The Hills Amateur Radio Group was asked by one if its members, Meg, VK6LUX if it was interested in assisting with celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the launch and orbits of John Glenn, marking the day that Perth obtained its moniker, the City of Light. After about 3 seconds thought, we enthusiastically jumped in with both feet and we're currently in the run-up to our first Club ARISS contact. As things evolve and we learn more about this adventure, we'll post updates here. You can subscribe to the news in your favourite RSS reader.

20120307 - Media Coverage

posted 6 Mar 2012, 17:31 by Onno Benschop

We've attracted a little media coverage around the world. Here's a brief run down:
  • Southgate Amateur Radio News
  • Epoch Times
  • WA Today
  • The West Australian
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • AR Newsline

20120302 - Cast of many

posted 2 Mar 2012, 15:58 by Onno Benschop

To make the ARISS contact the success it was many people were working away behind the scenes. To give you an idea of how much went on to make this event a reality, here is a list of credits that captures some of the people in this project:
  • Alex Ashworth-Preece - Student
  • Lauren Beldi - AV operator, City of Perth
  • Onno Benschop [VK6FLAB] - Perth telebridge operator, HARG
  • Isabella Biggs - Student
  • Damien Blythe - Piazza screen coordinator, City of Perth
  • Daniel Burbank [KC5ZSX] - International Space Station, NASA
  • Miles Burke [VK6MAB] - Perth microphone operator, HARG
  • Alex Comstock [VK6FLOL] - Student
  • Lee Cooper - Piazza event coordinator, City of Perth
  • Jo Darbyshire - Local history coordinator, City of Perth
  • Bonnie Davies - Stage Manager, City of Perth
  • Martin Diggens [VK6MJ] - Perth telebridge operator, ARISS
  • Tim Eastwood - Project manager, WA Muesum
  • James Falzon - Student
  • Dick Flagg [AH6NM] - Honolulu telebridge operator, ARISS
  • Gerard Foley - Archivist/Protocol/Speeches, State Records Office
  • John Glenn - The man himself!, Ex-NASA
  • Dorian Gray - AV operator, City of Perth
  • Leigh Hayes - Project sponsor, State Records Office
  • Elaina Hughes - Student
  • Tony Hutchison [VK5ZAI] - ARISS mentor, ARISS
  • Denise Johnson - Publicity manager, WA Muesum
  • Aaryan Kapila - Student
  • Hugh Kilpatrick - Student
  • Brad Kruger - Education coordinator, WA Muesum
  • Duncan Lennon-Black - Student
  • Jan McCahonMarshall - Local studies librarian, City of Perth
  • Danny Murphy - Graphic designer, WA Muesum
  • Simone Pucar - Marketing manager, WA Muesum
  • Mike Scott [N6GOZ] - Honolulu telebridge operator, ARISS
  • John Spasojevich [AG9D] - IRLP / Echolink Feed, ARISS
  • Morgan Strong - Web manager, WA Muesum
  • Lise Summers - Archivist/Exhibition coordinator, State Records Office
  • Donald Sutherland [VK6PDS] - Student
  • Meg Travers [VK6LUX] - Project manager, State Records Office
  • Allan Usher [VK6PWD] - Perth telebridge operator, HARG
  • Sammie Ward - Student
  • Tai - Technical support, Starlight Foundation
  • Tracy - Conference Operator, NASA

20120220 - T minus 2 hours 44 minutes and 10 seconds

posted 22 Feb 2012, 15:36 by Onno Benschop

Russell Woolfe and Onno Benschop discussed the various aspects of Amateur Radio and how that relates to the rest of the world. We covered BBQ's, CB-radio, ARISS and getting your license.

Audio available courtesy of ABC 720 - Drive with Russell Woolfe.

20120220 - T minus 11 hours 37 minutes 23 seconds and counting...

posted 19 Feb 2012, 14:42 by Onno Benschop

Bringing together the resouces of the WA State Records office, the WA Museum and the City of Perth, Amateur Radio is making a name for itself in Western Australia and across the globe.

Monday February 20 from 5pm the City of Perth will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Orbit of John Glenn which he made on the 20th of February 1962. During the celebrations the International Space Station will be live on stage with students from across Western Australia asking questions to an astronaut in space.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the ARISS team, NASA and the Hills Amateur Radio Group, the general public will be introduced to Amateur Radio and its role in providing Earth contacts between the crew of the International Space Station and schools, amateurs and others.

There will be trackers from Muchea and Carnarvon, Amateurs from around the state, and a host of dignitaries on hand to make this an event worthy of John Glenn's achievement. John Glenn will be part of the celebrations with a message for the people of Perth and Rockingham.

The Northbridge Piazza is located on the corner of James and Lake Streets in Northbridge. Parking is available acoss the road in the Roe Street Car Park.

If you're unable to make it to Northbridge, you can listen in using IRLP, Echolink and a web-stream. Details are available on the WA Museum City of Light web-site [] and the Hills Amateur Radio Group web-site. []

The cast to pull this off is enormous and we'll be adding a list of credits to the HARG site in coming days. Next week we'll have a report on how it all went down, needless to say it's getting very exciting, T minus 11 hours 37 minutes 23 seconds and counting...

