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G0OUR Affiliated to the OU Club and the Radio Society of Great Britain

If there is a red cross at the top of this newsletter it indicates that your subscription for 2002 has not been received.If so, your continued support of the club would be much appreciated. Subs remain at five pounds per anum. Cheques payable to OUARC should be sent to the Treasurer, Fraser Robertson, S1021 Venables Building, OU, MK7 6AA.This newsletter is longer than usual thanks to submissions from Paul G0WAT and Adrian M0ANS.

I’m very sorry to report that Frank Owen G3ACT passed away in January after suffering a heart attack at Christmas.Frank was a volunteer reader of OU course material for visually impaired students and had been a club member for two years.

This years AGM was held onFriday 18thJanuary, and we had a good turn out again with twelve members attending.Jeff Walsh 2E1AOJ has taken over from Tom G0PSU as Equipment Officer. The other club officers remain unchanged.Copies of the minutes can be obtained from

Following discussion at the AGM, we purchased a used FT8500 in February for use on the packet node.The OU club agreed that we could use the money we had been granted towards a replacement HF linear (which we had been unsuccessful in obtaining) to buy this radio.The radio is now in use on the 9k6 link to Bedford, where an identical radio is used at the other end of the link.The TM441, formerly on the Bedford link has been switched to the Didcot link, finally freeing up the clubs IC471 70cm multimode rig. This has now been returned to the shack and shares the colinear with our TR9130 2m multimode via a diplexer.We’ve been using it to monitor a FM voice repeater/internet gateway (GB3BN), which has stations as far afield as New Zealand regularly working through it.

Our activities earlier this year were somewhat curtailed due to mains power being cut to most of the field site, and hence the shack. This was due to part of the 3-phase supply system being deemed unsafe by electrical contractors working for Estates Division.I’m pleased to say that following a period of complaints, arm-twisting and negotiation, the necessary refurbishment was carried out and power was restored on 27th March.

We have been reminded of the Edgware & District ARS straight key evening, which is on Friday 10th May starting at 7pm on 80m, around 3.54MHz.This is not a contest but a chance to enjoy a leisurely Morse contact or two. It is an ideal opportunity for anyone feeling a bit rusty on HF CW to have a go.

We have a pitch booked at the DDRC boot sale, Stockwood Park, Luton, on Sunday 12th May.This will be our first sale of the year and any help on the day will be appreciated.

Open Day is on Saturday 22nd June. The OU Physics dept. whose observatory is near the shack, are planning to have a marquee on the field site, so we can expect lots of visitors. The radio club will be publicised in both the Science and Technology open day booklets. We hope as many members as possible will be able to make it, and all are welcome to take a stint at operating.

Linda M0CMK has taken over from Ian G0TLB as the clubs QSL manager. Linda comes will lots of experience as she is already QSL manager for YB0ABB, GM0F, 2S0F and GM4AFF, and used to do the honours for the Northampton club – G3GWB/G8LED. As well as dealing with our paper cards, Linda has cleared our backlog of EQSL’s, which seem to be getting increasingly popular, ( Our received QSL cards are now kept in the shack and thanks go to Linda and Les for bringing the sorting up to date. All the cards are now in alphabetical order.

Tests with the 80m delta loop proved to be disappointing, with very little improvement in DX reports when compared with the inverted vee dipole.In fact the dipole usually had a slight edge.This combined with its high receive noise level due to being vertically polarised, meant it did not stay up for long! In January it was replaced with a bisquare for 40m. This is a diamond shaped loop, open at the top, each side being one wavelength long, and is reputed to give up to 4dB of broadside gain. For 40m it’s quite a monster and with the top up at about 115 feet we can just about fit it in, the feed point being about five feet above ground level. This aerial has been a success and does give a noticeable improvement over the dipole for DX in its favoured directions. However the dipole beats it for short skip European contacts. The bisquare is fed via coax. and a balanced matching unit at its base.

Other aerial work entailed Tom and Fraser dropping the 60’ mast down when the topband dipole got blown into and twisted up in the HF beam during the gales in February.This involved standing on top of the shack balancing Tom’s portable telescopic mast with a hook on top of it – quite a hairy experience. A few weeks later in yet another gale one leg of the 40m dipole came adrift and got tangled up in the trees behind the shack.This has also been repaired.

