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Media Releases

  • October 2017: Release 4 of Mini Satellite-Antenna Rotator software.
  • October 2017. SARCNET International Arduino Challenge
  • October 2017: SARCNET goes Lead-Free!
  • October 2017: Welcome new SARCNET Member: Wellesley House School.
  • October 2017: Welcome new SARCNET Member: St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School.
  • October 2017: Mini Satellite-Antenna Rotator MkII article published in Amateur Radio Magazine.
  • August 2017: SARCNET @ FoBI Electronics Prototyping Workshops at Festival of Bright Ideas in Hobart, Tasmania.
  • July 2017: Welcome new SARCNET Member: AIMS @ UMC.
  • July 2017: Four SARC projects presented at GippsTech 2017.
  • June 2107: Year 3/4 SARC students activated Churchill National Park.
  • May 2017: SARCNET @ Hahndorf all-day activity for Hahndorf Primary School students
  • May 2017: SARC presentation ate 2017 WIA AGM in Hahndorf SA.
  • April 2017: The first SARCNET Electronics / Microcontroller workshop was held at Moorabbin and District Radio Club.
  • April 2017: ANZAC day Amateur Radio Special Event at Moorabbin and District Radio Club. The successful even attracted some 80 school students, scouts and their families.
  • March 2017: Demonstrated the MkII rotator to members of the University of Melbourne Space Program team.
  • March 2017: "Mini Satellite-Antenna Rotator MkII" article submitted for publication in AR Magazine.
  • February 2017: SARC Presentation at Moorabbin and District Amateur Radio Club.
  • February 2017: SARC Presentation at Shepparton and District Amateur Radio Club.
  • December 2016: SARC presentation at the Eastern Zone Amateur Radio Club.
  • November 2016: School Amateur Radio Club station VK3SRC participated in the annual Keith Roget Memorial National Park Award activation weekend at Point Nepean and Morning Peninsula National Parks. The station received an award for contacting 25 National Parks.
  • October 2016: SARC presentation at the Eastern and Mountain Districts Radio Club.
  • October 2016: "School Amateur Radio Clubs" article published in Amateur Radio Magazine.
  • August 2016: ANZAC day amateur radio special event published in AR magazine.
  • June 2016: Four SARC projects presented at GippsTech 2016.
  • May 2016: "AIS Saves Lives" article submitted for publication in Amateur Radio magazine.
  • May 2016: "A Speech Synthesiser for the Yaesu FT-817" article submitted for publication in Amateur Radio Magazine.
  • May 2016: "Mini Satellite-Antenna Rotator" article published in Amateur Radio magazine. SARC satellite-tracking group on front cover.
  • April 2016: ANZAC day amateur radio special event publicised in school and scout newsletters and on WIA broadcast. The successful event attracted some 200 school students, scouts and their families.
  • April 2016: SARCNET call sign "VK3SRC" was issued by ACMA.
  • February 2016: "School Amateur Radio Clubs" article was re-submitted for publication in Amateur Radio magazine.
  • February 2016: An abridged "School Amateur Radio Clubs" article was published in the Term 1 2016 edition of Education Today magazine.
  • December 2015. A "Mini satellite-antenna rotator" article featuring SARC members using a solar-powered amateur radio satellite ground station was submitted for publication in Amateur Radio Magazine.
  • December 2015: Three school newsletter articles published summarizing the SARC achievements for the year.
  • November 2015: "School Amateur Radio Clubs" article was submitted for publication in Education Today magazine.
  • August 2015: "School Amateur Radio Clubs" article was originally submitted for publication in Amateur Radio magazine, but was later withdrawn.
  • September 2015: Two school newsletter articles published with a report on the popular electronics kit construction activity.
  • July 2015: Three school newsletter articles published provided an update of activities offered by SARC.
  • June 2015: MARTG entry into GSBC presented at GippsTech 2015.
  • April 2015: Three school newsletter articles advise of SARC activities.
  • February 2015: Three school newsletter articles published to advise the introduction of school amateur radio clubs. The article provided the purpose, background, format and operation of the clubs.

News

This page contains all the latest news about school amateur radio clubs. Please contact us to add your SARC news to this page. Send us a picture and description of your SARC activities. Remember to get parental permission to publish student photographs on this site and in our newsletters.

Kids In Space

Melbourne Space Program LogoSARCNET and the Melbourne Space Program (MSP) have teamed up to get primary school kids into space. Well, maybe not actually into orbit themselves, but youngsters will certainly be getting hands-on experience and learning about the science of space satellites.

