Monthly archives for December, 2014

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air January 2015

Phil, G3MGQ has sent through his ‘Month on the Air’ for November which contains lots of DX information including contests to look out for and some to avoid. Enjoy this months edition of Month on the Air.

Clifton Country Club Net Report – 25th December 2014

Tony sent through a brief report of the Clifton ARS Net on Christmas day.

Whatho Gang!

The following stations were on the Christmas Day Greetings Net on 7Mhz at 12noon.  In the order of appearance:  Frank (G3WMR), Lawrie (G4FAA),Terry (M0TNE), Peter (G3RQZ), Peter(G7ULL) and finally John (G3FNZ).

I also received apologies and was asked to pass on season’s greetings to you all, from  Ian ( G0PDZ), Martin (G0DCG), Peter (G3PJB) and finally Steve (M0BPQ).

The next Clifton Country Club net is scheduled for 1500hrs on 18th January on or near 3.690 MHz  when Peter (G3RQZ) has kindly agreed to ‘sit in the chair’.

Happy New Year!

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

Merry Christmas from the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club

Christmas is upon us again with very mild WX at the moment as well in the South East.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, from the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club.

Good DX and 73,

2E0GHX on behalf of the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club.

Change to Clifton Nets frequency on Christmas Day 2014

Please note that due to the lack of propagation on 80m the Christmas Day Greetings net will be moved to 40m, on or near 7.125 MHz at 12 noon.

Giving you all a chance to pass on your Christmas Greetings between munching mince pies and sipping the seasonal wine.

Catch you on the wireless at 12noon!

Oh, how lovely, just what I wanted!………………. Another pair of socks!

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

Clifton Country Club Net December 14th 2014

As I tuned across an apparently dead 80m band shortly before the net start time, those now immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld “The unknown unknowns” sprang to mind.

I began to doubt that there was any propagation at all on 80m. The only stations audible were a couple of very weak DLs.

I have always advocated calling on apparently ‘dead’ bands as it often brings unexpected results.

This was to hold true; Peter (G3PJB) immediately responded to my first call with 58/59 signals closely followed by Peter (G3RQZ) with 59+10db. We were soon joined by Ian (G0PDZ) operating portable from the seafront at Westbrook, on the Isle of Thanet.

Peter (G3PJB) told the group he continues to take part in Royal Signals contests during which he met up with Frank Connor (G3WMR), who Peter remembered as a Clifton member in the ‘New Cross’ days of the club. Peter asked if we could include Frank in the mailing list.

Peter (G3RQZ) stated that Frank had his detail clearly displayed on QRZ .com.  Not being a member of, I have found people often glibly stated their details were available but were only accessible to other members…………Peter assured me that this was not the case with Frank’s entry and as ever he was correct.

Frank (G3WMR) will be included in this circulation! Welcome aboard Frank!

After the net, Ian (G0PDZ/P) sent me an attached photograph of his ‘seafront’ portable location and the following description. “The antenna is a Sotabeams 4Bandhopper dipole erected on 3x10m GRP telescopic fishing poles. Centre at about 9m the ends at about 7m agl.

clifton-net-dec14th-2014When operating on 80m I like to get the antenna ends up & away from any chance of stray hands that may grasp at a RF ‘hot’ element end. 

The rig was my Yaesu FT857D running at about 50w powered by my 110ah leisure battery”. 

Ian’s signal was 57 at the start but rapidly improved with conditions to peak at 59+. There is obviously fierce competition this year for ‘the most intrepid operator award’ between Ian and Keith (G4TJE/P).

At this point Steve (G4RFC) called in from Blackheath operating under the club’s call G3GHN. We all experienced a little difficulty with Steve’s signal as the audio was very “thin and toppy” After a number of attempts Steve informed the group he was using a trapped dipole at his QTH.

