VHF NFD 2016 Report

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We took part in the RSGB VHF NFD this year. Below is a video and some photos from the event. We’ll update this post with a thorough report in due course.

 

50MHz Trophy 2016

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A number of us took part in the 50MHz Trophy from a location near Swindon this week. We planned to test the site, the new tower and the new antenna. All were successful and we made a 6 hour entry.

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A map of our contacts can be seen below.

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We had 97 QSOs, 12 Country multipliers and 38 large grid multipliers.

Best DX was achieved by M0ACM who worked UZ4I for a distance of 2,838KMs.

We have already been working on improvements for the next contest which is VHF NFD.
 

We have a tower again!

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20160613_163350With the exception of a few minor and almost cosmetic jobs to be done during first use, the SDARC blue trailer and tower are now ready for full deployment!

After a very successful full day’s work by Tony and Den, the transplant, mast structure, winches and cables all have the green light. We set off this morning with the intention of checking the luffing cable and changing the luffing winch for our own Alko braked winch. That job went well – between the showers – and we soon had it luffed over and back down again. All Good!

So we decided to carry on and look at the lifting cables and set about changing the lifting winch. One cable had been pinched when the top section was reinserted and it took us a considerable time to release this but in the end it knew who was boss and the cable was released. The winch was then changed and the lift tested to full height as per the photo ! Again, All Good!

It is now ready for use to full height.

So, what is still to be done ?

  • Luffing handle – The handle grip doesn’t spin – corrosion. Den has it to work on.
  • Number plate attachment – More challenging on this tower due to the triangular base. Tony has an idea for this.
  • The “flapper” accidental lowering restrictor – The old tower used a horizontal “flag”; this tower has a vertical flapper which has to be held ‘disengaged’ throughout the lowering process. A simple hook to achieve this is needed. Fixable on site on first use.
  • Guy rings at all three levels – We need three bolts at each level with a ring welded on to allow our guys to snap in. For 1st use, we can use rope loops.
  • Winch Platform / Milk crate step – The lifting winch is higher than on the old tower and a ‘platform’ is needed to reach it safely and conveniently. Various Ideas being considered, but for first use, we need a “milk crate” platform.
  • Paint – A coat of Blue paint is needed where the new red-leaded sections have been inserted.
  • Cables – Tony has a brand new top section lifting cable. If we need it at any time, it can be fitted reasonably easily. We do not have a spare lower section lifting cable. The old luffing cable is too short for the new tower. These would have to be purchased if needed. Neither needed currently.
  • Larger bottom pulley – WE think a slightly larger diameter pulley would help the routing of the lifting cable.

By this point in the list we must have been getting really desperate for new jobs!!!

  • Any Graphics we think of adding.
  • Drilling the base of the cage to accommodate the rotator
  • A Top bearing for the rotator cage?

2016 AGM Agenda

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On Thursday 26th May we are holding the Annual General Meeting for SDARC. We will be starting at 8pm.

Agenda Items

  1. Welcome from the Chairman (M1DST)
  2. Summary of the 2015 AGM (M1DST)
  3. Secretary’s Report (M0ACM)
  4. Treasurers Report (M5CBS)
  5. Committee Nominations (M1DST)
  6. AOB (All)

RSGB May 144MHz Contest 2016 Report

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Wow! What a weekend ! …and Wow ! What a team !

SDARC went “/P” this weekend to do something it hasn’t done properly for a number of years ! We took part in a 24 hour 2 metre contest ! A large team appeared on Saturday morning and, as per the “Plan”, we set about constructing a /P Contest Station ready for a 3pm BST Start.

The Station – modified in time honoured fashion as we went along (!!) – was set up in a truly superb fashion in a large mess tent (We even had a second tent to act as the “Generator room” !!) The set up quickly took shape to become a single TS2000 powered from both battery and a Generator powered mains PSU. This fed 30 Watts of RF into a solid state linear and on up to one of two compact yagis mounted at about 25 feet (both equipped with separate rotators). Signal routing was controlled by a remote switch and a sequencer to protect the masthead RX preamp shared by both yagis.

Thanks to superb teamwork by those setting up the kit, the whole station was READY and tested by mid day!! THAT was a incredible !!

We had a very good match to the aerials, getting well over 400 Watts out of the Linear! This was looking good! We stopped for lunch ! … another major accomplishment for a new team! ….and then tidied up wiring and even organised the ergonomics of the operating position and logging !

An Operating Schedule was agreed for the 8 operator team with everyone doing a one hour operating stint with the support of a second operator doing the logging on a laptop.

What we planned all went very well. We have to accept that we cannot organise the weather and it ‘precipitated’ down on Saturday afternoon big time! Being VHF, propagation conditions therefore seemed a bit flat.

Nevertheless from the 3pm start time until we stopped (due to a lack of contacts shortly before midnight) we worked stations all over the UK including GM, GW, GD, GU and even EI. We also worked several stations in F, DL, PE and ON! The station worked faultlessly and the Operators were very effective on the air, despite many being very new to this kind of operation. Well done lads!

