Posts by Steve (2E0GHX)

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air – February 2018

Phil, G3MGQ has sent through his ‘Month on the Air’ for February 2018 which contains lots of DX information including the big contests to look out for and those to possibly avoid! Enjoy the Feb 2018 edition of Month on the Air.

Clifton Country Club Net Sunday 17th December 2017

Fellow Cliftonaires,

As we approach the ‘shortest day’ winter is tightening its grip, with areas of this ‘sceptred isle’ experiencing their first blankets of snow.

It’s all down-hill from here I hear you call!

Why not take a break from the metrological ‘downward curve’ and join me for the last Clifton Country Club Net of 2017 on Sunday 17th December at 1400hrs (2pm for those who have difficulty with the big and little hands) on or near 3.690 Mhz.

There will be a short pre-net gathering on 5.335Mhz at 13.40hrs for those who are QRV on 60m.

We look forward to catching you on the wireless this Sunday

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air – December 2017

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

Clifton Country Club Net Sunday 19th November 2017

Bright sunshine, clear blue skies, a temperature of 3.5c, strong northerly winds which caused the field maple and aspen trees to transform their leaves into a blizzard of yellow.

This idyllic autumnal scene was not reflected on 80m where my local noise was running at S6 to S7. This QRM was a fairly new and unwelcome phenomenon here.

In recent days the boys from BT Openreach had been seen huddling round those ubiquitous green cabinets located on the other side of the village.

I just hope this electronic fog is purely transient, but we shall see.

With judicious adjustment of the notch control, I managed to choke out the ‘mush’.

So in response to my initial call at 13.58hrs Peter’s (G3PJB) dulcet tones overrode the QRM with 4-5 signals from Swanley.

Peter stated that my signal was similar to ‘a fiddler’s elbow; very much up and down.

All did not bode well for this afternoon’s net, however we soldiered on regardless.

Peter had told the group last month that he acquired a FT736 as he missed access to VHF and the UHF bands since trading in his TS2000. The 736 had enabled him to join the activity evenings on 2m in which he worked Clifton member Peter (G7ULL). Hey that’s real DX into Chislehurst!

Peter had also taken part in the first leg (CW) of the Royal Signals 7 Mhz contest last weekend, where he only managed to work one RS member. This disappointing situation can in part be blamed on very poor conditions with long skip, and additionally coinciding with an OK/OM contest. The only RS station heard and worked was from the north of GM-land.

Peter’s signals occasionally dived below my noise floor but soon rose to a very respectable 58/59. Conditions were being to improve by fits and starts. He went on say how much he looked forward to receiving the net summary and to read what he had actually said!

If you are surprised by the content Peter, I will claim journalistic licence hi hi!

Peter then spoke of his recent experience with preparing a lasting power of attorney for both Doris and himself and how a firm of legal professionals had overlooked enclosing various important sections of the documentation.

I too had experience this apparent careless attitude from a so called professional legal firm who mislaid several documents during a recent real-estate transaction. As is the modern stance between the client and the professional, an apology was never offered or given for this apparent serial incompetence.  The only retribution is, that particular company will not be getting our business again.

Peter also said that he had fallen ‘victim’ AVG the anti-virus system he uses, in that AVG maintain a symbiotic relationship with Google Chrome and if you are not careful AVG will ‘arrange’ for Google Chrome to be downloaded on your computer at a ‘drop of a hat’.  Peter had received this unwelcome software package only to spend several hours deleting it.

As conditions were very transient, we both left suitable pauses between overs.

Brian (G3OYU) made his presence known at 14:24hrs calling in from Crowhurst with a 46 signal that rapidly peaked at 57 only to fall again. Encouragingly Brian reported that Peter and I were both 59 at his location. Strange business this wireless!

Brian said his new hearing aid was working exceeding well through his BHI noise reduction speaker. It was linked wirelessly to a transducer implant and was controlled via his i-phone. The ACG and noise control was outstanding, the only way he could detect a fade in QSB was when the background noise increased as the voice was kept at an audible level. This quite remarkable piece of technology allows those which chronic hearing loss to enjoy their hobby.

Talking of ‘new technology’ my 34yrs old Alinco 24E dual-band radio I keep in the garage to monitor local 70cms and 2m repeaters and simplex channels, has at last been overtaken by progress. As my local UHF repeater GB3AH was now sub-audible tone access only! There is no easy way of inserting a CTSS board in this old set.

My trusty old Alinco which when purchased in 1986 was one of the first dual band mobile sets in the UK costing £450!! Ouch!

