Monthly archives for June, 2015

HAMQTH Celebrates 4th Anniversary

hamqth533Sent through by HAMQTH’s owner/founder.

Today HamQTH celebrates its 4 year anniversary. Many things have happened during the last year. Maybe the most visible one was new website design, that also works on mobile phones and tablets.


HamQTH celebrates 4 years anniversary.
you can send spot to DX clusters network directly from web interface.
DX cluster filter improved.
Clear header button added to profile picture editing.
Language autodetect improved.

Recent activity now shows last 200 RBN and DX cluster spots.
If you are logged in and looking at your profile, lookup counter is not incremented page .with DX cluster spots is now loaded every 10 seconds (was 20).
log upload page listed only the first one of recent uploaded logs – fixed.
XML lookup didn’t increase the lookup counter of your profile – fixed
In next few weeks website will be moved to https, only API for application developers will be both on http and https to keep backward compatibility.

Unfortunately not everything was great, especially this month, when two disks died on the HamQTH server. One died on Jun 3 and was replaced, the second disk died last Friday and will be replaced very soon.

HamQTH statistics

1,481,428 callsigns in database
30,032 registered users
28,934,561 queries to the XML search
23,521,187 QSO in the log from 4,108 different callsigns

73 Petr, OK2CQR – HamQTH owner


The statistics speak for themselves and the new features that have been implemented over the last couple of years have really moved the site forward, especially the latest website developments which have been a quantum leap forward for HAMQTH. Well worth registering your call on, Petr has done a fantastic job and I think all the new improvements will see HAMQTH rise above other similar sites and go the distance. Good luck Petr!

RSGB Contests in August 2015

RSGB CONTESTS in August 2015

(by Quin G3WRR & John G3XDY)

Saturday  1st August 2015  144MHz Low Power Contest  1400 – 2000 UTC
Saturday  1st August 2015  4th 144MHZ Backpackers Contest  1300 – 1700 UTC
Sunday  2nd August 2015  ROPOCO CW (3.5MHz)  0700 – 0830 UTC
Sunday  2nd August 2015  432MHz Low Power Contest  0800 – 1200 UTC
Tuesday  4th August 2015  144MHz UK Activity Contest  1900 – 2130 UTC
Sunday  9th August 2015  70MHz Cumulative Contest #5  1400 – 1600 UTC
Tuesday  11th August 2015  432MHz UK Activity Contest  1900 – 2130 UTC
Wednesday  12th August 2015  80m Club Sprint Contest (CW)  1900 – 2000 UTC
Wednesday  18th August 2015  1.3GHz UK Activity Contest  1900 – 2130 UTC
Tuesday  25th August 2015  50MHz UK Activity Contest  1900 – 2130 UTC
Tuesday  25th August 2015  SHF UK Activity Contest  1900 – 2130 UTC except 2.3GHz  1930 – 2130 UTC
Thursday  27th August 2015  80m Club Sprint Contest (SSB)  1900 – 2000 UTC

* times vary per band

The full 2015 RSGB contest calendars and rules for the above contests are available here (HF) and here (VHF).

New RSGB book by G0KYA – Getting started in Amateur Radio

g0kya-getting-started-in-amateur-radio-bookIf you want to know something about the hobby or are newly licensed, or are even just looking for something different, “Getting Started in Amateur Radio” helps provide the answers.

Steve Nichols, G0KYA, has recently published a book through the RSGB, adding another string on the bow of the RSGB’s arsenal of useful resources for amateurs.

The book is entitled “Getting Started in Amateur Radio”, and is aimed at those who want to learn more about the hobby of amateur radio, or are perhaps looking to find out new things to do within it.

The book covers many subjects including receiving digital images from the International Space Station,  communicating with other operators around the world via satellite, helping to assist during public disasters and many more. The book goes into some details about these and many other areas of interest that are bound to appeal to a wide audience for both unlicenced and licenced amateurs alike.