20120217 - If you cannot be there...

posted 16 Feb 2012, 14:50 by Onno Benschop

The festivities celebrating the 50th Anniversary of John Glenn's orbit around the Earth on February 20th 1962 will kick off on the Northbridge Piazza on the corner of James and Lake street in Northbridge from 5pm on Monday the 20th of February 2012.

If you cannot be there, you can still join in and see what we're up to thanks to the efforts of many different people.

If you're an Amateur, you can tune in via IRLP or Echolink:
  • IRLP Discovery reflector, node #9010
  • Echolink AMSAT node #10137
If you've got access to the Internet, you can tune in via a video web-stream provided by iiNet:

20120130 - Aloha Honolulu

posted 29 Jan 2012, 15:14 by Onno Benschop

The Hills Amateur Radio Group ARISS contact takes resources from across the globe to make the contact possible.

In the middle of the night Dick (AH6NM) and Mike (N6GOZ) will be running their ARISS tracking station, pointing their antennas at the International Space Station and directing the feed across the globe to Perth, where we'll be sitting in the shade of the big-screen on the Northbridge Piazza.

Mike tells us that he's going to be fine with our Aussie slang, since he was born in Bris Vegas (Brisbane) and went to school in Tumby (Toowoomba). He also knows his station inside out, since he was one of the HAMs responsible for building the tracking facility. He's had a bit of Hawaii rub off on him, he's been there since the late 70's, so we will have the best of both worlds.

Welcome aboard! Or as Mike put it, 73 and aloha

20120116 - 6PR Interview on Nightline with Meg (VK6LUX)

posted 21 Jan 2012, 17:57 by Onno Benschop

Meg was interviewed by Graham Mabury on Nightline where they spoke about Perth, City of Light, John Glenn, space and other topics.

20120122 - NewsWest news

posted 21 Jan 2012, 17:50 by Onno Benschop

On the 20th of February 1962 a Mercury-Atlas 6 space craft called "Friendship 7" was launched. In the hot-seat was Astronaut, John Glenn. The objective was to place a man into earth orbit, observe his reactions to the space environment and safely return him to earth to a point where he could be readily found.

During the first orbit of 3, the spacecraft came into radio range of the Muchea Tracking Station where the first Australian Space Radio contact was made by Gerry O'Connor who spoke with John Glenn as he passed overhead.

[ AUDIO [.. Muchea contact audio ..]]

John Glenn reported that he saw the City of Perth and a very bright light as he overflew Perth and the Kwinana refinery which flared for the occasion.

[ AUDIO [.. Perth bright light ..]]

The event gave Perth the moniker, the City of Light.

Next month, 50 years after those 3 orbits, the WA State Records Office, the WA Museum, the City of Perth, ARISS, the Hills Amateur Radio Group and of course NASA are going to celebrate with a public event in the Northbridge Piazza in Perth where around 10 lucky primary and secondary school students will make a public ARISS contact together with web-streaming and other activities, such as a radio telescope, optical telescopes, museum exhibitions, a presentation by the WA Chief Scientist and some others we're working on. I have to say, it helps when there is an amateur at the State Records Office, hi Meg, VK6LUX.

From a technical perspective, we'll be using a tele-bridge because we don't actually have an overhead orbit to the International Space Station, but Dick, AH6NM, the ARISS amateur in Honolulu will be wide awake at midnight to make the contact possible. In Perth, members of the Hills Amateur Radio Group will provide the amateur link between the technology and the students so they can talk to an Astronaut. Behind the scenes there is feverish activity by Tony VK5ZAI, who is the ARISS mentor in Australia - and I recommend you take a moment to have a look at some of the photo's he's published online, you'll see a NASA style console in his shack and a tracking antenna to make you drool.

This once in a life-time experience is going to introduce a whole new generation of kids into space and amateur radio.

If you have or know school going children, primary or secondary, in Western Australia, get them to fill in the competition form on the WA Museum Web-site, at

If you're able to make it to Perth on February 20th, we'd love to see you at the Northbridge Piazza where we'll be setting up for the contact. Festivities start from 5pm.

So, get your kids to fill in the form, at and watch this space!

[ AUDIO [.. NA1SS contact with WH6PN (lead in to Italy ARISS contact) ..]]

20120122 - VK1WIA news

posted 21 Jan 2012, 17:36 by Onno Benschop

Thanks to Tony (VK5ZAI) we made it onto the national amateur radio news, broadcast by VK1WIA.

You can read or listen to the news online on the WIA website.

20120116 - Official Launch

posted 21 Jan 2012, 17:34 by Onno Benschop

Today we are excited to announce that the Hills Amateur Radio Group will be participating in its first ARISS contact, the 5th in Western Australia. The official press release is online for your fun and enjoyment.

The HARG coordination team is currently made up of four members, Meg (VK6LUX), Miles (VK6MAB), Alan (VK6PWD) and Onno (VK6FLAB). You can contact them with any questions or comment. Meg is also the media contact for the event at the WA State Records Office where she works. Miles has previously made an ARISS contact on the 11th of April 2011, with John XXIII College in Western Australia.

From a technology perspective, we're working with Tony (VK5ZAI) who is the ARISS coordinator in Australia to work out what is possible and feasible.

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