Monthly archives for March, 2015

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air April 2015

Phil, G3MGQ has sent through his ‘Month on the Air’ for April 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 April 2015.

New articles added to the Vital Spark archive

For those of you who enjoy a good read, a new selection of re-published Vital Spark articles have been added to the archive and are as follows.

Ramblings from a G4 by (G4CUS).

Band Conditions by (G4CUS).

John Logie-Baird by (M0EDU).

Notes from John Heys (G3BDQ) – Radiation.

Radar and the Air War – Part 1 by John Heys (G3BDQ).

Snippets from here and there by Tony Selmes – (G4KLF).

The Quintessential HRO by John Ridd (G8BQX).

Here or There by Peter Firmin (G0FUU).

dsPIC Audio Filter (Part 1) by Leon Heller (G1HSM).

dsPIC Audio Filter (Part 2) by Leon Heller (G1HSM).

More to follow soon. Don’t forget to bookmark the archive page and pop back for a read another time.

Clifton Country Club Sunday 22nd March 2015

7.125 MHz was the chosen frequency, 40m proved to be in very good shape for inter-G communications. The few detectable signals on 80m signified the band was still in ‘a state of shock’ from the recent solar activity and plasma streams.

At 14.50hrs Keith G4TJE responded to my early calls as I registered my presence on our QRG. His 45/56 signal was lower than I had previously experienced when he had been operating ‘portable’ from his ‘paddock’ near Sevenoaks. His call sign should have told me he was actually operating from his QTH in Blackfen, where Keith is restricted to loft bound antennas. With this in mind his signals were contending well against the murmuring QRM from the near continent.

Keith said he was going to Sevenoaks but as he did not have an antenna at the paddock for 40m and he and Ayesha (G7LMP) had a considerable number of things to do as result of the winter weather, therefore he was unlikely to return to the net. I took the opportunity to wish Keith and Ayesha well and hoped that the tasks at their ‘country estate’ were not too arduous.

At 14.54hrs John (G3FNZ) called in from Strood with 59+20db signals, he said 40m was great improvement on the atrocious conditions that had confronted him 80m last month, when he could not even locate the net.  He explained that he had not spent much time on the radio during the past month due to more pressing events.

Colin (G0UJK) bounced in from Swanley again with a thumping 59+10db signal. He said he had fully recovered from his dreadful cold that was afflicting him last month.

At this Peter (G3PJB) also called in from Swanley, again an extremely readable signal. 40m was proving to be very worthwhile.

John (G3FNZ) told the group that he was busy preparing his Austin 7 for the forthcoming Easter transport festival at the Chatham Dockyard. He and Beryl had recently celebrated their Diamond Wedding (60th anniversary). He said the house was full of bouquets and flowers, they had even received “a QSL from the Queen”.

John and Beryl please accept our belated congratulations from all of us.

At this point Jakey (G3JKY) joined the group, he had been ‘reading the mail’ and also wished John and Beryl the very best.

Peter (G3PJB) said that he had taken advantage of an offer made to members of the Royal Signals by Moonraker Antennas and purchased a five band vertical antenna for a mere  of £37; a hundred or so pounds below the RRP.

Peter had been looking for a low profile vertical radiator but now finds his new purchase waves about above the ridge of the roof and has concerns over the reaction of his neighbours. May I suggest the first thing you do Peter is paint it with matt grey or green paint to suppress the striking effect of new polished aluminium.

I can recall deploying a 32ft Butternut HF2 vertical at my London QTH. These antennas can easily get out of control as the very flexible element whips about. Do be very careful of nearby windows and green houses.

Jakey (G3JKY) said that he had secured 126 QSOs in the recent ARRL CW contest also made 107 contacts in last weekend’s BERU contest. Although everyone had responded with 599 reports, he had kept a record of how many calls he had made to secure a QSO with a station. Needless to say this did not correlate with the FB reports.

Well done Jakey a jolly fine effort. I certainly take my hat off to you!

Meanwhile Jakey had managed to release one leg of his doublet antenna that had been trapped under a tile on his roof; also he had replaced the extension on his 80m vertical.

At this point Frank (G3WMR) called in from Bexley. Last month he had been holidaying in Scarborough enjoying a daily swim and warm sunshine. What Scarborough in February you say?

Oh! I forgot to say Scarborough is the capital of the Caribbean Island of Tobago.

Frank went on say he was impressed by the quality of signals on 40m on his  NVIS dipole made of twin copper covered steel drop wire, used in telephones. With 33feet legs and the remainder of the wire was used as open feeder.

David (G0WQQ) called in from Princes Risborough with 59+ signals to tell the group that it was wonderful to be able to hear all those on the net, instead of being plagued by local QRM on 80m. Propagation on 40m allowed an ‘armchair copy’. David went on say he was recovering well following his stay at Harefield Hospital.

It was 15.31 hrs when Denis announced his presence, with a 57 signal. Denis was working with a very restricted antenna woven along his garden fence. He reported that all stations on the net were 59 signals at his QTH in Beckenham.

Denis told the group that he was waiting to taken out to lunch by his family as today he was celebrating his 86th birthday.

