Monthly archives for April, 2015

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air May 2015

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

Celebration of Morse by Richard Putnam G0ILN

Richard (G0ILN) is well known in the club for being a bit handy with Morse and much like Jakey (G3JKY) and others in the club, were quite keen to hear Richards’s presentation about the historical and fascinating subject.

Part 1 of the evening got underway just past 7.30pm and Richard began with a background on Samuel Morse himself who at the age of just 14 was already developing an interest in electronics around time of the Battle of Trafalgar and the industrial revolution. As was shown in various images displayed through the evening, one sketch represented the civil war 1861-1865 where telegraph poles were being installed by engineers amidst a foreground full of combatants which was taking place around the time of the railroad boom. At this time, signalling was a much needed requirement.

Morse needed help with the development of Morse Code and started talking to a wealthy and knowledgeable entrepreneur and engineer, Alfred Vail, and together they set up a company to develop the system further along with the help of Leonard Vale and Joseph Henry.

Initially Samuel Morse used a numbered system with a fairly complex looking machine.
It was not long before the device was replace by a simple key called a strap key (or as Vail named it The Correspondent), a key which was often used by early telegraph engineers who had to have a lightweight and practical way of sending Morse while in what must have been less than perfect working conditions. While practical, better keys were needed and the result was the  ‘Lever Correspondent’ which were more durable, the latter of which had a basic level of adjustment available.

The first Morse Code demonstration was given in 1838, and the message sent “Patient waiter is no loser” was sent over a distance of 2 miles. Just four years later in 1842, Samuel Morse’s demonstration to congress resulted in a substantial £30,000 award for his efforts.
1844 saw the message “What hath God wrought”, send from Washington to Mont Clare in Ohio which in more recent times became a railway museum.

As one might be able to imagine, the advent of Morse code became as powerful as the Internet is to us today by providing a fast and reliable communication method which garnered the attention of over 70 different companies who were all doing their best to come up with something similar to Morse’s communication system. In the end, Western Union bought most of them out Morse continued to earn money from franchise and patent rights.

One company, Cooke and Wheatstone in England developed a communication system to compete with Morse Code though it was reliant on a 5-cable system which proved to be unreliable and resulted in breakdowns. Over the years C&W’s system was reduced to 2 cables, then one cable to be able to compete and was used until the 1860’s after which in 1869 the whole of thwe telegraph system in UK was taken over by the GPO.

Richard pointed out that there were over 1000 telegraph offices and 2000 train stations in the U.K. using Morse Code by the late 1800’s resulting in huge annual profits with 7000 telegrams being sent in the first year alone earning the GPO £70000?

With Morse being fairly well established in the U.K., heavy marine cables were laid made from standard rubber materials which quickly broken down and failed and these were superseded by cabling constructed using Gutta-Percha, a much harder plastic/rubber compound and proved to be much more durable than the early, failure-prone cables.

The first commercial transatlantic marine cable was laid in 1865 from Ireland to Newfoundland. The main entry point for cables into Britain is Porthcurno in Cornwall and run to all corners of the globe.

Marconi the pioneer of radio transmission sent his first transatlantic message using Morse code from Poldhu in Cornwall a distance of 2200 miles on 900kc in 1901, and finally, long distance Morse communications became a practical reality.

The club took a brief break and was followed in the second half by Richard presented a large Morse key collection which contained various keys including ex-Mod keys, an interesting plastic bodied Czech key which is apparently available through a member of the FISTS CW club in “as new” condition, Navy keys and a Vibroplex ‘Bug’ key amongst others. All of them quite fascinating and each with their own unique story.

Afterwards Richard answered questions given by members and offered friendly and helpful advice for anyone who might be interested in returning to their keys, or like some of us, to start using one. He also offered some suggested reading to those present, and “The Art and Skill of Morse Code” was recommended as being a very good place to start. He also recommended membership to the FISTS CW Club for anyone who is remotely interested in Morse Code.  The FISTS are an excellent and well recognised organisation with annual membership and monthly magazine costing just a few pounds a year.
I would like to thank Richard for bringing the history of Morse to life and presenting it in an entertaining and educational way. It was a very enjoyable evening indeed.