This comprehensive introductory book also covers practical antennas as well as detailing operation of the different amateur radio modes including CW (Morse code), FM, SSB, Digital and more. In addition to this there are sections on long distance DX operation, contesting, and amateur radio awards for the chasers out there. Microwave and LF bands are also covered in the book, along with Moonbound (EME), and a practical guide for obtaining an amateur radio licence if you do not have one already.

While “Getting Started in Amateur Radio” is aimed at prospective UK licensees, there is something for everyone and the price of this book has been kept as low as possible to encourage new amateurs into the hobby.

The book is available via many online sources, including the RSGB resources for beginners area.

Leon G1HSM gives talk on Raspberry Pi


Leon G1HSM gave an educational and insightful talk on the infamous Raspberry Pi to a well attended club room.

Leon gave a great talk at the Taplin Centre on Wednesday 24th of June, and made quite an impression with his insightful and education talk on the Raspberry Pi. Here is Leon’s report for his presentation.

Concept developed by Eben Upton of Broadcom, a large fabless chip supplier, in 2009. First boards were released in 2012. It’s a tiny credit-card sized computer originally based on the Broadcom BCM2835 SoC – a dual-core 700 MHz ARM processor with 256 Mb of RAM, piggy-backed together, and 26 I/O pins. It was later (2015) updated to a quad-core 1000 MHz processor with 512 Mb of RAM and 40 I/O pins. OS and program storage on flash memory card (Micro SD on the latest models). It was primarily intended to teach kids about computing for a small outlay (under £20) – requires a power supply, TV, keyboard and mouse. However, it has proved of more general interest. Over five million have been sold. Outside China, they are available from primary distributors Farnell and RS, as well as many secondary sellers.
Current models are the original Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+, the Pi 2 Model B, and the Pi 1 Model A+. The first two have four USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI, composite video, and camera and display connectors.

leon-raspberry-piThe Pi 1 Model A+ is a stripped down version with only one USB port. Both have 40 I/O pins. They can be used for video processing. The models I have are the Pi 2 Model B and the Pi 1 Model A+. One of the Pi 2s has a PiFace I/O card. I use them with a wireless keyboard and mouse and HDMI monitor. I use a 5 V battery power pack instead of a mains PS. Although it uses a USB cable for power, it draws too much power for connection to a PC USB port. Can also be controlled via the Internet using SSH (Secure Shell) in text mode – no keyboard, mouse or display needed. I can’t get SSH to work, though,  with my laptop.

Several OSs are available – Raspbian, based on Debian Linux is by far the most popular. Also: various other flavours of Linux and RISC OS (Archimedes), MS will be supplying Windows 10 for it. Easiest way to get going with a new RasPi is to download NOOBS from the web site, format an SD card (8 Gb +) in your PC and write NOOBS to it. When the RasPi boots from it, Raspbian is configured and you then have a bootable card. Need for shutdown before disconnecting power. It boots up into standard text-based Linux, and the xwindows GUI is run in the usual way with startx.

It’s quite easy to connect the Pi to the Internet, via a direct Ethernet connection or WiFi. Hardware is quite easy to interface via the 40-way connector, which has many of the ARM I/Os. Signals must be 3.3 V, anything more risks damage to the chip, and they are not protected from ESD. Best to buffer them with suitable interface chips as is done on the PiFace.

Lots of programming languages are available. Python is probably the most popular, and is very easy to learn. Python programs are easily entered and run from xwindows. C is also easy to use. There isn’t much of a market for software, because of the open source nature of the system. Only way to make money from it is probably by designing hardware.
There is lots of information and help available via the Internet – an official web site and 70 page monthly magazine called MagPi (PDF) – as well as meetings organised by enthusiasts and presence at Maker Faires etc. There is also a very active forum. No meetings around Hastings, AFAIK. Perhaps someone should organise something.

There is lots of amateur radio stuff for the RasPI – just typing “Raspberry Pi amateur radio” into Google brings up a vast number of hits. G0HWC has some interesting links, for instance.

