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2018 Club Competition Details (Updated)

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Club is now ‘back’ from the Christmas hols and the last two weeks have been well attended. Last night we went to Africa with Tony – a really interesting Talk but not until we had presented the somewhat delayed Awards for the 2017 Worked All Postcodes competition.

The number of entrants was down on 2016 but some of the Overall winners ramped up the number of QSOs well above 2016. Clearly once the bug bites……

  • The 10w section was again won by Chris AJA with 50% more QSOs than in 2016 – all CW too!.
  • The 50w section was won by Viv IEP with 113 QSOs (Well done..perseverance pays off!).
  • The 100w section was won by Andrew CJE with 76 QSOs, with Tony CPA and Jonathan ZGB taking the Autumn and Spring Awards respectively.
  • The 400w section was won by Tony LDL with 41Qs and Paul PMV took the Spring award.

Well done to everybody!

We also took a few minutes to announce the 2018 Award which returns to the popular Worked All Squares format (looking for 4-characters… e g IO82) but with a couple of Rule changes for 2018 to “spice things up”.

  • Those with Short Contest Callsigns (SCCs) can include QSOs made using them, but the entry should be made under your FULL Callsign
    (So G4L can include QSOs made with that call but enters them in the online table under G4LDL)
  • The RF Power category will be that set by your Licence.
    So the 10w section is now exclusive to M3 and M6 Members, the 50w section is only usable by 2E Members and everyone else uses the 400w section
    ( …yip, we’ve removed the 100w section as very few people have access to linears and for a UK/EI QSO the impact is marginal. A decent aerial provides better gain!!)
  • To allow the Autumn Period to go to the end of November, the submission deadline dates have been shortened after the end of each period.
    • The Spring months are now dedicated to Qs on 160, 80, 40 and 30m (The LF months).
    • The Summer months are now dedicated to VHF and up (6, 4, 2m and the cm bands).
    • The Autumn months are now the HF months (20, 17, 15, 12 and 10m).

The months for each Period, the revised submission dates and the complete Rules for 2018 plus a check sheet for your own use and a ‘squares possible’ map will appear on the website soon.

Remember, the 2018 Award begins with the LF bands on 1st February, so you have only a week or so to repair your aerials after the recent winds!

Let’s see if we can see more members getting involved in 2018. In previous years some sections have been won with less than 10 QSOs, so we are not talking about staying up all night! Look for the UK/EI, the UKAC and the AFS contest dates to plan when an hour on the radio could net you a serious number of QSOs ! ….And, unless you are in a fast-moving contest, remember to tell stations you work why you want their Square details. Local non-members may think, “I would like some of this” and join us. That would help funds and benefit everyone.

Start planning, Start chasing the Squares – there about 53 in all.

See for full rules, submission form and realtime league table.

Den, M0ACM

UPDATE: January 27th 2018

Following lots of enthusiastic interest in the new Award for 2018 and some requests for clarification from members, we responded to those last Thursday evening and this email is a confirmation of the clarifications made – especially for anyone who missed it …and the excellent “Secret Wireless War” movie.

  • The term “Squares” refers to the VHF-familiar Maidenhead Locator Squares system that involves (for practical day-to-day use) 2 letters + 2 numbers + 2 letters. Eg Pinetrees is IO91RF.
    For the 2018 Award, we need only the 1st 4 characters (eg IO91)For CW use and as a spoken abbreviation, the Maidenhead system is often referred to as “QRA” Squares. Although the original OLD (and no-longer-used) system) has been superseded by Maidenhead, the “QRA” abbreviated name persists but is exclusively applied to the Maidenhead system.
  • The “Power according to your Licence” rule was intended to provide “protected” categories for M6 and 2E Members and so encourage activity without QRM (!) from Full licensees.As “wrinklies” who did not come up the M6/2E/M0 ‘ladder’ we were unaware that those licences permit the continued use of the ‘lower’ callsigns. THAT was not part of our plan for this Award, so to clarify, your permitted power for this Award is your HIGHEST licence ‘class’.However, conceding that there IS a possible disadvantage where a Full licensee with no linear is chasing squares in the same power category as someone with 400w, we have re-inserted the 100w category so FULL licensees can now opt into either the 100w or the 400w category – and this is FLEXIBLE…. you could enter 400w in the Low Bands Spring months, 100w in the VHF and up Summer months and then either 100w or 400w in the Autumn HF months.
  • The 3 periods and the Bands acceptable during these are confirmed. Whilst we concede that we do not all have farms and 100 ft towers littered with steerable aluminium (U.S. readers please note the CORRECT spelling!!), one of the aims of the 2018 Award was to encourage innovation. So if I don’t have an aerial – or the space – at home for an 80m aerial, my challenge is either to seek a /P location where I could string one up for a couple of hours OR see if I could make something tunable and reasonably efficient at home.
    After all, it doesn’t have to work NZ … just IO82NZ !!