It has just been replaced by a Chinese built TYT 8600 2m /70cms mobile transceiver with 25w out and a full coverage of VHF/UHF (outside our bands) for a total cost of £119…….There are cheaper versions with different names and less facilities, but this set was featured in RadCom last July and gained a reasonably good report on build quality and performance.

On removing the new radio from its packaging I was struck by its small size and its apparent rugged construction (IP67, submersible to1m depth!). I tested the output with a Bird Thru-line to a dummy-load; both 70cms and 2m were spot on specification. A very quick listen to my local repeaters proved it was receiving well. I placed it back in its box as it will be my birthday present from Suzanne in three weeks’ time.

At this point Peter (G3RQZ) called in from Godstone with a 59+ signal, needless to say with the assistance of his FL922 linear. Peter said that he had assumed the start of the net was at 1500hrs. Welcome Peter we had been keeping the channel warm for you. He went on to say he had been to the Coulsdon Amateur Radio Society’s Bazaar, which is an annual event at this time of year and again he had failed to purchase anything. I am sure your attendance was valued Peter!

To continue Brian’s earlier theme, Peter said he had found the sound on the latest TV programmes very poor, with the diction being almost obliterated by music that was definitely not a background level. This had been exacerbated by the new flat screen TVs that do not feature forward facing speakers and rely of the ‘reflective nature’ of nearby hard surfaces to disperse the audio output, unless you have invested in a ‘sound-bar’ active extension speaker. This is now a win-win situation for the TV and TV accessory manufactures.

Brian (G30YU) said that he had acquired two Chinese built handy portables for Raynet use. He had found them very good value when you compare them with similar sets available from the ‘big-three’

He reiterated that he would be lost without his i-phone now as he not only used  it as an essential control media for his hearing but it also gave him reliable internet access as well as many apps (applications) that added to his life-style.

So much so that he had bought Geraldine a second-hand i-phone and they were soon to abandon the land-line for voice communication and go totally mobile.

At this Peter (G3RQZ) stated he still used a Nokia mobile finding it quite adequate for talking to people, he saw no immediate need to follow the crowd and purchase a ‘smart’ phone. He was a self-declared member of the Nokia preservation society (NPS)!

You can put Suzanne and I down for membership of the NPS society Peter, as we have a Nokia GSM mobile telephone, no smart devices for us either. Sorry but can’t see the point.

Only having one mobile telephone between us we use on our radios to stay in touch. Either by mobile to base, base to handy, or even handy to handy when cycling.

After all we both have licences, so why not?

At this point Peter (G3PJB) broke back in to say that he had just received a telephone call from Denis (G3OKY), stating that Denis was a little under the weather but he sent his best wishes to everyone on the net. Denis was still hoping to acquire a new IC7300 transceiver although he needed to resurrect his antenna first, which was a problem at the moment.  Good luck Denis we are all thinking of you!

With the Euro-babble was just beginning to become audible as the skip length increased Lawrie (G4FAA) called in from North Cray.

Lawrie was using a tilted terminated folded dipole (or T2FD for short). Unfortunately I was having a little difficulty reading him, as heavy QSB took its toll. However others in the group could read him clearly. In the past deployment of an 80m antenna had proved difficult for Lawrie, due to the layout of his garden. The T2FD was very versatile aerial that had originally been used by the US Navy and became popular with the amateur operators in the late 40’s and early 50’s following an article in QST magazine by Capt. Gil Countryman (W3HH).

The T2FD can be physically smaller that the equivalent half wave dipole at the lowest usable frequency has the advantage of being usable on the HF frequencies above, whilst offering a ‘reasonable’ match.

It is has the reputation for being a fairly good receive antenna in noisier environments, however this may be a result of not being actually resonant but loaded to match by the 300/400 ohm terminating load and being fed via a 4 to 1 balun. Similar to the effect obtained when an ATU is deliberately ‘detuned’ to mismatch, the noise appears to be reduced leaving the desired signal albeit at a lower level.

Whatever the theory, it was good that Lawrie was on 80m and was readable by the majority within the group. Also from his response Lawrie could obviously hear me. Possibly the ‘tilt’ or slope of the T2FD was reducing the radiated power in my direction.

Ironically the last time I actually saw a T2FD antenna it was on the president’s residence in Porto Praia Santiago in the Cape Verde Islands, back in March 2016.

I had also seen a number of them on the ‘official’ buildings in Cuba.

