VK3RST is a new beacon project by a group of microwave amateur radio operators. It was first licensed in January 2022. It’s planned to make the beacon a multi-frequency beacon including the microwave bands. 1296.432 MHz has just been added to the license as of November 22.
Beacons provide two invaluable services to the amateur radio community. Firstly they’re a great way to assess band propagation and secondly, they are a great way to adjust receivers and preamps. VK3RST will also fill a gap as there are very few beacons in the region. In fact just two 70cm beacons on-air in VK3, VK3RGI in Carrujung (QF31IP), and this one – VK3RST at Mount Martha (QF21MR) on the Mornington Peninsula.
Many operators interested in propagation will turn to beacons to see if conditions are good enough for a contact. In and around Melbourne, there are very few operational beacons so our fellow amateurs in places beyond the normal range of communications don’t know if a contact into Melbourne surrounds or the Mornington Peninsula is possible. If a beacon is heard, propagation is good.
VK3RST has been transmitting on 432.432 MHz at a temporary location since January 2022. It is running comfortably with an output of 4 watts. The antenna, as of February 25 is a turnstile, so it’s horizontal. It’s also GPS locked. The original site of the Mt Martha Golf Course, which is an existing SPARC site, proved too challenging to gain access to despite best the club’s blessing at the beginning of this project back in January. Disappointing… yes. So a new site has been chosen, the Bay Park Scout Camp, and permission has been given to set the beacon almost on top of Mount Martha. It’s about 10m higher than the golf course. A small amount of work needs to be undertaken before the beacon is installed. Not long now.
Timely updates will be provided on this page as the project develops.
The mail form on this page lets you tell me where you are and how strong you received the beacon along with any comments and suggestions. This, in time, will give a good indication of its service area. The form converts the information you give into a predefined email. It doesn’t store any information. Your location can be a QF locator or a suburb name.
If you’ve ever thought about getting beacons running in your area as an individual or as a club project, then you should, especially if you live in a rural area. Beacons are a bit like leaving the light on to say you’re home. Those who can hear your beacon will be looking for contacts in your area. At first glance, the regulatory process may appear daunting but it’s rather straightforward when you know how.
You don’t need to be affiliated with any entity or organisation. Any individual with the appropriate license qualification can apply for a beacon license. I will write up the process in detail and publish it here soon but in the meantime here’s a to-do list.
The cost of getting the assignment, which normally includes the first year licence fee is between $300 and $400. After the initial period, you’ll pay a regular ACMA licence fee – like you do now for your own callsign.
After you decide the where and how for your beacon, you’ll need to do 2 things…
The ACMA Accredited Person (AP) will be the person who sits between you, ACMA and the WIA. You’ll get an invoice from them for the service they provide so do as much leg work for them to the best of your ability. This involves accurately identifying your site for entry into the RRL and frequency allocation. Download and fill in the Amateur apparatus licence form to the best of your ability and send it, along with your approved callsign recommendation from AMC to the AP asking for a quote.
The AP will then finalise the frequency assignment process and request the required endorsement from WIA. Due to privacy issues, you’ll get emails from the WIA and ACMA throughout the process. These are usually just notifications and can be safely filed or forwarded to your AP.
The whole process from getting a callsign approved to having a granted licence in the RRL should only take a few weeks. VK3RST took 3 and that was over the Christmas break.
More VK Beacon information at the WIA site.