Hope this clarifies and encourages activity.

Den & Tony

Worked All UK Counties Award 2015

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Last evening Den, M0ACM introduced the club to the 2015 “Members Only” Award Scheme to encourage on-air operating, to have some competitive fun playing radio, to raise the profile of SDARC on the air and to reward members making consistent use of their radio gear. Go on, have a go !!


  • Every licensed member of SDARC is encouraged to enter, using your own Call Sign.
  • Your Aim is to work as many UK Counties as you can during the Award period.
  • ALL UK Counties are valid (…eg Wiltshire); English Unitary Authorities are NOT (= Swindon).
  • The list of valid Counties comprises only those included on the Progress Form.
  • Work stations normally aiming to identify as many Counties as you can. -There are 88 ‘possibles’ !
  • Explain to stations being worked about the SDARC Club Award and why you need their “county”.
  • QSOs may be made from 1 February to 31 October 2015. You have NINE months in all.
  • The Award is divided into three periods (Feb, Mar, Apr); (May, Jun, Jul); (Aug, Sep, Oct)
  • You can enter all three (for the ‘Full Year’ award) or any combination of the 3 periods
  • You can use ANY Mode… Phone, CW or Data (SSB, FM, AM, CW, RTTY, PSK, SSTV…)
  • You can use any amateur Band for which you are licensed … 135 kHz to light
  • You choose ONE of four TX Power categories, as permitted by your licence (10/50/100/400W).
  • You may operate from anywhere within 25 miles of your licensed address. (ie: home, /P or /M)
  • Your transmitter & antenna that put RF into the air must be within 25 miles of your QTHR.
  • Direct contacts only… no repeaters, satellites or Echolink/Internet contacts.
  • Each County worked counts ONE point in each period (and may be worked again in a subsequent period) but dupes will be removed
    from scores for the ‘whole year’ award.
  • You must declare an update of your total counties worked by the end of month 2 of each period.
  • You must hand in your Progress Form for each period by end of month 1 of the next period.
  • Your first Progress Form determines your chosen Power category for all periods.
  • QSOs will not normally need validating but Judges reserve the right to request confirmation.
  • The Judges decision in all matters is final.


  • These Rules, Progress Forms and a helpful UK Map may be downloaded from
  • Complete a Progress Form – just copy details from your shack log. Keep a copy of your own form.


A ‘league table’ of results for each period will be published after each period closes. Year-end results will be announced in December 2015 By entering, you agree that Results & any photos may be sent to RadCom & the SDARC website.


There will be 4 Winners’ Awards for each Power category…

  • for the highest number of Counties collected across the whole year (February – October)
  • for the highest number of Counties collected in each Period (Feb-Apr / May-Jul / Aug-Oct)
  • No-one will receive more than one Award… so there should be 16 winners! Go for it!

Remember to tell stations you contact about the SDARC Counties Award. …It raises the profile of SDARC on the air !

Useful Files

We have setup a dedicated page to post progress reports on and you can find that by looking for “Worked All Counties 2015” in the top menu or visiting

We will also attempt to tweet (@SDARC) and update our Facebook page too.

Constructional Contest 28th February – Additional Rule

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Dear Club Member,

The constructional contest rules state that for an item to be accepted as an entry, it must have been built in the last two years.
This year, as we did last year, to increase the number of entries to the contest, we are relaxing the rules to allow each member to enter ONE item which may have been built at anytime; the item must not have been entered for a previous contest.


Deryck G3YKC

Club Room Reopens

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Just a quick reminder that the club room reopens this week after the summer break. This month ends with two talks…

September 20 – “MATs, SPATs and the Purple Plague” by Dennis, G3LLZ.

