Update: 22nd February, 2015.
A busy start to the year, that is for sure. Having moved my shack upstairs into a new permanent location, my activity on-air has started to take off properly having configured my FT450-D with a very high performance RF choke which has been attached to the already efficient 9:1 UnUn that I have installed. The addition of the choke has reduced RFI in the shack (and the 355ft indoor end-fed antenna with 1/4 wave counterpoises) to very good levels indeed, allowing me to easily tune 30-10m without breaking a sweat. Much reading up on counterpoises and EMC over the last couple of months resulted in several experiments with counterpoise lengths and also highlighted how important it is to insulate the ends of them properly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the noise 'pickup' on the counterpoises is remarkably high but can be tamed significantly if well insulated. More trials with them are just around the corner and will be experimenting further with highly insulated counterpoise insulated terminators using some 3 inch lengths of 15mm pvc tube and epoxy resin with the cp wire buried in the centre using a spacer to keep it centrally aligned in the tube.
Having not seen this technique used before on indoor installations where RFI issues with end-feds are commonplace due to the RF heading back to the station, I'm keen to see how it works out and will take some radiation measurements as I try this out.
Being a fan of digimodes (as is my friend Stuart G4WCP in Brighton) and with the opportunity of being able to use a workable indoor antenna setup on SSB with the new end-fed, I spent a couple of days working digimodes and had a lot of success with both local European contacts and quite a few stations further away. Two days ago to my amazement I managed to make contact with a VP8 Falkland Islands based station just under 8000 miles away using 20w, The contact was made around 9pm GMT and while brief certainly opened my eyes to how well the less-efficient digital modes can work when the conditions are favourable. My way of thinking is that if someone can make it to the Falklands using a short off-cut of wire indoors then every improvement to efficiency will yield further results that are well worth hunting for.
The contacts that I have made over the last few days have been interesting with an Indian station responding to a call on 30m though sadly my response missed the boat as the signal broke apart due to RX de-sense caused by a strong local transmission. The miscreant responsible will experience the UHF cattle-prod effect again in the near future along with some real-time spectrum logging and RDF.
Update: 27th November, 2014.
Well, last night at the Taplin Centre was quite superb and a very well attended evening at the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club's venue in St. Leonards, East Sussex. John Elgar-Whinney treated us to a talk and hands-on evening displaying what was apparently a small selection of his war time spy radios and two Enigma machines from his extensive collection.
Fascinated by the German-made Enigma I used it while powered and adjusted the encryption rotors to see the output on the Enigma machines display change magically to different characters upon each turn of the rotor. John explained that the 3 rotor version was capable of 59,000,000,000,000 combinations, with 5 rotor versions being able to generate many more. The Swiss-made Enigma by comparison had internals which reminded me of a very heavy-duty pocket watch movment, with the typing rail assembly having the appearance of a vehicles camshaft. Superbly made and certainly built to last, the Swiss machine's output was to a mechanically driven inked 'ticker tape' from which the message would be passed to a Morse operator ready for transmission.
In addion to the Enigma machines, John also brought several spy radios along with him, two of which were installed in their original briefcases with John answering any questions fielded to him. It was interesting to note the many original accessories which he had managed to acquire over the years including plenty of original tank coils which were tightly wound by experienced hands, crystals, spare valves, headsets, even the original power cables with ceramic tube insulators for the mains conductors at the rig end. One day I would like to see the rest of John's collection because quite simply it is one of the best collections I think anyone could possibly hope to see short of 'borrowing' Bletchley Park and making off with the goods.
Sadly the clubs chairman, Wilf Gaye (M0GYE) died this month after being a HERC club member for many years and was a very keen QRP and SDR radio, not leaving his Flex SDR out of sight at any time and using it at the clubs BBQ field days at Fairlight. Also, sadly Chris Bittan (G1TBO), a local Bexhill amateur who I had the pleasure of meeting on several occasions over the two years also went SK the previous month. Chris was a very generous, kind hearted amateur who helped me right at the start and as time went by I had the pleasure of helping him adjust his antennas as his health declined and was unable to do so himself. Phil, G3MGQ spoke fondly in remembrance of Wilf before the club and a minutes silence was observed in the memory of Wilf and both will be missed.
