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

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