Steve had been fairly busy of late as the licence holder of GB3LW, improving the coverage and performance this UHF central London repeater. Having adopted the new wide-split protocol with output on 430.900 MHz and the input on 438.500 MHz whilst maintaining the sub tone of 82.5. All this information and that appertaining to the Clifton ARS is available on Steve’s website

I must admit I do have some concerns as there appears to be a couple of other Clifton ARS web-sites both of which I believe were enthusiastically and well-crafted by Keith (G4TJE). The first http://www.radioclubsnet/cliftonars/about.php refers to club meetings at the Mycenae Centre that is no longer used by the Clifton also a Country Club Summary from 2006. The second is:

This also gives the Mycenae Centre the meeting venue and an article the “New Frontiers of 60 metres” by me in 2007. `

The problem with this information although correct at the time is now woefully out of date and misleading. I like others wonder if there is a system for harvesting the useful parts and articles and combining this with Steve’s (G4RFC) new up to date web-page.

Ian (G0PDZ) told the group that since he retired he has been so busy he does not know how he found time to go to work ( Eh! Where have I heard that before?). Among other pursuits Ian is now the “Events Officer” for the Hilderstone Radio Club and was looking to fill the forthcoming year with exciting radio oriented activities. Ian and his son Ben can be seen on page 88 of January’s RadCom.

Reflecting back to last months net, during our recent ‘marine mobile’ activities, Suzanne and I met Bruce, an ex-ship’s Radio Officer (RO) who was happily reading our Morse keying. He had spent much of his sea going career on ships owned by Brocklebank Lines. Peter (G3RQZ) had also been an RO on Brocklebank ships stated he would be unlikely to recall this individual RO unless he was part of the amateur radio fraternity who stayed in fairly regular contact with each other. Most ROs were directly employed by Marconi Marine who supplied their personnel to a ship for the duration of a particular voyage. This and the duty cycles could make a RO a rather lonely posting.

I told the group that in the New Year Suzanne and I would be continuing our nautical meanderings, but it would necessitate flying out to Colombo (4S7) to meet the ship.  The 13.5 hour flight calls at Male in the Maldives before arriving in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately heightened security at airports and the rather sensitive attitude of the Sri Lankan administration precludes us taking any radio kit. Although I still have my Maldivian licence (8Q7CY) on the wall here in the shack.

In preparation for our next extended maritime mobile adventure next year, I am looking to upgrade my Sandpiper antenna. The G-Whip mobile seemed to fit the bill due to portability and also having individual loading coils for specific bands, it is likely to be marginally more efficient than my existing single element helical. I was very impressed by the speed of response from Geoff Brown (G4ICD) who owns G-Whip. This company has range of apparently well engineered accessories including baluns.

Peter said that Geoff was well known as a VHF DXer and has a long association with antenna manufacture.

Peter had also been using one of these very cheap ‘receiver dongles’ that covers 22 MHz to 2 GHz. It had quite an amazing sensitivity across the range, although could suffer from occasional ‘overload’. For less than £20 delivered, it offers access to SSB/CW/FM /DAB and ADSB signals when plugged into any computer with the correct downloads.

Yes Peter, I have been reading various comments on some of the Ham radio sites these ‘dongles’ certainly open a new opportunity for cost effective access to wideband multimode reception of signals from HF to microwave. See link:

At this point Brian (G3OYU) called in; although readable he was not its normal strength, only 55/56. He stated he realised there was a problem as his SWR is extremely high and he was going close to prevent any damage to his PA devices.

After the net Brian e-mailed to say that his remote auto ATU appears to be at fault. This unit would be going back to the supplier for repair under warranty.

Brian also stated that Geraldine was making good progress since return home from her recent cardiac surgery but still needed to take things easy.

Brian, we wish Geraldine a full and speedy recovery.

Steve (G3GHN) said that he had visited Jon (G8CCL) at Maldon and had taken him some components for Jon’s ‘top-band’ linear and ATU project. Steve said Jon was busy rebuilding his station since having his shack crushed by a falling tree earlier this year. Well done that man!

Unfortunately Steve’s audio was still difficult to copy. Peter (G3RQZ) suggested that it could be a problem with the centre frequency of the crystal filter. An indicator would be to see what the audio was like on the other sideband, or even better use a ‘scope’.

Peter went on to tell Steve that he would be available next year for any contests/field days. As Peter’s local club were no longer involved in these activities (Lawrie take note! another volunteer for field days).