The purpose of the MSP, run by the University of Melbourne, is "to educate, engage and inspire through space activities in Australia". The University is currently working on the development of ACRUX-1, a low earth orbiting cube-sat, scheduled for launch in 2018.

The joint project is to develop an educational program for primary schools, where students will be able to "do science" with space satellites. In fact, the launch of ACRUX-1 will provide students an opportunity to be directly involved in the Melbourne Space Program - something we know they will never forget. Students will be able to track the satellite and receive telemetry data, such as solar panel voltages and temperatures. The data can be analysed to learn all sorts of interesting things about the sun, the earth, satellites and their orbits. Even just knowing the orbital period and mass of a satellite can be used to calculate the mass of the earth!

The first part of the project is to develop a simple, low-cost, satellite tracking and receiving station, which can be easily set up and used by primary school students. The solution will involve a cross-polarised antenna, a mini satellite-antenna rotator, an SDR receiver and a Raspberry Pi computer. Development is well underway. If you or your club want to get involved in this exciting program please contact SARCNET.

SARCNET @ St. Kevin's Community Day

It was a fun day at St. Kevin's Primary School. Organised by Principal Michael Day with the school staff and the community all pitching in. There were many activities including a moving Remembrance Day ceremony. SARCNET provided electronics prototyping, Arduino and soldering workshops to an enthusiastic group of students. The SARC kids helped out with demonstrations of their own. Even the Owls In The Library put on a flashing, spinning, beeping Arduino Microcontroller demo.

 

SARCNET International Arduino Challenge

Matthew with Railway Crossing Controller Ed with Traffic Light Controller

The School Amateur Radio Club Network, Arduino Challenge is well underway across three continents: USA, UK and Australia. Students as young as 5 with little or no introduction to microcontroller programming in "C" start with the Arduino “blink” sketch and set about hacking* it to make it control more LEDs and in weird and wonderful ways.

(*) Hacking - Definition: "To modify (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in a skillful or clever way"

Here at Moorabbin and District Radio Club in Melbourne, Australia, the boys, Matthew and Edward are off to a head start with their “Railway Crossing Lights” and “Traffic Lights”. Ethan has written over a hundred lines of code to make a single 7-segment LED display count from 0 to 9. The girls are catching up fast though: Emilka is already soldering LEDs as fast as she can for her "Makeup Mirror Lights". Jessica has made “Disco Lights for her Num Noms” (whatever they are) and and Abigail wants to do a “Hypnotic Owl”. Where they come up with these ideas no one really knows. But nothing can dampen their enthusiasm!

There were some tense moments tonight when Ed added 100 zeros to his delay function just to see what would happen (well not very much really) and later shrieks of “I did it!” from Matthew when another LED magically sprang into life. Ethan discovered that a single function to turn off ALL his LED segments saved him over 50 lines of code (D'oh). Emilka made her program flash 14 LEDs in a sequence and now plans to make the sequence change!

If you get the impression these kids are pretty good with technology, wait till you see their professional video presentations as they document their journey of discovery. Better still, don’t just sit back and watch us. If you know some youngsters who want to get into Arduino, why not get them started too. The SARCNET International Arduino Challenge is open to everyone! If you are interested to learn how, just contact us: SARCNET uses Amateur Radio to promote STEM learning in primary schools. We provide free, lunchtime on-air experiences, together with electronics, soldering and microcontroller workshops. What could be more fun?

SARCNET goes Lead-Free!

Old habits die hard, but after 50 years of hand soldering with industry-standard tin/lead solder, we have now turned over a new leaf and made a strong commitment to the environment: No lead! Soldering with lead-free solder requires the use of flux and modified expectations with regard to the shiny finish of properly soldered joints. Good lead-free solder joints do appear a little grey, but they should not be rough. The soldering iron temperature has not changed, despite the increased melting point of lead-free solder. Lead-free soldering flux is used, sparingly, to obtain better penetration into plated through holes and underneath SMT components as well as an improved finish. A small DC muffin fan is used to disperse any additional fumes. Soldering always takes place in a well ventilated area. Eye protection and heat-resistant gloves are mandatory safety equipment. A short safety briefing before each class is conducted to remind children of the potential hazards. We could not be happier with the results and the satisfaction of protecting the environment. Shown in the photos is SARCNET student Jessica, who simply loves soldering, and a comparison of tin/lead soldering on the left and lead-free soldering on the right: Almost no difference!

