Following a much extended ‘summer recess’ the first Clifton Country Club Net of the 2013/14 season was poised to commence on a new frequency of 7.097. The prevailing solar activity had made 80m less than reliable for inter-G working in daylight hours.
The first aspect of operating on 40m was the noticeable splatter from adjacent stations on this popular part of the RF spectrum. In fact my S-meter bounced readily up to S8 with the 2.8Khz filter in line and was only tamed by the introduction of the1.8Khz, even so the needle hovered around S5.
Colin (G0UJK) boomed out of the tidal rush of noise as he answered my early second call for CC members. Being a solid 59+10db in both directions we easily secured the frequency, even when nearby European stations HF of us seemed to become rather adjacent.
We were soon joined by John (G3FNZ) who also crashed in from Rochester, again a 59+10db flattened the splatter with an ‘armchair’ copy, the voice peaks not allowing the AGC to recover.
Peter (G3PJB) was next to be heard, sorry Peter I could not give you the accolade of +10db at the time, although you maintained a solid 59 with the very occasional dip in QSB.
Colin told the group that he had been having great success on 10m , although he was a little perturbed by when at the weekends the band was populated by contest stations. I suppose Colin it’s swings and roundabouts there have been times if I recall when ‘we’ as the Clifton have generated a fair bit of RF during field-days.
Colin went on to say he was managing to work good DX with his ‘Supa-loop’.
John (G3FNZ), said that his radio operating had been limited, as he had spent most of his ‘free-time’ replacing the 30 feet of fencing panels that come down in the recent gales.
Jakey (G3JKY) another +10db station thumped in from Hastings, strangely it was not quite reciprocal as I only gained a 59 report, such are vagaries of wireless. In general most stations appeared general stronger on this band apropos 80m, although changes the antenna system at this QTH may account for this.
I told the group that following the very poor performance on 40m at end of last season together with the noticeable increase in QRM on top-band from ADSL2 radiated from the telephone wires. I reconfigured my 65mtr long doublet into a full wave 80m loop. I did this by adding 40ft of wire and joining the ends together to give a loop of 286 ft. This is fed with 300 ohm ribbon via a four to one balun. Luckily, my land is surrounded by mature trees, three of which supported the original doublet. I used the same trees plus one extra tree to form a trapezoid, the feed point and 300 ohm ribbon is supported from the versa-tower, the height of the loop varies between 18 & 25 ft as it surrounds the house. The tower is telescoped down a present in reaction to the recent threatened storms.
Even so I received some exceptionally good reports on both 40m & 80m where I deliberately ran lower power (5 to 10w) on SSB just to ‘test the water’.
Interestingly the points of resonance across the HF spectrum fall on or very close to all the allocated amateur bands including 10Mhz 18Mhz and 24Mhz, with a little help from an ATU this gives access to all bands 80m through to 10m, truly amazing.
Peter (G3PJB) said that this morning he had visited the “Go ahead bus company” to celebrate the 100th birthday of Merton bus garage. He said for a Sunday morning it was very busy. As far as DX goes he had worked a Royal Signals member in the Seychelles.
At this point Terry M0TNE called in, needless to say he was ‘end-stop’ with me as he only lives about 800mtrs away. He also had recently deployed a full wave loop for 80m. This followed his success with the 40m full wave loop. I cannot fully describe the situation that exists at Terry’s QTH in that he is totally surrounded by power-lines both high tension and domestic as well telephone lines numerous. A number of these strands of ‘electric knitting’ pass directly over his bungalow, the whole situation is akin to a faraday cage. But by sheer determination he works some interesting DX. Within hours of deploying his ‘big loop’ last weekend he had worked Asiatic Russia on 24 Mhz. A band that was not available to him with his 40m loop. Terry now he has access to all bands, 80m through to 10m.
