Please make a note of our forthcoming AGM on Thursday 11th January 2007 at 12.30pm. Is it just me, or do these AGMs seem to come round faster each year? As last year, the Green Room that we traditionally used is fully booked now every lunchtime by other clubs. However we have been able to book the same room we used last year, that is Central Meeting Room 7, which is on the ground floor and is very close to the Airport Bar and Green Room. It can be accessed from the Airport Bar area, or outside via the West Central Meeting Rooms entrance. An email reminder will be sent nearer the time. Local members are urged to attend if possible. Apologies for the slightly late notice of the AGM date; if that is a major problem for anyone we can reschedule it.
A reminder that subscriptions are due on 1 st January, and remain at £5 per annum. Subs can be paid at the AGM, or a cheque made payable to OUARC can be sent to the Treasurer, Fraser Robertson, S1021 Venables Building, Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA. Your continued support of the club is appreciated. Copies of the 2006 minutes can be obtained from the Secretary, email@example.com .
This year we welcome two new members, firstly Dan, G6RMA from Kent, who is studying towards a BSc in IT and Computing. Dan has studied some of the earlier electronics related courses, and says he may venture in the direction of a BEng in the future. He expects to finish his BSc in the next couple of years. On the radio front his interests include recycling PMR equipment for the amateur bands, and he has dabbled with packet, including TCP/IP. In the past Dan operated in VHF/UHF contests with the Kent University club, G3UKC.
The other new member is William Elliott, GI4OYM from Co. Antrim. Congratulations to William on graduating this year with a First Class BSc Honours.
We have had some problems with the Ten Tec Omni6+. Attempts to get it to work nicely on SSB transmit in time for our GB5HQ operation failed, and those problems are yet to be resolved. An Inrad roofing filter has recently been installed so the receiver is fully up to scratch. However there is now a problem with the transmit signal on topband which needs looking at when time permits.
The optional VCO screening kit has been installed in the clubs Elecraft K2/100 radio. This should ensure that it transmits a clean signal when in the presence of strong magnetic fields. We have had problems in the past with the radio placed next to a power supply. The K2 now has all the latest upgrades and mods and is working very nicely. Elecraft are about to launch matching 800W and 1500W solid state amplifiers, which will interface to the K2 for auto band changing etc. These are supplied in semi kit form but won’t be cheap!
Fraser G4BJM operated the club station using the call GB5CC again back in March, for the RSGB HQ station in the Commonwealth Contest. A total of 543 contacts were made on 80-10m during the 24 hour contest. GB5CC was the leading HQ station with 5977 points, but the New Zealand HQ station ZL6A came in a very close second with 5806 points from 464 contacts, and they have plans for bigger and better antennas for the 2007 contest.
In July we again hosted the 80m SSB RSGB HQ station for the IARU (International Amateur Radio Union) contest. This is our fourth time in this contest. We were joined by Lee G0MTN and Callum M0MCX, who between them did the bulk of the operating. Callum brought along his FT1000MP and fancy Heil microphone, while Lee provided the computer and a GSM internet connection. Our part was providing the shack, amplifier, and aerials. This year we configured the 40m Bi-Square as a wide half wave vertical for an alternative transmit aerial, but overall the usual high dipole was the aerial of choice. Various receive aerials were used in an attempt to overcome the local computer network noise: a Beverage, a pair of K9AY loops, an active magnetic loop, a low horizontal full size loop, and finally a low dipole. However, for the most part the high dipole was the best performer on receive too. The high noise level proved to be a real pain, especially during daylight hours, so perhaps a better site will be found next year, otherwise no doubt we’ll have another bash from the OU. This year we ended with 895 contacts resulting in 1855 points. The total claimed score for GB5HQ was 15,901 contacts and a score of 21,543,196. Nearly 16,000 contacts in a 24 hour period is quite something, and shows that amateur radio as a hobby is not dead yet, as some people seem to think. Even with our enormous score there were other club stations way ahead of us.
