Phil, G3MGQ has sent through his ‘Month on the Air’ for July which appears to be an interesting month on HF with plenty to do. Contests to look out for and some to avoid. Enjoy this months edition of Month on the Air.
Monthly archives for June, 2014
An enjoyable evening was had at the Taplin Centre on June 26th, as Mike Hedges, gave a interesting and insightful presentation about his experiences after joining the RAF on a 3 year short commission in the early 1950’s to become a fully-fledged wireless operator.
After being sent to Cardington and then on to 8 weeks of basic training known as ‘square bashing’, Mike was entered into the number three radio training centre at Compton Bassett which is located a short way North-West of R.A.F. Yatesbury; the number 2 radio school.
Trained in both Morse and radio theory during a course that lasted a not inconsiderable 30 weeks and trained up to 30 words per minute in CW, Mike was then moved on to Lytham-St-Annes where he was kitted out before heading down to Southampton by train to embark on The Empire Trooper, a former German passenger vessel. Capable of carrying a hefty 300 military personnel and 200 civilians, this ship had been captured by the HMS Belfast in 1939, whilst en-route from the U.S via Iceland trying on its way back to Germany, and was then used as a personnel carrier for our military.
The Empire Trooper tested Mikes sea legs and after a queasy time on board, arrived at his first station in Gibraltar before going on to Suez where he initially performed a guard duty role with a .303 rifle while the country was under the presidency of Nassau.
He was then flown on through the blistering heat of Khartoum and onwards to his final destination In Aden. Located at the southern end of the Red Sea, there he finally got to work as a radio operator in the airfield control centre using a variety of radios, including 1154’s, 1155’s and AR88’s. For the ground to air work Mike was using around 100w, and Jakey also pointed out that some of the TX’s were using up to a whopping 8Kw.
Mike went on to explain his CW work with the military planes including Vickers Valetta’s and Bristol Brigands, the Brigands being equipped with heavy armour on the front and rocket launchers to help fight off any ground attacks from the tribal fighters in Yemen.
As Mike recounted various stories of his CW operation from the control tower on his day and night shifts, he noted that on some occasions in particularly poor weather, the buffeting planes made the flying operators produce extended CW ‘dahhs’ as the key was inadvertently held down which made communications interesting if not slightly longer than usual!
It wasn’t uncommon either for the personnel stationed at the base to be sitting in an open air cinema in the evenings to find themselves being deafened by low level planes as they tried to enjoy watching a film.
Finally Mike wrapped his presentation up with an original picture of Kharmaksar in 1951 where his billet was located amidst the encampment which housed the control tower, runway, antenna masts and the rest of the facilities at his post. Apparently today the area is little more than an arid dual carriageway in the desert.
One thing is for certain, after the very enjoyable presentation by Mike it became clear that his passion for amateur radio and Morse code are matched only by his enviable and interesting experiences as an RAF radio operator.
The club is pleased to announce that it will be holding a live amateur radio demonstration on the 24th September at the Taplin Centre in St. Leonards on Sea, East Sussex.
Experienced members from the club will be present for a friendly chat, give advice and answer any questions that you may have about the fascinating world of amateur radio.
The club has nearly 60 members, and in recent years has helped members as young as 12 and as old as 80 to pass their Foundation amateur radio licence, so there are no excuses for not taking your amateur radio licence if age is a concern!
Friendly RSGB approved trainers will be present to provide specialised advice for those interested in taking their licence and will be given first class training and support if they decide to go ahead.
The Taplin Centre will be using an HF transmitter, an HF receiver and there will no doubt be quite a few 2M/70cm VHF/UHF handheld radios being used for local simplex and repeater use to communicate with other local amateurs in the surrounding areas.
More information will be posted in due course about the event and we look forward to seeing you there! If you would like further information please contact the club secretary Gordon Sweet on gordonsweet2000 @ yahoo.co.uk
Firstly please accept my apologies for delay in producing this summary, but unfortunately other very pressing issues demanded my attention as a matter of priority.
