Clifton Country Club Net Sunday 15th June 2014

Firstly please accept my apologies for delay in producing this summary, but unfortunately other very pressing issues demanded my attention as a matter of priority.

This was the final net before the ‘summer recess’ the weather in most of the UK had been fair with the exception of those of us residing the eastern coastal fringes as an anticyclone over Northern Ireland was sweeping cloud and some drizzle off the North Sea.

I was not confident that many would abandon their outdoor activities encouraged by the weekend’s short burst of summer.

Conditions on 80m had shown some recent signs of recovery in the evenings,  unfortunately afternoon propagation was non-existent, hence 40m was our chosen band.

Tuning across 40m before the scheduled net time I found numerous UK special event station taking part in  ‘museums on the air’ weekend. The lack of ‘near continental’ stations was indicative the ‘skip’ was very short, with little or no QRN.

The apparent stable conditions belied the deep turbulence dwelt below the surface, as we were to find during the next hour.

Again this month 7.126Mhz was where we pitched our Clifton ‘tent’, I had hardly released the PTT on the desk microphone to gain an immediate from Colin (G0UJK) who answered my cursory call at 14.48 hrs BST.

Colin was a solid 59+10db from his Swanley QTH, he told me he had just worked an IOTA station on Islay off the coast of Scotland. His ‘Super-Loop’ antenna was continually outperforming more conventional aerials. Although he did suffer from local electrical noise that was occasionally as high as S7.

Colin had been experimenting with a ‘fan of dipoles’ to improve his access to the higher frequencies. He had taken the less than usual option of deploying these dipole antennas in a vertical mode, thereby maximising the effect of low angle of radiation associated with verticals in an effort to improve his DX capability.

We took a break at 15.00hrs to call in other members. Ron (G3GZH) who is normally a fairly readable signal here in Norfolk, was only just detectable. Although Colin fared better than I and heard Ron giving Colin a 59+ report. This was a precursor to the unsettled conditions that would prevail for the rest of the afternoon.

Shortly after Peter (G3RQZ) romped in from Godstone with a 59+20db signal stating that he had been listening for a few minutes and was also having difficulty hearing Ron (G3GZH), but also my signals had plunged in strength from 59+20db to an S3; these extreme swings in signal strength were sudden and very deep.

Keeping the theme on antennas I told the group that Terry ( M0TNE) who lived in my village had applied for planning approval to erect a 7.6 m mast at the rear of his bungalow. In the mean time because he would be under scrutiny he had removed his delta loop antenna, therefore he had no HF capability. I was convinced as Terry had not received any objections from his immediate neighbours and that there were a number of other constructions within 100m of his QTH that were in excess of 15m in height, such as two wind-turbines and a micro-wave link comms tower at the village school, his application should pass without problems.

Colin stated that he still had not pursued his application for a versa-tower, as he was convinced that the ‘authorities’ would not approve. I recall having this conversation with Colin some three years ago, and I still maintain my  stance that if you don’t ask you don’t get.

I also have a theory that has yet to be disproven, that most planning departments are there to assist, and if approached in the right way can be very helpful.

More so in the last few years, when most local council planning departments have been ‘outsourced’ to private companies and that revenue streams are paramount.

Peter(G3RQZ) stated that he has had his mast  for over twenty-one years and  never felt the need to apply for permission being hidden from view by the trees that surround his property. After that period Peter you can apply to have it formalised and they cannot refuse providing you have sufficient evidence that it has been in situ in excess of seven years.

Peter went on to say that trees have now encroached so much that he is unable to rotate his HF beam. At present the mast supports his 80 trap dipole and a dipole for 60m.

Colin said that he had worked some of the ‘special calls’ in CW associated with the ‘D-Day’ landings in Normandy has also made the trip into Angola on twenty meters.

At this point, Denis (G3OKY) called in from Beckenham, again although just audible the conditions were not in Denis’s favour, as his signals rapidly swung from 58  down to a whisper in seconds. It was nice to know that both Ron and Denis were there, unfortunately both not being blessed with very efficient antenna systems they were victims of the transient conditions. Even my signals were suffering from a similar fate and I was using a full-wave 80m loop supported by both my 20m versa-tower and surrounding trees.

