Monthly archives for January, 2017

HERC amateur radio licence training schedule currently full

Phil G3MGQ, the HERC training officer, is fully committed at this time and is unable to take on new students at present. The Distance Learning courses run by the Bath Radio Group: Intermediate course runs October to January, Advanced course January to June and July to December. Contact for BBADL is Steve Hartley
Steve Stewart of BSARS is still running courses for the Foundation and intermediate levels.

Clifton Country Club Net Sunday 15th January 2017

At 14.15Hrs the 80m band appeared un-populated with the exception of the sporadic ‘whirrs’ from switch mode powered devices and occasional weak signal from near Europe.
I set up camp on 3.689Mhz to avoid a very weak QSO 3KHz higher and to keep the frequency ‘warm’ I put out the occasional general call both in SSB and CW.

To my pleasant surprise Jeff (GW3UZS) responded from Cardiff, giving me a 59+ report, he was a similar signal here in Norfolk. Jeff was using his ‘homebrew’ SDR system and homebrew 350w linear amplifier. On ‘seeing’ my solid signal on an otherwise vacant band he had given me a call. Things were definitely looking up!

As Jeff signed, Peter (G3RQZ) romped in with 59+ signals from near Redhill, followed closely by Mark (G0GQT) from Rochester and Peter (G3PJB) from Swanley.

It would appear that I had opted for the ‘correct’ band as all stations were extremely readable with me.

Peter (G3RQZ) told the group he was using his IC7300 whilst sitting in his conservatory, this set up had been used by a friend during yesterday’s AFS contest. Peter went on to say most of the laying snow had gone and the air temperature was now 7c.

Mark (G0GQT) said that poor WX and some anti-social working commitments had prevented the deployment of an 80m dipole, so he was still working with a 40m antenna. Mark had been delving further into his recently acquired 811K linear amplifier and had found that an anode choke required rewinding also there were a few other niggling faults. However, he was enjoying the challenge and was awaiting more components to arrive by post.

Peter (G3PJB) was also running his new IC7300, was producing good solid 58 clear signals here in Norfolk. Unfortunately Peter was plagued with an S8 of local noise and had to resort to receiving via the remote SDR at Hack Green in order to hear everyone on the net clearly.

At this point John (G3OGE) called in from his QTH at Hornsea about 20miles north east of Hull. John said he could hear me and Peter (G3RQZ) but was having a little difficulty with Peter (G3PJB) and could not hear Mark (G0GQT). John was also suffering from a high noise floor, even on local 80m nets stations had to be S9+ to be heard. John said that his present long wire aerial was supported by the chimney and drops down as it crosses the rear garden. He still had to identify the noise source before he re-configures his antenna. If you have the space John, do consider a loop they are less prone to noise, or a small receive only loop made of a few-turns of wire on a frame or housed in some plastic pipe, being directional might allow you to null out the QRM and still transmit on your long wire. Food for thought I hope.

Peter (G3PJB) stated that John was 59 via the Hack Green SDR, and that he had known John and Val since 1958 and it was good to hear him again. It was probably the first time that he had worked John from his QTH at Hornsea.

Mark (G0GQT) told the group that he had been very fortunate to be home on 29th December this allowed him to enjoy the ‘opening’ on UHF/VHF. This opening coincided with the ‘VHF/ UHF activity contest’ held daily between 1400 – 1600 hrs between Christmas and the New Year.

I worked Mark on 144MHz before the ‘activity period’; he was a true armchair copy. He then went on to work the most amazing DX from his Rochester QTH. The best being SM7GVF at nearly 1,200km, with many other QSOs via the North Sea path into Northern Europe and Scandinavia. See attached link to view Mark’s impressive pattern of contacts in two hours.

NB. You will have to either move the map or zoom–out to view the truly distant stations. Roll the cursor over each indicator tabs to reveal call-sign and locator.

Mark continues to enter the weekly ‘activity sessions’ held on Tuesday evenings. In the 70cms series Mark holds 20th position. During his last session by switching to CW he secured a DL contact in JN49 square a distance of some 590km. Well done that man!

Mark went on to tell the group that the ‘shine’ was taken  off his success a little as he had leave home at 04.30hrs the following morning and struggle through atrocious WX to work. Even worse, on his return it took him over 3.5hrs to drive from Maidstone to Rochester, snow having closed Bluebell Hill.

Peter (G3RQZ) said he was unable to join in the fun during the ‘opening’ but did hear stations active on 3cms which was indicative of the stunning conditions on VHF and above.

