Author Archives: M0TAZ

Suffolk RED Field Day

Members of the SNBCG ventured out of Essex into Suffolk on the weekend of the 14-15 July 2018 to take part in a weekend of radio with Suffolk RED. The forecast was set fair with temperatures up to 30C, and with the offer to camp overnight on site.

George M1GEO, Chris G8OCV and Dave M0TAZ setup a VHF and HF station for some radio fun.

The VHF station comprised of a 9e LFA beam, LMR-400 coax and a DG8 masthead preamp. The Icom 7100 provided multimode support on 144 MHz, with the focus for the weekend on FT8. We managed to work  50 stations from 20 Maidenhead locators all over Europe, using a sold state 300w amplifier from Linear Amp UK.

Some highlights from the VHF log included.
DL3GAK at 662KM
F4CYH at 673 KM
OZ1BEF at 693 KM
OZ1BP at 698 KM
You can see a map of the stations worked below.

Power was provided by our 2kW Honda generator.

On Saturday we enjoyed an evening BBQ, and a chance to catch up with other members of the club.

Conditions on HF were not so good. Using an IC7610 and an Expert 1.3k-FA linear operating as M1GEO, only European contacts were made. We operated through the night.The 90 QSOs from the HF operation were loosely broken as follows:

  • SSB: 41 QSOs
  • CW: 35 QSOs
  • FT8: 14 QSOs

The packing down process took some time in the scorching heat. You can see the grass (or lack thereof) was also suffering.

VHF NFD

VHF NFD is a great time to experiment with new equipment. At GB0SNB over the years we have had great success experimenting with EME and Meteor scatter on VHF, and on this occasion, we wanted to try out Richard 500w 144 MHz Linear Amplifier.

We used the 9e LFA, masthead preamp and LMR 400 coax, mounted on the 10m pump up mast. The Icom 7100 provided the all mode VHF radio.

We could only operate for around 4 hrs, but that was enough to work 70 stations in 10 countries.

Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Isle of Man, France, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands.

Our best DX was GM4PPT at 522 KM.

Altogether a very enjoyable afternoon in the sun

50 MHz Trophy Cup.

The RSGB 50 MHz trophy cup fan over the weekend of 16/17th June, taking advantage of what should be some interesting conditions on 50 MHz. SNBCG have taken part in the contest for a number of years now and typically use the following equipment.

10m pump up mast, 6e Yagi and a solid state amplifier delivering 400w.

The level of activity is dictated by the band conditions, add a little sporadic E and the QSO rates soar to near HF contesting levels. If conditions remain flat, then this is reflected in the number of QSO and the best DX achieved over the weekend.

Sadly on this weekend conditions did not live up to their best, and the sporadic E was a little too sporadic to make it interesting. We did manage to work some nice stations, and over the course of the weekend completed 130 QSO in 18 DXCC.

We closed down overnight, as the activity is particularly low so operating time was limited.

 

Upminster Windmill on the air GB2UW

As the winter months roll on, January was a chance for members of the SNBCG to activate Upminster Windmill using the special call GB2UW. Upminster windmill has an ongoing restoration project, that will see the mill completely restored with the project coming to its conclusion in 2018. 

The new visitor’s centre provided a cosy, warm and dry location for us to set up our station using HF and VHF equipment.

Despite the bitterly cold weather, and snow showers we managed to erect our antennas to cover HF, 145 Mhz VHF and 70 MHz.

HF provided worldwide communication, allowing us to contact stations from far and wide with stations often keen to hear about the historic mill. VHF provided contact with more local stations typically up to 60 miles, with many local amateurs already aware of the project but keen to understand its progress.

We operated a variety of modes,  CW, Data modes and SSB depending on band conditions. We would like to extend our thanks to The Friends of Upminster Windmill for their hospitality and we wish them luck with the ongoing project.

QSL is electronic via LoTW and EQSL.cc

You can read more about the ongoing project on their website.

CQWW SSB 2017

The CQWW SSB event runs over the last weekend of October and covers all contest bands from 1.8 MHz to 28 MHz. The event is one of the largest international events of the HF calendar and encourages stations to operate from far-flung and exotic parts of the world.

We opted for the sun-drenched shores near Ongar in Essex, using our contest site at the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker. We had decided before the event it would be more of a casual entry, as the contest had started at 00:00 Hrs on the previous Friday/Saturday morning. We have previously taken part in the event, with a most notable event in 2015.

This year we used a 7 MHz vertical, with elevated radials, and a 3e multiband beam for 28/21/14 MHz @ 10m.

3e Multiband Beam7 MHz Vertical

The HF bands remained in good shape, with some good openings on 28 and 21 MHz and the vertical worked well at 7 MHz. The lower HF bands were predictably crowded, so I concentrated on search and pounce on the higher bands.

George M1GEO and Fred G3SVK with a great sunset behind.

QSO and DXCC per band.

28 MHz provided some interesting DX with a lot of station from Argentina, Brazil, French Guiana, Chile, Suriname, Namibia, South Africa, Qatar and Reunion Island.

28 MHz QSO Map

All Bands QSO Map

In total, we worked 417 QSO in 76 DXCC and had some fun on the bands.

 

CQ WW RTTY Contest

Members of the SNBCG took part in the CQWW RTTY contest over the weekend of 23rd and 24th September.

George M1GEO used his Icom 7100 and solid state amplifier to deliver 400w, using an 80m dipole on the SNBCG tower. The dipole with the aid of an ATU was used on 20, 40 and 80m.

Station two Dave M0TAZ used his Icom 7600 and solid state amplifier to deliver 400w to a ground mounted 1/4 wave for 40m. The 40m vertical is a tried and tested combination, although this year we tried elevated radials after reading an article by Rudy N6LF.