The last Field Site User meeting was on 19th March, although there is not a great deal to report. The new library is definitely to be built on the area of the field site previously destined for additional car parking. Completion is anticipated for Xmas 2003. It is still likely that the field research site will move to the south field, but the goal posts keep changing. The next step is for the different users to get together and put a co-ordinated case/proposal forward to Estates, but there doesn’t seem to be much progress being made with that at the moment. Our own proposal was submitted months ago, but we’re not exactly in the driving seat on this one.

The last video was ‘World at their Finger Tips’ back in January, which was quite an interesting look back at the development of the hobby. The next video will be shown on Thursday 9th May, starting at 12.30pm in N2028 Venables Building.This is actually two videos of 20 and 27 minutes duration by the Ayr ARG, about putting the island of Ailsa on the air.Everyone welcome.

On 9/10th March, Fraser G4BJM operated as GB5CC (the RSGB ‘HQ station’) from the OU shack during the RSGB Commonwealth Contest. This is a 24-hour CW event on 80 through 10m.  A total of 869 contacts were made, including 228 band/commonwealth call areas outside the UK.

At the end of March Paul G0WAT operated from the club shack as G5W in the CQ WPX SSB contest.Over to Paul to tell us how he got on:

It’s funny but over the years I have been doing Radio Contests I have always done SSB events as part of a multi-operator team...I thought it was about time I changed this so looking down the contest calendar I saw that CQ WPX SSB was coming up at the end of March.A quick check with Fraser gave a provisional yes for using the OUARC station...provisional because of the problems with lack of power to the shack!...was it going to be ready in time?...the jury was out but it looked as if all was going to be OK.

Things were a bit nip and tuck almost up to the off, but on the Wednesday I got the green light (probably powered by the electricity now hooked up to the shack!) and it was all systems go.

It is a 48 hour contest of which the single operator can do 36 hours...the Sunday was Easter and even though I had received dispensation to be out for the whole weekend I felt that I did not want to be away for the whole Sunday...that meant virtually 36 hours straight through and pack-up early on the Sunday afternoon.

I got to MK at about 10.00pm and proceeded to set-up the station...the only problem being I had forgotten where the computer on/off switch was...I must have been having a senior moment as I found it staring at me bold as brass after 10 minutes of searching...I think this must be the radio set-up equivalent of forgetting how to spell easy words...Hmmm 'and'I'm sure I should know how to spell that one!

So Radio on, Linear-fired up, Computer time checked (see later) and 00.00 and they’re off..quite good rates to start with although as I am sure Fraser has mentioned before very noisy LF....I was working split on 40m to get Stateside which was quite successful with the 40m Bi-Square...I managed to get through the whole of the night without falling asleep and kept a reasonable rate up...however disaster struck at about 05.30 when logging a station I looked up to see the clock displaying not 05.30 but 17.30!....Aaargh! when I had re-set the computer clock I had put in 11.xxrather than 23.xx.This was not a problem I fancied tackling in the wee small hours...but it needed to be done as the whole log from there on would be out!...I had about 400+Q's in the log at this point...I had to come out of the main program I was using (Super-Duper) go into the log and edit all the times...change the computer the log praying that I wouldn't get a error...phew! it booted up OK and that was my biggest cock-up out of the way.

Things proceeded well until the afternoon when I had to crash out for an hour....when I got back on things went OK up until about 01.00 on the Sunday morning when I was going a bit cross eyed and had to sleep again for about 4 hours...coming back on at about 05.00 I started working split on 40m again, however it was absolute bedlam on 40m and between 7.100 and 7.300 (American 40m SSB band)...whilst scanning up to find a nice clear listening frequency I alighted on 7.310...that’s nice and clear I thought, no Broadcast stations to fight through...and I proceeded to call...'This is G5W listening this frequency and 7.310'...s'funny no-one coming back...well this approach worked fine last night?...a few minutes later a U.S station came up on my lower frequency and said' Hey buddy you’re listening outaa band up there!'...jeez what an idiot, in my pleasure at finally finding an 'up' frequency that was clear I had omitted to clock the fact that I was listening out of band...a real forehead slapper that one!

I clocked off at about 13.00 on the Sunday as I wanted to get back home to the all I did I suppose about 32 hours but the log says I did 35....not sure where those other 3 hours went...maybe I was asleep at the keyboard (not unknown!)

The scores on the doors were: -

160 80 40 20 15 10 Total
Valid Q's 39 177 202 551 481 366 1816
Totals Mults 21 83 102 236 145 117 704
Total Pts 79 507 697 1055 1103 930 4371

Claimed Score: 3,077,184

The category I entered was Single Op All Band High Power (Tribander/Wires). I have not seen any higher scores in this section posted from the UK so it looks like I did pretty well!...although who knows until the results come out next year. Many thanks to Fraser for his help in getting the station ready and to the OUARC for letting me use the shack.