FISTS CW Club: Fists CW U.K.


Richard Putnam G0ILN explaining the operation and story behind one of the many Morse keys he presented during the evening.


A large and very well maintained collection of Morse keys. Which ones can you identify?


Richard captured the imaginations and interest of everyone at the Taplin Centre. It is quite likely that he may have ‘sparked’ some interest in the members and may have accidentally encouraged them to pick up their keys again!

Samuel Morse – Born on 27th April 1791

Historical image of Samuel Morse (Samuel Finley Breese Morse), co inventor of the morse code.

Historical image of Samuel Morse (Samuel Finley Breese Morse), co inventor of the morse code.

Today marks the birthday of the inventor of CW, Samuel Morse, who was born on 27th April 1791. Today marks the birthday of the inventor of CW, Samuel Morse, who was born on 27th April 1791.

Recently, Richard G0ILN a HERC club member gave a fascinating and insightful talk on Samuel Morse and the history of the development of Morse code at the Taplin Centre.

The talk was widely appreciated by club members and it seems only fitting to mention the name of the great man himself, whose system even today is as widely used as SSB voice in Amateur Radio.

There are several avid  CW operators in the club including Jakey (G3JKY), Richard (G0ILN) including new learners Phil (G3MGQ) and Steve (2E0GHX). Although Morse appears to be a minority showing when you first mix in Amateur Radio circles it soon becomes apparent when you delve a bit further just how popular Morse Code operating remains today.

The CW Fists U.K. are part of a World-Wide non-profit organisation for CW operators, whose goals are to further the use of CW (Morse Code), engender friendships among members and encourage newcomers to use CW (Morse Code).

If you have ever had an interest in learning Morse Code, or taking your Amateur Radio Licence why not get in touch with the Club Secretary, and we will be more than happy to advise.



HERC Spring Auction – April 25th 2015

Saturday April 25th saw one of the clubs busiest and most well attended Spring auctions in recent years, thanks no doubt to word of mouth by club members and local PR in recent months from the Hastings Observer.

The doors of the Holy Redeemer Church Hall, St. Leonard’s, opened just before 1.30pm to club members and the general public and while early attendance was looking light in numbers (as shown in the pictures below), attendees soon started turning up in numbers just prior to the auction start at 2.15pm.

Phil (G3MGQ) kindly auctioneered the event, with Ron, the clubs treasurer keeping tabs on the lot numbers, bids and payments for the items.

Phil did the club proud as usual, a competent auctioneer as well as the clubs official RSGB licence trainer.

Bidding was lively and entertaining, with one member buying up 18 lots in one go!

Overall the afternoon at the club auction went without a hitch and showed the level of interest for such events in Hastings is quite high.

Thanks go to Phil and Ron for auctioneering and taking care of the bids, as well as the helpers including Simon who efficiently distributes the items to the bidders during the course of the auction.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and we will look forward to seeing you at the next HERC auction event in the near future with a final word of thanks going to Rob (M0LYD) for providing the excellent images depicting the auction prior to bidding.


Ron, the clubs treasurer on the left keeping track of the bids, and Phil, right, the auctioneer. It’s a fast-paced business when the bidding starts!


Simon left having a natter with a club member while the stands and items were being laid out around the Holy Redeemer Church hall in good time before the bidding began.


The calm before the storm. Rodney and Gordon front row right keeping a close eye on Ron and Phil at the front!

The next auction will be held at the same venue on October 31st 2015. Don’t forget to make a note of it in your diary!

Clifton Country Club Net Report – Sunday 19th April 2015

Sunday 19th April saw the eastern counties of the UK shrouded under high cloud whilst the rest of the UK was bathed in warm spring sunshine.

