the WIA Annual Conference

Today, for the first time, I attended the Wireless Institute of Australia's annual conference in Sydney. (Or "two days in may" as Stephen, VK2BLQ, suggests).

The conference was very professionally run, in a great venue, with excellent facilities and food. I can't speak highly enough of the organisers.

While I primarily signed up to go to the technical sessions, the annual general meeting was surprisingly interesting and even edgy.

The WIA has experienced some turmoil in recent years and the board who run it now are a fresh group and seem to be doing an excellent job under the circumstances. The financial reports and general reports were presented and all seemed well.

Peter Wolfenden, VK3RV, was awarded a beautiful and well deserved medal. (Pictured here with Jen, who I can personally attest makes a wonderful sticky date pudding).

There is some controversy as the WIA last year lost the ACMA contract to run the license exams. This removes a source of funding and there was some soul searching about why this happened. Next, a new organisation representing radio amateurs in Australia has appeared called RASA. The Radio Amateur Society of Australia.

Reading the financial report I noticed that the membership numbers are declining and that decline is accelerating. I've drawn a graph here:

RASA is rumoured to have about 600 members and it's possible that some of those have quit the WIA and joined them.

I asked a question without notice about this decline and if the board had ideas about why it was and what could be done about it.

The answer was a detailed and well presented discussion of the issue but essentially we are facing a problem unless something changes.

On the technical track I attended David Rowe, VK5DGR's excellent update on FreeDV. There was a fantastic demo of the upcoming high quality 2020 mode which for the first time uses machine learning in the speech generation.

The session on Cubesat missions and how one was reactivated after antenna deployment failure by Tony Monger, VK2KZ was fascinating.

The epic VK Microwave Tour by David Minchin, VK5KK, was amazing.

Secrets of KiwiSDR by Jamie Campbell, VK2YCJ, was excellent as well.

I've never seen the hardware, which is a "hat" for a Beaglebone (like a Raspberry Pi).

Jamie demonstrated using the VK2DDS receiver via he also mentioned that KiwiSDR can decode multiple WSPR bands simultaneously but with the addition of a Raspberry Pi it can even decode 8 bands simultaneously.

Tomorrow the conference moves to the regular meeting and Dural and mostly likely I'll have more to report from that.

A great day, very well run.

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