Jessica 7 loves soldering Comparison of tin/lead soldering on the left and lead-free on the right

SARCNET @ St. Kevin's Primary School

St. Kevin's SARC GroupHere's some of the year 3/4 School Amateur Radio Club group at St. Kevin's Primary School. It is a big group this year and there is lots to do. The gang is usually on the air at lunchtime on Thursdays (7100kHz LSB) typically looking for contacts with VK5 (South Australia) and VK7 (Tasmania). Their call sign is VK3SRC. If you hear them on you really should give them a call. They would love to have a QSO (contact) with you. They have got the Amateur Radio calling procedures down pat, but they could use some practice with the International Radio Alphabet and signal reports. When no one else is on the air, they use their practice sets to play their favourite game: Morse Code Battleships! If it isn't raining they will often go outside and use VHF/UHF FM hand-held radios to practice. All of this takes place under the close supervision of a licenced Amateur Radio operator of course.

St. Kevin's HF St. Kevin's Morse St. Kevin's VHF

SARCNET Workshops @ Moorabbin and District Radio Club

Students with PC componentsIt looks like junk to some, but not to students at the free, Tuesday night, SARCNET workshop at Moorabbin and District Radio Club: They know how to recycle computer parts and build their own working PCs for nothing! Their projects look more like a Frankenstein monster than a real PC, with bits and pieces from who knows where all stitched together, but that's half the fun. Free computer parts can often be scrounged from family and friends, schools and workplaces: “Please Sir, may I have more computer parts – it’s for my, my project?” You never know just what you’ll get, but you will soon become adept at swapping them around to build your own freaky creations. Students learn about what each component does, how to safely connect it and how to test it. Once all his parts are finally assembled on the laboratory table it is time to bring your Frankenstein PC to life. Apply a jolt of power and wait to see if his fans start beating, his eyes blink and if, at last, he beeps. It's alive! It's alive! Now take a journey through his innards by accessing his Basic Input Output System (BIOS) to find out what his brain is made of and if he has any memory. You can set his body clock and explore all of his peripherals: Of course, some may be rejected and will have to be replaced. Now it is time to give him a real personality. There are literally dozens to choose from. Download a free operating system and boot him up with it. Don’t like it? Just try another. You will have to give him a name and a password so only you can command him. You can even personalise him with bizarre colour schemes of your own. Tell him that one day you might even give him a nice case, but for now he is your personal experiment!

Students assembling a PC Students assembling a PC Students assembling a PC Students assembling a PC Students assembling a PC

Students using SMD Rework StationWell, soldering tiny electronic Surface Mount Devices (SMDs) might seem daunting at first, but it turns out to be a piece of cake, once you've got the hang of it... So, after completing the assembly of their own SMD practice boards, the students at the Tuesday Night SARCNET@MDRC Workshops move on to the more challenging task of using a Hot-Air SMD Rework Station. Operating at 350 degrees Celsius, these temperature-controlled hot-air wands are certainly hot enough to curl anyone's hair! But in skilled hands they make quick work of de-soldering even the largest SMD integrated circuits. The trick is to pre-heat both the front and rear of the PCB before concentrating the air stream on the IC pins themselves. Here, Jamie is harvesting dozens of pre-loved SMD components from a multilayer Printed Circuit Board. She will most likely re-use the parts in her future electronics projects. Below, Ethan and Kyle are working on their own board. It requires a steady hand on the tweezers and the ability to recognize the sound of the air stream when it's at the correct distance from the board. Emilka is using a Solder Sucker to refurbish her PTH prototyping board. She found that it is quicker than using solder-wick for double-sided PTH boards, but said it requires a bit of practice to get the timing just right. Everyone seems to have something interesting to do, tonight. There is no doubt that these young electronics enthusiasts can master any task.

Students using SMD Rework Station Student using Solder Sucker

MDRC WorkshopSARCNET provides free Electronics, Soldering and Arduino workshops for kids at Moorabbin and District Radio Club on Tuesday nights. Kyle and Basil are shown below completing the Flip-Flop Electronics Prototyping Workshop. This famous two-transistor circuit, a "bistable multivibrator", is the basis of modern computer memory. Jamie and Emilka are already on to their own projects. Jamie has created and programmed an Arduino musical doorbell. Emilka is working on a Surface Mount Device (SMD) electronic roulette wheel. Siblings Matthew, Jessica and Abigail (4yo) have mastered soldering SMDs using their SMD practice boards. Edward, who is practicing Plated Through Hole (PTH) soldering, already builds his own Printed Circuit Board (PCB) electronics kits.