I told the group that last week was the first time there had been no sun spots on the visible solar disc since May 2010. The general consensus is that our nearest star is entering a very ‘quiet state’ much earlier than the predicted minimum in 2020. This does not bode well for HF comms into foreseeable future.

With conditions in the doldrums on the higher frequencies it is good to have access to 60m. This band gives a fairly reliable inter-G (short skip) communications during daylight hours, without much troublesome QRM from adjacent administrations. Fortunately we still have a few frequencies that are almost UK use only. After dusk some interesting mid-range and DX contacts are to be had.  There has been marked increase in activity since 21st December when A class amateur radio operators in Germany gained access to the band between 5.351.5 to 5.366.5 MHz with 15 W EIRP. Even with this surge in use the UK has frequencies both above and below those allocated to German stations with a fairly narrow overlap that allows us to work our DL friends on this band.

On 60m a few days ago I had a very interesting extended conversation with John (OZ4JU) at 1800hrs. He had been calling on 5.403.5 for a long period without a response; he was the only station audible on an apparent ‘dead’ band.  It goes to prove that the lower bands are very rarely totally void of activity and perseverance pays.

At 14.55 we were called by Gary (2E0PCL) near Bridlington; although not a CC member he had been attracted by the activity on the relatively quiet band. Gary’s licence restricts him to 50watts output, when fed to his long wire antenna this moderate power produced a very respectable 58 signal at my QTH. He went on to tell the group that his WX was cloudy with an air temperature of 6c and that he had been listening with interest for some time. We gave Gary a very brief history of the Clifton and background to the CC net.

Colin (G0UJK) announced his presence saying that he had mistaken the time of the net. In part this was due to finding that he had a problem with his Super-loop antenna. In the meantime he had deployed a doublet fed with open wire feeder. Unfortunately the replacement antenna was susceptible local noise, so that like Peter (G3PJB) Colin had to rely on the remote SDR at Hack Green to hear all stations clearly. He certainly did not need the assistance of Hack Green to receive Peter (G3PJB) as they both live in Swanley.

Peter (G3PJB) told the group that he had purchased a 12v car battery in order to use his 300watt solid state linear during the next CC net.

He was a little disappointed that he could not hear more stations on his new IC7300. Peter was planning to improve his reception by resetting the filtering manually from the original factory settings. The very best of luck with that Peter, it sounds like hours of fun.

Colin said his local QRM had increased since a neighbour had installed PV solar panels, particularly on 10 MHz which had become unusable due to an S9 of wideband pulsing QRM that appeared to peak in strong sunlight.

If you are on good terms with your neighbour, one solution may be to retro-fit several clip-on ferrites to the feed lines at inverter end and to the mains outlet; with luck this will suppress most of the QRM.

As a guide, I used Fair-rite split cores (part number 0431176451) on my PV system. These are large cores with sizable apertures but I did have the advantage of fitting them during the installation. The result is a noise free system.

Before the net I received apologies from Brian (G3OYU) who has been prevented from replacing his 80m antenna by the atrocious WX. He is had also learnt that he is in line for ‘pacemaker’. With this event on the horizon Brian has been busy conjuring an effective balun to eliminate stray RF from his shack.

Good luck Brian, I am sure we all wish a speedy recovery from the procedure.

As the time approached 15.30 signals from the near continent were becoming evident, it was timely to close the net.

The next Clifton Country Club Net is scheduled for Sunday 12th February at 1500hrs
Due to the turbulent nature of the bands, the frequency will be confirmed nearer the date.

Catch you on the wireless!

73es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air – January 2017

Phil, G3MGQ has sent through his ‘Month on the Air’ for January 2017 which contains lots of DX information including the big contests to look out for and those to possibly avoid! Enjoy the January edition of Month on the Air.

Clifton Country Club Net Sunday 15th January 2017

Whatho Cliftonaires!

The first Clifton Country Club net of 2017 is scheduled for this Sunday 15th January.  Prevailing conditions in the afternoon on 40m are still producing extended skip, making most inter-G contacts not viable. Unless you wish to communicate with the extremities of Scotland and far west Cornwall.

However, this afternoon 80m was a far better option, with inter-G QSOs involving stations from all areas of the UK.

At 15.25hrs today I had a solid SSB contact with G8MNY in Croydon with 59+10db reports both ways, although European stations were just beginning generate some QRM as we slid into dusk.

Conditions would suggest that we hold this Sunday’s net on or very near 3.690MHz commencing at 14.30hrs  to avoid the developing interference from near Europe.

The WX forecast looks as if winter has us in its icy grip, time to stay in the warm and fire up that wireless!

Catch you on the wireless!

73 de Tony es Suzanne.

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