The bright sunshine and blue skies having tempted most out for some pre-Easter time gardening or other DIY activity led me to wonder how many would abandon this opportunity to enjoy the spring sunshine to join the net.
Also the state of 40m was as yet an unknown quantity, news of recent solar mass ejections held the possibility of very poor conditions on the lower bands.
As typical with 7 Mhz I found our chosen frequency affected by ‘splatter’ from a DL station approx 2Khz LF. At 13.55 hrs a tentative call of ‘just listening’ on 7.126 Mhz brought an encouraging response from Robbie (2E0RDJ) near Bristol, who reported that my signal was an “armchair copy” at 59+10db. His 50watts was likewise a solid 59+ here in Norfolk. Unfortunately these conditions were not to prevail.
Robbie was not a Clifton member but I said he was more than welcome to stay and gain some more reports from the gathered company when they appeared.
At this point, Peter(G3PJB) announced his presence with a 57 signal, stating that I was just audible over his noise floor of S6/7 but he could not hear Robbie in Bristol.
At this Robbie signed out and bade us 73.
Phil (G3BSN) thumped in with a 59 signal from near Rochester, reporting that both Peter and I were 55 reports on his new TS 990. Phil went on to state that the filtering on his ‘flagship’ Kenwood transceiver was ‘second to none’, the low signal strength belied the excellent clarity of the received audio.
Phil said that he had just come into the shack from gardening duties where he had been enjoying the spring-like sunshine, with an ambient temperature hovering round 20c.
Ah, the tropic of Kent! Here in Nelson’s county even with bright sunshine a chilling breeze off the North Sea was keeping the thermometer pinned below 12C. Brrr!
John (G3FNZ) popped in to say he had been absent for the last net as he had been watching his yacht being refloated after its winter lay-up. Since then he had been ‘under the weather’ and the continuing high levels of electrical noise at his QTH took any pleasure away from operating the radio. Even on this net he was finding the constant ‘frying fish’ in background rather unpleasant, more so as the received signals were varying greatly.
OK John, the group were sorry to learn of you are not on top form, and sympathise with the seemingly incessant QRN which now seems to pervade most populated areas. This of course is exacerbated by weak signals from the prevailing poor propagation on the LF bands.
John went on to say he was looking forward to the Steam & Transport weekend at the Chatham Dockyard Museum. As secretary of the Historical Society, again this year he hoped to exhibit his Austin Seven. Good luck with that John, I hope you have a very successful and enjoyable time. This was the last we were to hear from John on this net, as his constant noise increased causing him to close down.
At this point in the proceedings, Jakey (G3JKY) called in from Hastings his FT101 was producing a fairly solid 58 report at my QTH. Jakey apologised for being late on parade, but he had stumbled across a special event station further up the band (7.160 Mhz I wonder? more of this later). The special call was linked with Leyland, Lancashire where the operators had their station next to a Centurion tank. These leviathans of war were built in Leyland.
Jakey went on to explain that he and Joyce had been way on holiday for a few days and he had returned with a persistent cough. On visiting his GP Jakey was found to have an extremely high pulse rate. Needless to say this led to medication and further tests some of which still have to carried out. Under Joyce’s supervision he was trying to take things a little easy. Although he was still making regular appearances on the RAFARS CW net on 80m.
Meanwhile in preparation for the forthcoming contest season, Jakey had been configuring a method of using the power supply from the Ten Tec to run the 4m transverter. This required cutting a hole in the transceivers chassis thereby enabling the whole system to run on one PSU. He had successfully modified one unit and was now working on his second Ten Tec.
Peter (G3PJB) stated that all signals were very much weaker than on previous nets the propagation was definitely unsettled to say the least. He was still waiting the return of heating ‘engineers’ who had entrapped his 2m beam by passing the new flue between the elements of the antenna!………. I wish you luck Peter, I trust you have not paid the bill, this is a great impetus for them to return.
He went on to say that Doris had not been too well, and he was somewhat perplexed by the apparent apathetic attitude displayed by the GP. Let me guess Peter, “at this age you have got to expect etc………….”
During the month Peter had taken the opportunity to travel to Margate by train when he arrived he wish he had not bothered, to quote Peter “It’s in decline, a shadow of its former self”. He went on say as he was reliant on rail travel, he was somewhat taken aback to learn that there would to be no rail service from Chatham station over Good Friday. Ah yes! Peter railways are no longer a service but merely a business.
At 14.21Hrs Phil (G3BSN) signed out to continue his gardening activities, just as Ron (G3GZH) called in from Whipsnade. Fortunately my full wave 80m delta loop and very low ‘noise floor’ allowed me to hear Ron’s 54 signal. Ron said he had been listening for some time, he could hear most but occasionally lost the gist of the conversation because of ‘splatter’ from a couple of DL stns a few kilohertz lower.
Ron was using a vertical antenna and unfortunately was not readable by those with high noise levels. The band conditions were definitely not working in our favour.
Peter (G3RQZ) boomed in from Godstone with the assistance of his trusty TL 922 linear amplifier producing 59+20db here. Again Peter had broken off from his gardening duties to give a call whilst he was en-route to prepare Sunday lunch.