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We kicked off again early this morning (Sunday) in much better weather and the same Team of Operators worked a second one-hour session to complete the Contest at 3pm. Again all equipment performed without fault. By the end of the Contest, we had worked a total of 180 stations (2,194,840 total points with a best DX of DF0WD in JO42FD at a distance of 708km) – a truly superb effort which didn’t seem an effort – due to the excellent teamwork.

On behalf of the Committee, we would like to publicly thank everyone involved – the 8 Operators and the additional support team who provided that extra “oomph” to set things up on Saturday and strip things down Sunday afternoon – both in record time.

We would also like to thank all those Members who brought along all sorts of vital equipment and the expertise to deploy them that made the weekend the success it was. Nothing would have been possible without these resources. Many thanks to all.

If you were NOT with us this weekend, you missed a really good weekend !

Watch for details of our next /P contest and plan you weekend Pass-out now !

QSOs 180
Recorded Dupes 2
Total Points 29,660
Total Postcodes 65
Total Countries 9
Grand Total Points 2,194,840
Best DX DF0WD – JO42FD – 708km’s
Prefix Country Count
DL Germany 8
EI Ireland 2
F France 2
G England 139
GD Isle of Man 1
GU Guernsey 2
GW Wales 17
ON Belgium 6
PA Netherlands 3

Pictures provided by James Patterson and Matthew Williams.

Mills on the Air (May 2016)

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DSC_3844This is my second SES, for 2016 and third time for activating Wilton Windmill.

Myself (G1NCG) and John (G1OQV) activated the special Event call-sign of GB1WW for the week-end. The weather was very kind to us as we had a wonderful sunny week-end with no rain and a very gentle breeze. The week-end started on Friday afternoon for the pair of us, erecting the masts to haul the antenna into the air. We arrived early on Saturday morning to setup the the radio, but the initial radio decided not to play so we had to opt for the backup radio which John supplied. We have to note that this location is an ideal for operating a Special Event Station, one could almost say palatial in eventing terms as we had a warm and enclosed modern Shepard's hut with all mod cons including running water and power. Propagation conditions were reasonable but had a lack of G callsigns to begin with, being heard in favour of rather more distant ones from DK, F4, PA & GM.

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This is John (G1OQV) manning the microphone for most of the week-end in which he did a very sterling job of making contacts, especially that he made contact with 12 mills on the air stations, so congratulations and well done John. We’ve since heard from other stations that were operating over the weekend, that propagation was at best difficult for most of them. We made some interesting contacts, Crux Eastern Wind Engine in Hampshire is one example as I remember these devices when I was a child seeing them around mainly near farms as they were used to pump water up out of an under ground well. Also the Dutch mill station De Oude Molen (Translated means The Old Mill) this is located at Oudemolensedijk, The Nederlands, which is registered with Denby Dale and counted towards our mills count for a certificate. Putting these mills on the air each year continues to keep some of our heritage in mind lest we for get our engineering achievements from years past.

The count for stations contacted was 46 in total with 44 verified.

Equipment used for this event was a Kenwood TS480 with an off centre fed dipole with short leg grounded for the antenna, and gave us reasonable results.
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We had several Radio amateur visitors including Andrew M1CJE, Bryan M0SWL, Ian G0GRI , Rob G4XUT, Dave G4XIB, as well as a group of ramblers that used the mill as a resting point, on the Sunday.

A Big Thank You to the Windmill Society for allowing us to use their facilities at the mill and a thank you to them for keeping this Windmill working and producing flour.

By – Ken Powell G1NCG

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2016 Construction Competition Photos

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Here are some photos from last weeks Construction Competition. Well done to everyone who took part.

CQ CQ CQ Club Constructors 2016!

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Soldering IronJust to remind you that this year’s Construction Contest will take place on Thursday 5th May at Pine Trees from 7pm. There is still plenty of time to construct an entry if you haven’t done so already.

Never built anything before? Then now is the time to have a go! There is a category for ‘1st timers’ who are new to construction.

Construction Contest 2016 – Rules

The contest will have six general categories:-

Homebrew – This will be for equipment built completely by the club member. (If the equipment is a magazine project with a PCB available, then, the PCB may be used.)

Antenna Installations – This will be for special homebrew antenna systems. For this type of contest entry, the member will just need to provide photographs of the antenna together with a specification, a drawing and details of the construction. A list of countries worked with the antenna should also be provided.

Kit – This will be for equipment built from a kit.

Hybrid – This will be for homebrew equipment, which contains one or more kits.

“First Timers” – This will be for club members who have not previously built any equipment.

“IT” – This category will be for radio-related software. This can be either be, a piece of “stand-alone” new software, or a piece written to add extra features to some existing software.

There will be a total of eight awards allocated to the six categories; the number of awards per category will be up to the judges to decide.

In addition there will be a special award:- “Professional” – This prize may be awarded to experienced constructors whose work is of an exceptional standard.

The judges’ decisions on all the awards are final.
Items can have been built at any time, but to be accepted as an entry, they must not have been entered in any previous SDARC construction contest.

The entries can be any radio-related equipment or software, for example, morse oscillator, test unit, QRP rig, computer/radio interface, PSU, Tx/Rx, linear, antenna.

The most complex equipment may not necessarily win!

Entry forms will be available on the night, but if you wish to complete one beforehand, please download the entry form.