Finding buried objects by Radar

The recent pictures in the Press of a man pushing around an enormous trolley full of gear in a search for the remains of unfortunate females, revived memories. In Egypt in 1941 I was told to have a look whether Landmines could be detected by Radar. We had recently cleaned up the ‘Polish’ mine detector so that it really worked, and made a study of the various German ones which also did work. At this time our Labs were being built and we worked in GHQ Middle East, but were billeted on a unit some 10 Kilos down the Alex. Road. The CO of this unit was a certain Colonel Windham, who was widely credited with having invented the aerial of this name, which of course he had not. Why the investigation was required, I cannot imagine. Both ourselves and the enemy were doing quite well with the detectors we had.

After a bit of head scratching we decided that a very high frequency would appear to be necessary. About that time the Acorn valve came into our hands in small numbers from America and from captured enemy equipment. With these the frequency could be pushed up to 600 Megs or more so it looked the best bet. Accordingly we made a quite small device which was basically a Super-regenerative receiver. All such transmit like mad. This had rods for Aerials and a high Quench frequency. This was not particularly directional but reflections from tin cans in the workshop did give small variations of the DC current supply, which were enhanced of by a sort of bridge circuit and a sensitive meter. Two Acorn valves in a balanced arrangement consumed about 2 watts supplied be heavy batteries in a shoulder pack.

I took the completed unit to a lonely spot near our billet free from spectators, native or otherwise, near the remains of the Abu Roash Pyramid. ( This area is now a Game reserve which rich tourists shoot the Desert Hare ). The device was quite good at finding passing convoys on the Alex. Road, but definitely misleading when looking for buried tins. The Acorn valves also did not like it and lasted only a few hours. Doubtless the ground was full of rocks, old foundations of buildings and the like. Anyway it looked as if anything better was going to be both heavy and bulky. I told my masters that they would have to wait until technology caught up. How right I was.

This set me thinking, and I produced a paper which was submitted to quite a high Committee in the UK. It had two suggestions. Firstly that mines could be fitted with Bakelite cases, and thus defy detection by the opposition. Secondly, that as the German mine detectors produced enough power in their searchloop to operate a sensitive relay, it would be amusing to fit some mines with a fuse which would eliminate the seachloop and even the operator. In due course I got an answer. It was pointed out that we also would not be able to find the Bakelite cased mines, there they had a point. But to the second idea I was told that “it would be unsporting”. There was a war on.

E.Vast – June 1994.

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G3MGQ’s Month on the Air

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Vital Spark Archive

Vital Spark newsletter articles

Take a look through a large selection of articles written by club members over the years which have been published in the monthly Vital Spark newsletter .

Used Ham Radio Equipment

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UK Amateur Radio Repeaters

UK repeaters

Click button above for full list, or a local repeater callsign below for info.

GB3EB 2m in Uckfield- Active
MB6EB 2m DStar Node in Eastbourne - Active
MB6RY Wires-X DigiGate in Broad Oak - Active
GB3HE 70cm in Hastings - Active
GB7HE 70cm DStar in Hastings - Coming soon
GB3ZX 70cm in Eastbourne - Low Power
GB3JT 23cm ATV in Hastings - NoV cleared
GB7RY 70cm X-Wires Repeater Rye - Active
GB7ES Eastbourne - DSTAR Rpt. - Active
GB3ES 2m in Hastings - Active

For a complete list of repeaters, head over to
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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

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