Good DX and 73,
Update: 9th November, 2014.
The project is involving a big team effort which will see the repeater itself being constructed by participating amateurs from the Eastbourne Electronics and Radio Club (EREC), as well as other volunteers from the surrounding areas. We are very lucky to have made big strides together over the last year or two and am more than a bit excited about how the outlook for amateur radio is destined to improve on the South East coast in the near future. I should also mention that Dave is looking for assistance with GB3JT and if anyone would like to get involved then simply get in touch with Dave (G8PUO) and have a chat.
To say this is excellent news is an understatement having just recently seen GB3HE our local 70cm repeater based in Hastings, East Sussex get an upgrade with a 4-stack dipole antenna and is by all accounts performing well with superb coverage.
And there is more good news for amateurs who 'fly' around the South East coast.
Dan (MOHOW) of the Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society has recently acquired an NoV to run MB6RY, a FUSION Wires-X digigate in Broad Oak, near Brede, East Sussex which is going to provide an alternative digital voice option in addition to the growing number of D-Star repeaters which are becoming quite popular down this way.
Having spent the evening moving my radio gear out into the conservatory ready for the darker months which are now starting to creep in I finished off the evening reading up on my current Advanced course subject and spent some time practicing Morse using an online application which so far has helped me up to a whole 6wpm (yes, I won't be breaking any speed records just yet!). Jakey, G3JKY who is an avid Morse fan very kindly donated some Morse tapes to help me practice, and have already been put to work. On occasion I am finding that the code makes a musical sense, and that feeling suddenly dissapears not to be seen again for some time. I just need to keep up the practice! I should also mention Richard G1ILN who also gave me some useful confidence building advice some weeks ago and hope to make contact with both of them on CW in the near future .. and anyone who doesn't mind slow Morse of course!
I spent some time trawling my logs and spent a little time putting all my eQSL cards which other amateurs have kindly during the earlier part of the year when I took my first good stab at working on HF. In number, the QSL cards look quite colourful and you can find the collection of them (and maybe your QSL card!) on my Amateur Radio FlickR account if you care to look.
With my HF rig set up again ready for use I am going to reach out as best I can with my station and see if I can get out as far as Canada/USA with some adjustments to my end-fed antenna which currently needs a bit more elevation to get over there but we will see!
Update: 18th August, 2014.
With my Advanced licence training being well underway now with the Bath Advanced Distance Learning Course (BBADL) led by Steve Hartley G0FUW, has meant my head has been buried in training materials and revision in what little spare time I have had over the last couple of months but I have spent some time researching some interesting audio topics alongside the coursework.
As I have always been a keen fan of most things audio I spent some time educating myself on acoustic resonance which runs alongside the principles of resonance found in electronic circuits.
The Kundst Tube video demonstrates standing waves in pipes very well, the harmonic frequencies of which fall in line with the length of the tube in question and whether the tube is open or closed. Interestingly after some experimentation I found that a the main 8 inch waste water pipe as used in most domestic plumbing applications is around 20-22 feet long when run from a first floor (with an ambient temp. circa 20c), which produces a sub audible resonant fundamental frequency at 25hz, with harmonics on 50hz, 75hz, 100hz and 125hz. After some testing using an inexpensive subwoofer speaker found that strange additional artifacts are caused which sound very much like whistling, chirruping and other unusual sounds, some of which are quite unpleasant to listen to, which vary according to the frequency applied. The video above demonstrates this in places and makes for a good primer in understanding acoustic resonance. The following video showcases acoustic levitation and standing wave manipulation is well worth a look too.
