Following the less than encouraging reports on the solar activity with threats of coronal mass ejections and plasmatic winds I was full of trepidation as I tuned to the net frequency.
Only to find a nightmare situation which I had feared since we moved from the apparent comfort of 3.6MHz.
The nightmare was a wall of QRM and splatter emanating from the collective signals of those taking part in an EI based contest. This was exacerbated by the distance from the Irish land mass and NVIS propagation.
Working on the principle of “Keep calm and carry on” I found a quieter spot just above our net frequency, where the ‘S’-meter wobbled between S5 and S7 from adjacent splatter.
Jakey (G3JKY) was first to respond to my call, his Tentec transceiver cutting through the mire, we were soon joined by Colin (G0UJK) who also supressed the QRM.
Colin said that he was surprised to hear so much QRM on the band, although we had apparently chosen a weekend when the IRTS (Irish radio transmitter’s society) were holding a contest on 7 MHz
John (G3FNZ) announced his presence saying that could only copy Jakey and I as he was still plagued with very high levels of local electrical noise. Colin was below his ‘noise floor’. John said that he was not going to stay on as the noise was very tiresome and unpleasant.
Very understandable John, radio should be a pleasure and not a torment, not that it helps but your received signals both here in Norfolk and in Hastings (as reported by Jakey) were 59+.
Colin said that he had come up an hour earlier and not being able to find any Clifton members he realised that the net was still due at 14.30 hrs (GMT). During the previous days he said that conditions had been very good especially on the higher frequencies. He had heard VO9 but unfortunately could not make himself heard. Albeit he had taken advantage of the improved F2 propagation having worked several DX stations in the days previous, these had been on 20m to 10m.
Peter (G3RQZ) stated that the band was full of EI contesters, and QRM generated was making pleasant conversation very difficult.
Jakey (G3JKY) agreed saying Peter was a 59 signal and therefore keeping the intrusive splatter at bay. Jakey went on to tell the group that he had noted increased levels of noise at his QTH in recent times especially on 80m. However he was of the opinion that the new generation of transceivers with ‘wideband’ receive were more susceptible to the extraneous electrical noise flattening the AGC. Unlike the older sets such as the FT101 with separate tuned RF stages seemed to be less vulnerable to out of band QRM.
On a similar vein Jakey had never found a ‘noise blanker’ to be worth the price of a switch. The only time a ‘noise blanker’ worked was to suppress the ‘pulse’ generated by an electric fence when he was at his ‘alternative’ QTH in ZL-land.
Colin (G0UJK) reported that he was still awaiting the result of his planning application on his proposed antenna mast. He had been visited and advised by Dave Lawley (G4BUO) on behalf of the RSGB. Dave sends his regards to Jakey.
Jakey stated that Dave (G4BUO) was always one the strongest G-stations when he was in New Zealand.
I said that following last month’s net I had received an e-mail from Gerald (HB9AJU/ Ex-G3OOH) stating that he heard Jakey but was had difficulty with the rest of the group due local QRM from Italy and Germany. Gerald went on to say he was unable to listen for May’s net as he would be away from his QTH cat-sitting.
Gerald went on to explain he had been spending most of his time translating a book from German to English from material collated by Theo Boiten a Dutchman who is an expert on Luftwaffe night fighter activities in WW2 based on pilot’s combat reports.
To quote Gerald:
My involvement is in an expanded version of ‘Nachtjagd War Diaries’. I fell into all this as the result of my research into the fate of my uncle, Sgt. Sidney Bayfield, my mother’s favourite brother whose name she gave me as my third Christian name.
Sgt. Bayfield was the rear gunner (‘tail-end Charlie’) on Halifax MP-K of 76 Squadron. He was shot down and killed in March 1943 on a mission to bomb Berlin by ObLt. Gerhard Raht of night fighter squadron 5/NJG3 flying a Ju 88
All this info, and more, I have researched over the years. It led me into contact with Theo Boiten, who was looking for a translator to put German combat reports into English. Some of it is quite interesting stuff, as is putting the down-to-earth original reports into equally earthy English prose. I do it free of charge (Theo is a Dutchman!) but expect a copy of the book when it’s published, probably later this year.