Many happy returns Denis, from all the gathered company.

There followed a discussion on ‘sacrificial anodes’ led by John ( G3FNZ) who explained their use on boats and ships to supress the effects of electrolysis  between differing metals that were submerged in seawater.

As normal with these topics the discussion extended to the prevention of electrolytic corrosion on railways. This was explained by Peter (G3PJB) who recalls his experiences as an engineer on Southern Region, where the trains require 750v DC and the signalling and telemetry uses AC to determine where the trains or locomotives are on differing sections of track. The challenge comes from needing to bond the track as an efficient DC return as well as isolating sections of same track in relation to the AC signalling.

Well it went over my head, but it did demonstrate what a multi-talented bunch the Clifton members are.

Talking of expertise, Colin explained to the group that he had consulted the RSGB over his recent dealings with his local planning authority.  As a result Dave Lawley (G4BUO) had visited and advised Colin on what stance to adopt.

Colin feels his existing antennas are exempt from planning as they have been in place for more than four years (?).

Further to this he has also decided to pursue his original goal of applying for planning permission to erect a tower. We wish you all the very best of good fortune with that project Colin.

I have always found planning departments reasonably helpful, providing you supply all the information they require in a clear concise manner. After all, they are in control and it is not their advantage to prevent development.

Further to the above, Colin said that he had installed a directional Moxon 24 Mhz antenna in his loft. This aerial was fixed in the direction of North America had greatly improved his ‘stateside’ contacts from barely readable to 57.

Jakey (G3JKY) commenting on John & Beryl’s 60th Wedding Anniversary stated that he and Joyce had only ‘clocked up’ 27yrs of matrimony. On reflection he said, who wants a trombone playing wireless operator as life partner? Joyce obviously!

Regarding planning exemptions on antennas after a passage of time. Jakey spoke of G6LX in Croydon, who in the 1950s received an order from the local authority to remove his antennas. Luckily G6LX had featured in a Croydon Advertiser newspaper article in 1938; “Local radio enthusiast talks to New Zealand” showing photographs of his aerial system at the same QTH. Faced with that irrefutable evidence the Croydon Borough Council acquiesced

Taking yet another view of antennas. I told the group that I had replaced the voltage 4 to 1 balun used to feed my 80m full wave loop with a 4 to 1 current balun. I had noticed an apparent fall in local noise and there were indications that the transfer of power had improved. This extremely well built balun was part of an order from G-Whip ( Geoff Brown G4ICD) who has also supplied me with a new centre loaded HF whip antenna that is to replace the existing HF mobile whip that I use on our  maritime mobile exploits. The quality of the stainless steel fittings and workmanship on the new antenna is outstanding. Being longer and weightier than my original antenna it will require a substantial stainless steel ‘tip-over’ base to clamp to the railing of a ship in lieu of my mag-mount. This is part of our preparations and improvements for our next extensive maritime adventure.

Frank (G3WMR) recalled the Clifton meetings at 225 New Cross Road back in the 1960’s when the membership was full of characters all of whom were drawn by the fascination of communication by radio. And the rather special privilege that the amateur radio licence gave, to communicate freely both in and outside the UK.

All of which today is now taken for granted with the proliferation of modern technology.

Frank went on to say that he knew Geoff Brown of G-Whip antennas very well from when he was domiciled in Jersey.

Talking of 225 New Cross Road, David (G0WQQ) recalls the early days of the Clifton when he sailed up the Thames from Greenwich to Runnymede in an ex-lifeboat with John (G3FNZ) at the helm on a journey that took several days.

John (G3FNZ) had been one of the founder members of the club in 1947 when it originally met at school off Clifton Rise.

At 1602Hrs David (G0WQQ) signed out, followed shortly by John (G3FNZ).

Denis said his family had arrived to take him across the road to the ‘William the forth’ public house and restaurant to celebrate his birthday.

At this point Peter (G7ULL) from Chislehurst put his head above the parapet. Although a strong signal, his audio was noticeably muffled and sounded as if RF was getting into the microphone circuitry.

Peter said following problems with his TS950 transceiver last month he had sent it away for overhaul. The radio had only been returned recently. In the meantime he had replaced his G5RV antenna.

I enquired from Peter whether he had remembered to wind a number turns in the coax to form a ‘choke’ just before the ribbon feeder of the G5RV. This should assist in reducing any stray RF on the outside of the coax screen. So limiting the possibility of RF entering the audio path.

Peter said he had not done so, but would as soon as he could.

By 16.15 most of  the company had signed, so we brought the net to a close

In keeping with the birthdays and anniversaries mentioned earlier. The “Clifton Country Club Net” had now been running for 13 years the first being held in March 2002.

Before the net I had received apologies from:

Steve (G0STE) who was holidaying Jaipur Northern India.

Jon (G8CLL) who was still unable due to lack of a suitable antenna for 40m. Although he to conjured a temporary aerial for top-band and took part in the CQWW 160m contest, coming 3rd in the low power section. Well done that man!

Following the net I received this interesting e-mail from Bob (HB9BDJ/ex G3OAW).