Leon G1HSM


G3MGQ’s Month on the Air July 2015

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

ARRL gets a bespoke Begali key design

arrl-begali-morse-keyCaught over at the ARRL, a lot of CW operators on the other side of the pond will be happy, nay ecstatic at the news of a Pietro Begali sculpted key being made available.

Crafted with the kind of attention to detail that one would normally associate with the likes of Faberge, Pietro I2RTF has designed a thing of beauty that would do anyone’s shack justice. The main construction is from AISI 304 stainless steel and the contacts, solid 925/1000 silver .. yes *solid* silver! The finger paddles of the unit have a 1:1 leverage ration and are finished in a stylish anodised black.

Perhaps one day the RSGB in co-operation with Fists CW might go about producing one. Better warn the YL’s in advance because this one will warrant a lot of “making up” before purchase.

Source: ARRL.

GB7RY – 70cm X-Wires digital voice repeater

yaesu-logoGood news for Yaesu Fusioneers, if that is the correct expression, as Dan M0HOW from BSARS recently made operational a new digital voice repeater which is situated in Rye.

The new repeater went live in March without issue and is one of the first of its kind in the South East of England. Dan recommends that users programme their rigs with a CTCSS of 103.5hz Tone Squelch as this will mask the digital transmissions.

GB7RY is TX on 430.950Mhz and RX on 438.550Mhz.

You can view the full details for GB7RY here.


HERC annual BBQ Field Day today – 21st June 2015


Phil G3MGQ and Wilf (now sadly SK), operating at HERC’s BBQ Field Day in 2013. Sadly Wilf is no longer with us, and the Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup event is now being held annually in his memory.

Each year HERC attends the Fairlight Country Park in Fairlight, near Hastings, and members operate throughout the day from 9am to 9pm on the HF bands using their own portable stations.

This social event is often well-attended, as members using the clubs Golf Six Happy Hastings (G6HH) call-sign make contacts near and afar as best they can band conditions permitting.

New Event at the HERC BBQ Field Day

2015 however marks a new occasion within the field day event which has been developed with the help of HERC members Rob M0LYD, Antony G4CUS and others. While the event is members only, please listen on HF and call in. You will be very well received, and help members score according to the rule set which can be read on the Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup page.

Wishing everyone a great day on the air, good DX and good health.

Clifton Country Club Net Sunday 14th June 2015

High solar disturbance together poor F layer conditions with MUFs hovering below 4 MHz was producing unreliable propagation on 40m and 60m with virtually no signals on 80m audible. This did not bode well.

Monitoring 7 MHz days before the net continental European stations could be heard working into the UK and Ireland but not the ‘G’ or ‘EI’ stations replying.

In order to maximise the possibility of ‘inter G’ communications a later time of 15.30GMT was scheduled.

This allowed the opportunity for a ‘trial net’ on 60m at 1500hrs as suggested by Peter (G3RQZ) last month.

Therefore it was very pleasing to gain an almost immediate response from Peter (G3RQZ) to my call on 5.320 MHz. The ‘armchair copy’ both ways was a splendid demonstration of the 60m; free of ‘adjacent station splatter’ unlike that on the more crowded parts of the spectrum.

Peter was running 50w from his MP1000 into a trap-dipole for 80/40m using parasitic wires to bring it into resonance on 60m. This set up gave a 59+10db here in Norfolk.

Peter (G3PJB) from Swanley reported that both Peter (G3RQZ) and I were 59+, unfortunately “PJB” did not have a resonant antenna for 60m, and I could only give him a 32 report.

Peter (G3RQZ) suggested to “PJB” that a low dipole or other resonant antenna just lying along a hedge or fence could produce exceptional signals for inter UK communications utilising NVIS propagation.

Although some had found that 60m was somewhat vulnerable to local QRM from a plethora of modern electrical devices. At Peter’s Redhill QTH fortunately this was not the case. As a result he could often hear both sides of a QSO even although the individuals involved were have some difficulty.

Having a very low noise floor here in Norfolk I likewise receive both side of a QSO where those taking part were hindered by electrical noise.