September 27 – “High Altitude Ballooning” by David Akerman – Dave was responsible for sending the first Raspberry Pi into Near Space on a weather balloon.

Hope to see a number of you at the talks


DX Shop – New Shop For VHF and Up

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DX Shop LogoThe DX Shop Limited is an all-new internet website supplying high end equipment to the serious VHF and UHF Radio Amateur.

Run by Roger Banks GW4WND the website, provides a wide range of equipment from SSPA and Valve Linear Amplifiers, LNA, data soundcards, aerials cables and connectors.

The DX Shop Limited are manufacturers and distributors of the PowAbeam range of G4CQM VHF/UHF Antennas.

The DX Shop are also authorised distributors for Andrew HELIAX cables and connectors. We have offers on at the moment on AVA5-50 and offer a free termination service so cables can be bought ready made-up.

Ecoflex and Airflex low loss cables are also available as well as a full range of connectors and adapters to suit.

The DX Shop Limited stocks the RFHamdesign range of heavy duty Azimuth and Alt/Az rotators and accessories.

If you are serious about your hobby then pay the website a visit.

Competitive pricing and quick turnaround.
01588 620126

Chairman’s Challenge 2012 – Up Up and Away

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High Altitude BalloonLast night at the Christmas dinner during the chairman’s speech it was announced that he was starting a new tradition for the club called the “Chairman’s Challenge” which will be announced during every Christmas dinner. The challenge is designed to encourage activity between members and focus on a goal for the coming year. Lets hope the tradition continues when the chairman role changes hands.

The challenge James, M1DST set for 2012 is: “Launch a high altitude meteorological balloon, reach inner space (approx 100,000ft), track it and then recover it. The payload must contain at least one camera but can contain as many cameras, experiments as it is deemed reasonable.”

A typical flight uses a standard latex weather balloon, lasts around 2-3 hours, and reaches 25 to 35 km in altitude.

There will be a talk by M1DST during the early part of 2012 to explain the project further. There are many world records in this area to be broken too!

We’re Moving – Save the Date (5th January 2012)

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Dear Members,

I have the pleasure of announcing today that from January 5th 2012 we will have a new meeting venue. Over the last couple of years we have been suffering with car parking issues at our current location in Savernake street. This has caused frustration for some members. I can assure you that the committee hasn’t been ignoring the issue and has actively been looking for alternatives. This has proven difficult without compromising other things including cost, day, and location.

We were made aware that a new £2m building was being built in Pinehurst which was due to open in this month. For various reasons the project was delayed and will now open on the last week of December. Den and I took the opportunity to make a site visit a couple of weeks ago to check on progress and we were impressed with the facilities and progress to date. We met with the committee and it was agreed that the club would be far better off in the new building.

The two-storey centre is being built on the site of the former Pine Trees residential home on The Circle and replaces the Pinehurst People’s Centre, which was located on the site where the Swindon Academy now stands.

What other benefits are there I hear you ask. There will be site wide WIFI and computers in the cafe. We have a balcony on which we can set up antennas. Outside, there will be a large car park and community garden, where groups can grow their own flowers and vegetables.

I am really excited about the move and think it will be a perfect start for the club 2012.

The committee and I would like to invite you to the first meeting of 2012 at the new site where we will be providing free drinks and cakes. We will also ensure that a radio is set up and available for use on the evening.

Hope to see you there

James (M1DST)

SDARC featured in newspaper

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Last Thursday we had a visit from Barrie Hudson of the Swindon Evening Advertiser. He has written an article about our hobby and club. It was published on Thursday 1st September and can be found on pages 14 and 15.

It is now available at

A night at club

IN the social hall in Savernake Street, James Patterson and his friends show me the letterbox-sized display occupying a laptop screen.

Known as a waterfall, the display has hundreds and thousands of tiny points of orange and green that march ceaselessly upward against a dark background.

And each of those points of orange and green is another human being or group of human beings in some place that might be anywhere in the world, watching their own computer displays or listening for voices or snatches of Morse Code.

Some are communicating with each other, some with satellites and some, perhaps, with the International Space Station Crew who circumnavigate the planet every 90 minutes or so.