One other interesting point is that if one so chooses, the position in the pipe where the standing waves are caused can be controlled by frequency alone, so co-resonating (giving the impression of spaciality of sound in one place when created in multiple places) an object on the first floor using an pre-selected frequency can be achieved from the ground floor with some practice.
In other news, I laid in a new counterpoise for my 66ft end fed which was dug into an 8 inch deep trough with the radiator raised to about 12 feet at the end of the garden so I am now set for operating on HF again and put my TenTec to work alongside the FT-450D which has turned out to be a great rig to start out with. I have also started to get more comfortable with Morse and have been practicing up to about 7-8 wpm though still needs a lot of work but practice makes perfect.
Until next time, good DX and 73!
Update: 28th June, 2014.
The last few months have been very busy having attended two RAYNET local emergency comms support events in Hastings and Eastbourne and set about developing new web sites to assist my local clubs and radio organisations to work better on the web and attended several meets at the local radio clubs one of which was particularly interesting recently, a talk about WW2 Royal Signal Wireless Operators given by Mike Hedges (G0JHK).
I've been playing with Morse code at home for a while using various tutoring programs to help me get to grips with what still is very hard work for me. Fortunately the Hastings Electronics and Radio club are in the process of starting a Morse code learning 'school' designed to assist new Morser's like myself into CW. It is a daunting prospect. With so many experienced CW'ers around me in both HERC and BSARS, the ex-signalmen tap away at baud-rate like speeds which I simply cannot keep up with at the moment. Since I purchased my first 'scout' type straight key, a tiny wooden based unit which put too much pressure on the finger joints to use well am now seeking something a bit larger, possibly an ex-British Navy Morse key if I can find one that is still in good workable condition.
The recent HERC annual BBQ field day took place at Fairlight, its usual venue, where club members operated on HF and VHF for the whole day into the evening.
The day went well from what I have heard so far and in the morning when I was present several younger local amateurs were present (much like myself!) who were toting their rigs and quite game for an afternoon of operating. The Wx held up and it was fine and plenty of operating was done. Rob and Phil did very well and it was also good to see Wilf there too, and according to inside sources (sauces?) the BBQ was rather good too. Isn't BBQ *always* good!?
My good friend Rob (M0LYD) brought along his self-built ILER-40m radio to the BBQ field day as well as home made DDS to widen the frequency range and from what I heard it was working very well for him. Rob also entered his ILER-40 transceiver into the recent HERC Construction Evening and came in first place, quite unsuprisingly as the build was excellent. Robs effort has inspired me since to get more involved with construction myself.
My first radio project was a small mint-tin cased 40m QRP TX and looking back at when I built the little rig originally know that the project was far too small to work with for a first time project as much as I enjoyed building it. The next one will certainly be a bit more user-friendly to construct and could be a VLF receiver which has tempted me for some time as well as a 40m TX for outdoor opping. At this point in time the thought of travelling around with my FT-450D and using it for field use is just a bridge too far so a small self-constructed rig seems like the most sensible way to go.
A few days ago while at the Brede Steam Amateur Radio society shack the other day, Dan (M0HOW) a good friend of mine kindly donated a 3 EL tape beam for 2m for me to try out for RDF and simplex/repeater use to see if I can find my way into the local 2m repeater (GB3ES) which has proved to be elusive due to my QTH's geographic position which sits down in a built up area in a dip, with the repeater being situated low on the other side of a reasonably tall hill. There is talk of GB3ES moving to a suitably elevated in the near future but 6 months have passed and nothing has happened or any communication to do with it which is a shame. This hasn't impacted the popularity of GB3HE infact quite the reverse. Dave Williams and his repeater group RILGES recently aquired the NoV to GB3HE, upgraded the hardware significantly and installed it an excellent site at one of the most elevated positions in Hastings. Despite the fact that it is currently is operating on low power its range is very good indeed and is fast becoming a popular place to monitor and use.
