Tony has sent through this report of the Clifton Country Club Net held on Sunday 9th October 2016.
John (G3FNZ) was calling as I manipulated the controls of the ATU to improve the match on the full wave loop. He was the first station heard on the ‘new season’ of CC Nets following our summer recess. It is quite thought provoking to realise that the CC Net is in its fourteenth year.
John was quickly followed by Peter (G3RQZ); both stations were producing extremely readable signals here in Norfolk. Unfortunately this was not reciprocal as John was still burdened by high levels of noise and when the unstable propagation took its toll on my signal he was unable to hear me.
Frank (G3WMR) joined the group at 14.32 (GMT), unfortunately Frank’s audio was a little distorted and the gathered company had some difficulty resolving his transmission.
John (G3FNZ) told the net he had sold his caravan and had not been on top form over the past weeks, but he was still working on and enjoying displaying his Austin 7.
He said he was not having any difficulty hearing Peter (G3RQZ) but was experiencing difficulty with Frank and myself.
At this point Mark (G0GQT) called in, he was readable but not very strong at my QTH, also QSB took its toll.
Over the past days, I had pondered over whether to use 40m or 80m for the net.
I finally decided on 80m following a QSO with Peter (G3RQZ) 24hrs before, when I received very reassuring report of 59 while running 5w output from my KX3.
The deep QSB during the net was indicative that turbulent conditions still prevailed.
At 14.41(GMT) John (G3OGE) made his first CC Net appearance on 80m for several years. However, he had made his debut on 40m during last October’s CC Net since returning from France. John told the group that he was domiciled in the village of Hornsea on the coast about 15miles north east of Hull. John was one of the strongest signals on the net with a very solid 59+10db; this was generated from a 42m length of wire suspended from his chimney.
Peter (G3RQZ) said that John was also very strong at his QTH in Surrey. Peter was using his trusty FT1000 driving his TL922 linear. He had recently acquired a new IC7300 SDR based transceiver, which he had used yesterday during our preparatory QSO. Peter kept this very neat new radio in the conservatory which gave him access to the bands without having to leave the domestic comfort to operate. So far Peter had found the receive performance and flexibility of this new rig quite remarkable, more so considering the cost.
He went on to say although it had been some time since he had sold his Austin 7 he still had several spares that John (G3FNZ) may find useful.
As the clock registered 14.52 (GMT) Peter (G3PJB) announced his presence with a very effect 58/59 signal. Again the propagation was apparently only one way! Peter stated that he was losing my transmissions in deep troughs of QSB. The distance between us was obviously a major factor (and his local QRM). I reluctantly increased my output to 200w in an effort to compensate for this QSB.
Peter told the group that next Thursday (13/10) he will have completed his 84th orbit round our nearest star. Congratulations and many happy returns from all the Clifton Peter!
Frank (G3WMR) now remerged from the background hiss with greater degree of clarity, albeit his signal strength was not the strongest. Frank had changed his 12v supply cable to the rig. He had noted that on other QSOs he had received reports of distorted audio; he strongly suspected corrosion to the in-line fuse holders. This change had certainly rectified the poor audio quality.
Mark (G0GQT) told the group that he had been involved in the weekday activity contests on 2m, 70cms and 6m at present he held 30th position on 2m and 22nd on 70cms. Mark had achieved ‘runner-up’ in the “Sweeper Section” of the RSGB VHF Field Day. Having only just been missed the top score by a few points. Well done that man!
For those like me, who were unaware of the “Sweeper Section” in the VHF field day, Mark explained it is designed to encourage fixed stations enter the contest. However, they are not allowed to call CQ, only work those stations calling CQ. Quite an interesting concept as it should increase the number of likely contacts for the ‘portable’ stations in the field as well as stimulating involvement by those who are for whatever reason unable to operate as portable.
Mark went on to tell the group that in 2017 he was looking at working some meteor scatter as well planning another DX expedition following his highly successful activation on the Isle of Lundy earlier this year.
John (G3OGE) stated that he had employed the services of an antenna installation company to fix his 2m co-linear to his chimney; they also deployed his 42m wire antenna (approx. ½ wave on 80m). He was rather surprised when these contractors stated that they would not be coming back as they were unhappy to work at these excessive heights? Er, can’t get the staff!
Peter (G3RQZ) recalled the only contest that he entered as an individual was on 3cms when the tuning tolerances were up to 50 MHz and the QSO were usually pre-booked by telephone. He went on to tell the group that he has need of a tree surgeon as the over the past decade the trees adjacent to his mast had grown to such an extent they prevented the lowering and rotation of his mast mounted antennas.
