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NEWS LETTER no:8    

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

Enclosed with this newsletter is a GB25OU QSL card. The pile of 1000 that we started with is getting smaller rapidly. The card was designed by a friend of Tom G0PSU who did a very nice job. Unfortunately the printers used the wrong blue, it was intended to be much paler than it is, but nevertheless the design is quite striking. It looks like we may have to order extra cards anyway, so hopefully they can get it right second time round.

Open Day was a huge success, I heard that there were in the region of 8000 visitors. After the usual last minute panics our Amateur Radio displays all came together according to plan. Tom G3LMX did an excellent job with his colour TV demonstration. As planned, we had live pictures from the HF shack being displayed along side the packet station in the Electronics lab. Since testing the path some months ago, the trees had sprouted leaves and the path was not as 'line of sight' as it used to be, so 1.3GHz was used instead of 10GHz. Temporary beams were used both ends. In addition, a 10GHz horn was placed on the lab. roof which received good quality pictures from GB3TG, the local repeater situated about 3 miles away. This relayed pictures to us from GB3TV on Dunstable Downs, and from local station G7JEW.

The HF shack was manned by OU students Tony G3ZRJ from Cheltenham, and Paul G1ZCY from Birmingham, with some help from local amateur Nigel G8IFF, Tom G3LMX and Fraser G4BJM. Our unusual callsign certainly attracted a lot of interest and large pile ups soon appeared on whichever band we fired up on. DX worked included a string of Japanese stations, western Canada and USA, South Africa, Namibia, The Gambia, Iceland ... A large number of UK and European stations were also contacted. Later in the evening we had a short spell in the RSGB Summer Topband contest. In all some 350 contacts were made on Open Day itself. The following day Ian G0TLB made another 73 contacts on 80m SSB, including a number of OU students around the country. To date the QSO count is fast approaching the 500 mark after one or two lunch time and evening sessions.

The packet station was manned by Ian G0TLB and Fraser G4BJM, with backup from Chris G7BBD and Graham G7RHS who were working on an adjacent stand. The demonstration attracted a great deal of interest, despite sharing a lab with the somewhat more sophisticated (and expensive) JANUS satellite conferencing system. Three packet stations were on show. One running TPK software connecting to the local GB7BEN mailbox on 6m, on which we received greetings messages from OU students, and from as far afield as California and Russia. A second station was used to demonstrate the DXCluster, and stayed connected all day to the Hemel Hempstead Cluster GB7DXH through the OU node on 4m. It was amusing to see GB25OU "spotted" on the Cluster, working Japan on 18MHz SSB. Finally Ian G0TLB demonstrated TCP/IP over radio, linking to the OU node on 2m. The three packet stations all used borrowed equipment consisting of modified PMR rigs and home made TNC/modems. Temporary aerials were erected on the lab. roof. The demonstration was topped off by informative display boards and literature, and a large G0OUR QSL collage prepared by Ian. Two general coverage receivers were available hooked up to a long wire, and were used to monitor the HF station.

We received a letter of thanks from John Martin, the Open Day organiser, and verbal thanks from Dave Vallis who organised the Technology displays. We have been granted a 3 month extension to the GB25OU licence on top of the normal 1 month period, so have plenty of time to put ourselves about on the bands. Tony G3ZRJ is planning to use the call from Cheltenham, and we would be pleased to hear from other members interested in putting on local special event stations using this callsign.

We now have enough money to buy an HF beam, and are grateful to the OU Club and GPFC for their financial support. We plan to fit the new tower top section and the rotator in the coming month or so in readiness for the beam. GPFC also provided 150 pounds towards the TV equipment used on Open Day, and Tom G3LMX is now busy using this to set up our own permanent ATV link for the club.

Jim G1HUE has made a small rotatable mast which he has installed on the side of the shack. This is intended to be used for satellite communications on 2m. He is now working on the rotator drive mechanism. The redundant 5/8 4m packet aerial has been removed from the top of the tower, and replaced with a simple vertical dipole on the shack roof. This is adequate for linking to the DXCluster via the OU node, and also works well to the local BBS GB7BEN.

The packet node has been expanded to 5 ports and the USCC card has been installed and works well, although we have yet to use its 9600 baud port. (A Tait radio is being modified for this). Due to financial constraints we were unable to upgrade the node PC. However we have managed to borrow a second 286 which now runs WNOS software and connects to the OU node via a 19K6 baud RS232 link. A borrowed TNC is used for the radio link on 144.625MHz, along with a 9 element Tonna pointing at GB7KHW in Dunton, Beds, courtesy of Tony G0LAX. Our AMPRNet address is [] making our NET/ROM alias IP0550. The second 70cm port which links to EB has been changed to horizontal polarisation in order to reduce interference with the Rutland node and other users on the same frequency. A further improvement has been made by resiting the beams some 25 feet from each other, thus curing the desense problem. As a result of these changes the retry rate on the OU/EB link has dropped to around the 2% mark. The interference problem we were experiencing on 4m has mysteriously disappeared over a period of time, hopefully for good! We have been trying an experimental link to GB7MSW in Harpendon on 6m. One spin off from our Open Day activities is that we now know we have a good path to GB3TG on 10GHz should we ever wish to use this for a fast data link. Ian is now looking into the possibility of a second node site on campus. This would enable us to have user access on channels adjacent to those used for forwarding.

Welcome to new members Tony Roskilly G3ZRJ (M1446254), and Andrew Mitchell G7SIV. Congratulations to Andrew on his new callsign.

Our members profile comes from Ian G8TLI (M3685900), who joined the OUARC in February 1993. Ian has been interested in Amateur Radio and Electronics since his school days. He started off building simple valve receivers and progressed on to a solid state double conversion superhet. He was licensed in 1979 and was very active on 2m FM and later SSB. He taught the RAE at the North Cheshire College for a number of years, and is now teaching C&G 7261 Computers and Computing. These days he is not as active in Amateur Radio since he became first involved with running a business and later in taking his OU degree, plus having two children means life is pretty busy. Last year Ian built a BSX2 TNC which he has installed inside his PC. His PMS is permanently running on 144.675MHz, and mail can also be left for him on GB7CHS (near Northwich, Cheshire). Ian says his OU degree has furthered his interest and knowledge of electronics, and includes the following units: T102, DT200, T202, M261, TM282, T322.

That's it for now, except to say thank you again to all those who made our contribution to Open Day such a success, both in the preparations beforehand and actually on the day. Any items for the next newsletter please send to Fraser.

73 for now...
Contact: Adrian Rawlings