On 7.125 MHz at 13.40 hrs a QSO was just concluding, I took the opportunity to give a couple of test calls. As a result I gained a response from Ian (G0PDZ/A) who was enjoying the sunshine whilst operating from Margate using his FT817 on its internal cells running 2.5W to a temporary low slung dipole.  This set up resulted in a 54 report in Norfolk with occasional dips into QSB. This was quite remarkable considering it was a weekend and we were on 40m where QRM is considered the norm.

Peter (G3PJB) called in from Swanley stating that all was not well with the band as he was only receiving me at 55. Being keen Peter had presented himself for the net at 2pm (BST) an hour early, finding no Clifton members he decided to consult the e-mail that I sent on Wednesday and confirmed his suspicions.

Peter said that he only just receiving Ian but was having difficulty resolving all that was said. Understandably Ian was very QRP although it is possible the distance between Margate and Swanley was not ideal.

Peter went on to say that he had not be very active due the high levels of local noise although he had worked SX150ITU which was a Greek special call celebrating the 150 years of the International Telecommunications Union which had developed from the International Telegraphy Union founded in 1865.

At 13.51 hrs Peter (G3RQZ) announced his presence with 59+20db signal. He said he would not be staying on the net for long as he was busy redecorating this entailed removing the radiators and also chasing out and repositioning some wiring conduits (Not an envious task Peter!). He worked CT1FFU on 70 MHz SSB on Thursday 16th April via the first sporadic E of the season after hearing the CS5BFM Beacon on 70.165. I wonder does this bode well for the rest of the summer.

Denis (G3OKY) was the fourth station to arrive before the ‘official start time’ of 1400Hrs. His restricted antenna (a low dipole) produced a 55 report here.

If you recall last month’s CC Net had coincided with his 86th birthday. Denis told the group that the following day he had taken a tumble outside his daughter’s address.

On being conveyed to hospital it was confirmed that he had suffered a TIA or mild stroke. He went on to say that we was feeling better now and was definitely taking things easy.

Denis the Clifton “grapevine” had been busy and we are all pleased to hear that you feeling better. Just QRS and take it steady OM.

In the meantime Denis had been making good use of 40M.

Being punctual John (G3FNZ) appeared at 1400hrs with the news that Chatham Dockyard Steam and Transport Festival had been a great success. He had exhibited his treasured Austin 7 which always an attraction.

I could recall as a lad being in a vintage Austin 7 Ruby that was painted bright yellow. The vehicle was driven by my elderly aunt who always had to be informed if a road junction or other hazard was imminent because the rod activated brakes were less than efficient and almost required written notice before they worked.

John went on to say on the radio front he was still being plagued with local noise at an S7, therefore any stations below that strength were not readable.

Jakey (G3JKY) romped in with a solid 59+ signal. Stating all the stations he had heard so far were good signals in Hastings.

Jakey said that he had found that a length of ‘duff’ coax the reason for his lack effective contacts on 2m. On replacing this dubious feeder he was looking forward to improved VHF performance with onset of the sporadic E season.

Talking of rod brakes Jakey recalled an incident when he was riding a bicycle down a hill in Beckenham when the brakes unexpectedly activated and he came to a halt. On dismounting Jakey found that the frame had broken in two causing the rod brakes to be applied ‘automatically’ thereby avoiding potential serious injury.

It makes you think doesn’t it?  How vulnerable we are.

On reflection I almost shudder when I recall Suzanne and I cycling ‘flat out’ down the precipitous mountain roads from Delphi to the port of Itea, relying totally on hydraulic fluid in the disc brakes of our mountain bikes as we flew into numerous hair-pin bends. Hey we made it and it was fun!

David (G0WQQ) announced his presence with 58/59 signal from Princess Risborough at 14.10 hrs. He told the group over the past month he had been experimenting with PSK/Data modes in between catching up with the garden and general maintenance activities.

Peter (G3PJB) was also victim of high local QRN as such he was struggling with Ian and Denis but everyone else was readable. Peter thanked Jakey for the Ian Allen book it had filled a gap in Peter’s library on London Transport.