My transmission although clearly received throughout by Peter (G3RQZ) and John (G3OGE), others in the group had struggled against heavy QSB. As time progressed towards 15.30 Hrs my signals became strong enough to overcome the local noise suffered by Peter (G3PJB), Frank (G3WMR) and Mark (G0GQT).
Local noise is the bane of amateur radio operators especially the lower bands of 40m, 80m and top-band, and more so if your QTH is in an urban or suburban environment. If you suffer from this plague you have my deepest sympathy. During the past weeks on 60m local QRM has been a recurring topic, from which I deduce that there are two ways to live with this nuisance. The first is to use internet technology to “receive” via the Hack Green SDR. The purists may not like this, but a continuing S9 hash has driven many to despair, forcing them to abandon the hobby.
Others have adopted the second method of having a separate receive antenna. This is normally a small (magnetic) loop, one or two meters in diameter. These loops need not necessarily very high and can be indoors. The directional characteristics of these loops give the ability to null out noise from a particular source, also these antenna are very much less vulnerable to spurious ‘electrical mush’. Magnet loops require re-tuning about every 35/45 KHz when used to transmit. However are much more tolerant on receive with a useable bandwidth of 150+ KHz. Only requiring one retune to cover all the SSB allocation on 80m. These receiving loop are easily constructed from 10.3 mm coax or surplus wire. There many simple designs on the internet but they all require a fairly good variable capacitor (ex-broadcast receiver). It does not have to be wide spaced as there are no high transmit voltages. A few years ago I constructed a 1mtr dia. mag-loop from UR67 it tuned 15m through to 40m and could be made work on 80m by switching a 1000pf across the 500pf VC. Did it work?
Yes extremely well! I recall listening to a VK6 working into KH7 on 20m, the loop was leaning against an internal wall of a ground floor room in my late mother-in-law’s flat. In the same situation a short loaded wire antenna had resulted in S7 to S8 of QRM.
All you need is about 3 or 4mtr of UR67 and variable capacitor some wooden dowel rods to make a frame, a slow motion or low gearing method to ease tuning. And here comes low noise reception!
Most modern receivers have so much gain an antenna with a lower efficiency can be an advantage.
Interestingly while writing this summary I came across an article on the advantages of loop antennas in ‘The RSGB Antenna Collection’ (1991edition) p.106 written by John (G3FNZ). A jolly interesting read John!
Ironically John (G3FNZ) had signed out of the net at 14.52 due to levels of local QRM obliterating the incoming signals.
We concluded the net with Peter (G3PJB) telling the group that he was looking forward to testing his newly acquired SDR ‘Play’ unit that will turn his computer in a sophisticated all band all mode receiver. This will happen once he has deciphered the 80page on line manual.
Oh Golly! Peter I wish you luck!
Prior to the net I received apologies from Brian (G3OYU) who had recently undergone surgery to restore his hearing and was awaiting further treatment at the end of October. He sends his best regards and hopes to be on November’s net. Brian OM, please accept our best wishes for a speedy recovery!
Following the net I received the following from Ian (G0PDZ) who had been unavoidably detained on RNLI duties as described below:
Apologies for missing the net on Sunday. I was out on a lifeboat on an extended passage exercise to test some new crew & a member who wants to be signed off as a navigator. We took a relief boat from Ramsgate along the north Kent coast up the Swale, at low water, out into the Medway & back. Nudging our way up what was little more than a stream with centimetres under the keel was real fun & something very different for the crew more used to operating out in the Thames Estuary or English Channel.
Ian went on say he now has long pole on the side of his QTH which support a co-linear for 6m,2m and 70cms also a 5.8GHz dish that uses Ian’s internet connection facilitate ‘echo-link’ on local 70cms repeater (GB3EK). HF wire antennas had been temporarily removed and await a new more permanent mast at the rear of the premises. All being well, Ian hopes to be on November’s CC Net.
Many thanks to all who made the effort and struggled against the less than excellent conditions that prevailed on 80m.
To avoid Remembrance Sunday on 13th November the next Clifton Country Club Net is scheduled for Sunday 6th November at 15.00hrs GMT hopefully on 3.690 MHz however depending on conditions we may opt for 7.125 MHz the frequency will be confirmed nearer the time.
Catch you on the wireless!
Especially if you happen to be lurking round 5.262 MHz the 60m QRP allocation.
73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.