To the layperson, amateur radio might seem to have no place in the modern, internet-driven world of communication, but amateur radio enthusiasts beg to differ.

“Amateur radio is still as much of a challenge as it was when it was first invented,” said James, a 32-year-old IT manager who lives in Shaw and chairs the 40-strong Swindon and District Amateur Radio Club.

“Just because the internet is around, it doesn’t mean that challenge isn’t there anymore. Every frequency band that we use has a different challenge.

“It would be very easy to sit with an X-Box and not do anything at all, but you don’t learn anything from that and you’re not doing anything different.”

“There’s always something else to learn,” said Tony, a lifelong enthusiast who will shortly join a group heading for Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and try to transmit from there to fellow devotees worldwide.

He added: “Amateur radio is about making contacts.

“It’s how to find the right way to communicate with other people.

“It’s the excitement of getting in touch with somebody in another country, all off your own bat.

“It gets more challenging as the years go by. Some people bounce signals off the Moon.”

Although communicating with another country these days can be as easy as picking up a phone or booting up a computer, such things can easily be shut down by an accident, by a natural disaster, by a sinister government or by an act of terrorism.

None of these things can stop amateur radio, so it’s hardly surprising that networks of operators are part of contingency communication plans throughout the world – or that NASA and its astronauts have a programme called Ham Radios in Space.

“I’ve been involved for 57 years,” he said.

“And even at my age now, I still feel the sense of amazement at the fact that I can have a little piece of equipment sitting on a bench and contact the world.

“It can be very basic or it can be very complex.”

Becoming involved with the hobby has never been cheaper or more expensive, depending on how much a person is willing to spend.

A basic hand-held radio can cost as little as £50, while larger models with more power and features can cost from £500 to £8,000 or more. There are computer programmes to aid operators in finding, classifying and monitoring signals and a host of other high-tech gadgets that have only become available fairly recently.

It’s still possible, though, for a technically adept person to build their own equipment using readily-available plans and components.

Licensing for amateur radio is still necessary, and is a three-stage process with exams. Passing the first qualifies a person as an operator. Morse Code is no longer demanded, but it’s a skill many operators choose to learn.

And the future of the hobby? James and wife Samantha, herself a licensed operator, have a daughter, Amelia, who is nearly three.

“She already likes listening to Daddy’s radio,” said James with a proud smile.

Swindon and District Amateur Radio Club, whose website is, meets every Thursday at 7pm.

Thank you to Barrie and all members who participated.

MS0INT – Isle of Rockall

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A team of four highly experienced IOTA activators have plans to operate from the extremely rare and dangerous Isle of Rockall, EU-189.

Accompanied by an expert climber, they aim to land and stay a top Rockall for maximum 48 hours, in what will be considered one of the most ambitious island activations the ham radio world has seen.

The four operators are George EA2TA, Christian EA3NT, Simon IZ7ATN and Col MM0NDX – all part of the larger MS0INT IOTA adventure group which has previously been on air from EU-059, EU-111 and EU-118. Completing the team is Nick Hancock, a climber with considerable experience in inhospitable places, thus increasing the chances of activating the islet.

Due to the fact Rockall is the most isolated speck of rock surrounded by water on the surface of the Earth, weather and seas dictate this entire expedition. The team are very aware near perfect landing conditions are required, and the skipper of their yacht has final say.

With research and historical data, we believe the end of May / beginning June 2012 is a viable time period to put Rockall on the air.

Each member will pay their own flights,additional travel costs,food, equipment and charter boat expenses.

To help offset some of this expense, the team seek generous donations from within the IOTA community, DX organisations and like-minded individual operators who all appreciate the scale involved in this difficult activation.

All donors form part of this exciting project and will be listed on our website which is currently under construction. Significant contributors will be added to our QSL card. To donate, you can use paypal:

Thank you!

MS0INT – Rockall 2012 Team

Silent Key – M0XUK

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It is with regret we announce the passing of our friend David Parker known as M0XUK. Dave suffered a heart attack last Thursday and had his funeral in Oxford yesterday. A card was circulated last night for club members to sign which will be passed to his family.

David had been an active member of the club in the past and even the web host for several years. He enjoyed contesting and construction and more recently moved into astronomy.