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Another Way to Use Ham Radio in Australia January 2024

Castlemaine amateur radio enthusiast Tony Falla is encouraging community members to consider having a radio on hand to assist in times of emergency when all other forms of communication fail.

Tony has been an amateur radio enthusiast for more than 50 years and established the local Facebook group ‘Mt Alexander Radio Watch‘ to encourage people to set up their own radio network for use in times of power cuts, mobile outages and other unpredictable situations.

But his skills and equipment were recently put to the test when simultaneous power and Optus network outages plunged homes across the region into darkness and saw many unable to communicate via phone.

The storm event on January 2 saw 24,000 homes across the central and western regions without power after 90,000 lightning strikes across the state damaged infrastructure.

“Despite having to look for an alternative source of lighting, I was able to use my car radio transmitter set up to reach out to other Mt Alexander Radio Watch members across the region and gauge how widespread the issue was and if everyone was okay,” Tony said.

“After confirming everyone was okay, one of my colleagues offered to drop me off some spare car batteries to extend my lights’ duration. However, they weren’t required in the end as fortunately the outage only lasted a couple of hours.”

Tony said Mt Alexander Radio Watch was not a rescue or monitoring service.

“What we do is help local communities to equip, train and organise themselves to be able to contact emergency services or family and friends under their own efforts,” he said.

Point-to-point radio enables an ‘open mesh’ network to form. This means participants can hear each other and are able to talk to everyone. It’s an efficient way of solving problems or calling for help.

Repeaters on Mount Alexander, Mount Macedon and at other key locations mean local enthusiasts can speak to people across Victoria and beyond.

“With the right equipment and conditions, you can speak with amateur radio enthusiasts across the globe. I’ve connected with people on every continent,” Tony said.

“You can start with a handheld radio for as little as $150 or Citizens Band radio for about $170 through to more advanced Amateur Radio systems, which are much more flexible but require a licence,” he said.

Tony said many people across Australia had already been assisted by either having a radio with them or being helped by people who were equipped with radios.

“If in trouble I would, of course, always use the phone first if I could. Radio is for the last resort,” he said.

“However, my experiences the other day in Castlemaine show preparedness is vital.

“Calling 000 is not always possible, as it wasn’t for 228 people across Australia whose call wasn’t transferred to another network from Optus during the 14-hour outage in November.

“We don’t hear what happened to any of those people who tried to call for help but I’ll bet some suffered as a result.

“In the recent floods I also read of a couple trapped on a car roof and some others stuck in a tree for 11 hours. If they had a handheld radio on their belt, they would have been able to call for assistance much sooner.”

You can learn more about the benefits of radio at the Bendigo Amateur Radio and Electronics Club coffee mornings held at Castlemaine Community House on the last Sunday of each month at 10am, via their website at or via the Mt Alexander


The following was received from the ARRL

ARRL Bulletin 1  ARLB001
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  January 2, 2024
To all radio amateurs

ARLB001 W1AW 2024 Winter Operating Schedule

Morning Schedule:

Time                  Mode     Days
——————-   —-     ———
1400 UTC (9 AM EST)   CWs      Wed, Fri
1400 UTC (9 AM EST)   CWf      Tue, Thu

Daily Visitor Operating Hours:

1500 UTC to 2045 UTC – (10 AM to 3:45 PM EST)

Afternoon/Evening Schedule:

2100 UTC (4 PM EST)    CWf      Mon, Wed, Fri
2100  ”      ”         CWs      Tue, Thu
2200  ”  (5 PM EST)    CWb      Daily
2300  ”  (6 PM EST)    DIGITAL  Daily
0000  ”  (7 PM EST)    CWs      Mon, Wed, Fri
0000  ”      ”         CWf      Tue, Thu
0100  ”  (8 PM EST)    CWb      Daily
0200  ”  (9 PM EST)    DIGITAL  Daily
0245  ”  (9:45 PM EST) VOICE    Daily
0300  ”  (10 PM EST)   CWf      Mon, Wed, Fri
0300  ”      ”         CWs      Tue, Thu
0400  ”  (11 PM EST)   CWb      Daily

Frequencies (MHz)
CW: 1.8025 3.5815 7.0475 14.0475 18.0975 21.0675 28.0675 50.350 147.555
DIGITAL: – 3.5975 7.095 14.095 18.1025 21.095 28.095 50.350 147.555
VOICE: 1.855 3.990 7.290 14.290 18.160 21.390 28.590 50.350 147.555


CWs = Morse Code practice (slow) = 5, 7.5, 10, 13 and 15 WPM
CWf = Morse Code practice (fast) = 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 13 and 10 WPM
CWb = Morse Code Bulletins = 18 WPM

CW frequencies include code practices, Qualifying Runs and CW

DIGITAL = BAUDOT (45.45 baud), BPSK31 and MFSK16 in a revolving

Code practice texts are from QST, and the source of each practice is
given at the beginning of each practice and at the beginning of
alternate speeds.

On Tuesdays and Fridays at 2330 UTC (6:30 PM EST), Keplerian
Elements for active amateur satellites are sent on the regular
digital frequencies.

A DX bulletin replaces or is added to the regular bulletins between
0100 UTC (8 PM EST) Thursdays and 0100 UTC (8 PM EST) Fridays.

Audio from W1AW’s CW code practices, CW/digital bulletins and phone
bulletin is available using EchoLink via the W1AW Conference Server
named “W1AWBDCT.”  The monthly W1AW Qualifying Runs are presented
here as well.  The audio is sent in real-time and runs concurrently
with W1AW’s regular transmission schedule.

All users who connect to the conference server are muted.  Please
note that any questions or comments about this server should not be
sent via the “Text” window in EchoLink. Please direct any questions
or comments to .

In a communications emergency, monitor W1AW for special bulletins as
follows: Voice on the hour, Digital at 15 minutes past the hour, and
CW on the half hour.

All licensed amateurs may operate the station from 1500 UTC to 2045
UTC (10 AM to 3:45 PM EST).  Be sure to bring a reference copy of
your current FCC amateur radio license.

The weekly W1AW and monthly West Coast Qualifying Runs are sent on
the normal CW frequencies used for both code practice and bulletin
transmissions.  West Coast Qualifying Run stations may also use 3590

Please note a W1AW Qualifying Run replaces a regularly scheduled
code practice transmission on any particular day and time.

The W1AW Operating Schedule may also be found on page 28 in the
January 2024 issue of QST or on the web at, .