This was the final net before the ‘summer recess’ the weather in most of the UK had been fair with the exception of those of us residing the eastern coastal fringes as an anticyclone over Northern Ireland was sweeping cloud and some drizzle off the North Sea.
I was not confident that many would abandon their outdoor activities encouraged by the weekend’s short burst of summer.
Conditions on 80m had shown some recent signs of recovery in the evenings, unfortunately afternoon propagation was non-existent, hence 40m was our chosen band.
Tuning across 40m before the scheduled net time I found numerous UK special event station taking part in ‘museums on the air’ weekend. The lack of ‘near continental’ stations was indicative the ‘skip’ was very short, with little or no QRN.
The apparent stable conditions belied the deep turbulence dwelt below the surface, as we were to find during the next hour.
Again this month 7.126Mhz was where we pitched our Clifton ‘tent’, I had hardly released the PTT on the desk microphone to gain an immediate from Colin (G0UJK) who answered my cursory call at 14.48 hrs BST.
Colin was a solid 59+10db from his Swanley QTH, he told me he had just worked an IOTA station on Islay off the coast of Scotland. His ‘Super-Loop’ antenna was continually outperforming more conventional aerials. Although he did suffer from local electrical noise that was occasionally as high as S7.
Colin had been experimenting with a ‘fan of dipoles’ to improve his access to the higher frequencies. He had taken the less than usual option of deploying these dipole antennas in a vertical mode, thereby maximising the effect of low angle of radiation associated with verticals in an effort to improve his DX capability.
We took a break at 15.00hrs to call in other members. Ron (G3GZH) who is normally a fairly readable signal here in Norfolk, was only just detectable. Although Colin fared better than I and heard Ron giving Colin a 59+ report. This was a precursor to the unsettled conditions that would prevail for the rest of the afternoon.
Shortly after Peter (G3RQZ) romped in from Godstone with a 59+20db signal stating that he had been listening for a few minutes and was also having difficulty hearing Ron (G3GZH), but also my signals had plunged in strength from 59+20db to an S3; these extreme swings in signal strength were sudden and very deep.
Keeping the theme on antennas I told the group that Terry ( M0TNE) who lived in my village had applied for planning approval to erect a 7.6 m mast at the rear of his bungalow. In the mean time because he would be under scrutiny he had removed his delta loop antenna, therefore he had no HF capability. I was convinced as Terry had not received any objections from his immediate neighbours and that there were a number of other constructions within 100m of his QTH that were in excess of 15m in height, such as two wind-turbines and a micro-wave link comms tower at the village school, his application should pass without problems.
Colin stated that he still had not pursued his application for a versa-tower, as he was convinced that the ‘authorities’ would not approve. I recall having this conversation with Colin some three years ago, and I still maintain my stance that if you don’t ask you don’t get.
I also have a theory that has yet to be disproven, that most planning departments are there to assist, and if approached in the right way can be very helpful.
More so in the last few years, when most local council planning departments have been ‘outsourced’ to private companies and that revenue streams are paramount.
Peter(G3RQZ) stated that he has had his mast for over twenty-one years and never felt the need to apply for permission being hidden from view by the trees that surround his property. After that period Peter you can apply to have it formalised and they cannot refuse providing you have sufficient evidence that it has been in situ in excess of seven years.
Peter went on to say that trees have now encroached so much that he is unable to rotate his HF beam. At present the mast supports his 80 trap dipole and a dipole for 60m.
Colin said that he had worked some of the ‘special calls’ in CW associated with the ‘D-Day’ landings in Normandy has also made the trip into Angola on twenty meters.
At this point, Denis (G3OKY) called in from Beckenham, again although just audible the conditions were not in Denis’s favour, as his signals rapidly swung from 58 down to a whisper in seconds. It was nice to know that both Ron and Denis were there, unfortunately both not being blessed with very efficient antenna systems they were victims of the transient conditions. Even my signals were suffering from a similar fate and I was using a full-wave 80m loop supported by both my 20m versa-tower and surrounding trees.
