My concerns regarding the conditions on 40m deduced from previous days were apparently baseless. I decided to settle on 7.127 Mhz to avoid a low level of splatter from two stations LF of 7.125 Mhz.
At 14.15 hrs and being quite early ‘on parade’ a few preparatory calls brought a response from John (G0PJU) in Whitley Bay, who was running 30 watts from FT897 to a doublet antenna that he had deployed that morning. It was certainly radiating well producing 59+10 on my MkV. even with the preamp out of circuit. John was not a Clifton member but he was glad to keep the frequency warm until the net formed. I told him we were a friendly bunch, and that he was welcome join in.
John and I being fairly strong signals on a relatively quiet band soon attracted the attention of Roger (G4ROJ/P) from near Kidderminster. He un-usually was using a 200ft long wire supported by a kite. Roger stayed long enough for a report and then went seeking the more exotic.
At 14.25 Peter (G3PJB) called in from Swanley with a fairly respectable 58 report he said that he had been looking for me whilst I was ‘maritime mobile’ he had seen that I had been spotted on a “DX cluster” but on tuning to the published frequency he could not hear me. Why does this surprise me? more of this later. The only notable DX worked recently by Peter had been 9X0NH in Rwanda. During recent weeks Peter had been enthralled watching the Peregrines on-line that had nested at Nottingham University.
It was nice to hear Lawrie (G4FAA) at 14.34 who called in from Sidcup, 40m was working well for us.
Lawrie was using a vintage KW Viceroy as his transmitter and a FRG7 as the receiver. To resolve his audio I had move the RIT up by 400khz, but heck that’s what the RIT is for. Lawrie was working on collecting a KW line-up and is seeking a KW2000. To quote Lawrie, they are nice rigs to work on, no surface mounted components.
Denis (G3OKY) was next to take advantage of the short skip on 40m with 58 signal from his trusty Icom 735 and end fed wire. Denis went on to say he had been experiencing a few problems with his ATU and traced ‘the gremlin’ to one of the variable capacitors. Denis was pleasantly surprised to find that his that his ageing transceiver would transmit above 7.1 Mhz. I told Denis most ‘modern’ rigs would transmit to upper reaches of 7Mhz and up to 4Mhz to cater for the US market.
Denis asked if anyone could tell him when IC735 was in production?
The general consensus was from 1984 until the early 1990’s I bought an IC 751A in 1990 and the IC735 features in the brochure from that year.
At 14.45 hrs David (G0WQQ) called in to say that was progressing well since his major surgery in November and was able to tackle gardening activities that he had not be able to do for some time. His receiver was still affected by a S7 of noise this was not helped by his hearing loss. David was seriously considering moving over to digital modes such a PSK31 at least he should be able work the world using screen based systems.
Peter (G3PJB) stated it was good hear that David (G0WQQ) was making a good recovery and that they had known each since 1961.
Peter went on to tell the group that he had travelled to the Sheldon museum to see the six A4 pacific locomotives before they were returned to their respective owners and in two cases to leave the UK. One anonymous enthusiast has offered a cheque for one million pounds to the US owners of the “Dwight D Eisenhower” to keep this A4 locomotive in the UK.
The journey to Sheldon was reasonable but it had taken 6 hours to return due to broken down freight train.
He then enlightened group how when on his arrival at the museum he was confronted by a queue several hundred yards long. With a mix of guile and ‘old pals net’ he sidestepped this encumbrance by using the ’employees only’ access and flashing his ‘railways privilege pass’. Well done that man!
Denis (G3OKY) said that next weekend he was celebrating his 85th birthday he was going to a special function to celebrate where twenty eight of his relatives will be present. Congratulations from all at the Clifton Denis, and have a wonderful time.
Denis said that he had a KW2000B in the past he recalled that it had a 6GH8 tube?
I wonder…..unless it was a ‘mod’ could you have meant a 6146(B) which have eight pins whereas 6GH8 is a nine pin valve. Whatever, these were much sought after iconic transceivers in the 1960/70s and are now subject of great interest by vintage radio enthusiasts.
Lawrie said that the CW National Field Day was looming on 6th & 7th June, there as possibility of a site change from the Detling Show Ground to a site near Capel. If my recollection serves correctly Capel is on the coast road between Folkestone and Dover (?).
Peter (G3PJB) said he had become a victim of un-foreseen consequences when his central heating boiler had been replaced. The unit required a new external flue in the form of a stainless steel chimney. When the fitters had gone home he realised the ‘new chimney’ went in-between the elements of his 2mtr beam. Peter now cannot rotate his 2m antenna. We wait hear then end of this story OM.
I would like to thank all those who endeavoured to find and work me whilst I was in ‘maritime mobile mode’. It all sounds easy, even although we managed to get our radio kit on board but it was not until Suzanne and I were two days into our 13,800 mile voyage that we were given the necessary written permission from ‘the master’ of the vessel to operate ( I later found out that the captain had consulted both his Chief Engineer and his Technical Officer before doing so). In his letter of approval the captain offered us any technical assistance should it become necessary.
On a previous trip on the same ship in October we had spotted a good location for wire antenna; a halyard off the funnel. Unfortunately since then the placement of a large temporary Aggreko ‘standby generator’ prevented access to this area. As we had to consider our fellow passengers our default antenna was a ‘Sandpiper’ helical mobile whip. This had advantage of being very portable and easily deployed on a any convenient part of the ship’s superstructure using a mag-mount.