In November we took part in the RSGB Club Calls contest on topband SSB, although it was a low key entry this year due to shortage of operators. Still it was nice to air the now familiar G0OUR club call in this event, and an entry of 480 points was submitted.
In May we attended the DDRC sale at Stockwood Park which netted us just short of £100 for club funds. Unfortunately we could not make the local MKARS this year sale due it clashing with holidays. However we have been able to sell some of our ‘junk’ and surplus items this year, bringing a further £170 into the kitty.
We successfully bid for an OU Club grant this year to replace the aging guy ropes on our M100 mast. Sourcing the guys proved to be more complicated than you would think as the (current) tower manufacturer was not interested in supplying them as they were busy with a large MOD order. Expensive Kevlar alternatives were suggested. We then discovered the company who supplied the ropes for our other mast has stopped trading. Eventually we found another company who would supply pre-cut and spliced UV proof ropes at a reasonable price, and we have just taken delivery of those. The plan is to have the mast down for maintenance in the coming summer, and fit the new guys then.
Aerial maintenance work undertaken this summer included repairing the boom support on the HF beam which had broken, and the opportunity was taken to fit a spare halyard to the top of the tower. The Beverage receive aerial has been replaced as it had been pretty much destroyed by contractors and/or ground staff. The new Beverage is somewhat longer than the original 500’ one at around 950’. Most of the way it is supported in trees and hedgerow at just above head height. This is terminated to a ground rod at the far end via a 470Ω resistor, and fed via a 9:1 home made transformer, then via 50 Ω coax. to the shack. With this arrangement it matches very well, with <1.5:1 SWR on 160 and 80m, remaining at <2:1 right up to 10m. Also a K9AY receive aerial has been built and installed, switchable between four directions and with remote null control. The two loops are suspended in trees behind the shack, with their apexs up around 25’ high. Finally the 180/80m receive loop needed repairs due to the feed cable being chewed through. We suspect the culprit was a fox as they have been seen around there. The break took some finding as most of the feeder is buried in long grass.
The Field Research Site where the shack is located is still being used as a (hopefully) temporary dumping ground by contractors working around the campus, so access to the shack remains a mud bath. The Biology department have several research students using the site, and their Safety Officer has lodged a complaint with Estates Division, so hopefully something will be done. On a brighter note, we have been successful in getting the shed next to the shack, which we use as a store, re-roofed and painted.
The OU packet node is still running as is our DXCluster access from GB7IMK. The local AX25 BBS GB7BEN is off the air again due to a house move, but is expected to return one the licence NOV has been transferred to the new address.
The last club ‘video’ was a collection of DVD’s from the Vintage Wireless Society, courtesy of Tom G0PSU, showing the construction of early valves and radios, and these generated a lot of interest. The next DVD will be about the M2000A special event station – Amateur Radio into the New Millennium. This will be shown in the ICT Library, N1015 Venables Building on Thursday 3 rd of May at 12.30, everyone welcome. That may seem like a long way off, but it was the first Thursday lunchtime we could book that didn’t clash!
We have received a reminder from the RSGB that Science Week has now changed its name and is now known as National Science and Engineering Week. Activities will be taking place up and down the country on the 9 th to 18 th March, and more information can be obtained at www.the-ba.net . If anyone is interested in organising a club activity during this period, e.g. a demonstration from the club shack, let us know.
A reminder in case any member has missed the news, that as from 1 st December 2006 the amateur radio licence is now free, at least for web based applications. Alternatively the cost of a paper ‘lifetime’ licence is £20 for those of us under 75. Amateurs need to validate or update their details at least every five years for the licence to remain valid. Further details can be obtained from: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/radiocomms/ifi/licensing/classes/amateur/ . Among other changes the legal requirement to keep a station log book has been dropped, although it is expected that most amateurs will still choose to do so.
We propose to send out future newsletters as PDF files via email. Most members are on email, so that will save time and money, as well as being more environmentally friendly. We will continue to post paper copies to members we don’t have email addresses for, and anyone else who requests a paper copy. All newsletters are also posted on the clubs website.