Peter (G3RQZ) said that although they had a couple of severe thunder storms with very heavy rain over the past few days the ground remained stubbornly dry, such that a stream adjacent to his land was dry. Ironically, he expected the water authorities would declare a drought in the next few weeks.
He went on to say, that he was very disappointed by the lack of sporadic ‘E’ propagation this summer especially on 4m. There was a theory being mooted that this was as a direct result of lack of ionisation of the ‘E’ layer due to the abandonment of extremely powerful VHF analogue TV systems throughout Europe.
That is an interesting concept, Peter!
Being a regular inhabitant of 60m Peter went on to tell the group that there was a new beacon HB9AW.
Although the 60m band has not been released for amateur radio in Switzerland, the Sursee Amateur Radio Club has obtained the necessary official authorizations for a Swiss 5 MHz Experimental Beacon project. Using the callsign HB9AW, the beacon became operational on 5291 kHz at 0000hrs on the 1st of June.
The transmission commences with the call sign HB9AW in CW (100HA1B), followed by five 2 seconds-long dashes. The dashes are each accurately attenuated in the EIRP power sequence 10W / 5 W / 1Watt / 100mW concluding with 10mW and currently repeats every 5 minutes, commencing on the hour.
Thanks for that information Peter, I and fellow 60m users will now listen for the new beacon.
Peter reported that conditions were taking their toll on my transmission that I was dipping below his noise floor making reliable communication difficult.
But not as bad as the QRM on 160m, which has been steadily increasing as a result he has abandoned a Croydon based net on top-band because the ‘electronic soup’ had reached S9.
Likewise, I too have abandoned 160m due to a marked increase in QRN since October 2012 when ADSL2 was introduced into our area. As all our telephone lines are pole mounted the radiated signals were detectable up to 2.2Mhz. This combined with a NATO ‘Stanag’ transmission centred on 1.898Mhz with sidebands spreading 500Khz either side obliterated any signal under S9.
At 15.25 (BST) Peter signed out, wishing the group a happy and healthy summer and looked forward to the next season of Clifton Nets in October.
Colin( G0UJK) said that in lieu of the Clifton’s entry into last weekend’s HF field Day he could not resist the need to get on the air and give some point away. He made 70+ contacts before other priorities drew him away from the wireless.
Well done that man!
As the time reached 15.35hrs (BST), Peter (G7ULL) called in from Chislehurst with a very respectable 59+10 signal. Somewhat different from last month, when for some unknown reason he was barely readable. Peter went on to explain that he had replaced his G5RV antenna with a brand new one and that he strongly suspected that there was a break somewhere in the slotted feeder as the original aerial had been in situ for several winters. Nice to hear you again Peter, unfortunately it was not reciprocal as Peter said that I was fading out and he was having difficulty in copying me.
A very apt time to call a close to the net before reliable communication totally broke down.
This had been small but enthusiastic net working against fairly difficult propagation
I received apologies from:
Lawrie (G4FAA), who was taking part in the Practical Wireless 144 Mhz QRP contest.
Brian ( G3OYU), who was indisposed as he was awaiting surgery on Monday 16th June. We all wish you a speedy recovery Brian.
Jon ( G8CLL), who was still working hard to salvage his shack that been demolished by a falling tree.
John ( G3FNZ), who was recovering from surgery on his arm and wrist. Get well soon John.
May Suzanne and I take this opportunity to wish all Clifton Country Club members a splendid summer, enjoy the weather and good DX.
We look forward to working you all again in the new season of nets which is scheduled to commence on 19th October, the day following our return from a cycling tour of the Drakensburg Mountains, South Africa. The net will be either on 40m or 80m depending on conditions, I will notify you nearer the date.
Just a final thought, as the next Clifton CC net will be after the forthcoming referendum for Scottish independence, will GM or 2M calls exist in October?
Catch you on the wireless!