Peter (G3PJB) agreed that Steve’s mod was distorted also he could not hear Brian (G3OYU) who would normally be an ‘end stop signal’

Peter went on to recall a QSO with Harry Stickley (VQ9HCS) who worked for Cable & Wireless based at a lighthouse on Astove Island in the Indian Ocean. It was several years before Peter received a QSL as his outgoing card from the RSGB was conveyed by helpful member aircrew traveling to Kenya then put on a supply ship that serviced the lighthouse. The returning card came back eventually via the same circuitous route.

Radio navigation is a wonderful thing, especially after several hours of flying over the empty expanse of the Indian Ocean to discover that you are looking down on small white specs 6 miles below that turn out to be The Maldives.

Peter (G3RQZ) recalled the days before GPS, when he was a Radio Officer sailing near the Maldives archipelago. When the ‘officer of the watch’ who had little idea of the ship’s position asked Peter, “Sparks get give me a bearing from the beacon on Gann”. The problem was the military service personnel on Gann were suspected of ‘monitoring’ their allocated HF frequency with the volume turned down. No one calls anyway!

At this point I heard Denis (G3OKY) calling in from Beckenham, he was only just above the ‘Euro-babble’ which was developing with the onset of dusk. Unfortunately before the next exchange QSB took its toll and Denis dipped into the noise. It is nice to know you are listening and receiving the net Denis!

With the QRM from near Europe becoming intrusive it was time to close December’s Clifton Country Club Net.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Steve (2E0GHX) of the Hastings Electronic and Radio Club for kindly posting these net summaries on the HERC web-site.

The next scheduled Country Club Net will be on Sunday 18th January at 1500hrs on or near 3.690 MHz (As the RSGB 80m CW AFS is on the previous Sunday)

Peter (G3RQZ) has kindly volunteered to ‘sit in the chair’ for this first CC Net of 2015!

Please mark this in your 2015 diary as there will be no reminder in the previous week due to the fact that the Memsahib and I will be out of the UK.


I will be running an impromptu net at 12noon on Christmas Day on or near 3.690 MHz for those Clifton members who wish pass seasonal greetings between munching mince pies and enjoying a festive beverage.

Have a great Christmas together with healthy and prosperous New Year!

Catch you on the wireless,

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.


Amateur Radio Licencing Update by G3MGQ

Ofcom-hq-400pxPhil, G3MGQ, the clubs RSGB trainer has kindly sent through the following regarding the recent Ofcom amateur radio consultation and the current strategic review for UHF Bands 1 and 2.

On 5 December, Ofcom published their response to the consultation, which closed on 20 October, on proposed changes to our Amateur Radio Licence Conditions. They seem to have accommodated nearly all the key points identified by the RSGB, so the use of Regional suffixes remains unchanged and no extra conditions have been introduced for the 470kHz & 5MHz bands, which will no longer require an individual NoV but will remain only available to Full Licensees, with the previous restrictions now to be incorporated into the Licence Document. Whilst Club callsigns are still to be held by an individual Full Licensee, a mechanism has been provided to enable them to be reassigned to another club member rather than be lost when the Club Licence holder ceases to represent the Club.

Ofcom have retained their proposed changes on licence revocation but have removed automatic revocation if the licence is not revalidated after 5 years. This is because, under the WT Act, Ofcom have to give the Licensee notice, usually a month, of the reason for their intended revocation which will give adequate time for a Radio Amateur to revalidate their licence. For consistency with other licences, a reference to licence fees is to be included but this does not signal an intention to reintroduce a fee for the Amateur Radio licence.

The major change, and possibly the most controversial, is that it will no longer be mandatory to give your callsign at least every 15 minutes. Instead, the callsign must be transmitted “as often as is practicable” in voice or the format appropriate for the mode in use. Despite concerns expressed that this could result in stations failing to identify themselves, making the identification of unlicensed stations difficult, this has been introduced to ensure that compliance is possible for all modes, particularly modern QRSS modes. Some minor changes to Schedule 1 to the Licence have also been made to reflect changes in allocation status from WRC12.

At least a month for appeals after the formal notice has been posted on the Ofcom website in January, the new Licence Document reflecting these changes will be available within a further month for existing Licensees to download from the Ofcom website.

On 4 December, Ofcom issued another consultation document on their review of the 420-470MHz band. On a quick read through, the main changes proposed are to the 450-470MHz segment to meet growing Emergency Services requirements for TETRA and also business use, leaving the Amateur Radio 70cm segment 430-440MHz unchanged. Consultation on this closes on 19 February 2015.