Peter (G3RQZ) said it was good to hear from Denis (G3OKY) and learn that he was considering getting back on the air. Peter said that Lawrie (G4FAA) was a very readable signal in Godstone. He then went on to tell the group that he had recently questioned his internet provider (BT Infinity) over the claimed speeds. Evidently the provider stated that the internet speed at the ‘local’ distribution cabinet was 80Mb, although by the time it reached Peter’s QTH a distance of under a mile the speed had dropped to below 20Mb including free ‘drop-outs of service’

Peter, what would do with all this speed anyway? Plus no drop-outs, life would be boring hi!

It is a very similar situation here with18 to 22Mbs+ drop outs. Albeit at the other end of my village 0.5 mile away the speeds barely reach 1.5Mbs.

As the net was drawing to a close Laurie (G3IUW) called from Send near Woking. Although not a Clifton member Laurie had been listening for some time, and came up to exchange reports and establish where our group was located. I gave Laurie a very brief history of the Clifton ARS and explained that our membership was now scatted throughout the UK and into Europe.  The net was held on the monthly basis through autumn, winter and spring with break in the summer. And that he was welcome to join if he heard us in the future.

Before the net, I received apologies from Mark (G0GQT) who was unable to join us due to work commitments.

Both Peter (G3RQZ) and Brian (G3OYU) had already signed when Peter (G3PJB) and I tied the ribbons on the net at 15:26 hrs.

The next Clifton Country Club Net will be on Sunday 17th December at 1400hrs on either 40m or 80m depending on prevailing conditions. The band and frequency will be confirmed during the week before the net.

Hopefully catch you on the wireless!

More so, if you are lurking in the ‘long grass’ on 5.262MHz.

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne

Construction Evening and WGMC – August 23rd 2017

It was nice to have such a solid turnout of members at the Taplin Centre for the Construction Evening this year, with the evening starting as usual at 7.30pm in the club room.

Entries made in the competion were as follows.  Alan, with his transducer based light detector – item A. Steve G4FYF with 3 entries a digital frequency counter (item B) and a signal generator (item C) and an attenuator (item D). Steve also kindly brought along an item of interest, a QRP rig based on a BitX board. There was an entry from DK1HE, a QRP power amplifier – item E. Richard G0ILN brought along a homebrew 1:1 Balun, item F, and finally Graham G6MAR presented his portable APRS unit, item G.

Images of the entrants items are listed below.

Alans transducer based light detector.

Alans transducer based light detector.

Steve (G4FYF) - A digital frequency counter.

Steve (G4FYF) – Digital frequency counter.

Steve (G4FYF) – Signal generator.

Steve (G4FYF) - Attenuator.

Steve (G4FYF) – Attenuator.


Entry from DK1HE, a QRP power amplifier.

Richard G0ILN - Balun 1:1.

Richard G0ILN – Balun 1:1.


Graham G6MAR, portable APRS unit.

Members getting ready to cast their votes on the construction entries.

Members getting ready to cast their votes on the construction entries.

After the votes were cast, Peter G0FUU announced the scores and the winner as follows.

1st place – Graham G6MAR with his excellent portable APRS unit.
Joint 2nd/3rd – Alan with his transducer based light detector and Richard G0ILN with his 1:1 Balun. Congratulations to Graham for winning this years HERC Constructors Cup, and well done to all those who entered. The scoring was very close indeed with just two points seperating joint 2nd and 3rd from 4th and 5th place.

Graham G6MAR receiving the Constructors Cup from Wilf's widow Margaret.

Graham G6MAR receiving the Constructors Cup from Wilf’s widow Margaret.

Winner of the 2017 Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup

Richard G0ILN receiving the 2017 Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup from Margaret, the late chairman's widow.

Richard G0ILN receiving the 2017 Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup from Margaret, the late chairman’s widow.

Thanks to all members who took part in the construction evening, they were all cracking entries and no doubt next years event will be just as much fun!

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air – September 2017

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

HERC on-air and chat meeting July 2017

Richard G0ILN kindly wrote an article for September’s Vital Spark covering his perspective of the on-air and chat night at the Taplin Centre meeting on July 26th. I have added my own comment to his original article along with images taken during the evening.

Richard’s article as below:

Steve 2E0GHX and Phil G3MGQ for several weeks have been struggling to put up a Dipole for our “On Air” club nights. I think it was more a matter of Health and safety that the venture was eventually abandoned ,someone was going to fall out of a tree! It was decided that a portable antenna may be a simpler option. After some discussion and putting aside ideas such as putting a vertical antenna on the chimney of the Taplin Centre (sounds more like Flash Over House to me!).