Peter said it was apparent from what he had heard that band was in pretty poor shape and that all signals were lower than expected. To make things worse he was currently victim of hay-fever, possibly due to the rape crop that was in full flower locally. He had done very little radio since the last CC net. He would listen for one time round but his culinary skills were required in the kitchen so he would not come back.
Jakey (G3JKY) said that he had suffered from hay-fever as a child, but this had disappeared when he started playing the trombone. Likewise Peter (G3PJB) said that his hay-fever had stopped after he took up swimming as a past-time.
Well, there are two tried and tested cures to consider Peter (G3RQZ)!
At this QTH there has been the continuing smattering of two way QRP CW contacts one of the most notable was FO/F5PJF/P in French Polynesia on 15m, this interesting QSO lasted for 15mins until the band closed.
I have been assisting a Terry (M0TNE) who lives in my village with his planning application to install a crank-up mast at his QTH. All being well we can expect a decision in early June.
Before the net I received apologies from:
Laurie (G4FAA) who was attending the Kempton Park rally hoping to acquire an IC7100 to enable him to get back on to 5Mhz.
Brian (G3OYU) who was attending a Palm Sunday church service and had continuing family commitments.
Steve (M0BPQ) who had family commitments.
Gerald Lander (HB9AJU/G3OOH) who was visiting his daughter with Hannelore his xyl.
Jon (G8CCL) who’s shack had been crushed by a falling tree (now that’s a real apology!)
Jon, we all hope you are back on the air soon!
After the net I received the following e-mail from Bob Schilling (HB9DBJ/G3OAW). I note however the quoted frequencies differ from our net on 7.126 Mhz but I think the higher QRGs are where Jakey (G3JKY) worked the special event call before joining the CC Net.
I don’t know Jonathan personally, but I do sympathise and can well imagine the state of things after the fall of that tree. We have pretty strong winds here and there is always a risk of losing tiles off the rooftops on one end of the scale and big damage from falling trees at the QRO end. Our last storm was 2 years ago in Feb. When dislodged tiles nearly hit my car which was parked outside. I do hope that traditional amateur solidarity will help Jonathan pull through this nasty passage.
This afternoon, at 16.00 hours HB9 time I listened in 7.150 Mhz and finally found the Clifton QSO on 7.160 after a few minutes. Most stations were just peaking above the QRM (it seems that there was a contest going on and the Italian stations made life very difficult here) and even if I had been equipped to call (I have currently no dipole for 40 metres) I doubt very much whether It would have possible to participate. I would say that you were all about Q3/4 and S5/6! I did manage to recognise Jakey, whose voice is imprinted in my memory since my youth and hence impossible to forget. I did also hear that you will probably return to 80 metres next month. I shall listen, having a fairly good transceiver (Flex 3000) but the local noise level here is very high on that band. Meanwhile, please pass on my vy best 73 to all and everyone.
Bob HB9BDJ (ex G3OAW)
Thank you Bob it is nice to know you are listening, I will be looking at the possibility of returning to 80m but only if conditions improve on that band. At present there is little sign of that, I will of course let everyone know where the net will be located.
Whilst typing this summary, I received an extremely interesting letter (yes a letter!) from Denis (G3OKY) who said that I was the only station on the net that he could hear clearly on Sunday. Thank you Denis, that is very reassuring as it proves my 286ft of wire loop is radiating well. Denis went on to say that only having an end fed wire he was limited to listening most of the time. He could not access his favourite band, 10m as his ATU was unable handle the mis-match. He recalled previous years in the past when 10m was open when he enjoyed numerous contacts on 28Mhz. He went on to say he needs a dedicated dipole for ten metres but he was now not agile enough to deploy one.
He had relinquished his G-QRP membership (No.187) as working QRP had been put out of reach six years ago when his neighbour installed a ‘noisy’ router which obliterated all but very strong signals. Thankfully this neighbour no longer lived next door.
Denis is looking forward to attending his granddaughter’s wedding during the first weeks of May.
Enclosed with the missive was one of Denis’s 1960’s QSL cards which Suzanne and I will treasure……………FBOM mni tnx!
Food for thought, is there any one close enough to pop round to see Denis, and assess the possibility of deploying ten metre antenna or even a nest of dipoles for 10,12,& 15Mtrs?
On the Wednesday following the net Keith (G4TJE) and Ayesha (G7LMP) who were spending a few days in Norfolk dropped in and had lunch with Suzanne and I. Keith said he was looking forward to the warmer weather when he would be operating ‘portable’ from their paddock near Sevenoaks using his recently acquired FT897D. Also he hoped to use this new rig to work from their ‘alternative’ QTH in Pembrokeshire at the end of May.
By 14.43 Hrs on Sunday the conditions on the band had deteriorated such that QRM together with increasing levels of QSB were making communication difficult, hence the net was brought to a close.
The next Clifton Country Club Net will be on Sunday 18th May 2014 (in order to avoid an RU 24hr contest the previous weekend) at 15.00 Hrs BST on or near 7.125 Mhz (unless conditions on 80m improve radically).
Catch you on the wireless!
73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.