There is a lot more planned this year for both the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club and the Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society including special events. The Lighthouses and Lifeboats on the Air is always a good one and now is just a few short months away. If it is anything like last year, it will be a real corker.
Having used a homebrew 66ft longwire and counterpoise for a few weeks and getting fairly average results I picked up a G Whip Widebander 9:1 UnUn and 66ft kevlar radiator with 60ft counterpoise and have since made very good progress on 20m and 10m. The FT450D tunes the antenna easily on most bands with a low SWR and has made working datamode contacts a breeze using HRD's DRM 780. The next step is to elevate the antenna further from 2.5m to around 4m-7m in a sloped configuration.giving some push towards the South. Some experimentation is required to make the most of the Widebander and although I have yet to try it in the field believe that one is a keeper being bulletproof in most respects and easy to rig up and take down in just a few minutes.
Pictured below are the internals of the Widebanders 9:1 UnUn buried in resin and insulated with PTFE, the UnUn really is a fine performer. Long live the wire antenna!
73, and good DX! de Steve.
Hastings Electronics and Radio Club
If you are interested in my home radio club, then visit HERC where the clubs commitee members maintain the monthly events, contributions and news. I am also the clubs webmaster and have a position on the committee and have recently attended (June 2013), the clubs annual BBQ field day at Fairlight where the members operated from a very pleasant location close to the South Coast in Hastings, East Sussex, England. The club is one of the largest in the South East of England with over 60 members and its club house, The Taplin Centre, is located in John Logie-Baird used to live while he was developing television. The official HERC site also has a handy page listing the many UK amateur radio repeaters along with local amateur radio news, event reports, repeater updates and more.
Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society
I joined BSARS in June 2013, a club which has it's own shack located behind the First Brede Scouts facility in Brede which is just a few miles north-east of the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club.
BSARS operates at the shack almost every Tuesday, where members are able to visit, socialise and enjoy the use of the clubs equipment including a 160m Carolina Windom and a tri-band beam on a 40ft mast as well as VHF and UHF using the clubs TS-2000 and other rigs for data modes/CW.
The club often operates special events including the Armed Forces Day at Alexander Park in Hastings, and Lighthouses on the Air among others. They are *always* enjoyable days out with the ops often making some very interesting QSO's along the way. You can visit the Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society's website and find out more about the club, it's events and of course the members.
Eastbourne Radio and Electronics Club
I joined EREC September 2014, a local club based not far from where I used to live in Eastbourne a few years ago. The club is fairly new and is run by Dave Williams G8PUO who runs a network of repeaters through an organisation called RILGES (Repeater and Internet Linking Group of East Sussex) which he also operates. GB3HE, a 70cm repeater based in Hastings provides superb coverage for amateurs from much further afield. I have met a few of the members previously including Dave himself as well as Paul M0LRE, Huw and others, all of whom have put in a lot of work and effort into getting EREC off the ground and are in the process of building more foundations for amateurs to enjoy in the years to come. To find out more about EREC, visit the official Eastbourne Radio and Electronics Club.
I have been working on a personal AR website which is almost complete and can be visited at Amateur Radio Ham if you would like to stop by and have a look.
You can find me on twitter @amateurradioham. I keep an eye on it once or twice a day so feel free to send a tweet or follow me for a reciprocal followback. You might like to take a look at a large selection of nice amateur radio images over at FlickR on amateur radio or take a look at my pins over at Pinterest on electronics and AR, or take a look at video of the late John Taplin, founder of the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club on the 2E0GHX Youtube channel. If you prefer paper communications my details can be found right here on QRZ.com, or if you would like to drop me an email please visit my personal site (URL above) where you will find my contact email address in the footer of the sites pages.
If you need to verify any QSO information please get in touch with me and I will be happy to help. You may find my contact logs uploaded to the following QSL sites which may also help if you wish to look for
Some of my affiliations.
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