6m Repeater Tests.

Two OUARC members carried out field tests last year for the Northampton Repeater Group, and Adrian has written up their experiences:
Last July, the Northampton repeater group (NRG) carried out some field tests to see what the coverage of a 6m repeater would be. Bert (G3FVO) and I took part and went /M, setting out from Milton Keynes and making our way southwards, ably assisted by Leon (G3HDJ) as interlocutor. I wanted to explore propagation on 6m. How does 6m compare to 2m for propagation? Is height as important on 6m as it is on 2m and higher bands? I also wanted to get a feel for the performance of my newly acquired handheld.

Our equipment was modest. The rig was an Icom IC-T8 tri-band handheld, which provided a solid 3.5 watts when powered from the vehicle’s 12v socket. There were two antenna. The first was a 2m 5/8 wavelength magmount whip. This had a 1:1.2 SWR on 6m, but I can’t understand why since 5/8s at 145 MHz doesn’t scale to anything interesting at 51 MHz; I put it down to luck! The second antenna was a dedicated 6m sleeve dipole in combination with a secret weapon – a 19-foot roach pole. Opinion was divided as to whether or not the roach pole would work, since some are loaded with carbon fibre that might absorb the radiation.

Bert and I set off from Wavendon (S. Milton Keynes) which is located at the foot of the range of hills known as the Brickhills. We then drove up to the top of Bow Brickhill and operated from a spot quite close to the large broadcast antenna. From there we drove to Great Brickhill, choosing a high spot close to the cellular phone mast, then down the A5 to the Little Chef south of Hockliffe. The final site was on high ground just south of Leighton Buzzard.

The RST of the signal in received in Northampton are shown in the table below.

Site RST using sleeve dipole & roach pole RST using whip antenna on car roof Distance to Northampton; conditions
Wavendon559 18 miles; bottom of hill; not line of sight
Bow Brickhill579 21 miles; top of hill; clear line of sight19 miles; top of hill; line of sight, but obscured by trees
Great Brickhill (A5)59921 miles; top of hill; clear line of sight
Hockliffe (A5)539
25 miles; on level ground; surrounded by trees
Leighton Buzzard (A418)599529 25 miles; top of hill; clear line of sight.

The results show what I had suspected. On 6m, antenna height and a good line-of-sight path are the dominant factors. Given an adequate path, it doesn’t take much power to establish a workable link. We concluded the tests at Leighton Buzzard because we had run out of time. Had we set off earlier, I would have liked to have gone further, say to the Chilterns at Ivanhoe Beacon.

Morse is alive and well

This little anecdote shows that Morse is a language that, far from dying out, is alive and well. When we arrived at the Little Chef car park just south of Hockliffe we could hear nothing with the whip. We erected the roach pole and transmitted again. The controller at NRG could be heard saying that he could hear a transmission but couldn’t make out the callsign.

My ‘religion’ is QRP CW, and I have spent many an hour picking out very weak signals around Europe and having CW QSOs with 5 watts or less. I well remember a QSO with a Belgian amateur near Namur who was getting in with 559 using 800mW into a rhombic on 80m! My thoughts immediately turned to CW; but how? This was an FM handheld. The rig has a separate microphone with several control buttons.  I realised that I could send CW using the 1750 Hz tone button, in the little-used F2A mode.  With the microphone on my knee, I could key with my index finger at a comfortable 4 wpm:

de m0ans/m ur rst 539 qth nr hockliffe qrx 10 mins ar de m0ans va

The NRG controller replied ‘Help! There’s no one here at the moment who does CW’. At this point, Leon came in and translated, ‘It was m0ans who is /mobile at the moment. He says that your signal strength is about 539, and that he is located near Hockliffe. He asks if you could stand by for ten minutes’. Such eloquence. It took less than ten minutes to drive to the nearest high ground and find a spot that was clear of trees. This was just to the west of the railway cutting where it’s crossed by they A418 to the south of Leighton Buzzard. By this time Bert and I were well drilled in erecting the roach pole, so we were QRV in under a minute.

What a delight to receive a 599 report with the sleeve dipole. We did a quick check with the whip antenna and were unsurprised that the report was only 529. With that, we concluded the tests, saying that this would be the edge of the NRG 6m repeater area. Not many /M operators would be driving around with a 19-foot roach pole mounted on the roof!

That’s all for this time.

73 for now… 
Contact: Adrian Rawlings