Peter (G3RQZ) said that although they had a couple of severe thunder storms with very heavy rain over the past few days the ground remained stubbornly dry, such that a stream adjacent to his land was dry. Ironically, he expected the water authorities would declare a drought in the next few weeks.

He went on to say, that he was very disappointed by the lack of sporadic ‘E’ propagation this summer especially on 4m. There was a theory being mooted that this was as a direct result of lack of ionisation of the ‘E’ layer due to the abandonment of extremely powerful VHF analogue TV systems throughout Europe.

That is an interesting concept, Peter!

Being a regular inhabitant of 60m Peter went on to tell the group that there was a new beacon HB9AW.

Although the 60m band has not been released for amateur radio in Switzerland, the Sursee Amateur Radio Club has obtained the necessary official authorizations for a Swiss 5 MHz Experimental Beacon project. Using the callsign HB9AW, the beacon became operational on 5291 kHz at 0000hrs on the 1st of June.

The transmission commences with the call sign HB9AW in CW (100HA1B), followed by five 2 seconds-long dashes. The dashes are each accurately attenuated in the EIRP power sequence 10W / 5 W / 1Watt / 100mW concluding with 10mW and currently repeats every 5 minutes, commencing on the hour.

Thanks for that information Peter, I and fellow 60m users will now listen for the new beacon.

Peter reported that conditions were taking their toll on my transmission that I was dipping below his noise floor making reliable communication difficult.

But not as bad as the QRM on 160m, which has been steadily increasing as a result he has abandoned a Croydon based net on top-band because the ‘electronic soup’ had reached S9.

Likewise, I too have abandoned 160m due to a marked increase in QRN since October 2012 when ADSL2 was introduced into our area. As all our telephone lines are pole mounted the radiated signals were detectable up to 2.2Mhz. This combined with a NATO ‘Stanag’ transmission  centred on 1.898Mhz with sidebands spreading 500Khz either side obliterated any signal under S9.

At 15.25 (BST) Peter signed out, wishing the group a happy and healthy summer and looked forward to the next season of Clifton Nets in October.

Colin( G0UJK) said that in lieu of the Clifton’s entry into last weekend’s HF field Day he could not resist the need to get on the air and give some point away. He made 70+ contacts before other priorities drew him away from the wireless.

Well done that man!

As the time reached 15.35hrs (BST), Peter (G7ULL) called in from Chislehurst with a very respectable 59+10 signal. Somewhat different from last month, when for some unknown reason he was barely readable. Peter went on to explain that he had replaced his G5RV antenna with a brand new one and that he strongly suspected that there was a break somewhere in the slotted feeder as the original aerial had been in situ for several winters. Nice to hear you again Peter, unfortunately it was not reciprocal as Peter said that I was fading out and he was having difficulty in copying me.

A very apt time to call a close to the net before reliable communication totally broke down.

This had been small but enthusiastic net working against fairly difficult propagation

I received apologies from:

Lawrie (G4FAA), who  was taking part in the Practical Wireless 144 Mhz QRP contest.

Brian ( G3OYU), who was indisposed as he was awaiting surgery on Monday 16th June. We all wish you a speedy  recovery Brian.

Jon ( G8CLL), who was still working hard to salvage his shack that been demolished by a falling tree.

John ( G3FNZ), who was recovering from surgery on his arm and wrist. Get well soon John.

May Suzanne and I take this opportunity to wish all Clifton Country Club members a splendid summer, enjoy the weather and good DX.

We look forward to working you all again in the new season of nets which is scheduled to commence on 19th October, the day following our return from a cycling tour of the Drakensburg Mountains, South Africa. The net will be either on 40m or 80m depending on conditions, I will notify you nearer the date.

Just a final thought, as the next Clifton CC net will be after the forthcoming referendum for Scottish independence, will GM or 2M calls exist in October?

Catch you on the wireless!

73 es 88s de Tony es Suzanne.

PS. Also sent via G3GHN Reflector.

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