He said he was pleased to hear that festival at Chatham Dock Yard was a success, Peter had intended to attend using his lifetime rail-pass but this good intention was foiled by the “weekend-holiday” railway ‘replacement’ bus service.

Denis (G3OKY) said he was receiving good signal from most on his low 40m dipole.

Talking bicycles and brakes, Denis recalled cycling down Featherbed Lane more than a few years ago, when the cables to both front and rear brakes snapped leaving him to hurtle down the lane ending up as an untidy heap in the hedge.

All is well that ends well Denis!

John (G3FNZ) said that as he was missing a lot of the conversation due to the local noise he was going to sign out. Hopefully next month conditions will have improved and the noise will have abated.

Jakey (G3JKY) said that in his early days in the hobby he recalls that a G3FIO, a scoutmaster used to live near Featherbed Lane. It is amazing how the memory links eclectic facts from the past.  Jakey went on to say he could just detect Ian in Margate and that it may be better to use GB3KS Ian’s local 2m repeater at Dover, which Jakey could access easily from Hastings. Sounds like an interesting piece of cross banding chaps!

David (G3WQQ) said that he had benefitted from changing his antenna to an off centre fed diploe (OCFD) at his QTH from his original W3EDP. I must admit I have tried using a W3EDP at various ‘portable’ locations when in ‘foreign parts’ without much success. The antenna seemed to be prone to noise and could prove difficult to match. David went on to say he was looking forward to the summer for openings on 6m

Peter (G3PJB) was now suffering increasing background noise this was making a good copy very difficult. He was taking the opportunity to sign out and was going to watch the Grand Prix on the TV.

Jakey (G3JKY) reported that he had heard 99% of Denis’s overs through the local noise. Jakey had noticed that this “electronic soup” was becoming more intrusive each year.

Earlier I had told the group if conditions were suitable Bob Schilling (HB9BDJ ex-G3OAW) may call into the net. Jakey said that was least 40yrs since he had spoken to Bob.

Unfortunately conditions were not in our favour, although we left suitable pauses and listened between overs.

Jakey went on to say that an off centre fed dipole was resonant and more easily matched also it had the advantage of a lower angle of radiation than a random wire or W3EDP aerial.

I told the group that in preparation for our future nautical meanderings we had acquired an Elecraft KX3. This piece of kit promised improved filtering and lower current consumption than my FT817. I am yet to give an objective opinion as I still have my head in the manual, although so far the KX3 is performing well.

The following apologies were received from:

Lawrie (G4FAA), who was raising funds with a ‘table’ at the Kempton rally.

Colin (G0UJK) who was having some urgent work carried out on his car.

Jon (G8CCL) who is still without a suitable antenna since his shack was crushed by a tree. Jon is busily engaged on refurbishing a camper van to enable some portable operating. He also asks if anyone has any experience with Super Loop antennas, if so please contact me and I will forward your e-mail to Jon.
As most had signed out by 14.55hrs the net was brought to a close.

NB. Lawrie (G4FAA) asks if you are able to support the Clifton in the HF National Field Day at the Detling Show Ground on Sat 6th & Sun7th June

Can YOU spare a few hours to operate and / or, assist in setting up or just making the tea?

If you can, contact:  lawrie8 @

The next Clifton Country Club Net will be on Sunday 17th May at 14.30 Hrs (GMT) on or near 7.125 Mhz

Catch you on the wireless!

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

HERC Spring 2015 Auction

It is that time of year again!

On Saturday the 25th April, the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club will be holding its annual Spring auction of used and surplus equipment at the Holy Redeemer Church Hall.

The auction is open to both club members and the general public, both of whom are always most welcome to attend and bid on the auction items.

The doors to the Holy Redeemer Church hall are due to open at around 1.30pm, and there is plenty of onsite and nearby parking available meaning that access to the site is easy and free of charge to car drivers.

Bidding will begin at 2.15pm, with many kinds of electronics and radio items to be bid upon, as well as books, accessories and computer displays, peripherals, books and assorted sundries.