Our station was completely portable; the FT817, Morse key, microphone, thermometer/clock, mag-mount and 7Ah gell cell were all contained in a small aluminium instrument case. Ancillary items such as log & note books, telescopic tips for the antenna, extra coax, and antenna analyser were carried in a small shoulder bag. The 1.5 m helical element presented no problem, often being mistaken for a hiking pole!
As all our operating was to be carried out on the open deck, we waited until the sea conditions were suitable and weather was warmer. Three days after gaining permission we commenced operating off the coast of Morocco. There followed several days of experimentation, not only placing and resonating the antenna, but establishing the propagation conditions on differing bands at these latitudes.
It soon became clear the most activity appeared to be on 18Mhz and above and generally in the afternoons. On the first day the 15th January I worked a UT2, HB9, G4, W2,OK2 and DK7 all on 18Mhz in CW with reports from 549 to 599.
Using the telescopic tops on the helical antenna it would resonate between 14 to 24mhz. It soon became obvious the propagation was better on the highest frequencies early in the day from 0900hrs up until midday when propagation disappeared until around 1400hrs when started again on 24Mhz and moved down to 21 and 18Mhz as the afternoon progressed. During these periods I tried to call on 21.058 or 24.906 on the half hours. As a result I worked Peter (G3RQZ) on 21Mhz on 23rd January
Because the telescopic tips for the antenna were too long, 28 Mhz eluded me until the 27th January when I cut a piece of wire coat hanger down to about 1.5ins. Once on 10m my contact rates doubled!
As we headed further into the South Atlantic I spent more time on 10m & 12m ending the operating day with on 15m
All of the contacts were QRP (5W) 85% in CW although I had some surprisingly good contacts on 10m SSB. I had to resort to “speaking wireless” as Jakey calls it, in the watery deserts of mid-South Atlantic, where the eight to ten meter sea-swell was causing the pitching and rolling ship to shudder and vibrate violently as pockets of air passed below the hull, making keying CW impossible. During one of these unsettled periods 800miles off the coast of Namibia I heard two MM3s on 10m having a local natter, I called in leaving two novice ‘hams’ in Glasgow somewhat shocked that 10w to simple wire aerials was fully readable some 5000 miles away and that my QRP station and mobile whip produced 58 signals at their end. Within a few minutes this propagation ‘path’ faded to zero.
These highly transient conditions were common on 10m/12m were exacerbated by my low power and restricted antenna.
This was the reason that DX cluster ‘spotting’ in my case was about as useful as yesterday’s weather forecast.
Although there were many hours whilst off the coast of South Africa when I could clearly copy the 10m low power beacons from EI, SM, and OH ( S7 to S9). At the same time I could hear European stations either calling DX( to VK. Pacific, & US) or piling into DX cluster sightings.
The astute and truly adventurous who actually listened as they tuned across an apparently empty band ended up in my log book. Interestingly most were modestly equipped stations with simple aerials
When calling I deliberately kept away from sections of the bands with ‘pile-ups’ to avoid the ‘pollution spread’ from over-driven PAs
It is my intention to write an article for one of the periodicals where I will explore the fun and frustration of ‘maritime mobile’ QRP operating, so I will conclude here with some of my memorable contacts:
Needless to say those Clifton members who I actually worked (some on more than one occasion) namely: Peter (G3RQZ), Colin (G0UJK) and Gerald (HB9AJU) a very big thank you to all who listened for me at sked times on the half hour but were thwarted by the propagation gods.
Another many notable contacts was VK6FZM/ Maritime Mobile who was off the coast of Papua New Guinea when I was off Freetown, Sierra Leone we both were QRP.
Also Gordon (ZS2GH) in Port Elizabeth who tried to assist when I was calling Terry (M0TNE) in SSB on 15m sked when I was en-route to Freetown. We had a constructive and entertaining QSO more so as Gordon had mis-heard my location as ‘off Syria’ instead ‘off the coast of Liberia’. On turning his two element beam towards us our reported signal went from 57 to 59+ . Unfortunately we were too late for propagation to the UK on 15m.
Another example was whilst coming out of Cape Town in a ‘force 10’ I had a 20minute CW QSO with VU2GSM in Bangalore on 24.909 Mhz watching my ‘Sandpiper’ antenna bend precariously on its mag-mount as huge waves pummelled the ship, not for the queasy.
I have inserted two photos one showing my operating position on the starboard aft deck with Suzanne in the background and one of me adjusting the telescopic top of the helical antenna ready for band change.
Note the temperature and the indispensable AA600 antenna analyser.
Back to the net, Lawrie (G4FAA) on hearing that Suzanne and I had joined others (including Terry M0TNE) in our village in a litter pick collecting 40+ bags of detritus last weekend. Lawrie told the group that he and Maureen were active members of the “Bexley Wombles” and regularly took part in litter picks within their borough.
The community spirit is alive and well!
Before the net I received apologies from: Peter (G3RQZ) who was travelling to Dorset to visit his son.
Also, John (G3FNZ) who was watching his yacht being re-floated following maintenance.
Finally, I must thank Brian (G3OYU) for ‘sitting in the chair’ during my absence; a job well done Brian!
As the time approached 15.34 we closed the net, the next Clifton Country Club Net will be on Sunday 13th April at 1400 Hrs GMT (1500hrs BST) on or near 7.125 Mhz
Catch You on the wireless!
73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.