Greetings Tony,

Just to let you know that I listened for about 40 minutes on and around (+/- 100 Hz) the frequency you mentioned and was able to distinguish occasional comments from the participating stations. However, the local noise level was around S8/S9 and additionally there was quite a lot of splatter from stations south of the Alps. The UK stations were just peaking above the noise but were barely readable. After that conditions made listening something of a headache and I was forced to give my ears a rest.

I shall listen again in April, and hopefully at another QTH where there should be a lot less noise. This coming weekend, our local section of the Swiss Radio Amateurs’ Union will be on the air using HB4FL which is a bit exotic and this should arouse a bit of interest. However, we do not have enough ops. to run the full 48 hr stint of the prefix contest and right now it is not quite certain what the timetable will be. We shall be running about 900 watts to a 3 element beam for 20/15/10 and a set of centre-fed wires for the lower bands, excepting 160 m. for which no suitable antenna is (at present) available. Depending on the weather, it may not prove possible to deploy anything for Top Band, we shall make a decision later on.

I send you my hearty 73’s and ask you to distribute this as you feel suitable.


Also apologies from:

Peter (G3RQZ) who was detained by horticultural activities.

Brian (G3OYU) who had been waylaid well-meaning friends following the local church service.

Interestingly immediately after the close I was called by several stations who had be listening and presumably enjoying the proceedings. One of which was Eric (DL6NK) from Koblenz, to quote he is a 1928 model and thoroughly enjoyed listening to a group of likeminded friends discussing matters various. He went on say that our group was one of the strongest signals on the band. He was using a dipole for 40m at 5Mtrs agl.

Following Eric’s observations, all things being equal, there is a good chance that we may hear our continental members on future nets.

The next Clifton Country Club Net will be at 15.00hrs GMT on Sunday 19th April on or near 7.125MHz.

Catch you on the wireless!

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

Talk on “In celebration of Morse” by Richard Putnam G0LIN


Richard G0ILN presenting his home made Morse keys and speaker resonator at the 2014 Construction Evening.

Coming up later this month is Richard’s talk on “The Celebration of Morse” which will take place at the Taplin Center on Wednesday 25th March.

Richard is an experienced Morse operator and will no doubt give a fine talk on the subject, which is being looked forward to by many.

EREC sends update to their evening meeting agenda

erec-logoDave G8PUO sent through this notice which regards to a change of evening agenda.  Antennas, Radio Control and Mick Senior Visit.

EREC’s planned Alford Slot evening is being rescheduled due to changes in the design through use of laser cutting. More details on this will follow.

We still plan to include antenna building, so should you wish to bring along any antennas/designs for discussion or testing, then please continue to do so.  Dan M0HOW is bringing his antenna analyser too.

With the expanding interest in Radio Control Quads (plus variants), we will also have a range of models and hopefully even get to do some flying too (pending WX).  Some vintage models will also be on display and a radio control pro flight simulator running for those whom wish to have a go!

As some of you maybe aware, we have been seeking to have a registered RSGB Examination Center so that we can start training courses at EREC.  The good news is that Mick Senior, G4EFO, will be visiting the club on Monday too,  in order to view both the St Luke’s Church rooms (during Monday daytime), and then the Eastbourne Sports Park (evening).   We look forward to meeting and welcoming Mick.

More info can be found over at EREC:

Clifton Country Club net on 40m

Whatho fellow Cliftonaires,

Over the past few days solar coronal mass ejections and plasma streams have resulted in stunning displays of aurora even visible in southern UK.

As a bonus, on Friday morning we have a chance to see a partial solar eclipse.

How these the shimmering displays of aurora will affect  the propagation on the lower part of the HF spectrum is open to conjecture.

However, 80 metres still seems very unreliable for inter-G in the afternoons, as it was last month.

Therefore the Clifton Country Club net this Sunday 22nd March at 15.00hrs will be held on or near 7.125 Mhz.

Solar flares and QRM permitting, we look forward to catching you on the wireless this Sunday.

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

(This will also be circulated via the G3GHN reflector).

NoV to the Amateur Radio licence

Ofcom-hq-400pxFollowing the recent notification sent to licensees of the proposal to vary the Amateur Radio Licence, Ofcom has now published a Notice of Variation to the Amateur Radio licence.

The new licence document, which will have effect from 7 April 2015 has also been published on the Ofcom website.

Licensees who received a notification dated 30 January 2015 are not covered by this. Their licences will be the subject of a separate Notice, which Ofcom will publish in the course of the next couple of weeks.The RSGB is informed that Ofcom shall send new licences to all the above licensees in the week of 23 March. Where Ofcom have an email address—about 60,000 licensees—the licence will go by e-mail. In other cases, licences will be posted. If new licences have not been received by 14 April please contact Ofcom at or via the online licensing system.

Finally, there will be a separate exercise to vary the licences of those who have received a new licence since 17 December 2014. It will not be possible to conclude that last variation before 7 April. If uncertain, licensees must observe the Ts and Cs of the licence that they hold.

Source: RSGB

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.

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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.

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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