It was decided a 65ft Endfed Sloper with a 33ft counterpoise which incorporated a 9:1 balun would fit the bill. All we needed to find was a mast, luckily Tony came to the rescue with his 10 meter fishing pole and Ron G4VBK supplied some heavy duty Coax.

On the night Steve and Richard G0ILN lashed the fishing pole to a wooden bench in the garden of the Taplin Centre and a stake was driven into the ground to mount the Balun on.

The wire antenna was then run from the balun to the top of the mast.

The Yaesu FT840 was fired up but we had problems tuning the Z Match ATU which Rob M0LYD had bought along ,Probably because it is not ideally suited to coax operation. Richard had bought along a small TenTec ATU and an external SWR meter so now we were in business.

Mike Hedges G0JHK was on key duty with Richard and Steve Jones G4FYF helping out as required. We tried 80m and 40m but the quietest band was 20m and that is where we stayed and although we only managed three QSO’s the time flew by. We logged RA3BY, HA3FTV and the best DX as we found out later! Was H51KD South Africa. H51KD was not on web page but was found on CQZCQ. So now we are eager to try again. Steve has several antenna ideas for future On Air Operating nights. So next time please come and join us SSB or CW it does not matter.

Steve said “The installation of the sloper antenna went quite well all things considered, and the donation of Tony G0EYE’s vertical to the club was most welcome as we used the telescopic mast to hoist the end of the sloper up to a good 30 foot or so (with a little drop at the top of the flexible mast tip). I was watching Richard as he made the first CW contact with Russia at about 7.40pm which came as something of a surprise given how ’embedded’ the sloper was amidst the Taplin Centre and adjacent residential buildings. Thanks go to Ron, Gordon, Tony and of course the evenings on air operators who made the meeting a success. I should also give a word of thanks to Martin who kindly offered to help us dismantle the antenna at the end of the evening and would have gladly taken him up on it if it was a long winded job, though it only took a few minutes to dismantle and pack away.

I had a good chat with Tony G0EYE on the evening who told me about his forthcoming ‘Railways on the Air’ event which is taking place in September. Apparently Tony has been attending the event for 5 years now, so best of luck to Tony at the RotA.

Richard also mentioned about his activity in the FISTS CW Snake’s and Ladders event where he is currently up in 6th place overall with G6HH which is great going. Well done Richard.”

Article by Richard G0ILN and appended by Steve 2E0GHX.

A special thank you goes to Tony G0EYE for the kind donation of his 30ft telescopic vertical antenna and transformer, both of which will be put to good use at future club events and on-air nights. It was an enjoyable evening and everyone pitched in. Thanks to everyone who came to help make the evening a success on air from the Taplin Centre.

Tony’s (G0EYE) 30ft telescopic mast used at the ‘end’ of the end-fed’s radiator.

Steve’s G-Whip 9:1 UnUn staked into the ground.

Richard G0ILN and Mike G0JHK just before their first contact with Russia at 7.40pm

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air – August 2017

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

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air – July 2017

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

Clifton Club Net Summary for Sunday 14th May 2017

The seemingly persistent grey skies that had plagued the Eastern coastal regions over the proceeding days had given way to brilliant blue skies and sunshine. The temperatures were moderated by a steady north easterly breeze.

Conditions on the bands in recent days had been anything but certain, with no visible spots on the solar disc. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise to receive an immediate 59 response to my call on 80m at 14.50GMT from Brian (G3OYU) near Lingfield.
Brian reported that I was a S9+ signal, well above his noise floor that was currently running at S8.

Brian went on to say that his new hearing aid was functioning perfectly with his radio gear, allowing him to enjoy the hobby. Brian had noticed an increase in local noise at his QTH. However he had traced some QRM back to a couple of BT Dect cordless phones. When these devices were disconnected from the mains supply the background noise fell by two to three ‘S points’. At least it is in your control Brian and not some neighbour.

At this point Peter (G3RQZ) called in with 59+20db signals from near Gatwick. He said it was good to hear Brian who was a totally end stop, in fact he could probably hear him on a piece of wet string.  Peter went on to say he was still fortunate that he had very little QRM at his location although but he had noticed increasing noise on 70Mhz especially when his 4m beam was pointing south-west in the general direction of an industrial estate. Peter told us that he had Siemens Dect cordless phones and these were apparently very quiet.
Brian (G3OYU) stated that just prior to the net he had been helping Geraldine weed the garden, where they had extracted a four foot tall thistle. Now that is a weed!