The Holy Redeemer Church is located at:

24  Upper Church Road
St Leonards-On-Sea
East Sussex
TN37 7AS

See you there!

Clifton Country Club Net Sunday 19th April

Whatho Cliftonaires!

Over the past days spring has suddenly turned into summer in the southern half of the UK with an anticyclone moored off the North Sea coast.

The sun remains its turbulent self as more geomagnetic disturbance trundle towards our planet threatening unsettled propagation on the lower HF frequencies.

Don’t let the near tropical WX or the possibility of a coronal mass ejection deter you from joining the Clifton Country Club net this Sunday 19th April at 1400 Hrs GMT ( 3pm BST) on or near 7.125 Mhz

Catch you on the wireless!

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

Ten Tec and Alpha sold to RKR Designs LLC

(April 2, 2015) RKR Designs, LLC of Longmont Colorado has announced that
they have acquired the assets of Alpha Amplifier and TEN-TEC brands from
RF Concepts. RKR plans to expand the product line, while continuing to
service their customers that have enjoyed their products over the years.

The principals of RKR Designs are Richard Gall, Ken Long and Rich
Danielson (Gall and Danielson of QSC Systems, Longmont, Colorado have
been a successful contract manufacturer, for over 20 years). Ken Long,
N0QO has over 20 years in the electronics and amateur radio industry.
Long will be President and CEO of the new company. QSC has been building
Alpha amplifiers for over 5 years. They have also been building boards
for TEN-TEC since their purchase by RF Concepts last year. Mr. Long said
“QSC has always been a fantastic contract manufacturer, and has the
expertise and knowledge that will allow us to bring down costs, while
increasing quality and reducing manufacturing times.”

When asked for comment, Michael Seedman, AA6DY said “I can’t think of a
more capable group of people to take over the 45 year Alpha
Amplifier/TEN-TEC legacy. Ken Long has been involved with the industry
for years, and has a great feeling for products and operations. He has
the manufacturing and engineering resources available to deliver quality
products that our customers demand”. Mr. Seedman went on to say “Alpha
and TEN-TEC have always had a warm spot in my heart, and I am thrilled
that RKR Designs will be able to continue the operations of the
business. I wish them the best”.

Ken, Richard and Rich have been working very close over the past several
years and feel that this new relationship will benefit the company and
customers moving forward. This closer relationship to the contract
manufacturer will allow a more consistent process and delivery of
quality products along with significant cost benefits.

RKR Designs LLC is privately held, and terms of the acquisition were not

Source: Ten Tec.

More articles added to VS archive

More articles have been added from early editions of the clubs newsletter, Vital Spark. Here is a list of the newly added articles from various authors in no particular order.

Getting out on HF by Jakey G3JKY

My twenty years with computers – Part 1 by Jakey G3JKY

My twenty years with computers – Part 2 by Jakey G3JKY

My twenty years with computers – Part 3 by Jakey G3JKY

My twenty years with computers – Part 4 by Jakey G3JKY

The languages of BASIC by Gordon M3YXH

BBC Basic for Windows by Gordon M3YXH

Liberty BASIC and Just BASIC by Gordon M3YXH

Enjoy the read!

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!

UK Amateur Radio Repeaters

UK repeaters

Click button above for full list, or a local repeater callsign below for info.

GB3EB 2m in Uckfield- Active
MB6EB 2m DStar Node in Eastbourne - Active
MB6RY Wires-X DigiGate in Broad Oak - Active
GB3HE 70cm in Hastings - Active
GB7HE 70cm DStar in Hastings - Coming soon
GB3ZX 70cm in Eastbourne - Low Power
GB3JT 23cm ATV in Hastings - NoV cleared
GB7RY 70cm X-Wires Repeater Rye - Active
GB7ES Eastbourne - DSTAR Rpt. - Active
GB3ES 2m in Hastings - Active

For a complete list of repeaters, head over to
the UK Amateur Radio repeaters list.

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