Clifton Country Club Net 14.30Hrs on or near 3.690Mhz

Whatho Gang!

What is special about this coming Sunday 14th December?

YES! It’s the next Clifton Country Club Net  at 14.30Hrs on or near 3.690Mhz.

I hope you can make it!

Oh! Co-incidentally it the day I complete my 66th orbit round our nearest star.

Round and round we go!

Hope to catch you on the wireless this Sunday.

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

(Also circulated via the G3GHN reflector)

John Elgar-Whinney – Presentation on Encryption Machines

What a great evening the club members had on the 26th of November, which was not only well attended by regulars but thoroughly enjoyed by everyone present as John once again gave an excellent presentation to the audience.

John made a point of saying that his talks work best by providing a preamble of his coveted displayed radios and equipment which is then followed up by a hands-on Q&A at the front of the room, allowing members to engage with the equipment in their own time. I feel that this system works particularly well and had most of us around the tables for the best part of the evening with John patiently responding to the many questions being asked about the slew of machines on display which included three encryption machines; two Enigma variants and another Hagelin-derived model known as the M209.

John explains the workings of the Hagelin-derlved M209. A remote indicator for the Nema can be seen just in front of John’s left hand.

John explains the workings of the Hagelin-derlved M209. A remote indicator for the Nema can be seen just in front of John’s left hand.

It is hard to say what the general consensus was regarding ‘favourites’. I can safely say that my favourite was the Nema, shown with its cover aloft in the picture above. The Nema (a wheel-based cipher machine) was developed by Zellweger AG in Uster Switzerland during WWII and was a substantial improvement over the original which was essentially a quantum leap forward over the original Enigma. This machine uses rate bars which were adjusted by hand to change the cipher meaning that the replacement of rotors was not necessary as per the original Enigma resulting in a great deal of time being saved when sending messages. The Nema was a 10 rotor machine and shown here, complete with the remote indication unit connected to the Nema by a thick cable, with one wire present in the cable for each letter present on the Nema’s keyboard. The remote indicator was also a substantial improvement over the original Enigma, allowing the sending of messages to be sped up significantly. It is also interesting to note that the Nema was capable of running off both 110/240v mains as well as via a 4v external supply and was well equipped for failing parts, having many of them stored away in the lid section which contained an assortment of spares including 16 spare lamps, extra wheels (E&F for the wartime machine), the mains cable and everything else required to run the machine effectively all in one neat package.

There are infact three variants of the Nema machine, one for training students, one for use in war time and one for use by the Swiss foreign office and all three are incompatible with one another! The variations between the three models were made by the stepping configuration, wheels used (two extra wheels, E&F, were used for the wartime Nema machine and kept within the lid), and the stepping wheels themselves differed between each of the three variants.

john-elgar-whinney-dec2014-6By comparison the slower sending Scandinavian Hagelin machine pictured left, used a printer which tapped out the encrypted message onto paper tape which was then passed to the operator to send by Morse. (Note the security locking key just in front of the keyboard on the lid and the ratchet lever to the right which printed the current letter and mechanically advanced the machine ready for the next one.)

The last of the three Hagelin-derived machines was the lunchbox sized M209 (pictured below) which uses interrupter/retardation bars on its 6 rotors. The small 6lb machine was used in the field by American forces, and made in great numbers with around 140,000 of them being produced in all. Its encrypted messages were, like the Scandinavian machine above, output onto tape. It came as no surprise to most of us that John’s wonderful collection even went as far as having the many spares and accessories for all of the radios as well. In the case of the pint-sized M209 the original field kit was present which included the original ink bottles, tweezers and other assorted items to maintain its use in the field. The M209 is a 6 rotor machine, designed with high portability in mind and compared to the other two machines which were ‘base station’ units by all accounts.

The M209, a small portable encryption machine used by the US. forces.

The M209, a small portable encryption machine used by the US. forces.

