Clifton Country Club Net December 14th 2014

As I tuned across an apparently dead 80m band shortly before the net start time, those now immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld “The unknown unknowns” sprang to mind.

I began to doubt that there was any propagation at all on 80m. The only stations audible were a couple of very weak DLs.

I have always advocated calling on apparently ‘dead’ bands as it often brings unexpected results.

This was to hold true; Peter (G3PJB) immediately responded to my first call with 58/59 signals closely followed by Peter (G3RQZ) with 59+10db. We were soon joined by Ian (G0PDZ) operating portable from the seafront at Westbrook, on the Isle of Thanet.

Peter (G3PJB) told the group he continues to take part in Royal Signals contests during which he met up with Frank Connor (G3WMR), who Peter remembered as a Clifton member in the ‘New Cross’ days of the club. Peter asked if we could include Frank in the mailing list.

Peter (G3RQZ) stated that Frank had his detail clearly displayed on QRZ .com.  Not being a member of, I have found people often glibly stated their details were available but were only accessible to other members…………Peter assured me that this was not the case with Frank’s entry and as ever he was correct.

Frank (G3WMR) will be included in this circulation! Welcome aboard Frank!

After the net, Ian (G0PDZ/P) sent me an attached photograph of his ‘seafront’ portable location and the following description. “The antenna is a Sotabeams 4Bandhopper dipole erected on 3x10m GRP telescopic fishing poles. Centre at about 9m the ends at about 7m agl.

clifton-net-dec14th-2014When operating on 80m I like to get the antenna ends up & away from any chance of stray hands that may grasp at a RF ‘hot’ element end. 

The rig was my Yaesu FT857D running at about 50w powered by my 110ah leisure battery”. 

Ian’s signal was 57 at the start but rapidly improved with conditions to peak at 59+. There is obviously fierce competition this year for ‘the most intrepid operator award’ between Ian and Keith (G4TJE/P).

At this point Steve (G4RFC) called in from Blackheath operating under the club’s call G3GHN. We all experienced a little difficulty with Steve’s signal as the audio was very “thin and toppy” After a number of attempts Steve informed the group he was using a trapped dipole at his QTH.

Steve had been fairly busy of late as the licence holder of GB3LW, improving the coverage and performance this UHF central London repeater. Having adopted the new wide-split protocol with output on 430.900 MHz and the input on 438.500 MHz whilst maintaining the sub tone of 82.5. All this information and that appertaining to the Clifton ARS is available on Steve’s website

I must admit I do have some concerns as there appears to be a couple of other Clifton ARS web-sites both of which I believe were enthusiastically and well-crafted by Keith (G4TJE). The first http://www.radioclubsnet/cliftonars/about.php refers to club meetings at the Mycenae Centre that is no longer used by the Clifton also a Country Club Summary from 2006. The second is:

This also gives the Mycenae Centre the meeting venue and an article the “New Frontiers of 60 metres” by me in 2007. `

The problem with this information although correct at the time is now woefully out of date and misleading. I like others wonder if there is a system for harvesting the useful parts and articles and combining this with Steve’s (G4RFC) new up to date web-page.

Ian (G0PDZ) told the group that since he retired he has been so busy he does not know how he found time to go to work ( Eh! Where have I heard that before?). Among other pursuits Ian is now the “Events Officer” for the Hilderstone Radio Club and was looking to fill the forthcoming year with exciting radio oriented activities. Ian and his son Ben can be seen on page 88 of January’s RadCom.

Reflecting back to last months net, during our recent ‘marine mobile’ activities, Suzanne and I met Bruce, an ex-ship’s Radio Officer (RO) who was happily reading our Morse keying. He had spent much of his sea going career on ships owned by Brocklebank Lines. Peter (G3RQZ) had also been an RO on Brocklebank ships stated he would be unlikely to recall this individual RO unless he was part of the amateur radio fraternity who stayed in fairly regular contact with each other. Most ROs were directly employed by Marconi Marine who supplied their personnel to a ship for the duration of a particular voyage. This and the duty cycles could make a RO a rather lonely posting.

I told the group that in the New Year Suzanne and I would be continuing our nautical meanderings, but it would necessitate flying out to Colombo (4S7) to meet the ship.  The 13.5 hour flight calls at Male in the Maldives before arriving in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately heightened security at airports and the rather sensitive attitude of the Sri Lankan administration precludes us taking any radio kit. Although I still have my Maldivian licence (8Q7CY) on the wall here in the shack.