Kyle and Basil Jaimie Emilka Matthew Jessica Abigail Edward

SARCNET @ Festival of Bright Ideas, Hobart, Tasmania

FoBI WorkshopOn Friday 10 August 2017, SARCNET provided an Electronics Prototyping Workshop for over 200 Students at the Festival of Bright Ideas in Hobart, Tasmania during National Science Week. On Saturday 11 August 2017, the exercise was repeated for over 100 youngsters, this time with their families. The event was free to schools and the general public. The students were given a tray of electronic components. They were shown the function and symbol of each component, together with a circuit diagram and an animated slide-show explaining how it worked. They were then able to build the circuit, step-by-step, on a small prototyping board. When completed, a battery was connected and the circuit flashed two blue LEDs. To whet their appetite for building  electronics kits at home, the students were given catalogues, kindly donated by Jaycar and Active Electronics. Details of the SARCNET Electronics Prototyping Workshops can be found on our workshops page.

FoBI Workshop FoBI Workshop

SARCNET @ Churchill National Park, Victoria

Year 3/4 and SARC members at Churchill National ParkOn Wednesday 7 June 2017, the whole of year 3 and 4, including members of the School Amateur Radio Club in their hi-viz vests, turned out for a day of adventure at Churchill National Park. The day began with an educational presentation about the history, flora and fauna of the park from the park ranger. Then everyone was split up into six groups of six. Each group rotated through five 30 minute activities including HF Amateur Radio Communications and a simulated Search and Rescue activity.

For the HF Communications activity, the park was activated using the call sign VK3SRC/P for the Amateur Radio World Wide Flora and Fauna program. Contacts were made to stations in all southern states.

Meanwhile an aircraft, "crashed in nearby bush land", was located using Amateur Radio Direction Finding equipment. The survivors were rescued and treated with first-aid. The teams learnt valuable bushwalking, navigation, triangulation, portable radio operation and first-aid skills.

Teachers and parents all agreed that the students did a wonderful job.

SARCNET @ Hahndorf, South Australia

Hahndorf primary school studentsOn Sunday 21 May 2017, SARCNET provided a free and exclusive opportunity for Hahndorf Primary School students to get some extra hands-on experience with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The event was held at Hahndorf Oval in conjunction with the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) annual general meeting and "Radio is Magic" expo.

Students from years 1 through 7 participated in a range of activities including:

- Shortwave and Line-of-Sight communications
- Use of Portable Radio Equipment
- On-air and Emergency Procedures
- Call signs, Radio Alphabets and Codes
- Hidden Transmitter Hunts Locations,
- Bearings and Direction Finding
- Navigation and Triangulation

SARCNET Electronics, Soldering and Arduino Workshop at Moorabbin and District Radio Club

SARCNET WorkshopOn 2 May 2017 the first weekly SARCNET electronics, soldering and Arduino workshop was held at the club rooms of the Moorabbin and District Radio Club.

Students investigated the concepts of voltage, current and resistance using a power supply, conductors, semi-conductors, insulators and resistors.

A semiconductor, optoelectronic, Light Emitting Diode (LED) became the focus of a number of experiments as the students tackled with the challenge of how to make this 2-volt device work when connected to a 5-volt microcontroller. The characteristic curve of the device was even plotted on a graph. The problem was cleverly solved by using a resistor to convert excess energy into heat.

With the resistor securely soldered to the leads of the LED, this hybrid component was inserted into a microcontroller prototyping board and was made to flash, on and off, under program control.

The exercise was precisely designed to give the students a preview of SARCNET workshops. Each week the workshops will combine elements of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, requiring investigation, intuition, problem solving and above all fun!

SARCNET gets involved in the Melbourne Space Program

Melbourne University Space Program DemonstrationOn 18 March 2017 the SARC-inspired Mini Satellite-Antenna Rotator MkII and Portable Radio Terminal projects were demonstrated to members of the Melbourne Space Program. The demonstration covered the history, theory and art of tracking amateur radio and weather satellites, with an outline of the practical considerations of building a reliable satellite ground station.

The demonstration proved to be a success, with the members tracking the UKUBE-1 satellite (The UK Space Agency’s first national spacecraft). There was also lively discussion on a number of related topics, including suitable equipment, antennas, Doppler effect, encoding/decoding and even platform stabilization, from the very enthusiastic team.

The Melbourne Space Program hopes to launch a 1U Cubesat in 2018. The tracking demonstration, held in the open at University Square, was arranged by Mr. Stuart Cooper, the Melbourne Space Program's Telecommunications Team Leader.

It was agreed that Melbourne Space Program and SARCNET should collaborate in some way to help make the project a success and to get primary school students involved. The details of this collaboration will be the subject of future SARCNET news items.