Moving on from the superb encryption machines, John presented two model B2/M transmitters which were manufactured by the Germans as an improvement to the British B2, and can be looked upon as a German ‘knock-off’ of the real thing. The B2/M was produced for the French secret service in the 1950’s and as you can see from the pictures, are complete with their original tank coils enabling the operator to quickly switch frequencies. The coil location can be clearly seen at top left hand side of the transmitter as per the B2/M pictured below. These “briefcase” radios of course gave the keeper the appearance of a traveller or tourist making their true purpose hidden from the gaze of passers-by. The two variants of the B2/M were a standard leather brief-case equipped model, shown below, and a ‘Para’ version designed to be dropped in two watertight canisters from the skies. It was actually quite small for its day and had around 20w output available on HF (Morse only) while being powered via AC mains. It was also possible to run the radio via an external 6v DC source.

The enclosed coils are mounted on small bases which are labelled as below, allowing use on a selection of HF frequencies which are, L1-A: 3.0 – 4.0 MHz, L1-B: 3.75 – 5.25 MHz, L2-A: 4.5 – 6.25 MHz, L2-B: 5.5 – 7.5 MHz, L3-A: 6.5 – 9.0 MHz, L3-B: 7.0 – 10.0 MHz, L4-A: 9.0 – 13.0 MHz and enabling use up to L4-B: 12.0 – 16.0 MHz.

One of several German-made B2/M transmitters from John’s fine collection. Note the original coils and accessories.

One of several German-made B2/M transmitters from John’s fine collection. Note the original coils and accessories.

John also brought along an R3 receiver and RS20M transmitter and displayed them along with the encryption machines and B2/M’s, both were in close to mint condition complete with their cables and spares, and were for their time relatively small no doubt to aid the transportation and use of them in the field.

John’s presentations are always looked forward to by the club members and this one was no exception with an extremely good turnout and enjoyable evening had by all.

Since then I have been in touch with John who I am delighted to say, has kindly invited me to his home to view his collection so that I may write something special for you in the New Year.

Wishing you all the very best for Christmas and the New Year.

73 de Steve, 2E0GHX.


G3MGQ’s Month on the Air

Prepared by the clubs RSGB trainer, G3MGQ, you will find the latest DX contests including the ones to shoot for as well as ones to give a wide berth. Why not download the latest edition of Month on the Air and enjoy your DX just that little bit more.

Become a member of HERC

Join the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club.

Why not join one of the largest and most established Radio clubs in the South East of England? Very low joining cost, and free for a year to new licencees.

Vital Spark Archive

Vital Spark newsletter articles

Take a look through a large selection of articles written by club members over the years which have been published in the monthly Vital Spark newsletter .

Used Ham Radio Equipment

View HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list..

Every four weeks, HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list is updated on the site. Bookmark the gear for sale page to re-visit easily and take advantage of the used equipment on sale through the club.

Club Photographs

HERC Image Galleries.

Here is the official HERC photograph archive which contains multiple image galleries spanning several decades since the club was formed many years ago. Enjoy the images!

Popular pages

Get your amateur radio licence - Find out more about amateur radio licence training.
Month on the Air - G3MGQ's popular monthly DX contest/expedition list.
Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup - The clubs annual operating event in the memory of Wilf Gaye M0GYE.
St. Richard's College Buildathon/STEM/ARISS - HERC attends St. Richard's Catholic College for their various events surrounding the Tim Peake ARISS contact.
G3BDQ - John Hey's Rare QSL Cards.
Sussex Electronics Radio Fair - SERF Sussex Electronics Radio Fair 2016.
Vital Spark - A selection of articles re-published from the Vital Spark.
RSGB News - Find out how to get RSGB news on your mobile or PC.
Experimenters Corner - A selection of Proteus projects by Bob Gornal (G7DME)
BBADL - Bath Based Distance Learning Course.
Conquest Hospital Radio - Presented by HERC member Antony (G4CUS).
Radio Rallies 2016 - An up to date list of radio rallies scheduled for 2016.
Club QSL Cards - A selection of QSL cards the club has received over the years.
Other Newsletters - Excellent newsletters and magazines from other clubs.
TX Factor episodes - Take a look at the TX Factors YouTube videos.
John Taplin - A bio of the late John Taplin.

Amateur Radio Resources

Other Radio Clubs & RAYNET

BSARS - Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society

RAYNET - The Hastings and Rother RAYNET Group.

HERC members sites

Sigord - Gordon Sweet
Hastings Radio Comms - Andrew Haas-Campbell
Hoofbags - Liz Costa