In preparation for our next extended maritime mobile adventure next year, I am looking to upgrade my Sandpiper antenna. The G-Whip mobile seemed to fit the bill due to portability and also having individual loading coils for specific bands, it is likely to be marginally more efficient than my existing single element helical. I was very impressed by the speed of response from Geoff Brown (G4ICD) who owns G-Whip. This company has range of apparently well engineered accessories including baluns.

Peter said that Geoff was well known as a VHF DXer and has a long association with antenna manufacture.

Peter had also been using one of these very cheap ‘receiver dongles’ that covers 22 MHz to 2 GHz. It had quite an amazing sensitivity across the range, although could suffer from occasional ‘overload’. For less than £20 delivered, it offers access to SSB/CW/FM /DAB and ADSB signals when plugged into any computer with the correct downloads.

Yes Peter, I have been reading various comments on some of the Ham radio sites these ‘dongles’ certainly open a new opportunity for cost effective access to wideband multimode reception of signals from HF to microwave. See link:

At this point Brian (G3OYU) called in; although readable he was not its normal strength, only 55/56. He stated he realised there was a problem as his SWR is extremely high and he was going close to prevent any damage to his PA devices.

After the net Brian e-mailed to say that his remote auto ATU appears to be at fault. This unit would be going back to the supplier for repair under warranty.

Brian also stated that Geraldine was making good progress since return home from her recent cardiac surgery but still needed to take things easy.

Brian, we wish Geraldine a full and speedy recovery.

Steve (G3GHN) said that he had visited Jon (G8CCL) at Maldon and had taken him some components for Jon’s ‘top-band’ linear and ATU project. Steve said Jon was busy rebuilding his station since having his shack crushed by a falling tree earlier this year. Well done that man!

Unfortunately Steve’s audio was still difficult to copy. Peter (G3RQZ) suggested that it could be a problem with the centre frequency of the crystal filter. An indicator would be to see what the audio was like on the other sideband, or even better use a ‘scope’.

Peter went on to tell Steve that he would be available next year for any contests/field days. As Peter’s local club were no longer involved in these activities (Lawrie take note! another volunteer for field days).

Peter (G3PJB) agreed that Steve’s mod was distorted also he could not hear Brian (G3OYU) who would normally be an ‘end stop signal’

Peter went on to recall a QSO with Harry Stickley (VQ9HCS) who worked for Cable & Wireless based at a lighthouse on Astove Island in the Indian Ocean. It was several years before Peter received a QSL as his outgoing card from the RSGB was conveyed by helpful member aircrew traveling to Kenya then put on a supply ship that serviced the lighthouse. The returning card came back eventually via the same circuitous route.

Radio navigation is a wonderful thing, especially after several hours of flying over the empty expanse of the Indian Ocean to discover that you are looking down on small white specs 6 miles below that turn out to be The Maldives.

Peter (G3RQZ) recalled the days before GPS, when he was a Radio Officer sailing near the Maldives archipelago. When the ‘officer of the watch’ who had little idea of the ship’s position asked Peter, “Sparks get give me a bearing from the beacon on Gann”. The problem was the military service personnel on Gann were suspected of ‘monitoring’ their allocated HF frequency with the volume turned down. No one calls anyway!

At this point I heard Denis (G3OKY) calling in from Beckenham, he was only just above the ‘Euro-babble’ which was developing with the onset of dusk. Unfortunately before the next exchange QSB took its toll and Denis dipped into the noise. It is nice to know you are listening and receiving the net Denis!

With the QRM from near Europe becoming intrusive it was time to close December’s Clifton Country Club Net.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Steve (2E0GHX) of the Hastings Electronic and Radio Club for kindly posting these net summaries on the HERC web-site.

The next scheduled Country Club Net will be on Sunday 18th January at 1500hrs on or near 3.690 MHz (As the RSGB 80m CW AFS is on the previous Sunday)

Peter (G3RQZ) has kindly volunteered to ‘sit in the chair’ for this first CC Net of 2015!

Please mark this in your 2015 diary as there will be no reminder in the previous week due to the fact that the Memsahib and I will be out of the UK.


I will be running an impromptu net at 12noon on Christmas Day on or near 3.690 MHz for those Clifton members who wish pass seasonal greetings between munching mince pies and enjoying a festive beverage.

Have a great Christmas together with healthy and prosperous New Year!

Catch you on the wireless,

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.


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