Jakey (G3JKY) said that he had an 80m full wave loop in New Zealand, it worked well on all the pre WRAC amateur bands without an ATU by using the Pi match on his FT101. The relatively low height on the lower frequencies produced ‘ a near vertical’ signal that produced very short skip hence good signals were heard locally within ZL. Alternatively on the higher frequencies the loop performed as a reliable DX antenna.
Wearing his railway hat, Jakey said he had heard that the Rother Valley Railway was extending their track by half a mile with the intention to join with the Kent & East Sussex line. This would mean crossing the A21 arterial road, which in itself could be a problem as it would mean re-establishing a bridge. Not an easy task under new legislation, with so many boxes to tick and so many different agencies involved.
Recently Jakey had seen a 0-6-0 tank locomotive no. 32670 (?) on a low loader being transported by road to after being ‘on loan’ to the Rother Valley Railway.
Talking of 40m being crowded, Jakey recalled a field day when he worked GB3FB on 7mhz . The station was the special event call for the ‘Festival of Britain’ the year was 1951!
At this point Denis (G3OKY) called in from Beckenham, unfortunately the splatter from adjacent stations did not help. As a result 47 was the report, happily this was to improve later.
Colin (G0UJK) reported that Terry(M0TNE) was 59+10db in Swanley. Colin had been busy over the summer and had finished his new ‘shack’ that ran along the back of the house. Colin had fitted it out the operating position with shelving and it was fully insulated just ideal for the forthcoming colder WX. The change had meant that there was a surplus in the length of feeders and these were coiled up across the garden awaiting the warmer times in spring when Colin had plans to re-route or shorten them.
John (G3 FNZ) said all the stations were +20db or +30db which was quite remarkable. He went on tell the group that he had amassed a large collection of tickets from various preserved railways from all parts of the UK. Whenever away on holiday in his caravan the attraction of a nearby heritage railway could not be resisted. Now being a dedicated caravan user, he had kindly donated his capacious frame tent to the Clifton contest group. As during his visits to the contest site at Detling he had noticed their present ‘accommodation’ was somewhat tired.
On behalf of all those stalwarts in the contest group, a hearty thank you John!
Peter (G3PJB) said that Terry’s signals were 46, this may be due to the orientation of his G5RV antenna and local conditions such as noise. Especially in the light of the 59+10 report from Colin who was only a short distance from Peter’s QTH.
Peter went on to say he was considering deploying a ” double sized” G5RV with a 204 ft top, this would give access to 160m.
He went on to say that Rother Valley railway would have their work cut out if they were going bridge the A21. It was almost an impossible task. During the summer Peter had travelled to York railway museum for the ‘great gathering’ of six A4 pacific locomotives in celebration of the 75th anniversary of world speed record by the A4 Mallard.
Jakey (G3JKY) said before coming up on 40m he had listened on 80m and found hardly any activity and most were European stations with smattering of very weak ‘Gs’, confirming it had been a wise decision to use 40m.
As a shareholder in the Spa Valley Railway he had spent a ‘lads day out’ on the railway in June enjoying a splendid lunch at Eridge station whist eagerly looking for the sleeper he had ‘donated’ as part of the share package.
He thanked John for the frame tent , it would be very welcome as the old one was extremely draughty, the zip having failed on the door flap.
The results from the NFD in June were if nothing but consistent; G3GHN came 9th out of 9 on 28 Mhz, 8th out of 9 on14 Mhz, and 9 out of 9 on 7 Mhz.
OK folks don’t get despondent! The Clifton was in the ‘open section’ and solely relied on two CW operators namely Jakey and Colin who made 938 pts. A very good effort under difficult conditions! More so when you consider all the other competitors had between five and nine operators in their teams for this 24 hour contest.
I admire Jakey’s tenacity and support given by Colin but in truth, what we need is more CW ops if only to give our ‘key-operators’ a break.