I said that I had been contemplating installing a new extensive CCTV system at my QTH. I had taken delivery of a new a DVR, monitor, switcher unit, IP cameras and reels of Cat5 cabling. It all looked very good; to give the system a ‘dry-run’ before fixing the cameras to the exterior walls and running the cabling through the loft I laid the system out on the ground floor of the QTH.

All appeared fine, the cameras gave excellent images, the DVR and switcher unit allowed various images to be recorded and /or shown in sequence on the monitor etc.
We now we come to the crux of the matter; on scanning the lower HF bands I found a large increase in background noise from S2 to S8 when the new CCTV system was switched on. This QRM was in the form of both a wideband ‘hiss’ on 10 MHz, 7 MHz and 5 MHz and loud clicking on 3.5 MHz and 1.8 MHz.

I treasure my fairly electrically quiet situation here and I am not going to compromise it.  Therefore all this new kit would be packed away and sent back to the suppliers, but not before I had carried out some serious ‘sniffing’ with my HF scanner which confirmed my suspicions that QRM was being radiated from the Cat5 cabling.

The IP cameras are powered via the Cat5 cabling using ‘POE’ facility on both the DVR and the four-way switcher.  This was main source of the noise and is apparently caused by poor decoupling of the switching regulators when the power was ‘injecting into the network’
It is of great concern as there must be many of these CCTV systems using Cat5 cabling with power injection radiating this atrocious QRM.

As a final experiment I decided to run the cameras on a 12v linear PSU, disabling the POE on the DVR, this resulted in almost no radiated QRM from the cabling.

At this point we were called John operating GB2MGM a special event station at Mill Green Museum, he had been attracted to our QSO as we were one of the strongest signals on the band. He went on say conditions had not been ideal as most signals were very weak and suffered from deep QSB. GB2MGM was run as part of ‘museums on the air’ by members of the Southgate Radio Club. The station was running 100w into a full-wave delta loop for 80m, producing a very acceptable 57/59 signal here in Norfolk, albeit with fairly deep QSB.

After exchanging reports John bade us farewell, and went in search of more custom for his special call. That in itself shows how unsettled conditions were.

I strongly suspect that due to the prevailing conditions and their high levels of electronic soup that a number of our ‘regulars’ were unable to hear or find the group
Brian (G3OYU) who was still suffering an S8 of mush, signed saying he looked forward to the next season’s CC Nets following the ‘summer recess’.

As we had not been joined by any further CC members, it left Peter (G3RQZ) and I to ‘tie the ribbons’, but not before Peter related story about a recent visit to his GP that involved a general health check. When it came to Peter’s blood pressure the doctor looked askance at her electronic BP sensor and immediately reverted to a hand pumped analogue device. Peter was displaying a rather higher score, which resulted in words of advice from the medical professional as to future diet and exercise. The extremely high level came as a complete shock to Peter who maintains and fairly healthy lifestyle. The doctor sent Peter away to consider the situation and take action to ameliorate the situation.

On refection, Peter had arrived at the doctor’s surgery at 8am to gain an appointment that day, usually by taking a cancellation. On being allocated an appointment at 10.30am Peter decided before his health check to treat himself to a full English breakfast washed down with two or three cups of very strong espresso coffee. I don’t think anything further needs to be said!

Peter went on to say he had been listening in the early afternoon to 17m when he heard an H44 station calling CQ without a response. H44 is of course the Solomon Islands in the Pacific. Just going to show an apparent ‘dead’ band can hold some surprises. And as I have found on my nautical meanderings they are not all on the dreaded DX cluster.
Before the net I received apologies from Lawrie (G4FAA) who away in his caravan.
We closed the net at 15.25hrs. Being but a few in number and the propagation predictions being poor, it seems appropriate that the Clifton Country Club now goes into summer recess until the autumn.

The next Clifton net is scheduled for Sunday 15th October at 14.00hrs GMT the frequency will be confirmed nearer the date, when hopefully conditions will have improved.
Thanks to all those that have made the effort to join the net since last October. I look forward to working some of you during the summer months especially if you are lurking near the QRP allocation on 5.262MHz.

Meanwhile before the expected summer heat, it is time to lower the Versatower, replace the tri-band co-linear and renew the rubber boots on the 3ele Steppir.
Have a great summer and catch you on the wireless!

73es 88s 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.

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Vital Spark Archive

Vital Spark newsletter articles

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Used Ham Radio Equipment

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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