I wonder if 60m could be an effective band for our monthly Clifton skeds, more so now now all “A” or “Advanced” licence holders automatically qualify for 60m without recourse to applying for a ‘notice of variation’.  Food for thought!

Peter (G3RQZ) went on to say that he had spent most of his radio time on 4m taking advantage of sporadic E including contacts with CT1, S5, & OK etc.

He said had noticed the propensity of stations to form pile-ups that were directly driven from DX clusters and similar events were beginning to take place on microwave contests, where QSOs were generated from ‘arrangements’ via e-mail or computer networks. Peter felt this removed the fun and sense of achievement from the hobby.

I tend to agree, as during my nautical meanderings found these seemingly illogical ‘pile-ups’ of stations from the European landmass apparently calling exotic DX. Whilst stations from the southern hemisphere were calling CQ a few KHz away were going unanswered.  Does anyone actually listen anymore?

It was now 15.25hrs, time to start the “CC Net” on 40m.

Peter (G3RQZ) bade his farewells, stating that he would listen on 40m to ensure that the net was in progress, but was unlikely join in as he had pressing horticultural commitments at hand.

Colin (G0UJK) from Swanley was the first to answer my call on 7.128 Mhz with 59+ signals. He said it was nice to have a sunny day after several days of dreary weather. It had been mainly dry but there had been the occasional rumble of thunder.

Peter (G3PJB) having been listening to Peter “RQZ” and I on 60m was now 58 with QSB on 40m. Peter went on to explain that one of the reasons he had missed the last two CC Nets due to a holiday tour of Scotland which included an 8 hour Hebridean cruise. The cruise was first class, although the tour was slightly marred by traveling in the very front seats of the coach, this proved not to very comfortable due to lack of leg room also the seats were ahead of the front axle accentuating all the numerous ‘potholes’. Hence after several hours travel both Peter and Doris felt as if they had be badly pummelled.

At 1533hrs John (G3FNZ) announced his presence with a 59 signal from Strood, he was still suffering from a very high noise levels but as all stations were 59+ he could hear everyone. John went on to tell the group he was experiencing some problems with his legs, and was undergoing various tests at the hospital.

John we all hope the medicos are quick to have a diagnosis and that you are soon on the road to recovery.

Colin (G0UJK) told the group he had also found 40m very poor; yesterday signals were varying rapidly from barely readable to +40db.

Presently Colin was off work due a back injury, although this was not ideal it gave him the opportunity to enjoy the radio during the week-days.

He was extremely disappointed that this local planning authority had refused his application to erect a mast to support his antennas.

During this prolonged process Colin had actively sought the support of the RSGB and as a result had received a visit and advice from Dave Lawley (G4BUO).

Being a Parish Councillor here in Norfolk I regularly view applications for planning permission for all forms of development.  Therefore I was very concerned that “radiation levels” emanating from the proposed structure was sighted as one of the main reasons for refusal given by Sevenoaks Council.

All local government planning authorities have the responsibility for the following:

Aesthetic appearance, design conformity, mechanical compliance (building regulations), local restrictions (by-laws, covenants & conservation areas).

Radiation from RF fields and the likelihood of interference are well outside of the remit and expertise of any local planning authority.

There is an obvious degree of discrimination here, especially in the light of “permitted development” concessions enjoyed by mobile phone network operators.

The use of a structure such as a mast in pursuance of the hobby can be equally viewed as ‘passive’ when used for long range reception; this does not seem to have been considered.

Having given assistance both recently and in the past over antenna provision permissions, may I suggest your only recourse is to lodge an appeal with The Planning Inspectorate against the decision of Sevenoaks Council Planning department.

It may be to your benefit to have a look at the site below:

Whatever you do, you must ensure you have all your facts in a logical and concise format and present a well-reasoned case. The RSGB should be able to give a degree of guidance over this.

Peter (G3PJB) shared his experience with us concerning his attempts some years ago to gain planning permissions to erect a small mast at his QTH in Swanley.

Again Sevenoaks Council were the planning authority and they advised Peter that they would not approve such a ‘development’.  From then on Peter thought wise to keep a low profile by using wire and indoor antennas.