Information about the Melbourne Space Program can be found at http://melbournespace.org/.

2016 SARC Excellence Awards

Top SARC students, Ciara, Kyle and Emilka each received their SARC excellence awards for shortwave communications together with a prize sponsored by the Altronics Springvale store. The store manager Mr. Harold Mollaneda said the prizes including a soldering iron, solder, tip cleaner and wire cutters would help the students continue their interest in electronic kit building at home.

Ciara receiving her excellence award Kyle receiving his excellence award Emilka receiving her excellence award

School Amateur Radio Clubs article published in Amateur Radio Magazine

Forward by Principal Michael Day

Michael Day Principal St. Kevin's Ormond.It is interesting that in this day and age of mobile broadband networks and social media that Amateur Radio, the pioneering radio hobby of the last century, would be an excellent way of introducing science and technology to young children today. Amateur Radio enthusiasts are an amazing, untapped resource for educators. They are hidden away in every community, and can provide their own equipment and expertise. They also have a zeal to pass on this technology to the next generation. And, I would say, their aging ranks could do with some new recruits from us. So this largely free and enriching collaboration between the schools and the Amateur Radio fraternity is a classic win-win situation. When I first introduced the school Amateur Radio club at St. Kevin's Primary School in Ormond Victoria, I had no idea what a success it would be. We were lucky to have an Amateur Radio enthusiast within our ranks, so the introduction was initially driven by this staff member. The teachers, parents and students are now raving about it. To see the children confidently building electronic kits or talking to other schools over shortwave radio is quite incredible. I am now exploring ways to expand this program. The following article, by Julie and Joe Gonzales, (our staff member and her husband) introduces the modern world of Amateur Radio. It explains how they set up Amateur Radio clubs at three primary schools in Melbourne and it provides all the information needed for other schools to get involved.

AR Magazine Front Cover

2016 ANZAC Day Amateur Radio Special Event article published in Amateur Radio magazine

August AR Magazine front coverThe School Amateur Radio Club Network and the Melbourne Region Scouts joined forces to present their inaugural ANZAC Day Amateur Radio Special Event at the 1st Bentleigh Scout Hall at Victory Park in Victoria.

The all-day event was attended by some 200 school students, Scouts and their families.

Highlights of the day included a high altitude balloon launch, a very moving ANZAC day ceremony and many radio-related activities and displays.

The progress of the balloon, which was tracked by local amateurs, was closely monitored by the children on their mobile devices.

The electronics soldering activity, first aid - CPR demonstration and a historic WW2 radio display also attracted a lot of attention.

Mini Satellite-Antenna Rotator article published in Amateur Radio magazine

Amateur Radio magazine front page with rotator articleThis article describes the design and construction of a mini antenna rotator for tracking amateur radio satellites. The inspiration for this project was to provide a portable and appealing demonstration of amateur radio satellite operation for our primary school amateur radio clubs. The results have been completely satisfactory.

To communicate via amateur radio satellites in low earth orbit a directional antenna with even a few decibels of gain is a definite advantage. However, the antenna must be pointed at the satellite for about 10 minutes during a typical overhead pass.

Our problem was that holding the antenna and pointing it in the right direction for an entire satellite pass was a real chore for small children. It detracted from the novelty of amateur radio satellite communications. So it was time for technology to step in and make our lives easier. This mini satellite-antenna rotator was the result.

SARC article published in Education Today magazine

Education Today logo
A one-page, abridged version of our SARC article was published in the term 1 2016 edition of the prestigious Education Today magazine (The "school principals' magazine" with a readership of over 8000 school principals). Entitled "School amateur radio is set for a comeback with SARCNET" the article was expertly condensed by ET Staff to fit the single page format of the magazine. Many thanks to ET editor Mr. Bill Minnis of Minnis Journals for the great work and all the help provided along the way. For more information on Education Today magazine please see: http://www.educationtoday.com.au/

Education Today magazine article

2015 SARC Excellence Awards

Top students, Isobel, Zara and Isabella, from three primary school amateur radio clubs in Melbourne each received excellence awards for shortwave communications together with a prize sponsored by the Altronics Springvale store. The store manager Mr. Harold Mollaneda said he was delighted to sponsor the prizes of a soldering iron, solder and wire cutters to students who had excelled in school amateur radio club activities including electronic kit building. The clubs promote concepts of science and technology to an enthusiastic group of young students through the fascinating hobby of amateur radio. For more information about school amateur radio clubs please contact Julie VK3FOWL by emailing info@sarcnet.org

Sponsored by
Altronics logo

Isobel's certificate Isabella's certificate Zara's certificate