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Letters and emails should contain complete name, address and daytime phone number. Letters to the Editor are submitted on the condition that Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd may edit and has the right to reproduce in electronic form and communicate these letters. This also applies to submissions to "Ask SILICON CHIP" and "Circuit Notebook".

Air-rifle is a
restricted import

In your February 2011 edition on page 99 in the ‘Ask SILICON CHIP’ pages there is a letter (from R. K.) titled “Using the Beam-Break Trigger With An Air-Rifle”. The letter describes an Airsoft gun capable of firing 6mm pellets at 240 feet/sec.

As well as being a subscriber to your magazine I also work for the Commonwealth organisation that regulates the importation and exportation of goods into and out of Australia. Whilst we could argue over the merits of the prohibition on such goods that is not the central issue.

It has been my experience that such items (1) generally fail the legislative requirements for importation (see URL); (2) the importer fails to seek the requisite permission to import said goods; and (3) the importer fails to declare the importation of such goods and or produce the permit at the time of importation. Of course, it is entirely possible that R. K. did obtain such a permit.

CUSTOMS ACT 1901 – SECT 233: Smuggling and unlawful importation and exportation:

(1) A person shall not:

(a) smuggle any goods; or

(b) import any prohibited imports; or

(c) export any prohibited exports; or

(d) unlawfully convey or have in his or her possession any smuggled goods or prohibited imports or prohibited exports.

Lastly, the possession of such goods is also an offence whether or not the individual concerned actually imported them.

It has also been my experience that persons regularly purchase goods via the internet without even considering the legality of what they may be doing – they may be completely unaware of any prohibitions or restrictions. Unfortunately this is not a defence – see http://www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/ImportingSoftAirBB.pdf

Name & address supplied
but withheld at writers’ request.

Improving wireless
broadband reception

Wireless broadband is increasingly popular and in most cases a very satisfactory solution where flexibility is required. I am a volunteer with Beyond Disability, a charity that provides computers, technical support and a Bigpond wireless broadband connection to the disabled for a nominal fee. We chose wireless as it is simple to administer as our users’ circumstances change. In 95% of cases all goes well but the other 5% have difficulties due to poor reception in “difficult” areas or even buildings.

We are a technically able group but need advice on the practical solutions to poor reception – preferably at the lowest cost. We know that we could install outdoor Yagi arrays but this isn’t feasible or economic in many circumstances.

It would be really useful to have an article that covers the reception issues for wireless broadband and the potential solutions. For instance, we have found that the simple add-on indoor 5dB antennas don’t seem to do much but what about a glass mounted (through the glass) 9dB type car aerial? This has the advantage of being external (just) to the building and yet involves minimal installation work. I’m sure there are many possibilities; it’s just that we don’t have the resources or the necessary technical knowledge to know which would be the best options to trial.

I should mention in our location reception of Telstra’s Next G is basically good but we still find “pockets” where even a mobile phone won’t connect within the building.

Apart from our direct interest, I’m sure this would be of interest to the wider readership of SILICON CHIP.

Malcolm Fowler,
Mount Eliza, Vic.

Grid-connect
solar system results

I had a 3kW grid-connect solar panel system installed three months ago, on a north-facing roof at 15 degrees. While it is early days and the weather has been less than friendly, here are some observations:

(1) Lowest daily output (raining all day): 3kWh.

(2) Highest daily output (cloudless day): 21kWh.

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