Rudy has completed some extensive testing on ground v elevated radials, you can form your own opinion by reading the article.

Over the course of the weekend, we worked 700 stations in 60 DXCC.

Fred G3SVK also worked 400 stations on CW, and reported some good DX was to be found on 20, 30 and 40m.

 

The weather was kind, allowing us to operate outdoors in our tent. Fred and Dianne provided some excellent food thought the weekend.

A very enjoyable weekend, and nice to see so many members and friend of the club lending a hand.

SNBCG and LEFARS Big Radio Weekend

The August bank holiday provided a great time to play some radio, and join forces with another club for the weekend. Many of team SNBCG are also members LEFARS, and with an active portable group, this was set to be a busy weekend.

I arrived on Friday evening with Peter G0IPA and Dave G7UVW to setup the initial masts, we put up the 144 MHz beam  (9e + mast head LNA).

The 18 MHz 3e beam was recently constructed and required some further testing, although initial results were very promising.

The 7 MHz vertical was constructed from push up poles and 8 radials.

A BBQ was planned for Saturday evening, with Ron G6LTT, Karen and Sharon doing a great job in feeding the masses. Dave M0MBD also provided a very nice Chili con carne with rice. We also had burgers and sausages and some salad, a really nice and very welcome meal. The weather was excellent, with temperatures getting to 27c in the day, and not falling below 18 in the evenings and ideal for camping. The turn out from both clubs was excellent with members travelling from far and wide to partake.

A WSPR transmitter was setup for the weekend using the QRP Labs with a 200mW output into some wire. This provided an indication of the band conditions and was active throughout the weekend.

John M0IDA dropped in on Sunday with his arrow satellite antenna and provided a demonstration on working through satellites.

Altogether a very successful weekend with members operating on 3.5, 7, 10,14, 18, 21, 24,50 and 145 MHz over the weekend, making close on 1,000 QSO in 80 countries.

Further pictures from the weekend are available here.

70 MHz Cumulative Contest #4

The RSGB CC run a series of cumulative contests through the year, you can partake in either a fixed station or out portable. I prefer to operate out portable, as this gives me a significant advantage to attempting this from home.

Using our contest site at Kelvedon Hatch SNB and with the assistance of John M0UKD we set up the following station.

12m Racal 714 push up mast

Homebrew 4e 70 MHz beam a DK7ZB design

Icom 7100

Honda EU20 generator

Expert SPA 1.3k FA Solid state amplifier

The weather was forecast to be dry and breezy and so we opted to set up in the fields overlooking the bunker and the mast. The contest ran from 3 till 5 pm, and with around 1hr setup time to organise the portable station, you can maybe see why some people operate from home. It’s quite a lot of effort for a 2hr contest, but on the positive side, you would expect the activity to be condensed into this short timeframe.

Setting up the beam.

The makeshift shack to keep the wind and the odd spot of rain off.

The Expert 1.3k FA operating on 70 MHz

Over the course of the next 2 hrs, we worked 45 stations, in 4 countries. England, Wales, Guernsey and Ireland. Our best DX was  GI4SNA at 527 KM.

You can view the claimed scores online.

50 MHz RSGB Trophy Cup

Members of the SNBCG once again took part in the 50 MHz Trophy Cup. The contest runs for 24 hours from 3pm on Saturday. This year, the contest had been booked for one of the hottest days of the year, with temperatures reaching 30°C (around 220°F in old money).

We set up on Saturday morning, using a 5 element 50MHz beam and a 10m pump up mast.  A solid state amplifier provided 400W and a light weight tent to keep off the sun.

The most important issue throughout the weekend was trying to keep cool, with copious cold drinks from the fridge. Fred G3SVK was kind enough to lend us a fan and this became an essential item for the shack.

Fred spent some time operating on CW, working mostly EU with the odd notable exception.

In total, we worked 250 stations, with our best DX being 5B4AAB at 3161KM. You can view the claimed scores here and map here.

1/4 wave on 80 meters

The plan was to put up an 18 meter (60 ft) spider beam roach pole and operate a 1/4 wave on 3.7 MHz. We have used both the 12 m and 18 m roach poles from Spiderbeam with the intention of using them to support inverted V antennas and verticals. Previously we used the 12 m on a number of occasions to support a doublet for portable operating, and the 18 m to make a top loaded vertical for 1.9 MHz with an inductor.

On this occasion, we wanted to try a 1/4 wave on 80 m and the 18 m is ideal for that purpose. The pole can be fully extended and then walked up from the ground, but you will often need to use jubilee clips around the poles to stop it collapsing under its own weight. Like the smaller poles the sections do pull out and lock, but in a breeze, the sections can often rock back and forward and then without notice concertina down. Here you can see the roach pole and me for scale.

Using 6 radials and a wire fence the antenna was ready for some testing. The VSWR was 1.1.5, I think with a larger ground plane this may have been lower, but it was acceptable for our purpose.

The antenna was guyed off at 4 and 12 meters, this is essential in even the lightest of winds.

With the addition of a IC-7600 and solid state amplifier, the station was ready to go.

Unfortunately, the bands have been suffering from disturbed conditions due to solar flares, so despite our best efforts, we were unable to work big DX. We did work quite a few European stations, and also a fair few UK and Irish stations.  The reports received from the antenna and the reception performance was very good, and I was able to receive stations from the USA later in the evening. Unfortunately, the USA stations were in a net, so I didn’t disturb them.

The weather also provided some anxiety, over the course of the weekend the wind picked up to a fairly constant 20 MPH breeze. Thankfully despite some groaning the guys held and the antenna came down without incident.

Over the course of the weekend, we worked 80 stations from 22 DXCC.