Are we down hearted ? No of course we are not! Jakey is already working on a 28Mhz two element beam antenna for next year. With the prototype at 3ft above the ground he has worked four stations in the USA and two in Italy
At this point I informed the group that I had received apologies from Brian (G3OYU) who was celebrating his 80th birthday and was being taken out to lunch by his family.
Many congratulations from all, Brian!
Also apologies from David Bennett (G0WQQ) who underwent major heart surgery on 12th November he said he hoped to be in a position to listen or join in next month.
David, all those on the net and those reading this summary sincerely wish you a speedy and full recovery.
Dennis (G3OKY) said he found 40m a good choice as he was able to copy everyone. The noise floor at his QTH had been noticeably reduced since his next-door neighbour had passed away and his very noisy router was no longer in use.
Denis said he was still on his 90ft end-fed antenna, but if we were likely to make 40m a regular haunt of the net he would consider erecting a 40m dipole in an inverted ‘V’ configuration which should also work well on 15m.
Because the adjacent ‘splatter’ had subsided Denis was now a fair reasonable copy at 57 with some QSB. A dedicated aerial for the band may improve matters both for Denis and the group. However keep that end-fed handy Denis just in case we find that 80m become a better proposition in the future.
Colin (G0UJK) said it was good to hear Denis although he was losing the occasional word in QSB, he felt his signals could be improved with a resonant antenna for 40m.
Although it is not exactly the best time of year for antenna work with the promise of colder weather on its way.
Colin went to say that 10m had been wide open most days during the past few months. He heard an Afghanistan station calling for a 9M2 without success. Colin called and asked the YA to QSY and thereby securing his first contact with Afghanistan. Well done that man!
Peter (G3PJB) said that during the summer he had celebrated his 81st birthday together with his 62nd wedding anniversary. A belated congratulations from all Peter!
At this location a very early seasonal gift from Suzanne (G0LUZ) in the form of a ‘Rig Expert’ A600 antenna analyser has assisted me deploying a new full wave 80m loop both here and at Terry’s QTH. These task can be carried out with confidence using the easily to read colour graphic displays of all the antennas (& the feeders) characteristics. No more calculated guesses chaps!
As another point for our members regarding deceptive sites on the internet.
In recent weeks I had recourse to renew a passport and a EHIC (European Health Id Card). I used a well know search engine for “UK Passport Renewals”.
Up popped a site emblazoned with images of a ‘crown’ and ‘UK passports on line’ etc
I duly filled in all the boxes. Knowing I had to submit photos of the passport holder I became suspicious at the end of the form when there was no mention of photos but a demand for a fee of £26.30p. Being somewhat canny I thought why?
On closer examination, it obviously a scam, they only completed the application form on-line which they posted back to you for the princely sum of £26.30p.
For passports, your local Post Office run a “check & send” service for a small fee. They check that the form and photos are completed correctly and a forward your application, photos, and old passport by recorded delivery to the Passport Office. All his for a fee of £8.75p on top of £72.50 for a new passport.
There was a similar scam for the EHIC (European Health Card) at £12.30p. This card is available on-line FREE from the NHS and usually arrives in two days.
I know you’ve heard this before but do ensure that the web-site you are dealing with for these government based services has “www.gov.uk ” in the address.
“The legality of these rogue sites is a very grey area and should be reported to the local trading standards office” to quote a government minister recently.
That has got to be the best example of ducking the issue since Jim Callaghan’s
“crisis, what crisis?”
My apologies to Steve M0BPQ for not being on the recent 160m SSB contest but as you will have read, unfortunately I am now sans antennas for that band.
Finally for Jakey (G3JKY), I believe the 0-6-0 locomotive you saw on the low loader was an LB&SCR A1Class Terrier Tank, do have at look at the ‘Terrier Trust ‘ web-site for further details:
The net was brought to a close at 16.20hrs. December’s net will be on Sunday 15th December at 3pm, all being well on or near 7.090 Mhz. The band and frequency will confirmed nearer the date.
Catch you on the wireless!
73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.