In a first for Amateur Radio in Australia, four Victorian
Radio Clubs are joining forces to host a major field event.
Antennapalooza, now in its fifth year, will return to
Drouin West on April 7 & 8 (the first weekend after Easter)
The theme for 2018 will be about what it takes
to get started in the hobby of Amateur
Antennapalooza takes place on Saturday/Sunday, April 7 and 8. It is the first weekend after Easter and coincides with the middle of Victorian School Holiday time. Early starters can arrive on the Friday afternoon if they wish. The event will then run from the Saturday morning until the Sunday afternoon. Visitors may come for a day or stay for the weekend. Daylight Savings ends the week before, so it will get dark early.
event Set in a 6 acre field, 50km due East
of Dandenong. A map of
how to find the
venue is shown at the bottom of this page.
Participants can bring their tent or caravan if they intend to
overnight. Visitors are
encouraged to set
up an antenna and have a play on-air, or just come to hear the short
different aspects of getting into Amateur Radio.
Do I book?
are not essential, but the organisers wull appreciate a quick
pre-registration if you intend to come along. Simply send an email
and leave your name, a callsign(if you have one) to the link below, with an indication of which days you are likely to
attend. This will help us to work out how many visitors to expect
Nothing. This event is sponsored entirely by the four Melbourne Amateur Radio Clubs. If you intend to stay but don’t want to cook on the Saturday evening, you may need some cash to purchase a take-away dinner from nearby Drouin. (excellent Fish & Chip stores and Pizza shops are in the main street) Otherwise, bring some food along to put on the Club barbecue provided. A small pavilion will also be set up with free tea & coffee makings.Who can come?
The event is open to Members of the host Clubs and friends who accompany Members, so it is not a public event, but visitors known to members are not a problem. Other regional clubs should also have received invitations. Attendees will be asked to make an entry in the Visitor Log to be set up in the Main Pavilion. It is important for the organisers to keep a record of visitor numbers for the event.
What can we do there?
Established operators can treat this event is an opportunity for setting up and trying out antennas that may be hard to find space for at home. Dipoles, portable masts etc. Bring along some gear and see what you can hear. Electrical noise in the area is generally low.
If you are coming along to find out more about the hobby of Amateur Radio, there will be a series of short talks on both days covering a lot of useful information that will help new operators find their way around.
Visitors should be able to reach the local Warragul/Drouin 70cm repeater VK3RWD on 438.575 MHz, with a sub tone of 91.5Hz
On the Saturday Evening there will be an open fire in a concrete pit fireplace in the treed area. This will be subject to fire restrictions on the day, but this is unlikely to be a problem in April.
Formal Lecture Times
On each of the two days there will be information sessions where different aspects of Amateur Radio will be explored. You don’t have to attend these if you don’t want to, but it is a rare opportunity to hear what is involved with getting into the hobby and what to expect after new operators have gained a license. There will also be some talks on antenna technology that will be of interest to established operators.
This section will be expanded as the event draws closer, but a first draft of these lectures are:
¨ A guided tour of the Amateur electromagnetic spectrum
¨ What to expect from the Amateur Exams (a walk-through of the process)
¨ What you need to know about setting up your first home station
¨ A guided tour of the repeater network and how to use them
¨ Why Amateurs still use CW. (A peek into the world of CW operations)
¨ Different ways of matching to Beam antennas
¨ How to empirically measure antenna gain (using the -3db angle points of the main lobe)
What facilities are there?
The site is several small paddocks linked via open gates. The grass will be cut low. A large Pavilion is being hired as a central mustering area. This will be adjacent to a smaller pavilion containing free barbecue facilities and coffee makings. Portable toilet facilities are being provided. In a clearing at the centre of the treed area, a concrete fireplace will be the focus of a campfire that will run for most of the Saturday evening and following morning.
There aren’t many rules, just find a spot to set up whatever antennas and equipment you intend to bring with you. If you intend to stay overnight, BYO your own tent, caravan swag etc. and just find a spot that suits you. Lots of shaded spots among the trees may suit swags and small tent users.
What should I bring?
This is largely up to the individual and depends upon how long you can stay. Folding chairs are a good start. A table is useful. For power 12V operation is recommended, or 240V from an inverter. Note that some switch-mode power supplies associated with LED light fittings can sometimes generate lots of interference on HF. If this happens we may need to do some spot checks to identify extreme noise sources as operators will appreciate an electrically quiet site.
If you plan on being thirsty, then an esky with ice & drinks would be an essential addition.
For antenna work, it is worthwhile bringing some extra rope and pegs in case you need to combat gusts of wind. There will be some step ladders on-hand which may be useful.
What should I expect if I stay overnight?
Certainly it will get dark, so bring some light with you. In fact, you will need to bring most of what you intend to use, drink and eat with you. Weather at that time is unpredictable, so bring warm clothing. The open fire will help. Remember that Daylight Savings will have ended one week earlier (April 1) so be prepared for an early nightfall.
What about Power?
No AC mains is available for visitors at the main location, but a battery charging shed in the top paddock has AC power for re-charging batteries if necessary.
One of the themes of this event is to encourage preparation and independence when using Amateur Radio equipment in the field.
If you have a caravan that you’d like to bring, but don’t wish to take it down the bottom area, there is level space at the top of the property that has easy access. (Town water, and a regular toilet/bathroom facility is available there.) 15A, 240V mains with earth leakage protection, suitable for caravans is available at a power box on the side of the cattle ramp. Town water is also available at that point.
Generators are discouraged for more than short intervals, as generally, people don’t like to talk over the sounds of petrol engines. Gas lighting is good value if you have it, as it is efficient and makes no noise on HF
What can I tie wire antennas to?
There are a few trees dotted around of various sizes. Tying an antenna to those is no problem. Alternately, bring a pole and lash it to a convenient fence post. People will be walking about at night, so try to ensure that wire antennas don’t droop below head height.
Getting to the Drouin West site
This map shows the best access path for travellers coming from Melbourne. Travelers from the East are advised to use the same Robin Hood exit from the Freeway.
What is the access path like?
Most vehicles should have little difficulty in driving directly to the event area. If it rains hard, the ground may become soft, but a tractor is on hand to give extra traction to anyone who has any difficulty there. The resident cows and alpacas will be locked up in their own paddock, so that all access gates can remain open for the weekend.
Site Plan and access path
Follow the white dotted line to reach the Event Area. All access gates will be left open for the weekend. The ‘resident’ animals will be contained in their own paddock.
Safety & Administration
The aim is to provide an opportunity for visitors to do their own thing and enjoy themselves. . Antenna work can sometimes be dangerous, often requiring ladders and guy ropes. There will be a designated Safety Officer who will keep an eye on proceedings. If the Safety Officer sees some activity where it looks like people are endangering themselves, or others, then visitors may be asked to improve a situation or change the way that work is being done. If kids are brought along, then it will be up to the parents to keep an eye on them. A First Aid kit will be on hand in the Pavilion area.