73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.
PS. Also sent via G3GHN Reflector.
Unclaimed since its inception, the Irish Radio Transmitters Society’s Brendan Trophy for achieving the first two way transatlantic contact has been unclaimed though this may change very soon.
A determined effort is being made this summer by the Brendan Quest team in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland. Using 750W to a 30 metre long 43-element Yagi at 6 to 8.5m above ground level, the VC1T team hope to achieve transatlantic communication on 2m, one of the few remaining amateur radio distance records.
Based in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, Canada, the Brendan Quest team are shooting for the stars with a concerted effort and take their best shot at claiming the trophy by employing a not inconsiderable 30 metre long 43-element Yagi. The teams huge beam will be mounted up to 8.5m above ground level using around 750 watts and the VC1T team are hopeful that they will successful in their endeavour by making the two-way transatlantic 2m communication a reality.
The Brendan Trophy is one of the few remaining unclaimed awards for making distant contacts and so this will be an exciting one to keep an eye on.
The official Brendan Quest website has published a detailed operating schedule and details what modes of operation the team will be using during their operating period for the attempt which runs between the 4th and 12th of July.
Will they scoop the Brendan Trophy this time around?
I am sure that Citizens Band users will jump for joy with this news release.
Commencing Friday 27th June, Ofcom’s changes to the Wireless Telegraphy regulations now enables Citizens Band users to operate legally with AM and SSB on 27MHz, the allowed frequencies of which are the 40 CEPT Harmonised channels which are the same as the American 40 channels.
There has been much excitement and talk in the CB community, some of whom are more than pleased at being to operate legally using the latest CB transceivers which comply with the new regulations. There are already countless forum threads on the Internet which show that there is a lot of interest in this step forward for CB users, many of whom who are already looking forward to acquiring the latest compliant rigs from various manufacturers.
The new regulations now provide legal power limits of 4w ERP on AM and a useful 12w ERP on SSB.
This weekend members of the club will be attending Fairlight Country Park where they will be operating together and making distant (and local) amateur radio contacts on HF. The clubs callsign G6HH (Happy Hastings) will be used.
Setup will begin at 9am and a gazebo will be erected to protect the operators from the elements should the weather sway either side of fair which it most likely will and the operators will be there until around 9pm in the evening.
Fellow amateurs and members of the general public are more than welcome to visit us near the car park which sits at the North end of Fairlight Country Park near to the rangers office and entrance to the park.
If any public visitors are interested in amateur radio then please stop by to find out more as an RSGB approved trainer, Phil Parkman (G3MGQ), will be only to pleased to discuss AR licencing and provide advice for anyone who is interested in this fantastic diverse hobby.
Pop on your hats, pack your sun cream and see you there on Sunday!
Bob and Mike assist Roger G4ROJ with his amazing kite aerials. Nick pays a visit to Ben Nock G4BXD at his Military Wireless Museum in Kidderminster and discovers Ben’s impressive collection of war sets and spy sets. Mike reports from the Exeter Radio and Electronics Rally to find out what people expect from a rally in the 21st century. They also review a new quad-band mobile radio from Wouxun.
Mike visits the Bath Buildathon to see what’s involved in constructing a 14MHz PSK receiver kit. We welcome two special guests to talk about and demonstrate the FUNcube Dongle and the FUNcube Satellite. We look at the features of Yaesu’s new FT-DX1200 transceiver. Bob gets a guided tour of the RSGB National Radio Centre at Bletchley Park and GB3RS complete with a SteppIR that’s tilting due to the winter storms!
Bob McCreadie G0FGX explores one of the most famous transmission sites in the world: The Marconi Centre, at Poldhu in Cornwall. Nick Bennett 2E0FGQ takes a hike up a mountain in Shropshire to discover the delights of SOTA activating. Mike Marsh G1IAR keeps his feet firmly on the ground at the Norman Lockyer Observatory Radio Group in east Devon to find out what makes a 2 metre repeater tick.