To see other work by the same author:
Extremely interesting Gerald, thank you on behalf the group for this information and I personally look forward to the new publication.
Peter (G3RQZ) stated he was very fortunate that his local noise level had remained low, with exception of irregular short lived QRM generated by the new electric trains on his local railway line.
Although Peter has not been very active on HF he maintains regular skeds on 70 MHz. During one of his local FM QSOs on 4m he was called by Franki (S57ILF) in JN75AK who was running 5W to a vertical antenna. This was apparently Franki’s first contact outside Slovenia on 4m. Franki’s QTH does not favour VHF communication being surrounded by mountains, but this shows how sporadic-E propagation can produce amazing results under the most difficult conditions.
Peter went on to say he was looking forward to meeting the rest of the Clifton contest crew at the CW NFD on Saturday 6th June at the Kent Showground, Detling.
National Field Day
For those who would wish to support the ‘crew’ at Detling, please meet at 10am on Saturday 6th June on the Showground car park.
The entrance to the ‘showground’ is off the A249 at Detling Hill.
Turn right after entering the showground and drive across the grass car park, the Clifton ‘crew’ will on the far side near the hedge. You can phone Lawrie (G4FAA) on 0789-9855166 or Martin (G0DCG) on 07751-159302 if you need directions or if you have any questions or ideas e-mail Lawrie: email@example.com
I told the group that my new Elecraft KX3 very nice to operate, especially on CW. The combination of the roofing filters which automatically change as you select different modes, or when you vary the band widths filters which are continuously adjustable from 4KHz to 50Hz.
The radio operates extremely well without the preamp; the background hiss was virtually undetectable making very weak signals were easy to read.
The current drawn is extremely frugal when in receive at about 150ma, every facet of this rig has been made with battery powered portable operation in mind. The auto ATU is an L-match with a wide range of L&C combinations easily matches random wires through to dipoles, a memory retains the settings for rapid band switching. One downside is the miniature loud speaker, the volume and reproduction is poor. The Elecraft theory is that most CW operators would prefer to use headphones; pseudo stereo is available as an interesting feature specifically in CW. The KX3 has a keyer with a memory and a decoder for CW and RTTY and PSK modes. The output is variable from zero through to 10watts. There are many other useful operating facilities that I have not mentioned and some still have to discover.
Is it worth the price of slightly short of £1,400 with all the additional options, including the hand microphone? It depends what you want the radio for. It is certainly a must for portable battery powered operation, with an amazing dynamic range and a full complement of high end options from a compact self-contained software defined radio. This rig was bought as direct replacement of my trusted old FT817 (2001 vintage), primarily for use on our future nautical meanderings.
Before the net apologies were received from Brian (G3OYU) who was due undergo a cataract operation on the Monday following the net. Brian we wish you a full and speedy recovery.
Also from Lawrie (G4FAA) who was at the Dunstable Downs Rally selling equipment to raise funds.
As we were about to close Peter (G7ULL) called in from Chislehurst, to check his transmitted audio, as last month Peter’s transmissions were distorted, similar to that caused by RF feedback.
On this occasion Peter’s audio was readable and clear. Whatever you have done Peter, it has worked, well done that man!
May I take this opportunity to commiserate with those who regularly appear on the net but went unheard in the morass of QRM…..Hopefully it will be better next month.
The conditions being so difficult the net was closed at 15.10hrs (GMT).
The next Clifton Country Club Net will be on Sunday 15th June at 14.30 hrs GMT (15.30 BST) on 7.125 MHz unless propagation improves on 80m.
Due to the difficulties experienced today, Peter (G3RQZ) suggested we might try 60m as an alternative.
It is proposed we hold an ‘impromptu net’ 15 minutes before the next Clifton Country Club Net on 5.304 MHz (USB).
I will confirm this nearer the date, as mid-afternoon propagation on 60m is less than good at present.
Have a great month enjoy the DX and the very best of luck to all in the NFD on 6th June.
73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.