Bayside Radio Amateur Radio Society members to test their chops on $40k project

Bayside District Amateur Radio Society members Eddie Tomes and Phil Hutchings assemble radio gear. Photo: Hannah Baker
Bayside District Amateur Radio Society members Eddie Tomes and Phil Hutchings assemble radio gear. Photo: Hannah Baker

THEY chat to astronauts in orbit, bounce signals off satellites to talk with friends and test out their own radio gear in experiments.

However, Bayside District Amateur Radio Society members might soon have their skills put to the test in a $40,000 project to enable others to get clearer reception.

Society secretary Phil Hutchings said the group would use grant money from Redland City Council and the Gambling Community Benefit Scheme to install three repeaters and two transmitters at an old radio station in the Redlands. 

The infrastructure would help people to get stronger reception on walkie-talkies across south-east Queensland and dial up radio via the internet, he said.

Mr Hutchings said the project was one of the most difficult undertaken by an amateur radio club in Australia. 

However, he believed members were up to the task, with the build also helping to mark the society's 30th birthday this year.

Mr Hutchings said club members came from different backgrounds but were united in their love of tuning in for conversation and developing communication technology.

"It is technical and keeps your mind ticking over," Mr Hutchings said. 

"It is like social media but without the downside.

"There are agreed times to meet up and join conversations. You don't talk about politics or anything smutty.

"You talk, experiment and fail. It is really interesting stuff and can be really advanced."

PRACTICAL: Longtime club member Eddie Tomes uses his radio to talk with others when on outback four-wheel-driving adventures. Photo: Hannah Baker

PRACTICAL: Longtime club member Eddie Tomes uses his radio to talk with others when on outback four-wheel-driving adventures. Photo: Hannah Baker

Longtime society member and training coordinator Eddie Tomes said people who used amateur radio, also known as ham radio, had always been at the forefront in developing the technology.

Mr Hutchings has built antennas in his backyard from wood and cabling. Photo: Hannah Baker

Mr Hutchings has built antennas in his backyard from wood and cabling. Photo: Hannah Baker

Members built backyard antennas to improve signal strength, tinkered with radio set ups to boost frequency ranges and undertook trial and error experiments to test their own hypotheses.

About 15 satellites orbiting Earth had been funded by amateurs across the globe, he said.

"It is a fraternity," Mr Tomes said. "A lot of people go around the world without paying accommodation."

Everyone was welcome to join the society, with courses offered to enable people to become licensed amateur radio users.

However, there were rules that had to be followed.

People using amateur radio could not interfere with their neighbours' reception, use too much power or talk on frequencies they were not allowed to. Other rules also applied.

For more information about Bayside District Amateur Radio Society, visit here.