Peter, I do not take no for an answer, unless they have a good reasoned argument supported by documentary evidence. Hey ho!

Peter went on to explain that his second absence from the CC Net was as result of unexpectedly “ending up in hospital” where he underwent surgery for a hernia, whilst in the recovery room Peter suffered “a log event”, which is a medical semantic for a minor stroke or MCI (heart attack). As a result Peter now takes eleven pills a day from his original prescription of three. His surgeon has advised him not to drive for 10 days to aid recovery.

Take it easy OM and very nice to have back on the wireless!

At 15.59 Hours John (G3FNZ) signed out as he said he was finding the ‘euro-babble’ (QRM) and the deep QSB mixed with his local background ‘electronic soup’ was making listening very difficult.  OK, John hopefully we will hear you on the next CC Net.  We all wished John the very best of luck with hospital visit scheduled for Monday.

Colin (G0UJK) said he was very disappointed that the June NFD had been cancelled, but he understood why the decision had been made.

Further to Colin’s concerns I said unfortunately Martin (G0DCG) and Steve (G4RFC) had also reluctantly withdrawn the Clifton ARS entry from the forthcoming VHF NFD on the weekend of 4th & 5th July. This was due to continuing logistical problems beyond their control.

As yet there has been no decision of the SSB HF field day in September.

I told the group that during the week I had attended a seminar on “Dark skies and light pollution” at the UEA. There many topics on the agenda, one of which was installation of LED lamps in street lighting, these had advantage of being easily controlled by either dimming or switching off in less busy periods.  Also as the light is directed downward there is little sideway spread (glare).

My main concern about the proliferation of these devices was not so much light pollution but that of RF pollution, as LEDs have been a cause of EMC problems in the past. Unfortunately the representatives of the manufacturers at the seminar were unable to answer my questions regarding RF generation and quoted that all their equipment conformed to EC regulations……….Er! Why does this not fill me with confidence?

Peter (G3PJB) said that in his area all the street lights are extinguished at 1am.

Good to hear it OM!

Luckily here in my parish we have ‘unlit villages’, as a result we also have dark skies with views of the Milky Way. On moonless cold nights when there is little water vapour in the atmosphere it is a truly amazing spectacle which is now lost to the many.

As the time reached 16.20hrs we brought June’s Clifton Country Club to a close.

Apologies were received from:

Lawrie (G4FAA) who was on a hill walking holiday near Hereford.

David (G0WQQ) who stated the later time of the net clashed with his culinary duties.

Jakey (G3JKY) who was celebrating completing his 79th orbit round our nearest star! Congratulations and take it easy OM, hopefully we will find you lurking in the long grass at the lower part of 80m around 3.564 Mhz?

May take this opportunity to wish Ian (G0PDZ) the very best of luck with his new QTH and hope everything goes smoothly with the move. I understand from ‘reading the mail’ that Ian already has a plan to install a low profile wire antenna for HF.

As usual at this time of year, the Clifton Country Club Net will go into ‘summer-recess’ during the months of July, August and September.

The next Country Club Net will be on Sunday 11th October at 1400hrs GMT the band and frequency to be confirmed nearer the date.

Have a great summer, enjoy the DX and we hope to catch you the wireless, possibly on 60m.

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

GB3EB – The Eastbourne 2m repeater could be back soon

Caught this over on the EREC forum, news from Dave G8PUO that GB3EB may be returning to service soon following a fire at the site which happened last year.

Unfortunately it appears that some of the repeaters internal circuitry which had been examined later, has in fact been corroded/covered with a fairly nasty conductive film caused perhaps by the circulated smoke during the fire. This will mean that the equipment will either have to go through what would be a fairly labour intensive repair process, or indeed necessitate replacements for the unusable hardware.

Dave G8PUO seems confident about GB3EB’s return to service and even mentioned that it could be back in a temporary working fashion just before the recent SERF event which was held on the 6th June.

You can keep up to date with the latest operational and detail info on the GB3EB repeater status page and via the RILGES web.

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