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Australian (VK) Amateur Radio License Numbers

21 March, 2024 - Reading time: 7 minutes

For the past few years I have periodically analyzed and researched the amount of amateur radio licensees in Australia. This is of particular interest to me - to see if we're "going in the right direction" - that being positively increasing amateur radio operators in Australia. 

Some have commented to me that "quality over quantity" is better... somehow thinking that there is a "perfect model ham radio operator" out there. Well there isn't - but this article is not focused on that today.

Firstly the recent changes by the ACMA and the Class License means that a new callsign registry was implemented. This meant that obtaining the data is much more difficult than before. ACMA provide a downloadable version of their RRL which is filterable - allowing duplicates and the like to be removed. Since the changes to the callsign registry & class license - it is impossible now to determine who owns what callsign, or in fact, how many callsigns they have - unless you look it up through QRZ.   

Nevertheless, we can get some sort of indication of the data and that is presented below.

Key Points:

  • Under the class license, license numbers will continue to increase. Due to the abolishment of annual fees - and with that license renewals - amateur operators are only required to renew their callsign every 5 years. If someone becomes a SK in that time - their callsign could potentially sit there for years until it either:a). expires or b). the estate of the SK remembers to surrender the callsign
  • The numbers below are not "individual operators" as you can have more than one callsign. However they do exclude beacons, repeaters & contest callsigns
  • This data was extracted on 21/03/2024, roughly a month after the class license has commenced.
  • "Unknown" had no license tier assigned to it - presumably a new license that had not yet been processed

Click to enlarge image

Key Takeaways:

  • 15,370 "callsigns" are currently allocated
  • VK2 has the most hams, followed closely by VK3
  • In every state/territory apart from VK8, Foundation exceeds Standard, sometimes almost double.
  • The % increase over 2023 is all positive - but that will be due to 2023's numbers removing duplicate callsigns in the data
  • VK1 has the most hams to general population 1 ham for every 920 people. This is followed very closed by VK7 - 1 ham for every 925 people. 
  • The national ham to population is: 1 ham per 1745 people    

Compared to some other countries:

  • USA - 1 ham for every 448 people - 757,000 hams (pop. 341 million)
  • Canada - 1 ham for every 555 people (2023) - 73,000 hams (pop. 39 million)
  • UK - 1 ham for every 670 people - 101,000 hams (pop. 68 million)
  • New Zealand - 1 ham for every 782 people - 6,700 hams (pop. 5.25 million)
  • Japan -  1 ham for every 326 people - 382,000 hams (pop. 125 million)

As you can see, Australia lags behind quite considerably.

This explains why the Australian ham market is so small - and "lack of activity on the bands".

So how do we improve on this? I believe the ACMA taking on Amateur Radio license services is a step in the right direction. First of all, exams are completely free - you only pay if you pass. No annual fees either. Invite your family, friends, coworkers - anyone you know to take the test and become a ham. There are great benefits to do so. Let's catch up to the rest of the world.

For more information on how to obtain your Amateur Radio license in Australia, see the below links:

WIA Foundation Manual: https://www.wia.org.au/licenses/foundation/foundationmanual/

ACMA Amateur Radio: https://www.acma.gov.au/amateur-radio

ACMA Callsign Register: https://www.acma.gov.au/call-signs

REAST Foundation Training Videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsnsP_zjw831mdC6sY4XqavRUY-53ZWUn

WIA Online Practice Test: https://www.wia.org.au/licenses/foundation/onlineexams/foundation.php


Top 5 CHEAP Ham Radios in 2024!

2 February, 2024 - Reading time: ~1 minute

Here is my listing of the top cheapest 5 ham radios you can buy to get you on the air as a beginner.


Get Started With Your First HF Antenna - For Beginners

20 September, 2023 - Reading time: 5 minutes

One of the most crucial components of an amateur radio setup is the antenna, especially for high-frequency (HF) bands. In this beginner's guide, we'll explore the world of HF antennas, helping you choose the right one to get started with your amateur radio journey.

Understanding HF Bands

HF bands, or high-frequency bands, are radio frequency ranges allocated by regulatory bodies for amateur radio use. They typically range from 1.8 MHz (or 160 meters) to 30 MHz (or 10 meters). These bands are popular among amateur radio operators because they offer the ability to communicate over long distances, both locally and internationally, with relatively low power. To make the most of these bands, you'll need an appropriate antenna.

Types of HF Antennas

When it comes to HF antennas for beginners, there are several options to consider. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice often depends on factors like available space, budget, and personal preferences. Here are some common HF antenna types:

Dipole Antennas: Dipole antennas are perhaps the most straightforward and widely used HF antennas for beginners. They consist of a wire element cut to a specific length and fed at the center. Dipole antennas are relatively easy to construct and work well for various HF bands.

See more info on Dipole Antennas here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSuX83ay4OuhLYHy6DYvuL8-1wvmnSn99

Vertical Antennas: Vertical antennas are a popular choice when space is limited. They consist of a vertical element and a ground plane, typically consisting of radials or a metal surface. Vertical antennas are known for their omni-directional radiation pattern, making them suitable for both local and DX (long-distance) communications.

Wire Antennas: Wire antennas come in various configurations, such as long wires, end-fed antennas, and loop antennas. These are versatile and can be strung up between trees, along fences, or in other creative ways to fit your space constraints.

Yagi-Uda Antennas: Yagi-Uda antennas are directional antennas consisting of multiple elements. While these are more complex to construct and set up, they offer high gain and excellent performance for HF bands when you need to focus your signal in a specific direction.

Choosing the Right HF Antenna

Selecting the right HF antenna depends on your specific needs and constraints. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Available Space: Determine how much space you have for your antenna. If you have a large backyard, you might opt for a dipole or a wire antenna. In contrast, vertical antennas are more suitable for smaller spaces.

  2. Frequency Bands: Consider which HF bands you plan to operate on. Some antennas work better on certain bands, so choose one that covers the frequencies you want to use.

  3. Budget: Your budget will also play a significant role in your antenna choice. Dipole antennas and wire antennas are typically more budget-friendly, while directional antennas like Yagi-Uda tend to be pricier.

  4. Elevation and Ground Conditions: The elevation of your antenna and the quality of your ground plane can impact its performance. If possible, install your antenna as high as you can and ensure a good ground connection.

  5. Regulations and Permits: Be sure to check with local authorities and regulations regarding antenna height, placement, and any required permits.

Conclusion

Getting started with HF antennas for amateur radio is an exciting journey into the world of communication. Whether you're looking to make local contacts or reach DX stations around the globe, choosing the right HF antenna is crucial. Consider your available space, budget, and operating preferences to make an informed decision. With the right HF antenna, you'll be well on your way to enjoying the rewarding world of amateur radio.

For more info check out my Antennas playlist on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSuX83ay4Oug_nPHTbAVVAdK1SFAfASjY